Monday, May 7, 2018

What Inspires



I am sitting here still in my pyjamas reflecting on past months.  Sunshine fills the room through thick white dusty glass, must clean those one day.  I plan on gardening today.  I plan on doing a lot of things today and wonder if any those things will get done.  Still trying to recover from the post exhibition drop, otherwise known as PED, it's real, I feel it.  I chuckle to myself at all those advisors during my paintbrush in overdrive stint, that when the show is over, I can celebrate.  Celebration usually come out of a feeling of intense joy and feeling free, energy hard to bridle.  For some reason I am wanting quiet and calm, time to restore the energies, both physical and creative.  I have paper shredded, old canvas slashed, deleted my hand to numbness while sitting here at the computer.  All of these acts bring back times I had forgotten.  It's good to do this in my PED phase, easy for me to click and delete and slash and shred.  Freeing in so many ways.

Some images of paintings I did over the past years show me I do paint from how I am inspired at that time.  They aren't all the same.  I would be lying if I said I am not influenced by others.  I'd say the internet has caused me more confusion than actual inspiration, or maybe those are equal in strength.  Putting together enough artwork to say I am an artist who is worth featuring tends to tear one from the freedom thinking.  We/I get into a mode of a series and stick in that gear.  I have to think galleries want to represent artists who show a continual production of one style that speaks that artist's true individuality.  But we all want to feel like we are growing.  We are all thirsty weeds wanting to flourish into the showy plant that gets the water, and not the culling.

During my focused painting stint over those 4-5 months I did get somewhat stressed.  A long time artist friend said to me.. " isn't it to bad you can't paint for fun now, that's the trouble with being in a gallery, not fun anymore, it's work. "  It's a good thing I was too busy and cranky to respond to that comment at that time, it did make me think, tho.  Had this really happened?  Was I no longer painting for fun?  What was that person actually saying?  Yes, good thing I didn't have time to respond.

There is no doubt I have spent a lot of hours doing social painting.  Serious painting is when we go to our own space and just do it.  Social painting is painting with others.  I could add some lyrics to that song Girl Talk with some social painting experience.  Both of these activities are wonderful.  We are social creatures who thrive on absorbing the energies of others.  I don't think serious painting is not fun, it's just serious, big difference.  Of course, common sense tells me that those who like to go out into the woods and field to paint alla plein air should work in groups.  This is why I don't do that, I have to be by myself to paint, and I'm scared of setting up by myself in the woods all alone.  Not for the risk of what might happen to me, I'd just hate to have my supplies stolen, especially the cadmiums and cobalt blue, they cost a fortune.  Oh, I know, not often do we hear of an artist who gets robbed of their sable brushes and cadmium paints while plein air painting, but that's probably because they are working in groups.

So what do I paint now?  Probably the same of what I have painted before.  Now that the month of May has arrived in Victoria there is a super charged feel of colour and aroma in the air. It inspires me to garden, why not take my tools to the studio on that ever continuing garden inspiration.  Doesn't really matter what the inspiration of subject may be, it's all the same principles.  Colour and light composed to tell a story of a mood in that time.  Time is what makes me paint.  And I must say, time to think about it for a bit is nice.  Culling and deleting and shredding has been healthy for my mind, I feel lighter.

I wonder what I will paint now.  This is what inspires me.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

What's In A Name


" On The Home Stretch " (sold)
24x30 o/c
included in " Happy Childhood " by Mary Ann Laing
April 21st through to May 5th
West End Gallery, Victoria.
 
Well, I made it.  I didn't paint those 20 I unrealistically set my goal at, but I did come through with the 10 I said I could paint in 4 months.  Now I know.  Now I know I can't paint 20 paintings in 4 months.  I wonder how I ever played along in those online 30 works in 30 days games.  That wasn't serious painting, tho, that was play with a time clock ticking, totally different. This has been an adventure for me in so many ways.  Each day I chose to get into that studio and back at it.  I didn't get up at the crack of dawn, but I did paint until after midnight.  8 hour shifts have to work for the individual.  I used to always paint at night while G was at work and once the kids were in bed, been through a lot of life changes along the way while I dabbed away with my Number 2 brush.  Maybe if I used a bigger brush I'd have 20 paintings.  But then they wouldn't look like I painted them, so I stuck with my own program.  I wish I had a dime for every time I told myself.. not now, Mary Ann, this is not the right time to try something different.  Another lesson learned, listen to myself, or, make sure to listen to the right things of my own thoughts I need to listen to, yeah, that's it.
 
