Sharing A Memory, Remembering A Promise

The adage, “you don’t know what you have until it is gone,” is probably the biggest understatement one can make.

It isn’t until something, or, more importantly, someone is gone that we truly see the impact they have had on our lives. That’s when the questioning begins. Did I tell them how much they meant to me? Did they know that I loved them? Were they scared? Could I have done more?

Then the promises come. I promise I won’t let another person not know that I care for them. I promise not to assume people know that I love them – I will tell them. I promise not to forget how empty I feel with this new hole ripped in my heart. I promise to keep filling it with love. I promise to hug more, kiss more, share more, live more….
I promise not to forget.

That’s the beauty of the human brain, though. It doesn’t really forget, but time dulls that hurt. You can’t live constantly trying to be there for everyone. You can’t live with the fresh hurt replaying over and over again. So, as time passes, the bad is replaced by the good, crying gives way to laughter, and sooner than you ever imagined – or promised yourself it would – life settles back into its rhythm.

That boldness you promised yourself to let those you care for know your feelings, fades back to complacency.
It’s not that you care if they say it back to you or not, you just want them to know how loved they are. Hugs, kisses, pokes, prods, all those small signs of affection, all those clues that tells others that they mean something to you, become reserved for those that don’t tense at the overt showing of affection. We don’t want people to be uncomfortable. We don’t want to be a cause for their unease. So, we quit doing the things we promised. We stop ourselves short and walk away a little less fulfilled because our brain starts to tell us – well….and the excuses begin.

I have to admit, the happiest times in my life have been when I didn’t think beyond that “moment.” The older I become, the more I think on a feeling than act on it. Of all the things age is bringing me – aches, pains, the need to be in bed before 2am – this is what I fight against the most.

Which is why I try, and many times fail, to remember those moments when the hurt of loss, or the thrill of trying, made me promise.

Matthew and the Church Van
One of my happiest memories came sometime in 1997. My church youth group had been somewhere – pretty sure it was Chief Logan. The whole gang was there, but what I remember was coming back and Matt sitting beside me. It was chilly as he scooted closer and took my hand. I had liked him for a while and thought he may like me, but I could never allow myself to believe that. Claiming he was cold, we held hands all the way home.
It was the only time we held hands. He died soon after that, and my first wave of promises began.

Maybe it’s because his birthday is coming up, or maybe it’s because after all these years I can remember those promises, and how I have failed time and time again to honor them. It may be due to the fact that I’ll be 34 in a couple of weeks and there is nothing like a birthday to make you look back and remember the good and the bad.

I will fail, people tend to do that, but I am going to do my best to remember those promises and keep to them. I want to hug more, kiss more, share more, laugh more, cuddle more – I just want more. I don’t want to be afraid of what may happen and just enjoy what is happening.

Matt helps me remember that. So does Chris, Papaw, Jeff, Granny, the many others gone….but let’s not leave out the living: Johnsey, Tracie, Mom, Dad, Bobby, Dō, Mernie, Mari, Max, Maddie, Cam, Justin, Jami, Dez, Sara, Mike, the Duncans, Brandi, Ramin, Patty, Tommy, Sherri, Matt, Aunt Pat, Peggy, Kam, Joe, JP, Kelli, Nick, Daniel, Brad, Adam……to be honest the list could take pages and pages because I am actually very fortunate and have many people I truly love and care for – even if they aren’t fully aware of it, which is on me. It is something I plan on correcting as well.
It is because of them all I will be better to remember how full life is and how much better mine has been because of the love I have for them.

So, it with tears flowing that I will end my rambling thoughts on my memory.

Go out and let those you care for know it. For me, I will remind myself that even if they don’t say it back, it’s OK. The point is that they know YOU care for/love them.

Fingernails or How John Green Will Save Me

When I finally broke my habit of biting my nails, I was thrilled!  No more weird looks from my Dad.  No more tears down to the quick.  No more gross stuff entering my mouth – by my own doing! – out of a strange compulsion to control something.  My nervous condition was no more!  It had ceased to exist!  Yay!!!  And the minstrels celebrated!

