Tag: in our own language (Page 1 of 4)

Nancy Responds to Our Collaboration

A question I am frequently asked  is “What does Nancy think about you stitching her drawings?” And the answer is: “I haven’t a clue, not an inkling.”

She doesn’t give any verbal or physical indication that she understands or even recognizes that I am stitching her marks, that we are in collaboration. My only indicator is how our relationship has changed since June 2012 when she began drawing and I began stitching her drawings. In the 39 years I’d known and loved Nancy prior to June 2012, I was an aside existing in the shadow of The Engineer (a.k.a. Andy) because you see, Nancy has always loved Andy more than I love pocketbooks. “Andy, Andy, Andy,” she would say through her face-sized smile, her love and adoration due in part to the natural bond of affection and in part from her Mother’s influence. Mrs. Chambers – or Mama C as I often called her – talked adoringly of Andy, and Nancy followed suit. Though it stung at times, I always understood that Mrs. C’s first concern was for Nancy’s well being. She knew that Andy would always be in Nancy’s life, and regardless of how many years we had on the books, I was still a question mark that she couldn’t afford to invest in wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless, Mama C knew I loved Nancy with every nano-inch of my heart. She made that obvious. When the institution where Nancy lived contacted Mrs. C asking permission to sterilize Nancy (at least they asked, right?), she invited me to lunch to talk about it. When it was time to move Nancy to another facility, she asked me to go down and have a look then let her know my thoughts. When she was in the hospital and couldn’t attend Nancy’s Parents’ Day, I assured her we would go, and when she was on her deathbed, I told Andy that the best gift we could give his mother was to go visit Nancy, take her some strawberries and cookies “for the friends” like Mrs. C. always did, then go back to the hospital with reassurances, stories, and photos of Nancy’s well being. Yes, it didn’t take all that long for Mrs. C. to believe my assurances that Nancy would always be taken care of (something Mr. C. didn’t invest in until he was on his dying bed), and while maybe there was no doubt about that, I would never be blood kin. I get that.

So Nancy was obvious in her love for Andy and tolerated me. That’s how it went for the longest time. Then came June 2012 when the drawings and stitchings began, and since then there are signs that Nancy, too,  believes I do and always will love her. I am included in her love talk. I am now considered a “pretty good girl” (Nancy’s highest compliment). She wants to hold my hand when we go walking. She turns to talk to me when we’re in the car. Our togetherness is decorated with signs that I have gained her trust and love, and I credit it all to art.

As to what she thinks about our collaboration, as to her response to seeing her drawings in stitch, I haven’t a clue, so yesterday I asked Andy to show her In Our Own Language 3 on exhibit at the Ross Art Museum on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University while I recorded her reaction. Have a look, and let me turn the question back on you. What do you see? What’s your interpretation of her reaction? What do you think she thinks / how do you think she feels about our collaboration?

 

In Our Own Language 16

IOOL16c

Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

IOOL16Nancy2
but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

IOOL16Nancy1
Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there

IOOL16InCar

stitching in the car . . .

IOOL16Adonis

and under Adonis . . .

IOOL16God

and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .

IOOL16Dante

and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

It’s All About Choices, Y’all

namcyandjeanne062015.jpg

 

nancyandjeanne062015.jpg

It’s all about choices, y’all. Choices and consequences. A pretty simple concept with pretty darn important repercussions. Too often we let somebody else make our choices for us and we are surprised or unhappy or cranky with the results. Or we go through every single day with a nasty, negative attitude and we wonder why we are so miserable. If these remarks resemble you, thunk yourself up side the head for me, will you? We learn a lot about ourselves from the choices we make and the consequences that ensue, and we learn a lot from life in general when we stew, thrive, or wrestle in life lived in the aforementioned consequences. Making our own choices, accepting responsibility and/or asking for help living the consequences, and making different choices when possible and necessary are the keys to living a self-determined life, and if you ask me, there’s no finer way to live.

Too often we take away the choices of others in the name of expediency or ease. Take dying people, for example. As life wanes, all too often opportunities to choose do, too. I’m not talking about drastic measures – that should already be spelled out in the living wills and such. I’m talking about things like what to eat and what to wear and what would you like to listen to now.