I look at this show and think of my title for it.  Happy Childhood.  It really does all start there, how we feel about things, how we understand what living is supposed to feel like.  I know I am blessed with a happy childhood.  The impact of that continues to hit me on various levels.  Since Mom died two years ago, I think about our entire life together as mother and daughter.  I know our own memories are important to only us, no one can tell you your own memories are wrong.  Not the way we feel about them that is.  I may have filled in some blanks of some where's and why's, but I have no doubt about my feelings about my life.  A happy and well loved life.  Sure, there have been unbearable tragedies.  We were a family of a unique structure due to inherited traits, in my opinion.  I recall extraordinary chaos with no other sounds except shrieking laughter.  As well as rage and anger, a full spectrum of emotions, all of which seemed okay, we were strong, we survived, and boy did we ever have so much fun.  I cherish my childhood memories.  I think that's a good tribute to both of my parents.
 
Over the last 10 years I have been given the good luck to be able to go back to the place where I lived for my first 11 years of life.  I was able to return to that village called Bamberton, the company village that housed the families of the employees, like Dad, who worked in the cement plant.  I have accumulated hundreds of photos of this village that to me, still breathes the joy I remember as a happy kid.  I remember asking my dad when he was still with us(30 something years ago) about me going to the village to take photos to paint.  It's always been something I felt I needed to do as an artist.  This is many years ago when the plant was being phased out, and the village vacated, and the houses either being torn down, or removed to other places around Vancouver Island.  Dad told me then that I didn't want to see the village like that.  He said it was sad and depressing, not anything I would want to paint.  I remember thinking then, it wasn't the physical state of what the village looked like that I wanted to paint.  At that time, I was learning my own way of painting, a bit of a sponge taking from others, not really doing my own thing.  But in my heart, I knew what the purpose of being an artist really meant.  It has to come from inside.
 
I suspect most artists go to their easels with their own life story.  Viewers may see something different.  That's because we really only understand how we feel inside our own hearts about things, not someone else's heart.  The ability to connect to others through exploring my own feelings never loses it's magic for me.  I want my story to stir someone else's story.  I want my love of colour and music and playing and, and.. I want all those things I pour into my canvas to stir something personal in the viewer.  I want to be understood.
 
Do I ask for too much in life?  Probably.  It isn't easy.  These past 4 months have been stressful and tiring.  I have been buried in thoughts and paint fumes, at times carrying incredible guilt because I couldn't do Easter.  I have played over and over bad memories, self doubting trudging through uncertainties I can't even explain myself.  I have learned that what we see and feel often is compromised when extreme fatigue takes over.  I have felt like the child at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, who loses sight of all the magic around them when they collapse into a crying jag from exhaustion.  I get that.  I had a few moments of losing sight completely of any beauty and magic, knowing that once I had some sleep it would return, which it did.  I thought over and over about how much time I was spending on painting, how tired I was, how much work work work I was doing.  Then, I'd think of those construction workers on a crew building condominium towers for days and weeks and months.  Tiny dots that looked like ants on an ant hill, people who were putting in 10 hour days, standing on scaffolds, covered in dust.  Wouldn't they laugh out loud at my whining over my exhaustion from having to sit at an easel with my Number 2 brush for hours at a time?  Besides that, I wanted to do it, so stop whining, Mary Ann.
 
So many thoughts, now I have been set free, for a bit that is.  I can practice my singing properly again so I don't get "the look" at choir that I conclude means my sound could be better..(grains of salt, I'm smiling)  Now I can blabble away on bloggety lands again.  I took down the Christmas decorations today, okay... kidding, but there were a few still to be put away.  I schmoozed and puttered.  But I missed having a painting to go look at.  I am missing the call to paint.  I have another 10 canvasses waiting to be filled with so many things.  I may just go start one tonight, keep the wheels turning.
 
A big THANK YOU to Amy and the Hudons and staff at West End Gallery for seeing something in my work that they liked.  I so appreciate their encouragement, their patience, and making it easy for me to work with a gallery.  Gallery owners/managers are truly the unsung heroes, thank you SO MUCH!!


