The All New Me

Since I last wrote My Favorite Blue Piecean article on my blog, a lot has happened to me physically. In April 19 this year I had a Stroke (Acute Arterial Ischemic Stroke, Vertebrobasilar, Thalamic) and have some annoying numbness in my left hand and mouth as a result. Of course I was hoping to recover feeling in my dominant hand but it didn’t happen yet. I am still praying every day for that miracle to take place. Apparently I was blessed that this is the only problem I have since fatalities are common when someone suffers such a stroke. My whole world was shaken with this unfortunate event which happened coincidently the same day my youngest sister Agnes attempted suicide. We are all grateful she survived this ordeal after two weeks in a coma and is basically healthy and getting better, as I am. What brought on the stroke was inactivity from my broken foot that took 6 long months to heal. I don’t want to be ranting about how difficult life is, but want to let you know why I have been so quiet. Life has been quite overwhelming with MRI’s and many doctors and chiropractor appointments which didn’t help much.

In July I started having horrible Migraine Headaches which actually are still present I am sorry to say. They were triggered by the stroke. Any kind of stress triggers them. I have a hard time tolerating any medicine that is not natural, so all the medications for headaches gave me terrible side effects and I had to stop. One wonderful woman told me about Medical Marijuana (or Cannabis) which is about to be legal here in Maine where I live. Honestly I wasn’t thinking that would even be an option for me. When I heard that there are Cannabis Tinctures that are not dope but actually used for pain for people with autoimmune diseases, cancer and other sicknesses, the light went on. I have been using this for now maybe a couple months and the greatest thing is that it helps my sleep as well.  So I am slowly getting my life back.

Hand Knotting a Blue Pearl Necklace

In spite of all these intense hurdles, I never closed my Etsy Store. I continue to make new designs and love what I do. Most of my fingers are numb on my left hand but I still can feel them, so I am able to wire wrap and solder and do most of everything I like to make… but with more effort and sometime frustration though!

I bought some gorgeous High Quality Freshwater Pearls from my two favorite suppliers in the Greater Boston area a few months ago. I made for the holidays a lot of new Single Pearl, Double and 3 Strand Pearl Necklaces and Pearl Earrings with these amazing pearls. I have also removed from my store the custom orders because that takes too much of my time and brings on stress. I love what I do and put all of myself in it. I am happy to say that all my efforts haven’t been in vain and this past month of November was my best month ever in my almost 7 years on Etsy.

Please take a look at my New Designs if you get a chance,

Happy Holidays to you and a Merry Christmas

merry-christmas-tree-red-patricia-awapara

Artistic Origins

I received the most praise growing up for the way I painted, that was my gift! I had found something that would get my parents attention. Being one of 8 children It was hard to get your parents attention. My mother grew up surrounded by the art world. Her parents were antique dealers in Cannes, France and had a good reputation in their field. They were both self-taught and learned everything from books. My grandmother was an avid reader and learner and that is something I definitely inherited from her.

I wasn’t a good student in school. I had a terrible time memorizing things, my mind was always wandering and trying to figure things out…I couldn’t concentrate…it still is hard for me! When I met my husband, he loved to read, which was a difficult thing for me, but eventually I got into it. In my early 20’s I started reading books that I missed reading when I was a child. For example I read every one of Jules Verne’s books. The only books I would read before that were books about Prisons and War. I believe I was so hurt inside and so isolated, I just identified with these people’s pain. My husband on the other end would read submarine books. He did that for years…now he still reads a lot about boats, but they don’t have to be submarines. I believe it had to do with all the bottled up feelings he kept inside as well. What a pair! Eventually when I found the Lord, I got really hungry to learn all I could about Him and I just couldn’t get enough. Now my house is filled with books just like my grandmother’s house. This is part of my inheritance!

Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.
Family Outing with my siblings and Dad. I am 2nd left.

