Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Memories

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

On 20 Nov 2010, I wrote the following and thought I would share this again. It is still so very, very true and has grown even more in the past seven years since I wrote this. Many blessings!




No art right now, maybe later today. It's a lovely day here in the mountains of South Carolina and I hope I can spend some time outside. As we approach Thanksgiving, I am struck by the weight of the stresses of the day versus what is really important. It has been a rough year for me health wise, I am preparing for the 2nd surgery on my right eye, and it's the 3rd surgery of the year total. We have had a heart breaking month of events with our adopted son who struggles with severe emotional disabilities and other disorders; he is 18 and can not live at home and walked away from his residential care a month ago. He is now in trouble with the law and we really can't do anything to help him, except pray, which we do. My husband has had health issues, although not serious, they have been draining for him. Both of my sisters have had health issues this year, one of them very serious and it continues for her. All of my brothers have had family issues that have caused a great deal of pain. I continue to struggle with the ME/CFS and progress is slow. There have been many minor issues as well, but I don't want to list them all.

So, in the midst of this, what do I see as important? God's mercy. His grace. His love. The promise of eternity. That today is not forever. When the Bible talks about where your house is built (on the Rock or on the sand) and the storms that come and beat on it, it is an apt picture, for the storms do come and believe me they do beat down on you! But there is an unbelievable peace in the midst of the grief, a peace I cannot explain but am experiencing, that gives strength and sustains me. This life is simply not all that there is. It just isn't. The birds sing, the leaves glow, there is a breeze in the air. And frankly sometimes in the midst of grief, these things can almost seem irreverent, almost seem like a slap in my face and I want to shake my fist at them and say "How can these things be, this beauty, this loveliness, when I am in such pain and the world around me is upside down??"

But these things, this loveliness, is a promise. It's a statement to me, that no matter the darkness of the moment, the moment is not all there is. The moment does not define me. Instead I am defined by my Creator and the promise is that I will someday be in a better place where there is no pain and no grief. I am grown by the grief and pain, I am stretched by it but because of God's love of me, I am not overcome by it. There is much beauty around me and I will see it, and drink it in and be grown by it as well as the grief.

I am thankful for what is really important!

And now, I will take the dogs outside and enjoy this moment.

A P.S. to this, our adopted son has stabilized in the past couple of years and seems to be learning a bit of responsibility. It's a day to day issue with him, but we continue to leave it in God's hands.


Live your life one day at a time!


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

RECHARGING

Several years ago, I wrote a blog once or twice a week. I shared stories from my life, demonstrated different art projects I was in the process of creating, and sometimes shared my views about specific topics. I stopped because of several reasons - I had read that to succeed as an artist my blog should be all about art and specifically my art to keep people's attention and anything else I wrote about would only distract from possible sales. Since I was becoming less and less able to be in my studio, I obviously wrote less and less about anything. 

Well, silly me! I miss being able to share my thoughts and my stories and I really want to share what happiness I am able so what the heck, I am going to do it my way. I will reprint the stories and also write new ones and when I am able to create, I'll add it in. 

I hope you enjoy and I would love any feedback!



HOW THEY MET

When World War II drew in the United States, both of my parents stepped up for the sake of their country. Dad was from a small village in the center of South Carolina, Mom was from a small village in south central Pennsylvania. Dad enlisted in the Navy, and Mom as a nurse in the Navy WAVES. Dad was on a ship off the coast of Germany near Bremerhaven in the North Sea. The North Sea area is known to be quite unpleasant in winter storms and during that winter, salt water froze on the ship's rails and the seas were so rough many of the personnel were very seasick and they wondered if the winter storms would ever stop. Dad contracted pneumonia and later ended up in the hospital stateside near Baltimore. 

Mom was working on his floor and they met when she was with some other nurses making rounds. They would see each other often, Dad would joke around with her and wanted her to go on a date, but she said no, he was too young for her. Then she found out he was actually two years older, so she finally consented. They spent a lot of time together until Dad was discharged and went back to South Carolina; Mom was discharged as well and she went back home to Pennsylvania. 

They wrote each other frequently and then Dad had an opportunity to go to New York for a lodge group convention. My grandmother said after Dad left that when he came home, she didn't think he would be alone. Mom and Dad were married in a small outdoor ceremony in her hometown, then had a short honeymoon in Washington DC. 

