Two months ago, I requested an appointment with my dry eye doctor, because my eyes were bothering me more than usual. When the doctor said she saw a problem with my macula, my heart froze. My aunt had been completely blind from macular degeneration and my mother suffered also. I knew it was hereditary.
After a scan of my macula, the doctor said, “I have good and bad news. You don’t have macular degeneration, but you do have a macular hole.”
It took me awhile to process what she said. I was devastated. As soon as I got home, I researched it. Another name for what I had was a “macular pucker” – of all things. It was actually very common.
Once my initial panic calmed down, I realized that it’s something I’ve been dealing with for at least 7 years. I’ve had poor spatial awareness since my cataract surgeries in 2012. I easily bump into things and even broke my ankle in 2019. Mostly, I hate that I see so much “fog and floaters” (due to PVD). My dry eyes are a constant struggle and the “fog” was probably related to this.
However, since I’ve had this awhile, my insight was that it has not terribly impacted me. I can still paint, edit music, drive, and even play tennis. Hopefully, it won’t worsen.
This was just another hurdle to add to my list of “aging complaints.” But . . .
Just look at what I am able to still do!
My post title “You Are My Wings” definitely relates to many aspects of my life right now. But with “You Are My Wings,” who is the YOU? I will share my answer at the end of this post.
My most recent painting is named “Hummingbird and Hydrangea.”
It was blissful to paint, and I loved how the hummingbird held tinges of so many colors, especially the purple mirrored by the hydrangea. My painting required incredible patience, due to hundreds of tiny water droplets. For several weeks, I was content to paint a petal or two each day. (More about my technical process is on my other blog “Illustrating My Life”)
I have chosen to look at this time in my life as one of following my dream – of nurturing my creative abilities through art, music, and writing. Even when I’m not doing anything, I release myself from pressure, because I am simply recharging for my next creative burst.
I began to write this post with a few other ideas for titles, all lyric lines from “You Are My Wings.” Here they are:
“I Never Dreamed It’d Happen To Me”
“You’ve Sent Me Soaring”
“My Heart’s Taken Flight”
I chose “You Are My Wings” because it fit well to share my hummingbird painting. But there was no denying the excitement I’m about to share.
I see flying as an analogy to feeling joyful. I am very happy at the moment, because I received a lovely letter back from Barbra Streisand!
Last October, I mailed her a package with a custom 11×14 maze portrait, as well as my book “Beside Me Always.” I patiently looked forward to getting a response back.
I had already received a lovely letter from her foundation before, so I had confidence I would eventually hear something. I knew my maze was definitely unusual.
Every day, I noticed I was uncharacteristically eager to get my mail. And then I opened my mailbox and there was an envelope from her two days ago. I was surprised that I didn’t rush to open it; I felt like I needed to do a few things first.
I undressed and got into my pajamas. I went into the kitchen for a glass of water. I sat down and stared at the envelope for a long time – fingering it and turning it over a few times. I wondered why I was taking my time with it.
I realized that without opening it, there were still endless possibilities to imagine.I didn’t want to break the spell with the reality of those exact words.
I had no expectations when I created my maze of where it would lead. I certainly didn’t even know if I could truly capture Barbra with a medium I hadn’t used for over 40 years.
Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer. I gingerly used a letter opener to slit the envelope and reveal my letter.
What a magnificent surprise!
The wording was so thoughtful. My maze was described as mesmerizing. I was incredulous to learn it was hanging in Barbra’s home office. But complimenting my book and mentioning my deceased son Jason, really blew my mind. This was truly exceptional kindness and compassion.
I was leaping out of my skin with excitement and began to share my joy with friends and family. All the money in the world couldn’t compare to this feeling; this was my reward.
I sent my good news to a dear friend and our exchange was very inspirational. Anita and I went to high school, but don’t see each other often. But I always text her weekly to share about my live acoustic guitar performances on Insight Timer.
Our exchange shines a light on how I live to create versus promote. I prefer to inspire vs. monetize.
In the midst of a chaotic period of time last week, your mazes came into my mind. I thought, “Judy should put a book together and release her mazes!”
And then I thought about your other artwork. I thought about how you do your music every week and just get better and better.
And I realized, if Judy isn’t showing you what to do, Anita, no one else will. So, I’ve decided to work less and get back on my path to being an artist. You have been an inspiration and a source of guidance for me, Judy.
I’ve been off-track for decades. And your text this morning is confirmation from the universe that not only have you gifted me with your artistry, you’ve also been a teacher. Thank you very much. I’m getting to it!
Oh, Anita, you’ve touched my heart so deeply! I never imagined sending my live links to you would lead to such a lovely connection.
Nothing could make me happier than to imagine you getting back to your artistry. It has been a gift for me to explore my creativity at this stage in my life. I realize the impermanence of it – especially with my eyesight. This time is incredibly precious.
Time spent promoting vs. creating is a tough call. I have faith in the universe that the time will come when my art and music will magically expand in unknown ways. But even if I touch only a few people deeply – that is enough for me. I do dream that someday I might reach many more people. And yet, I’m perfectly fine living the life I have without that. What a blessing that is!
I’m so happy with what you wrote and look forward to hearing more about your creative exploration.
Judy, I hear you loud and clear. This week, I decided I’ve had enough of working and need to get back to my art. It’s always been work, work, work and making money – never enough about art.
You’re so right about our physical strength diminishing daily. And you are doubly correct about honoring the time that we have to do it. I feel like I’m starting from scratch. But damn the marketing – I’m with you.
Art will find its way to where it needs to go.
It’s our job to bring it forth.
On behalf of Barbra Streisand and The Streisand Foundation, thank you so much for sending the breathtaking maze-portrait (original and print)! We are all entranced by it!
We hope you will enjoy knowing that Ms. Streisand was completely intrigued and impressed by your artwork and will be putting it up at her home office.
The portrait is truly beautiful, mesmerizing, and layered with meaning. Absolutely stunning!
Additionally, your book is incredibly heartfelt and evocative. Truly, Jason is always with you in your art, music, writing, and poetic expressions.
As before, your correspondence was received with great appreciation. Thank you so much, Judy, for sharing your gifts with us.
1) the artistic and musical gifts I was born with. But, I have given a gift to myself by exploring them in any way I choose.
2) my vulnerability and willingness to open my heart.
3) the resulting beautiful connections I have made with other hearts that uplift and support me.