Oh, I’m still here, even though my online presence has somewhat dwindled. Why? Simply a case of stepping back and taking a breath. A very deep, COVID-free breath, I’m thankful to say.
This year has been horrible for many and challenging for most, but I’m hopeful and grateful that an end to the suffering is near. I personally have lost two friends to this dreaded pandemic, while several others have suffered a myriad of side effects, but we continue to stay safe.
Yes, “we.” In the midst of mayhem, joy came to visit. In June, Mr. Right popped the question, and I said a resounding “Yes!” And in September, we moved to a home near a lake and to a county with significantly less cases than good old Dallas. With very few “full-timers” living out here, and an 8-mile drive to groceries, quarantining has been a breeze. So, it’s me, Mr. Right (aka John), two indoor cats (Lucky and Chula), and an inherited outdoor cat (Fluff) who is precious when he’s not swallowing mice in my direct line of sight.
There were other changes, too. I shelved my podcast, Girlfriend, We Need To Talk, in March, but I still toy with the idea of bringing it back. I so loved connecting with interesting women from around the globe, but the onset of COVID overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t bring my best self to the project. I don’t like to say that I’ve grown more accustomed to it since, but I suppose, in some ways, I have. Complacent no, but accustomed yes.
I did spend those early months tweaking my second novel, and I’m about to do a final tweak as we speak (or type/read, as the case may be). But one of my greatest pleasures of the year has been learning to draw. Furloughed from my day job in the spring, I decided to participate in a 5-day virtual workshop, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, based on the work of Betty Edwards. My interview with her was beyond inspiring, as I’d longed to work through her book of the same name for many years. Between that conversation and an interview with Nancy Rosen (the artist behind Grace and Frankie), who told listeners, “You can’t talk about it or think about it. You’ve got to do it,” I took the jump into something entirely new. Now I can’t stop! It’s also meditative, creating art. A few hours a day when the weight of the world’s current state is lifted and – dare I say – almost forgotten.
I know this blog post is longer than my usual few paragraphs, but it’s been a while, and I’ve missed you. And WELCOME to a long list of new Control Switch readers who I’ve been blessed to hear from this year. Many from Australia, which is beyond cool. I’m so glad you’re here.
So, let me wrap up by saying this:
Many of our hearts are heavy this holiday season. Too many looking at empty chairs; others unable to travel to family. My dad and extended family are in Canada, and I haven’t seen any of them since this time last year, but I want all of us to stay safe. It flat out sucks, but we can do this. We need to. I pray that each and every one of you remains healthy and vigilant, as well, and that you find new ways to enjoy the season.
What’s next? That second novel will get finished, I promise. And I plan to keep on drawing. I have a beginners, virtual painting class starting soon, as well, and I’m excited at the thought of playing with color/colour. I may share the occasional work with you, because there’s a story behind a lot of my pieces, and I love telling stories. 🙂 I’ll also be rolling up my sleeve for a vaccine as soon as I’m able and visiting those I love once they’ve had theirs too. Beyond that, I’ll let inspiration visit me when it’s in the mood. Maybe it will hang out for a while, take a load off, and sprinkle magic dust on my workspace. You know, the kind that clings to the surface of things and brings new ideas to life? That’s the thing about inspiration. You have to leave a door ajar, just in case.
And I’d love to hear from you. How was your 2020? What comes next for you? You can comment below, or send me an email at Leana@Leanadelle.com with the subject line, SUMMING IT UP.
Love you all, and I wish you a 2021 filled with joy, health, love, and a door cracked open just enough to allow in magic.
A street I’ve walked 100 times
Within the city’s core,
Where restaurants frame the scenery
Most empty by the score.
Here once the lonely mingled
Their purpose blind to self,
Now thousands deep in shoulder
The poor combined with wealth.
Through masks or over top them
They chant in synchrony,
“I cannot breathe,” although they can
To echo George’s plea.
Colors blend, becoming shades
Too hard to tell apart,
And for the time these strangers walk
They beat within one heart.
But still that heart is broken
For yet another turn,
As souls approach exhaustion
Deep hatred’s unconcerned.