Traveling to South Carolina by bus, they lived with my grandparents and I was born ten months later. Using the availability of the G.I. Bill, Dad enrolled in Auburn, took a part time job as a city bus driver to support the family and my brother was born about sixteen months afterwards. My maternal grandmother came to live with them to help out until my father graduated.

An interesting evolution in marriage took place after World War II: for the first time very large numbers of people married someone not from their hometowns or even their state. Dad had a brother in the Marines, and two brothers in the Army and they all married women from other states, which happened all across the country. Up until then, people generally married someone closer to home. 

A postscript to this story is that all of my uncles, and of course my Dad, came home safely from the War. It was not that way for many families, and we are all very thankful!!

Mom and Dad on an outing to Steeplechase Park
before they were married.

Mom in her uniform.

Written on the back of a photo
Mom sent my grandmother!

Wedding Day!

An article in the local paper 
about married student life. 

Graduation Day!



Live your life one day at a time!










Saturday, October 22, 2016

Escaping The Walls

Yesterday a precious friend called and wanted to take me out of the house for a ride. She has a VW Rabbit convertible and it was a windy but beautiful day, a bit on the cool side, so I dressed for a top-down ride. It was magnificent! We went on back roads so deep that there was only an occasional car, and we would pull off to the side to listen to the music of wind swirling around the leaves of trees overhead. We stopped by empty fields to watch a small flock of birds swooping and flying with group precision, landing and taking off in sync as they searched for leftover grain or seeds, reminding me of the murmuration of starlings, which fly in the thousands. 

We drove further, around curves, and going uphill and down on small roads, spying newly built homes tucked into woods at the tops of hills, and homes so old the windows were not aligned. We found a farm which specialized in Scottish Highland cattle, which I never knew was there and I was overjoyed to see the sturdy, shaggy beasts as they stared back at us. Sadly, they would not let me get close enough to get a clear shot. We laughed at a small pickup hauling a house shaped shed behind, as if the driver was wandering the countryside with his home attached. We stopped under a thick border of trees to listen to a large flock comprised of blackbirds, starlings and grackles overhead, scolding and whistling as they thronged on every available branch, restless and noisy. 

We passed a home where it was obvious the resident inside supported none of the current candidates as their yard sign proudly proclaimed "Newt 2012". We paused to listen to water cascading down rocks and envying the homeowners nearby who had set up chairs beside the creek to take in the relaxing sound. There were driveways which led to homes unseen, as they curved in one lane through the woods, and hand carved gates standing aside in invitation by the side of others. 

It was the most glorious day, and around curves we would catch a glimpse of the nearby mountains with patches of bare rock gleaming in the sunlight. I felt my body becoming weary and knew that I had to head home, but so grateful for my friend, who thought of me and took me away from the four walls which were my constant visitors. It was so nice to taste the world and be reminded that it was there, because I so often forget. 







 And here's a video taken in England of the amazing murmurations of starlings!

https://youtu.be/eakKfY5aHmY

Live your life one day at a time!





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Sunday, September 11, 2016

A DAY TRIMMED IN BLACK

I wrote this story in 2011 and have published it every anniversary. I still have difficulty when viewing a large plane at a lower level, making a turn in the air. The scars run deep.
I hope that we never forget as a nation the horror of that time. 



A Day Trimmed In Black

My maternal grandmother was born on September 11, 1897, so while growing up that was the important fact to me about that date. After she died in October 1991, I sent flowers to my mother on what would have been my grandmother's birthday the following year. After 2001, however, I unfortunately had a different reason to remember the 11th of September.

As the anniversary comes up marking that tragic time, all of us who are American citizens, (and many who aren't) remember where we were when the events unfolded. It was a difficult day for all of us. Personally, for several hours that day, fear camped out beside me on the sofa because my husband had been in New York and was flying out that morning.

When a friend called me about 9:30 to tell me to turn on the news, I sat there in shock, and all that was being said at the time was that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. What plane? From where? No one knew. I quickly called my husband's assistant and asked her what time John's flight was supposed to leave New York and she told me that it had just left and that some of the men in the group who had been scheduled for an upcoming flight had told her that they were just informed that there would be no more planes out. Knowing that I could not get a hold of John while he was in flight, I was very afraid that the plane was his which had hit the building and then when it came out that the flight was from Boston, I had a such sense of relief which almost made me feel guilty.

