I have been fairly quiet over the last few years since the pandemic started. I’m still finding the words to express my journey. My art continues to speak volumes. Phonetic language emerges from my fingertips more fluidly now, though much of what I write about my personal experience is for my eyes until I’m ready to share more.
Words are powerful.
I’m grateful that I have returned to professional writing, though I'm still struck by the excruciating moments when words are a struggle. Whether written or spoken, especially in the intensely personal moments when advocacy matters most, there are no words for the discrimination that isolates those of us with speech and hearing differences.
My grandmother was deaf, and we all grew up with sign language as a part of our family culture. It was my mother's first language. I try to imagine what my grandmother's life must have been like, as she started her education at the "Kansas School for the Deaf and Dumb." My heart breaks when I think about the institutional cruelty she endured. It breaks even more knowing that we continue to fail those with speech and hearing disabilities even now in 2023 - and I'm one of them.
I can’t possibly express where the road has led me over the last few years - I will simply say that it’s been transformative, courageous, and filled with grace. And it has been humbling.
Richard Rohr posted recently about the shift that comes with the second half of life, a time he discussed in his book Falling Upward:
It is what St. John of the Cross called ‘‘luminous darkness,’’ and it explains the simultaneous existence of deep suffering and intense joy in the saints and mystics—something that is almost impossible for most of us to imagine. = Fr. Richard Rohr.
As we near Thanksgiving...
I am so grateful. My life is rich beyond belief, when I pause to focus on the things that really matter:
My 15-year-old daughter is my greatest blessing.
The spark of life that ignites the fire beating in my chest each day reminds me that I am alive!
I have lived a life of LOVE and I get to share these stories with my daughter without regret.
Even the mistakes and heartbreak bring forth gratitude because they are all a part of the journey.
All is Well
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in my own worries, as there are many. It would be so easy to start spinning my wheels compulsively on how I will unstick myself from whatever it is that I’m dealing with at the moment. It’s a compelling voice trying to convince me that everything will be okay if I just get this one thing fixed!
But that’s a lie.
That’s anxiety talking, and the “one thing” is an asymptotic horizon - it’s never going to bring the relief that is so desperately needed.
The only genuine way to feel the soothing awareness that “I am okay” is to notice that the present moment is a gift, and at this moment, all is well.
Though everything is a mess, all is well. - Anthony DeMello
This is not a new idea, as mystics across world religions express the importance of noticing calm in the NOW, connection to others, and our relationship to all that IS.
I am not alone.
I know I am not alone in my fears about events around the world and close to home. There is more that connects me to the other souls of this world than keeps me apart under the illusion of isolation.
This became so apparent with a recent injury. I will write more about it in another post, but this piece is important today - In the midst of feeling marginalized and alone, I connected with an individual through LinkedIn who offers powerful words to the disability community. I offered my art as a collaboration, and he accepted (see our first collaboration below).
From that one connection across the world - in India - I became a part of a new movement called Billion Strong. I am now a Global Advisor for the organization, and working with the organization under the hashtag #WeAreBillionStrong.
For just a moment, imagine the power of that shift and the grace of being lifted from the perception of utter isolation to a community of a BILLION working together. This is LOVE in action.
AGAPE is EROS Transformed by KENOSIS
This is my contemplative journey. It is where I find myself in the quiet of my own thoughts and the moments of deep listening to the Mystery of the Divine. I cannot run from the theological path that I am on, as I am leveled every time I try to take control. Thus, I am spending the year contemplating LOVE in all of its forms.
In my next post, I will share a bit of the story of how I arrived at this topic of theological inquiry. Here's a hint, I had another concussion; and the "luminous darkness" transformed me once again.
An Appeal For the Artists
Artists can only create if we have the resources to do so. It's the unfortunate reality of life. Try to imagine a world without the beauty of art. Imagine a world without the disruptive voice that only art can express. We need creatives now more than ever.
Support Independent Creatives
As we enter the holiday season, consider spending your dollars with independent Creatives or look for ways to help promote their work by simply sharing/subscribing to their social media. If you aren't sure what would help, ask the artist in your life how you can support their work; it matters.
If you liked this post, please hit the like button, make sure you are a subscriber, and share!
I'm also available for commissions, you can purchase prints, and I have many original canvas paintings available for purchase.
I promise I'll update my services page soon. For now, send me a note if you want to explore a creative opportunity - I'm open!
Also, stay tuned for an announcement about my new branded (free) app available in the App Store for IOS and Android.
Finally, here's a preview of what's coming next...
All of the art featured in this post is the original work of Heather Thompson. Some of the artwork utilizes a combination of digital painting and generative AI as a novel method of creative expression. All images are subject to copyright protection 2023.