Part of My Story

It may have taken me years to know and understand this. Today it has become more clear, and I’m compelled to share this part of my story.

The Cowboy Finger Painting – Scanned

I was born into a family of artists. Grandmothers who cooked and sewed and kept lovely homes. Grandpa who showed us the world through his lens with beautiful photography. My own mom, a musician who still as I write this teaches piano. My Dad in the day when he had his health could fix Anything, and could sing with a deep wonderful base voice, and could paint. Just like it was yesterday I can recall Dad making a finger painting at the kitchen table, probably teaching me how to do it. He created a cowboy on a horse for me.  

My siblings and I were raised in a loving home, in a time and place where we could play indoors and out, making tracks in the dirt with toy trucks, climbing high into the apricot tree, dressing up to be any character we could imagine. And bike riding all over our little town was the perfect summer activity, letting the wind whistle through my ears.  We were able to be creative at play, in a family of artists.

Countless patchwork quilts, handmade clothes, knitted sweaters – all from the gifted hands of Grandma and my mom – these creations, works of art in their own right, have comforted and enveloped me through the years.

Grandpa taught us about taking photos, letting us work in the dark room with him, showing us patiently and gently how to use a camera, how to compose a photo.  On my living room wall are some of his best work, scenes of nature that he saw through this lens.  Even now, to remember the great times he and I spent together, I’ll have a “Grandpa Day” and go out and take photos of trees.  He is still with me in spirit.  

Art has a way of healing. I first experienced that healing when a counselor urged me to start drawing what my heart needed to express.  It was 1993, I was divorced and wondering how I could ever get my life back to some kind of normal. In the process I was learning more about who I am, digging deep into my past, my dreams, and my own grief and anger. At her urging, I bought colored pencils and newsprint. I sat for hours on my bedroom floor and drew images that astounded me…simply because of how they came to me, how intense the experience was.  After many drawings I was able to stop and see what they said about my life. The healing came  when I could see that each phase of my life had some good in it that I could take and nourish.  

Music also has healed the wounds in my heart. In symphony choir a few years ago we sang a tribute to the victims of 9/11 and to others who have been victims of senseless acts of violence.  The tribute was emotional, often leaving us and the director in tears.  At the final performance, even the maestro was crying…because this music allowed us to grieve. It brought back the pain of that day, the loss, but it was filled with beautiful prayers in several languages. I found myself looking at my fellow singers with new eyes. No longer did it matter to me what faith any of them practiced. No longer did I think myself any more worthy of love than any of them.  We were all equals.  Our hearts may have been shattered on 9/11, but that spring, singing that music (Memorial by Renee Clausen), wounds were mended.

In the past eight years new friends have come into my life, one in particular who has become my mentor and dear friend.  Through her I have learned of Spiritual Direction, which has lead to more art activity than I ever dreamed of.  Art as a way of healing, of getting to know the Creator, even the Goddess within us all.  And what an amazing experience we have had together! We have our own art sessions here in my home, which I have written about here. We paint, collage, make messes with ink, encourage one another in the process, and watch our friendships blossom.  

Art has opened my eyes. Art gets me in touch with that which is holy, sacred, feminine.Artists lived in my childhood home. Artists raised me. 

I’m getting reacquainted with the artist that is me.  

7 Replies to “Part of My Story”

  1. Deb. This is so powerful. I'm finding myself without words. Please know that I am deeply touched by your story, your sharing, how deeply you value art and how beautifully you are showing up for your life.

    I absolutely love your thank you note to Art…I think I will be writing one of my very own. You have inspired me this evening.

    Thank you.

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