Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

Grief From Moment to Moment

I knew grief was coming. I’ve felt grief many times before. It always feels distinctly like grief, yet no grieving situation ever unfurls and flows in similar fashion.

I am speaking specifically of grief felt when a loved dies. One can grieve the loss of a job or a home but those losses, for me, tend to bring forth an entirely different type of grieving.

My maternal grandmother died yesterday. Although she lived two provinces away we were still close. We became even closer after my Mom, her eldest daughter, died in early 2014. We both took her death very hard and struggled a great deal.

Yesterday I felt as though I should feel sadder, be more upset. I cried when I told my husband very early in the morning. He held me as I swiped at my eyes and tried to breath deeply and fully. Mostly I felt glad she’d gone quickly, with minimal suffering and I felt glad I’d told her many times how special she was to me and how much I loved her.

My husband and I had lunch with my father and his lady-friend yesterday afternoon. We laughed and talked and my appetite seemed normal. I suppose the only thing not normal was how guilty I felt for feeling so normal.

Later on I suddenly felt incredibly irritable. I snapped at my husband, immediately apologised, snapped again, apologised, and lathered, rinsed, repeated until I was in tears for behaving so poorly and he was bewildered.

We watched a movie I chose and I complained about how terrible it was the whole way through. I stomped upstairs after the film and shuttered myself in my art studio. I was, at once, angry at myself for choosing such a shitty flick and annoyed at my husband for insisting we finish it.

I decided to take part in a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge suggested by an old friend and fellow artist and participant. I completed a small abstract piece last night and found myself going from soothed to impatient as though riding a pendulum as I worked. I was satisfied with the finished painting and surprised how much the colouring and style reminded me of my Grandmother.

My sleep was wrought with tossing and turning. I woke up really early for coffee but found myself dosing off an hour later and returning to bed for rest of the morning.

For the rest of today I’ve found myself on an un-merry-go-round of irritable, sentimental, guilty, confused, and numb. This is what grieving my Grandmother feels like so far.

I’ve also found myself with a sour stomach, a sweet tooth, shakier hands than usual, and struggling to cope with higher than usual pain levels.

I never would have predicted this would be how I’d feel. I’m doing my best to surf the emotional waves rather than fight them but it’s difficult as I keep feeling as though I’m not doing this right and I know that’s not possible.

I’ve learned we all experience grief differently and grieving will be a different experience every time. So I’ll just keep trying to honour my grandmother’s memory as best I can and honour my feelings as they ebb and flow. If there’s ever a time to go easy on myself and practice self-love and self-care it’s now.



My Grandmother is Dying and I’m Really F#*king Sad/Mad

I started this blog to help me deal with that which brings me down and to figure out ways of lifting me, and perhaps others, up. The irony is, when my life is at its shittiest, I stop writing. I figure it’s best not to analyse a storm til I’m on the other side of it.

I call bullshit on myself. BULLSHIT! The truth is, my life is rather messy right now and I do need to write about it.

My maternal grandmother, the only grandparent I have left, my dead Mom’s Mom, is dying and it’s all happening much faster than I want to cope with.

The Ank ring on my upper right ring finger was given to my Mom by her family for her 21st birthday. She wore it nearly every day and since she died I have worn it nearly every day. On my pinky finger is a ring given to my Grandmother on her 21st birthday. My Grandmother handed it down to me on my 21st birthday. I have worn it on many special occasions since receiving it.

Cancer, insidious bastard that it is, snuck in and went to work all over causing my Grandmother pain and neausea increasingly over the past few months. By the time the Drs figured out what was going on they delivered news she’d likely be moving on from our world in a matter of weeks, months at best.

Recently I flew out to visit with her in the hospital for five days and, although it was difficult, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time holding her hand and quietly talking to her about good memories and I made sure to tell her how much I love her.

Now I am home and I’m dealing with some stupid personal health issues on top of the usual chronic pain crap and depression/anxiety thang. So that’s awesome. I’m trying to do all the shiney, happy, lovey, dovey, “stay positive” crap but staying positive can be so fucking annoying!

My grandmother is dying and I’m pissed about it. Sure she’s 89 and she’s had a good long life but that doesn’t mean I’m ready for her to die.

Who will send me birthday, Christmas, and wedding anniversary cards with military precision every year? Who will tell me stories about my Mom? Who will keep me apprised of how everyone in the family is doing even if I occasionally haven’t the faintest idea who she’s talking about?

She’s irreplaceable and I’m sad she’s going but for now she’s still alive. I keep reminding myself of that. I can still call her and I can still make her laugh, thank goodness.

