"fortune" from the Dove Chocolate that came with our
Sushi from Minami Japanese Restaurant
Last night in Sedona, AZ my friend Katie from Michigan and I spent the night at the Lark Art Gallery for the First Friday Gallery Walk. After the gallery walk, we decided to get some sushi for dinner. Last year when I rented a road bike and pedaled the hills of route 179 in Sedona I came across a little unassuming Japanese restaurant just at the edge of Oak Creek Village. I stopped and took some sushi away with me that day, because I was all bike sweaty and stinky and figured I would not expose anyone to that in the dining room. I sat and had a beer at the bar while I watched Yoshi make my tuna rosettes, beautiful.
Sedona offers amazing color in the spring
This trip I decided that Katie and I needed to eat-in at Minami. We really enjoyed talking with Yoshi about being from Okinawa and having been in the US for over 30 years. We met Michelle from the North of Boston who's accent sounded just like half of my family. She said that when she first moved to town folks asked her if she was from Australia. Michelle introduced us to Ian who had hobbled in on crutches sporting a bright green leg cast, Yoshi had to help him through the doorway. Looking over at Katie, who had just had "work" done to her face and was sporting swollen lips and tender upper arms, I realized we are all flawed in one way or another.
Our "fortune" made Katie and I laugh, we where relieved to hear that we were going to be OK.
Yours Truly teaching and talking about my love affair with torn paper
shot by Katie, who knows how to capture my "good side"
Standing up in front of a group was never really a big deal for me, I'm pretty confident when I know the subject matter. But 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, I contracted Bell's Palsy. This is a compression of the facial nerve, which results in paralysis. 85% of people heal spontaneously and completely within three months. Not me.
I have been left with permanent nerve damage. Flawed.
It took me a long time to feel better about this situation. I tried all kinds of miracle cures. I have had biofeedback, facial retraining, vitamin B12 injections, sublingual vitamin B, massage, and Botox. Still flawed.
Somewhere along the way, my self confidence started to come back. I began to realize that things could be a lot worse, and that you can be Fabulous AND Flawed. Let's see, I have a wonderful family that loves me, I have talent, and I have a great job. I love what I do and I am very lucky to be able to do what I love and be myself on the job. I can have pink hair, a pierced nose, visible tattoos, and not have to answer to anyone but myself.
How fabulous is that?
These days I'm OK putting my face out there in front of my Paper Paintings Workshop class and talking to people with my crooked smile. I'm ok with it because I know that I am a pretty good teacher, I'm very sensitive to folks who may not be very confident in their artistic ability, and I can usually make you laugh. Typically everyone in my class has a really good time. I'm confident sporting pink, purple, and teal hair, knowing it will draw attention to my face. To use a popular saying these days, "it is what it is."
Ann came all the way from NYC to take this class with me in Sedona,
and she looks like she's having a fantastic time!
This is my fourth time teaching at SAC where they welcome me
with open arms and make me feel at home
This weekend I'm teaching in beautiful Sedona, AZ loving my job
Guess what? Being flawed makes you more empathetic. My heart goes out to others who may be suffering something similar, or worse. It's impossible to hide your face, it's the center of your expression, your emotions and communication, and the window to your soul. I met many people in the early years of my support group who had suffered facial paralysis due to trauma, tumors, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and more. I learned early on from this group that what I was going through was not really all that uncommon and one of the best things we could do was to reach out to others.
For years I practiced a "controlled smile" (big smiles make my right eye squeeze shut) I still prefer to use the self facing camera to take the photo of the two of us together, rather than let someone else do it. Why? I can see what I look like before I push the button.
Katie and Yours Truly via the front facing camera
Recently I submitted a wine glass collage to my art licensing agent for reproduction on a wine journal by Target. He called me and said (in his awesome British accent) "Elizabeth, this is lovely but the glass is not symmetrical and you need to fix the one side." What? not symmetrical? Who cares? It's art, it's impressionistic, and I like it just the way it is.
Chardonnay / 9x12 / collage of hand painted papers
"Well Michael, I'll fix the image in photoshop for your purposes, but I'm not changing the original." Is what I told him. Because I think it's fabulous, just the way it is.
Thank YOU for being a part of my art journey.