Life Changes–Unexpectedly Sometimes!

Since my childhood included growing-up in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina, I must mention the tornadoes that tore through those states in the past week or so! Wow, how powerful they were…As a pre-schooler in Tennessee, a storm passed through our backyard and uprooted a massive oak tree. It was a puzzle for a four-year old to figure out what could cause something so huge to fall over. As a second grader, my family moved to northern Alabama. I remember viewing tornado damage in a nearby town and wondering how the houses and trees could be so mangled. These kinds of unexpected life changes produce instant confusion…

Transitions #1
"Transitions #1: Confusion". Free-motion quilting, beading on cotton, 16 x 16". © 2005 Joni Beach.

During the NC storm a couple of weeks ago, I watched the Weather Channel anxiously as a hook-shaped pattern formed on the radar around an area where all my family in NC lives. The actual tornado touched down just past them in a neighboring town. Last Wednesday night, I monitored our weather as we were under an unusual for the Virginia mountains tornado warning. Thankfully, the system turned north and the rotating clouds never formed a tornado that touched the ground.

In Alabama, where I also have family, the city where they live has had little electrical power since Wednesday evening. Gradually the power grid and other daily needs are being restored. A state that is used to having tornadoes and heavy thunderstorms, Alabama has experienced an intensity of tornadoes unusual even for them…These types of life events lead to questions like: How do people deal with and survive this kind of crisis? How do you move forward to restore normalcy? What gives support and sustains courage—provides encouragement?

My recent blogs–Lifeweavings: A Creative Journey, Spring’s Awakening, and Time–Linear or Circular?–have been about creativity in art and life. Coping after these storms is a real life example of a needed time for creative problem-solving—considering the facts, the changes, and all the possible answers and ways of addressing the sudden questions that everyone is faced with…How will we cook food and stay cool in the heat without power? Where will we get needed gas and supplies? How will the traffic flow safely without working stoplights? According to Froma Walsh in her book, Strengthening Family Resilience (2006), creative inspiration and collaborative problem solving help people live forward with positive outcomes. Imagination is powerful in transporting us beyond a crisis and allowing us to solve problems by drawing inspiration from past experiences, family stories, creative envisioning, and new, untried solutions. We can envision new ways of living with the changes to our homes and communities.

Of course, another key to recovery after a crisis that we so often see after a natural disaster is the social support –the immediate aid from other people in the form of food and water, shelter, medical care, money, and clean-up assistance to provide basics and a sense of security. The immediate needs become paramount and the larger global issues of the day are dimmed. As in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, until the basics of life are restored the higher-order needs of living become temporarily of little concern.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Resized, renamed,...
Image via Wikipedia

My hopes and prayers for all who were hit by the storms is that they will have the help and aid they need, as well as peace and hope for the future…

[Image via Wikipedia–By User:Factoryjoe (Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

Time—Linear or Circular?

Easter…family together…egg hunt…chocolate bunnies…basket surprises…giant bunny from uncle N….baked ham & bunny cake…fun times…Spring is here! Yeah!

Burst of Spring

We normally think of time in a linear pattern—from young to old, year to year, A to Z–but perhaps someday quantum physics will show us how it really is not in a stepwise order. The life experience seems sort of circular in pattern and perhaps it is…This weekend was a time for family.  As we were reminiscening, I remembered my children and I being like peas in a pod when they were growing up–close together while experiencing daily adventures. Though it has been at least 8 years since my last child left home to begin their own solo life adventure, and though I encouraged their independence, I still miss that closeness.

As other grandparents had already informed me, it is true that being with a grandchild triggers memories that you hold in storage. You remember and relive some of the wonderful moments that you had with your own children…what an amazing gift! And this time, you live with an awareness of how precious these experiences all are—it is like getting a second chance! So, maybe time is more circular than we know…

Some of my latest art pieces have been illustrating the stages of life, infancy through old age, in a more linear manner.

Lifeweaving #3 Unfinished,
Lifeweaving #3 unfinished. Woven cotton. © 2011 Joni Beach.

The top piece of my Lifeweaving #3 art quilt is in the final stages of being woven and basted…I still need to weave in the color silver for the decades of ages 60-the mid-80s and gold for ages mid-80s through the 90s. Joan Erikson, wife of psychoanalyst Erik Erikson, helped develop the life stages as written in The Life Cycles Completed  (1997). They named the strength gained in the stage of ages 60-mid 80s as wisdom. Later, Joan added the ninth stage and identified the strength of the final stage as geotranscendence.   

 Next, I want to explore visually the idea of life being experienced more in circular or non-linear patterns. These are drawings from my sketchbook that shows this idea has been in incubation for awhile!Life, Not a Straight LineLife Circular

The Studio Art Quilts Associates (SAQA) has an on-line Benefit Auction in September. Members donate 12” square art quilts to be auctioned off.–Be sure to check it out!–I am using this as an opportunity to experiment and explore these and other design ideas in this smaller format…stay tuned for that progress and which one will be chosen for donation. I may need your help deciding!

*I’d love to hear your comments…..What do you think about time!?