My Art – An Insight


I painted all day yesterday, final touchups on a couple of paintings and then sketching ideas for new paintings.  Don’t know why I’m thinking about new ones when I have so many to finish…

 I’m trying to get myself back to enjoying painting instead of anticipating a buyer or show.  That takes away from the joy of just painting for the sake of creating for me.  While I’m actually painting, I’m  in total bliss.  But before and after?  Not so much.  Not like it was before I started selling.  Sometime ago I figured out that pressure that I put on myself – insecurity about my paintings – needing others to like my paintings – sellable? gallery-able?  was a big part of the reason that I stopped painting for so many years.

Some of my paintings were used in Portland Street of Dreams in the 80’s which precipitated a pretty unexpected success in selling my art and hundreds of prints.  I had been selling regularly at a hospital where I worked but the Street of Dreams experience raised pressure to paint to a whole new level.  Ultimately, it became such a drain that I quit painting.  For 20 some years!  I dabbled once in a rare while but don’t think I ever finished a painting during those years.  I do know that I got side tracked with my sales years ago – felt stuck in doing the kind of art that sold in the same way as always so that it would sell.  After the initial excitement of being in such demand lost it’s glow and became pressure, I felt trapped and bored – in a way.

I realized this morning that I’m still in that mind set – insecurity and pressure.  I have myself so confused and pressured about what I want to paint to add to a collection for a gallery – children series, southwest series, seascapes, landscapes…. I’m like a fart in a frying pan!!!

 A couple of years ago I started painting again.  A little.  About a year ago, I started painting more and now I’m obsessed with it again.  But I find I’m struggling with me.  I want to have a distinctive style – whatever it turns out to be.  Some others say they see it but I don’t.  Right now when I look at my different sets of paintings, they look like they’re done by different artists – my children series is one style, southwest another, seascapes are different yet and way  more realistic than I like although I really get high on some aspects of realism in all my paintings, especially seascapes.

If I’m truly painting from in my artistic “center” will I see my style as consistent?   No matter what I paint?   I don’t know.   And then again, maybe I just need to accept that right now I enjoy doing different styles and have different series to express those styles.  I need to explore that.  Acceptance?

I do know that this artist thing is kind of a torment for me.  Pressure – to paint, to sell, to hang, to be part of, is my art good enough?  For pity sake –  Am I good enough?   Do I want to be alone today and paint?  My internal battle begins.  Most days it takes a lot of self-discipline to get started.  Once I do, I’m glad.    It clears my mind – no stress.  It’s my meditation and prayer time.  Fortunately I’m more a loner than not  – so art suits me.  But I find myself feeling very separated from life and feel like I’m coming up gasping for air.  I need family, a friend, laughter, fun.  I have an intensely deep need to for both.

Today I’m going to paint for the fun of it and to express my creativity and consciously put all of “those” pressures out of my mind.  I am going to practice not caring what anyone thinks about my art.  It’s mine and if I like it, that’s all that matters.  It’s my baby and I’m gonna love it.  If it turns out to be something, then great.  If it doesn’t, it was my expression for the moment. I had fun doing it.  If not, I can always paint over…

Hmmm.  Am I really that brave?

Of course I am!

It gives me joy and freedom just thinking about it!

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The Gap – Or…Choosing Acceptance – A Way of Being. Yes!


Night before last I slept 2-1/2 hours.  Unlike some prior sleepless times, it was not a tortured night, just restless.  It was as though there was something that was trying to bring itself to my awareness and I wasn’t getting it.  I realized this but couldn’t put it into words until later in the morning.  I just knew I was tense and anxious – could not relax my tight shoulders, neck and body, even through a couple of hours of attempted meditation.  My mind was in an anxious muddle,  I couldn’t seem to relax and clear it.  So I pondered.  What the hell was happening.  What was causing this stress in me.   I couldn’t filter it down.

When this happens to me, it’s like a wonderful intriguing mystery – at least after I’m through the “journey” or “lesson”.    Because of these experiences, I really believe Eckhart Tolle, Michael Singer – and others – that we are the observer.  We are not our thoughts.  We observe our thoughts.   Why didn’t I think of it earlier?  Of course!  Writing.  That’s usually how I figure things out – writing words and listening to the message.  So early yesterday morning, I started journaling.

