Willingly Stepping into Discomfort

The holiday’s are over. It’s mid-January, and the new year is already a living, breathing presence. The year behind me was Full. And the closing days of 2017 were in many ways the most lovely of any in my recent memory. The shortening days led to a winter solstice celebration with friends, and I took a deep breath and dared to look around and back: So many people I care about, so much growth in the face of unbelievable challenge, so much quiet calmness as I see my heart has been steadily learning to trust the timing of events in my life. I found myself enjoying every little celebration as it came along. And the extra weight? I’ve already lost it.

Fuller disclosure: it’s not like there hasn’t been a shit-load of stressors. Life is a dangerous endeavor, after all, and there’s always something threatening to knock me out of my comfort zone. And it usually does, but I’m navigating those blessings better than I used to.  Facing down fear has been a theme not just for me this past year. And fear – F.E.A.R. – can be So. Debilitating. What I want to do when it starts to circle ominously around me – drooling, snarling, and closing in – is go hide, tune it out, eat another bowl of pop-corn, pull the wool up over my head and watch another episode of Transparent. Yes, but I’ve seen all the seasons. I also know from experience that avoidance only works temporarily. And usually not well.

So, what to do when I’m feeling afraid, desperately uncomfortable, helpless, and hopeless? Not to mention angry at the injustice of being caught in the crossfire between BAD and WORSE.

Step willingly into the discomfort? Yes. Don’t be afraid, or if I am afraid, do what I need to do to show up anyway. Go ahead and take the Alprozolam, strike a power pose, do some deep breathing. But go! Something good might come out of it. It usually does.

Some strategies I’ve identified for stepping into deep discomfort, an act of courage worth honing:

  1. Meditation – it’s hard to do, right? There’s something about it that makes it look uncomfortable. But, after pushing myself to stop running around in a panic and just sit, I find the screaming mind has become quieter, and a deeper awareness has taken its place.
  2. Study the guides, spiritual and practical: Ignorance is NOT a blissful place to be.
  3. Write it down: What you know, what you want to say, what you want to ask – digging into a pile of shit is a very nasty prospect. But it begins to lose its power when offered up to the light of day.
  4. Talk to people – Find out what other people are thinking and doing; how they view a fearful situation, for example. Communication can be scary, but coming out of isolation is a big part of dealing with fear.
  5. Lifting weights, going for a walk, cooking a healthy meal, getting a good night’s sleep – these are all part of the necessary training for a warrior in the making.          I’m congratulating myself on every little baby step taken. You’re badass, girl!

Hello 2018! I’m fearful and I’m fearless, and just like you, I’m coming as I am.


Light Over the Sound


This part of the bike path along the Sound at Seaside Park always gives me a rush. It feels like I’m riding out into the sea until I make the sharp right and follow the sidewalk all the way to the point. This spot was my inspiration for the latest piece below.


Light Over the Sound



Afternoon crossing


Night Moon

First Showing

I joined the Milford Arts Council this year, and submitted two pieces to the Firehouse Gallery Exhibit  this month. The theme: Visual Music. As I had made nothing with that theme in mind, I decided to take another look and found two projects that could fit, especially if I named them something musical. The name adds a new dimension to the way I look at them.


Midsummer Medley

I was under the influence of Matisse when I started out on this one. It didn’t come out as easily as some of the previous pieces. I had to leave it out on my living room floor for days as I kept working on it, wondering where it was going. Of all my work, I think it most fits the music theme of the show- music. After giving it a name, I started liking it more.


Seaside Rhapsody

This is my favorite piece, so it’s not for sale. I need to get a better photo of it to post. It just came together in hours. I had the idea from a wall of photos I had seen at a friend’s house (photo below). I liked the overall shape and wanted to use it for my colored paper squares.  Suddenly it became floating houses in the clouds. It reminds me of apartments by the sea in Portugal, or somewhere on the Mediterranean, or my own tiny apartment next to Seaside Park on the Sound.


My starting inspiration

There are many things to learn. I’ve always been a creator, not much concerned with the details of framing, printing, promoting, etc. It’s a whole new world getting something show-ready. Next step is to ditch all those reflections!

Learning from the Masters



Georgia O’Keefe Original, Santa Fe


My copy/version


When I look again at the original I can see the depth of color that I wasn’t able to catch. But I learned a lot making this image. I’m not afraid of drawing clouds anymore, for one. And I notice them in the sky a lot more now.