It felt really good to get all of that off my chest. I even feel a little less angry. I’m glad by writing about my Grandmother I reminded myself there’s still time and I need to take advantage of every moment I have left with her.

I’m happy I wrote this instead of continuing to retreat inwards, forgetting about the cathatic gift this blog offers me.


Panic Attack Drawing

After deciding to take a crack at using the drawing prompt #fear from #sketchbookskool on Instagram today I thought of what makes me fearful and immediately thought of panic attacks. Thus I decided to try and draw what a panic attack feels like to me. Here’s how my drawing turned out…


Panic Attacks as a Child

My heart pounds so heavily it reverberates through my entire body. This feels terrifying and only adds to the worries bringing me to this elevated state of arousal.

I am supposed to be sleeping but it’s clear relaxation is a ship long since sailed and I am stranded on an island of anxiety. My mind races. On this night one small worry has become a storm and soon swirls into a fucking tsunami.

This particular tsunami is not a current concern. It is a memory of a string of my very first panic attacks. Awww, such sweet and special memories😛

I didn’t experience a lot of anxiety attacks until my late 20’s and 30’s but the more I consider the first pushing of my panic button the earlier in life I can recall it happening.

When I was around 9 years old we were studying World War 2 and the holocaust in school. I was also reading Anne Frank Diary of a Young Girl. The more I learned the more disturbed I felt.

I cried in my mother’s arms for ages when I finished the book. I couldn’t, still can’t, comprehend the hatred shown for differences that shouldn’t matter. We’re all human and no one person is better or more valuable than another.

I lay awake many a night terrified of World War 3, the possibility of conscription, concentration camps, torture, and the possibility of the end of the world. I shook with fear, sobbed into my pillow, felt the terror of hyperventilation, and I was tormented by nightmares bringing all my fears to life.

My parents spent a lot of time reassuring me that WW3 wasn’t nigh. They were also real with me. They told me the holocaust was an unforgivable crime against humanity and that many people, including Anne Frank and most of her family, had died painfully and needlessly.

I often worried my father would be conscripted and have to go fight in a war or that we’d be forced into a death camp and be gassed in a “shower” room. I was scared a dictator would come to power and slowly strip our country of rights and freedom. The more I learned about the 2nd world war the more I feared hubris, ignorance,and forgetfulness would plunge our world into a similar state of chaos.

Perhaps my fears were over the top and incredibly dramatic for a 9 year old but my Mom and Dad listened to my concerns patiently, gave me honest answers to difficult questions, and they reassured me with logic and reasoning rather than empty platitudes. They also didn’t tell me to stop reading and learning so intently. To help reassure and encourage me they kissed me, held me tightly and told me they loved me.

Looking back I still feel the fear and panic that came with learning about such a difficult and terrifying subject. I cannot even imagine how awful it would have been to have lived during that time. I don’t regret the learning for one second though. Some subjects are scary but we cannot sensor education just because it’s frightening. We must remember to learn from the mistakes of the past.

I think my parents did a commendable job dealing with my first panic attacks and many more to follow. The fact that I suffer from panic attacks is nobodys fault. My Mom and Dad did a great job making sure I felt safe and loved even if panic seized and I am forever grateful for this.

My hope is this will reassure others that although difficult subjects may lead to difficult times we shouldn’t be ashamed of fear or avoid learning. Sometimes the only way to cross a river is to swim no matter how swift the churning current and rollicking rapids.

What are your thoughts about panic attacks or any other psychological challenges during childhood? I’d love to hear any stories or advice.


Dad’s Logic Bomb

Conversation with my Dad…

Me: I heard an argument that a woman shouldn’t breast feed her child in public because people won’t know where to look if they’re trying to hold a conversation with her. What do you think?

My Dad and I many years ago. I often say he’s the first feminist I ever met.

Dad: That’s a rediculous argument. I know exactly where I’d look.

Me: Oh yeah, where’s that?

Dad: I’d look her right in the EYE of course.



Radical Self Honesty – Confessions of a Raging Feminist

I don’t recall not being a feminist. The word was rarely bestowed on me with admiration or kindness though. For the most part, people seemed to treat me as though I were fighting a battle no longer in need of champions. I knew this to be bullshit and I didn’t really care how weird or unpopular it made me.

Part of my non-digital Tori Amos collection

All I wanted was equality but I was constantly ridiculed and seen as a whiner for pointing out obvious inequities. I don’t recall pretending to soften my feminist views to some degree until my late teens.

As a 90’s girl through and through if I was asked to name my favourite musicians I’d quickly rattle off; Sarah MacLachlan, Alanis Morisette, Chantel Kreviazuk, Madonna, and Ani Difranco.

