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Christy’s Niblet: Nineteen!

BelieveNineteen people die every day waiting for a kidney. Nineteen people! One person seems like it is too much but 19. Every day I wake up I beat that statistic. I am one of 20 million with kidney disease. The truth is I am waiting for a kidney. I am not one of the 19 today.

I am living with a terminal illness. My kidneys will never get “better”. Dialysis and transplant are the only treatments. I am acting as if my new kidney is on the way. I am getting my body ready to receive it. I am praying that I will be put on the transplant list. I have one more medical test and evaluation before the final assessment if I am a candidate for a kidney transplant at Mount Sinai. I am hopeful. I pray for the 19 that will not open their eyes today, and I pray for those that do. I pray for those of us who are on dialysis and our care partners too.

I have been working on a group of pieces called meditative windows. As I sit for 3 and a half hours on the dialysis machine your mind wanders to all sorts of places. I have tried to paint some of these destinations. It is with gratitude that I announce that my wife has become my care partner. We will be doing at home dialysis. I will be on the machine 5 days a week instead of three. The process is said to be gentle for your body. This is the second year on dialysis. I am bringing this series to a close. I thought about painting it for a long time and than it took a year to complete. The last window pane has text and reads love, believe, wisdom and truth. Truth is probably the most significant. Yes, 19 people die waiting for a kidney but there are others who will die in a day as well. The truth is all we have is today and at some point we will be one of the 19. We all have a terminal diagnosis and it is life. It begins the moment we are born. I choose to LIVE until I die kidney transplant or not.

Christy’s Niblet: The Power of No!

The answer is no. No is a complete sentence. At times it is the hardest word to say and the most difficult concept for people to comprehend. We know that they have not understood us because we have to repeat it.

As for me the most difficult people to say no to are those in authority. Doctors are the authority figures I am most frequently in contact with. However as of late I have had to say no to treatment options that I feel are not good fit for me. Standing firm in my decisions regarding my health has been terrifying. No can be an action word. This word allows me to stand with dignity in my decisions. My wife’s support and continuous research has allowed me to never stand alone.

I had to develop the quality of no. Life is a great teacher. I have had to say no to opportunities because the timing is wrong. I had to say no to a luxury purchase and live in my financial reality. It is a small word but so powerful and life changing.

Just for this moment embrace the no in your life. Be open to seeing the positive aspect of no and the action quality the word no can have. When I began to say “no” I began to set boundaries and keep them. Fear began to dissipate. The word no empowered me. No allows me to walk away when situations do not suit me. “No” allows me to stand when I used to cower.

No is a complete sentence.

Christy’s Niblet: The Triad of Celebration

This is a very special week for me. It is the triad of celebration. Twenty years on August 19th alcohol ceased to be my master, on the 21st I was married to Nieta M Greene and on the 22nd I was born into the world. This year we are celebrating all of the above on the 23rd at a party to renew our wedding vows. Looking out of a window in White Plains Hospital when the doctors did not know what was wrong and things were looking bleak a decision was made. Nieta and I promised each other to never separate and in 5 years we would renew our vows provided I was still breathing!

The days leading up to August 19, 1994 were dark but that day was not a good day to die and I began a very special journey. I realized the answers I was looking for were not at the bottom of a bottle and the pain I had been running from had caught up. It was time to stand and feel it. Avrille taught me to stand on my own two feet. I received a letter from Italy on beautiful blue stationary filled with words of worry that generated thought in me about the direction my life was going. She has been writing me notes ever since; I love you Kristen. Much gratitude and thanks to both of you.

I laid eyes on Nieta on November 11th and like all good things 9 Months later something good had arrived. She did not get me pregnant but we did get married! Love happened when I was not looking and when I least expected.

Rain is said to be good luck on a wedding day but a bride’s personal nightmare. It rained like cats and dogs that day! The ceremony was a blur but the memory of the hand of my best man on my shoulder as I could barely get the words out to profess my commitment always stays with me. When we have our happy disagreements she asks, “Do you know who you married?”

“Yes, I know who I married and I will do it again.”