Mary Ann

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Heads Clean up, Tails Paint... tails it is.


There is honesty in making art.  There has to be otherwise what would be the point?  If we choose to cover what our own heart speaks, muffle it's sound in whatever key it sings, why bother to sing?  This photo is as honest as it gets for me.  The jam of clutter in the corner of the room, adjacent to an air purifier, what a contradiction that is.  Careless mess and fumed paints, but a part of me that needs to feel I care about that.  I don't see the clutter for the art, I only noticed it when I looked at this photo.

Anyways, I bit the bullet and took two works down to the gallery as part of this first-time-ever solo show that happens in April.  This blog is not about promoting myself, and again, I wonder if that is a contradiction.  What does self promotion really mean?  When I paint, am I concerned only with people liking it?  Or am I concerned in telling the story of what I am painting because that's part of my purpose?  It's a complicated profession being an artist.  We don't do it for salary.  Although, when a sale happens, it is beyond a lift of the soul from the psychological burden of confusions that happen.  That is the utmost best compliment of all.

I feel torn into pieces right now.  Tired beyond defining words.  My soul is weary from worry over being so silly to worry about what I need not worry about, I love to paint.  When I am sitting with my brush in hand, following the tender sound of the brush on fresh canvas, my heart dances with quiet infatuation.  I have so much to say, and it filters out in bits and pieces intuitively orchestrated within that delicate sound.  Fresh paint, luscious new paint over dried paint, it all sounds and feels right.  Sure, there are those frustrating times when the finish line keeps getting moved from my decided reach, but the joys always make me keep on with it.  I feel guilty for painting when I know I should clean up, that photo reminded me of that.

 Guilty.  I think I better get back to it, I don't feel like cleaning up, going to go be guilty some more.





Friday, February 9, 2018

Making A Statement

Time out to ramble a bit.  My eyes are so overworked right now, they feel swollen, and are exactly that, one might think I spent the night crying.  I'm not crying, not yet, well, not about the painting thing I am doing.  I still tear up at surface thing.  I even cry at award shows and I don't even like them.

So, here I am, in the throws of supplying enough work to constitute a solo show of artwork done by yours truly in April, the 21st to be exact.  I am encircled with a million emotions, all those "shouldas" I shoulda done.  Shoulda started earlier, oh wait, I did.  Shoulda picked smaller canvases, shoulda cancelled out on Bach, shoulda left the cat boxes dirty, shoulda told Gerry to just turn his clothes inside out so I don't have to do laundry, the list grows each day.  Now the gallery asks for a title of my show, and wants an artist's statement for publicity.  Which brings me to doing this type ramble, maybe an artist statement will flow from my fingers once I ramble for a bit.  I know an artist's statement is to be short, they don't want a three page artist statement.  I know it is to say something personal about how I feel about making art, and what I am hoping to accomplish.  This is why I get stuck every time I try to put that into words.  How does one say how they feel without it creating a sense of fear.  I end up feeling like I am on a stage singing rather than at a keyboard.  The panic of being so exposed feels terribly frightening somehow.  I write things down, read them, and hear imaginary people laughing, saying.. " yeah right... "  I don't think anyone will laugh at me, and if they do, who cares.  Just do it, right.

A friend gave me the book of Emily Carr's memoires last week.  I am consumed by this book.  I probably will shock most other artists to say I have never read up on Emily Carr over the years.  I do admire the legacy of artwork she created in her life.  I guess that has always been enough of a statement for me through time.  But now I am enthralled by her personal statements, her self doubt, her tiredness and never-ending drive to find that space where her canvas speaks of what she is searching for.  I love this book, and I am delighted to be able to fall into bed at night with my tired eyes and read it.  I am even more delighted to have such an intuitive friend who knew I would love this book, and found a way for me to read it, she gave it to me, what a fine gesture that was, lucky I am.

I often shake my head silently at so many art makers who never speak of their self doubts and fears.  I go on social medias and see grand self promotions abundant, and awesome artwork for sure, but never that aching Achilles heel we artists suffer from.  Is that because they don't have one, they truly are in complete belief of their own greatness?  or  .... is it because they are afraid it will hurt their image if they say anything less than great about themselves?  For me, one who speaks of their honest authenticity sells way better.  What more do we want than a person's authentic self?  Okay, so if their authentic self says they live on a happy-go-great level 24/7, then good for them.  I hope they never crash the way I do every other day, or hour, or minute.  I have a well used runway in my studio for all my crash landings.