Usually my answer would be followed by an eye roll and a knowing look, “So, you’re some sort of raging feminist then? Are you a lesbian? I suppose you like Tori Amos too?”

At the time I didn’t know much about Tori’s music. I just knew she was considered to be the ultimate raging feminist musician.

“No, I’m not THAT much of a feminist!”

As I was saying these words I knew I was repressing something I felt incredibly strong about for the sake of fitting in. It felt extremely wrong inside. It felt like I wasn’t being honest with myself.

Even if someone suggested, with great sincerity, I’d probably really like Tori I just tamped down the urge to check her out. Hands on my hips, shaking my head and stomping my foot, “I just can’t go that far.”

I think I knew at the time that I would fall in love with her and then there’d be no coming back from planet feminist for me. I’d have to publicly plant my flag in the ground and let the haters hate even more than they already did. So I just argued my views until someone called me out as a crazy feminist, then I’d feel compelled to shut up and back down.

By the time I finally caved and was introduced to Tori in 1999 I was beyond ready for her. I needed her. It started with Under the Pink, Tori’s second album. A friend lent it to me and I think I listened to the album on repeat for the next two months. I was hooked. This woman was not just a feminist icon she was femininity incarnate in her performances.

Tori helped me to untangle all my insecurities about being a woman, a human, and showed me I wasn’t alone. She told me, through her music, that being a woman was just as important as being a man and that being a feminist is nothing to be ashamed of. She reminded me to be creative no matter the opinion of others, to be as eccentric as I felt nessasary (in my case a lot. Lol), to love wholeheartedly, and to speak out against inequality – any inequality.

Hearing her voice empowered me, emboldened me, encouraged me. Her music continues to be a strong source of inspiration, reminding me to stand strong in sisterhood and keep fighting to make sure women of the future need not suffer the inequities of the past.

I stopped tying to hide my feminist views long ago and I’ll never again push my beliefs down. My point is not to emphasize the importance of feminism – I’d say that’s pretty fucking obvious – but to emphasize the importance of embracing who you are at all costs.

Don’t hold yourself down for anyone. It’s not worth it. Stand up for what you believe in. There is so much to be achieved through radical honesty with yourself and radical empathy for others.


Spinning Sky Series

Here is another painting from my Spinning Sky Series. I have titled this one, Drama’s Brewing. Painted with acrylic on canvas.


Sinking Like a Sunset

Today I finished a piece to go with a collection of circular themed acrylic paintings I been working on. I’ve decided to call this one, Sinking Like a Sunset.

Check out my Instagram feed for more art stills and videos showing details of this piece and others finished and in the works…@perkreaions

As I painted I kept hearing the 90’s power balled, Sinking Like a Sunset, by Tom Cochrane. It whirled round in my brain, to the point it drowned out whatever I was actually listening too. I’m not sure I understand why. I haven’t heard that song in years.

Whatever the reason I sure am thankful to Tom Cochrane for inspiring me with such a great song. I experimented with new textures and dripping techniques with this piece. I allowed myself to stray from the formula I’d used on previous paintings in the collection. This one is very different but I still think it fits. It’s a stretch, but a stretch I’m very happy with.

It’s always nice to finish a painting hearing that sense that comes from somewhere secret, deep inside, and says, “stop! This is where this one ends.”

If I fail to listen and press on with my brush, fighting past my intuition, I’ll soon find I’ve overworked it and it’s past the point of no return. This type of piece generally ends up in the gesso pile. I’ll wipe it back to white and start anew someday.

If I listen to my instincts and stop, I stand back to contemplate and look from different angles. I can’t help but smile as I nod and initial my work. I’m glad I stopped when I did.

I’m proud of this painting. This collection has become more and more cathartic, challenging, and emotional the more I paint. I’m so thankful to have this medium as a creative outlet. I cannot imagine my life without art🎨

Check out other pieces from my Spinning Sky Series as well as videos and stills of other art, on my Instagram feed @perkreations 💖


Part 2: Welcome to the Psych Ward

I feel as though I’m on my way to loving myself a little more each day and trying to manage my pain levels, depression, and anxiety a little bit better. But there is a story I have to tell about what I saw and learned and felt during my time in the psych ward because telling is cathartic for me and hopefully helpful to others.

You might be wondering what brought me to the point where I decided I would be better off checked into the Psych Ward than at home. The answer both simple and complicated. I’m going to give you the simple answer and leave out the complicated because I’d like to keep this writing sharp and uncluttered.

The Moms birthday in late November. This seems to be a tipping point for me, where if I’ve been teetering on the edge of deep depression I feel compelled to dive on in.

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