Or had it……


Learning to Be OK With Being Happy

I wrote that.  Yep, all me and my tendency to write in a free flowing attempt at letting it all out.  I really didn’t think much about it with regards to the post it was in.  In fact, it wasn’t until I went back – post publishing it of course – that I noticed it.

I will learn to be OK with being happy…because right now, I don’t know what to do with it.  That bothers me some because you would think at 32, almost 33, I would have the “being happy” thing down.  I mean, I laugh, I enjoy the majority of my days, I have love in my love life in the form of family and friends – I have a lot of happy.

But do I deserve it?  What if I mess it up?  What if…what if…what if

Two little words, one impossible question. 


Having the “Want To” – Being Home

Sadly, I think when people say “I’m going home,” others look at them as if to say “how sad.”  Through popular media, going home has come to represent the last move of one who has failed – at a career, in a relationship, in life.  Yes, after going home, learning a valuable lesson about what is important in their lives, these poor, broken, people are strong enough to leave again.  They go out into to the world and make the difference they were always meant to do. End scene.

That’s not why I wanted to come home. More

Holiday Thoughts

The holidays are upon us.  Christmas, New Year’s – I love this time of year.  Giving gifts to family and friends, seeing if I got it right; there is nothing quite like it.  The promise of a new beginning, a chance to get things right “this time;” priceless hope.  Yes, this is the best time of the year for me.  It’s when those moments that weren’t that great over the course of the year fade into the fog of memory and replaced by glowing embers of times golden.  Granted, this euphoria doesn’t last – it isn’t something that is sustained constantly over the two weeks that encompass Christmas and New Year’s – but at least it’s there and that’s really all I need.

In the midst of enjoying my first day of break, I had several moments to reflect on what this year has meant to me.  When I think about it, the word “change” is the constant refrain.  At the beginning of the year I was engaged, now I’m not.  At the beginning of the year, I lived in another part of the state, now I live somewhere else.  At the beginning of the year I taught Art in Kentucky, now I don’t (I teach Art in West Virginia – didn’t want you to think I was out of a job).  Those are the big changes, but other, nicer things happened as well.  I made new friends at my new job (I like to believe I am STEM approved!) that I care for very much.  I live near my family and get to spend quality time with cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, brother, and Mom and Dad.  I’m happy, I have crushes on cute boys (sorry, men – I’m not 12), and I have hope – something I didn’t have for a while.

Now, I could go on again about how all the changes, particularly the hard ones, were rough and at times still are: but those times are fewer and fewer.  It doesn’t pay to harp about the wrongs I feel were done.  I wouldn’t even call them wrongs – I like to believe that all of the decisions, good/bad/whatever, have been lessons that needed to be learned.  What’s the phrase, you can’t enjoy the highs if you’ve never had the lows?  Something like that.  Anyways, all of those moments have brought me here to my couch, watching Burn Notice (B.A. by the way – B. A.) with my cat Ralphie and I’m fine with it.  The only regret I have this year is that I didn’t kiss a handsome man goodnight but that’s another story for another day.

So, now that my Pete Townshend style rambling is at an end, here are some resolutions I have for the coming year because, believe it or not, I had resolutions last year about making changes in my life and honestly, they worked out.

Here it goes:

Resolution 1 – Never give up the tshirt love, but wear dress clothes more often.   Dammit, I’m a girl and I like to look pretty! Seriously though, I have some awesome tshirts and I’ll never give them up – NEVER!!

Resolution 2 – Keep up the jogging/exercise routine.  Yes, I ended up enjoying jogging.  Guess I had to do it for myself after all.

Resolution 3Be better about blogging.  My 1/3 of Errant Easel should be attended to more often.  It will keep me on track with my Art too.

Resolution 4Become more outgoing.  States itself.

On that note, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Happy New Year everyone.  I hope my little writings reach some of you, or give those of you I know a little more insight to my thought process.  It helps me to get it all out there and if it can help someone else – to at least know you aren’t the only one – then alrighty.

