Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Ahhh, it's that time of year again!  Family and friends, presents wrapped in paper and topped with bows...crazy drivers, checkout lines stretching to the door, and stressed out last minute shoppers.  As with anything, it all depends on how you look at it!  I do my best each year to avoid the crazy drivers and packed stores by starting my Christmas shopping in June...yes, JUNE.  That may be neurotic, but it allows me to calmly welcome the holidays with a smile on my face.  Well, I try anyway!  I actually bought my last gift two days ago, so I couldn't avoid the stress completely.  Hmmm...maybe I should start in March.

Though however it happens, all of the stress is worth it when a present I have chosen (or made,) makes someone I love smile.  It's worth it to watch my youngest niece rip apart that snowman paper with abandon, and pull a giant teddy bear into a big hug!  Or to see my older niece model a brand new sweater or a piece of jewelry, which reminds me once again how beautiful she is.  Both of my nieces are beautiful, inside and out--and seeing them on my favorite holiday and watching how they've grown year after year, is worth the long shopping lines!

Now, I realize in my heart that this holiday is not about the's about the smiles.  It's about those opportunities to see how my nieces have grown, and to hear my family laugh when we discuss past holiday memories.  Like my father's Christmas outfit when I was a child; a green turtleneck and red bell bottom pants (sorry, dad--at least I didn't post it!)  Or the shiny silver tree with the multi-colored light box that rotated, so the color of our tree was forever changing...Hey, cool!  Our tree is red--oh, wait.  It's gree...hold on a minute.  Is that a BLUE tree??   Ah yes, the 70s!  Those were weird times full of strange fashion and lots of shininess!  And now I'll forever have those memories to enjoy with my family.  The stories of past times are truly the most important, and I know if I weren't able to come to Christmas celebrations with any presents, I would still be wanted...I also know that this year has been more difficult for me due to financial issues.  I can only imagine what many others out there face, when attempting to get their loved ones presents in this failing economy.  Can I change that?  Not really.  All I can do is stay calm and keep that smile on my face...and hopefully if someone else is dealing with their own holiday stresses and money struggles, I'm the one who holds the door for them, and sends them through with a smile.  Maybe, if I'm lucky, my small gesture helps them just a little!

Well, as I still have presents to wrap and kitties to pull off the tree (they're trying to climb it again...) I must dash!  Though before I go, I wish all of my readers a happy and healthy holiday whatever you may celebrate...and when our new year comes, may you all look back and remember the laughter and smiles on the faces of your family and friends.  May you surpass all of your stress and financial burdens, and start some holiday memories of your own to enjoy for years to come!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Starry Night Success!

This has been an interesting couple of weeks...mixed with ups and downs, and a fair amount of stress!  But I am happy to report that our Starry Night/Art de Cure event to raise funds for the Charcot Marie Tooth Association was a huge success!  I am still awaiting the final total, though I know we raised at least $8000 for the CMTA's STAR Research program.  And it was wonderful to see all the familiar faces of family and friends who came out on Friday to support our cause, including my niece who was generous enough with her time to help serve hors d'oeuvres (along with many other wonderful volunteers.)  Thank you, everyone! I'd especially like to thank our CMT group leader M, for all her hard work to make this event successful!

Another boost to my positive energy was the fact that I sold both of my paintings during our of them purchased by a good friend of mine!  Not only does a portion of that money help a cause near and dear to my heart, but it also gives me the prompting I need to KEEP PAINTING!  I feel (and hope) that this represents a new path that has opened up for me, and it couldn't come at a better time.  This life of mine has suffered its bumps and bruises, and my path has hit its share of potholes.  After coming down from the Starry Night high, I tripped and fell into one of those holes.  The kind that teaches you it's time to make some changes, in order to get to the other side.  I'm still working on climbing out of it (I'll let you know when I get there.)

The change?  Well, let's just say I decided to be proactive this time around, and I asked the question I was too afraid to voice when I was a teacher..."Is doing this job hurting me?"  When I taught special education, I knew deep down that I couldn't physically do my job anymore.  It was becoming more and more difficult, and I didn't work with the type of people I do now...despite repeated requests for more assistance, I was denied the basic necessities I needed to do my job.  It was hurting me, and instead of giving me more help within the classroom, all I was given was more students.  Could I have left?  Yes, though it would mean quitting and giving up my income...and it would mean leaving my students as well.  I chose to stay mostly for them, though deep down I knew what I was risking...and I did pay for it.  It took me two years to physically recover from that, enough to work part time.  And that pothole was a BIG ONE!

So where am I now?  Well, I'm in a similar place...I know I need to make changes, which includes cutting my part time hours even more.  I know I'm struggling.  The difference?  I'm attempting to make those changes, before that moment comes.  You know that moment; when you fall in the pothole and attempt to climb out the other side, only to get squashed back down by a Greyhound bus.  If you're lucky you only end up with road rash on your face and tire tracks on your backside...if you're unlucky, the bus is followed by a tractor trailer.  I am trying to do what I need to do now before I get squashed, and the reasonable side of my brain knows it's the right thing to do.  The other side is discouraged, and frustrated with the fact that I have reached another plateau I have to cross...even though I don't particularly want to cross it and the other side seems so far away.  But this is where my path is leading me.  And I am lucky to work with people now who understand that, accept me for it, and are willing to help me get to the other side.  Despite the changes, for that I am fortunate.

And who knows?  Maybe I can stop along the way, take in the view, and paint.  And once I reach the other side there may be a pile of canvases and an endless supply of acrylics waiting for me...and a new source of income I never imagined.  Nothing is impossible...I never would have gotten this far, otherwise!  And now that my first two paintings have sold in the Art de Cure gallery, there are two more for sale hanging in their place.  If you were unable to join us on Friday, December 2nd, stop by the CPO building (149 South Lake Ave, Albany) and take a look!  The gallery remains open until February, and there's still an opportunity to help the CMTA...and the chance to view some beautiful artwork by many regional artists.  Meanwhile, I think this looks like a good spot to sit.  I wonder what I will create next?