Severance

pencil drawing – by Sara

On a Wednesday morning I woke up and had a mom. When I went to bed that night I no longer did. For days and nights I prayed for her to die peacefully in her sleep. For weeks I tried to make her comfortable and feel as loved and cared for as humanly possible. For months I worried and cried and questioned and hated this death sentence that was thrust upon her. And for years my mom suffered and battled and suffered and battled some more. She suffered right up until her very last breath that I witnessed with my own eyes.

Never once in those days of praying, weeks of trying, months of worry, and years of suffering was her illness and prognosis ever talked about in a way that I could hold onto now. Instead each day I held onto the healing moments created from caregiving – the warm hugs she leaned into each time I helped her from a seated to a standing position and her  “I love you better” responses that she would recite with a smile after I’d kiss her on the forehead and tell her that I love her. In those moments that expression of genuine love and care was all that mattered.

But now she is gone. And the emptiness I feel around what never was feels so immense. I feel it in every part and every age of my whole being. It takes my breath away. The genuine love and connection that was felt in each small moment by her side feels severed now. And all of the peace I felt in caring for and loving her feels like it died with her. I don’t know how to exist in a world without my mom. We knew this was coming, but we never talked about it. And now I have to figure it all out on my own.

Stillness

watercolor painting – by Sara

There is a brief moment right after a snow storm, before the sun and wind remove the fresh fallen snow from every branch and surface that it drapes like a blanket. These calm and quiet wintry moments beg me to come find them – to venture out in nature for a hike or snowshoe and witness a familiar scene wearing a fresh coat of new colors. The stillness of these moments inspires a stillness within, especially in calming places like this one.

see details about this painting on my Etsy shop

Seasons #8

acrylic painting – by Sara

This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. When I am in struggle painting helps to clear my mind and make space for thoughts outside of the ones that feel pressing and consuming. This painting presented a lighting and color challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed. I found myself delightfully immersed in the variety of warm and cool colors found in this serene winter scene.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

Albert Camus

Taking A Leap

acrylic painting – by Sara

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

This first step I am taking feels more like a giant barefooted and blindfolded leap – a leap right towards all of the thoughts that try to convince me to stay still, silent, and small. This painting marks the beginning of this leap.

Next month I plan to enter a new adventure – attempting to begin selling my artwork. I am in the process of creating an Etsy shop and will provide the link here on my blog once it is up and running.

It’s exciting to inch towards this new adventure, and it’s also terrifying. I know I am not alone in my thoughts of not being good enough or talented enough or whatever enough to attempt a new challenge. I know that even on the day I choose to open my shop and attempt to market and sell my work to others for the very first time that the voice inside that screams “your art is not good enough to exist anywhere outside of the walls you create it in” will still be there. And it might even get louder.

But I have to try.

Why? Because as long as I’m still breathing I need to keep trying. And right now I really need to try something new. I feel so incredibly broken inside. This feeling of being insignificant – that it wouldn’t matter if I just suddenly disappeared from the world – is immense sometimes. And it feels like it’s growing. I have this new default answer that comes to my mind every single time I meet someone new and they ask me what I do for work. I hate that it’s my first thought. I hate that it’s such a strong thought. But it comes screaming forward in response to that question every single time.

What do you do for a living? I take up space.

I need to push back on that thought. I need to find a way to create a new answer that I can fully believe in. When I paint that thought and that feeling shrinks just a little bit. It gives me space to breathe. It creates room for possibility. It gives me a momentary sense of purpose.

That is how I arrived here. Full of doubt, loaded with questions, and sprinkled with hope. This new adventure feels like something worth pursuing.

Seasons #7

acrylic painting – by Sara

This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. When I am in struggle painting helps to clear my mind and make space for thoughts outside of the ones that feel pressing and consuming. This painting was a fun challenge to find and express the variety of colors within a wintry white frozen scene.

“The color of springtime is in the flowers; the color of winter is in the imagination.”

Terri Guillemets

Reflections

Almost two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, I picked up a paintbrush and revisited an old passion of mine. Drawing and painting have always been an interest but often existed in the background with only occasional inspiration. In recent years art has developed into a therapeutic means of self expression and has enabled me to access feelings that are often difficult to wrap words around.

When the pandemic began and my part time job was replaced with remote learning facilitation duties for my two kids, I dove into a creative project that I am now close to completing. I decided to dig through photographs from my favorite trips, places, and memories and paint them. I devoted a room in my house to hang all of these painted memories. As the months passed by more and more paintings were completed and added to this collection. The more I painted the more I enjoyed it.

Almost two years later and the walls of this room that I have devoted to this creative project are nearly filled. I still have plans to paint a few more, but this project is now nearing its end. The interesting part about this challenge that I ventured into is that now as I look back at my first paintings in this series I see them differently. I see parts that I like as well as ways in which I might approach the paintings slightly different – color choices I would tweak, composition choices I would alter, or details I know I can express better now.

Reflecting on this past art work has caused some deeper thinking. I can see in my paintings that my skills have improved over time. It may not be a quantitative measure like improving a test score or a race time, but I see growth in areas that I struggled with at the beginning, and I even see growth where I didn’t know I needed to grow.

As I sit here today in a space of personal struggle – with uncertainty of my value here – doubting my own self worth and purpose – perhaps my paintings can show me something I’ve been failing to see.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where we stand. Sometimes it’s hard to have the proper perspective to find the space that exists between our shortcomings, our own personal growth, and our potential. It can feel so dark and murky that it just feels safer to shrink down in place. Perhaps this reflection on my painting process can be a reminder to look back and remember the struggles that have been overcome and the growth that has occurred. Perhaps then it might be possible to pave the way for a new healthier perspective that has seemed otherwise impossible.

When The Young One Cries

When the young one cries
Tears seep from jagged places
A deep salty sting
That burns from within

When the young one cries
Her voice is inaudible
But her pain is palpable
Shrinking and shuddering
Inside her own skin

When the young one cries
She asks herself why
They don’t notice
Why they fail to see her

She wonders what if
She could matter
Only for a moment
Just long enough
To help dry the tears
From this young one’s tired eyes

Seasons #5

watercolor painting – by Sara

This series of art is inspired by the symbolic nature of the beauty within the changing seasons. It is a reminder to slow down, pay attention, and soak in the details of each moment. When I am in struggle painting helps to clear my mind and make space for thoughts outside of the ones that feel pressing and consuming. This painting is the result of an attempt to redirect myself out of a dark place.

Welcome to the 5th creation of my “Seasons” series.

“Meet me in the middle of your story when the soul is worn but wise.”

Angie Weiland-Crosby