Artful Wonders

This is my blog otherwise known as ‘My Drivel Notebook’.

(If I think of this as just an outlet for my drivel, it takes the pressure off me trying to master the bloggersphere.  Make sense?).

This post is a little different, because it’s just me spewing out my drivel about a past experience and a connection that I made.  No glossy pics, or step by step instructions.  Just a glimpse into what makes me ME.

This is megirl-stick-figure

 

And I love to paint.  I’ve always loved to paint.  

Although I never quite understood the color wheel.

But for years and years, I forgot that I loved to paint.  I went on with life and, looking back, I did some really amazing things. I traveled, I jumped out of airplanes.  Plus, I had the BEST job in the world.  It was a job that made you question how the dickens did  you manage to snag it in the first place?  I would have gladly done it for nothing.  This was a great attitude to have about it, because I worked for a non-profit agency and got paid peanuts.

But I liked peanuts.  So we were all happy.

(I had originally posted a similar post on my Facebook page, I think last year.  I always go back to it.  I read it and it humbles me, and it makes me realize that life is precious, and perilous, and fragile, and filled with beauty – and color.  Lots of beautiful art.  Everywhere).

A thousand years ago I worked as  a Post Adoption Social Worker.  I had joined the agency to fulfill my 2nd year requirement of spending a year within a mental health mileau.    After graduation, the agency decided to kept me around.  Yay!  My role focused on the adoption triad: Birth parent, Adult adoptee, and Adoptive parent.

The goal? To reunite birth parents (usually birthmother) and adoptee.  OR at the very least, to get updated medical information. It was a challenging journey, and often one without reward.  Lots and lots of tears (both happy and sad).  I was constantly amazed at not only the courage of the people I would work with, but by their innate drive to search for a connection.  

Any kind of connection.  

Any semblance of being intrinsically linked to another human being.  Any small detail that would make a page in their life feel ‘fuller – perhaps more complete’. To willingly place yourself in a fragile position and open yourself up to possible hurt and rejection (for the slim chance of finding a connection) is, undoubtedly, courageous.

One particular client’s journey has never left my heart (there’s actually a few people who I will carry with me forever) but this particular birth mother I connected with.  The adoptee was in his mid 50’s when he contacted the agency. His adoptive mother had recently died, and he realized that this was the right time, for him, to search.  It was a long shot, because his birth mother  (according to the records) would have been in her 80’s.  Your heart drops a little because, logistically, there’s only a remote chance that she would still be alive.  The emotive part of your brain begins to prepare you for the obvious ending.

We did find her.

She was living in a nursing home, suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Her children lived out of state, and she was under the care of a legal guardian.  I accompanied her birth son several times to meet her.   Such a delicate lady.  Very fragile, both physically and cognitively.  Most of the time she was imprisoned by the restraints of Alzheimer’s.  She lived within her own world. During the rare times of lucidity, if you asked her she would talk about ‘the baby’.  The ‘baby’ sat next to her, holding her hand; a man with grey hair and grandchildren of his own.  

Yet, somewhere locked inside her head, he had remained ‘the baby’.

The image that stays with me, and one that I revisit, is of her coloring.   The nursing staff would sit her by a table, and place crayons in front of her.  She would spend many hours with her crayons, just coloring.  Coloring children’s books, with wild reckless abandonment – outside of the lines with no thought of the color wheel.  The staff harnessed her ability to create art not only as a way to  stimulate her, but also to  relax her.  Two behaviors seemingly in conflict with each other.   As a social worker,  I was grateful for the  healing power of the crayons.  They became a simple tool to help diffuse some of the emotions.  More importantly, her son choose to crayon along side her.

 A mother and son.  

An adult and child.

To share an activity.  

To connect.  

During his visits,  the son would spend the majority of his time watching her coloring, and she would be quite happy looking at the colors.

crayons

That’s the connection.

Art.

What it can do for the soul.  Just simple crayons.  Or paint.  Or anything that taps into that hidden creative space in our heads.  The need to express ourselves, without fear of judgement.  It doesn’t have to be good,  it just has to be authentic to you.  And it should feel rewarding.

Art.

Pure and Simple.

 

So, for many years I forgot that I loved painting.  I was happy to watch and help other people find connections in their life.  As for me, I opened a can of paint one day, and started painting.  

And then I remembered.

 

{insert catchy ending phrase here}

Diane aka The Paint Factory

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11 thoughts on “Artful Wonders

  • December 5, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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    Yes. Art. Me too.
    I was abandoned by my parents. Actually, today is the anniversary. I was seven. I think that, thanks to them, in a lot of ways I will always be seven.
    I met my natural mother again before she died. Right before. We were not included in her obituary.
    Sometimes meeting your birth parents are not as Oprah as you wish they would be.
    Wallowing in self pity today…intermittently. I fight it so hard. LOL! (Good place for an LOL!)
    I paint because I have to. No options. Same reason I garden.
    Good to know I’m not alone.

    xo

    Andie

    Reply
    • December 5, 2014 at 5:41 pm
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      I have had many cases where the outcome was painful, to either the birthmother or the adoptee. And recognition/or lack of is incredible powerful influence on self-worth. We all want to be acknowledged and not being included in her ‘leaving letter’ to the world, must have been crushing to you.
      Look at what a wonderful woman (50% of the time) you turned out to be. I truly believe that whatever you learned from her actions (or lack of) have turned you into the mother you are. And I’m sure your daughter would consider that a gift.

      Reply
      • December 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm
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        Sorry for turning this into the Andie Channel.
        I’m going to paint instead.

        xo

        Reply
        • December 5, 2014 at 9:17 pm
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          I thank you for opening up and sharing. This is a shared forum. Just wait until I start unloading 🙂

          Reply
  • December 5, 2014 at 7:04 pm
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    As an adoptive parent, I very much appreciated your post today. We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people, but sometimes we see little glimpses of beauty in it. I’ve come to appreciate all of our past experiences, both the ugly and the beautiful, as building blocks or strokes of crayon in our lives. And sometimes random ugliness is the thing that is most used to make us most beautiful.

    Reply
  • December 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm
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    omg, we must have a glass or two when i pick up my beautiful desk………… i just love your writing and your painting. i must share to my fb………since i am panhandling basically to scrape it together $$$

    Reply
  • December 6, 2014 at 8:36 am
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    I like your writing, it touches people. (So does your art).
    I totally can relate to your story. Partially, because my own personal experiences with my parents, but mainly, because, I sometimes work as a Hungarian Interpreter for refugees. I see their determination, and suffering..

    During the interpretation session, I have to bear all their pain with a poker face, (as required of me by the Board). It does not mean, that I am insensitive, or I do not feel what they go through. Separated families, money, and legal problems, persecution of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political views, and so on.

    The pain is endless, and art is one of the best therapy to let out the steam of all of this hurt.
    Thanks for the writing, it inspires me to keep going.

    Reply
  • December 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm
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    thank you.
    <3

    Reply

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