ColorJoy as a LifeStyle
I have written this blog since November 2002. My goal has been to talk about art as including much more than flat paper with marks on it, in a frame, on a wall. I still feel passionate about getting that message to as many people as I can.
It may look to a new visitor as though my posts are scattered in subject matter. However, gardens and good food, dance and music, friendships and community-building, are all places where true artfulness can be expressed.
Why this Passion?
I did not call myself an artist until I was in my 30’s. I have always worked in three-dimensional media. I thought art was drawing or painting, and did neither. Now that I am sure that is a too-limited view of art, my passion is to open the eyes of others in this area.
My goal has been to write over 20 posts a month. I have done well with that goal, until this summer.
A Hiccup on the Road
This summer was unusual. I have sometimes waited a week or more between posts. It seemed I was without words. In a real sense, I was. In another sense, I just did not know what to say.
Writing a blog is an odd artform. Sometimes it can feel as though one is talking blindfolded. One can’t know for sure if anyone reads it.
I talk to folks in person, and they mention they read my blog. I get your comments. Sometimes I get neither, but I continue. I know that some of you have been reading for years, and I appreciate you!
However, this summer I found myself facing something I did not know how to discuss. It was not life-threatening, but it was life-changing. I did not know how it would end. I grew silent here, after years of bursting forth with posts.
It Felt Pretty Big
What happened was that my voice stopped working. This spring it became impossible to function normally. Sometimes I would open my mouth to speak, and it sounded as though I was whispering. I have had weak times before, but never this. It did not hurt at all, but my speech system just did not function properly.
I have said for years that I am a “professional explainer.” I teach knitting, most of the time. Once a week I teach computer skills in community education, the last vestige of my Y2K consulting business.
My joy is to bring understanding to others. Because I freelance, every week is different.
Finding My Strengths
Fortunately, I can explain with written words as well as spoken. I write this blog. I write knitting patterns. I do love to write, but there is NOTHING like being with someone who just figured out how to do something (especially if you helped them get to that point).
This summer I had to stop and look at my life, and make changes. I could not accomplish my normal schedule. I did not know if it would be temporary or permanent. I knew that I had the rest of my health and I was glad of that.
Looking Back to Stand Tall
I remembered the biggest unexpected life change I ever experienced, which was my divorce in 1991. That change was terrifying and painful at first. However, it opened a door for me to discover more about myself.
In the end, I think that the divorce was one of my most precious life gifts. By losing everything I thought I was and the future I’d believed in for 16 years, I had to start fresh. I found out who I really was inside, and I started living the life of an artist… followed by the guts to call myself “Artist,” with a capital “A.”
The memory of that painful change which turned into a life-enhancing experience, spurred me to find a way to turn this voice challenge into a growth experience.
So, What *Could* I Do This Time?
I looked at my life. At first, when I was still fighting the blues of uncertainty, I needed to do some physical tasks to feel as though I had actually accomplished something. I started decluttering/purging my house. I figured I could do that until the rest of my life direction became clear.
First I really cranked on decluttering the kitchen. I had already spent time emptying my cupboards of unused and expired items, so that task took only a few days.
Then came the office. Oooooh, boy! That task took over a month and is mostly done now.
There is no “done,” of course. Life continues and every day brings more mail and more work to do.
The Harder Choices
I chose to stop teaching this summer so I could rest. I took about 6 weeks off from any classroom.
Brian and I had a few musical performances on the schedule, so we rehearsed two full hours of material which did not depend on me to sing at all. I could smile and play bass, maybe whistle, but not need to make a sound.
In the end, singing was much easier than speaking and we never had to do a concert without me.
I stopped going to social events so that I could rest my voice. I did not go to Dulcimer Festival. I did not attend Knitting night on Thursdays at Rae’s.
If a gathering was more than me plus one other person, I almost always declined, or made it a very brief appearance. Even though my network of essential friend/supporters is essential to my good humor, I even canceled some 1-1 meetings when I thought it would make a difference. Some friends would do an internet “chat” by typing, which helped.
Somehow, through this time, it was hard to blog. I feel that not saying the truth is a way to lie. I did not want to post as if nothing was wrong, but I had no idea what my voice weakness really was. I did not know how it would end. To deal with my uncertainty, I slowed down here.
Brian, as always, has been a brick. When he prepared to possibly carry our performances without my voice, he never complained. We went out and gave everyone a great show!
We never let down a single audience… everyone was happy. Let’s face it, when you have people singing along to “My Blue Heaven” or “Bye Bye Blackbird,” it is going to be a good show.
Counting Many Blessings
Through this whole process, I have had the BEST doctor I could have had, for me. She has pulled together a team of several health professionals to help me heal.
I am back to my old schedule. I can teach and sing, and still have a voice the next day. This is a huge gift. I did not know if it could happen.
So why do I finally take the time to talk about this now? I am better.
The team of health professionals my primary doctor has found for me, is actively helping me strengthen my voice. I am re-learning how to talk. I drive 3 hours round trip to work with them. They are worth every minute, every mile, every tank of gas.
And with that enthusiasm, I’m more inclined to write here again. It has been hard to post pictures of beautiful things when I felt I was keeping a secret from you.
Now that I have hope, I’m setting the truth free in the wind. I’m ready to connect with you again. I miss our two-way conversations in the comments. I appreciate each and every one of you… those whose names I know and those who pass by quietly without comment. You mean a lot to me.
Thanks for hanging on with me while I was not saying much. Thanks for sticking through this long post. And thank you for being part of my life. You make my life richer!
The first 4 images of me in today’s post, were taken by my beloved “Fairy Goddaughter,” Isabel. She is 6 years old. Give a kid good tools, and see what they can do…