My birthday is August 22nd. I was born August 22, 1978 Christina Caroline Thomas at 9:14 pm in Mount Vernon, New York. So yes when I say I was born at night not last night I mean that literally. LOL. Happy 36th birthday! On August 23rd as Nieta and I enter into our 5th year of marriage I will do so as Christina Caroline Thomas – Greene. That is right “GREENE” like the color with an “E” at the end. I love you Nieta forever and a day after. Kisses. Happy Anniversary!

Christy’s Niblet: Homeless Cum Laude Part 3

I moved into a room in Hastings that we affectionately refer to as, “Southside.” It was a three bedroom apartment that I shared with roommates. It was what I needed at the time. I lived there until one of my roommates flipped his couch over and removed the chairs from the kitchen. He did not want us sitting in the common area. They both ended up getting girlfriends and the apartment got crowded. Southside was a place of transition. It had obviously run its course of usefulness.

The move to Main Street was a love affair from the start. The location and there was one flight of stairs compared to the 3rd floor walk up I had previously lived in was a huge selling point. There was no question when I walked in I was in love with this apartment. My wife and I would have a place of our own and 500 square feet of privacy.

Our first BIG purchase was the bed. I had slept on everything but a bed since I ran away from my abusive circumstance. It was a big step up from the floor and more comfortable than an air mattress. The only time I find myself sleeping on the floor now is when we have a lover’s spat! LOL. No worries all is usually well by the morning.

There is a certain pride that comes over you when you have your own home after not having one. Putting the key in the door and turning the lights on are simple pleasures. I love writing out the rent check even if we only have $20 bucks left for the month. We are not running anymore and that is priceless. My order of protection had expired in February and so had my fear. I was walking with a new sense of freedom.
A package arrived and it was the first time I saw our names together with our address. I was overwhelmed with joy. The flowers were from one of my “besties” Lauren. Years ago she tried to give me flowers and I did not receive them well. I was afraid someone would misunderstand our relationship. She opened up a world to me that I did not know existed. She ended a different kind of homelessness although at the time I had to start dealing with the “Closet”.  LOL.
The summer of 1995 on a beach, “for the first time…I kissed a girl… And I may do it again…I kissed a girls her lips were sweet… She was just like kissin’ me…Kissed a girl won’t change the world…But I’m so glad I kissed a girl” Jill Sobule. However, as my wife would say, “It changed my world forever and always that one kiss.” Now which way out of the closet? Until next time…..

Christy’s Niblet: Homeless Cum Laude Part 2

I cleaned my bathroom yesterday.  Two years ago that was my chore at the shelter. Bleach is a woman’s best friend.  I still like the smell. LOL. I clean when I am stressed it brings me peace. It is the strangest place where peace resides. My grandmother had cleaned countless bathrooms as a maid and I though of her when I cleaned. My grandfather was a doorman and upon his retirement was written up in the New York Times.  He taught me to take pride in my work no matter what it was.  It had value.

 

I realized that not only did my work have value but I did too. The shelter provided a bed, drawers, a closet and 3 meals a day. I also was being paid in self respect; a trait that I did not have before.  I learned how to eat and talk to people again.  I was in a protected environment.  I have never been to rehab but it was like rehab for my soul. I ran to Jan Peek shelter in Peekskill after having been FOUND by my abuser in another shelter.  During the intake the staff offered me food but I was to shaken to eat. He told me that God was here and it would be okay.  I have held onto his words and they gave me a glimmer of hope.  When one of the women showed me the bathroom and the disposable bath mats; I cried.  She asked if I wanted a hug and I said no.  I cried because she was treating me like a human being not a case number that DSS (Department of Social Service) had to deal with. I have no words to express the gratitude I have to the staff of the Jan Peek Homeless shelter.

 

During my stay there I was never hungry and I was never afraid.  I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time.  Someone told me I was pretty and I heard them. I began to feel that I would make it.  From the moment I stepped in the door I was moving toward freedom.

