"Look At Me"

"Look At Me"
monotype and screenprint

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Bear

I have a story to tell you.  It's kind of a cheesy story, so "bear" with me...  :)

Last night when I was getting Derek ready for bed, I remarked that I'd had a rough day and that I was ready to go to bed too.

Derek looked at me and asked, "How come?"

Derek has been asking more questions lately, so this shouldn't have come as a shock to me--but it did.  My son wanted to know what was troubling me.  It sent shivers down my spine.  He'd never asked anything like that before.

And THEN, when I was tucking him into bed, he asked for his bear.  So I handed it to him and he looked at me for a moment.  Then he got out of bed and selected another bear.  He climbed back into bed and gave me the bear, saying, "Here ya go.  Mommy.  Bear."

I asked him, "Do you want me to have a bear too?"
He said, "Yes!  Give hug."

And together we hugged our bears until Derek was asleep.

Why am I telling you this?  Because it occurred to me, as Derek was hugging his bear and struggling to keep his eyes open, that if I could go back in time to the day Derek was diagnosed, I would show my former self this exact moment in time.  I would comfort that weeping woman, who felt so helpless and afraid, and tell her this story.  I would give her hope.  Four years ago my son had no words.  Four years ago my son didn't know how to show compassion.  Four years ago, life was very different.

Today, my heart is full of joy and wonder.  As difficult as the journey has been, I would not change a thing, because simple moments like this would not be as miraculous as they are now.

My son gave me his bear last night.  But he has given me so much more than that...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What is Success?

"I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing..."  --Tom Petty

  1. 1.
    the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
    "the president had some success in restoring confidence"
    synonyms:favorable outcome, successfulness, successful result, triumph;

    I haven't blogged in a very long time.  It's not that I haven't had things to say. I have. It's more that I've had too much to say.  When that happens I have trouble finding the words to express the way I feel.  I'm not good with words. I'm better with art.  So much has happened.  So much is happening.  And some of it is just plain hard to talk about.  

    I guess I'll stick to stuff going on with the project, for now.  

    My show at the Minden Opera House opened on November 2.  The opening reception was this past Friday.  I think, by most people's standards, the Autism Art Project can finally be considered somewhat successful.  A lot of people attended the opening.  Quite a few of them were strangers.  For some reason, that blows my mind.  People I don't even know care about what I'm doing.

    There was even a newspaper article in the Hastings Tribune about the show. I'd post a link, but for some reason I can't find it.  So I'll post a picture.  Maybe you can zoom in and read it if you want?  I thought it was a pretty good article.  

    Here's the crazy thing.  Friday, while I was at the opening, I was extremely happy.  I was "high on life," so to speak.  It was a pretty exciting night.  But the next morning, I woke up depressed as I've ever been.  And I've been trying to figure out why.  

    I came to a conclusion today.  Yes, I'm doing pretty well as an artist.  After 2 years of hard work, my fb page and my blog have a decent amount of followers.  And a couple of my prints have sold.  My 7 year old son thinks this is awesome.  He even asked me Friday night, "Are you famous?" 

    So, am I successful?  Maybe.  I no longer get nervous when I have to speak in public about my art or about what Derek and I have gone through in the past few years.  I consider it the perfect opportunity to educate others about autism.  I don't mind being interviewed by newspapers or tv reporters anymore either--for the same reason.  I finally feel like I'm making a little bit of a difference.    

    But, I don't feel successful.  Maybe I never will.  After all, I'm not really in this for the money or the fame or any of that nonsense...

    This project isn't just about autism awareness anymore, it's about autism acceptance.  I don't think I will feel successful until kids like the ones in this project don't have to worry about being bullied or discriminated against. Autism is everywhere.  Disabilities are everywhere.  Differences are everywhere--and they should be celebrated.  When the world can truly embrace differences, rather than use them as a reason to single people out and make them feel badly about themselves, then maybe I'll feel like a success.  But I think it's going to take a lot more than this art project to accomplish that.