Art and life

Last week had its ups and downs. The downs I’m not documenting… The ups included an amazing fishing trip for Tony, something that was on his very short bucket list.

Tomorrow we’re seeing the respiratory specialist, Dr Hicks, to get the details of his latest lung MRI, to confirm a few things. We’re supposed to see the Hospice Dr to look at his meds, but this might not happen due to COVID19 level 2 – Breeda is trying to sort it for us. Tied into that is a meeting with the Hospice wound nurse to have a look at the ulcer on his foot.

I continue to art out all the feelings. I’m so grateful for my art journals as I’ve been feeling a bit unwell, and my temper starts to fray far too easily. I’ve been playing on my huge Dina Wakley mixed media journal.

A quick update

I guess it’s update time.  Unusually for me, I’m not sure what to say (sort of…)

We’re getting Tony’s pain under control, but it means he is very sleepy, sometimes dozing or sleeping for 14 hours. I don’t mind as long as he’s not in pain. I don’t take it personally when he falls asleep while I’m talking and just keep going, otherwise I’d be saying the same thing over and over – which neither of us would enjoy. Sure, he misses the thread of what I’m saying, but it doesn’t really matter; half the time I’m just waffling about nothing much anyway!

Tony can seem quite good but today, for instance, friends visited for under an hour. He’s had two extra lots of pain relief since they left and has been asleep for just on three hours now. Yet they probably went away thinking he’s doing great… It’s good for him to see people though, and that’s what the pain relief is for.

The Hospice staff continue to be a total miracle, sorting out medication and script issues with no drama. I can’t believe how much pressure they have taken off me already.

I had a lovely break on the West Coast. I stayed with Alan in Hokitika; I slept a lot, went out on the farm, up the Taramakau River is his jet boar, patted the dogs and played in my art journals. My dear friend Penny and I went out for lunches, visited a fabulous art exhibition at Left Bank Art Gallery and talked about “all the things”. I’m so grateful to both of them for the love, light and rest they bring to my life.

Speaking of thanks – my best friend of forever (okay, 52 years?) Sandra is always beside me in spirit, and my sister Ailsa is on the end of a Viber message any hour of the day or night if I need to talk. We all need people like this in our lives.

And my art – the place where I pour out the feelings and the worries, and pack them away so I can keep doing the doing. Things are tricky but we’re in a fortunate position – we have Tony’s brother Roger with us, I have a great job with an understanding boss & supportive employer, a warm house and supportive friends and family. #LoveRemains

Tony, art, rest

I started this year’s Creative Jump Start intending to do the challenges daily, as I have done it previous years. After the first week I gave that idea up, as life is too busy, so I’ll do them through the year as I have time. It’s a pity, because I love starting the year with a creative rush, but other things are taking priority.

Tony’s health has deteriorated and we’ve had a lot of trouble getting his pain under control. We got an amazing Nurse Practitioner and Doctor last week, who really listened to all that’s going on, and made significant changes to his pain meds while he stayed in overnight.

On Tuesday we had a visit from Breeda, a Hospice nurse. She checked over the Advanced Care Directive and witnessed it, sorted out some issues with his meds, & gave us advice about nausea etc. It all feels much more controlled and doable now.

Tony and I know, from 14 years of nursing mum, that the carer needs regular breaks if they’re to keep going. Today I’m heading down to stay with Alan for 10 days. Tony’s brother Roger will be in charge some of the time & Tony will be in Te Mahana for respite care for 5 nights. That’s not an easy thing for him to accept and I’m proud of him for agreeing to it.

For my part, I’ll be sleeping a lot, napping in the sun, patting the farm dogs, riding the quad bike, eating out with Penny and visiting arty things with her, playing with my art supplies … just generally resting and recharging,

Sure life is hard at the moment, and will probably get harder, but Tony and I are grateful for 29 years together. I’m grateful for good friends, a supportive workplace and boss, having my sister Ailsa and his brother Roger, my bff Sandra, and his kids to support us. Whatever comes our way, we’ll meet it head on, like we always do. Love remains.