I have been surviving some major changes in relationships with my children and grandchildren.  Changes from what it used to be to what it is now.  These have been painful changes for me because of the loss of  my being an integral part of their daily and weekly lives, of being a parent and grandparent who has been distanced by normal  life circumstances.    Are these Age gaps?   These changes were definitely not my choice.  On one hand, I’ve been pleased and proud to see everyone becoming… and knowing that they’re healthy, happy and purposeful on their paths.  The other part of me has wanted to grab their legs and drag on behind them, saying No! No!  Include me.  I can’t stand to lose what it was”.

Well, there is a God!   I fortunately managed to avoid doing that but on SO many occasions I came very close to saying something (that I would regret).  I just never knew exactly what to say…

Needless to say, I finally got “it”.  Things really have permanently changed.  Over the last year I’ve been working on making a different life for myself.  It’s taken a lot of trust.  I’ve caused myself a trainload of grief and anxiety but gratefully I’m on the other side of that now.    Mostly.  So now I can write about it.   Much of my life has shifted from the comfortable known of relationships with these young friends who happen to be my children and grandchildren, and all the laughter, silliness, busy-ness, excitement, curiosity, sharing, and more laughter…that the growing absence of that has been way more aloneness than I ever imagined.   In fact, I guess it never occurred to me that things would change.  It was a surprise.  And quiet sudden.  Why?   Not sure why it was such a surprise.   I’m in my 70’s and they’re in their 20’s and 40’s.  Big gap in a few ways.

I’ll skip much of what I analyzed over these past months, learned and began to acknowledge.  Suffice it to say that I’ve learned a ton about myself.  And I’ve created a few nice new friendships that continue to grow.  These are women my age and there is laughter and fun and a different kind of understanding, but I recognize that I’ll need to involve myself, maybe volunteering in some way to be with young people.  I really enjoy them.  Maybe the time that I spend with my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be fulfilling enough since I have my new friendships.  We’ll see.

Yesterday morning was another major life-changing AHA realization.  When I started writing, I realized how I’ve narrowed my “role” to being  the Wise One.  I feel that’s how my kids and grandkids see me now – at least from their communication styles with me in the last year.  Somewhere along the way, probably in a large part due to age differences (I blame it on that), I lost my reputation with them as being silly, shocking (I loved doing that to them), pretty daring, fun and introducing them to new things.  By the way, realizing this, I know that I can change this pattern with a little effort – and I’m making my plan.

I realized that I’ve lived my life in resistance – to what is – always wanting more – or different.  Not things.  I don’t want more things.  Life is shorter now and I want more out of life.  For me and those that I love before I pass on.  I’ve been a searcher and explorer of what more is possible.  Always – in fact to the point that inside I had become driven, exhausted and anxious.  “What could I be doing better?” Well, now.  I got a bit of an idea of how that is most like perceived by my loved ones.  Gap?….

Mortality is real now.   Mine.  And that branches out to include all of those that I love and care about.  When I was not as concerned with my mortality, I was more free with my choices.   What seems careless to me now was freedom then.   I have had a rude awakening as to how much resistance I have been choosing – to what I’m doing – to what others do.   Did I not do   similar things to what my grandchildren in their 20’s are doing – prior to growing nearer my “mortality”?   When I felt laughter, fun and freedom?  I’m almost certain that I’ve thrown that net of concern over my kids and grandkids when what they are doing seems “careless and taking unwise risks” in my new perspective.  Whew!  I don’t like realizing that.  No wonder the gap!

And the clinker…I have no control over what they do anyway!  Consciously I don’t even want it.  But do they know that?   Do they interpret my concern for them as lacking confidence in their decisions?  I do have a strong sense of wanting to protect them.   But I also know that they’re all adults and perfectly capable of caring for themselves.   Last week I was stressing about life situations that my kids and grandkids are facing.  I wrote what I call a letter to God.  I write about my concerns.  I pretend – or maybe he really does answer me (I believe he does), with thoughts that help me.  I have a running dialogue in my head with God but sometimes it helps to write it.

Well.  When I was expressing my concern about my kids problems, God ask me if there is something I think I can do that he cannot.  Ahhemm.  Chuckle.  I confessed probably not.   He said, “worry not”.  I’m always with them.  Your job is to love and enjoy them.  Period.  Stick to your job and I’ll stick to mine.   I didn’t feel scolded.  I felt like I’d been lifted out a huge rut that I’d been stuck in, had an overwhelming load taken off my back and was grateful for his love.  I felt hugged.  I also felt immediate joy in my kids and grandkids.  A gift.  They were no longer a burden.  Is that what they were feeling from me?  Gap?