John had been in the Financial District, right in the area of the World Trade Center, for a business meeting all day on Monday, September 10th, with several other businessmen from Charleston. He told me later that when his plane took off, it circled back around to fly over New York City on its way south. They passed the tower from a short distance away, and could see the black smoke billowing out. The pilot spoke to the passengers and told them that a small plane had accidentally flown into the building, but John and several others realized that no small plane would have caused the amount of smoke and flames they saw. There was no other word from the pilots until about a half hour later, when it was announced that the plane would be landing at Norfolk VA because of an emergency. No one on the plane knew what had happened until they came into the airport terminal.

He called me right away, knowing I'd be very concerned about his whereabouts. I don't think I was ever so relived to hear his voice! He sounded somewhat in shock, and there was so much confusion and noise in the terminal I could hardly hear him. He said that the pilot had told them they were the last plane out of the New York airport. We also realized later that the second plane to hit the towers had been in the same air space his plane was in, several miles behind. That gave us both chills.

His group was trying to find a rental car for the trip home, while the other part of the traveling contingency was now stuck in New York and would not arrive home for several more days. About midday, John's group finally found a minivan and started the long drive home. Traffic on I-95 was almost bumper to bumper the entire way, and they spent the trip listening to the radio and getting calls from their family members with updates as the day progressed. When I finally heard the van pull up about 10 pm, I rushed out the door and threw my arms around him. Even though I knew he was all right, watching the news programs all day made his absence much more acute and being with him was the only thing I really wanted!

On September 11, there will be many speeches and events marking the time since this tragedy happened. We will remember and pray for those families whose lives were directly impacted by the fall of the Towers. Life in this world has no certainty, but life in the next does and that understanding gives us the grace to go forward each day. Love the people in your life and let them know it with hugs and smiles. And let them love you and tell you how important you are to them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Where Are You?

When I post images to my Facebook page, I usually get responses, especially images which reflect the love I have for my family - old wedding photos, my husband and daughter together, "back in the day" shots, etc. Sharing the art I create which helps me go on from moment to moment, seems to strike a chord with my friends. And since I spend about 95% of my daily life housebound, Facebook is my connection to the outside world. It is gratifying to have these responses, because it means someone is listening to what I have to say. And after 8 years of spending most of my life lying on my back on my bed, I still feel I have friends.

But I have noticed that when what I have to say is not about pretty images, or about a funny experience I had with the animals we live with, or the bird nests popping up in spring, things change. If instead I am communicating about the painful side of living like a hermit, of loss and grief, or as I did yesterday, the bitter realization that you and a few million other people are of no consequence to the medical community, the feedback and responses go silent. There's an uncomfortable tenseness in the air of my Facebook world and I get the sense that people are waiting for me to get myself back on track. Their track.


It's as if they are thinking:


"Well, she's off on one of her "feel sorry for myself" trips. I don't have anything to say and I will respond to her when she says something more uplifting, or funny or "normal". A little judgement is going on there.


"Eww, I never know how to answer someone when they talk about pain. I'll wait till she comes back to normal" Gee, how hard is it to say "I'm sorry, I know that's frustrating"?


"Doesn't she know that it's more admirable to not complain, to be an encouragement to others, to show how strong her faith is by never being down?" Well, that's just baloney.


My life is narrow, in the physical sense. And like anyone else, I would like to hear some compassion, sympathy and empathy when I need it. I try to do it for others - my many friends who are stuck in this  medical twilight world of living vicariously through others feel the same frustration when people turn away, or pretend to not hear or see your need, and wait until they are comfortable when once again we have stepped back into the role of not upsetting their view of us. They ignore us until we act the way they want. It's less trouble that way. For them.


Well, it's painful for me. I hate being invisible, living in a visible world with an invisible illness. How hard is it to simply acknowledge that sometimes I feel pain, grief, anger, loneliness, etc. and when I post, it is my only outlet to ask for a cyber hug or a pat on the back, or encouragement of some kind? Is it that hard for you to take the time to extend to me and others like me the human touch, even if it is only through cyber space?


Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why?





Yesterday, news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded research grant up to $63 million to study heredity and health in AFRICA  came as a blow to the millions of us who are mainly invisible to the medical community here in the UNITED STATES. There has been more money given to study male pattern baldness then to help fund research for the community who have had their lives shut down by an illness which no one understands the cause, or has an solid plan for recovery. We live under a death sentence, as sufferers of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis we are highly more likely to have heart conditions, cancer or strokes because of the effects on our heart, organs and brain.  