But march they will and march they do
The world calls out his name,
With tear in eye and prayers on high
Dear God, this has to change!
June 6th, 2020
Ironic that I thought of one of my most memorable patients on Nurses Day? Maybe, maybe not, but there he was, just the same.
It’s been 30 years since I looked after Paul in Vancouver. He was in his early 40s, if I’m not mistaken, and he loved life. Everything about it. Including driving in his convertible with the top down, something that precipitated the skin cancer that would eventually metastasize and take his life.
Paul is one of about six patients that I carry with me everywhere I go. Each a real person. Each a treasured soul. Every one of them touching the lives of everyone they met.
And tonight I wept. Because every year or two, one of my six creeps back in through the walls I’ve painstakingly constructed. They come to break those down and remind me that I’m human. Sometimes, it’s not just my six, but all of them. The numbers countless; the stories heart wrenching. On those days, I’m worthless.
Too dramatic for you? Then you’re not a nurse. And as much as you pretend to empathize or honor those who are, you have no earthly idea. You can’t. Nor do you want to.
And so, my tears fell today, not just for Paul, but for the many scared, exhausted, and disheartened nurses on the frontlines who will carry untold numbers of souls with them through their remaining days. Because laypeople hear stories about final words, and Skyping goodbyes, and the acts of heroes, but they’ll never comprehend.
I feel for each and every one of my peeps during this horrendous health crisis, knowing that years from now they’ll be sobbing for more Pauls than I saw in my entire career. That as many times as they’ll try to numb the emotions and dampen it down to survive, it won’t completely work. Each face of each victim will come back, as will the faces of protestors. The naysayers. Those who have turned this into a political issue, instead of the health crisis that it is.
Sure, they’re heroes, but they’re first and foremost people. They have hearts and souls and feelings and limits, and I ache knowing how they’re being pushed to meet those with each death and each show of denial.
Paul will come back again after today. He always does. Him and all of the others. And I’ll welcome him as I always do. And I’ll feel bad that I couldn’t have done more. And I’ll wonder how is wife and kids are doing. And again, I’ll weep.
My profession is suffering right now, and they need our support. Not pot banging and hand clapping, but true support. They need us to stand up and say, “We’re going to do our best to put an end to this for you, because we get that it’s unbearable. None of you are caring in vain.”
I pray for my colleagues, and their families, because what they’re seeing right now is irreparable. Time does not heal wounds like these. It simply adds on layers of salve in hopes that they become more bearable.
Yes, Happy Nurses Day indeed. Some of us understand what you’re going through, right down to our very core. And we will hold each of you in our hearts during this trying time and always. You will never be weeping alone.
She’s Frankie! Well, she’s the real artist behind Frankie, Lily Tomlin’s lovable character on the popular Netflix series, Grace and Frankie. And what an artist she is!
Nancy Rosen has been making art for as long as she can remember, her journey starting after she followed a childhood friend to art class. Her teacher at the time, Mrs. Forecast (best name ever, by the way), lived down the block, where she had a little store front. Now Nancy has a store front of her own.
“It’s always what I’ve done,” she says.
She explored a lot of different creative pursuits: jewelry, macramé, strung beads, silver smithing, leather making. And she started her own business, Nancy Cohn Painted Fabric.
“After I got out of art school, I was this snotty little artist, and I quickly realized that I needed a job to pay rent […], so I ended up working at a factory that painted hand-painted fabric. Then I started my own business. I did that for several years.”
At a young age, people showed interest. In fact, a girlfriend’s family began collecting early, owning pieces of her jewelry and some abstract paintings from the 70s. That girlfriend, Robbi Rotolin, would eventually become Executive Producer of Grace and Frankie. When they needed some legit art in Frankie’s studio, Robbi added Nancy’s work to the list of potential choices. Hers reflected the character the best.
“They rent a lot of my stuff. […] Frankie’s studio was modeled after my studio. […] I took a box and filled up 60 lbs. of my crap and sent it to them – a little stool, all these gourds, palettes and paint. I sent them the rags that I’d used to make paintings for them.”
