Archive for September, 2009

I have just a bit more work to do to polish this version of the journal page, smooth out some of the details, revise the background a bit and put a thick finish on it, but it’s mostly done.  Artist details:  mixed media:  graphite, charcoal, colored pencils & chalk pastels, acrylic, image transfer (a portion of my son’s face).


I really wanted to capture how I felt about my son when he was too little to remember.  Thinking about my kids is a big part of my bliss, and this really says it all.  I was so young myself that I really wanted to show him how very much I wanted him and loved him and hoped that I could be a really good mom to him.  He was indeed my little angel.  This journal page is a reminder of how precious he was and how privileged I felt to be his mom.

angel of mine stage 2


Read Full Post »

Angel of Mine stage 1

I’m just starting to develop this composition, so this is stage 1 of this piece.  This is a portrait of me with my son, my first angel, when he was between 2-3 years old.  I am about 23. 

Read Full Post »

Ok, this entry is not about a particular entry in my art journal, but my thoughts about what I’m learning about myself in the process today.  The pages are me getting down visual representations of thoughts and feelings at a given time, sometimes in a given moment.  It doesn’t even matter for me if that moment has passed in terms of time, because the image flashing in my mind’s eye brings me back vividly to the memory and how I felt and thought at that time quite easily.  What is helpful about bringing those images out of my mind and onto paper, is that looking at that page allows me to reflect on those thoughts and feelings in a different way, and I find myself trying to understand both where I was coming from and what I can learn from that, to shape my perspective and expand my own toolkit of life.


So I have been thinking about the journal page that I posted yesterday, and trying to decide what I was trying to tell myself.  The facts are that information/instruction/treatment was provided to me in a form that I was supposed to rely upon, and that information was wrong.  Where I have been feeling stuck is that the survival adaptation part of my brain is screaming that the rules as I understood them and used to keep myself safe were wrong.  Relying on a pure left-brain approach to the problem to understand and apply generally accepted rules for living, interpreting facts, acting in reliance upon professionals based on a set of assumed criteria, and even the criteria for extending trust and having confidence about what they provide—is broken.  What I have been feeling unsure about is what is exactly broken, and more specifically, how can I feel safe and confident to go back out into the world and be effective as a whole individual?  And what have I actually been doing as a process to achieve that?

Well, first was recognizing that something was clearly broken somewhere, based on the facts.  Something was wrong, I went to doctors of various kinds that I was sent to as recognized and recommended experts, in many cases specialists in particular kinds of problems, sometimes generically expert, like my primary care physician, Dr. Clark, and the outcome of all of the time, money, surgeries, treatments, drugs, tests, evaluations, was that the truth of what was wrong with me was missed-repeatedly and consistently by almost every single doctor.  I believe that I am developing, through my journaling, what was missing, and I have some the beginning of some ideas about how to address that going forward.

First, I’m looking at my process for problem-solving when faced with a new situation/set of facts and the need to adapt and survive.  Before I know that I’m dealing with something new that I don’t already understand, and that adapting to that new reality is necessary for survival, I have probably been feeling ill-at-ease in some hazy amorphous fashion, without a clear sense of what is underlying these feelings.  I’m distressed and uncomfortable, but I don’t know why.  Before I begin to feel that way, I’ve probably been working mostly in a left-brain sense with a set of rules that I apply to my situation, and for the most part, the parameters that I am relying upon seem to be working, and my right-brain function is something that I do for personal pleasure and balance.  The left brain world is a predictable and safe world because things fit together in logical, predictable ways, over and over again. 


I don’t know if I ever was attracted to pure left-brain modes of thinking and living.  If I was, I can’t remember it.  I don’t know if I was pushed into right brain perspectives by exposure to life being inherently unpredictable and unsafe since an early age (even predating the fall at 5 years old, there was serious illness requiring hospitalization even before that), or to a parent’s perception that life was this way because they grew up with a “rulebook of life” that taught them that life could be devastatingly unpredictable and unfair, and survival required a great deal more than what could be extrapolated from objective analysis based on generally accepted facts.  I do know that what most distinguishes my parents from one another and why their marriage was doomed from the outset are how polarized they are in this regard. 

