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Art for Healing Grief (Just Not on a Workday)

sawyer chasing demons velvet grief painting

One of my bright ideas turned into one of the dumbest things I ever tried to do. The bright idea was to start my next art therapy project one morning before work. The topic was “spirit,” which I thought was innocuous enough, no?

Since Mom is cleaning out her basement and had sent me a box of greeting cards she’s saved since I was born, I thought the cards would make a fantastic collage to show the “spirit” of love, the “spirit” of family and friends, and the “spirit” of the many dearly departed whose signatures punctuated the well wishes.

Twenty minutes into the project, I was a weeping mess.

It only got worse from there.

Dang Sneaky Grief

Let’s just say the topic of “spirit” quickly turned into a study in grief. I was grieving my grandparents, great-grandparents, and people I didn’t even remember who signed some of the cards because I was sure they must be dead by now. I was grieving my dad. The departed family cat. The lost innocence of every baby that eventually grows up and becomes yet another cynical adult.

That project is currently on hold, as I still had a lineup of work assignments to complete for the week. But I did learn a valuable lesson: art is great for healing grief – just not on a workday.

Thinking back, every grief-related art project had been painful while it was in the works. Three that immediately come to mind include:

  • A velvet painting of dog Sawyer chasing demons, created a year after he died
  • A velvet painting of dog Dini as an angel bumblebee, created several months after she died
  • A happy heaven spider created from my dad’s hip and knee replacement parts, created several months after he died
  • An ugly green and black painting thing with the word “grief” created while Sawyer was dying

Aside from the painting that actually reads “grief,” the other projects weren’t created with the intention of healing grief. It just kind of worked out that way.

They were immensely painful as they were being created. But once I allowed the pain to fully and wholly flood the entire essence of my being as I was actively creating, it somehow lessened.

Art has a groovy way of providing relief from depression, anxiety, fears, anger – and yes, even grief. Even when I’m creating memorial art for others, I can somehow feel the load of woes lightening.

But Doesn’t It Hurt to Look at the Grief Art?

Once the flood of grief has saturated your soul and the tide eventually subsides, you can even bear to look at the art you’ve created during that dark moment. Heck, you can even come to enjoy it.

  • Sawyer chasing demons is now the central piece in the living room, complete with its own personal light, making me happy that Sawyer found something to do in heaven
  • Dini on velvet buzzes happily beneath Sawyer, as she always was the second fiddle
  • Dad’s happy heavenly spider sits pertly near my nightstand, reminding me Dad’s spirit is with me from the moment I wake up to the moment I head to bed
  • The ugly green and black grief painting thing? That’s in the garage somewhere. I think. It was painful to look at. Not because it brought back the memories of grieving, but just because it’s so dang ugly.

I’m sure my finished “spirit” collage will likewise find its place when complete. Its next installment will just have to wait for a day where I don’t have six assignments lined up to compete with my wailing and tears.

dog dini on velvet memorial pet painting
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Art Therapy Project: COMMUNITY = Lionfish

Here comes another art therapy project, which always produces some insightful stuff.

  • Topic: Community
  • Result: Lionfish made of metal, glue, hardened clay blob, screw eyes and paint

Artist comments:

I thought I was being really clever here, creating a fish where each spike/fin thing represented a different community to which I belong. We got the artist community, writer community, Reiki community, girlfriend community, sister community, daughter community, dog lover community and so on.

When I was done, however, I realized my creation for the topic of community was a poisonous fish that pretty much kills anything that comes near it. Hahahahhaah.

Told you this was insightful stuff.

Too bad I’ll be missing the group session on this topic as I’ll be out of town. What a doozy that one would be!

Enjoy!

Like rynski art? Go ahead and buy some.

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4 Ways to Stop Bird Crashes into Windows

bird strike prevention sign

Whether you live in a New York City high rise or a Tucson one-story house, birds always seem to find a way to hurl themselves at whatever windows you may have. Not only does the bird strike’s sickening “thump” tend to interrupt whatever you’re doing, but it also startles the dogs and often leaves a dead, injured or completely stunned bird lying on the ground.

And even birds that are merely stunned can quickly end up injured or dead once the dogs head out to investigate what made the sickening thump.

I recently saved a colorful tanager from certain death after he crashed into our Tucson door wall and then sat at the base of it having what looked like panic attack. He was panting like a freight engine. His eyes were the size of saucers. And his beak was frozen open in an ongoing grimace.

He was so out of it he let me pick gently pick him up and place him on the patio table, away from the certain death from dogs zone. There he sat panting for at least an hour, pooping at least once, until he finally gathered his wits back enough to hop onto a nearby oleander branch.

