Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Overtly Personal Blog Entry

I'm very frustrated.  My arm has been throbbing all day and my fingers feel swollen and useless, they don't look swollen, but they feel like sausage links.  
I didn't know whether or not I would ever post about this personal part of my life on the blog, but I think it will be okay.  When I started this project to make a pillow monster a day for 30 days, it was a way for me to jump-start myself out of this dark place that I was in.  About 7 months ago my mom lost her very heroic battle to brain cancer.   Not only was her battle heroic, but it was also a quiet battle that was full of good humor and selflessness.  As the disease goes, it gradually took away most of her abilities, but it never took away her humor. This is the same disease that my father died from when I was young.  Which is just a bizarre and cruel coincidence (and probably a strong case for brain tumors being partially environmentally caused---we lived near a sub-station).  


Shortly after her funeral, Joseph and I moved here to Bloomington.  He had gotten accepted to grad school at IU, and after toying with the idea of just taking a year off of stuff, we decided it would be good to move away from my home-town that was full of lots of memories of difficult times.  At first I was shocked at how well I was coping, I was almost embarrassed at myself for handling the loss of my mom so well.  But when the paper work stopped, the moving tasks were complete and the furniture had been rearranged for the billionth time, things settled down.  The weather turned gray and I really just missed her.  That, and there is this very empty feeling you get inside when someone who loves you unconditionally leaves the world.  What happens to that love?  It feels a little bit like it just leaves too.

I decided to give myself a creative challenge.  I wanted to make a quilt about my mom, using her clothes, but it felt too soon, so I thought I would be easy on myself and just do something ridiculous like make pillow monsters.  I started hand sewing when my mom was very ill.  I used to make little pillow creatures in her room while she slept.  It helped somehow.  These are what they looked like---I also used to draw in this little book while she slept too.


The Pillow Monster a day challenge was great.  Instantly, I felt a little lighter.  I loved it.  An additional perk was the blogging community that formed.  The 30 days passed and I didn't even notice.  When I opened up the Etsy shop things improved even more because it felt like a communication with people.  It feels so good to make stuff and have that stuff appreciated.  My little shop did pretty well, and I have never felt more satisfied----I looked forward to each day when I woke up in the mornings, I kept wondering if the feeling would pass, but it never did.  Joseph thought I was on fire!  So that is why my arm is so frustrating.  I couldn't sew at all today and it is maddening.  I couldn't even draw!  Arrgh.  I did get some steroids for it and I know this could just be temporary, it most likely is.  I have just been swimming around in a sea of bitterness all day, and I am just getting it out, because things have been in for a long time now.   And also because there is a little drawing by Elsita pinned above my computer reminding me not to be a closed box.    

Thanks for reading, it feels very strange to share all this, but also sort of nice.  I am taking a week off of pillow monster making to recuperate.  Till then, I'll be dreaming up new creatures and giving Albert an insane amount of walks.

20 comments:

tower creations said...

I am sorry to hear about everything in your blog but it is good to let it out and sometimes it easier when talking at strangers. also sorry about your arm, it sucks when your body won't do what you want it to but I am sure its tired, it can't keep up to your imagination. You draw too?! I like your drawing. I am glad to have gotten the whole story on your pillow monsters, it makes them all more special, I hope things get better.

Hello, I'm Sally. said...

So sorry to hear about your mom. I can't imagine. I love all your creatures and am amazed by all that you do. Some times our bodies tell us we need to slow down, even if its not what our minds are wanting. Frustrating as it may be, it's best to listen.

Good luck with the recuperating!

Anonymous said...

Nichol, I don't think there is anyone more heroic than you!! Your personal creative challenge and your decision to share your story is an inspriration for more of us than you realize. Your projects are so very unique and creative. I can't believe this all started from your pain! Keep inspriring us!! Hey, I had carpal tunnel once. It was weird..but my hand felt better if I walked around with it up in the air..like I wanted to ask a question all the time. It also helped to put a heating pad on it at night. Good Luck and I hope it feels much better soon.

stacysews said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story - I'm so sorry to hear about your family. It's amazing at how much having a creative outlet allows a person 'heal'. You've done a fantastic job with your pillow monsters (I love seeing what new ones you've come up with), but know that sometimes, whether you want to or not, you just have to take a break. Let yourself heal and I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Eurydice said...

I've been a lurker on your site for awhile now and i just wanted to take a moment to say how much i enjoy reading about your creative journey and seeing your ideas. Now knowing why the entire project started has just made me love it more.