My mother grew up in a somewhat parallel world to me (perhaps to a lesser degree), where the generally accepted rulebook of life and assumptions that people generally relied upon to survive and prosper did not work in her childhood.  She had a very abusive father who maliciously hurt his wife, children, grandchildren, and others, and a mother who was not capable of protecting herself or her children.  I think she spent most of her life struggling with how to reconcile that, and her own self-esteem suffered as a consequence.  I feel certain that at least one of her assumptions was that she was supposed to be able to see the world and function in the world as if the standard rulebook applied to her, yet she knew that things didn’t work that way in reality, though the enforceable rule was that one was never to air one’s dirty laundry in public, so secrets were kept and as a child, predictably, she internalized a sense of failure.  This approach, however, has proven untenable for her, and in order to survive has repeatedly had to adopt more right-brain approaches to problem solving in order to survive.  The emotional conflict and the underlying damage to self esteem of trying to apply a “round peg” set of assumptions and rules to her “square peg” reality that she knew intuitively would work has been profound.  The irony of it all is that most of the time she devalues in herself what are strengths that actually positively set her apart in an evolutionary sense (in my opinion), and focuses on the damage that actually resulted from trying to “fit in.”

My father’s childhood was the opposite.  Life was uncomplicated and practical, and the rules that he learned served him well when he only had to serve his own needs.  Life was very much A + B + C = D, and when something or people came into his life that didn’t fit that in a way that interfered with his ability to enjoy living in his A + B + C = D rulebook, he would remove them and replace with what did fit.   As a child, he was not prepared to understand and cope with complications outside of that, and the choices that he has made have been to eliminate them by removing them from his path, and continuing on his journey.  Revisiting those choices is not something that he has ever been willing to do, I think because it has never been necessary in order for him to survive and prosper.

Had I been more like my father, I could have sidestepped some of the complications (and complicating people) that came along, but not most of them.  Some I simply could not have avoided, like being molested by my grandfather, being battered by my father, the accident at 5 and the long history of illnesses, my parents’ marriage breaking apart and being abandoned physically by the age of 12, emotionally and physically neglected long before that, were all things that I could not adapt to on my own during that time.  I could not protect myself then, though I made immature attempts to find creative solutions on my own at the time.  It’s been helpful for me to reflect on the various ways that my siblings and I have developed our own perspectives, and how we apply them to our present-day realities.  Each has developed strengths around resilience, adaptability and creativity in general, though each of us, including myself, continue to struggle with significantly low self esteem, and varying degrees of emotional dysfunction that pop up at various times, most notably during periods of high stress and stressful familial interaction of some kind (death in the family, family conflict, celebratory family gatherings, etc.).  And how we cope with instability varies, as well.

Present Situation

My dilemma is that I have discovered that I have relied, to my detriment, on the expert advise and treatment by a whole series of doctors over many years, who repeatedly and egregiously got it very badly wrong, and I will suffer the consequences the rest of my life.  The little girl/inner child in me is screaming at me that it is my fault because no one can really be trusted, and while that perspective may be valid for a child living in an environment where those that are entrusted with their protection are the ones that she needed protection from, it is not useful for this adult, and doesn’t improve my chances for survival, much less prosperity.  I have to have a basis for establishing trust and reliance upon others, because there will be times when I will need it.  In discussing this problem recently, I was advised that even if a doctor in the future might be wrong, that I should trust that they were doing the best that they could do, and that should help me to feel better/safe/etc.  That should be my rule.  My reply was, that this rule would not work for me, though I needed time to sort out the problem with the rule.  I only knew that it wouldn’t work for me, because it wouldn’t enable me to feel safe.  It may work for others in typical life situations, but my life is anything but typical. 

