Begin Again

Thank you to so many friends who have been steadily at my side through this protracted and difficult passage, one that I am still struggling through. (A bit more about my condition can be found here.) I had a second neurosurgical procedure in June and was told that my eyes will need another six months to heal. That puts recovery into December if all goes well.

As is often the case, things come at us in clumps. While I was struggling with the loss of my vision I was informed that I would have to move out of my studio of 22 years. South Boston, like so many neighborhoods in major urban areas, has transformed very quickly from a forgotten corner to a hip zip code. I knew this would happen some day, I just wasn’t certain when.

So the disruption in my life feels karmic, not coincidental. As artists we are always searching for the vision of how to create our best work. I view the loss of my physical vision as well as my creative space as a huge opportunity to invite something new to appear.

So I thank the space on First Street that has held me and my work for so many years. It served as a sanctuary, a quietly cloistered retreat, a sacred place for what was coming into form. It first came to me by way of Marcia Goodwin and was custom designed with such brilliance by Gerald Horne. Every one of you who visited me there left a mark. Most recently it was the visit of my four year old granddaughter Siena that pierced me profoundly. She came so we could paint and draw together in the last days of that space. In the midst of that visit she said to me, “A studio is a place where you can do whatever you want.” Yes, Siena, and I am open to whatever that may be.

Thank you to friends who are helping me as the dismantling has begun. In September I begin again in a studio in Waltham, just outside Boston.

39 Comment

  1. Wow! Big changes afoot! You are such a beautiful, deep, expressive, creative woman. I can’t wait to see what manifestation of “something new” accepts your invitation to appear. Loving and holding you in my heart as whatever is next incubates.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Martha for your words of encouragement. I like the way you put it–that the “something new” accepts my invitation to appear. BTW your posts on social media inspire me. Thank you for sharing your life in the way you do.

  2. Penny Wingate says:

    We have been thinking of you constantly and hoping to see you. These photographs are breathtakingly beautiful – you made a spiritual environment to work in and with your sensitivity and care for beauty around you, I am very hopeful that your new space will be equally as fulfilling and rewarding. Let us know when we can visit. P

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      We are both going through a transition of space this summer. I honor the symmetry of that and hope the years ahead give us a chance to wander into new territories of thought and creativity. Thank you for your words Penny. I hope to see you again soon.

  3. Cindy says:

    Deborah, Thank you for posting those photos. Your studio was a temple and sanctuary. It felt so magical.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you for experiencing that part of what the space has been. It was those things for me, both a temple and a sanctuary.

  4. Sharon says:

    Beautiful you – wonderful writing. Good fortunes ahead for your new domain ahead.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you. And yes, good fortunes ahead for us all.

  5. sukipoet says:

    many blessing and prayers to you as you go through these two big changes. May your eyes heal. May your move to your new studio flow

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      I am so in surrender to the enormousness of these changes. Yes, that’s what I hope too–flow. Thanks.

  6. dipittsburgh says:

    To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
    Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

    Deb, if I were pulling Tarot cards I think yours would read something like the above. You are a woman of indomitable spirit. I love your response to the suchness of life, “I view the loss of my physical vision as well as my creative space as a huge opportunity to invite something new to appear.”
    I too, Dear Deb am in a welcoming posture creating space for that which is but not yet seen.

    Love those images of your sacred place and precious Siena! Love you, Deb!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Of course you began your comment, being the soul companion that you are, with a quote from one of my favorite books. She writes her words with ease but you and I both know it isn’t easy, being thrown out of the nest. Thank you for knowing, thank you for understanding. You continue to amaze me with your daily insights and wisdom.

  7. I had a flood of emotion climbing your stairs and walking within your space again Deborah, the rediscovery of a perfect moment in my life and yours. An artists studio. The sanctuary to create, or meditate, to invite in (as I was blessed to be) or to shut out the world and its chaos. A snow-globe of treasures and inspiration, memories made, a ‘contained’ canvas ripe with possibilities yet still finite. I am glad you found another snow-globe and only wish I could lend my hands to the wrapping and moving. The future of your eyesight hurt my heart, sending a golden bubble of healing love around your ability to keep it longer than what the doctors say. Monet, as you know, was likewise affected – but, then, not really. OXs, Te.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Ah T, so well stated! Yes, it has been a snow globe in its containment of enchantment and beauty. Onward from here. Thank you for your words my friend.

  8. What a beautiful space you created. The new one will be different but just as wondrous, I’m sure. Best wishes.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Debra for your encouraging words. On to what’s next.