So when I grew up, I was surrounded with antiques and the art world was just a really big part of my life. It was kind of hard to stay in the present moment as we were surrounded with old things and always talking about them. They were like live idols living among us. They definitely took a lot of time and space. I wasn’t that interested in them. My Mom was an amazing artist, she had gone to the French Art School “Les Beaux Arts”. She was catholic and found the Lord painting Icons like Greek and Russian Icons in her later years after my dad died. It was her way to communicate with God. In my family it was an honor to be an artist. So I went to art school and found great relief in expressing myself through drawing, painting, pottery and such, but mostly through color. I couldn’t express myself in words but color was my tool. When I was 12, we had an art class at school and I had a couple of assignments to do at home. I did two paintings one of “Guignol” a famous French puppet that we had at the house and one of a clown. When I turned in the paintings to the teacher, she didn’t believe I had done them myself and I was rebuked and got a bad grade for it. I didn’t have parents who would have defended me for such a small matter…so I thought and I didn’t say anything at home. I was totally devastated. How could she have done that? I resented that teacher for the rest of the year. This is how I dealt with resentments: don’t tell anyone and let them fester forever! It didn’t work! Fear ran my life and left me paralyzed, with no hope for help. If my parents didn’t think it was important, then it wasn’t! The other side of this story is that if my teacher really wouldn’t believe I had done the paintings, then it must have been pretty good and it really was a compliment, but I couldn’t see it that way.

smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris
smoking a cigaret in a tobacco field near Paris

Since I could hold a pencil or a brush, I loved drawing or painting. I painted the garden, the house, little fantasy outside scenes etc…it was also something that Mom and Dad approved of, so it led me to do more. After barely finishing high school, I entered Art School while still living at home and these were some of my most exciting years. I became a teacher in a center for children from 4 to 12 and they all called me Mom, which made me feel good. I taught them to do hand-built pottery and painting. I got really attached to them as they loved me unconditionally and filled some of the void inside of me. I graduated from that school with honors having learned all kinds of crafts – my favorite ones being pottery and painting. When school was over I moved to Biot, a little village in the South of France where I worked hard for a silversmith. Denis was Iranian and a fun guy who had a problem with lust but never laid a finger on me, he jokingly called me his slave…I made pennies while he often went sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. I was the only apprentice there. He taught me the craft and was a very good and patient teacher. I was a good worker, very productive and learned the craft fast. At the time I was 21 and had left home with the idea of never going back there to live. I wanted my freedom and I did get that! I shared a little apartment with my oldest sister Jacqueline. I was still under the authority of my older siblings but we were all in rebellion so we rebelled together. My oldest sister who was always difficult with us when Mom and Dad would go away and leave us with her, changed drastically in Biot. One day she brought home maybe 20 or 25 hippies who had no place to spend the night. Our apartment was very small, just a studio, and we had people all over our floor…they slept there. We never did drugs in those days and I believe our Mom’s prayers had a lot to do with it. In the beginning of my second year in Biot, I met my husband David. We lived together for 5 years in the south of France, Italy and then Paris. We had the moving bug and never settled any place for very long. Then we thought we would go to the USA and see if he could sell his artwork. We thought we were leaving for 2 months but we never returned to Europe to live. We have now been in the USA for 38 years!

My sister who lived with me then, worked for a talented artist who did exquisite Leather work. My brother who lived in the same town had his own business restoring very intricate antique French furniture, his specialty being Louis XIV Brass and Tortoise Shell inlaid wood work. I worked for him for some time too. So we continued the family legacy.

Now I am back to working with Sterling Silver and using every bit of advice I learned from Denis, my teacher who died a few years back. I still absolutely love creating jewelry and am so grateful I can do something I love and have people wear it. My next phase in jewelry starting very soon is to include soldering and extend my creating possibilities. It will open a new perspective and I am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

What is the hobby or activity that helps you tap into the creativity God has given you?

From Pain to an Amazing Pearl

Oyster and Pearl by Kelly Bermudez
Oyster and Pearl by Kelly Bermudez

Visual Devotion: From Pain to Pearl

Kelly Bermudez is an artist I just discovered recently and I absolutely love her work. Here is an example of her work and just the heart behind it.

I have written before about the pearl and the oyster shell as I have always been fascinated by this process. I have been that grain of sand time and time again and it seems the beautiful pearl is a long way off but I’m in the process. So many things have irritated that grain of sand… and these are the things that have formed my character best! I love how the oyster coats that grain of sand with that precious substance to protect itself from irritation.

