1.02.2013

2012: The Year of Lost and Found


2012:
The Year of Lost and Found 
it happened

:-{>

January

January 18th, 2012 changed my life forever. There are very few dates that stay with a person for a lifetime: the date I was born, the day I was married, the day my son was born – 01/18/2012 has been etched into my mind as strongly as any of these.

On the 17th I was told that my family was being evicted from the house we called home for the 9 years prior – that was the longest I had ever lived at one place in my entire life. It was comfortable. It was home, not just a house.
For me and my son, this information came out of nowhere. Quite literally in 12 hours we lost everything: our home, my husband/his father, our pets, our things. Because we shared on Facebook that we were being evicted, my husband’s extended family evicted us from their lives as well. My son was told that he was no longer part of that family and that he was never welcome back. He also quit college because he thought that he would need to assist me in providing income for the both of us to live on.
At first we stayed at a hotel, then on an inflatable mattress and couch at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. My son and I were in shock and needed time to work though the emotional upheaval we had just gone through. My son is an amazingly grounded and responsible young adult.
  • LOST:                    home, studio, things, husband’s family
  • FOUND:               caring family, supportive co-workers, helpful friends

February

My Grandmother gave me a gift which allowed us to get an apartment in the middle of the month. My mother dropped off pink roses as a welcoming gift.
A loan from my parents allowed me to purchase an excellent, quality bicycle for transportation. Work is only 2 miles away and on very cold, wet or snowy days my son woke up early and gave me a ride.
Things started looking up. We had a place to call home now. My son was able to salvage one class from college and I had a steady job.
Then my Grandmother passed away. She was old and had been in poor health for so long, that it was a blessing. My young aunt was hit the hardest. She was close to her mom until the end. It was nice to see all my cousins, aunts and uncles at the visitation and funeral. I hadn't seen them in years.
I entered the Rockford Midwestern Biennial through the Rockford Art Museum. It took on a  very symbolic meaning for me. If I could get into a show despite all that happened, my art could always be there for me – no matter what craziness was going on otherwise. Artwork could be my one constant.
  • LOST: Grandmother
  • FOUND: apartment, transportation, the real character of my son as a man, extended family

March

March came in like a lion! With new found purpose, I tackled five new print editions and brought them up to Chad Luberger at Plum Bottom Pottery for his review. Being in Door County in March was a new experience. It was a mild winter and wasn’t that cold. For traveling companions, I invited my brother and sister-in-law to come with. We all stopped at Kohler-Andre Park and walked the sand dune trails in the fog as sandhill cranes called in the distance.

In Door County we stayed at the Newport Inn Resort – their off season prices are phenomenal! In Baileys Harbor at The Ridges, the spring peepers were warming in the sun and floating in the swales. Sandhill cranes were flying over our heads and pussy willows were wet with dew.
The shock was beginning to wear off and my son and I were developing a new routine in our new life. I say this, but I was still very tense. I was having difficulty dealing with what had happened and it was coming out as a pain in my chest that pressed down harder and harder until I couldn’t catch my breath. I went to the clinic and they thought it was my heart, so I was sent for overnight observation at the hospital. What the doctors didn’t know was that my physical heart was just fine, it was that my heart was broken.
  • LOST: many, many tears, cost of an overnight at the hospital
  • FOUND: purpose, direction, temporary peacefulness while in Door County

April

A company I had illustrated for in 2011 contacted me out of the blue for another project. It was a huge undertaking and upon its completion allowed me to pay back the loan  my parents had given me. That gave me a boost of positivity.
It had been a quarter of a year since the eviction. I still had many unanswered questions. I was still trying to figure out the “why” of it and the truth is there was no why. It just happened and I had to accept it instead of fight against it. Holding it all inside was hurting me and nobody else. Besides, I reasoned, people can’t be held responsible for things they say when in that state. So I decided to forgive the people that hurt me. I visited my husband’s mother and spoke for the first time. We talked and she understood how I felt and I understood how she felt. I believe we had come to an understanding and that helped immensely.
My brother and sister-in-law visited the International Crane foundation in Baraboo, WI. I wanted to photograph some sand hill cranes close up as reference for future prints. It was great to see new country and laugh with them all day.
  • LOST: Pride, anger
  • FOUND: Compassion, empathy, income

May

The Spring just felt luscious. The winter wasn’t that cold, but seeing the birds come back, feeling the warm sun on my face, watching the sprigs of green sprout from the black earth… renewal. Finding joy every chance I could took priority. I needed to  fill my cup.
  • LOST:
  • FOUND:

