Category Archives: writing

The Art of Living with Artists

There are those days when I wondered if I should’ve encouraged them to be doctors, lawyers, scientists, anything but artists.

“You know, Ya Ya always says, ‘That’s why you need to be a doctor papito. So you can take care of me,” my son said the other day. “She says it to all of us.” He’s referring to all of his cousins, her grandchildren.

My son and I were in the car outside a doctor’s office. “Yeah, doctors have it easy,” I said.

“What do you mean? It’s really hard to be a doctor,” he argued, which has become a regular routine lately.

“Yeah, no, I mean, they have to work hard, but they make so much money. You saw your cousin’s house. You know what I mean?”

He nodded but continued to talk about how difficult it is to be a doctor.

I reluctantly agreed and accepted my fate:
to add another artist to my household.

I think every parent feels conflicted about encouraging a child to take the artistic route. It’s more unpredictable in our eyes.

You’re so smart. Be a doctor, a dentist, an engineer, a scientist, a lawyer, they say. Many parents I know outright announce that artists make no money. You can draw, even paint, but don’t try to make it a career.

And, what’s most disconcerting is that many teachers announce that students can’t do anything with a degree in art, let alone make a living with one in the fine arts. So, parents waver and our kids waver, sometimes they even give up on the whole idea.

I didn’t tell my kids to be a doctor or lawyer. I taught them to explore their worlds. I actually encouraged my children to be as creative as possible, not as a hobby, but as a way of life.

And…it…has…been…a…very…wild…ride.

A once-white sink full of blue paint sits clogging one of our bathrooms. Drawings on walls are commonplace. Clothes splattered with paint seem expected.

But, when I want to hang a painting on the wall, I’m met with protests that it’s just not good enough or friends will think it’s stupid. You’re reminded of how fragile such creativity can be.

IMG_0384
Art by Daisy M.

Yet, there’s a magic to living with artists that surpasses the often stressful or methodical worlds of academics or athletes.

Artists live on the brink of ecstacy or the edge of insanity more often than not, so when you live with them it can feel just like you’re in the swirling winds shot from a magic wand.

My daughter left for a pre college art program and, because I share her heart of an artist, I sit wondering what to do without her and hoping she has a good time while worrying that she’s so fragile she could break under her guise of strength.

Then I remember that guise is not a disguise at all.

It’s actually her reality.

She bears a resemblance to a Greek goddess in the midst of a tumultuous highway of mindsets bent on nearly crashing into her.

She stands, sword in hand, striking the sounds of doubt from her stance, sometimes, often, receiving their criticisms, wounded, in pain, dropping her sword, lowering her head, lying down.

She heals eventually and returns to her power.

The number of times she has stood her ground when she fought with me has increased over the years. The power with which she uses and doesn’t use words can set a room on fire. The intensity of her work puts shame to anything I’ve ever accomplished.

That’s magic mixed with a power so intrinsic to an artist.

And, we are all artists.

Accepting that makes our lives easier to manage and enjoy. Otherwise, we’re sent plugging away in drudgery at the daily confines of tasks to be finished and jobs to be done.

Those not just content but happy doctors, lawyers, and engineers are creatives in their own right.

They stand over patients and inspire them to fight for their lives and wellness.

They plunge into difficult cases emerging with solutions to difficult problems.

They sift through data and documents creating new ideas out of old structures.

Parents living with teenage artists find solace in their art.

Our artists are abstract and concrete all the while leaving us breathless with what they can conjure up for us, what they can pull from nothingness.

And you writers, well, you tell us the stories to keep us going when we find ourselves lost in worlds that have abandoned the idea of being artists.

So, as a parent of two artists, I watch in awe of their resolve, saddened by their wounds, hoping for their healing, and waiting for the next burst of magic, bound to love them through it all.

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From Grit to Grace

Yesterday, that grit that has kept me trekking through some of my longest struggles abandoned me and left me panicking.
I’m the one with the fight. Everyone expects it.
But, sometimes, I just fail at what’s expected of me.
When I got the call, I just started breathing these long, deep breaths from the gut. Meditate. That’s it.
Then, it all just hit me in the gut.
The grit was gone.
A heavy pounding pumped my chest and I knew the only way to survive this one was to cry. We’ve been so worried about this happening that the moment it happened, it felt like I’d used up all my grit just holding on to nothing.Grace
My husband lost his job, not because he’s a terrible employee, but because the company was bought out by another company who wants to streamline things. You can fill in the blanks for the rest of that story.
But, don’t worry I’m still working. I don’t make much money because, well, I’m a teacher. Need I say more?
He, however, is in the news business, an online producer, social media specialist, you name it. He has an immaculate background that includes loyaltyand hard work, but sometimes I wonder if that’s what employers even want anymore. I mean, doesn’t it just come down to who will work for the least amount of money, at least in the online news business?
There’s punchline in here somewhere.
I guess I’m the punchline because he just went to the bedroom and shut the door. He started looking for work immediately. I, on the other hand, turned on Spotify and listened to Prince songs (“Let’s Go Crazy” was the first song to play), randomly freaked out my kids with wild screeching noises, watched a couple of old episodes of Modern Family, drank three espressos, went running in the middle of the hottest time of the day in Miami, then told him to get ready because we needed to go to Happy Hour somewhere.
If you rewind through that list of crazy, seemingly random activities, you’ll see how I got my grit back or even better my grit turned to grace.
A good cry gets rid of unwanted crap.
Prince has grit, in death and life.
Singing liberates you, even if you can’t carry a tune.
Laughing about problems grounds you.
Espressos fuel you.
Exercise refreshes you.
Sweating cleanses you.
And, Happy Hour reminds you that life’s supposed to be fun and crazy.
At Happy Hour we played with a link on Facebook that morphs you into an old Hollywood star. He became Clark Gable and I turned into Grace Kelly.
We remembered that we were once just kids and we’re somehow still in love despite some really scary moments in life. We’ve done a pretty good job at making a life for ourselves and our kids and, frankly my dear, there are worse problems than this.
Grit

