The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, August 22, 2016

I ASKED MY MOTHER, " WHAT SHOULD I SAY?" , Memories, Hopes and Fears

"Get up sunshine. Rise and shine! The day is ahead and you've got places to go, people to see, things to do. Time's a wasting. " 

I woke up hearing my Mom's voice. That was how she woke me up every morning until I was old enough to set my own alarm clock. Of course I sat up smiling and said, " Be right there Mom!" It was so real! How I miss her. She's been dead for 42 years and I still hear her voice sometimes. This morning I could swear I felt her brush my hair off my forehead, like she did when I was a child. It was always so comforting when she did that. I wish I could call her up and ask her if she wants to spend the day with me. I think she would have truly enjoyed being with horses.

It's funny, the things you will reach for when you need comfort. This morning it was a memory from my past, my Mom's voice. Maybe it was the open windows and the late Summer sounds coming through, the breeze and the light. But there she was, with me to start my day. I even laid there waiting to hear the sound of her penny loafers scuffing around in the kitchen while she made breakfast. 

I have friends who sometimes complain to me about the exhausting process of caring for an aging parent. I always shut that one down immediately. I would have loved to have that honor. But my Mom was gone just months after my oldest son was born. She never had the chance to know her grandsons or to have a relationship with me as an adult. It felt like a cheat when she told me she was sick, terminally ill. And then she did one of the bravest things I've ever seen anyone do. She smiled at me and said, " Let's get cracking. The sun is up and we've got places to go, things to do and people to meet. Time's a wasting. " And she walked in to the kitchen to start a meal. 

She was the embodiment of bravery, true strength. She knew what was coming but she wanted me to see how to deal with fear, how to lead by example. She wanted me to understand that life is fleeting and time is the most valuable commodity that you have. It isn't pretty clothes or jewels, big houses or fancy cars. It's time and how you choose to use what has been given to you.

I've been dealing with a lot of fear and anger issues this past year. I'm worried about the Endowment and the odd choices they're making for renters in the other house, politics, money, all of the usual hoo haa that gets in the way of getting myself up and moving forward. 

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

― Frank HerbertDune

Fear is the mind killer. It's also the time killer and the murderer of creative thought. It gets in the middle of my head and tries to choke me off from the places I want to go to, the things I want to do and the cliffs I want to leap from. She gave me a gift and I never want to walk around or abuse the idea of it. 

She died very quickly. She had a tumor that metastasized . It was over before it was found. She made a conscious choice not to accept treatment except for pain management. She wanted to be here and present and able to spend time with her brand new grandchild and to lead by example. It was 42 years ago and there were very few effective treatments and most of those were so harsh they were more likely to shorten your life rather than extend it. 

And she smiled every day, insisted on helping me with my son. She never complained. She just got up and did what she could with what she had, where she was with the time she had left.

I think I forgot, this past year, what she was trying to teach me. I came to a slamming, screaming halt and tried to hide out. It made me sick. I lost sleep, didn't eat right, forgot who I was. Things felt chaotic. You would think that, as an artist, I would feed on chaos. Not so. My studio is messy but never chaotic. I keep it tidy between projects and make a happy new mess with whatever I'm jumping "off the cliff" in to. I forgot I had a voice. 

So how did I turn it around? I decided to take my own advice and my Mom's . First I cleaned up my act diet wise. No more sugar. None. In fact I've gotten so used to living without sugar that I'm not even using honey anymore. It's amazing how much more energy I have without sugar in my life. Saving lots of money not buying junk food too. (How in the world do people find the money to eat that stuff? It's like buying gooey air. The only habits worse are smoking or drinking and drugs. All a waste of energy and time. Addictions happen, I think, when people are trying to fill a hole that can't be filled.) And I've lost weight in a slow and manageable way. No cravings. Fruit tastes sweeter, vegetables are rich and I've been fitting in to my old jeans. Not too shabby!

Then I began to reorganize my time. I'm still working on that one but at least I'm moving forward again. And my herd is right there, waiting for me too. "Where've you been girlfriend?" Oh, I've been doing chores and small games but I lost my goals, lost my way forward. And I love the Zen of working/playing with horses. It fits seamlessly with my life as an artist. When I let myself get too goal oriented, too forward and predatory, I drive my horses and the relationship they offer away. Finding balance is key. 

It's the same with my painting or illustration, or any other project. Goals are good but play is better. Playtime with horses = playtime in the studio = playtime in the field = playtime in my head. If I'm not having fun, why? What's happened to bring me to a halt? Fear. It's always fear.

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.   H. P. Lovecraft

I guess it's time to get cracking. The day is a wasting. I've got places to go, people to see, things to do. and I don't want to waste any of it.

My Mom was here exactly when I needed her, this morning when I have to face the possibility of making more mistakes than achieving goals. She used to tell me it was better to try than to hide. Making mistakes is a good way to learn and frustration is fuel for change. 

Think maybe I'm going to see if I can find some old Doris Day music to add to my list. My Mom loved her. I have the whole day ahead. What a gift! Here I go. Wish me luck!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and hearing my past...

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