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Monday, September 24, 2012

A September Story

It's hard to believe I've let summer say goodbye and barely whispered hello to Autumn without writing much this month.  Amazing how in a blink of an eye, life will pass you by.  We've had a month or so of birthday celebrations, first at the end of August my youngest lil man turned 12.
His Dad wanted it to be a special birthday so we celebrated twice, once with his friends which got a little dampened in our original plans to do a day at the water park because of the rain...rain..rain...all summer it's seemed, and then a little detour because of my car transmission going while out with the boys in our plan b-but his Dad saved the day by being on call just in case something happened..and it did so it was a good thing to have plan b..or maybe it was plan c because we were already on plan b because of the rain.  Josh was happy, I was happy that the day wasn't foiled and we pretty much celebrated all week for little man in other ways.   The next Sunday, the day before school started here we finished our birthday celebrations with a BBQ with family and friends at our house.
It's funny how while in the moment, you sometimes forget how special and meaningful these times are and absolutely should be.  They forge memories and imprint in our minds just how important it is to stop...stop for a minute and take in all the things we are grateful for, all the PEOPLE we are grateful for and how each one of those people make a mark on our lives.    This was just over a month ago but yet it seems like it was a year ago in so many ways.   So much has changed in just a month.
The bbq was held for Josh's birthday with his father at the helm, buying most of the stuff for the celebration because that's just how he was, he took care of so many people and he wanted his son to have a great time and a wonderful birthday.   We weren't together but he was definitely a big part of our family and one of my best friends.    Holidays and birthdays had always been his favorite time, he always used to call our family dysfunction but WTF it   Never held back or minced his words.  It was a guy thing he said. 

We moved into September and I knew it was going to be a whirlwind of events for us all as we had another birthday to oldest boy turning 18 mid month and I had a lot of artsy commitments coming up from traveling to California to classes online starting, going to CT in October,  as well as GA and a couple other little trips in between. The first little one was traveling to Southport on September 5th to pick up one of my paintings that had sold that was in a gallery down there and for my friend Jean and I to switch out work. Our plan was to get started early in the day and to drop by a few other galleries we had work in in addition to stopping at the Painted Mermaid to pick up my work.  But it seemed like the day was against us from the get go. I had been up late that night before dealing with an issue that seemed to keep resurfacing at the most in opportune times..and Jean had car trouble that delayed her early arrival and then her son was left at the bus stop in our never ending issue with buses around here.  Eventually we made our way to the coast, late as it was in the morning but time enough for us to eat lunch and then head back and make it home just before her son was running cross country and me in home in time for Josh to return from school.
(the painting I was picking up on our journey that day)
It seems like when Jean and I are in the car traveling as we have done so many times this year we have the best conversations. We are there, in the moment, listening and coming up with the best ideas or solving the world problems, or at least our little corner of the world problems.  That days conversation was 80% about Josh's dad that day...funny because it wasn't a topic of conversation that we normally focus on but perhaps because it was just Josh's birthday and we all just had been together for the BBQ the prior week...and it was imprinted on her mind how much he loved his son but also loved my son from my marriage, not only that...he wanted to include Zach's Dad's new kids in on the fun he was planning for the boys in October (they were all going to a wrestling match in Charlotte) so no one was left out.  The memories imprinted from that party were all fresh in our mind and it was worth revisiting, talking about, and discussing how meaningful it was that our family worked like it did despite the obstacles of having a blended family due to separations and people moving on...we were still together in our own dysfunctional way and it was unique but heartwarming to see in action.   
 (Life is short....make it Sweet.....)