Yesterday morning I realized that I’ve been carrying on the old family trait – one learned from my parents – that there is always a better way to do anything – translated to me as never being good enough and never doing it well enough.  Yes, there is some good in that trait but Stop Grasshopper!!!!  Balance.  I found I was writing about not being very accepting – of much of anything.  Always jumping at the chance to express ideas for improving what is, improving whatever….you name it.    Has that been translated and heard as criticism?  Wow! Does that sound like “old” or what!  Intensity, anxiety, driven, tired…. I realize age has nothing to do with that kind of “old”.   But I suddenly got a very clear picture.  When my thinking exhibits “narrow, critical and old”, the white hairs on my head add to the perception.    I have thought that those white hairs simply indicate I probably know more than I used to.  Well, yes – this may be true.  But its the balance –  having the allure of youth – being  fun, silly,  excited, light-hearted and free that is interwoven with wisdom, sharing fun and interesting experiences that honor our age.   I realized yesterday that somewhere that  balance had gradually changed in my life  – to  being anxious and preoccupied, intense, being perceived as critical, perfectionistic, and not much fun to be around.  Sounds “old” to me.  I’ve missed the laughter, the fun – of being me.  And that’s a choice.  I got it.  The first step in closing the gap a little?  Maybe?

I realized that the opposite of being resistant is accepting.  Yesterday I made a choice.  I wrote about making unconditional acceptance  my chosen way of Being.  Accepting life, change, loss, and yes – even happiness and joy.

My AHA! moment –  Today, I want exactly what I already have.  I accept what is.  Unconditional acceptance is my conscious, chosen way of BEING.  I know that my way of “being” is definitely a choice.   The wonder of all of this is…I can stop right now and choose something different…a different way of thinking, believing and BEING!  I can rewrite who I am.  I can rewrite my story and start fresh and new.  Again.  And I have.

The moment that I wrote that, my body relaxed.  I was released.  The power of that resistance was gone.

Last night I slept eight hours!  The first time in a long long time.  Acceptance.  I’m a raving fan!

Uh…Hello….On Aging…A letter to my children, grandchildren and great-granchildren


Hi Ya’ll,

I’ve always felt that I was vital to our family.   Suddenly I feel that I’m on my way out.  I feel kind of grieve-y.  But only for a moment…    I’ve decided that I’m not ready to be “relegated”… and I’m going to stay as involved with you as you’ll let me.   The thought occurred to me that maybe with my “labels’ of Mom, Grandma and Great-grandma, that you’re judging what I’d like and not like because of your preconceived ideas of age – I’m here to tell you – NOT!… please keep an open mind about age and check with me before you decide?

So here are some of my thoughts…no one ever talked to me about aging but I feel that I’d be cheating all of us out of many good times and memories if I fade out gracefully.  I’m not very excited about that option.  So here goes…

Maybe this is simply a cycle of life – in fact I’m sure it can be – for some people.  Not us.  It’s not in my frame of reference…

Do you know that even though I have white hair and more than a few wrinkles, I have a sharp mind and a loving heart.  Still.    That hasn’t changed.  My appearance is not in agreement with how I feel inside.  If I had no mirror, I’d totally believe that I’m still in my late 30’s – well maybe early 40’s.  I feel the same now as when you grandchildren were born.

Even though I’m a GG now – a great-grandmother, my energy and interest in life is still as intense as it has always been (other than being slowed temporarily with my darn broken foot!).    The day may come when I don’t have as much energy and am a little slower but I hope you remember that I waited for you when you were a little slower and needed a little more care and attention.

I’m finding I have mixed feelings about the labels of Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma.  On one hand, I love the memories of the little voices calling me, and the same voices as they became adult sounds and still calling me.  On the other hand, they are labels and labels are distancers….and I’m feeling a distance that jolts me.

Some of you have wanted to change your names as you found new identities.  Now it’s my turn.  I want to have no other label than my name.  Some of you are already calling me GG – and that’s great.  Or you can call me Sharon or MiMi- I’ll answer to any of them.  This may be temporary and maybe not.  Could it be a phase?  We’ll see…

I don’t need guilt, hurt feelings and please, no gifts.  You’re my gift.  Unless you see something that you just HAVE to get for me – to fill your own need.  Just know that the best gift you can give me is an occasional phone call to tell me about a funny memory, your latest news or just that you’re thinking of me and love me.  I love your old notes, I’ve saved all of them – and would love more.  I would like for your note to tell me that you’re so glad that I’m your Sharon, MiMi or GG.   Just joking…well, no I’m not….I’d just love that.  You know the adage..”it’s the thought that counts”?  Those thoughts are my gifts and when you write them, I treasure them and can re-read them when I need you and you’re busy with your life.   I love it when you text me a random picture of where you are or what you’re doing.  It lets me know you’re thinking of me at important times in your life.