I may have developed some insight into how to formulate a better rule.  While what they got wrong can now be recognized as objective facts, in order to get to these objective facts (i.e., what was the wrong answer and what was the right answer), a specialized set of capabilities were necessary, along with a willingness by the person possessing them to utilize them in a particular way in order to arrive at the answer.  The capabilities require significant left-brain/right-brain integration in problem-solving abilities, along with a strong ability to assess when and how to apply them.  The professionals that I have maintained trust with, were those who had these capabilities and willingness and desire to apply them in their work with me.  Unfortunately, the majority of health care and related providers tend to be more heavily on the left-brain end of the spectrum, and atypical, unpredictable, unusual explanations for problems are not likely to be recognized or understood by them.  Most are less intuitive, less creative, and not likely to perceive or intuit things that are rare and occasionally unique.  They may not be stimulated by things that are unpredictable and, like my father, may be conditioned to sidestep complications by abdicating care-giving responsibility if they cannot explain the situation with logical, known scenarios that they were trained to treat in a measurable, predictable manner. 

Without exception, this accounts for every single professional that I can recall ever working with about my health problems, who both got it wrong AND lost my trust.  What I recognize sets apart those that I do trust, even if they haven’t always gotten it right, were that they are both professionals who recognize that whatever list of explanations about a situation they have been trained to understand and help to develop solutions for, there are always other possible explanations and solutions, that they just don’t know yet, and they don’t put their egos in between what they have previously understood as the realm of possibility and likelihood, and what might actually be the truth of the matter.  They both demonstrate strong L-/R-brain integration, a perpetual “on-the-job training” mentality, keep their egos in an appropriate place, and respect that my information and interpretation of the facts that I suggest may be relevant should be approached with a view that any or all of them may in fact be relevant, and should be integrated with their accumulated scientific knowledge and expertise to collectively arrive at the truth as it unfolds, allow those aha! moments to happen, not take it personally, and develop a plan that addresses the reality, however novel it might be to them. 

In order for me to have confidence and trust in that professional, I must know that they are able and willing to listen to me and recognize when they need to shift from left-brain predictable approaches to incorporate right-brain creativity to the problem-solving process.  This is when I need them to stop behaving like a “deaf man” by filtering what I tell them through what are predictable explanations and dismissing or ignoring what doesn’t fit (declaring that it’s all in my head and I need psychiatric treatment because I’m deranged).  They should not act like one of the “blind men and the elephant” but should rather open their eyes and try their best to see the whole picture.  The professional who is willing and able to do this on the intake end, and capable of integrating this information with the scientific knowledge and skills that they have acquired and does this, is someone who, if that person does their best, then that is good enough, even if they get it wrong, because they took everything that could be known by them and did their best with the capabilities that they had, and then I will accept what they provide, even when they were wrong.

And frankly, this is the kind of people that I expect to be survive along with the rest of those who will be perpetuated down the evolutionary timeline.  That, at least, is something that I can predict with a high degree of certitude, and, in my opinion, as it should be.  Adapt or die, or if you won’t/can’t adapt and don’t die, expect to be really miserable if you ever encounter something new that you can’t just sidestep.  For me, I will hang onto my growing set of survival skills; they seem to continue to serve me often and well.

Read Full Post »

Ok, the “art and technique” of it all first.  This was done on 9” x 12” 120 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper in mixed media, with altered image transfer (only the hookah-smoking caterpillar) which I redrew and painted, so little of the original image was left intact, and the rest is entirely my original work.  The tree was sketched and painted on a page of sheet music printed in reverse (intentionally part of the theme), which was collaged on, then further refined with the rest of the composition.  This is the first time I have actually used this textured paper, mainly because I liked working on smooth paper with my other journal pages, but this paper was thicker and I needed something that could hold up to the heavy layers of media that I seem to apply, which had posed some difficulty with my previous pages, trying to put them on sheets of sketch paper (they buckled easily). 