Uh huh, crash landing, like last night for instance.  I need to provide a couple of works for publicity NOW.  So, thinking that I do have a couple I can "completely finish(whatever that means)" by the weekend, I say I can do that.  And what do I do when I get back into the studio with swollen eyes and aching heel, I decide I could improve that sky and water.  It could be considered fine, satisfactory and okay, but I decide I could make it better than that.  12 hours later, where am I?  I dread to look today at it.  I recall going to bed thinking that I went from okay, to maybe not, to what-are-you-doing, to oh sh*t, to gotta fix this NOW, to..  maybe Emily will tell me what to do.  I pray every night, mostly say thank you for all the blessings, another gift of a well lived and loved day.  Last night I asked for temperance and practical thinking.  I asked God to help me be better as a person, and that I believe will make that sky work today, I do have faith.

Well, I'm still not ready to go on stage and sing my statement, but I suspect I don't really understand that elusive emotion called "ready".  I will never be ready for anything, but I will take what comes my way each day.  Off we go on another plane trip, wish me luck!

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

Mary Ann


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Leaving The Ground


Gentlemen.. start your engines...  Yes, it's true, I have started.  I am going to paint 20 paintings before April.  No reworks of old ones, no fiddling around, no playing the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge game, not this January.  I woke up today into a brighter than usual January morning, recalling how I am usually painting with a new(hopefully) attitude after the bustling exhaustion of December.  I usually hit up my paints before I de-decorate, have no problem walking out of the mess and painting.  Those challenges, oh my goodness, I bet I drove the channels of FB nuts with my daily posts.  Seems so long ago somehow.  Where does the time go?  don't think about it, go paint.. right.

Yes, I have started.  No, I didn't take time to paint a coloured ground on those giant WHITE canvasses that stared me down in my studio.  I just hit one with paint.  A few reasons for that.  I felt like painting for real, as in stir up that creative engine that was needing some ignition. And, because I am feeling the squeeze of a timeline, no time to paint the canvasses like a wall in my bathroom, which also needs painting, May.. I'll do that in May, sure I will.

I conclude, once again, in an ongoing thinking day of conclusions, I like painting on a white canvas.  I feel like I am more at one with whatever appears out of the blizzard of white.  I also like a coloured ground, but I can't remember why.  That one-thought-at-a-time thing, live in the moment and you forget what all those other moments said.  Pretty obvious why I don't teach, isn't it?  It's okay to laugh, I laugh at myself all the time, and it's okay, I'm not offended by myself.

Where will these 20 paintings take me?  I wonder that myself.  This is why I am posting here now at the beginning.  I hope to take this trip into the unknown along with everyone else, the viewer, the cats, the family... I have no idea.  I know in concrete logical thinking, I'll be counting days and minutes while I look at the product.  But what's inside the product, as in soul of it, I am not sure.  This one I started yesterday has already taken over my soul, and I am just following it now.  Now it leads me, and like Peggy March, I will follow him.

I hope to check in here to update my progress.  I hope to follow my impulses to write.  Wonder what I might write in a few weeks or months.. wonder if it will say.. blbbgul llieghhryy shhheirrrlllll  or something that makes a bit of sense.  I wonder.  I am thankful I can do this while the darkness of January passes.  Pretty lucky I think.

Okay (deep breath)... I'm going in....

Mary Ann

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Bye, or Hello, 2017... depends on perspective.

I am starting this now as 2017 slides into the history files.  I suspect this blog will take a while, so I doubt I'll be surprised if it doesn't get posted at all.  It's hard to stay focused on a thought when there are so many distractions.  That could be one of my resolutions, keep working through the distractions.. uh huh, is that possible?  I don't think so, but we try.  You know, I have been doing one of my own personal studies on human nature, and this thing called "multi-tasking".  I'm not sure if people are aware of this or not, but it's impossible for the brain to comprehend more than one thing at one time.  I know this well.  It may be possible to engage in more than one thing at a time, keep things on the burners cooking while we stir one thing at a time.  But to actually DO the thinking about more than one thing at a time??  Impossible.  I can't read the news strip of words on the television and listen to what they are saying, along with the shared words beside me from my husband's newscast, all at the same time, and come out of it knowing what anyone just told me.  Nothing.  My brain just sheds it all, and I sit there like a dummy saying.. "what??"  with a screwed up look of confusion on my face.  So, why ever I had to waste a full sentence on that, I have no idea, just sayin...