 

Happy Birthday.  My dearest Lauren left her Mom who was on chemo at the time to bring me flowers.  They were beautiful.  I had value.  Someone loved me.  Lauren holds a special place in my heart. I did not see her that day but Lauren is a story for another day…

 

Shortly thereafter I became quite sick and ended up in the hospital with dehydration and a central line in my groin.  It was recommended that I not go back to the shelter because of my health.  It was than that Nieta found a room for me in Hastings. We found our way back to each other in the hospital room where she got in the bed and proposed again.  If I would hang in there for 5 years she would marry me again.  More importantly we promised we would never give up on us and work through our problems.  Here we are Year 5.  I made it and We made it. Dum, Dum, tad um… Guess whose walking down the aisle!

Christy’s Niblets: Homeless Cum Laude

I slept last night and was grateful to wake up this morning.  There was a roof over my head not wooden rafters as there had been two years ago.  Growing up in Scarsdale and attending Ursuline an all girls Catholic high school did not make me feel privileged but very naïve about how the rest of the world lived.

 

Two years ago this time I was homeless and contemplating stealing a tuna fish sandwich from Stop and Shop.  My life was a mess.  My marriage was on the rocks and I thought that God had gone MIA. After an assault on my body and mind I turned to a lie to hold life together.  I made a terrible mistake and did not trust anyone and tried to carry this burden alone.  Inside my head, my decisions were made in a vacuum. All I did was further hurt people who were bound to be hurt by the truth anyway.  The truth always comes out in the wash as my brother in law would say.

 

I moved into the shelter in White Plains, NY at Grace Church.  I adapted to my environment and found that a pack of Newport cigarettes and my Spanish were allies in my quest to survive. SAT words are not needed and street vernacular was necessary.  Adopting the face that I had carried many years before made people think twice about approaching me was resurrected.  I was sleeping on a lawn chair in a room full of women.  The staff would feed us and tell us to get out at 6:00 am.  I was cleaning the bathroom at the shelter and bleach was my best friend. My grandmother was a maid so when I cleaned the bathroom I took pride in that and I thought of her and my strength was renewed for another day.

 

Have you ever been you so torn down you had no where to go but up.  I had seen bottoms before but this was new.  I had more to lose than me, I would lose Nieta too.

 

There is more to the story but until next time…  My blogs in August are meant to give you a glimpse into the moments that make me well…  “ME” as I approach the close of my 35th year of life.   Much love.

Christy’s Niblet: The Quest

The QuestWe are all on one quest or another. The quest in my high school years was to attain the highest degree of coolment and that would be replaced by the quest for enlightenment in my twenties. I wanted to open my mind in college and sought out different perspectives on life. Eastern religion came on the scene and existentialism ruled my conversations. Life was theoretical in college. My quest changed when life starting getting real and as the cast of the “REAL WORLD” (MTV) said and “People stop being polite”. Life also stopped being polite and started to hit me and my friends with devastating blows. Cancer, the death of my friend’s parents and even the death of my nephew’s friend became real. Questions started and began with WHY? The quest became looking for answers for what seemed to be unfair. The truth is to some questions there are no answers but we search anyway.

The Quest was painted in a reactive series. I was reacting to my wife’s epilepsy in the Pearl series. This series required me to lay the letters quickly and I used only ink, tissue and the pearl aggregate. The ink had a life of its own once I sprayed it on to the canvas. I described the process as “working in the blind” because I could not see the letters until the ink was soaked through and at that point the letters position could not be changed like life I had to accept what I was dealt. The blue is deep and loud and the purple can be seen quietly underneath. The silver draws the eyes directly to the letters. The word is my conversation with the viewer.

My quest in my thirties you ask. Well it’s not for a husband, kids and a white picket fence in the suburbs. I am looking for a kidney but it’s not my quest. It is not my journey. A quest is a long or arduous search for something. I have stopped searching and if I cease to breathe this day. I know a few things. I have had a life well lived with purpose and experienced the LOVE of a lifetime. I have got a wife, friends that make me laugh so hard I would pee in my pants if my kidneys worked (ha, ha) and a home in a brownstone in the suburbs. There is no white picket fence in sight or prospect of children in the immediate future but this is enough. I am living in the here and now. This joy was not something I sought after but a gift from a higher power. Ashe, Amen, Namaste, and Thank you.

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