It is not taught in medical school. Doctors are not trained to hear us and believe us. The ones who do are just a handful and they are coming to an age where they will be retiring. There are not a lot of new medical personnel on the horizon to take their places.


Yes, that makes me angry. The NIH director is appointed by the sitting president, so whoever wins this fall will be making some changes in the agency. We have fought for 30 years for recognition, and if nothing is in place for intense research, we will lose the uphill battle and have to start yet again.


And wouldn't that make you angry? From your bed as you lie there? Would you like to be ignored?


And that is why it hurts when there is little to no response when I post my frustrations on Facebook. Hey friends, where are you now? (And to certain ones who make an effort, please don't automatically blame yourself. I am grateful for you.)


It doesn't cost you that much to say you care.


So say it.



Live your life one day at a time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Do You Mean You Don't Want This??

Our daughter, our only child, is 32 years old and has her own tastes. Well, ok, that doesn't sound startling. But when I want her to have some things I think would be neat for her to have, and she says "Mom, that really isn't me.",  it does take a moment to sink in that something I like has no appeal to her at all! One could, if one were so inclined, actually have hurt feelings.

I had an antiques business, and have many items still left from that, plus items given to me by my parents which belonged to my grandparents and even great grandparents. They are precious - to me.  She hasn't grown up having those same feelings so she doesn't see them in the same context. And I had to learn a while back, that's OK. To be fair to me, though, she has changed her mind about some of the things, but only some. So I have been looking for places for the extra stuff in the barn: outlet stores for certain charities, people I know who might like them, or a university drama department.


Recently, she has begun sewing accessories, while taking a break from her painting and drawing. She is quite a good and creative seamstress, and has used a bunch of antique fabrics and tablecloths to make into shoulder bags, messenger bags and small pouches. She shares a love of fabric with me - I used to smock, French hand sew, and create one of a kind items of clothing for her. She looks forward to using the clothing herself should she be blessed with a daughter. But antique fabric! Oh my, it just made my heart beat a little faster - French linen sheets with heavy white embroidery, rough linen French feed sacks with a red or blue stripe  down the length of the bag, soft prints on cotton dress fabric, linen towels, barkcloth from the mid-century, tablecloths from the 1920's- 1950's, tickings of all kinds and toile. I would purchase them, wash and fold them and look lovingly at the stack. I sold many, but I always seemed to buy way more than I could sell (it helped to know other dealers who sold them by the lot for a great price!) and I use the linen sheets on our beds and old kitchen towels are put to use again in our kitchen. But still, just what am I going to do with the rest now?


I had to sell my antiques business when I became chronically ill. The fabric was boxed up and stored. First I had given Tabitha everything which was stained or had been torn, so she could cut around these parts and use them for sewing. Later I stood looking at the large plastic storage box which has been in the extra closet for years. How many years? And really, what good where they going to do me? They would do an awful lot for her, so I asked her if she wanted them - she pounced quite happily! She recently did her first show and did pretty well even though it really wasn't her demographic. And she's bursting with plans on how to make them even more unique!







(Photos taken by Daryl Ham)

Now, here's a secret - when she first showed me the small pouches using the different tickings as lining, my first thought was "AAHH - she cut up the ticking fabric!" Silly, isn't it? I realized then that it was good I had given them away, I had become attached to these "things".

Of course, some things haven't changed, there are still items I have which she doesn't want. And that's OK, it's her life. I respect that!


............... Well, I might still try to talk her into taking my grandmother's large beautiful dough bowl, made from a single piece of wood, or my great grandfather's long handmade porch bench .....................


And here's a good link to motivate you to move on, thanks to my friend Fran! Be sure to read it!





Live your life one day at a time!


Friday, April 8, 2016

About Scenery And Mailboxes

During the time I owned my antiques business, we purchased a 2000 Ford Excursion, which is really a Ford 250 pickup with a roof. It was HUGE and was a great boon to me as I hauled things around in my business. When we moved to the upstate of South Carolina in 2007, I continued my business for about another year, and but as I became ill with Myalgic Encephlamyalitis, the antique business had to be sold. We kept the Excursion though, because it came in handy for hauling bales of pine straw,
 flats of flowers, dogs, or anything else that needed something big for transportation.