See you next year unless something spectacular, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt giving up on models and actress to court an Art teacher from Appalachia, happens.

It's not a Christmas pic, but he's wearing red so..close enough! Merry Christmas!

It’s not a Christmas pic, but he’s wearing red so..close enough! Merry Christmas!



Looking Forward from 2011

Happy New Years and welcome to 2012! I have had a warm and productive holiday season and hope you have, too. I’d like to take a moment to look back on the past few months in which I kept busy but posted little. Lessons in the craft world learned in 2011 include the following.

-I recently completed my first hat and despite some pattern misreads discovered in the final product, I think it turned out pretty well for a first try. An inherent problem in crafting any wearable item is producing a properly fitting garment. This Harry Potter beanie was designated as a child’s pattern but the large version I made seems more like an oversized adult hat. This has reminded me the hard way that it’s worth the effort to take some measurements and to never knit (for someone else) on autopilot.

-A major project of late has been working on homemade stocking stuffers including lip balm, sugar scrubs, fizzy bath salts, bath bombs, melt and pour soaps, and lotion bars with my friend Sarah Rentz. While the sugar scrubs have been the easiest product to create the bath bombs have proved the most interesting. We have had inconsistent results with the bath bombs stemming from water consistency issues and surface area to volume ratios but this will be an excellent product once we perfect it. One memorably failed experiment involved changing our source of salt from a coarse Mediterranean sea salt from Kroger to a bulk package of dead sea salt from an online company. The result was a sticky mess of a continuous reaction between the citric acid and the baking soda in the matrix of the (apparently) higher water content of the Dead Sea salt.  The lovely fizz when the bath bomb is dropped in a nice warm bath is the result of carbon dioxide bubbles and additional water as biproducts of the chemical reaction between an acid and a carbonate. However, when the reaction begins inadvertently in a small plastic jar creating more water further fueling the reaction, the result is a sticky bubbly mess that hopefully isn’t sitting on your carpet at home. Luckily we identified the culprit as the new salt source and this will not be  an issue in the future. I love that simple chemistry can help or hurt in these situations making it important to understand the ingredients used in each project.

-While Sarah and I played with melt and pour soap bases, we really weren’t thrilled with the simplicity of the process. Luckily, we met Joann, a legitimate homemade lye soap maker from Stanton, KY and she offered to show us her techniques. She makes beautiful and potent smelling lye soap that is very impressive in both formulation and presentation. She welcomed us into her own home and we could not thank her enough for her insights and support. I can not wait to put these skills into use and create such a beautiful and useful product.

-In December, Brad, Staci, and I visited the Open Studio event at the University of Kentucky Reynolds Art Building. Not only did we get to see a diverse assortment of student projects in print making, 3D sculpture, graphic design, fiber arts, paintings, drawings, and pretty much anything else you can think of, but we also got to see a live aluminum pour into sand molds created by patrons of the show at the open air metal arts studio. This was amazing. Sparks were flying, sawdust was burning, metals were molten and  students were wearing protective leather smithing type outfits and welding masks. This was art and science on steroids. As a result, one of my New Years resolutions for 2012 is to participate in the 20th annual campus Iron Pour when it rolls around this fall.  Last year’s event even included a patina workshop that I would gladly attend if repeated this year. I can hardly wait for October but at least there will be plenty of time to plan my project.

With so many great craft experiences in 2011 and lots to be excited about in 2012, I have a few craft-related and a few personal resolutions for the newborn 2012:

-Aforementioned participation in the 2012 UK Iron Pour

-Put into practice lye soap making lessons from above

-Update Errant Easel with new material at least every other week

-Successfully defend capstone this semester

-Choose a nonfiction book for every third leisure reading book

I have more resolutions, but these seem sufficient to keep me busy for the immediate future. I hope you are lucky enough to look back at 2011 with positive feelings and if you can not that you maintain hope for the future and the will to make the best of new opportunities. Happy New Year and I look forward to writing again soon.