Happy Birthday baby girl, today you are seven years old. You are the youngest child and so sometimes you get a little lost in the shuffle of this big family. Don’t fret, you will find your voice; the beautiful voice that it is. When you sing in the car, daddy turns the radio down just a little so we can hear you. We picked up on that; the harmony in your little girl voice and it warms us like sunshine. Your big sister’s friends tell me you are so beautiful, they are jealous of your dark wavy hair and your freckles. The freckles you hate but make you so, you. The freckles that show how you match daddy, how you are his little girl. You are our baby and we love you. Seven years ago today you were born and we were told not to touch you, we were told to hold our breath because you may not be here come morning. But by some miracle and the genius of the doctors on your team you stayed with us and each day that you fought for life and we cried at your side, unable to hold your hand we knew you would be super special to us. And you are. And you always will be.
20 years ago today I became a mother for the first time. I was only 22 years old and I was scared out of my mind. I thought there was no way I could raise a child and have him turn out okay. I was still afraid of the dark for god sakes! Turns out, despite my craziness I did do a good job because the young man I have raised is kind, thoughtful, calm, and extremely giving. He treats women with respect and will someday make someone an amazing husband.
So today my baby turns 20, he is no longer a teenager, he is a man. This day is a milestone in his life but sadly he got injured during training with the Canadian military and broke his hand in two places. He will spend the day of his 20th birthday having his hand put back together on an operating table in an Edmonton hospital. Talking with him last night really opened my eyes to how much he has grown up. He is not afraid of his impending operation, he is keeping a light and easy spirit in spite of being in pain and being so far away from his family and his girlfriend. He is a brave and genuine person, he is my hero and I am very proud of him.
Yesterday I worked on two paintings, one of a tornado at the request of a client who is also buying my lightning bolt painting. The other a beach scene triptych, which is two separate paintings that when hung together make one picture. So yesterday was a busy day in my painting world. Things got messy, as they often do when I’m in the middle of a commission. But what stresses me out the most on these types of days, when I have more then one piece on the go is keeping the paintings away from my cats while they dry. There is nothing worse then seeing little blue footprints on the floor before you see they have walked across the painting. My goal this year is to get a closed off room to myself for my art that is free of kids and animals. What bliss it would be to leave a painting to dry and not have to chase a cat or kid out of the house!
I love this writer, J.D. Gallagher, he is worth taking the time to follow. This post is an example of his thought provoking writing style.
Today I stumbled upon this video about bullying by Shane Koyczan, http://www.upworthy.com/bullies-called-him-pork-chop-he-took-that-pain-with-him-and-then-cooked-it-into?g=3 it’s a beautifully written, spoken poem with animation, the animation is beautiful and touching in it’s own right.
This is an incredibly important video and as a person who was also bullied as a child I found myself crying over it. There is one part where he says “we grew up believing no on would ever fall in love with us, that we’d be lonely forever, that we’d never meet someone to make us feel like the sun was something they built for us in their tool shed. So broken heart strings bled the blues as we tried to empty ourselves so we would feel nothing.” That particular collection of words really hit home to me. I was bullied from grade 6 into high school simply because I had buckteeth. My parents were not able to get braces for me until I was 16. The happiest day of my life, and it is sad to say so, is the day I had my braces put on. I grew up in a military family and spent my childhood moving every 4 years. In grade 6 I started in a new school in a smaller town and that’s when the bullying started. I can remember laying in bed at night and thinking the same thing that Shane Koyczan says in his amazing poem; that no one would ever fall in love with me, I was going to grow up lonely, that this would never go away, this would never get better. It did get better as my teeth were straightened, as I grew up and found beauty in myself. However the pain you endure as a child, being barked at all the way home from the bus stop, being called bucky beaver, ugly, freak, the pain of those words carry into adulthood. They make you fear the day your children start school, fear that they will endure the same pain. Or worse that they will inflict pain on others.
Because of my teeth and the relentless teasing I learned to hide away, to not get too close to people for fear I would get too comfortable and maybe forget to cover my mouth with my hand when I smiled or laughed. I was always so careful to cover my mouth. I was one of the lucky ones though, I had friends, friends that considered themselves good people for allowing me to hang out with them, you know, considering…. Friends that would think it were okay to say, “you are the nicest person in our class but you are the ugliest.” I never want my children to have to plan out how they are going to walk from one class to the next to avoid certain people, to have to walk down a hallway while the name calling hits you like a slap in the face. I never want my children to have to laugh when someone makes a reference to how you remind them of bugs bunny, like laughing at yourself will make the humiliation less intense. I never wanted anyone to know their comments hurt me, somehow that made it worse in my eyes. So I laughed along with them and they in turn thought I was so nice, with no idea how much I actually hated them. Thank you Shane Koyczan, your words WILL make a difference.
Please note this blog post was hard to write, I still feel the sting of humiliation recalling that time in my young life. Share Shane’s video, like his facebook page, follow him on twitter; watch him as he makes a difference.
I took a bit of a summer hiatus from my art. Part of that hiatus included a two week vacation to Eastern Canada with my family. 5000 kms of driving and five different provinces we took in a lot of cool sights. This was a vacation on a budget which included camping in a pop up trailer with five noisy and often fighting kids. Marsh mellows, smores and scary stories told around the campfire my kids were scared and sticky messes each night before bed. Now our two youngest sleep with their door open for fear that they will be attacked in the night by three finger Willie (thank you Stephan for your imaginative story). A lot of memories were made in those 5000 kms; and after many mosquito bites, boring car rides, late nights and ocean views my kids are pretty impressed they travelled half of Canada in a two week span. Maybe next summer we will head west.
Here a few of the sites we encountered, photo credits to Stephan Chagnon.