Looking Back: 2014

“Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Only press on: no feeling is final.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours


At the beginning of every year, I like to take a look backward at the previous year before looking forward. Last year, I said that 2013 was weird. 2014 kicked my ass. Things, as they say, got real. Winter is always a time of introspection and generation for me, and it’s in this spirit that I offer this look back:

  • We kicked off the new year with excitement about my father’s heart transplant. It was successful, and his recovery was strong. My parents lived with us during his early recovery, and I was able to have lots of quality time with both my mom and my dad. What a gift.
  • I continued to teach, and I even took a class myself, with Laura Moriarty. It was such a treat to be a student again, and to use wax in ways so different from my own. I’ll be learning more from others in 2015.
  • My son and I visited schools in Southern California. I can hardly believe he’ll be going to college in the fall.
  • I took a wonderful trip to New York in July with my husband James, and some really fun friends. Walked the high line. Checked out the gallery scene in the lower east side. Walked the Brooklyn Bridge, drank too much coffee, and generally had a fantastic time.
  • I started drawing again. I drew and painted a series of 50 tiny images in 50 days.
  • Started running again, after a break of many years. I had forgotten how much I love it.
  • In August, a sad thing:  my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly from an embolism.


Okay, I just sat here for half an hour lost in thought while the cursor blinked on the screen. What can I say? Most people I know have lost someone close to them, and a lot of my friends have lost parents, so I don’t feel alone in this experience at all. For me, it felt as though I’d tripped and fallen into a very deep dark hole for several weeks. Reality felt a little slick, and time seemed to slow down for a few months. There was a lot of business to attend to, and family to check in with, and my mom to worry about.

And then, slowly, things returned to sorta-normal.

But they haven’t, not really. And that’s where the lines from the poem above come in. My main message to myself throughout this ordeal was the same one I try to hold with making art: Stay with yourself. Stay with the moment. Pay attention. It’s all okay. It all passes by, and we come out the other end. We are rarely the same person, though, if we are really paying attention. I see that as a good thing. I’m still sad sometimes, and I miss my dad, but I feel more settled in myself as well- more present in my mind, more attached to my bones, with more gravity in my heart.

Life (and art) changes us, if we let it.

6 thoughts on “Looking Back: 2014

    1. mellojo

      So sorry for your loss, Lisa. Lost my dad 2 years ago and try to spend as much time as I can with Mom. She turned 80 in July. I bless every moment I have with her, I got to spend a lot of time with Dad near his end but it left a big empty spot in my world when he left…

  1. Sandi Stewart

    I’m so sorry about your Dad.. I cannot even begin to imagine your loss. My dad is battling Alzheimer’s so I know that day will come to me also. I wish you lots of peace in your heart at this time. My art has saved me time and time again. I know yours will help you too. Prayers from strangers are sometimes the best ones so I am adding you and your mom to my list.
    Peace to you…

  2. soulstoriesbycarol

    Lisa, I would not generally comment but Blogging 101, your class in encaustics and your family loss calls for some words. I wish they could be wise words but they are only my words and a quote that I heard recently.
    Run, run, run, I’ll bet if you can find the time to do this it will be a very good practice for you. I was so glad to hear that you were able to spend some quality time with your parents before your Dad died. The following is a quote, it seems somewhat rough but it also holds some wisdom. I wish you well in your quest.
    “Grief is like a really ugly couch, it never goes away-you can redecorate around it, you can slap a doily on top of it, you can push it into the corner of the room, but eventually you learn to live with it.” -unknown

  3. Samantha Dent

    Hi Lisa – You mention heat transfer paper with re: to encaustic – Can you elaborate on how you could go about adhering/transfering the paper to wax without melting everything around it? Thank you.


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