How cool it must be to tune in to each episode and see your creative space recreated. And your artwork displayed!
I personally love Nancy’s work and have since bought one of her pieces. I hope to acquire more.
“I work from life. Everything I do starts from a real, live person, so I’m constantly inspired. I walk down the street inspired. It’s like the web in my life. It’s not like something that comes over me. It’s what I do every single day, so one thing leads to another and it leads to another.”
I asked if she’s trying to convey anything in particular through her work, or if it’s individual to the piece.
“I’m not out to make any big statements about anything. I’m just kind of walking through the world. I tend to draw from women – it’s just more interesting to me. It’s just kind of my walk through life. […] kind of how I see the world. […] And I don’t ever make up anybody. Any piece of art you see that I do is actually from a live person that I end up knowing quite a bit about.”
One of the best things she’s discovered through the Grace and Frankie gig is not only the opportunity for people to find her work, but also the rewarding role of inspiring others – and people of all age groups!
“I’m in encourager, so I can push people up the hill.”
Each interview that I do on my podcast, Girlfriend, We Need To Talk! provides me with something I know I need: a swift kick in the butt to do more. To follow the creative nagging inside my head that yearns to be fully expressed. Nancy’s interview was no exception.
“You just have to show up. […] Just go to your studio. If you get a little paralyzed, just walk in the studio and read a book, have lunch. Show up, be in that environment, and once you start, you draw an apple, and then you’re going to draw a table. One mark talks to another mark, and then you’ve got to make another mark to compensate for that mark, but the key is you have to show up. You can’t talk about it, think about it, you’ve got to do it. That’s my advice.”
Timely, indeed. I’ve been showing up to write everyday since. Oh, and I ordered some paint and a few canvases. Never having painted before, it’s anyone’s guess what I’ll produce.
“The point of making art,” added Nancy, “is that it feels good. At the end of the day, does it really matter what’s on the piece of paper? The journey matters.”
Gotcha, Nancy. I’ll be sure to remember that. And, thanks!
Missed Nancy’s interview? You can listen to it HERE. Also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts live.
“We all are so much stronger and braver than we realize.”
In the late 1970’s, at the age of 13, Madeleine Black was gang raped by two young men at knifepoint. Threatened with her life if she told anyone, she kept the secret of her trauma locked away in her psyche where it wreaked havoc for years.
“It silenced me for years, alongside my shame and my guilt and my fear.”
That silence, like it does for so many, took its toll, including an eating disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, admittance to a children’s psychiatric ward, and an attempt at suicide. She had completely shut down, likening the keeping of that secret and shame to holding a beach ball under the water. The pressure was immense, and eventually, as part of her healing and recovery, she decided to forgive.
“I didn‘t need them in front of me to tell me that they were sorry. It was a decision I could make quietly inside in […] my heart. But I’m not saying that in order to heal you have to forgive. This was my choice, and I’m not saying that I will ever forgive the act of rape, because I won’t, but forgiveness just brought me peace. It was my key to freedom.”
Madeleine’s journey to forgiveness did not happen overnight. It was a process of stripping back the trauma layer by layer over time. It took attention and intention. She had to keep at it. As one can imagine, this was not an easy story for her to share. Once she did, however, others began finding their way to forgiveness, as well.
As women, we have to remember that the bravery we show in sharing our stories gives others the bravery to do the same. It creates empowerment and fosters healing. Madeleine took a long time to find her voice and her words, but she now says that she’ll speak out about rape and shame and hope until her dying breath.
“We never know where it ripples out to […]. I do think that if we hear a story at the right time in our lives, it can just totally set us off on a healing journey, because I really believe if we can find our voice and speak our truth, then we start to stand in our power. We start to reclaim what was lost.”
So many are grateful for having heard Madeleine’s story, and now you can hear it, too. Someone helped her find her voice; perhaps her interview will help you find yours.
Maybe the time has come to release your beach ball. Maybe it’s time to forgive.
You can hear Madeleine’s inspiring interview by clicking HERE (also available on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever your favorite podcasts live).