doing what’s expected at nautilus teachings

who loves me?
who loves me?

1983–“Sher, they actually have the dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses, come on, let’s go.”
We grab our purses and are at the Bridal shop in no time. I am trying hard to mutter the words, “Wait…mom…i have to tell you something.” But I can’t. I cannot break her heart. She is my palette and painting is the air I breathe. I glance up toward the sky and think to myself, “God, I will do this for my mother. Ted is a good guy. His family hates me, but I can do this one big thing for her. I will lead the life she wanted for herself and she will be beside me the whole way…heck, she will be walking my life story with me hand in hand.”
I turn and see my mother smiling.
She is home.
This is her home.
I am her home.
I will close the disco ball colored world
I dream about
and step in to reality.
‘Life is black and white, right?’
I think to myself.
The days leading up to the wedding are busy, filled with gifts arriving, responses needing to be opened for a final headcount, seating charts, bridal showers and of course my weekly calls from Zak asking me to join him in God’s country. My heart aches for him, for the memories with him to be continued like a long drawn out Rogers and Hammerstein musical drama. I can see it now, as I walk down the street in my balloon pants, tube top and Candies high heals, Zak will stroll by on his roller skates and yell, “Hey Sheri, it’s better in God’s country.” I giggle at the thought and return to the madness of my life.
From February until July, Zak and I laugh and talk about kids and teaching and living forever as man and wife.
It’s so easy
To talk
So easy to say
I love you
I miss you
When he is away
The phone lines
Invisible
And so is his face
But I still feel his hands
All over the place…
At the same time I am still engaged to Ted. He is still out of state and I rarely see him. I find it odd that we both do not feel that need, that urge that we don’t ever just drive to see each other. Zak says to me one evening as July is ending, “Sheri look, you have to break it off or we are over.” I agree with him and make plans to see Ted. I know this will devastate my parents, but I love Zak. I will find a way. The day before I am to leave to see Ted I am taking a much needed stress nap when the phone rings. It is my dad.

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“Hey Sher, listen…”
I cut him off.
“Dad, I am sleeping, call me back later.”
I hang up.
The phone rings again.
“Sheri, don’t hang up
I am at the hospital
Mom has had a heart attack
Come now.”
The line goes dead.
Black and white?
I can yell some
Pretty colorful words
Right now…
I begin screaming at God, “I hate you. How can you take my mother away? Not now God, please. I will marry Ted and break it off with Zak. Please save my mom…”
MOM SURVIVES AND IS DANCING AT MY WEDDING A MONTH LATER.
Can’t you see my colors
Thrown against the wall
Tiny little pieces of
Me when I
Was small
Screaming, crying, fighting
The demons from within
Knowing as little girl
To survive I had to swim
Within the ocean
of my Sea friends
That I know so well
Carrying my colors
Saving me from hell
a world so dark, so bleak
How could my life be so
God lived within my heart
It’s the one thing I know
That’s why I always cover
My world in any blue
Screaming, scratching, crying
I see it now so clear
In order to survive we
Need a boat to steer
Straight into the midnight sky
So dark and black
Wind filling up my sails
Strong against my back
Leading me to safety
In coves of kiwi green
Nestled in the islands
Is where I feel I can be seen
Scratching, crying, crawling
Into a corner new
I don’t know how to get out
My world is filled with blue
I’m painting and I’m drawing
My fish friends by my side
I need you to remember
My heart is open wide
I’m welcoming in shades
I’ve never known before
And hanging them on canvas
They stretch above my door
Screaming, scratching, tied up
Falling into voids
I didn’t know just where I was
So I shut out all the noise
I lived inside my silence
Cornered though it was
I knew one day I’d find a place
for me to live and love
Outside with all my colors
Covering my soul
I’d share with the people
Who walked right through my door…

i chose to live a lie
i chose to live a lie

2010-Studio-The canvas is long 4’ x 12”. I am feeling melancholy today. I am remembering first real love. I am mixing it with the resentment I felt for having to conform, to follow, to live the life they chose for me, not the path I felt I needed to journey down. A chill runs through my body as I brush bold strokes of cobalt blue across the white canvas. Long thick strokes of brilliant color. Above them I brush in turquoise waters in long streaks. I feel myself crashing.
1983-I felt like I was living a lie. I had forgotten what honesty was and had become self centered. Ted could not leave his parents and there was something so genuinely kind about this. I was the one who came home. I was the one who accepted the ring. I was the one who was hurting over my breakup with Zak and the need to run. Falling in to Ted was a good thing I thought. My mom loved him and so did my dad. I knew I needed to speak my truths and show my colors.
2010-Studio-The brush curves from the bottom of the canvas up towards the top and falls forward to form the cresting of an icey wave. Chill Out was starting to take form. I painted in the aquamarine, carribbean and sky blue. I was this wave. I needed to Chill Out, to grow up and live the life my parents needed me to live.

My mother heals.
I marry Ted
And
Zak shows up
At the reception.
I see his smile
From across the room
I am standing
With my mother
I excuse myself
And step into the hall
Zak turns and leads me
Down the hall
To an empty room
“Sheri, what did you do?”
“How do I live without you?”
“I thought you loved me?”
He begins to cry
I search his gentle eyes with mine
Place my hand upon his heart
And whisper,
“I will love you forever,
You are my heart
My palette
The air I breathe…”
Then I turn and walk away.
Remember the fable about Hansel and Grettle? They drop breadcrumbs so they can always find their way home. That is how my relationship with Zak goes over the next few years. I continue to see him once a year and talk with him frequently. He has found a girl, so I know my time is coming to an end.
In January of 1984
my mother
is diagnosed with Leukemia
they give her 6 months to live
She ends up living
3 1/2…

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During those 3 1/2 years I really try with Ted. I get pregnant, give birth to a son in 1986 and on the day he is born am greeted with, “Listen, Sheri, you know I got this new job, right? I will be training for two years. For the next two years at least I have to put my work before you and Cody. My job will come first and you must understand this…”
I feel like
A twirl-o-paint
I am being
Plummeted with colors
From all sides
My mom is dying
My husband
Needs space
I have a new baby
who is beautiful
I feel mixed up
Twirled
Pulled
In every direction
With no true north
I am done-finished
Alone no more
Cody by my side
We will sail away
From that selfish bastard…

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