I look back on this past year, like they do on the television, and have my own life recap to ponder today.  I'd say the best thing to happen over 2017 was a new member of our family being born.  Logan Cameron Laing made his grand entrance last January 27th, and with him came immense joy and love.  His parents, Mike(son) and Adrienne(daughter in common law), have proved to be the most wonderful and adoring parents, which makes me conclude why Logan is so perfect.  He brings the light of wonder and joy with him where ever he is.  I cry with delight just thinking about him.  He is a true blessing from God, Universe, Love, and Living.

What else happened last year, besides Logan and my discovering we can't multi task, let me see.  It's a blur, it's clarity, where do I begin?  After many many months, maybe years, we finally got a clear diagnosis for my husband, Gerry.  Parkinson's.  I must admit, when we finally saw a specialist who confirmed it, I responded with I KNEW IT!!  My goodness gracious, such a shock to learn over a span of years, that medical professionals don't recognize the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.  I kept telling his family doctor what was going on, Gerry kept telling him of his symptoms, losing strength, and this had been happening for at least 3 years.  Friends of ours kept asking what's wrong with Gerry, and since we hadn't been given a proper diagnosis, we apparently weren't giving them a good enough answer.  I still struggle with being told by someone who is/was actually a family member, that I was so self focused, I hadn't noticed my husband's declining health.  People have no idea what goes on in our own lives, how do they get to decide?  They don't know about our desperation and fear.  They don't know about my tear soaked pillow from watching our life slip into another reality of unknown.  I know I have to check my own thinking, and stop myself from assuming anything about what other people think or do.  I remember thinking my mom was way too off hand some days when Dad was so ill with cancer.  Now I so get that thing called "bravery" that Moms must tap into when they must.  It is so important to keep life as close to normal as possible.  If that appears to be self focused and uncaring, well who cares what appearances say, if people want to hate me, fine, I can live with it.

Change.  Some days it's all I can do to keep the changes feeling like nothing really has changed.  I know the best thing to do is not compare today to days of 20 years ago.  The most unchanged thing about Gerry is his will and spirit.  And the most unchanged thing about me is my need to know he feels okay.  We are still a married couple.  We bicker now and then, he rolls his eyes at me when I walk out of a room, or makes me laugh when I get frustrated and tired over trivial thing.  We are husband and wife. I am not a caregiver, I am his life partner, and if I am stricken with anything disabling, he will take care of me(he better anyways), that's just part of who and what we are.  He is determined to stay well, and that too is so encouraging.  He still loves Big Bad John's, the place he worked for almost 50 years, and even with his loss of physical strength, he does random shifts there. The clientele and staff at the Strath love Gerry, and he loves them.  I am thankful for all of them.  No one deserves that kind of love more than Gerry.

Let's see, what else happened in 2017?  Oh, oh right, after a year and a half of all it took to finalize Mom's estate, it is done, I think, well... maybe one day I'll feel like it's all done.  I trip over boxes of her things I brought here, thinking once the bitter dusts of time settled, someone might want things. No one wants any of it, I guess I should get rid of some of it.  I'm still grieving, and not quite in that infamous grand quoted "let go" state.  I am still digesting it all.  Perhaps one day, my stomach will settle, and there will be a grand dump of it all, big pun intended.  Life is not particularly fair to any of us.  It whips us sideways without warning, or enwraps us in beauty and love.  I keep learning the answers to all the questions I couldn't figure out over the years.  I guess we are supposed to at least try to do that.  Even if not, I can't stop my brain for going where it does, so not trying to anymore.

