The Beautiful View of Perspective

It is unbelievable to me that I have not posted since September 8th!!!! What a naughty blogger I am!  Since that time I have: -  celebrated my 19th anniversary with my hunky hubby -  celebrated my 1st born and only son's 18th birthday -  celebrated my youngest daughter's 8th birthday (including redecorating her room from Princess to Zebra Stripe) and we had a blast making her Zebra Birthday Cake, memory we will keep in our hearts FOREVER Claire Designed her own Zebra Cake -  hosted a friend weekend with 5 overnight guests and a party for 20+
Singer/Songwriter, Larry Winslow, entertains our guests
www.larrywinslow.com  -  traveled to Indiana for the annual Covered Bridge Festival and spent 4 days with my sisters and extended family -  instigated the renovation of my website (to launch VERY SOON!) -  had several full studio days that are reaping many fantastic assemblage pieces (hoping to finish and photograph the new work tomorrow) So, WOW, I think I am not accomplishing, but then I look at the above check list of accomplishments (which doesn't even include daily things like hours of chats with my teens, or the hours of assisting the 3rd grader with homework and 'projects', or finally spending some quality time with my husband and friends . . . I can see, with that beautiful view of PERSPECTIVE . . . that my life is so FULL. It is not only FULL of activity, but with: LOVE, SACREDNESS, fulFILLMENT, BEAUTY and the richness of DISCOVERY. Once in a while I might feel sad, that maybe because of back pain, or general 'rushedness' - I might not have fully paid attention to a daughter's drawing or school story, or that I didn't take care of myself by taking my daily walks - but, all in all, I find that the choices I made several years ago - to quit work and stay home with the kids, to work from a home studio, to be available to them every hour they are not in school - I truly did the right thing - not just for them, but for me! I am not saying there aren't days I wish I could be in New York City hanging out with the other artists and networking, or attending EVERY SINGLE art opening in Middle Tennessee . . . but, really, I don't think  I miss much, and I for sure have gained A LOT.
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I was born in a small town . . .

If you know me - you know this fact - I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN!!! I believe there were less than 300 people in Olivet, IL when I arrived at the age of 4 with my Mom, a new Stepdad and various step and half siblings, with more to arrive . . . The Carter Clan: r & back)Mom; Lisa; Joe; Janetta; Janice; Daddy Jim; middle) Me; bottom row: Johnnie; Troy; Susan If I had to choose an anthem for my teen years - it would be this song.  So many of the lines screamed out from my soul . . . there were a few lines that I 'wished' were true . . .  here are some random thoughts and memories which bubble up every time I hear John crooning . . . Lyrics are copyrighted by Mellencamp   www.johnmellencamp.com "Small Town" Written by John Mellencamp Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town Probably die in a small town Oh those small communities
All my friends are so small town My parents live in the same small town
 
 
  My job is so small town          my first job was at Burger Chef, Danville, IL Provides little opportunity   perhaps one of the reasons I ran away at 18? Image of a similar Burger Chef from the '70's Educated in a small town     attended Pine Crest Elementary (Georgetown), First Baptist Christian School (Danville), Hope Christian School (Danville); but where I really learned the MOST and glimpsed the wider world was in the boundless walls and bookshelves of the Carnegie Library just down Route 1 in Ridge Farm, IL.  But I've seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town   Married an L.A. doll this would be married a Jersey boy and brought him to this small town now my kids  are small town,  just like me  
Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy - across the highway from my Mom's house, Olivet/Georgetown, IL Used to daydream in that small town   reading about worlds far away Another boring romantic that's me       how many Barbara Cartland's can one girl read?? . . . then my brother's threw one of those paperbacks out the back window of the Olive Green/Panel Country Squire Station Wagon on vacation . . . "Bye, Bye Bawbwa Cawtlan!" No I cannot forget from where it is that I come from
 
 
 
I cannot forget the people who love me from the Sunday gatherings at Grandpa's farm . . . to the church families . . . and the immediate family of siblings and nieces and nephews . . .  
Yeah I can be myself here in this small town  well, I didn't feel I could be myself
And people let me be just what I want to be    and I always felt I was expected to conform to Fundamental Baptist rules - I couldn't be what I wanted to be - but I figured that out later on . . .
 
