Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dad

This might be how I'll look in twenty years. Well, actually I doubt Dearest would let me shave off my beard, and I don't have the earlobe that comes down from my Dad's mother, but in other ways...

I made a number of discoveries recently, which led to this portrait.

First, I knew my blood pressure had been climbing a bit, and I do have a cuff to check it. So I went ahead and measured it last night and this morning early, after a good night's sleep and sitting quietly for five minutes before pumping and listening. 142 over 105. Those are not good numbers, I found out on the Mayo Clinic site. Those would be stage 2 hypertension. I'll be watching those number closely and making an appointment.

I realized that I've been working too hard and too constantly. It has contributed to the item above, I suspect. I like the work; I'm passionate about it; it matters a lot more than anything else I've done in my career. But balance...

I found an interesting piece of advice. It said, "Do what you're good at." Seems simple. Then it expanded on this, explaining that in the workplace most people spend a lot of time focused on the things they don't do well, trying to fix that part of their performance. Managers don't help, pointing out the weaknesses and bringing them up on performance reviews. (Actually my last three bosses all have let me do things my own way - I've been lucky, and they've been smart enough to know I work better and harder that way). No, the advice went on to say that if you have things you do exceptionally well, you should concentrate on THOSE and spend as little time as possible on the stuff you do poorly. I found this incredibly freeing. Due to some rearranging at our company, I'm covering four positions worth of responsibility at the moment (I'm hiring to help this). I juggle things as well as almost anyone I know, but I mourn and fret over the things I'm not getting to. Actually, though, some of the things I'm not getting to are things I don't do well, anyway - that's one reason they're at the bottom of the list. I feel a lot lighter now that I've set them down and walked away from them. I'm never going to get to them, and now I won't feel bad about that. At least until I pick them back up again from habit...

The museum trip in DC rekindled my desire to paint. It's just been sleeping a bit, never all that far from the surface. Today, after checking my blood pressure, it blew back over me like a balm. I knew I needed to paint as part of healthier living. The walks and trips to the farmer's market to buy lots more fresh fruit and vegetables, and eating less will also help - but painting is going to lower my pulse and help as much or more than changing my blood chemistry.

So today I stretched another piece of Arches hot press, and I will paint over two pieces that are stuck and which I don't want to paint, anyway. I have been bitten bad by that Vuillard painting I saw in DC, and it won't leave me alone. I feel like those cartoon characters that you see from the front, then they turn sideways and there is a small bulldog latched on to their butt like a bear trap. My bulldog has a collar and dog tag written in French. But it was fed on Hundertwasser and Redon, and Klimt, and Schielle, and it's fur is brightly colored, and it's eyes shine like flashlights. It's grinning with glee. So am I.

Today youngest is out playing with his friends, and the others in the house left at 1:00 to rehearse and work on scenery. I donned headphones, pulled out an Arches pad, opened up one of the photos I've been considering for a portrait, and spent three hours looking very carefully at my Dad.

Dad is a quiet man, with a peaceful face that shows his Magyar and English ancestors. To me, his face always seems ready to smile. He smiles often, though even his smiles are quiet, not usually showing his teeth. I think this is a better likeness of him than the photo from which I worked. That pleased me greatly - and encourages me to move on to other portraits.

Of course others might be harder - after all, this is as close as I can come to doing another self portrait...

6 comments:

Utah Savage said...

Very nice portrait.

DebD said...

very nice job... and take care of yourself. Seriously.

David said...

Interesting thought about focusing on what you're good at. Of course, for you, that would require quite a wide lens. I've read that as a manager, the said is suggested for those you manage. While some of us tend to focus much of our energies on trying to pull up the low performers, many authorities suggest that the bulk of our efforts should be on our highest performers. As to the BP... I am glad that you are attending to that, and seeking council from a medical authority. While there is a lot that can be done through lifestyle, sometimes the answer requires a bit of help from big pharma. Thanks for continuing to share your art via a medium that is accessible to those who are physically distant.

Steve Emery said...

Utah - Thanks.

Debbie - Dearest and I will both get checked, now, and see what needs to be done.

David - Thanks for dropping by. We've talked before about that management concept (focusing on your top performers, rather than the poorest ones). I end up doing some of both...

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing a bit of your rather with us today. That is a lovely portrait. I really like the angle you chose.

Your words on doing what you do well really struck me today. That's no surprise, I suspect. (does the fish face again).

linda said...

what an important revelation about walking away from that we do not do well...why invite frustration and aggravation? so, I hope you can continue this path...

I'm glad you are keeping an eye on that BP as that is rather high for someone your age, unless there is a genetic component...painting of course, is your answer as is eating more fruits and veggies and walking happily...I'm relieved you are taking care of things and dealing with the issues rather than going the ostrich routine and practicing ignorance whilst you ignore the problem!

take care ... this is a wonderful portrait of your dad...he looks a kind man and one who is very much a listener...how perfect and fortunate for you and your family...