Thursday, December 12, 2013

Undoing the traditions of stress

I am not sure how it happens, things just get out of hand.  Used to keep it all simple, like baking cookies for my friends.  Now I rush about trying to find the right gifts, trying to get something in the mail, wanting so much to use this opportunity to reach out and touch others as so many have done for me.  Yet I find myself in tears, frustrated, out of time, and out of money. I am not sure how I lost sight of the true meaning of this beautiful season.

Today I slow down, take a breath, and remind myself that if things are late then they are late!  If it doesn't happen now, it can happen latter!  I don't have to wait all year for one day to tell people I love them or to do something special.  It can happen whenever it happens.  America has made the Holidays into traditions of stress, and deadlines, and even worse, debt.

I heard this and it really helped me: make a plan, talk it out with your spouse, stick to your budget, and do something for the Lord first.  The rest will work out fine with or with out you!

So I am making some hand crafted ornaments, baking some cookies, and enjoying the kids.

Merry Christmas and have a very blessed New Year all year long!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Artist Statement

Artist Statement:

I was named by my father, Thomas McNeill. He didn’t even tell my mother, just wrote it on the birth certificate! She wanted to call me Katrina Marie. But she liked the name he gave me: Fawn Marie. My father was killed in a car accident while serving in the Coast Guard a month before I turned 3 years old.  So my unique name is like a gift from him for my whole life.  That is why I use Fawn McNeill as my Pen name. My young students call me Miss Fawn, or Mrs. Barr.

I was 12 when I started buying instructional books on drawing and painting. (I lived with an abusive step-father.)  My brothers and I moved to Montana to live with my grandmother for a few months before joining our mother in the pacific islands.  The three of us ended up in foster care. When I was in my second foster home, I won three first place ribbons at the age of 14.  I accepted my first commission my senior year of high school and had my first art show.

I moved back to Montana before getting married and settling in Florida.  Had my first child and gave private painting lessons when I was 21. Then I started teaching small classes the following year. By the time my 2 boys were teenagers I finally took the opportunity to get my BFA.  After focusing on realism, and selling my paintings (as a self-taught artist) for many years, it was difficult to learn that my work was not considered acceptable at the university. (Didn’t they know I was already a professional artist after all?)  They encouraged a broad spectrum of study, including abstract, modern, and conceptual art.  So I struggled through and supplemented my major with educational courses in order to get certified to teach art in the public schools. 

While teaching art at the local high school, I began an on-line business and took the daily painters challenge.  I began working at home full time and explored many styles of art.  I averaged 3 - 4 new small paintings each week for more than a year. My paintings sold quite well until the economy suffered.  So I began teaching more classes at different galleries. This became my passion.  I truly enjoy the after school classes, and I enjoy working with adults as well.


It has all come together now with Fawn’s Studio, my own teaching center and art gallery. (I am also learning a new trade in custom framing.) My hope is that viewers will find a touch from The Creator in my paintings, and encouragement in the spiritual healing that often follows.  One more thing I would like to share: The dove by my name is my way of thanking The Lord for bringing me through such a stormy life, and for turning it around for good.  It symbolizes my belief that I can only accomplish anything by the power of his spirit that lives through me in Christ Jesus. 

Click here for more about Fawn's Studio. 

  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

50 years

So I am 50 years old!  I was dreading it, feeling so very old after my surgery.  Thought I would never feel good again.  It has been a month now that I am feeling better.  This is September, and my surgery was last December.....

Anyway, I have a very sad birthday, 9-11.  Every year I try to celebrate it after my birthday, but still it is just too sad.  So this year things worked out to see my boys and my grand-kids before my birthday.  My husband took advantage and on an impulse got a cake and some candles with the big numbers.  It was amazing!

We had grilled steaks, cake and ice cream, and we had card games too.  I have had a  great weekend and not thought about 9-11 at all.

So I am planning to celebrate my birthday on the 1st of September from now on.  I am also thinking that this is going to be a fantastic year!  I am getting strong again, and I am so thin from loosing all that weight from my appendix rupturing.  I am starting to have enough energy to get through the day too.  My gallery has out grown itself in it's first year, and I am already preparing to move to a bigger place!!!!!  God is so good.  I am so blessed to be alive, and I am looking forward to the years ahead.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reality

So my gallery opened last November. November first. Fawn's Sudio we named it.  Wonderful, awesome, exciting, and surreal....

Three teaching tables, room for 12 students comfortably, and more if needed.  So cool to come to work and see my art on the walls in the showroom, even more cool was the fact that I had enough paintings to fill the walls!  Then to sell originals right off the wall!  Amazing.
It only lasted a little more than a month.

Then my appendix ruptured sometime in the middle of November.  That is when the pain started anyway. The surgery was in December just before Christmas.  My female organs absorbed the poisons, and for three weeks I walked around dying.  I was mis-diagnosed with a tumor on my ovary. 