Take time and heal - it's important for all and know that you have 'friends' spread across the world who are rooting for you to be whole and healthy.
:)

Mary (craft addict) said...

Nichol, thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you found something to help you after the loss of your mom, and I hope you are able to find the break helpful.

adam said...

thanks so much for sharing. i'm new to this blog and have wondered how you got started ... a sweet, touching story with my morning coffee. thanks again! and i wish you a very speedy recovery.

The Odd One said...

I can't wait until you are making more pillow monsters and I'm sure you can't either. I'll be thinking of you and hoping you are able to take a little rest without getting too antsy!
I can't wait to see what you come up with next!

Indianafuji said...

Thank you for sharing your story, and thanks for sharing your beautiful, sweet, funny, creative creations. My sympathies for your loss.

elponk said...

Thank you for sharing that. To know this makes your creations a lot more special.

Aly The Red-Bliss Monkey Studio said...

I love your work, love your blog, and glad you shared your story here. Walks and monster making is the creme de la creme of therapy goodness.
Hope your arm is all better.
Aly

Eva said...

hi nichol, what a touching story- thank you for sharing it. you're an inspiration to a lot of people yourself ;) get some good rest. i know how it feels. i've been trying to get in shape and then i hurt my knee somehow for the 2nd time, so i was out of commission for a while and it felt like it just wasn't going my way... but i gave my knee the rest it needed, slowly started working out and hopefully it'll happen less and less. so i think giving your arm a rest is a great idea, maybe ice it and use a heating pad depending on what feels better. if it doesn't go away, i might see a doctor just in case. but i'm sure it's just overuse. sometimes as you age, you do something you didn't even know and then it's out of whack. i miss being a child, where nothing phased me ;) get well soon!

Susan said...

Nicole, thanks for sharing your mom's story with us. Never feel guilty for being able to cope with grief. She would not want you to mourn. My mom passed 11 years ago and I still miss her, but I don't mourn her. Take care of that arm and don't hesitate to have it checked if it doesn't get better soon. If hugs really do heal, you'll be better in no time flat!

Elsita :) said...

Dear Nichol,
There is sooo much that I want to say after reading this important post! But I can define what I feel right now with this few words: I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! Please take care of yourself and let your arm recover, your body is asking you for a brake. Lots of love!
Elsita :)

ArtMind said...

Nichol, I admire you for turning sad things into lovely creatures. It shows in your work that every one of them is made with the utter most love and care. Your mom must have been a great source of inspiration - the humour you show in your monsters is probably a part you inherited by her. Losing a person so very close to you is a journey: one day you're lost, the other day a whole new world opens for you. I wish you a lot of strength to go on this journey. Know that that you are a permanent source of inspiration for so many around you, and having the knowledge of that will make it hopefully easier. I'm sure you will manage. Thanks for sharing your story. *Hugs*

suze said...

Nichol, Thanks for sharing your story. I had no idea the pain you were feeling. I, too lost my Mom, twenty years ago and I still miss her everyday. She had kidney disease and didn't tell us. Then I lost my two brothers to the disease and my sister and I are doing well with our transplanted kidneys. And now my DH's other kidney is not fully operational (he gave me the other one) and I feel so bad about it but he said he would do it again. When my function was down to 15% I could only do things every other day. So listen to your body and be patient with yourself. We will wait for you.
Sending hugs!
suze:)

Melissa & Emmitt said...

Hi Nichol
I am so proud of you taking sometime off sewing to take care of yourself. but you are so right, you are still doing what you love everyday by thinking and creating of new ideas in your mind. sometimes we make ourselves so busy that we do not take time for the joy of it to really settle in. i cannot paint everyday. it is an energy thing and in between paintings i am still very busy working on marketing, my website, developing new products and filling orders and of course blogging and meeting wonderful people like you.
you are an inspiration and i am so glad i have meet you. thank you for sharing your wonderful post. you are an amazing person!
melissa

Joel Priddy said...

Best of best wishes for your recuperation!

chaitee said...

I just came across your blog and read this. I'm glad your mother had her sense of humour, I think it's the most important thing to hang on to.

I hope you get all nice and recuperated, too.

Your creations are beautiful and I love, love LOVE your drawings. Nice to meet you. x

Bec said...

Your blog was recommended by Google Reader so I thought I'd check it out.

I wanted to say that I'm very sorry for your loss. Also I love your pillow monsters, the detail is amazing, especially in the Geisha's.