I could stretch them on a frame or paint them on a stretched canvas to stabilize them, but I like to be able to have the pieces be more portable and the framing is too bulky for that.  I like to scan and print them at various stages of progress, too, as viewing the changes is also instructive about changes in my perspective and mental state, and anything much thicker than the painted page gets logistically difficult to manage with scanners & copiers & whatnot.  Media:  acrylic & watercolor paints, graphite, charcoal, soft pastel & colored pencils, lettering & outline in black micron pigma, gel pens in detailing & sig, finished with two coats of Golden Heavy Gloss Gel.  I have a bad habit of painting right up to the edges of the pages (I know, bad idea), and I’m working on that….sort of.  At least I keep promising myself to mask off the edges and stay inside those boundaries, but I’ve never been good at sticking to painting inside the lines, even though I now have to figure out how to put these oversized sheets into a bound journal.  I bought some 12” x 12” cardstock, to which I will mount these pages, then I can make  12” x 12” ring binder to serve for my growing collection of 9” x 12” originals.  Or maybe I’ll just get a scrapbooking journal with drop-in pages to hold them when they are not being displayed for some reason.  Ok, here’s the my art journal page:

Go Ask Alice 8.5 x 11

This is the story of my life , pretty much since I “got pushed through the looking glass” somewhere around 5 years of age (when I fell off a gymnasium head first onto solid concrete and cracked my head), up to, and including the present day.  I’ve been taken down more rabbit holes than I thought could happen in ten people’s lifetimes, and have been led down them by people who were entrusted with my care in one way or another–family, authority figures and, most of all, doctors and related professionals.  The latest and longest one (medical), I discovered on my own, due to a misdiagnosis by a negligent doctor almost 20 years ago, which has caused irreparable damage to my body, personal and professional reputation, and self-esteem.  What he prescribed, based on his misdiagnosis and what was accepted without question by every subsequent doctor, were his original diagnosis (which I have still not gotten hospital to remove from my record as inaccurate), and a long series of MANY drugs that I not only did not need, but I was allergic to each and every one of them.  I shudder to think how many times I probably came close to my own death without knowing it, when I was not doing better, so they just kept INCREASING the dosage, without ever using their professional expertise to actually try to understand if someone along the way might have actually gotten it wrong.  Yes, it is something that could actually have killed me.

While I am damned lucky that it didn’t, I’m struggling with moving past how that has impacted me, now that I know the truth, and what consequences are still ahead of me, not to mention the deep sense of betrayal with the majority of the medical profession.  I have lost count of the litany of surgeries that I have had to endure and the complications and permanent damage from those surgeries, all because someone screwed up a diagnosis, and scores of doctors to follow blindly followed that lead and made tons of wrong assumptions about what it meant.  I am actually the one who figured out what was actually wrong with me, and took action on my own (I stopped taking any of these kinds of medications completely) and declared that such drugs were off-limits for me ever again and that problem is now corrected in terms of taking those drugs.  The rest of it simply can’t be undone, and this journal is me processing those feelings.

The words on the page are a rewrite of the Jefferson Starship song, “White Rabbit,” and someone who knows me really well will understand my reference to the recurring theme in my own life of dealing with “the blind men and the elephant,” and the “deaf man” telling me to take another drug for my head.  Pretty much tells the whole story, and yes, “Alice” is a self-portrait.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

Tasha Miller Griffith

Sustainability and Belonging through Textiles

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!


Just another WordPress.com site

Love. Life.

It's simple, yet powerful.

Life is but a dream!

Wisdom from all around the world.

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Abandoned Kansai

All abandoned: Chernobyl / Pripyat, Nara Dreamland, Anti-Zombie Fortress, Japanese Sex Museum - and many, many more! Plus: North Korea Special - 2 trips, 16 days / 14 nights! As seen on CNN...

Break Room Stories

Service Industry Stories and More Since 2012

Sumthin' Creative

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Lorna Phone

Visual essays for a digital world

My Life Disconnected

adventures in a disturbed mind

Kay Solo

I suck at writing taglines.

Espen Stenersrød- From Pen To Heart

Jack Kerouac with a scent of Henry Vaughn

PTSD - A Way Out.com

A mindful way to heal

Window to the Diamond

A Blog by Betty Rogers

C.B. Wentworth

Just following my muse . . .