Six-Week Blog Hiatus

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I am so, so happy to reconnect with the Blogosphere World after taking a 6-week hiatus in mid-November.  During my absence, Hubby and I traveled to Wisconsin.  We enjoyed the face-to-face time with the children, grands and friends over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

We came back home to face the monumental task of  decorating the inside and outside of our home for Xmas.  It was not an easy task for two people on the other side of 70 to:

  • dig out Xmas decorations and lights stored randomly in closets when space ran out in the garage.  I so miss my Wisconsin basement and attic space;
  • separate tangled lights, haphazardly pulled down and thrown in red containers when the season ended last year;
  • setup the 5-year-old artificial Xmas tree, which is becoming more difficult as we age and it ages; and
  • figure out how to work the new fangled laser lights purchased to heighten our holiday visual experience when focused properly.  We were not able to get the proper focus.

In between these tasks we readied the house and shopped for enough food to host our three children, five grandchildren, two cousins and one nephew for eight days.

When everyone arrived, seeing them and knowing that I would be in their presence for more than a week was the greatest Christmas gift.  The preparation tiredness disappeared and in its place happiness and joy entered my space.

Rested, Relaxed, Restored and Ready to Re-Start Blogging!

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge – May 22, 2015

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I painted this Santa Claus pecan resin figurine more than twenty years ago.  During the Xmas holiday seasons, my eldest daughter displays the figurines that I painted those many years ago.  And, every year, she carefully packs them away.

In fact, I took this photo when I stayed in her home this past Thanksgiving.

Several days ago, I was showing photos of my Santa paintings to a friend.  And, for the first time I noticed the missing head on the little girl.

I checked with my daughter who did not realize it had broken.  She said,

“Things that we cherish break, but I choose to keep the broken as a cherished memory.”

Pain and Painting Black Figurines

Chronic Pain Memories

When I returned to Wisconsin for the Thanksgiving Holiday, this past year, I did more than spend quality time with family and friends.

I, also, reconnected with memories created more than twenty years ago.  Fond memories of struggling through the early years of a chronic pain condition.

As shared in earlier posts, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1993.  The daily, excruciating pain associated with this condition forced me to take a six-month medical leave from my dream job, which eventually led to a resignation for medical reasons.

Because of the severe joint degeneration in my hands, I lost the ability to do even simple self-care tasks e.g., buttoning my blouse, tying my shoes, putting on a bra, or even combing my hair.  In addition to working full-time, Hubby served as my primary caregiver.  That is one of many reasons why I have kept him around for almost fifty-five years.

Chronic Pain Management:  Painting Black Figurines

Approximately four months after the diagnosis, things changed.  It started, when I opened the huge box sent by the Eldest Daughter from North Carolina where she was living at the time. Inside were bottles of acrylic paint in an array of colors as well as a number of unpainted figurines.

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ACRYLIC PAINTS

 

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UNPAINTED PECAN SHELL RESIN ANGEL FIGURINE

 

I called her and said, “Thank you for the gift, but What The H… am I suppose to do with these things?”

“Painting may give you some pain relief as well as strengthen your hands.  Give it a try.” she said.

I tried and the first pieces were a disaster. But, I painted figurines almost everyday from 1993 until 1996.  The painting improved.  But, more importantly, the joints strengthened and the pain lessened.

Daily, for almost three years, I painted figurines depicting African-Americans in different roles — babies, clowns, children, angels, baseball players, basketball players, sorority girls, fraternity boys, historical figures, Buffalo Soldiers, doctors, nurses, etc.

After a while, the pieces went on display in the African-American Art Gallery that we formerly owned. They were quick sellers, especially the Santa’s and Angels.

I painted under the pseudonym, Marie Enno, which I took from the last four letters, spelled backwards, of my first name “Yvonne”; and, my middle name “Marie.”  A number of close friends and relatives purchased the figurines.  However, they had no idea that Yvonne Marie and Marie Enno were one in the same.

Painting the figurines distracted me from focusing on pain.  I know painting was the beginning of my journey:

  • from the non-productive invalid stage of chronic pain
  • to the productive and active lifestyle I continue to enjoy at the seasoned age of 73.

Yes, I still have pain but I work to control it rather than letting it control me.

Thanksgiving with The Black Santa’s

With the exception of the Santa’s shown in this post, all the figurines were either sold at the gallery or gifted to friends.

When the family Christmas Gatherings, outgrew the space in our home, the Eldest Daughter said, “Let’s move the Santa’s to my home so we can continue to enjoy them.”  I agreed and visited my Santa’s at her house every Christmas Holiday until retirement brought us to Florida in 2010.