I had had a few minor mishaps with the Excursion when we first got it, because it is such a large vehicle to try and mix it up with smaller cars in a normal sized parking lot. The top of the Excursion's tires come up to the top of the hood on small sedans. I am thankful that it was never anything serious, and I finally managed to feel like I had mastered the art of driving it and felt pretty comfortable doing so. But if you aren't careful, it can catch you off guard in just a moment!

The roads in the area where we live now are almost all country roads, narrow with little to no shoulder. One day soon after we had moved up here, I was leaving the drive-in window of our local drug store, I noticed a road going off around a couple of small mountains. I knew from the name of the road, it must come out near where I would have taken my turn off towards home on my usual route. So I decided to take the long way home, and see what I could see on this unfamiliar road.

As most country roads around here, it had a lot of attractive scenery - old houses, old trees, yards with flowers, farms with cows and horses. And it also had sharp curves and S turns where you had to be careful you did not run off the road into perhaps an old stone wall. So I was moving along, enjoying the scenery, and trying to be careful to give enough room for occasional oncoming traffic. Then I came around one curve in the midst of a stand of trees, to suddenly having an open field to my left, where the distant mountains could be seen over graceful trees in a green pasture. What a lovely view, I thought, as the road kept curving. Then I was jerked back to reality by the sound of
WHAM!!!

As I quickly turned my head to the right, I caught the sight of a green plastic mailbox bouncing up against the bank, and my outside rear view mirror ripped from the side of the car. I quickly eased the car to the side of the road, and sat there for a minute, stunned by the loud noise, and the now useless hanging mirror. I glanced back at the mailbox, and knew that I couldn't just drive off, so I found a place to turn around and then parked in the driveway by the damages. I got out to try and hopefully put it back together, but it wasn't going to happen. Looking down at the pieces, I felt so stupid and then, taking a big sigh I climbed back into my car and drove up the steep driveway to let the owners know that I would purchase them a brand new mailbox. After knocking on the door several times I realized that the person wasn't home, so I found some scrap paper, wrote them a message and taped it to the glass door so they'd see it. Then I drove on home, keeping my eyes squarely in the road.



When I returned home and filled in my husband with my sad story, all I could do was wait now until the person called me. John very kindly offered to take me out for a quick bite since he could tell I was still rattled by the incident. When we returned, there was a message on our house phone from an elderly man with a southern twang:

"Miss Cook? This is Daniel __________. You lef' me a message about my mail box? Well, honey, jus' don't worry yourself 'bout that mailbox, it's been hit so many times I might as well jus' throw it away. I have a home health nurse, she's an ex drug addict, ya know, and she can just' take care of it. I 'preciate your leaving me the message and all, but jus' put it out of your head, 'cause there ain't no reason to worry about it no more!"

John and I just looked at each other, then I played it back again. The second time, I started laughing and yes, I did feel better. When I took the car in for repairs, however, it wasn't a laughing matter, as the repairs cost well over $300. But at least I didn't have to buy a new mailbox! 


Live your life one day at a time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Now Move On

Recently I was taken to task about my disease, being told that I talk too much about it on Facebook. I went through my postings for quite a ways back, and I noticed that most of my disease related posts were about current articles, news or information. I have many Facebook friends who also suffer with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), and other related invisible illnesses and we share articles and information as it comes out across the medical outlets on the internet. Mainly this is because there is no centralized information source, and what research that is being done is scattered and independent from each other, and that research is not well funded.

I did some more thinking and realized I still felt frustrated with the whole episode. After speaking to others about their experiences and reading the blogs of other sufferers, I realized that this response is very common. "Don't talk about your illness anymore. We are tired of hearing about it. We don't need to be reminded. We understand, now move on."


No, you don't.


Just like I don't understand what it's like to have Down Syndrome, because I have not experienced it. (Or any other physical difference that separates a person from the "normal" crowd.)


There are a lot of aphorisms people use about understanding what a person is going through, or experiencing. "Walk a mile in their shoes." "You don't understand unless you have experienced it yourself." and other similar sentences. Actually, they are very accurate, and for those of us in the (mostly) sisterhood of these invisible illnesses, we can identify closely with one another, and that gives us great comfort.


I know someone who has a severe disability because of a fall experienced at work. Her days are spent in constant pain, and I can identify somewhat, because the pain I have is not the same. I can still have compassion for her.


There is a great blog about empathy and how to develop it, if you really care enough to do that. A good quote :



"Surprisingly, the ability to empathize with others is relative to a person’s capacity to identify, feel and understand their own feelings and thereby being able to project one’s feelings onto others. This means in turn that it becomes complicated at times to understand what a person is undergoing, if you haven’t undergone it for yourself – or at least felt similar feelings."