The Magnetic Law

Magnet

There’s a new law I found out about recently and I’m fascinated by it., sometimes horrified by it.

I believe it exists but I’m not sure that I’ve embraced it. The world I live in for the time being.

This world of education tends to shout otherwise. We teachers demand that students perform the way we want them to. No, actually, we demand that students perform the way the Department of Education wants them to. My only solace in following through with those demands is to often make fun of the DOE and then twist everything around and show the students how they can use education to get what they want.

Education also makes it difficult to work with this law because it demands that I enforce consequences on a regular basis. I must be strict. I must enforce silence when students prefer to talk. I must look angry, more often than not. I must make sure that they understand how to behave and do so because they fear me.

It does work. Teachers who don’t offer a significant amount of fear face the consequences of chaos and in middle school, chaos is scary. Students don’t just throw paper airplanes. They can really hurt one another.

We all know that if we’ve heard anything about school shootings or even students using social media.

The law I’m referring to is the Law of Attraction. I’d heard about it many years ago and I gave it a nod then went about my business. I heard about it again a few years ago and again nodded and again went about my business.

Then, a few strange, seemingly unconnected events juggled me around to this law once again.

I watched a Netflix documentary on Tony Robbins and actually liked it.

What a strange person:  I liked him but didn’t trust what he had to say.

I found myself driving my teenage daughter to school in the mornings.

She became increasingly distant and downright rude.

I started looking for inspirational videos to listen to after I dropped my daughter off.

Most of them started with Tony Robbins, then I listened to some of his radio interviews with took me to Deepak Chopra then to Dr. Wayne Dyer then to Oprah Winfrey then to Esther Hicks who I eventually learned was the one of the original speakers of the Law of Attraction.

I then looked at my phone and saw that my sister had given me a copy of the Law of Attraction and I remembered what she said, “This is weird but just listen to it when you feel frustrated, while you clean, stick it in your pocket, put your earphones in your ears and listen.”

I did, but it made no sense to me.

However, with my daughter’s distance even when we were sitting next to each other, even when I didn’t talk except to say I love you, this law became increasingly important to me.

I had also lost my grandmother a few years ago and it left me hating myself for not being able to do more, wanting to tell her how much I loved her and how sorry I was for having acted like my daughter was and is acting. I didn’t act that way all the time but I did act that way in my teenage years and then later I became distant because of work and her difficulties with dementia/Alzheimer’s.

So, these mornings of listening to Esther who speaks as Abraham who delivers the message of the Law of Attraction has changed my view of death, regret, love, and hate. Really, it’s changed my view of everything, even education.

We are magnets according to Abraham, according to the Law. But, we are not magnets in the traditional sense or the common understanding of a magnets capabilities. Opposites do not attract. The Law of Attraction tells us we “Like” attracts “Like.”

So, even if we don’t want something and we scream that we don’t want it, If we push against it, we will just get more of it.

This made sense to me because everything negative in my life seemed to fly toward me with the intensity of electromagnetic force.

But, understanding this sometimes makes everything more frustrating, especially when you tell someone you love them and a door is slammed in your face.

The idea is that you attracted the door slamming in your face. If like attracts like, then what the hell? Why not love in return?

Maybe the anger was stronger than the love, for both of us.

That’s true.

So, little by little, one day at a time, I attempt to work within the Law of Attraction. I meditate every morning or as many mornings as I can. I look for things to appreciate. And, more often than not, I lose my patience and restart the next day.

Being a teacher, a parent, a wife, and a writer, gives me a lot to consider when walking through life under the Law of Attraction.

What are your thoughts? Have you heard of this law?

© Lisa Chesser

Hey Sunshine!

SunscreenshotWho were you growing up? Who are you now?

What did they call you? What do they call you?

There I was, the one who had a different opinion, the one who didn’t talk, the one who stood out. I was perfect for their names. It was an introduction to learning to laugh at yourself.

It was high school, and it is life.

I had curly dark hair then. Sometimes wisps would create a halo that looked like the sun, at least that’s what I told myself when I rationalized my “nickname.” It’s just that when they said it, it sounded like, “Heeeeyyyyy, Sunshiiiiine!” The sound of giggling afterward quickly sharpened the tone as if to say, This isn’t a nickname stupid! This is a game. They’re gonna have their fun with you.