 
Got nothing against a big town  I feel just as comfortable in NYC, in fact! Still hayseed enough to say Look who's in the big town But my bed is in a small town Oh, and that's good enough for me
Well I was born in a small town And I can breathe in a small town Gonna die in this small town Oh that's probably where they'll bury me  well, I will be cremated and submerged in Copper Canyon, along the Colorado River, near Lake Havasu . . . but you get the idea.  I love to visit the graveyards where my Grandpa and step-dad lay . . . those graveyards are some of the places where my heart has been completely broken, and yet I felt close to those of us left behind.
 
Torpedo as Mailbox? - Olivet, IL 2009 My daughter Lauren, age 15, at Forest Glen Park, Georgetown IL, May 2009   Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town   what I loved were the people in the church and the hymn worship services.  My favorite hymn is "It Is Well With My Soul" . . . my Daddy Jim's funeral was in this very auditorium which occurred just before the interior was burned in a fire . . . from ages 4 to 18, I attended with my family and we filled an entire pew . . .
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Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

So I want to blame the dog for eating my homework . . . but that would be me lacking verisimilitude.  What really happened?  Well, it was animal related - my MIA status.  Snappy, The Evildoer! Snappy, The Evildoer! It was the cat's fault.  All Her Royal Tailless Snappyness was doing was sleeping . . . possibly purring.  This is normal - but where she chose to slumber was unexpected.  SO unexpected that I fell down (possible threw myself down) five garage steps until I splayed onto the concrete floor.  Somehow, I managed to levitate myself over the cat slumbering on the stairs. Similar to my garage stairs . . . Similar to my garage stairs . . . Having birthed three children, busted my head and arm open in an all-terrain vehicle accident, several failed childhood suicide attempts . . . I have never felt such searing pain.  Mainly in the ankle regions of my appendages.  The Controversial General Hood The Controversial General Hood We have to put this in chronological perspective as well, because THE VERY DAY BEFORE this a friend and I went to three Civil War Battlefield sights in Franklin, TN and the theme of the day was appendages -  the loss thereof, in particular.  In fact this friend and I had stayed up all night (again) ruminating over the severity of the war, the injuries, and the deplorable decisions by Hood that lead to the carnage.
The bad timing was that I was loading the car to head into Nashville to crate the  TAKE CARE exhibition to prepare for its shipment to Grand Rapids, MI.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to that appointment!
banner8inch So, I and my apparently disconnected legs lay tangled on the concrete.  I couldn't breathe, it hurt so much. "It" meaning - everything.  My back, my shoulders, my hands and wrists where I had tried to catch myself, but worst of all - below the knees just seared and sang with so much pain they were almost numb.  I did some lamaze breathing.  I shed tears.  I collapsed when I tried to push myself up with my arms. After about 10 minutes of writhing and gasping, I managed to sit up somewhat and although I couldn't feel how the feet were connected to my legs, I visually assured myself that they were, indeed, there.  So - this is good, no?  Because: 1) I don't have to wave goodbye to my own leg from the window (as did some of the Confederate and Union soldiers in the war); 2) Well, at this point I couldn't think of a 2nd good thing! When I felt I could talk I scouted to the van on my bruised behind and retrieved the already packed cell phone.  Who to call?  My friend was in the house, but she was sleeping 3 levels away with the very loud, highly coveted hurricane fan on . . . in the the cave sleeping chamber . . . no way would she hear my screaming.  Humm, also her cell phone was on the charger in the basement so it would do no good to call that phone. So, I decide to call my husband.  He is a PT, if nothing else he can come home and scrape me off the cement.  I was so shaky I had a hard time calling the number . . . and, of course, he didn't answer the cell, which meant he was with a patient.  I decide this qualifies as an emergency and call the front office - I squeak out that I need Don and that it is an emergency . . . so he leads me through a few toe moving tests and we determine that the right ankle/foot is not broken, but the left probably is.  He advises ice.  So I crawl back up the steps, get icepacks and lay on the couch.  I figure my friend will wake up and can take me to the doctor or when my son gets home he can drive me.ankle clip art Before that can happen my son calls from school saying he is sick with a fever.  So.  I can drive with my right foot so I go get him at school . . . he drives home and drops me at the doctor and I get xrays . . . and diagnosed, 1 sprain, another bad sprain and a crushed outer ankle bone (that triangle thingy that sticks out), do the air cast/boot, get painkillers . . . home.  My son goes back to the dr. on his own.  He has mono.  Lauren comes home, sick.  Dylan takes her to the doctor.  My friend wakes up in this chaos - we laugh as I giggle on my painkillers and we imitate General Hood waving his shoulder stump as he tries to say good bye to his own arm.  We are, obviously, evil beings.  We have never laughed so hard.