So my dreams and hopes were shut down for a month.  Then I tried to get the gallery going again, so thankful to be alive. But my female organs were all sacrificed.  So everything changed.  Everything.
Got sick and couldn't cough without severe pain.  So I closed the gallery again.
Reopened again, and took a mat to lay down on during the day before classes started in the afternoons.  That helped.

Looking back it makes sense why I am 8 months into recovery, and still struggling.  

Abrupt and instant menopause is harder than the pain and scar tissue, which still hinders me.  Fatigue, frustration, and despair are all daily companions now.  

I still try to work all day (teaching art classes, doing framing, working on custom paintings, etc...) and then I come home to do laundry, cooking and cleaning and whatever else is expected of me.  

It just dawned on me: of course it will take longer to heal if I don't slow down!  Duh!  I can't get up at 5:30 in the morning to work on paintings, do a load of wash, and go to work all day and then come home to more chores, and expect to have the energy I used to.

Top it all off with a husband that wants to argue and fight about most things these days...  Honestly, no wonder my hormones are so out of whack!  Anyone, even someone with balanced hormones, would be up and down with someone constantly putting them down and calling them nuts......  He pushes me to my limits.  (Then he wonders why I am not the slightest bit interested in romance.  Duh again!) I don't think I am fully to blame here. He knows how to turn things around, or how to keep me up-tight.

So I am sleeping in until 6:30 am, and I am going to bed earlier, and I am not trying to get all the chores done!  And if he doesn't like it he can start pitching in.  Just saying....

We are starting to laugh about it now, thank goodness!  I thought we might have to go our separate ways if this kept up.  And even more remarkable: Robert is doing some grocery shopping to help me out, and cooking some meals too.   Love it when he puts steak on the grill for me!!!! 

Reality is tough, but I am still thankful to be here.

Monday, May 20, 2013

gifts

Just read a great book called One Thousand Gifts,  by Voskamp.  Hard to get through it.  So challenging on every level.

My paintings have always been a way of thanking the Good Lord for the wonders of nature.  But now I am thanking him for the not so beautiful and wonderful things in life too.  

I have this deep ugly scar on my stomach, from my belly button down.  It has been 6 months since the surgery, and still it is tender and itchy.  When my appendix ruptured, and I didn't know it for a couple of weeks, it messed up my female organs.   It encapsulated on my ovary, and everything became a gooey sticky mess. (Which actually saved my life by containing the poisons.) They took it all out, a complete hysterectomy and an appendectomy.

Instant menopause has been quite difficult.  More difficult than I could have imagined.  

This book of gifts has helped me see it all in a new way.  I was honestly thankful for another chance at life, but this is different.  Now I see my scar as beautiful.  I no longer cringe at the sight of it.  And now I laugh (instead of crying) at my new weird personality changes. I am a full spectrum, like a teenager with raging hormones, and not usually the good ones. My poor husband doesn't know which side of me will burst out next!  But he is patient, and I have found that his love is enduring.  

On a deeper level, my deep scars of child abuse and foster homes are also a beautiful thing.  The healing is going to another level.  Not just being ok with it all, but being able to thank the Almighty for all of it.

Just needed to put that out there.  

I want to start a new challenge: to paint a thousand gifts.  Not sure what form it will take yet.  Don't feel that I can do one every day again, but I do want to set something in motion. I want it to be paintings of things in a new point of view:  unexpected or maybe several gifts all in one painting, even if they don't really go together. Some will be of things that aren't so beautiful, yet they will have significance.   I think it will be like a poem with images.  

Don't have time, really.  Summer art programs to create, and a gallery to run.  But I believe this is something I will lose sleep over if I don't do it! So it will be a new series, and a wonderful challenge, and I am excited to see where it takes me.



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Major surgery


 I had to undergo major surgery the week before Christmas. It was rather sudden and I haven't posted anything in a very long time.  That is a long story, so I will share it after I give you an update on this very busy year!

 It has been 2 years since Robert’s last brain surgery, and the follow up tests have shown the tumor is dead and
shrinking away from his brain!  His prognosis is good.  The surgeries were successful.  We are thanking the Father for that!
He needs no more radiation, and is doing well.  He drives his truck, goes fishing when he wants, and now he takes care of me!!!!  Amazing!

 Last spring, when Robert no longer needed me home so much, I began working as a substitute teacher.
This was in addition to teaching my after school art classes 3 days a week. (I rented a room from a gallery in town and taught about 7 kids at a time on the average.  I had room for 10, but it was quite crowded.)

 I also needed to take a few college classes in order to get my teaching certification reinstated.  So I used the money from subbing to pay for the classes.  Needless to say, all this became a lot to juggle.