Playing #cjs21 catch-up

This has been a big week in our house due to Tony’s deteriorating health, so I have spent part of today relaxing and catching up on #CreativeJumpStart21. This was the perfect way for me to wind down a bit after a rough night where we didn’t get a lot of sleep. (yes, we have a plan for making tonight better!)

Inspired by Birgit Koopsen
Inspired by Mystele Kirkeeng
Inspired by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer
Inspired by Catherine Scanlon

#cjs21 day 3

Today’s #creativejumpstart21 artist was Martice Smith. Martice talked about her art practice, which is strongly influenced by her surroundings, and then showed how she develops gelli prints. I chose to use a variety of leaves from the garden to gelli print with, then worked back into some of them with various pens. I ended up with a nice stash I can use for collage.

#cjs2021 – day 1

This year is the 10th year of Nathalie Kalbach‘s Creative Jump Start – I’ve missed a year here and there, and am so excited to be participating in 2021. There’s a new video every day, from 45 amazing artists from around the globe. It’s a great way to kickstart my art practise for the year. It’s not too late if you want to join in, and there’s no pressure to work daily if you don’t have the time or energy.

Today’s video, from Nathalie, was about sign writing a word that will inspire you throughout the year. For me, this course is about reinforcing the habit of daily art, so practise sprang to mind. I didn’t make a sign as such, but did go for an aged look in refernece to a story she told in the video. I’m working in a 5.5×8.5 Dylusions journal and used mainly Dina Wakley Media paints and Stencil Girl stencils.

As 2020 ends

As I look back at 2020 I know we’ve never had another year like it, certainly in my lifetime. I won’t go into the Covid saga, other than to say we worked hard at staying safe, and will keep doing so.

It’s been a mixed bag for us – highs and lows included:

Tony’s brother Roger getting a job here and moving in with us while he house hunts.

I travelled to a Hokitika a couple of times to visit Penny and Alan, and enjoyed teaching at Left Bank Art Gallery in Greymouth.

Tony’s health deteriorated a lot, and he was in Base Hospital a few times. He decided he shouldn’t drive anymore so sold his car and got a nifty red mobility scooter. It’s been quite an adjustment but we’re getting there.

I got a total knee replacement in early November and the joint is a miracle. The tendons etc around it are still painful but gradually getting better. Of course, being me, I got addicted to the pain relief. My other knee should be done by April/May.

My job continues to bring me joy, as does my art. Losing Faith, then Inky, was hard for both of us, but Goldie remains as loud as ever. Whatever life throws at us, family and friends support us, and love remains. Here’s to 2021 and all it will bring.

One Little Word 2021

Every year I join #olw – One Little Word with Ali Edwards. In 2020 my word was trust – you can read about why I chose it here. Did it work for me? For most areas of my life, yes. There are a couple of areas where I found it quite hard to trust, and that’s something I will continue to work on. Generally, I have a lot of trust that, if I am clear in my intentions, the universe will provide for me.

What’s my word for 2021? LIMIT. I was looking back at some old #olw lists on Ali’s site and saw this comment — “every limit is a beginning as well as an ending” and it was a total AHA! moment. As someone with a well-documented addictive personality, I see limits as a bad thing, stopping me from having what I want. It would be healthy for me to turn that around and see limits as being good for me; as the beginning of good choices and looking after myself.

For instance, following my recent knee replacement I’ve been struggling with addiction to codeine yet again. It would have been easier if I’d set a limit on the amount of codeine I took, right from day one, instead of having to wean myself off it again with all the accompanying withdrawal issues. Would I have managed to stick to a limit? Who knows – but it might have made me more aware and careful.

In 2021 I will try to set a healthy and achievable upper or lower limit on my:

V intake

food choices


use of pain medications, especially when I get my 2ndnew knee

time on social media

doom-scrolling Covid-19 *rolls eyes*

time spent on work when I’m not actually at work!

I’m sure there’s a lot more areas of my life where putting a limit will be helpful, even if it’s just to raise my awareness. As always, I’ve made an index card piece of art of my word, and it’ll live on the wall above my desk at work as a constant reminder.