watercolor of poppy by emily weil

daily painting | briones poppy

“Grieving is a full time job.” So says my wise and wonderful therapist who is herself grieving her dad who died recently. This helps me relax a little. Oh that I could be that fictitious genteel Victorian woman who would be sent off to a year-long tour of Europe to recover from her loss. What a wonderful dream.

But no. We live in modern times and very few of us can take twelve months away from daily living to work through painful losses. Which is why I’m absorbing the reality that I have things that break in my house and they need to be fixed despite how I feel. Life problems present themselves (broken water heater) and it feels like the end of the world! Which of course it isn’t. And yes these are first-world problems. Which wipe me off the road in a messy mudslide.

So? And now? Well, practicing self-compassion. As I’ve ranted about before, our culture gives us about three weeks to get over a death. Move on, people say. Don’t live in the past. (SO helpful.) Which makes one withdraw more deeply into the grief process, which can be horribly lonely. But, you know what? I have compassion for those who have had painful losses. It can take years — YEARS — to work through grief. Which is a sign of a big heart  — if we didn’t love deeply, we wouldn’t feel the pain of loss. Yay for us.

So I’m deeply grateful that what’s in front of me is creating art. I’m working on a series of commissions, and I completed this one today. I’m doing large paintings from photos of Briones, as a partial trade for my new roof that was installed last year. The client has been exceedingly patient with me, as I took time for brother-care and then did some traveling late last year. And now as I work daily on this project, I’m grateful to experience the joy of being an artist. Once again I am thankful to Leigh Hyams and for her Esalen art workshop I stumbled into in 2008. She gave me a whole new life direction. And it’s good.

32″ x 32″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper

 

 

 

watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | january blooms

So today is about accepting limitations with as much grace as I can muster. OK I’m going to try not to be hideously boring here. My floating home (or “flouse”, a term I like) only has so much electricity feeding into it from the dock. I have no way of upping the amperage. Which means the tankless water heater Jonathan installed uses too much juice (we both researched it ahead of time but we missed the fine print). So we are going to try a different water heater, but it hasn’t arrived yet (today I hope). To make a short story long, this morning I ran out of hot water mid-shower while my head was full of shampoo and it was 45° outside. I grabbed a bathrobe and did a quick rinse of my hair in the kitchen sink with cold water, then ran out to switch the breakers back on out on the dock. Then I unplugged everything electrical in my house and tried again. Hot water in the shower! Yay! Which ran cold again while my drippy locks were full of conditioner (literally rinse and repeat! ha!). And yes it was sunny and not -3° as is forecast this weekend in Iowa. So there’s that.

This is not a life-threatening problem. These are first-world challenges, however unpleasant. One thing I’ve learned from years of therapy and support groups is that there are always solutions to problems — I might not like the answers, but I’ve been around long enough to know that I can trust myself (and trusted helpers) to resolve things one way or t’other. 

Which reminds me of going to a 12-step meeting in San Francisco eons ago and laughing my butt off when a woman talked about how, as a child of an alcoholic, if she gets a flat tire she doesn’t call AAA but suicide prevention hotline. Today I follow a therapist’s directive from long ago: Dial 911, step over the body and do the dishes (even if in cold water). 

[I did this painting in our Brushes by the Bay group yesterday, referring to a crisp, brightly-colored Trader Joe bouquet in my cute fiesta-ware teapot. I wasn’t thrilled with the piece, but it improved some after I cropped it. It was a blustery, chilly and wet January day. I like real weather.]

8″ x 6″ ink, watercolor on paper