As Jean and I were heading back home during the 2 and half hour trip, I was feeling distracted and taking wrong turns which is very unlike me. I normally never get lost and am right on target with our many trips.   I remember telling Jean that you know when things like this happen, its Gods way of keeping you from being somewhere for some reason, you know like when you see an accident happening and you know if you had been there just 15 seconds earlier, it would have been you?  Then onward we traveled after we got back on the right track after taking a few unexpected detours. Time was closing in because of the wrong turns. We might not make it back for her sons cross country meet but it was still close...a possibility.  It was then when we last discussed being close on time that we noticed a text on Jean's phone from me...only it wasn't me it was Josh and his name was under mine on her phone. He had been trying to reach me multiple times as were other people. There was an emergency at hand....only at the time we didn't realize how dire it was.  I felt it though as did she. I pulled over and made what seemed like a million phone calls and felt helpless because  we were still an hour or so from home.   Josh's Dad was in the hospital in Charleston which was three hours in the other direction for what was apparently a heart attack which occurred at work.  
When you aren't the immediate family member, its really hard to get information from the hospital but it was because they knew that Josh was only 12 and I am his mother that they told us he was in guarded condition. I knew as soon as Jean and I got back to the house I would grab our stuff, and Josh and I and my friend Linda would head to Charleston to be with him during his recovery.   I got home and a tree had fallen in our yard...and a crow flew by and it just gave me an eerie feeling that I refused to accept.  It took us a few minutes to gather our belongings but got back on the road after refueling and headed on our way to Charleston.  It wasn't but a mile or two down the road that we received a phone call that I'll never forget.  It was already too late.  I parked and answered the call outside of the truck while my son stayed in the back seat quietly doing his homework.  When after what seemed like a half hour of talking to my Mom trying to muster the courage to pass on the worst news I could ever possibly imagine to my little one, I had to do it....and suddenly it was at that moment life changed for us all.  
Our hearts have been forever broken....and its taking and will take some time to pick up the pieces.  Admittedly I've had to make some hard choices, almost immediately as soon as this all happened and I'm still making hard choices about the direction we should all go in, what should we stop, what should we start, what should we continue. It's so confusing yet after a period of rest and soulful reflection, the one thing that is ever more apparent, is that life is short. Life can change in an instant and does change in an instant.  My son is handling things so well, I can't tell you how proud I am.  But I want to be sure he's not afraid to talk about it because there are so many good things about his Dad and all of our lives together that we don't want to forget even if it does make us sad for a moment.     It also makes me think about  how grateful I am that during my life, I have had the opportunity to do so many things on my 'bucket' list...especially this year.  Josh and I talked about doing other things, not big amazing things that may or may not be out of reach but things that we can make happen and should make happen.  Why wait.....why put off what is right there for you to see or do right now or soon?  
So much of life requires us to work hard and make a living and keep pushing forward, but what about the joy in just standing still....being quiet....laughing.....making memories with those you love....doing things that you can do if you just would take a break.....what about doing things to make your dreams happen? What about taking time to enjoy the holidays and not worry if you got all the dust off the top molding in the room on the side of the house that no one goes into anyway....we are all gathering in the kitchen and indulging on the cake balls that went haywire despite our best attempts and laughing at the awkward dessert that someone had  the brilliant idea to make this year...what about really sitting down at the Thanksgiving table and truly giving thanks to the one above for all the blessings and eat slowly to enjoy every morsel we are fortunate to taste.  Take to one kind...give where you can...and never forget, today is all we are promised.  Don't got to bed mad or without saying goodnight, I love you.   
I started out wanting to tell you about the classes I have coming up and I still want to tell you about this but I also wanted to explain why I've been away, why I've had to be quiet...yet still carry on.  I wanted to share with you revelations I've had with the changes that have occurred over the last month in our family and I wanted to be sure to tell you to stop for a moment...and look around...and be grateful. The trick is to continue to be grateful when time passes because you know it time goes on we fall into or back into routines until something else happens that shakes us from the core of our being back into the reality. I don't want to fall backward anymore.  It's not going to be easy to go on, but it's necessary...but you can go on in a different way and that's my intention for us all.  
With that said....I am going back to artwork after taking time off this month to just reflect, do family business that has been necessitated,  and to most of all be there for my son.   My first project which is being re-released this week over at Creative Workshops, is my Sweet Art Class....yes life is sweet! Despite our hardships and sorrows, we can paint our life happy in a sense and celebrate all that is good in the world, because there really is so much. I hope you can join us in this fun filled class!  Every online class is a little different but for this class, it will be an open ended class with full access to all the material from day one so there won't be any deadlines, you can work at your own pace 24/7 days a week.   Class begins TUESDAY 9/25...more information and registration info can be found HERE.

