The last several months have quite literally kicked me in the rear and laid me out physically and emotionally. So many highs and lows that I had to ride as if on a surfboard. Sometimes I could feel the wind in my hair and the saltwater lapping at my toes while I was 'in the flow' and riding high, and other times I found myself gasping for breath with the force trying to pull me under. Practicing gratitude no matter what has helped me weather the storm. In every down cycle I have learned to see the blessing and in every swell up I am simply grateful to be journeying here.
It all started in August with a strange trip to the emergency room and an eventual diagnosis of vestibular neuritis. I've been physically off balance ever since - relearning how to walk and drive and do small simple things that I didn't even used to think about. I'm very grateful that I've reached my mid-sixties without experiencing chronic illness. I am also blessed to have a daughter who is an occupational therapist who took the time to find a fabulous physical therapist for me who specializes in balance issues. I am getting better although progress is slower than I would like.
Then a magical thing happenned and that same daughter gave birth to my first grandbaby in September - who was born healthy with lots of love and support in her life. I got to hold my new baby girl when she was only two days old and I'm blessed to be only a thee hour drive away so I anticipate lots of time with her in the future! A week later my 96 year old mother passed away very suddenly after a fall where she hit her head and developed a fatal brain bleed. A life arrives and another leaves the planet. I'm grateful that my mother got to know of her great-granddaughter's arrival and that the last quilt she ever made was for the baby. I helped her finish it just before her passing. I'm also very grateful that my mother shared her love of craft and color with me and I hope to share the same with my grandbaby. The love will circle around and around through traditions handed down and gifts passed along. What a blessing to be part of the circle.
A week after returning from my mother's memorial service, I got on a plane and went to California where I got to see one of my closest and oldest friends who helped me deliver my brainy things to an enthusiastic audience at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference, held in San Diego this year. Gratitude for my dear friend who helped enormously and to each and every one of the many people who came by my booth and chatted or bought something, and to the other artists who welcomed me into the fold again. After a two year pandemic hiatus it was SO great to be among my peeps.
Why am I blogging about all of this on my art website? I've asked myself that same question. I want to acknowledge the ups and downs we all go through and give voice to the gratitude for being on the journey. I want everyone who reads this to know that I am grateful they stopped by and took the time. I also want to give myself permission to rest more and live in the flow, floating along the current instead of fighting to swim against it. Gratitude will be the buoy I hold on to.
captioned photos below - hover over the photo :)
In exactly 9 days I will be arriving in Toronto where I will get to see my Brain Project sculpture on the streets of the city - live and in person! How thrilling to see my first international exhibition and to be a part of this large effort to increase awareness about, and funding for, Alzheimer's care and research.
This is the 2nd year of the Brain Project an awareness building and fundraising effort launched by the Baycrest Foundation. 100 artists were selected to design a brain sculpture for the project and their work is now displayed on the streets of Toronto through the end of August. In September, the brains go on sale to benefit Baycrest programs.
I could not be more thrilled to be participating this year. Photos of my completed brain sculpture - both sides - are below. Read on to find out more about my stepmother Elaine who was the inspiration behind my involvement.
My piece is titled 'Not Forgotten'. It started as a collage of fabric and was then embellished with hand embroidery, beads and trim exploring the thread connecting past and present. It was inspired by Elaine who suffered from dementia in her final years. The last time I saw her she didn’t recognize me. After asking for my name, she smiled and said : “Laura… that’s one of my favorite names.” I knew then that somewhere deep inside her she had not forgotten.
Elaine was a fearless explorer and traveler and below are some photos that are just a snapshot of her intrepid spirit. They were taken in 1986 when she embarked on an around-the-world trip with her best friend Sandra, stopping off in Pakistan to see me and my husband where we were living for two years. During the visit we traveled up the rugged Karakorum Highway to the mountainous town of Gilgit. A trip that not many western women in their 60s would have taken. Did I say fearless? I can't think of a better word for her.
I once asked her what made her so brave and she told me that after she lost my father suddenly in a plane crash she realized the worst thing she could imagine had already happened to her, and to be afraid of anything after that was pointless.
I miss her still...
Visit my piece on the Brain Project, vote for your favorite artist brain and donate too, if you can, to this important work.
And, thanks for being here and sharing in my journey. If you're not already in my Inner Circle you can join here! - I send out a newsy email about once a month.
Chronicling my adventures as a Neuro Artist. I love to make work centered on our magnificent brains and learn about how it all works in the process..