I’d turn away and pretend I was only temporarily occupying this body. I threw myself into an alternate world while still walking the tan corridors leading to my next class. It kept me walking.

Later, it wasn’t until I started teaching that someone said that to me again. I didn’t even flinch. I didn’t turn away. I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t even remember those moments when that group of girls chose me for their weekly victim until they could find a better one, which they did.

I just looked at the person and smiled. I also felt sorry for her. I wondered if someone had done that to her. Wasn’t she too old to be doing this? She made it a thing too. She started saying it all the time as if trying to create her own group, no one joined it, but she still said it until she stopped.

Somewhere along the way, between the high schooler turned writer turned graphic artist turned editor who becomes teacher, I traveled to The Keys, stopped at a shop along the narrow road, and spent a scorching amount of time staring at an enormous, ceramic sun.

The sun came home with me.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/sunny/”>Sunny</a&gt;

Pen to Paper

It took some focus. I hadn’t taken a pen in hand and actually written with the intention of writing a story or just writing for pleasure, even pain, since, well, a long while.

The first sentence was just a sentence to begin movement. I had learned a long time ago not to expect the first sentence on a first write to ever be first or even last long at all. It was the sentence after that first one and the sentence after that one and that one and that one that gave me a sense of what I could still do.

Writing on paper showed me the past and the future. In college, I wrote on paper. Personal computers were gigantic and felt stale and distant. Not much later, I stopped using paper though and typed everything. It was faster and easier.

But, using that pen yesterday, felt as if I connected a string to my heart. That’s where I wrote from. It all came from my heart.

Tapping on a keyboard now feels distant and almost like work.

A paper and a pen tug at the heart.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/paper/”>Paper</a&gt;

I Win.

A groan of discomfort plugs into what used to be us.

Age has a lot to do with it.

Age has mostly everything to do with it.

Age and time.

The amount of time they spend on YouTube alone generates hours of mind-numbing transference that leaves my teeth clenched and off-center.

One of them lies on the couch randomly laughing and when asked about it, he replies, “This guy was playing this video game and he finally got these powers that let him punch really hard and instead of hitting the other guy he punched himself!” He laughs again.

“You wanna see?”

Disgust washes over me and I quickly blurt out, “No!”

With his Boca Juniors soccer beanie on and still wearing his pajamas, he jumps up granting me permission to look at his phone. “Here, c’mon, look, I swear, it’s funny!”

“No!” I scream. “It’s stupid. That’s stupid!” More frustrated than ever I proclaim, “This is how you’re choosing to spend your valuable time. Don’t you know what you could be doing. Read a book for Chrissake. My God!”

I often leave to the computer room where I open my computer and sulk.

I don’t pick up a book or even write with a pen and paper.

But, I am superior nonetheless.

The other one hibernates in her room, sometimes locks the door, and takes at least a minute to walk three steps to open it when prompted by my pounding on the door.

Often, I even have to say, “Open the door,” before there’s movement.

Stupid questions follow.

“Have you read your book yet?”

“No.” A glare, the wicked teenage kind, follows and so do more stupid questions.

“When are you going to read?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you want me to take your phone?”

“No.”

“Clean your room and read.”

No answer.

I walk away before things start flying through the air.

I retire to the computer room.

Ranting ensues.

My phone buzzes.

I pick it up and text away.

I check emails, text more, and realize that we’re halfway through the day and we’ve spent the large majority of it on devices, electronics.

What’s wrong with us?

It’s a conspiracy.

iphone

These companies want to ruin our lives.

They want to take all of our money and now our minds!

My God!

This must end or I shall die!

“Hand over the electronics,” I declare.

Dead eyes stare back at me.

No one moves.

“Now!” I scream.

“After this one thing,” my son says and rolls over on the couch.

“No!” my daughter yells, “I’m reading on my phone!”

“Lies!” I scream. “You’ve got one minute to put the devices on the counter or you lose them for a week!”

I wait a second then begin confiscating devices.

Everyone fights.

There’s screaming. Random bursts of “Crazy!” “God!” and “I hate you!”

Then nothing.

No one talks.

I clean the house.

They grab a book and read.

I win.

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/meddle/”>Meddle</a&gt;

Portraits of Love

D&amp;MAngryEvery day.

Four eyes hit me with judgment and love.

Dark lashes fan the flecks of green and yellow floating in a sea of amber.

Love.

Striking out of a pool of black.

Forgiveness.

But, as they grow I forget that they were always doing this.

Waves of black and brown frame her face instead of pigtails.

Wisps of brown float across his forehead, one eye squinting.

Glaring at me.

Darts.

Hit me with a pinch then a sting.

I know every crinkle in their skin, still plump, even now, at fourteen and ten.

They remind me that I’m just like them.

Not above, not below them.

We dance this dance together.

Flawed.

Crazy.

Fun.

Angry.

Little.

Fierce.

Human.

Love.

Written by Lisa Chesser
Portraits