I started a big painting of Cameron Lake yesterday. I’ve painted this place a lot. In fact, my last completed painting of 2018 was of the same place. I’ve painted Cameron Lake almost as much as Lake Louise. But there’s a reason I go back to both places again and again.
These lakes are places that speak peace to me. I remember when I lived on Vancouver Island, I would go to Cameron Lake any time I needed to find some peace and quiet and get centered again. Though back then I’m not sure I knew what being centered even was. And peace came much, much later.
Anyway, the lake was calling again this week. It had been a really pissy week. For me, a bad week means I worried too much, was angry too much, and just generally unhappy and wishing I was elsewhere living a different life. Basically, wishing I was not me and instead being some wealthy, fun, free, creative woman who doesn’t have a worry in the world.
I realize most of the time that all of that is still within grasp anyway. And most of her has been in there all along. She just gets shouted down sometimes by all the ridiculous worry. I worry about my kids way too much. The decisions they make, the decisions they don’t make, the people they date, the people they befriend. I worry about me. Am I going to be okay financially? Will I finally figure out how to be vulnerable and strong? Am I ever going to get up off the sofa and get back out there?
Maybe this is the week that turns the corner. Maybe I need to be miserable with the present me enough to want to change certain things. Maybe I need to let go of my adult children a little more and let them make their decisions, non-decisions and mistakes, as freely as I know they wish to. I told my daughter a few days ago that I want her and her brother to do better than me. But instead of that crawl-in-the-dirt negative perspective, why not create a life for me that they want to emulate? Why not look at the good things already in my life and hope that they model some really good stuff that I am already living?
It was yesterday that an answer came back from my daughter. She told me that she’s been watching me paint for so long that sometimes she doesn’t notice how unique it is. Its been around her so long that it became ordinary. But every so often, she said she realizes how amazing it is what her Mom does. And she notices afresh what comes out of me and what great things I am able to do.
It was no doubt an affirmation that I needed reminding of myself.
And this… A young woman came to interview me at work this week (I work for the Calgary Jewish Federation when I am not painting). She is a drama major at one of the universities here, and was doing research into second-generation Holocaust survivors, of which I am one. She contacted our organization to see if there was anyone she could interview for background to a play she was writing. It was the first time I’d ever done this.
Anyway, we talked for a good hour. At one point she asked about art, from and about the Holocaust, and asked how it is that second and even third generation survivors can keep the memory and experience alive through the arts. I told her I had done some of this artwork but knew I had not yet done enough. And it hit me, that I needed to do far more. Central to me, besides the creative, is this experience. And I knew what I needed to do after the Cameron Lake painting is done.
A few days ago, I went through some old black and white photos saved from my parents’ home. There are certain ones I have wanted to paint for a long time and haven’t gotten around to for one reason or another. Laziness was one of the biggest reasons…ugh. But my next painting will be one of those photos. I will record our history as a family, and as a small part of a big, sad, tragic, triumphant, joyful and strong history. The colour palette is already swirling in my head….
So as the butterflies and knots in my gut finally eased later this week, I was able to find my way back to that peaceful place that reaches out to me from my canvas and paint. I am able to trust my kids’ future to things bigger than myself and to their own ability to make good decisions with their incredible, creative, strong minds. And the great thing is, when I let go of all the worry and anxiety, suddenly there’s all this time to think of myself. What do I want to do with me? How do I want to step out?
There is a myriad of ways…. And I started today by working on my painting, writing this blog post, and going out later this evening to see a film. And all the upcoming tomorrows hold a huge amount of promise too. Gee, I can do anything really!