Category Archives: grief

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

This past week has been a rough one. It started out on a high note on Tuesday with negotiations for a contract with a management company that wants to represent my art and publish my Paula Beck Prints book. I’m still negotiating, but that had to be put on hold Wednesday afternoon.

An uncle of Aaron’s was in a horrific motorcycle accident and we got the call around 2:00 Wednesday. You may have heard about it on the local news. A truck was going the wrong way down I-25 and hit him head on. The doctors didn’t think he would make it past Wednesday night, but he did. He’s a fighter and he’s still fighting everyday to stay alive. Needless to say, we have dropped everything this past week to be at the hospital with him and other family members. It’s times like this that put everything into perspective. Life is so precious and we take it for granted so often. I’ve had these moments in life before and I always say I will never take another day of my life for granted.

Not always easy when you get back into the swing of everyday life. Let this serve as a reminder, hug your loved ones every chance you get and never let a day go by without telling them you love them. There is so much pettiness and unnecessary drama in our day to day lives, I’m guilty of it too. I’m still a work in progress, but I will work everyday to not sweat the small stuff. As they say, it’s ALL small stuff.

I’m still finding it hard to concentrate on anything I need to work on or get done, but I had to try today. I’m trying my best to be a strong shoulder of support for my husband and his family, after all, they are my family too. Please send prayers and positive energy for healing. It’s going to be a long road to recovery, and we are just taking it one day at a time for now.

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What are you so angry about?

I usually like to keep my posts about the art, but I recently had an epiphany and felt the need to share. I have been angry most of my adult life. Not that I ran around angry all the time, but it was always there, boiling just beneath the surface. I always blamed it on other people and their behavior. My ex, my family, people in traffic, etc, etc.

Since 2007, I’ve been on a search for inner peace. It’s been a long decade of reading tons of self help books, learning to meditate daily, creating art from my soul and self care. I’ve lost several friends along the way. Mainly because they weren’t comfortable with my changes and the fact that I was now standing up for myself. They didn’t like the “healthy” Paula.

I once had a shaman tell me that some people are like rocks in a backpack. Sometimes on the trail of life, we have to empty the rocks out of our backpack so we can lighten our load and be happy. Let’s just say my backpack was HEAVY with rocks. Not just people, but situations, memories and regrets. However, even after I dropped the rocks on the side of the trail, the anger was still there.

It’s been a long road and I finally feel like I’m moving on to the next decade of my life. The epiphany happened recently, after watching a video on facebook, of all places! Here’s the link: I highly recommend you WATCH this video!
https://www.facebook.com/comedien.voix.doublage/videos/10206832718043784/?hc_ref=OTHER&pnref=story

After I watched it, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s so crazy obvious to me now! I have been angry at my 15 year old self for DECADES! I have been mad at myself for all the stupid choices I made, for not just saying NO to that 17 year old boy who got me pregnant. First of all, NO to sex, and then later, NO to marriage.

Don’t get me wrong, everything that happened in my life HAD to happen. If not, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. That said, I’ve been carrying this anger around all this time. All the resentment for how my life “could’ve” been or “should’ve” been.

It is what it is.

How can I still be angry at that young girl who was just looking for love and attention? I can’t. The fire has been extinguished. The anger is now sadness. Not a depressed sadness, but a melancholy sadness for all the anger I inflicted on my family and friends and everyone around me.

BUT, it’s OK! I finally GET IT! Now I move on to forgiveness. I have often wondered why, after forgiving literally EVERYONE who ever did me wrong, why was I STILL angry? It’s time to forgive myself. It’s time to tell that 15 year old girl that still lives within me, you’re ok, you’re loved, you’re FORGIVEN.

I will leave you with a work in progress, “The Best of Everything”.

"The Best of Everything", acrylic on 12" vinyl record, work in progress

“The Best of Everything”, acrylic on 12″ vinyl record, work in progress

The Grief is Real

I have been in a fog for the past day and a half. I’m still in shock. It doesn’t help that I was feeling emotional as it was, before I heard the news about Prince. My first reaction was disbelief. It certainly could NOT be true. He’s too young. After frantically searching for the snopes article saying it was yet another internet death hoax, it became obvious that it was true. I was devastated. Truly.

I didn’t know him personally. I had always wished I could meet him. I was never able to see him live in concert, though I had recently hoped to make it to one of his shows on his current tour. I don’t have any personal stories of running into Prince in a hotel lobby. Though I do have a story about trying to buy a Prince CD in a Walmart in a small Arkansas town in 2004! Let’s just say, people there are racist and I had NO idea they still had “black” and “white” lines at the Walmart in 2004 America! I made the mistake of going to the “black” line. So, when I came back in to exchange the CD because it didn’t play, NO ONE would wait on me! LAME, I KNOW!

Fans like to think they “know” their idols. They WANT to know them. They mesmerize us with their enthusiasm and inspiration. Prince’s music came into my life at a very formative time. I was 13 years old. My parents got divorced. I had my first kiss. I became a teenager. My brain was being formed with the music of Madonna, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Prince,Β  The Eagles and so many others. These musician/celebrities showed me how to be an individual. They showed me who I was! They showed me that I could follow my heart and live my dreams. Their music was an inspiration but it was also the soundtrack of my teenage years. A million memories are tied to every song.

I watched a video earlier today that was discussing the reasons why my generation, Generation X, had such a strong connection to Prince. They talked about Prince being the product of a broken home, like so many of Generation X. Our generation saw the largest number of divorces of any generation before it or since.

