April Showers

April showers are rapidly approaching… despite my growth and healing they still begin in March and spill into May.  No, I’m not talking about the April showers that are supposed to bring May flowers, I’m not about my personal April showers.  The ones I started dealing with since 2000.  You see our family had some special dates in April.. the birth of my mother and the birth of my oldest son.  Part of me had always been secretly please that I had a child born in the same month as my mother.  Kind of a look Mom, here’s a grandchild to remind you how much I love you.  But in 2000 my mother past away from pancreatic cancer, it was very quick.  It was as though one moment we heard she was sick and the next she was gone.  We had only been at our new duty station in Hawaii a few months when we heard, I had planned on visiting her after the new year.  But that would be too late.  I don’t think that the death of a parent is totally unexpected in this life and since I was still dealing with young children and life I thought part of me just accepted the loss and moved on.

I was wrong about the acceptance, but I didn’t find out for seven more years when my April birthday boy took his own life.  Then in that moment and in countless moments since, I miss my mom.  There is a big part of me that thinks she could have said the right thing at the right moment that would help me somehow deal with this big hole in my heart left by the loss of my child.  Somehow, she would have helped me quiet the pointless “what-ifs” and help stop the stream of endless pain in quiet moments. 

But there is nothing.. just a month or so, when I struggle through trying to remember that everyone had their own time frame on grief and that I have so many blessings right in front of me to see.  But it doesn’t help, those April showers just come anyway.. some years I’m so busy I don’t even notice it’s almost April.  I keep trying to figure out why the depression cycle is back, why I start avoiding everyone and just want to crawl in a hole somewhere and about the time I’m thinking I’m going crazy, I look at a calendar and realize it’s almost April.  Almost the day that would be celebrated as another year of life for two people gone from this life way to soon and I weep. 

For those who haven’t experienced deep grief, I’ll let you in on and secret.  It’s painful, physically.  Sometimes it feels as though you are going to have a heart attack, because that’s where it hurts.  Sometimes the pain is so much you can’t even breathe.  And sometimes you look around at the world and think why can’t others see this huge wound that is always bleeding on my body.  Do I really hide it that well or do they just not want to get into it? 

I recently found a quote from Charles Dickens that he said after he lost a child, a daughter I think. 

“And can it be,

That in a world so full and busy,

The loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep

That nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up. “

Charles Dickens

I can answer that question now, to the depths of my despair.  Yes, Mr. Dickens, a thousand times YES!

To those of you who have lost someone dear, you have my sympathies and understanding.  To those of you who haven’t.. take heed of the lesson I so painfully learned.  Don’t get wrapped in the small stuff.. and believe me it’s all small stuff.. take a moment every day to show love to those you care about.  Make sure you do that every day, you never know when they will be gone and grief will be hard enough without I should have, I would have, if only I have a moment..

Today is that moment… even in my April showers..

Fairhope Art and Craft Festival

I just have to share information on a wonderful art show in Fairhope, Alabama.  It took place the third weekend in March.  There are actually two shows in this wonderful seaside town; one is run by the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce and the other by Eastern Shore Arts Center.  Same area in the downtown area, just two different organizers.  Both are juried shows. 

We did the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce show.  Set up was the day before on Thursday.  Loved the fact that they stick to their rules across the board; You must show ID to check in and you must be the artist registered.  Also you must keep your tent/product in your 10×12 space, that includes banner and awnings.   First show ever that seems to enforce rules with everyone and not miss their favorites. 

Show was Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Friday was a slow day for us, think we might have come close to booth fee.  Lots of shoppers though and people were buying stuff.  We were at the very end of a row and I really think a lot of people didn’t come down to our area. 

Positive things about Friday were: the Chamber fed us breakfast YAH!  Shrimp grits homemade… delicious. Volunteers were out and helpful and the aisles were full of people even if sales were slow. 

Saturday was slow for us until afternoon when we sold two of our bigger pieces.  Made it comfortable for us though still not incredible.  Weather was ugh as it rained off and on all afternoon. 

About 3 the organizers came in and said they were allowing artists to pack up early with no penalty due to weather… that got us looking at the weather.  The 90% chance of rain had morphed into thunder storms severe at times with wins up to 25mph.  Needless to say we packed up.  Rain I can deal with, but strong winds and thunderstorms no.

Some artists stayed, but on Sunday after the Rest and Relaxation tent blew away they called the show.  I’m glad we packed early as Sunday was bad, rain became 100% with winds up to 44mph, severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch.  We certainly hope that all artists were able to get there stuff packed up safely.  And hope that we can be juried for next year’s show as it was a pretty good show for us in the end and Sunday could have made it a great show. 

We will definitely check out art shows in the area to see if we can’t do a series together… Wonderful town, wonderful people and art buyers too. 

Buy Art – Feed Your Soul

March is came on rapidly and it’s leaving just as rapidly for us.  We had KY Crafted the Market the second weekend.  It’s a wholesale combined with retail show.  Though sales seemed to be down for most artists.    I often think if the government really wanted to know how the economy was doing they’d talk to artists.  After all, our work is a luxury item for people.. it may feed the soul, but if the budget is tight more people are worried about feeding the kids than they are their soul.  Artists are really mom and pop shops, small venues with only certain types of merchandise.  In this economy, I’ve seen to many artists friends stop making their beautiful art because there are not enough sales to pay their bills.  At times, I think we will be one of them. 

Sometimes I think people who visit art shows forget that artists are there to sell their art because they have bills just like they do.  I know before I started in the art business I didn’t really think of it.  I would admire someone’s work and maybe even tell them how beautiful it was.. but I seldom did the biggest compliment of buying it.  Funny thing is now that I work as an artist, I spend more money on art.  Even though as income goes ours is about a fourth of what it was when my husband worked for someone else.  But now I understand that this art isn’t just a beautiful work to stick up on the wall.. this art is someone’s soul.  Being such it feeds my soul.  So just a thought, don’t buy a print from Wal-Mart, buy an original from an artist and if you can’t afford the original then buy a print of the original.  Find that stained glass piece that puts color in your life and makes you smile every time you see it.  Buy that cuddly teddy bear that someone has hand-stitched with love instead of the one that is an assembly line product.  Home-made soap brings scents filled with love or that special piece of jewelry makes you happy every time you wear it.  Sure there is a lot of art that is maybe too expensive for everyone’s pocket book.. but almost every artist has a piece that is the price of fast food for a couple of meals. 

So Buy Art.. Feed your Soul… and eat at home.. it’s better for your health.