I know and love that you all get together and have wonderful times.  But when it’s appropriate, please remember to invite me – remember that I’d love to be there with you.  I just love watching you, laughing with you, eating with you, remembering with you…just being.   Making a few more memories.

I’d really like to say that I don’t get my feelings hurt – but I do.  I’d like to say that I don’t feel alone sometimes – I do.  I’d like to be strong and mean it when I say that my memories are enough to get me by – but they’re not…I want more, more, more…

I love you,

Sharon, aka GG, MiMi

When I Know Better – I Do Better – My Maya Angelou Mantra


I feel that I hurt, turned off, scared, dumped (not about her)  on my daughter yesterday and she’s either hurt or very turned off.    It wasn’t anything devastating, in fact it was expressing myself about my own issues.   But she was trying to help and couldn’t and I have no idea about how she actually took it.   I wish I had taken a deep breath and made sure I knew how she took it.   I have a feeling she somehow ended up feeling guilty about “something”.  If I could have a “do over”, I’d have left her after making it clear to her that she had nothing to do with my pain – I think she knows – but I’d feel better had I made that clear.  That I didn’t expect her to “fix it”.   I feel I left her in my emotional turmoil.  She’s in a pretty painful place right now, going througha divorce, and I imagine our experience yesterday left her with some feelings of her own to deal with.

I  later texted her – her preferred communication – apologizing for expressing my anger and sadness in a way that I didn’t like.  She hasn’t responded.

She’s been in a very fragile state for the last couple of years and I’ve tried to be there for her.   I’m already pretty worn out trying to deal with some of my own presently heavy issues that she is not a part of – and still be there for her.  I realized recently that I’m feeling a little sad that she doesn’t realize – or at least express – any acknowledgement of what I’ve helped her with during her divorce.   It’s clear she’s had a lot of comfort from our talks and being together, a few “A Ha” moments.  She invariably attributes these to others.  She openly and often expresses gratitude for others who are there for her – and I’m so glad they are.  Deeply grateful for the love surrounding her.  She invariably attributes one of “our A Ha moments” to someone else when she’s recounting to me.

Is it my Ego?  Wanting to feel appreciated some times?  Acknowledged?  Does it really matter who helps her as long as she grows and finds her way?  My egoless self would certainly say that and most of the time I do.  While writing this I just realized – I want to know that she feels like my cherished daughter – a special, not to be duplicated relationship, not me as merely a friend.

We’re extremely close but rarely physically affectionate.  We’re more best friends than Mother-Daughter.  I know that’s appropriate for where we are now but I think I was not a “Mommy” – a consistent safe place – when she was growing up.   I still yearn for that feeling between us, even more as I get further away from the time when it was appropriate.   It’s loudly missing – and has always been missing.  She wasn’t a cuddler, but neither was I.   I missed that as a child and I wasn’t even aware of it.  I certainly would never have given it to my kids.  I was pretty emotionally detached in most ways in the past – from everyone – so that I’m so glad that we’ve been able to sustain the closeness that we have and see it grow as adults.  I guess it’s an intense mother-daughter closeness expressed in the best way that we both know how and are comfortable with.

The first time I can remember “feeling” a hug was when my daughter was about five years old.  My sister and brother-in-law were visiting us from out of town and just leaving our home.  We were in the driveway and my sister hugged me – which she did a lot.  All of a sudden I realized that I was being hugged and especially realized that I wasn’t hugging back.  I did it awkwardly.  It was an emotional milestone in my life that I’ll never forget.  That feeling.   I had always just stood motionless when anyone hugged me.  I got plenty of hugs – from my husband, family, kids – but never felt it until then.  That was the beginning of learning to relish hugs.  My children were about 5, 10 and 13.  I weep for the disconnection I taught them.   I wonder what pain and difficulty attaching they have experienced all of these years.   I’ve watched them as adults and they’re all very physically and emotionally affectionate and connected with their families but that missing part of their childhood  has to have affected them in some pretty deep ways?  Maybe they learned what they don’t want to be?  I’ll start a conversation with them at an appropriate time and hope for healing where needed.  I know from experience that it’s never to late.

Thanks Maya Angelou – once again I say to myself… “When I know better I do better”.  That helps.  And now I hug my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every chance I get.  And really feel it.

And I’m grateful.