Last Friday I flew home from New York State after bringing my mother north from Georgia and attending the Military Service and interment for my father who passed in late April. Upon my return, it occurred to me that for the first time in my adult life, I resided in a place with not a single family member nearby and that I’ve been in essence a caregiver for over two years now.
My parents spent the last two years plus residing in assisted living facilities, and although they were not living in my home I’d become their advocate trying my best to ensure that their physical, emotional and mental needs were all addressed. As most of my widowed readers can relate, being responsible for others when you’re trying to navigate a new life without your special person is emotionally and physically exhausting. In some ways, however, being an advocate and care provider helped me by giving me a purpose allowing me to focus on the needs of others.
But in doing so we can neglect our own life situations.
There was a time not too long ago when things were very different and I was a driven and determined fine artist, writer and employee. I would exhibit and sell my artwork during weekend events and then substitute teach in the classroom for at least three days a week while spending a good part of each Thursday teaching ice skating at the local rink. I did this in to my mid-fifties.
It was tiring, but I felt very fortunate. As a very young person, I wanted to be an artist and by age thirty, after leaving the corporate world, I was living that dream, participating in over twenty-five art shows a year and selling through shops and galleries.
Building a successful fine art business is difficult and demanding and after nearly thirty years, I took time to focus on my writing, to achieve another long-held dream of being an author. I wrote several books and even managed to obtain literary representation with four agents, which is incredible. Getting to sign with just one agent is miraculous, but I’d had four! And I learned something valuable from each.
Like the art world, however, the publishing world can wear down one’s soul and soon the weight of rejection took away my urge to continue on that path. I took a part-time job managing a local church and resumed my life as an artist.
Then in 2014, out of the blue, I could barely stay awake, gained weight and was depressed. I was eventually diagnosed with severe Hashimoto’s disease and that was affecting my immune system. Again I was fortunate; I was placed on meds and slowly climbed back to a normal life, my energy and appearance restored.
Five years later, not long after the loss of my only sister, Rich and I made our move to the south seeking a new life in a gentler and warmer region. I had every intention of relaunching my art and writing endeavors once I’d settled in. I even began to draft a memoir in 2020. I chose, however, to spend time alone with Rich, just enjoying our new lifestyle and we did for a while until family situations found us taking on new responsibilities. I am grateful for the year we had for ourselves in our new home. He’d worked so hard to get here.
My intended “start up” never began, however, as noted above, much of my time and energy went to maintaining my home basically on my own and the affairs of my parents. Now, however, the only thing holding me back is lack of ambition. My fellow blogger Victoria Helmly recently posted about how loss and abject grief can take away our ability to invest in our lives, projects and passions. It isn’t that we don’t care, we just don’t have the time and energy that we did once-upon-a-life. We know how uncertain life can be and our goals just don’t seem as important anymore. Just writing a relatively short blog post once a week can become overwhelming.
But we carry on, climbing from the wreckage.
Over the course of the week, two different life “prompts” have reminded me of why I used to write so much. That, and preparing for my presentation at Camp Widow in San Diego next month, have helped me to keep on going, and maybe in doing so help others.
But that’s a matter for my next post. For now I just try to do, or say, one thing each day that might make my life, or that of another’s, a little easier to comprehend.
This week’s progress included going through some of my art inventory and envisioning a new lanai location for a workspace/studio. Small steps. I also encourage you to LIKE my professional page as I hope to emerge back in to an active art and writing life. Please also share with LIKE-minded folks. Appreciated! https://www.facebook.com/LisaBeginKruysmanAuthorAndArtist/
This week also brought the Summer Solstice, a very encouraging time of year. Happy summer season to all.