To protect ourselves, we do similar things:

  • We numb ourselves with food, drugs, drink etc.
  • We build a wall around us
  • We get angry at people
  • We do the blame game
  • We avoid people and isolate because people hurt us!
  • We do anything except accept the irritation and let that turn into a beautiful pearl

I don’t know about you, but this is the way my defense mechanism goes into action. Believe me I haven’t always been able to turn the pain off…I had instances (and that is what saved me) where all I could do is surrender and let God do His work in me. There are days when I thought the pain would kill me! I feel in my heart like I am about to enter a similar process again soon.

What do you do when Pain knocks at the door of your Heart?

Being French in the USA

My family has remained in France as long as I have lived here in the US. I’ve had occasional visits from 3 siblings and even once my mom when she was alive but no one decided to move here to be near me. They love France and are happy to be there. The French think France is the best and anyone leaving is breaking the cord so to speak! I have been in the US since 1975 and got married here and had 3 children and 1 grandchild.

My remaining 6 siblings are all living in France right now and thanks to the internet communication is a lot easier these days. Recently this year we lost my youngest brother in a sudden car crash in England – it wasn’t his fault! That event put real fear in my whole family. A lot more bonding has taken place between all of us because of this unfortunate and sudden death. We are trying so much more to stay in touch! I have an iPhone and so do a few of my siblings and my brother told me about this App which costs 99 cents and you can text anywhere around the world for nothing! How cool is that!

On the phone with my oldest brother, we were able to talk about his passions in life and I discovered he really loved riding his bicycle. I got myself a new bike and have been really enjoying riding it around here in Maine where I live. It’s beautiful here and I am blessed. I have done over 200 miles since that day and am planning to do a lot more when I feel better. I am sick right now with the flu and feeling really yucky….fever and all…and here I am writing a blog!

The holidays to this day are the most difficult times of the year for me. Traditions here are all different from where I grew up! For example birthdays are simple in my family and they are a family event…no parties with 40 people etc. I still to this day like small gatherings, not huge celebrations. We had 25 people at our wedding in Carmel CA!

On Christmas Eve we would gather in the living room around the tree with real lit candles clipped to it and we would sing all together christmas carols. That was a very spiritual time for me even though I wasn’t really into church or any religion. Maybe that was the only time I felt connected to God as a child…it certainly wasn’t in the catholic church in France which felt to me like a tomb! That night we would leave our shoes in my parents bedroom (how convenient!) and when we opened up their door on Christmas Morning they could stay in bed and rejoice with us as we opened our gifts. It was a simple but yet a very bonding time. It felt real and profound at the same time. Here in the US I feel I am just celebrating a commercial holiday and all my children were born in the US so they caught the culture and it’s nothing to me like what I experienced as a child or teenager.

After living in the US for now 37 years I still have a french accent and most people think I am german! I only know a handful of German words! When I go to France They speak to me in English when I go buy a magazine or something… It’s frustrating because I feel like I do not belong anywhere. It can become quite unsettling! In the natural realm it feels like I don’t belong anywhere…..

You might say…move on lady, let go, enjoy what you have now! Yes I try to do this but there is always nostalgia inside my heart, a hole that no one trying with all their might can fill! I have grown closer to God since I have lived here in the US. I know him as a personal God who loves me unconditionally and wants to hang out with me. He thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread even with all my bumps and bruises.

It’s a great relief to know you don’t have to be perfect to be accepted – something I learned here!

Its great to know you can just be and not have to act up anything in order to fit in!

I have learned that I do not fit anywhere except in my Father’s arms. My earthly dad passed away many moons ago but my heavenly Dad is here for me every day.

You might say – so what! what difference does that make when you are lonely? A lot of difference is the answer……. I am never alone again!

Below you can see me and some of my siblings holding hands. We had a real family! I miss them!

Hope this little bit will help someone get through a tough time. It helps me when I write. Today everyone is at my granddaughter’s soccer game and I am sick and writing this article….

There is always more to life to discover and I can’t wait to open the next Gift God has for me……