Though everybody now comes to Florida for Christmas, Eldest Daughter wants to keep the Santa’s.  Since they have been in her possession for more than ten years, I believe her home is now their home.

This year, for the first time, she decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving; and, I was able to once again enjoy my beloved Santa’s.  She will continue to do this in the future; and I look forward to visiting with my Santa’s every Thanksgiving.

I added the photos below to my Cherished Memories Album. I can now enjoy looking at them when I want.

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Family: The Best Holiday Gift – Part 1, Thanksgiving

With the exception of Thanksgiving 2013, since 1960 Hubby and I have been blessed to spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas with Our Children. When they left Our Nest, coming together on these two holidays was the Gift, I looked forward to receiving each year.

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When Hubby and I retired three years ago and moved to Florida, we continued to have Thanksgiving at Elder Daughter’s home in Milwaukee; and, the Children and Grands came to Our Home in Florida for Christmas. That is until 2013.

Unfortunately, shortly after returning from Our Thanksgiving visit to Wisconsin in 2012, I was hit with the pneumonia virus. Hubby, the Children and I felt it was not wise to expose MY compromised immune system and serious lung condition to the harsh Wisconsin winter weather. After much deliberation, I chose to stay in Florida.

Apparently, MY compromised immune system and serious lung condition didn’t agree with this decision.

For over seven days during Thanksgiving 2013, I was in the hospital with a very serious case of bronchitis.

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While I didn’t share the 2013 Thanksgiving meal with MY Children and Grands; I found HAPPINESS in the PRESENT.

Through Grace, for Thanksgiving 2013, I received a long-awaited Gift. The Daughters telephoned to say, “It’s time we learned how to prepare the traditional family holiday dinners.”

The night before Thanksgiving with the two of them in the Eldest Daughter’s kitchen and I, resting comfortably in my hospital bed, via IPhone I shared the step-by-step instructions for preparing MY MAMA’s corn bread dressing, turnip/mustard/collard greens, as well as Patti LaBelle’s Mac and Cheese recipe.

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What a Great Gift to ME. The night before Christmas, I sat quietly at the kitchen island in MY kitchen enjoying a glass (actually, several) of Chardonnay while the Daughters prepared the entire Christmas Dinner.

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Grateful, Thankful, Blessed. Finally, the family holiday traditional dinner was embraced and transferred to the next generation.

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Next week, I look forward to sharing, “Family, The Best Holiday Gift – Part 2, Christmas 2013.” Hope you will join me.

Toy I Wanted For Christmas — Out of MAMA’s Reach

 Toy I Wanted

More than sixty years ago, for months leading up to Christmas; I, along with three of my best girlfriends, imagined, dreamed and talked about getting a kid-sized doll on Christmas Day.

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Out of MAMA’s Reach

I still recall the tears shed those many years ago when MAMA said I wouldn’t get anything for Christmas.   Instead Kris Kringle was bringing my presents on New Year’s Day.   She explained the money set aside for Christmas gifts would buy things for the new baby on the way.  Mind you, it wasn’t her new baby.

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Earlier in the year MAMA extended a helping hand to a niece who had recently separated from her husband.   Pregnant with two toddlers, she moved into our four-room apartment.  Our family of two increased to five.  And, on December 11, the new baby boy arrived.  Now, we were a family of six.  The sole source of income for the entire household was MAMA’s salary.  MAMA and I, a family of two, had struggled for years to survive on the meager wages she earned.  But, she found ways to stretch the money to provide room and board for family members in need of help.

On Christmas Day my three girlfriends got kid-sized dolls.  I was a little jealous and my friends tried to cheer ME up saying, “Kris Kringle will bring your doll next week.”

The Greatest Gift

On January 1, New Year’s Day, Kris Kringle arrived with a small-sized baby doll and other toys.  While I didn’t get the kid-sized doll, I was gifted with two toddlers to play with and a new baby boy to hug and cuddle.

MY friends after a while tired of the kid-sized dolls.  They visited almost everyday to play with ME and MY three little cousins,

I am grateful to MAMA for teaching ME at an early age to value the “Gift of Giving.”  The quality of MY life is enhanced when I can make a difference in the lives of others.

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Five of MY Favorite Gift of Giving Quotes

  • “No one has ever become poor by giving.”  (Anne Frank)
  • “Happiness. …consists in giving, and in serving others.”  (Henry Drummond)
  • “When you learn, teach.  When you get, give.” (Maya Angelou)
  • “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” (Charles Dickens)
  • “We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give.” (Winston Churchill)