Friday, November 9, 2012

Wildly Wonderful

As a continuance of my previous post:

And my art? That will always be the wildly wonderful. A three month breather from stress and work was just what I needed to slide back into my little purple chair in front of the Bernina. A break to the wrist of your predominant arm is a scary thing when you use your hands for your art. About a month and a half after the break, I became strong enough to sew again. But it wasn't just all about the sewing. It was like coming to life again in the bright sun after being stuck in a fog for a very long time.

Buttons, lots of them! Tony and I took a small trip in August to our favorite vacation spot on Cape Cod for a couple of days. The Wellfleet drive-in theater is known for it's flea market on Sundays and there was this very large jar of buttons calling my name. You can see a few bakolite ones that were in it, probably by mistake, as a man sold it to me cheaply without his wife around. I love using buttons on my quilts, so this was a no-brainer. I started sorting by color in between exercising my wrist. Then we went to Brimfield in early September. More buttons. One large jar and a huge cookie tin full for only $20. So I must say a large part of my time at home was spent sorting buttons by color, cleaning them, and cutting old thread off of them then putting them into separate jars. This process started warming me up to get the creative juices flowing again.

I started looking around on line again. I had stopped just about everything having to do with creativity sometime around last year's holiday season. Checking out other people's progress with their art was making me feel a bit of a failure instead of spurning me on to work harder as it has before. My first stop was the SAQA website. I had missed the auction. Felt bad about that as I would have like to send in a piece to sell and contribute. But I was just in time to find out about SAQA's next convention which is in one of my favorite places in all of the US, Santa Fe, NM.

As you can see from the massive grin, my last visit there in May of 2004 was a happy one. I visited with a friend and her husband for 10 days and took in a lot of what New Mexico has to offer. Here I am standing in front of the statue on Museum Hill in Santa Fe. I took so many pictures with the lighting being so special there and the landscape, ruins, and architecture all so intriguing and different to this New Englander. Below is a photo of ruins from Pueblo Bonito. Shapes, shadows and lines are so interesting.

So without so much as the blink of an eye, I registered and paid for my spot at the next SAQA Convention. I have a room booked for 8 days and planned to rent a car so I can get around to more of the sights I missed in the last visit. Now with my job gone, I'm not sure how this is going to happen. A trip like this costs so much money. I may have to use money saved up in a 401K while working at the card store, or scrap the trip entirely. Just knowing that the convention was in NM was such a rush for me when I found out that my excitement level for all things art quilt rose exponentially. I took out a quilt started over a year ago that was based on a photo taken in Santa Fe and began working on it again. It will be the next post I make here as I am working to finish it. 

As I became increasingly stronger through the efforts of my Physical Therapist, Vickie, I felt an urge to express it, and she had shown an interest in what I do in the studio, so:

8" X 10 1/2"
September 2012
Machine stitched in commercial dyed cotton, buttons.
Collection of Victoria Moitoso

And I couldn't do this just for her when it was the surgeon, Dr. Lee, who put me back together in the first place, and both of these health professionals work in the same office:

10 3/4" x 14 1/2"
October, 2012
Machine stitched in commercial dyed cotton and silk 
with ceramic beads, buttons and found objects.
Collection of Dr. Lawrence Lee

These two pieces were the first work in the studio I had done in months. While not my best endeavors, they were a key part of my getting excited again in the studio.

On a bit of a roll I decided to finish off a small quilt I started a while back which was inspired by my cousin's love of bee keeping. Judi was having a birthday and her daughter planned a surprise party for her. I just had to finish it and give it to her:

13 3/4" X 13 3/4"
Finished October, 2012
Machine and hand stitched in commercial dyed cotton and organza with buttons.
Collection of Judi Membrino Madulka

So these few baby steps have helped me to find my way back into the studio. In a few weeks I will have much more time to work on my art. I am hoping for a good balance of work in the studio, work with my husband, caring for our home and plenty of time to enjoy life. 



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Powerful Forces

There it is on the left side of my photo - the broken right wrist. I slipped in cat vomit in the middle of the night three days after the fourth of July. They say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I don't know if I believe that. But what I do know is that in my case, it was sort of a gift or blessing, from God or the universe or my angels. Whatever. It stopped me cold in my tracks and changed the course of my and my family's life. I believe that blessings can come in any form; wildly wonderful or sometimes painful. I got a little of both. In this post I will talk a bit about the painful. Let me explain.