Got it all done in time, got everything lined up, and applied for a position at the Freshmen Campus High-school, to teach art again.  But when I did not get the job,  I was confused, because the timing and deadlines had all worked out perfectly, and I was sure I would get the position.  Well, Robert was so happy about it, that it made me realize he really didn’t want me to work fulltime again.

  That meant a lot to me!

Just after that, the gallery I worked at sold. Things didn't work out there with the new owners, but I really love teaching and wasn't ready to give up my little classes and loose all my students.
 That is when Robert suggested we look for a place with a little more room, and said he would help me if I wanted to open my own teaching center. That was in the beginning of October. By the end of October we
 had a little Art Gallery and Teaching Center opened and the classes transitioned smoothly, right from one place to another!

We call it Fawn’s Studio.   I cannot explain how wonderful it is to have as many classes as I want, have plenty of room for everyone (up to 12 students), and be able to show my paintings too. 
 I have taken in commissions, sold original paintings and prints of my work, added new classes, and picked up a few more students.  Things were going so well you had to pull me down out of the clouds…..


  In the middle of November I had some strange and wonderful dreams.  I thought they were just nice dreams, but now I see there was a lot more to it.  In one of them, Jesus held me and we talked about past hurts and the need for forgiveness. 
In another, we rode horses through the mountains and he showed me some beautiful places.  He told me I could stay if I wanted.
  In yet another dream, He asked me if I wanted to live, really wanted to live, and if I was willing to do whatever it took to fight for my life. 
In the dream I answered yes, and I thanked him for all the wonderful things in my life:  All my family, my grandchildren, my husband, my friends, and this community that has supported me in my new business.  I thought this was an odd dream, and pretty much forgot about it.
  In another dream he said I would go through some hard things, but he wanted me to remember that he was with me and would use the doctors to heal me.  He put his hand on the right side of my stomach and prayed for me.
At this time, I had no signs of anything wrong, and I was thinking it must just be menopause or something, because all my tests last year came back with a clean bill of health.  Within a couple of days, I had severe abdominal pain, and a few days after that I began hemorrhaging.   I went to my gynecologist because the amount of hemorrhaging got worse. 
 She said it was clearly not menopause, and something very serious was going on.  She ordered tests that day, and they found a tumor that was as large as an orange, which had replaced my right ovary. The uterus was swollen and full of cysts as well, so she scheduled a hysterectomy right away. 
Of course I was not all in for that, especially since they had to cut me open to get the tumor out, and there are other “less invasive” procedures. When everything came back negative for cancer, I was sure she was just overreacting to want to rush through this.  I wanted to wait until after the holidays and not have to close up my new studio. so I started looking for another doctor for a second opinion, but nothing worked out, just before the holidays and all.  
Robert insisted we not put this off, and get it taken out right away. He said, “If the tumor grew that large that fast, it could easily turn into cancer.”  My doctor was very straightforward and answered all my questions.She explained that with a tumor that size, she would have an oncologist present during the surgery, and he would do a frozen section to make sure they got the whole thing out all in one piece. Then he would test it right there for any signs of cancer within the tumor.  So I agreed to go ahead right away.  
Next we had all the tests for pre-op to do. The EKG showed a blockage on the left side of my heart.  So I went through 2 stress tests, and passed them both.  The blockage was only in the electrical frequency, the signals weren’t flowing correctly, and this was monitored.  So the final approval for the surgery went through the day before I had surgery.
By then my arms were bruised from all the needles and tests, and I was hanging on to every word I could remember in those wonderful dreams.  I knew Jesus had prayed for me, and I was going to be ok.
My doctor, Trinada Garcia, is married to a general surgeon, Manuel Garcia.  Dr. M. Garcia had removed Robert’s gall bladder a year before his first brain surgery. He often joins his wife, Dr. T. Garcia, in surgery, which turned out to be life saving for me. When they cut me open, they did not find a tumor.  The oncologist was happy, no cancer was found. Praise the Lord for that!  
What they found, however, was that my appendix had ruptured and plastered itself to my ovary.  They were amazed that the poisons were encapsulated and sealed off from the rest of me.  (Many people die from a ruptured appendix. )  If Dr. T. Garcia had done a less invasive procedure, as I had asked, those poisons could have spread all through me.  Dr. M Garcia took out the sticky gooey mass, cleaned out all the poisons, and Dr. T. Garcia did a complete hysterectomy.  I am so grateful how everyone came together on my behalf to save my life!
  I have a whole new lease on life, and my husband has been waiting on me hand and foot! Hard to believe, but he is actually doing all the laundry, cooking the meals, and cleaning the kitchen….
 It has all been one miracle after another. The recovery process is going well. 4 to 6 weeks......

  I am so thankful to be alive, and am really looking forward to re-opening my little studio!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!