So now we putter into a new year, 2018.  I have been confirmed to do a solo show in April.  A solo show of artwork that is.  While in choir last month, I made the comment to a friend that I am having a solo show in April, and my fellow chorister said... OH WOW... SINGING BY YOURSELF???  if anyone knows me in choir, they'd understand why I gasped with laughter at her enthusiastic response.  Uh, no, not singing in a solo show, not on stage anyways, maybe in the shower, but not even there, I mean singing, I do shower solo.  The singing is my spirit school, I love it, but goodness knows I'm not striving to become the next female version of Pavarotti.  I digress, where was I?  painting, oh right, I have to paint 20 or so new works by April, well... maybe 15 or so, more than 2 anyways.  That's a lot of work, and considering how many paintings I did in 2017, I know I will really have to button down and be the Nike slogan.  Of course, when asked, I turned to Gerry and asked if he thought I should commit to it.  And he, of course(cha ching cha ching) said well..yeeAAAH!  So that no doubt means he will take over all the cooking and cleaning while I'm in there painting to the tune of Bach's Mass In B Minor.  Never hurts to do some positive visualization, even if it's pretty far off base.

I can't believe I haven't been properly distracted while I typed away here.  I think I have finished my first blog of 2018.  And there will be more to come.  I just finished Jann Arden's book that was given to me as a Christmas present, and it brought me back to how much I love the written word.  I love doing it, I love reading it.  I hope to write more.  I hope if anyone doesn't like what I write, they won't read it.  Thank you for all who do take time to read me, tho, part of being an artist is that ever relentless desire to communicate.  Be it 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional, sound dimensional, whatever dimension we create in, we need to communicate, so we will because we must.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night. 

Mary Ann

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Wishes

                                                                               
                                                                                 

It is December 23rd, 2017.  The house is quiet, for how long I am uncertain.  Externally quiet that is, inside my ear canals ring melodies of song I just performed two days ago.  My lingering thoughts dwell on memories from days ago, to years ago.  I am blessed to have my vivid memory collections, and sometimes I wonder if it's a curse.  Would not life be much easier if we only recalled for one day, and just kept moving on from there?  No, Mary Ann, that would be disastrous, in fact, that's a horrendous disease no one wishes on anyone.  Oh right.

The social media threads are flooded with good wishes.  While I was upstairs in between what-to-do things, I glanced down into an empty box that was filled with decorations only month ago.  It waits for the return of their tenants in January, hopefully January, some days I wonder if it might be by August this year, one never knows how things might go.  Anyways, in the bottom of this empty box lay an old greeting card cover, the side that held the names of whoever sent it many years ago had been cut off.  I suspect my mom used the cover greeting part for a decoration, it came out of the box that her wreath was in.  I think about my mom so much right now.  We talk about her all the time, quote her, return to so many scenarios we recall vividly.  I even say out loud when I am alone.. okay, okay, Mom... I'm sorry.  I am sorry for so many things.  I'm sorry I wasn't more patient when I could have been.  I'm sorry I didn't do more.  This isn't to say in all logic understanding, I did do so much with, and for, Mom that I shouldn't feel any guilt or need to feel sorry.  But still, I think about how much I miss her, and wish I could have done more.

And there lies this message in the bottom of the empty box that Mom kept in the downstairs dresser drawer.  I know now, that what I am feeling is peace.  It is a battle to find that thing we refer to as peace.  Looking back, I had no idea of the why's.  I think of decades where so many changes happened, difficulties and tragedies, life deals whatever it feels like without warning.  Christmases come every year to remind us of the beauty, the thrills, the magic, and unfortunately the battles.  Sadly, I know all humanity wants peace, but truly doesn't know how to find it, how to reap it's rewards.  It's only taken me 64 years to figure this out.  I am feeling the sadness in all kinds of forms, and this is to tell me why they happened, it was for love. 

I'm not sure if I can say I am stronger.  But I do know I am more resilient.  As long as God keeps my health in good shape, I do believe I can do anything where love is involved.  I know that.  What a gift that is to understand that kind of faith in oneself.  I admit, I didn't know that 10 years ago.  Life continues to provide us with life changing challenges.  We, my family, face them full on, with strength and good humour.  We, unknowingly it seems, hold each other up, and keep going, feeling blessed for just being who we are to each other. 

This is what Peace is.  Mom's card told me today, there is Peace on Earth.  She left a legacy of good memories, sad ones, too.  I speak out loud my admiration for her strength, her courage, her everlasting ability to make me laugh inside out tears that made me gasp for air.  I believe she has forgiven me when I say I am sorry, but I suspect I'll keep saying it, mostly to remind myself how much I loved her.

I wish Peace on Earth to all.  Whatever it is everyone celebrates at this time of year, may you enjoy the peace in understanding love, and all the blessings that brings to you.

Here's to 2018!!

Mary Ann