For five years prior to the wrist event, I have been trying to climb high enough in my retail position to afford Tony (husband) and I a little bit of ease and security. I have had many "day" jobs in my life. With a college major in fine art procured in the 70's, jobs/careers were limited. I started out as an artist in the art department of a silk screen company. Then my kids came along and the computer took over where my old job used to be. When the kids were in school I found employment for a used kid's clothing store. It was the perfect fit for a young mother. Later, and after my divorce, I found myself caring for my Mother at home. It wasn't until she passed on that I had to take stock of where I was in life and what I had to offer. I thought of going back to school for culinary arts but it was expensive and the schedules conflicted with my being a single Mom. So I found myself turning to retail and started working in a family owned fabric store. It was a great fit, however, the economy and life happened. They went out of business. So I sort of backed in to a job at the card store part time and decided to ride it out and try to move up. I did. I finally became a merchandising manager full time with the benefits my husband and I really needed. However, having a job you need to have doesn't always equate with the needs of the employer.

I really am just an artist at heart, a good Mom with some life skills but no real training in either retail merchandising or management. I was never meant to be a corporate climber. As the economy started to tank, my position became harder and harder. With less payroll available, those in management were being expected to do everything, seamlessly, quickly, and without error. Some people call this multi-tasking. I call it a recipe for a heart attack. From the end of January last year until my spill in the cat puke, I have little recollection of anything at all. I was working so hard - long hours, little sleep and a lot of stress. My studio was like a dream of another life. But I was providing for us, and thankfully I had the health insurance to cover the more than $35,000 it cost to fix my bones. What would we have done without this insurance.

Then I recovered. Having had a summer to recoup the bones and do a lot of thinking, I began to realize just how impossible my situation had become. I was looking at job listings often, feeling incompetent and developing a hopeless dread. There is nothing out there for me, calling my name; nothing I have the skills or experience to do without training. I had to return to my job with the cards. Tony needed me to suck it up and go back, after all, he works so hard that I just had to contribute. Needless to say, when I got back to the job it was overwhelming. My head was spinning every day as I tried to keep up and I was making mistakes that I never had before. I had stepped back into their busiest season and my boss had no patience for my flaws. Two days ago she asked me for my resignation. As if divorce is not enough to have dealt with in my lifetime, I now have another deep-seeded feeling of failure. It's taken me two days just to stop crying, not because I loved this job, because I was depending on it to survive.  And depression is creeping in to stay for a while; I feel it like the tickle at the back of your throat that lasts all winter long.

So you may wonder why I said something about blessings at the start of this post. Well, hard as it may be, I think this may be one of God's lesson "blessings" and may have saved my life. The stress was killing me inch by inch and day by day, driving my blood pressure to dangerous heights. I would have dropped before I quit. Tony and I still have quite a bit of stress as we try to figure out how to make up for this serious cut to our budget, but I have every faith that with both of us working together, we will get what we need. We will tighten our belts, remove the unnecessary, reevaluate everything and come up with a new list of need vs. want. Tony has wanted to develop his business for quite some time now, (he is a jewelry repair and custom design artist,) but as his work IS his hands he has never had the time. I have always looked externally to find that paycheck and the benefits that we need. But now I am thinking that two heads are better than one. I am going to step into the business with Tony and try to fill the holes and help him expand his business. Hopefully this will bring us what we need to survive and it may help take the stress away from him as well.

Life is such a mystery. We are never to old to realize that change happens and usually happens for a reason. It's a hard change for us this time, the dust hasn't yet settled. There are bound to be more issues to deal with, difficult decisions to make and there may be sleepless nights of another sort, but at least, this seems to be the right path finally and not just one taken out of fear or lack. We just need to keep ourselves healthy and open and learn to roll with it. 

As heavy and dark as this post was, my next one will be much lighter. After all, life provides the good along with the difficult. My blog has suffered under my suffocating job. Perhaps now I will be more able to communicate my progress in my art, as there may actually be time to create progress in my art. Hope springs eternal!