GOING NUTS

This is a close up of one of my recent illustrations to be used on a label for a major nut company.

This is a close up of one of my recent illustrations to be used on a label for a major nut company.

Sometimes, just when I’ve felt like I was “cracking up” – I have found my greatest insight.

For the last few months, I haven’t shared much about my personal life. I didn’t want to complain and it was easier not to write how I honestly felt. I was depressed, living with chronic dry eye pain was wearing me down.

Much of the time, it was difficult for me to fully open my eyes. My spatial awareness wasn’t great. On the way to meet two good friends for dinner, I took a fall on the first step of an outdoor concrete stairway. My knees were bleeding and I cried on that step where I fell for a few minutes. Gradually, I stood up slowly and hobbled up the stairs to join my friends and I knew I was very lucky I hadn’t broken anything. My friends were worried about me. I felt so grateful for their love and concern and by the end of the evening, I managed to find my smile again.

Other than my eye issues, many good things were happening in my life. When I received an illustration assignment from a major nut company, it was the perfect job for me.

Initially, the job had an extremely quick deadline, which I had to promise I could make. The creative director congratulated me for being the artist chosen, but then I was left waiting and wondering when the project would begin. After a week, I followed up and was told that the client was concerned about whether my work was “realistic enough.”

I sent off samples of nut illustrations I had done for another company nine years ago. And then a few days later, my project began. Thankfully, the deadline was no longer five days!

These are samples of my illustrations done for Azar Nuts.

These are samples of my illustrations done for Azar Nuts.

My assignment was to create two illustrations of nuts in a wooden bowl with a window in the background. One bowl held walnuts and the other held mixed nuts. A nutcracker rested on top of the nuts in the bowl. I went shopping and then sent photos of my reference (wooden bowls, nuts and nutcracker) to the art director.

Which Pecan?

Which pecan?

I discovered that some of the pecans I purchased were different. I sent the photo above to find out which pecan I was supposed to use. I was surprised that the one that I needed wasn’t either of those. I was able to improvise and create them from both the ones I had. I changed the color and added streaks.

These pecans

These are the ones!

I searched for different nutcrackers and purchased several. It turned out that the one I owned, which I had used as a kid (and was a little tarnished) was the winner.

Was the art director being “picky” about which nutcracker to use? The one chosen was on the upper right.

Was the art director being “picky” about which nutcracker to use? The one chosen was on the upper right.

This is one of my layouts with a shinier nutcracker, which wasn’t chosen over my old one.

This is one of my layouts with a shinier nutcracker, which wasn’t chosen over my old one.

Ironically, just after receiving this job, my life took a turn. Large itchy red bumps began to pop up all over my body. I was scratching and it was literally driving me nuts!

I was obviously scratching too much.

I was obviously scratching too much.

Were they bites or a rash? I went to see my dermatologist and he wasn’t even sure what they were. I was given a steroid shot and he did a biopsy. A few days later, the results came back without any real answers. I didn’t care, as long as they didn’t reoccur. Gradually, fewer and fewer popped up and I was left with a lot of scabs.

At my worst, I had about 30 welts and the itchiness was overpowering. I took Benadryl once, which made me dizzy and only added to my misery. I had trouble sleeping and couldn’t do much of anything. For four days I stayed in my bathrobe and kept rubbing all kinds of things on my bumps.

On the weekend, I decided to call my former college art teacher and good friend, Nancy. It was her birthday and I hadn’t spoken with her in over a year. In the dim light of my bedroom, as her phone rang I wondered if I’d reach her.

Nancy answered and sounded so happy to hear from me. It felt great to hear her voice but my own voice was shaky and tearful. Immediately, she asked me what was wrong. I began to pour out all of my frustrations and issues. I was embarrassed because I had called to wish her a happy birthday, not to cry!

I held a wet tissue to my eyes and sniffled as she spoke to me gently. She said, “Jude, you have no idea how amazing you are and I am so sorry for all of these situations where you have been taken advantage of. People, who are kind and sensitive like you are, usually are the ones that get stepped on. But don’t let that affect your self-worth!”

She paused and added, “Getting an art job is incredible! There are so few illustrators out there who consistently get work and make a living at it. You are so fortunate; it really is a message from God. It seems like every time you are down, work comes to lift you up. Have you any idea what an accomplished artist you are?”

We spoke a little longer and then planned to reconnect the following day. After I hung up, I felt so much better and grateful for her words. I remembered being Nancy’s student in college. At that time, I wasn’t even sure about whether to major in art or not!

That afternoon, I got dressed for the first time in a few days. My bites were becoming scabbier and didn’t bleed if I left them alone.

I decided to go for a walk. The weather was beautiful and it felt like spring was here already.

My pathway 2

I was listening to music, as I passed by a young couple sitting on the grass. The woman mouthed something to me that I couldn’t hear. I didn’t want to be rude and ignore her.

I stopped walking, pulled out one ear bud and said, “Hi! I’m sorry – I didn’t hear what you were saying to me.”

She said, “Oh, I just wanted to tell you that you have a lovely smile.”

I wasn’t even aware that I was smiling! I thanked her and said, “It must be because I was listening to music. That always gives me a smile.”

Judy Walking 2

She said, “Oh, it’s more than that. You are radiant – it’s like there’s a light shining from you.”

I smiled even more broadly and thanked her. I replied, “Well, you just made my day.”

I continued walking and thought about the beautiful signposts that would help me now.

Nuts in prog table

Last week, after many rounds of layouts I received approval to work on the foreground of my illustration. My paintbrushes and dyes were spread out on my desk. I began to paint and it felt really good to work with color again – even if it was mostly brown.