June

My sister-in-law graduated from Robert-Morris College with a degree in business. I had watched her work so hard to achieve this goal and now she had something that no one could take away – a degree, an accomplishment, the start to a promising new future that wasn’t possible before.
Her niece and nephew celebrated their first birthday and I made a woodblock print of her niece with their Tia. It was entitled, “Here there is love.” Their birthday was celebrated by a huge group family and friends. Seeing families interact in such a loving, joyful manner is always wonderful. During the party, I found a baby snapping turtle making its way to the lake.
Before the eviction, I spoke of wanting to go back to school and get me degree. I had to leave college in 1989 during my senior year. I had filled out FAFSA and applied to Northern Illinois University just to see what would happen.
  • LOST:
  • FOUND: Self-confidence

July

I turned 45 years old. My son brought me sushi for lunch! My co-workers gave sound dampening headphones because I have been easily distracted and they knew they would help me out. My husband purchased me a gift subscription to ancestory.com – the international version. I found many documents and photos of our family histories! It is history and detective work wrapped into one. He also took me out to the Mediterrano Restaurant in town. Mom and dad and my mother-in-law gave gifts which I used to purchase much needed clothing.
My brother and sister-in-law took me to Fourth Fridays at the Starline Gallery in Harvard, IL.  Art, wine, music and LAUGHTER! It was exactly what I needed and I will forever be grateful for that evening.
My husband’s nephew married the love of his life. I kept the promise I had made before the eviction to design their wedding invitations, reply cards, reception cards, etc. for the extended family because I believe that when a promise is made, it is your word and honor. It was a gift I gladly gave the newlyweds. I thought of them all that day and hoped their union finds within it many blessings. I wish I could have been there!
  • LOST: 
  • FOUND: A happy birthday

August

The late summer brought my husband’s class reunion. I had a great time playing volleyball and partaking in a cider or two. Everyone was super nice and I made some new friends

My husband and I went on a daytrip into Chicago to view the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River museum, then went for hotdogs at Navy Pier. It was a fun day. We even had a ride on the boat taxi.

Our son turned 19! We all went out to dinner with his uncle and aunt at his favorite Japanese restaurant, the Ju-rin, in Geneva. His uncle and him had a race... the younger of the two won.

  • LOST:
  • FOUND: New friends

September

The Art of the Land at the Starline Gallery in Harvard, IL! This was my third year participating in this awesome and growing event which raises money for The Land Conservancy. The group saves old grove oak trees throughout McHenry County. That allowed my brother who also participates and my sister-in-law to stay in Woodstock, IL overnight. That was were the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray was filmed. The town square is so cute and I love visiting the stores. They were all decorated for Halloween.
Then the biggest news of all! At the last moment, my financial aid came through and I started back at Northern Illinois University’s Art Department in pursuit of my Illustration degree. I also was able to get a car during the first week of school. I am so very thankful for these blessings!
  • LOST: Spare time and relaxing hours
  • FOUND: Education, new friends, a growing sense of self-competence and self-worth, a car

October

October swept passed as working full-time, going to classes, trying to maintain a household and still holding on to relationships took every spare moment. Going to bed at 4am after homework and getting up at 6:30 am to go to work was the norm. This 45 year old body was having a difficult time – until I discovered energy drinks… then tried to wean myself off energy drinks… ugh, what a mistake. Now I just drink coffee. A LOT of coffee.
  • LOST: Sleep
  • FOUND: Accomplishment

November

Our son took off for the first time ever and went to Texas for a gaming event. He purchased his own ticket and made some really good decisions. He had a wonderful time!

I was nominated for our local ATHENA Award and found that I was one of four finalists! I felt very unworthy, but everyone assured me that my accomplishments over the years deserved community recognition. Overall, it was both awkward and rewarding.

Grace, my wheaton-terrier/maltese mix dog, decided to chase after a herd of deer and was stuck by a stick while running. She required 3 staples at the vets and received oodles of petting and soft talking to. I felt so bad for her! She loved the extra pampering.

School continued, life continued, without a moment to spare. Then Thanksgiving came. My husband, our son and I had a small gathering with homemade foods.
  • LOST:
  • FOUND: a few extra pounds around Thanksgiving, lol.

December

I did it! I passed both my college classes with a 4.0 GPA! I have a few weeks to ready the apartment and prepare myself for the next semester of classes and the next year!

Christmas was awesome. I made pumpkin pie, pork roast with crab stuffing, roasted balsamic potatoes, dinner rolls, and new peas in butter sauce. Christmas morning was nutmeg and mandarin orange french toast (using Italian bread). It was a lazy Christmas and it felt pretty dang good.

My friend started a new tradition for New Year's. She invited friends over and had a feast! We toasted one another and laughed all through the night.

My son went away with friends for the evening - the first time ever. I'm so happy for him.
  • LOST: Time
  • FOUND: A new year in which to try, try again...

 

2 comments:

J.G.Nieuwenhof said...

Erin. You are a strong woman. The way you worked through your year is amazing. So happy it all worked out in the end. Jen.

Erin Nolan said...

Thanks, Jen! It was so hard, but having a year of distance has softened the troubles. I learned so much about myself and about others that I would not have been able to learn by any other means than hardship. I'm a better person than I was and much happier. Bless you! Erin