  9. lynetteh says:

    These photos of your sacred space are so beautiful. And Siena too! I still remember our visit and really appreciated your sharing your studio with me. I am sending you healing wishes, and all my best to you for a smooth transition into this new place. May your energy and creative spirit fill it with new work, whatever form that takes. Again, if you need another pair of hands to wrap and pack, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Lynette for your words and your offer to help. I so appreciate your friendship and compassion.

  10. Oh, Deborah. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos of your Boston studio, a well lived place of beauty and wonder. Siena is so right, a studio is a place of freedom. I hope that your healing continues and that you hold dear your powerful inner vision.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Kathy. Your words mean a lot to me.

  11. Deborah – I wish you a strong recovery and a sweet renewal of your creative energies in the new studio.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Tamar.

  12. Barrie Gleason says:

    Deborah, I have such beloved memories of seeing your space for the first time…at the suggestion of our hair dresser in common! The photos here are wonderful. Also wonderful is the brilliant painting that I “found” on subsequent studio visits. The layers of oranges and reds in the painting greet me throughout my day and never fail to lift me up. I hold you in my heart with fervent wishes for your full recovery.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Sweet Barrie, Thank you for your words. So appreciated.

  13. Deborah, I shared this post, and its exquisite photographs of the studio, with Mary Pat. We loved this inspiring farewell to an epoch of your life. Thank you.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      You and Mary Pat were such participants in that studio. You are part of the memory for me. xoxo

  14. Maureen says:

    Deborah, I think of you so often, and miss your marvelous posts. Since our first time meeting in person, I have considered your presence in my life as a gift truly to be treasured. Your strength, and wonderful, deeply thoughtful writing, wide-ranging reading, and artistic vision have given me so much to consider over the years. I miss our talks over coffee when you’ve been in town, and remember with seeing with you that great Diebenkorn show at the Corcoran. I can’t wait to see what you paint next (and still want to feature you in my Artist Watch column)! As David Whyte writes in his poem ‘Sweet Darkness’, ‘[…] The night will give you a horizon / further than you can see [….]’

    ‘[…]Go and open the door. / If there’s a fog / it will clear [….]’ from ‘the door’ by Miroslav Holub (in ‘Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems’)

    Much love.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you my dear friend. We will reconvene again soon! Much love.

  15. Brenda Shufelt says:

    Just reading about all that is going on in your life now. I’m not sure what to say except you are an inspiration to me. Hokey? Yes. True? Definitely. You see so deeply. Anyway sending healing thoughts

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Not hokey at all Brenda. So appreciated.

  16. Patricia Vaeth says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, which I’m sure will be both an inspiration and an affirmation for many. I’ve enjoyed your blogs for several years, and should tell you that, not having commented before. And did miss you, not knowing the reason for your silence. I sincerely wish you a successful recovery and happy new beginnings of your creative life in your new space.

  17. Deborah, thank you so much for these images– I loved peering a bit into the light and color and feel of your old studio as you peer into what is next for you. I’m so glad you found a place to work and to hold you as your sight and new insights unfold. Please keep in touch.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you for your encouraging words Tracy.

  18. Wow, a truly beautiful space, made so through your care and your work and your process–dare I say through your vision? Vision’s deeper than eyesight, and while I hope your sight continues to heal and improve, there is so much within you that you will find innovative ways to continue your creative work. No doubt of that. Here’s wishing you the best as you make the big transition to a new studio space.

    So lovely that you can share your work space, old and new, with friends and with that special little creative person, Siena.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Ann, You are one of my wisest cotravelers. Thank you for this.

  19. Salisbury says:

    Hi Deborah,
    I happened across your blog years ago, and dip into it every so often – for depth. Reading these words:
    “There were times when it felt as though my children were annihilating me,” Ruhl writes in her first essay, “On Interruptions.” “And finally I came to the thought, all right, then, annihilate me; that other self was a fiction anyhow.”
    from:
    http://www.slowmuse.com/2014/10/31/the-golden-ruhl/
    was life-changing at the time.
    So i just want to say to you – thank you for this blog. May your health issues resolve. May they change you in a good way. Peace and love to you, from me.
    Salisbury

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      I had forgotten that amazing passage by Ruhl til you called it back up. Yes, yes YES. Thank you so much for keeping in touch.

  20. dipittsburgh says:

    Hallelujah, for the restoration of your near sightedness. Hallelujah, for the discarding of things that no longer serve you. Hallelujah, for a new studio.
    Hallelujah for all things lost and gained and lost again and gained again and not keeping score and trusting the life you have been given. Hallelujah, to the knowing that all is Unknown. Hallelujah!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Yes yes yes. Thank you Di.

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