Dylan's Mono

So that was all about 4 weeks ago.  I am off the crutches and am down to braces and wraps for the ankle and can hobble almost anywhere.  The worst part is trying to walk down stairs.  (remember, my studio is down a very steep flight of stairs, I didn't see it for a whole week).  If I have been on my feet too long I am exhausted . . . but, you know - it could have been so much worse.  For a few days I had the perfect excuse to sit and talk and get giddy on painkillers.  Not a bad way for the universe to inform me I better slow down OR ELSE!  I found out what OR ELSE meant . . . just like the Fairygod Mother that swoops down and wacks Little Bunny Foo Foo on the head. Little Bunny Foo Foo LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO . . .

So that gives you a bit of the story of where I have been . . . not to mention the fact that I lost the information on how to access my very own blog for several weeks . . . I am back on track, back on my feet and there are NO MORE EXCUSES!

You can expect more updates, and the saga of how I am making it to Grand Rapids, MI in the near future!

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Biology vs. Biography - Epiphany 1 of 2009

It hasn't taken me long to experience my first epiphany of 2009. During a recent interview I was asked several questions which I answered separately and honestly.  Afterward I was re-thinking my answers and realized what I multiple-personality-disorder I must sound like.  My life, and therefore my past, has been so bifurcated! On one side I have the genealogy of being a descendant of James Cahill who was on the boat with George Washington - that family declined through the years but made a comeback in the 1900's with entrepreneurial spirit, that was my paternal grandfather's paternal side.  All of my birth father's half brothers went to college or an official trade school and had careers.  One of them is a multi-millionaire.  So I was the 2nd generation of college graduates on that particular branch of the family.   Above: Here is a photo of my father (Walter Hugh Creekbaum, born 1941) with his parents: Mabel (Wiatt) (Creekbaum) Barlow and Emery Wilson Creekbaum, born 1917.  Mabel and Emery divorced before Walter's 1st birthday.  They both married again and had many half-siblings for Walter.  He was shuttled back and forth his entire childhood.  This impacted his life to this day. Flip this to my maternal grandparents, my maternal aunts and uncles, and you have a completely different story.  Also, my own parents divorced before I was a year-old and I was only sporadically exposed to this educated branch (although I saw my paternal grandfather and his wife once in a while, my father's half-siblings on that side never went out of their way to maintain contact with my sister and me while we were children).  Anyway, on the maternal side I do not know of one of the previous generations' college education.  I have one uncle that was brave enough to leave Indiana and have a great career in the Navy and I am sure he received lots of training there.  However, to my knowledge it was the generation of children born in the '60's and 70's (my generation) who first attended, and graduated, college.  Many of us attended only as adults after starting our families.   Yet, I have this far reaching experience from my Unce Jimi Barlow and (the late) Aunt Karen Barlow Alexander, my birth father's half-siblings on his mother's side.  They were both educated right out of high school and showed my sister and I the greater world.  From an early age I can remember staying with them and reading great classics.  My birth father, though he did not attend college, is extremely intelligent and is a voracious reader.  I spent many Summers of my late youth and teenagers years living with them and experiencing the lives of educated, career-paced individuals. To the left is a photo of a typical Sunday afternoon at the farm of maternal GRANDFATHER, Stephen E. Abernathy.  Many cousins frolicked and wreaked havoc on the 52 acre farm in rural, west-central Indiana.  This is about half the Abernathy siblings and half the offspring.  Center is Grandpa, in his 'bibs' - a WWII hero how took custody of my mother and her three siblings when he returned from Germany.  As a toddler to early teen, my mother was raised by a stepmother who died when she was was a teen.  Soon after, her birth mother died and she had never been allowed a private visit.  After Grandpa's last marriage, adding in a few more siblings - the total was 13.  Mother moved out upon her 18th birthday.  Married at 19.  Had my sister at 20.  Since then she has worked non-stop.     I don't know exactly where this leads me, but recognizing the vastly opposing history of my familial branches really struck a chord with me.  I feel I may be a good example of the balance of the auto-didactic and the formally educated.  Each approach enhances the other.  While I deeply regret my adult $20,000 student loans, I would never trade that mere piece of paper for my mountain of knowledge that I learned through the curiosity of a creative mind. Above right, is the photograph taken in 1981 during my sister and my visit to Texas, where all of Mabel's family and offspring had relocated at that time.  From left to right: Uncle Jimi Barlow, an award winning journalist (Walter's half-brother), my sister Lisa (before her Sr. Year of High School), Aunt Karen (Barlow) Alexander, a speech therapist and author who died of breast cancer five years ago (Walter's half-sister), me at age 12 (I am hiding a cast and had 50 plus stitches in my head from a three wheeler accident that morning, I think I was high on Tylenol 3!), my birth father, Walter Hugh Creekbaum - he lived in TX for several years before relocating to Bradenton, FL.   I pay homage to both sides of my genealogy.  These ancestors and recent life mentors have made me who I am today.  I appreciate my education, possibly more than those who felt they were 'owed' it, because I longed for and sacrificed to receive it. And I humbly thank the relatives that took the time and money to expose me to the wider world.  Perhaps they saw in that child, some potential for a better life.  Who I am - is equal parts biology and biography.  I continue reaching for balance in both areas and to pass along the beneficial lessons, while hoping the inheritance of broken families will not adversely effect my children. On the right - a photo of my sister, Lisa and me, probably taken Feb/March of 1968.  Right before our father left. Although I had a brief marriage in in the late 90's (1987-1990), I was lucky enough to get out of that situation and have now been with my husband, Don, for 18 years.  We have three children who are almost alone in their status of being raised by both their biological parents.   To the left is a beautiful picture of my mother - the resemblance is uncanny.  Here smile is still just as wide and warm and her eyes still sparkle. After a long life of working endless days she will be retiring in just a few weeks.  I am looking forward to seeing her for more fun times - hoping to take her to see Loretta Lynn's Museum and also go on an antiquing/quilt viewing trip to Paducah, KY. ---- I feel that I am amazingly OK given the broken branches of my family.  I hope I am reastablishing some nurturing roots for my children - understanding our histories is one step along the way to evolving and preventing damage. As I continue to untangle my roots, I do know that IT IS WELL, WITH MY SOUL - EVEN SO, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.
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To Resolution, or Not To resolution?

