It’s my turn

Tony and I moved in with Mum in 1998 when she got very sick. We were live-in carers for 14 years, until she moved to the rest home 6 months before she died. It was incredibly hard work some of the time, but a huge privilege few daughters get these days.

During that time I also personal care PoA for my aunt, who had dementia and needed a rest home apartment then secure unit, and finally hospital level care. Again, a lot of work. But Aunt J and I were close, and I was glad to look after her.

Within a year of Mum dying Tony had to retire due to ill health. By the time he retired he’d already had two or three surgeries. For the last year or two he’s been less and less able; the last 6 or 8 months have been pretty awful.

I’ve worked through all those years, and done my art. But suddenly I have, maybe not more time, but different time. My days are structured differently because I’m not juggling work, art and caregiving. Now it’s work, art and visiting Tony. By 7.30 at the latest I’ve seen Tony, had dinner, and the evening is mine.

At the moment I’m going to bed early quite often. It’s cold, but I’m also resting and recuperating – my own emergency surgery is less than 3 months ago.

I’ve spent most of the last 23 years listening for movement in the night, ready to get up and help Mum, then Tony. Since late last year I’ve been used to sleeping in 2 or 3 hour stretches, often only 6 hours a night. I’m learning to sleep through the night, although at the moment I’m often awake at 5 because I’m not used to so much uninterrupted sleep.

My work and art are important to me, but they’re not ME. It’s time for me to concentrate a bit more on me – on looking after myself, and on figuring out what the coming years look like. I didn’t expect to be living alone at 56, with a husband in the rest home, but it is what it is. I’m determined to make the most of it, whatever that light look like. T

he photos below are all of me, but none of them are me … that’s still a work I’m progress…

Unwinding with art time

Last week I was in Napier at the Director’s of Small Museum’s one day meeting, then three days at the MA14Napier museum conference. Great stuff; lots of new contacts, lots of learning, lots to think about. So this morning I caught up on a few tasks and this afternoon decided I needed to unwind a bit. Out with some art journals, StencilGirl stencils, inks etc. Four hours later, I am feeling restored. And yes, I was having a purple day – thank you for asking!

abundance journal page i used to believe journal page play journal page


This is the last page, done this morning, in the journal I started when Tony went to Waikato Hospital on the 19th of January. Life is not normal in the sense of being the same as it was – seemingly simple things like a hot shower still exhaust Tony – but life is slowly settling into a new normal. We’re very fortunate and very grateful.


Scrapbooking soothes

Yesterday morning I was a bit miserable so spent the day scrapbooking and felt better in no time at all. I’m determined to use up all my older supplies this year, including cardstock I no longer love the colour of. I have been using paint and gesso to do cover ups, and stenciling to create new surfaces, which is all good fun. Here’s some of yesterday’s layouts. A few of these are my entries in the Creative Jumpstart 14 give-aways over at Natalie’s Studio.

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Woke up feeling weepy, but art heals

I woke up feeling weepy and worried this morning, which is unusual for me. All I could tell Tony is when things are tough, and they are at the moment, I miss having Mum to chat to. In those last couple of years she may not have followed everything I said, and forgot most of it anyway, but it was a way for me to download. It’s just over a year since Mum died and most of the time it’s okay.

I think what has upset me is it turns out Tony has been a lot sicker than we realised. Long story, and involves a medical stuff-up re some blood tests, but it’s made me anxious about the upcoming surgery.

So, had a quick weep, scared the dog my grabbing a tissue so she thought I was going to wipe her eyes, and decided the day needed to be an art one because art heals.


missimg mum


Keeping it hidden

I’ve been working back over some starter layers in my art journal today. I’ve got a lot on my mind at the moment, not all of it positive; despite that I know how fortunate I am, how fortunate we are. Really, life is good…

This page started with layers of gesso, fluid acrylics, Dylusions spray ink and stencils. Today I added more ink, and lettering which I sprayed lightly with water to let it run. Finally, I journaled with a white chalk pen so that it’s not readable.


All coming back to me now…

A few days ago I commented that since Mum died I haven’t achieved much, and have done plenty of art journaling etc but no real painting. Tony was away last night, due back late today, as he had a medical appointment in Hamilton, so it’s been just me and the furkids.

I decided to prepare some canvas and see what happened. Not push it, but just give myself the chance to really paint. I’m not sure where these are headed but I have a sense that I might be starting to paint again. That would be so cool and Mum would be pleased. No doubt she is watching me and mumbling about the mess I make 😉

My wee painting companion

My wee painting companion




Gelli prints

What’s the perfect thing to do on Good Friday? Make art of course! I got out my 6×6″ Gelli Plate, Golden Fluid Acrylic paints, a pile of stencils and got to work. I mainly printed on 120gsm white paper but a few telephone pages were harmed in the making of these prints…who needs to look up Stratford numbers anyway? I made dozens of prints, these are just a few favourites.


Tony came home as I was cleaning up and we had one of those conversations where I was reminded once again how lucky we are to have each other, and how respectful and careful we are of each other’s feelings. We even ended up commenting on that; that we choose to operate on a level of care and respect.

Look, I say, holding up the two purple ones with red and white patterns underneath. They match. No they don’t, says Tony. Yeah, they do – they’re both purple with red and white underneath. Tony: that doesn’t mean they match! Me: well close enough… he shrugs and laughs.

Round two. We’ve been talking about repainting the middle room, currently lime green, in a cream shade so I can display more art. He’s watching, amused, as I rifle through my pile of prints, considering my next step with them – a journal maybe? Suddenly he says – you could cut them into proper squares and display them in a grid on the middle room when the walls painted. I’m so excited I flap my hands at him 😉 He just laughs and says he regrets the suggestion already. Then he looks at me and utters his favorite line “So, what are they going to be?”

And my reply: They’re not going to ‘be’ anything, they just are. Oh, he says, and smiles at me.

Even the newsprint I cleaned my brayer off on each time has been put aside to do something with. Both pieces have such cool colors and this amazing texture. And for the record, I love my Gelli Plate!

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A theme emerges

Mum’s funeral service, conducted by a local JP who had a lot to do with Mum, has made me think about what I do and don’t believe. Mum was an atheist, as was her dad. I spent some time in the church as a teenager but I suspect that was about belonging more than anything. I certainly don’t call myself a Christian. Thinking all that through seems to be a recurring theme in my journal, as does my changing relationship with my now-retired husband, and career/art time, now that Mum is gone. Here’s what I have been creating with all this in mind:

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