Also launching this week is my highly anticipated class over at Luminarte's Online Arte Village,  Painterly in Pink!  This class will be a slightly different format that my previous classes in that the class will roll out over the course of 6 weeks. New lessons and videos each week as we lay the foundation to our two main projects featuring the Silk acrylic glazes and a few twinkling h2os in shades of pink (or shades of whatever you want..haha)...the do ave 25 new colors launching this week so its going to be hard to stick to a single color palette...but doing so in pink for me was because of another project I had finished before designing this class--which was that put on by Cloth Paper Scissors, for their Sept/Oct 'Pink' issue.  Over 30 artist got together and donated artwork for Breast Cancer awareness month which is in October. My painting inspired this class because I used a lot of Silks and thought how fun it would be to teach the technique (and more for others).
Read more about the project here and or buy this issue at most major bookstores or news stands today!.......hey check out the top right...there's my painting peeking out on the cover! woot woot! 

Back to Painterly in Pink....the launch of this class starts FRIDAY! 9/28 and with new lessons and assignments loaded each week; but thereafter, the class will remain open for you to review and revisit the videos time and time again over the next 12 months.  
The other really really cool thing about this class is that with every purchase, you will receive a coupon for 30.00 that can be redeemed at the Luminarte shop to assist you with buying paints for this class and if you want, other items in the shop!
NOTE...when you register, you will receive a welcome/invitation email as well as a second email with the coupon code enclosed which is individual for you and you only.  Sometimes these emails get thrown into the spam folder for certain email servers so double check there if you don't see both messages.
More info on registration can be found HERE!
Hope to see you in class!

Sadly with everything going on this month and the sudden death in our family I did have to let go of one of my commitments which was to join the amazing Art Is You family in Petaluma, was such a hard decision because I really hate to let people is really not in my nature to do that but it was too soon to leave my son and too far to go away at this time. I am however going to their next retreat in October, which is in Stamford, hard as it is to go away,  this IS my job and profession so I must carry on for my son, our life and of course be there for my students.  For a full listing of my classes, checkout my October section of my Workshop Page found HERE. I still have a few slots available in each class if you'd like to join us in person.  Yes, we will laugh, cry, bond, paint, have fun and be there for eachother on this creative journey, I promise!
I'd love to give a special shout out to Sal and Ellen who run the Art Is You Retreats, they have been so kind and generous to me in their understanding of my difficult decision and situation, that it truly is a testament how art can bring people together and make the world a better place, one person at a time. Your acts of kindness not just to me, but to so many others that have become part of the family have made a mark in this world and will never be forgotten. Oddly enough, a couple of months ago they sent me an invitation to speak during the Sunday morning breakfast in Stamford for the event called "Breakfast of the Brave"...I'm on the panel as one of the 'brave' ones with a story to tell. I hardly feel brave right now....and out of everyone to pick I wondered why they would choose me....but it's apparently one of those life mysteries that just happens because...who knows why, but it apparently something I need to do and it may not even be for me, but maybe one of my stories or something I may say may help someone else believe in their own bravery when they barely have enough strength to get up out of bed or carry on because...because...of their own life situation. I understand. I've been there. I'm getting back up and as scared as I am to be on the talk about a subject I feel I have no business talking about is brave in its own way. 
Thank you...thank you...Sal and Ellen again for guiding us along like art angels.  You are all loved very much.
This has turned into a short story rather than a blog post.  Thank you for those of you who have stuck with me and have listened as I shared the story of September.
Last but not least....I must say thank you to the most important people in my life which are my family, my immediate family and my extended family...those of you know who you have given me strength when I needed it, showed compassion for the boys and showered us all with love that have helped us carry on when we thought we could not move forward one more inch.
For that...I am forever grateful and can hardly express how blessed I am.
....thank you all again for having a cuppa whatever with me and for sharing in this journey. 
Artfully yours,

Jodi Ohl


carlanda brown williamson said...

jodi, this is a great and sad story. you are brave and so is josh. i love you!

Maureen Hayes said...


I am so sorry for your loss and will be keeping you and your entire family in thoughts and prayers.


Dawn said...

Jodi I wish I was going to AIY this year to give you a hug. You are Brave, truly brave and I can so understand why you are speaking at the Breakfast. You were brave to follow your dream and make art your career. You are so brave in how you are handling all that has happened this month.
Love you dearly, keep the faith and take all the support you can from friends and family xxx

Jean Skipper said...

Well said, Jodi. Your willingness to share your story, your spirit, and your artwork will continue to inspire others. <3