I’m sure everyone has their memories of where they first heard the song Purple Rain or 1999. That is the biggest connection we have to our favorite celebrities. There are memories connected to music, always. In fact, I’ve been told that the music we love at the age of 14 is the music that sticks with us forever. When the album Purple Rain came out, I was 14 years old. I have distinct memories of opening the album and listening to Let’s Go Crazy for the first time. I was blown away! I sat there with that lyric sheet and memorized every word. As a shy teenager, I had a secret dream of being a singer, I KNOW I’m not the only one!

All of my life, but especially as a teenager, music was the one thing that connected me with my dad. He loved music and collected records from the age of 16. By the time I was 14, he had over 30,000 records! I have a vivid memory of my dad introducing me to Prince’s older albums. Controversy is the one that really stuck out for me. The memory is my dad pulling out the poster that came inside the album and asking me if I thought Prince was gay. If you’ve never seen the poster, it was Prince standing in a shower with water running over him and wearing nothing but bikini bottoms. At first I was shocked to see a nearly naked man! At the time I was somewhat irritated with my dad and said, of course not dad! Of course, he may have been onto something. Prince was definitely not your average guy. He was never afraid of blurring the line between gender roles and I admired him for that as I got older. This was 4 years before I found out my dad was gay. No wonder, I thought years later.

My dad introduced me to so much music, most of my musical tastes and influence came from him. In short, the death of these celebrities from my childhood and especially teenage years, brings back all of those memories of growing up and listening to music with my dad. I suspect it’s the same for all the fans out there feeling sad with the losses of 2016. Watching MTV, Prince hair styles and fashion, learning all the words to the songs by following along with the lyrics on the record sleeve, it was all a generational thing, but Prince transcended generations! His career spanned 37 years and five decades! Though the man will be missed, his music will live on forever and with the music, his spirit will always be alive!

Whether we knew Prince (or David Bowie, or any other celebrity) personally, have a story of an encounter with him or just loved his music, we all have those shared memories of the music and how it touched our lives. That is the joy and sometimes sorrow, of music. It enriches us, it enriches our lives, it enriches the World and perhaps even the Universe.

Creativity: Memorial Pillow

I’ve posted about my Memorial pillows before, last month actually. Today, I’m working on another one, commissioned by the same person who commissioned the first pillows I made. Let’s just say he was happy with my work! πŸ™‚ If you don’t know what Memorial pillows are, check out my previous blog post about them. πŸ™‚

photo of memorial pillow commission I'm working on

Memorial pillow commissioned by a client

Do you have items you would like me to make a memorial pillow from? Contact me via email (plewis11@comcast.net) or comment here for more information. You can also go directly to my Etsy listing for your own custom memorial pillow HERE.

If you don’t want a pillow, I can make just about anything you can come up with, a doll? a quilt or blanket? A wall hanging? You name it and we can discuss all the details, ie, price, size, etc.

I hope you are all having a lovely day! Thank you so much for reading my blog! πŸ™‚

Memorial Pillows

memorial pillow

Memorial pillow, made from an embroidered jean jacket and a bathrobe.

I recently got a commission for a couple of “Memorial” pillows. In case you’ve never heard of this before, a memorial pillow is made using clothing items that have some sort of sentimental value to you. Usually, the items belonged to a loved one who has passed away.

raw materials for memorial pillows

Two jean jackets and a bathrobe I turned into two Memorial pillows

In this case, I used two denim jackets that were embroidered by my client’s mom. The backing was cut from her bathrobe.

cutting out the jacket back

First I cut the back panels out of each item

This is a great way to remember someone and upcycle items at the same time. You can use old concert tshirts or a favorite blanket.

Cut and ready to sew

The first pillow all cut out and ready to sew into a pillow

If you are interested in having your own Memorial pillow made, check out this custom listing in my Etsy shop.

memorial pillows before stuffing

Two Memorial pillows before being stuffed.

More Rag dolls

fourgirls

The “girls”, though we are NOT gender biased here, they can also be long haired boys or transgender dolls.

My Etsy shop is now stocked with my new “Love” ragdolls. These cute little dolls have been so much fun to make, I must admit I hug them regularly! I have to! I named them “Love” dolls for a reason. They are given tons of love before they are sent out to their new mommies and daddies, where they will give love for years and years to come.

fourboys

The “boys” and bald babies, like the “girls” there is no gender bias here, they can be whatever YOU want them to be.

They are made with multicolored fabrics and yarns to represent all the ethnicities of the world. Their bright colors are meant to make them happy, loving dolls. They all have a cute little smile on their faces and an embroidered heart on their chest.

I realized yesterday that I made my “love” dolls just in time for Valentine’s Day. What girl or lady wouldn’t want a cute, hugable Love doll from their Valentine? I would! πŸ˜‰

I am also offering a custom, “memorial” doll. What exactly is a memorial doll you ask? A memorial doll is made in memory of a deceased loved one, using a piece of clothing that belonged to the loved one. It is an upcycled doll that will keep giving love long after a loved one is gone. The doll can be made with the same hair color and eye color as your loved one and will also have the person’s name embroidered within the heart on the chest. These are special order dolls, so contact me directly if you are interested and we can work out the logistics, ie sending me the item of clothing and determining custom elements for the doll.

I am also happy to make regular custom dolls with specific colors. These dolls are selling quick! Get yours while you can! Thank you! πŸ™‚

Artsy Quote: RIP Maya Angelou

In memory of a beautiful woman who is an inspiration to so many, including me. RIP Maya Angelou ❀

Forgiveness oil painting with Maya Angelou quote