Commitment to Your Art
Find a workable schedule that encourages daily work time.
“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”
(Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist)
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
One year ago today, my life changed. It almost ended forever.
Months, possibly years, of stress took their toll. I had a heart attack on November 7th, 2016, and two days later in the Cardiac Care Unit, I had a stroke.
Stress was probably not the only cause of this. I have a strong family history of mini-strokes as well as heart disease. I didn’t eat as well as I should, by any means, nor did I exercise regularly throughout my life. I have battled several autoimmune diseases that have co-morbidities with heart disease: Psoriatic Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Sjogrens, and that major demon of Diabetes.
It has been a terrible battle, but nothing as challenging as my heart attack and stroke. I was sick for weeks before they occurred, so ill that this political animal no longer wanted to hear about the elections or the candidates or the future of the world. I was physically unable to vote early, something I had done for more than a decade. I was in the CCU during the election and didn’t have to finally choose any candidates. Staff and medical teams were forbidden to discuss the election, a blessing for which I am very grateful. I was in no condition to think about politics.
Like many others who survive life-threatening events, I am immensely grateful and am finding my way to a new normal. The opportunity to get some things right is an undeserved grace.
I’ve been working on myself and the apologies I owe, the forgiveness I seek or can offer. I am focusing on things I think matter in the long run: family, friends, giving back. I haven’t been on social media as often. My writing and art fell by the wayside while I worked on learning to do complicated things like walking, eating, and bathing.
I no longer waste so much time on being angry. I do still get upset but I try to think about whether I would want to fall dead with those being the last words I said to someone. The answer is almost always no.
Shortly after coming home from the hospital on the day after Thanksgiving, it snowed briefly. I was like a kid. I realized that I had been blessed: I got to see snow again! Neither I, my husband, nor my son had thought that would be possible.
Sometimes blessings are wrapped in fear and loss. I am learning to recognize them. An integral part of my recovery is acknowledging the losses and welcoming the gifts.
“Papa” was the first author whose work I liked enough to look for more. I read a collection of his short stories in third grade. Yes, a bit early, but books were my best friends at that time.
Since then I have read his novels, stories, and poetry.
I never stopped loving his work.
Along with Youth
A porcupine skin,
Stiff with bad tanning,
It must have ended somewhere.
Stuffed horned owl
Chuck-wills-widow on a biassed twig
Sooted with dust.
Piles of old magazines,
Drawers of boy’s letters
And the line of love
They must have ended somewhere.
Yesterday’s Tribune is gone
Along with youth
And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach
The year of the big storm
When the hotel burned down
At Seney, Michigan.
This poem is in the public domain.