When I was a baby, my grandma Jane crocheted a pink and white afghan for my bed. It was perfect for the decor. Flowers scrolled up the walls in pinks and antique whites, shag pink and white carpet covered the floor, and I had a canopy bed with a white eyelet canopy and coverlet. My first memory of unraveling my blanket starts when I was about three or four years old. I pulled each string of yarn completely out of the blanket, watching the carefully knotted lumps flatten. What I did next always had my mom in hysterics. "You tied every piece of furniture together. When you were finished, your room looked like a big spider web. You would lay down on your bed to nap, and I could't even walk into the room to get to you." Years later I would learn this was my way of keeping my abuser away from me.
My therapist told me a year ago the reason I kept my car such a mess was because I didn't want passengers. It had nothing to do with laziness or self-loathing, or liking filth and dirt. It was a defense mechanism. After my diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder, I went to my studio, alone, to work. When I opened the door I had to laugh at the tubes of oil paint I had squeezed then dropped onto the floor. Absolute preparedness. They were still there in case I needed them, and I'd know where to find them. The journey I've taken to recover from OCD is still very much on-going, but I had to evaluate in what ways in my life do I prepare for the unexpected, and by doing so, shun passengers? I've had to recognize that leaving an empty coffee cup in my car in case the emergency arose that I'd need an empty mug, didn't really help me at all. But having friends and passengers on-hand to help me through my most difficult times in life does.
Each day I practice, and my smiles are finally genuine. Today I sent out no less than 20 text messages to moms who have made a difference in my life, wishing them a Happy Mother's Day or Feliz dia de las madres! Over the past few years, these are the moms that I've allowed to be passengers. I was astounded by how easy it was to say something heartfelt and meaningful. Today, as a Mother's Day gift to myself, I will be cleaning out my car!
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My good friend Corey was working and living in New York City when circumstances arose where he found himself jobless and homeless. He kept us all abreast of his whereabouts and his journey, including the giant leap across continents until he finally landed in India. Every day he'd post something about his trip. The sights, smells, sounds, people, culture, smells, cows, food, smells, all had a tremendous impact on him. Every day I eagerly awaited his post, then when they appeared on my facebook, I would read them outloud to my husband. Chris, a lover of artists, but not an artist himself, always asked me, "why is he there?" This question never failed to iritate the hell out of me. "What do you mean 'WHY' is he there?"
"Is he there to visit someone?"
"To see something in particular?"
"To make art?"
"He's there to live!" I'd finally shout exasperated (we had this conversation a few times during Corey's trip).
He would shake his head and say, "I don't get it."
But I did, and I was glued to the daily updates.
Finally, when Chris asked why again, I said, "Because artists have to LIVE, have experiences and see the world if they want to be great. Artists paint who they are and what they live, and the more living you do, the richer your work becomes." The intensity and passion with which I explained this to my husband was not lost on him. He knew that I had an "India" waiting for me. It was Peru. I had been awarded a travel fellowship to go to Peru, a culture and people for which I was very passionate about, but the trip had been cancelled twice. The first time being on September 11, 2001. After the second cancellation a few months later, I began work full time as an artist and we bought a house. Not long after that we started our family. And life began to move in fast forward. It was my dream to experience Machu Picchu, and I had been waiting for it for ten years. The next day I found Chris moving his beloved mountain bike out of the home office and cleaning off his desk top. "I have three weeks in town at the end of May, it's time for you to go to Peru." He had planned to work from home so he could take care of our girls. Suffice it to say, I was thrilled.
To rewind a bit back to my life a year ago...
I was in an institution at this time last year. I was moved from in-patient to a partial outpatient program and was into my third week. I was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But that is not a story to share just yet : ) Something remarkable happened during my hospitalization. I underwent EMDR-Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming. It sounds new age, but in fact is used to treat PTSD in our war vets and FBI agents. It's a simple process, yet is very complex in what it accomplishes. I can honestly say I am no longer haunted by the traumas for which I was treated, but the most amazing part of the treatment was towards the end when I had to visualize a place of peace and salvation. I had to let my mind wander naturally, and my mind pulled me along a narrow path up an incline where the trees parted and I was standing at the gateway to Machu Picchu. After that, I took a deep breath, and began my recovery.
Here it is a year later, and I am making my packing list. I never thought this day would come. And I am grateful of the two previous cancellations. This will not be a tourist journey. It won't be sightseeing. I'll be emersed for three weeks. It will be a spiritual journey, and although I am scared, I am finally ready to absorb all it has to offer. I feel incredibly lucky, fortunate, deserving, and enthusiastic. And I planning on producing some kick-ass art when I get back!