  "The Call" by Remedios Varo To me the real question about whether or not to make New Year's Resolutions is simple:  No.  I don't do that. What I do is review the prior year and project what I wish to accomplish in the coming year. Many divergent areas of my life are considered.  Have I been the Mother I need to be in 2008 and what can I do better in 2009?  Not just say "I will be a better Mother" - but, specifically, what are the actions I can do to make that occur.  I can turn off the music in the car and actually have a conversation with the children while we are enduring the endless pick-up/drop-off phase of our lives.  I can instigate conversations and ask what their opinions are and why.  I can NOT turn every conversation into a lecture.  I can listen.  I can color more with my 6 year old.  In my marriage I could make dinner a few more times a week and I can turn off my computer and sit and hold his hand while he watches TV.  I can play some Wii golf WITH him instead of reading on the couch.  I could go work in the yard with him instead of holing up in the studio on the weekend.  We could start doing some of the things we both love to do: hiking, nature photography, playing cards, and Scrabble. As a sister I could call my siblings more frequently.  As a daughter I could take some time to mail my mom cards and hand-written notes as she does not do e-mail.  I can collect things I know she will love and always have a gift bag ready for any time I see her.   If 2009 is this cabinet - I get to fill it with all the dreams I have and hope to accomplish: 1.  Better actions as a mother and wife 2.  More completed artworks/applying for grants/fellowships and to VISIT real art again - a major trip for art viewing 3.  More shows to share my artwork 4.  I could finish posting my Etsy shop so people don't have to beg me to sell things. 5.  Start my series about my Italian experiences 6.  Get more active on my own blog ;) - pursue my writing with a more defined goal, write some of those memoir stories for myself and then decide if I want to share with others 7.  Nurture and maintain my new and old friendships 8.  Take time to reflect on my own life and the balance of my selfs: physical, spiritual, creative, and dreaming 9.  Become more fully who I am intended to be 10. Make sure I am following MY CALLING
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