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We spent today with Nancy, and we fiddled with cloth because I wanted to give her the option to do something besides draw. If you could see the video (I am, for the first time ever, traveling without my computer, and let me tell you: there’s a rather steep learning curve when blogging from the iPad, so alas, no video.) hear me in the background of the video asking Nancy what color cloth she wants to add next. (Though I don’t have to admit it here since you can’t see the video, I will nevertheless tell you that I am surprised and embarrassed and disappointed at the way I kinda’ rushed and overwhelmed by offering 3 color choices instead of waiting for her to process and decide, but that’s the value of video, and now that I’m aware, it won’t happen again.) She chose to fiddle with cloth; she chose which colors she wanted to add; and eventually she chose to pick up her crayons. 

nancydraws1.jpg

It was, as all days spent with Nancy are, fun, worthwhile, and thought-provoking. What say we make our own choices instead of abdicating our power, and what say we strive to gift others with the opportunity to make their own choices every chance we get. It’s a quality of life thing.

Inner Authority

IOOL4 10

In Our Own Language 4:10

His grandfather took him into the woods and left him in the quiet all day long. At the end of the day, his grandfather would fetch him and ask: What did you see? What did you feel? What did you learn?

You can learn a lot from reading and listening and watching, but you develop your Inner Authority from doing.

Though she has many external authorities in her life, Nancy also has an Inner Authority. I can see it when she makes her marks – the way she starts without hesitation, the way she stops when she knows she’s finished, the way she selects her colors and turns the page and sometimes rips the page into pieces, keeping the bits she likes while discarding the rest.

~~~~~~~

She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

I Mean It

IOOL4 9

In Our Own Language 4:9

We All know a lot more than we think we do
and Wisdom is buried inside Each One of Us.
All we need is a way to make Art,
a Good Listener
or a Good Looker
Someone to Witness us
to help the Knowledge and the Wisdom
to emerge and flow.

PS: And hey,
if anybody ever tells you junk that sounds like
you shouldn’t care what others think,
or how you shouldn’t care if anybody
ever even sees your creations
know 2 things:
their inner moron is showing
and
they’ve had good witnesses somewhere along the way.
Witnesses they’ve forgotten about
and never appreciated enough.

~~~~~~~

She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

Measurement or Meaning?

IOOL4 8

In Our Own Language 4:8
She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

We have neglected the gift of comprehending things through our senses.
Our eyes have been reduced to instruments
with which to identify and to measure,
hence we suffer a paucity of ideas that can be expressed in images
and an incapacity to discover meaning in what we see.
~ Rudolf Arnheim

Juicing the Third Half of Life

IOOL4 7

In Our Own Language 4:7
She (Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-love) draws.
I (Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch.

ChambersMyers

While in Michigan for my brother’s stepson’s wedding this weekend, we reconnected with friends we haven’t seen in I don’t know how long. We knew them in undergraduate days when we were all young and free and confident. We knew them in that time when our parents were busy creating their own life without children to wait up for or pick up after and when children weren’t even an idea. We could carry little ole’ tiny pocketbooks in those days ’cause we were only responsible for ourselves. We were juicers, extracting every bit of fun and goodness and laughter out of life.

It was so much fun remembering and reminiscing with Bruce and Linda, trekking back down memory laugh. Oh my goodness, the things we did Back Then. And I want you to know that we told the true stories this weekend, with my mother and my son and my daughter-in-love sitting right there listening. I figure they’re old enough to hear those sorts of things now.

I’ve decided I want to keep the body of information and wisdom I’ve acquired and recapture the absolute joy of living as though One Day is Right now. I think it’s possible.

I may have to increase my insurance, though.

Not the Kind of Cracks That Break Your Mother’s Back

SpiralOnBoardwalk

Sometimes things fall between the cracks and disappear forever.
Sometimes things fall between the cracks and leave a pattern.
Sometimes things repeatedly falling between the cracks
is a pattern that needs looking into,
needs changing.

IOOL4 6

In Our Own Language 4:6

Nancy is one of those who easily falls between the cracks.
She’s in a good home now, though
and a good day program, too.
She’s surrounded by women – Mona, Ruby, Kathy –
who see her, protect her,
make sure she doesn’t fall between any cracks.
We all need a team like that to watch out for us.
We all need to be on a team like that, watching out for others.

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