The Importance of Togetherness

June 14, 2011 at 1:35 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
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Tuscaloosa, AL

There is nothing that can prepare you for seeing house after house affected by the tornadoes in April.

This past week, I’ve posted updates about our travels to Tuscaloosa in my creative blog, Writing 4 Wellness. Yet, in taking a moment to step back, I am utterly taken back at how profound the time in Tuscaloosa was- because Barton came.

Originally, I was going to pack paintings and photography up in our little white Honda, cart it down, set it up, have the reception and drive home, and because of our budget, I was going to do it alone. But when Barton and I began discussing how we could support Tuscaloosa beyond the reception for the art show, it was clear that both of us needed to go.

I wasn’t prepared for how our trip would be a time of reflection and of honored time between us. Even as we drove into Tuscaloosa, we got off the highway at the normal exit I took to go to my mother’s old house, and as we made our way into town, Barton asked me, “Are you ready for this?” In that moment, I am so thankful I was not driving alone.

As I held a photograph up to the wall, Barton would give me directions- a little to the left, a little to the right. He was also keeper of the hammer, and in times where our energy waned, he provided comic relief as the hammer flippantly dropped out of his hand onto the floor and I became the character out of an “I Love Lucy Show” trying to hold the picture while reaching in vane for the hammer, just out of reach.

As the patterns of my photography and my mother’s artwork emerged on the walls, I found myself excited that Barton was present, able to witness the artist peeking out behind my written words. And to see how my mother’s creative spirit was very much alive and at work in my own life.

Even in the work outside of the art exhibit, as Barton and I led three creative expression classes and walked around my neighborhood with care packages to hand out, we bantered back and forth, playing off of each other, building off of the other.

Friday, the day we left was the most dramatic and intimate space held between us. It was the time where Barton and I were driving through the neighborhoods of Alberta (one of the hardest hit areas) alone- it was the time where we grieved the destruction and recovery work that lay before us in this town where we had been married and I had lived. And at first, I did not see the pile of children’s toys, until Barton took my hand, and we sat in the car a moment, crying together.

There are times when we must walk our own path set before us, and there are times when walking with another gives us strength, determination, and encouragement. I am honored enough that this time, this experience, we could share it together.

Observing the Dance of Mother and Daughter

June 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Our Love Story, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
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Megan's Art Show, Bama Theatre.

Megan's Art Show, Bama Theatre.

Traveling to Tuscaloosa to support Megan in both the opening for her art show as well as the unexpected opportunities to work with the Tuscaloosa community in the wake of the April 27th tornado, I found myself extremely grateful to be able to share such a profound experience with my wife.

As many of you may know, Megan was originally going to travel to Tuscaloosa and set up her art show without me, but in the weeks after the tornado, we felt it necessary that I join her simply because we both wanted to offer a sense of hope and possibility for whomever we may meet while we were down there. Naturally, the synergy between Megan and I continually seems to be a source of inspiration to others. Our intent in both of us going together was to offer the spark amidst all the trauma and loss. What I experienced, however, was much more intimate and profound than I had ever expected.

Sitting in the gallery amidst it’s empty walls and the partially unraveled boxes of Megan’s artwork, I watched this love of mine transform herself from one who was once hesitant to acknowledge herself as an artist to a robust and inspired creative who with each piece hung took increasingly profound ownership of her photography, and with it, her whole essence as an artist.

Two days we spent hanging her photography side by side with a legacy of drawings, acrylics, and abstract glasswork by her mom. While I never had the pleasure of meeting her mother, I felt as though through observing this transformation of Megan’s recognition of her own artistic talents, along with the physical space of the gallery, I came to know and appreciate a deeper aspect of their relationship that I had never known before. I could see in spirit the pride of both a mother and daughter supporting one another’s talents and came to understand the beauty that her mother, Anna von deBardeleben, came to bestow on my amazing and talented wife. And for that I am ever thankful.

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