Welcome to 2TheHeart!
"Sometimes the slightest shift in the way you look at things, a seemingly insignificant change in perspective can alter your life forever." -Anonymous
This week is dedicated to the power of change and to those who need strength to make changes in their own lives. Watch for more stories to motivate positive change! With great love and faith to my son, Nick. It's never too late.
"My Mind's Eye" by Lisa Fittipaldi
The birds chirping outside my bedroom window told me it was morning. I didn't open my eyes. Why should I? I could see nothing but shadows. Only the birds were glad it was a new day. Six months earlier I was diagnosed with a disease called vasculitis. Now I was legally blind. Each day was like another to me?empty. Why open my eyes? Why get out of bed?
"Good morning, sweetheart." Al. My husband was trying to sound as cheerful as the birds outside. He sat on the bed and took my hand. We'd had a wonderful life together for 28 years. He worked in state government, and I was a CPA. After I became blind in 1994, I lost my job. Who wanted a blind accountant? I refused to go off to a rehab center. So I learned the basics on my own?walking, dressing, feeding myself, finding my way around the house. Through it all, Al was my rock. Still, I wasn't satisfied with the progress I'd made. As far as I could tell, I was in for a life of frustration. I didn't want to accept that I was blind.
"What do you want to do today?" Al asked, as he did almost every morning. I just burrowed under the covers. I felt Al's weight leave the bed. "Lisa," he said, "I don't care what you do. Just do something!" There was a tone in his voice I'd never heard before. Something hit the bed.
I reached down. My hands touched cool metal. I felt around. A long, narrow box. I opened it, and knew what it was by the smell of paint. Watercolors. When Al heard that art could be therapeutic for people like me, he'd enrolled me in a sculpture class, but it ended up being canceled. Now he wants me to paint! I rubbed the little pockets of paint, and the texture felt good beneath my fingers. Which is red? I wondered. Yellow? Blue? I picked up the paintbrush and stroked it across my cheek. God, help me accept my blindness. I'd try this for Al's sake.
I dabbled with the paints. Just scribbles and swirls, but it was fun. I couldn't see color or depth, but the vague shapes I made were interesting. Encouraged, Al brought home sketchpads and an endless supply of watercolor paper. I turned his garage into my art studio, and experimented with squares and circles and cones. Since I still didn't navigate around the house very well, I pictured the rooms in my mind and drew the spaces on paper, like a map. My drawings helped me find my way. Al read me books on the Renaissance, Impressionism, famous artists. "Listen to this," he said one evening. "Picasso said he spent his life learning to draw like a child." I had to laugh. "If it's good enough for Picasso," I said, "I guess it will have to be good enough for me."
One day I finished a watercolor that was more than swirls and shapes. It was a picture of four colored jars?my first real composition. Al studied it, silently. "It's good, Lisa," he said finally. "Really good. You have talent."
Did he mean it? An artist should be able to evaluate her own work, but I couldn't. Still, I didn't want to give up. Painting was spontaneous. There were no risks, because I couldn't judge the outcome. "What else would you like to paint?" Al asked. After a moment, I realized what I wanted. "I'll paint what I see in my mind. I'm not blind there."
I started with landscapes, the Texas countryside I remembered so well. I painted flowers, like the bluebonnets that pop up everywhere in spring. Eventually, Al lost his garage because I produced so much work! That's when he decided to enter my paintings in an art fair in Fort Worth. We rented a tent, and Al displayed my paintings. A picture of roosters, "California Bantams," was Al's favorite, and when a woman asked the price, he hesitated.
"Very expensive," he said.
"How much?" she persisted.
"A thousand dollars," said Al. The woman pulled out her checkbook. I couldn't believe it.
By 1997 I was painting professionally. I'd sold more than 400 watercolors by the year 2000. For the past two years I've been painting in oils, graduating to large canvases with street scenes and images of people?details I'd never imagined I could create.
I miss not being able to see. I miss Al's face, the colors of a sunset, reading a book. That's not going to change. I have changed. For the better. I would not be painting if my blindness hadn't happened. Al found a way for me to accept my blindness?in art.
My paintings are now hanging all over the United States, and in Europe and South America. I still find it hard to believe everything that has happened since I started painting. I do know how it all began. My rock, my angel. "Al," I say, "look what you started by getting mad at me that morning!"
Lisa Fittipaldi copyright 2004 Lisa lives and paints in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of "A Brush With Darkness" and you can visit her web site at: http://www.lisafittipaldi.com/ .
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE GRANDMA'S SOUL! I am excited to share my latest book project: "Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul", in which my story, "Nana", which first appeared on 2TheHeart is published! Several other 2TheHeart authors are also featured in this book, including Ellie Braun-Haley, Betty King, Maria Harden, & Roger Kiser! I don't have my copy with me (It's being passed around the family who love and miss our Nana!), so if I left one of our authors out, let me know! Below is the link to preorder this terrific book or you can email me to order a signed copy! email@example.com
Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul: Stories to Honor and Celebrate the Ageless Love of Grandmothers
Making a difference!