But it takes time, and a real desire to do so. Most people who say they "get" M.E. have read very little about it, and think that basically it means "you get tired a lot". Well, yes, there is a tremendous amount of constant overwhelming fatigue, which feels like you are trying to walk through molasses, but that is way beyond tired.


M.E. also includes:


Clinical Fibromyalgia

Sleep Disorders
Non-Restorative Sleep
Chemical Intolerance
Acquired Immune Deficiency
Cardiovascular Abnormalities
Post Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion (definition)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Dysautonomia or POTS Syndrome (definition)
Cognitive Disfunction and Impairment

and much more!!! Each sufferer has differing degrees of the sub-illnesses.


What I am pointing out here is that A) we are not often believed, even by medical personnel (it's not taught in med school), B) we are not often believed by friends and family and they drift away (they think we love the drama), C) we have lost everything from our earlier life, and D) there is very little compassion.


Another reason that we talk about it is because THERE IS NO ONE ADVOCATING FOR M.E. We have no recognized celebrity who speaks in public service ads on TV. That's part of the issue - when you have this disease, you cannot advocate for yourself - you can't travel, you can't make speeches, you can't spend days involved with some governmental sub-committee asking for research grants, you can't even speak eloquently on the telephone.  When we try, we suffer serious setbacks that may last for months, even years. So, there is the Catch-22. And yet the disease has been around for generations. Now, with the internet, there is an opportunity to press for help.


I do have non-sick friends who let me know that they are thinking about and praying for me. They send notes, say hi on Facebook (my connection to the outside world), interact with me as a friend who cares. I have a supportive husband (many of my M.E. friends don't) and an adult daughter who is very caring
. And I am very thankful.

If you have friends or family members who suffer from this or any other invisible illness, take some time to research and learn the basics about what they struggle with; take time to ponder what your life would be like if it were you. Really ponder it, imagining yourself going through each day approaching life through their skin. Then practice compassion, a muscle that gets stronger with use. The problem is that it takes effort to do this, to not forget them, to not get angry or irritated by their inability to live the way they used to. Accept the paradigm shift and then let them know you accept them as they are.


And most importantly, remember that when they express pain, sorrow, grief, sadness.... it's their way of screaming out to the world "I HATE BEING THIS WAY AND HAVING NO RECOURSE TO ANYTHING ELSE!!!  I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!"


And you should really listen.


Friday, February 5, 2016

A Dialog is a Dialog, Not A Pep Talk!

In one of the art groups I'm in on Facebook, I tried to start a dialog or conversation or discussion, (take your pick) about a process in creating art. It happened to be an encaustic group, but no matter - I've run into this same problem in other groups. I said I was curious to know how other artists saw the need to have a smooth finished product. For those of you not involved in encaustic work, that means the surface should show no air bubbles or any other marks. One artist put it this way, "It is the Holy Grail of encaustics." Well, let me tell you, it will drive you crazy to try and attain that. Of course if you are doing a textured piece, the question is moot. But back to my problem.

The answers I got at first all were like a pep talk, the responders read into my post that I was cringing at the thought that my art was not perfect, that I needed some back pats, or I needed permission to make my art the way I wanted to. The responses were along the vein of:

It's your artwork, so its done when you say and feel it's done. You will know when a piece is done or not. Trust your instincts!

Stay away from encaustic if your aesthetic is looking for fine neat detail. Identify what it is you are looking for in this work.

Art is exactly what it is and as the artist if the finished product is what you want then it's perfect.

It's your work! Rejoice in it! And for God's sake, don't let someone else tell you how it should look!

Argh! OK, OK, I get all that, but it's not about me. Now lets talk about the question. I posted that I was not looking for a pep talk, just wanted to know other's views on the subject. One or two people finally got it and we exchanged a few sentences.

I don't get much chance to have discussions with other artists because of being housebound most days. And I crave being able to do that. I watch plenty of videos and have books about art mediums I am currently pursuing, but there's no give and take in those.You watch it, or you read it, and there you go - that's it. I try to engage people on my art page on Facebook, but it's been spotty. Maybe if I get enough blog followers, I can have a real dialogue!

Meanwhile, I'll wait and see if anyone else has a viewpoint or if this "dialogue" will die on the vine.

Live Your Life One Day At A Time!