Updated: Dec 12, 2020
When I first took medical leave July of 2018, I made a commitment to yield to help and support that came before me. Yielding meant that I would consciously surrender to performing in order to be in the presence of God, my family and community. Over this past year, each time I consciously yielded, I was humbled with the help and support I received as well as the calm that overcame me. This was true with the Silver hairs at the gym, volunteer opportunities serving others, joining a memoir group and writing, a oil painting class to learn (for once) something I didn't know without milestones, performance criteria driving me. To learn without the constraint of achieving a baseline of performance defined by others was a first for me. It was refreshing and intriguing. And an opportunity to 'be' and no have to 'do'.
This past week I was able to show 13 pieces of my most recent paintings. As I put up the art pieces along the west wall of the sanctuary graced with the beautiful stained glass and light pouring in, I measured and aligned the paintings to create the crisp line of the bottom of each piece. My anxiety increased. I felt the pressure to get everything 'right'. As if there was a 'right' way to do this. My heart beat was pronounced and I could feel the blood rise to my throat. Do the corners match? Are the frames all balanced? Is the curation of the themes set up in this pattern emulate my intended approach? A friend who had invited me to show my art, offered a story about how she and her sister just eye balled hanging things on the wall and generally between them both did a pretty good job. It was helpful to hear. After a couple hours measuring, double checking and finally hanging the art pieces; turtles, herons, sunrises, and sunsets, I stepped back to see how each piece held each other. And, I reminded myself to breathe. I reminded myself that it is what it is. I had done by best. And by virtue of being human the display wasn't perfect. I am not perfect. And I am enough.
It is unusual for me to look at my art or creations and feel proud. To really like my work. As I stepped back to take in the all the paintings spread out across the church wall, I giggled. I was excited to share my expressions of the last years journey. And, I felt extremely vulnerable.
The first night of the show, so many people whom I haven't seen in a long time showed up. Many of my silver hair friends came bye. And my friends and family. I was so excited to see everyone and overwhelmed as I tried to tune my trained ability to be 'on' in a crowd. As I spoke with people about my art, I kept reminding myself 'this is me'. To stand firm in the reality of my experiences. Its not all pretty. And yet it seemed okay.
The affirmation I heard about my work was very helpful to hear. The critical feedback was appreciated to support things I might create to further support my work to a broader community.
The net takeaway for me of this experience is affirming. I love to paint and draw and I want to be more thoughtful of how much vulnerability I can manage. And I am an Artist.