I vowed I would do whatever I could to make sure this would not happen again. So I checked out some options to prevent bird strikes into windows. Here’s what I found:

Remove the Windows

While this could work if you live in a climate that doesn’t rain, snow, dip below 72 degrees, or have insects, removing the windows is not a feasible option in most cases. Besides, you’d still have gaping openings in your walls what would beckon birds to fly on in. If you think a tanager pooping once on a patio table is bad, you should see what the average bird can do to your living room carpet.

Feasibility score (1 to 10): 0

Cover the Windows

Exterior shades could cover the window glass, as could meaty chunks of plywood or flat, black paint. But do you really want to sit around in the dark all day?

Feasibility score (1 to 10): 2 (if you don’t mind the dark)

Try Bird Strike Window Decals

  • This is the option I initially wanted to try, although it did take some time to find decals that:
  • Weren’t in the shape of birds, butterflies or some other fru fru design
  • Weren’t ugly white
  • Didn’t resemble those things you stick in bathtubs to stop from slipping
  • Looked attractive from the exterior as well as the interior

I ended up ordering two different decal sets, a cool-looking mandala and a circle-spiral-ey thing.

One issue I was already expecting to encounter was longevity. Other window decals have peeled, faded and otherwise fallen prey to window washing, constant sun and other elements and ailments to which exterior windows are regularly exposed.

The other issue was the wait. The cool spiral-ey set was coming all the way from Germany and would take at least 10 days to arrive. After witnessing the panic of the tanager, I knew I couldn’t wait a single second to put something in place. So I moved on to the next solution.

Feasibility score (1 to 10): 5

Bird Crash Prevention Sign

Since I’m already making loads of weather-resistant, metal yard art, making a bird strike prevention sign came pretty easy. Steps included:

  1. Cutting a bird shape out of metal, filing edges, sanding and drilling top hole
  2. Picking text that would let birds know this sign was for them
  3. Painting one side with metallics to give the bird’s a head’s up not to head here
  4. Painting the other side with an image I felt like looking at all day long in my kitchen
  5. Adding a chain so the sign could hang from the top of the window frame from a clip, nail or whatever else I decided to secure it to

The end result was a bird crash prevention sign that has been a huge hit – not in the literal sense but in the sense of working wonderfully.

As noted in the bird crash prevention sign Etsy description:

Only one bird came close to crashing into the window since I installed the sign about two weeks back. He was heading for the glass at high speed, but then slowed down enough when he saw the sign to change course and only make a “tap” noise instead of a “SPLAT.”

I KNEW birds could read English. Not a bird crash, bird bash or bird strike since!

Thus I’d definitely vote for a unique sign that lasts for years, can be moved to different windows, cities or time zones as needed, and ensures birds get the message that you love them and want to keep them safe.

Feasibility score (1 to 10): 10

Get creative and make your own double-sided bird crash prevention sign – or buy one from ryndustries. Either way, the birds will thank you.

bird strike prevention sign
bird strike prevention sign (back)
bird strike prevention sign
bird strike prevention sign (front)
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I Never Met a Dog I Didn’t Like – Until I Met Gillespie

jerky dog meme

Who is Gillespie?

Gillespie was this chunky little ornery dog we met at the dog park. He was a real jerk.

What made him jerky?

He followed us around snarling. Then he tried to get between my own dogs and me, snarling at them if they came near me. Then he incessantly sniffed butts while snarling some more. He finally snarled one too many times in my dog Gigi’s face and Gigi attacked him.

Then what happened?

Then we left.

What were Gillespie’s owners doing during all this?

Just sitting there on a bench. They finally said the dog’s name after the attack. Maybe to prevent another one?

Or maybe they wanted Gillespie to get attacked and killed so they didn’t have to bring him back home.

No, people can’t be that cruel – even with a jerky dog.

So what should people do if they have a jerky dog?

Not bring him out in public.

And warn any visitors to the home that a jerky dog is on the property.

You mean they should buy one of your custom dog signs on Etsy?

You bet! This one works:

obnoxious dog sing
obnoxious dog on property

Buy one now (even if your dog is not a jerk).

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Finally at Peace: Greg Gargulinski, Nov. 17, 1946 to July 12, 2016

dad me

A gentle, kind man who loved his family and his God, Gregory James Gargulinski died at 3:45 a.m. July 12, 2016, at the age of 69. His cause of death remains unknown, even by doctors, and came after more than a decade of chronic pain and a handful of surgeries following his retirement in 2012.

Retirement years that were supposed to have been spent traveling, playing golf, riding his bicycle and relaxing with his loving wife Marcy were instead largely spent on couches and in hospital beds. But Greg soldiered on. Despite his agonizing pain and supreme unfairness of life, he remained strong and stoic with nary a complaint.

His body finally gave out, surrendering before his spirit. He died quietly at home surrounded by wife Marcy, daughter Ryn, son Mat and Marcy’s adopted stray cat named Chloe.  Continue reading Finally at Peace: Greg Gargulinski, Nov. 17, 1946 to July 12, 2016

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