Below is another O’Keefe that Emilie and I saw  when we visited her museum in Santa Fe. We loved it and I wanted to try copying it.


The Original


My version


Preparing the paper…


My Wonder Woman is an embellished copy of one of Matisse’s cut-outs:


Below is a copy of a Pucci scarf design. Crazy about his designs!

Pucci Copy 1

My Pucci-esque painting.


Mountain Fade

I got the idea for Mountain Fade from a DIY video online. My daughter wanted something on her wall, and found a model she liked online. Doing this project got me started and gave me confidence to approach a big blank wall with a lot less fear.


On my niece’s wall in Liege.


Guest room in Emilie’s house

My bedroom clouds!


Beach-combing Artist


Behind the Wall

Everything you see in this ‘painting’ comes from the beach here at Seaside Park. It’s September, and the leaves are starting to fall. This picture captures the changing season. The blue and green of summer is turning to gold and silver. Falling leaves are beautiful to look at, even as they herald the coming dark. The beach in the fall is different. I suddenly realize how beautiful seaweed is.


The Path

This picture I made on the day my daughter’s divorce became official. I was at the beach when she called to tell me. I thought of the path of self-discovery she’s on. I had wanted to make a ‘path picture’ ever since our trip out to Santa Fe, where she and I had walked on a little stone path in a park downtown. I took a picture then, and it was in the back of my mind when I started collecting some of the amazing stones at Walnut Beach in Milford.


Santa Fe rock path

Ideas come from many places. There are patterns and textures everywhere, and I like to have my camera to capture them. With some luck, they’ll find their way into a painting down the road.



At the Beach’s End

I spend a lot of time at Seaside Park combing the beach. It’s relaxing, calming to my spirit, and a way to get out of the house and replenish my body’s store of vitamin D.

I’ve been combing the Seaside Park beach for the past year, but really got into it on an almost daily basis this summer. I’ve been collecting all kinds of rocks and shells, and now each visit something new catches my eye: a new kind of shell I hadn’t noticed before, another variation of seaweed, a rock of a certain shape or color, crab shells, driftwood, feathers, leaves. The repertoire is constantly expanding. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a new thing on the beach, or if I’m just becoming more observant.


This one was inspired by my new favorite local beach in Milford (see photo below). This beach is very different from the one in Bridgeport, with less shells and more stones, and the remnants of an old boardwalk that must have been wiped out in one of the big storms that hit here some years ago.



October beach

My second experiment with showcasing Walnut Beach rocks. This one started out as a matted frame which I decided to keep and use as part of the picture. Below is the background which is made of paper and has to be done before any of the stones are added.


Preparing the background


Paper is another important medium I use.


For Eileen, Werking Woman

Check out some of my projects at  Making art with paper

Stage Two Recovery in ACA

Hello Everybody! It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been a presence on my own blog.
However, it’s harvest time, and there are important things to share. I know I need to smile more, but that’s really hard to do because I freeze up in front of the camera.

This is a follow up to the post about being an adult child and finding a 12-step program that really fits me- Finally! I hope it’s helpful to someone here 

If you want to know more about the recovery work of Adult Children of Alcoholics (and Dysfunctional Families), the following 18 minute video is my outline of the Promises and the 3 stages of recovery. You can also scroll down to read the Laundry List and the Promises. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


The Laundry List (14 Characteristics of an Adult Child):

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2.  We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism.
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity, and tend to love the people we can pity and rescue.
  10. We have stuffed our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us.
  13. Alcoholism is a family disease and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

If you identify with most or all of these traits, you may want to search online for telephone meetings or local groups in your area. If so, I may see you there!


The ACA Promises:

  1. We will discover our real identities by loving and accepting ourselves.
  2. Our self-esteem will increase as we give ourselves approval on a daily basis.
  3. Fear of authority figures and the need to ‘people-please’ will leave us.
  4. Our ability to share intimacy will grow inside us.
  5. As we face our abandonment issues, we will be attracted by strengths and become more tolerant of weaknesses.
  6. We will enjoy feeling stable, peaceful, and financially secure.
  7. We will learn how to play and have fun in our lives.
  8. We will choose to love people who can love and be responsible for themselves.
  9. Healthy boundaries and limits will become easier for us to set.
  10. Fears of failure and success will leave us, as we intuitively make healthier choices.
  11. With help form our ACA support group, we will slowly release our dysfunctional behaviors.
  12. Gradually, with our Higher Power’s help, we will learn to expect the best and get it.