Walnut closeup 1

During the time I was itchy, I spent a lot of time wondering where my journey had gone. Was I destined to suffer with my eyes and depression? I had created so many things that were still unfinished; I felt frustrated and discouraged.

I turned everything around by changing my thoughts. Instead of asking myself, “Why haven’t I finished anything,” I asked myself instead, “How can I finish?”

The person I had hired to edit my audio book had held onto it for eight months. She had not followed through on her promises to finish and hadn’t replied to my last inquiry.

I moved forward to finish my audiobook working with someone else. I finalized three albums and sent the songs off to be mastered with someone else. The first engineer, whom I had paid and had given me distorted files, was crossed off my list.

I was determined.

But most importantly, I saw a different eye doctor and that is another story for me to write soon.

After three years of suffering, my eyes began to feel better!

There is frisket (plastic film) on the bowl contour and that one walnut is unfinished.

There is frisket (plastic film) on the bowl contour and that one walnut is unfinished.

I let go of fear

These are lyrics from my song named “Clear.”

© 2016 by Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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21 Responses to GOING NUTS

  1. Continue to keep your head up and feet moving forward; you have a lot to offer this world. Huge hugs!!!!!!!! And loads of love. You are very creative and talented. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Janet says:

    I am proud of your resilience, Judy. This has been a rough patch, but change is in the air. Your creativity and kindness will be rewarded in time. ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Judy says:

      Thank you, my dear friend. Friendship is so helpful in healing an aching heart. I have been blessed to have you there during my rough time. Now I’m getting all teary again!
      Love you.

      Like

  3. Rena Fisher says:

    You are so talented.  I have been eating a lot of nuts recently and thoroughly enjoyed your nut bowl.  Unfortunately I buy them shelled and can eat too many too fast.  Shells are a good way to slow us down, but my hands can’t do it very well any  more.  

    It was so good to see you at Sean’s.

    Stay positive.Happy Spring time. Rena

    Liked by 2 people

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Rena. It was lovely seeing you also last week. I was cracking a nut with my daughter and it literally exploded into shells that shot all over my bedroom. What a mess! I told my kids they can eat them on the patio after that. Great hearing from you.

      Like

  4. Carol Cross says:

    So many hurdles to jump!!! But you are doing it and doing it well!!!! Beautiful art work! Beautiful smile!!!’n

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Carol. I’m trying – and very blessed that I have a job that I can do without getting “nutty!” As always, I appreciate your support. 🙂

      Like

  5. Terry says:

    What a beautiful story. You are definitely gifted from God. It seems as though we do go through bad times, but God says we will be on top of the mountain, then go down in the valley, in order to remain close in our faith in God. You are blessed and beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Terry! I do believe so much comes from those challenges. It’s tough while living through them. As a songwriter, I believe real life is the key to writing lyrics that hit the mark. Your support means a lot to me; I really appreciate your words!

      Like

      • Terry says:

        I have been trying to find someone out in twitter land, to notice one of my many poems to write music to. Still dreaming and hoping for that time to arrive. Hugs

        Liked by 1 person

      • Judy says:

        Thank you for your hug, Terry. I love songwriting, but my songs are so personal for me and are borne with the music. I am not in a place to compose with one of your beautiful poems – but I wouldn’t rule it out someday in the future. I hope you hold onto your dream!

        Like

      • Terry says:

        I understand very well. I am hoping someone out there will take notice. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I was just speaking my dream out loud. hugs

        Liked by 2 people

      • Judy says:

        Oh Terry, you didn’t put me on the spot. I honestly would love to help you someday. It’s a great feeling to say our dreams out loud – never stop. And I am certain you could make this happen. I’m glad you were able to share your dream with me!

        Like

  6. jmgoyder says:

    This is one hell of a wow of a post – and your radiance is a gift to all of us who know you, Judy. Strangely, I have been attacked by itchy welts lately too argh! Can’t wait to hear about your eye improvements!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      It’s great to hear from you, Julie. With Sandra gone – ugh, I feel such a void. I have many wonderful new readers, but you’re very special. You’ve been following my journey for awhile now and I’ve certainly felt like I’m there with you, too. Those itchy things are like torture – I imagine that they can be a result of stress, and they just add to it. You’ve had that hand condition, too – so you know how it is.
      Yes, I’ll share about the eye stuff soon. Mostly, it looks like I have an allergy. Still trying to solve it, but I stopped all of my remedies and that made a big difference. The artificial tears, eyelid wipes and compresses were actually aggravating my eyes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jmgoyder says:

        Argh so the eye treatments were making it worse? Bloody hell! You are right about my hands – totally scabbed and blistered from the heat of an Australian summer. Do you have Sandra’s Chris’s email? Love you so much Judy x

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Belinda O says:

    Beautiful illustrations. How incredibly talented you are!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You do beautiful work.
    I have had problems with dry eyes for years, to the point that I want to rub my eyes right out of my head. The eye doctor has prescribed drops it seemed to work for maybe a few minutes. Dr. Oz had a show about eyelash mites at one time. I thought maybe that’s what my problem was. I tried combinations of tea tree oil and olive oil mixed and rub it on my eyelashes and around your eyes and nose. It seemed to help some. I get my most relief by using baby shampoo on a swab or just on my fingers and I besides the straight shampoo into my eyes around my eyes and nose. I rinse it off with warm water that has worked the best of anything for me. It has to be done on a regular basis.
    Good luck with your dry eyes. Keep up your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

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