Transformation Wall Art

Hello, my name is Tracy. I’m an artist that likes to up-cycle items – take things and through art make them have a bit more personality.

I’m calling this piece “Transformation” and below you can read about some of the meaning I found while painting.

Mostly I have only done items around our house and a couple pieces for a neighbor. This piece I found on the free table (our town has a table to leave and pick up used items).

I’m raffling this piece of artwork – tickets are only $2 for 1 or 3 for $5.

Watching the transformation of the piece …

I have a lot of article written on the topic of transformation and growth. Below are links to a few I really like.

Because of you, Ms. Susan

Because of you,
my children learned to read;
they learned their math and abc’s.

You watched them struggle.
You helped them grow.

I don’t know if we ever told you so,
but we love you more than you will ever know.

You were my children’s teacher,
but even more than that.

You’ve been so very much more
to them, to me, and our family.

Because of you
I learned to be a better mother.

Because of you
I’ve become a better friend.
A better person for my community,
for myself, my body, my children, and
every person I can.

You’ve taught us through your patience,
through your laughter, honesty, and love.

You’ve taught us all these past five years
you’ve been teaching us all along.
You walked with us through the heartaches,
through the confusion, and the tears.
You’ve walked with us so gently,
right beside us through the years.

Because of you my children learned to read;
they learned their math and abc’s.

But because of you, we all moved forward.
Because of you, we have learned to THRIVE!
Because you walked us through our darkness
Because of you, we are truly alive.

Because you are so much more than a teacher,
so much more even than a friend.

Please always remember,
our dear Ms. Susan;
when you see my children succeeding,
when you see my family smile,
when you see our life-long learning,
It’s because you are the awesome you that you are,
Ms. Susan, it was all because of you.

Ripples of Gratitude Poem

I thought of how to thank you,
the words alone seemed flat.
I had some wood,
I had some string, some nails, and a hammer too.
And with these things I made this gift,
a special gift for you.
I made this art,
From wood and strings,
From thoughts and hopes and words and dreams.
I didn’t know how else to show
my thanks for all that you have done;
but to give you this art I made for you,
I hope you like it, making it for you was fun.

By: Tracy Marrs

Janus and the duality of new beginnings

It’s January – a new year! Yaaaaaay! and UGH!

Today is the fifth day of January and I already have mixed feelings about this year. I feel like I am on a rollercoaster and on a hamster wheel – a hamster wheel on a rollercoaster? One moment I am feeling cozy and reading a book for the joy of the story, not for research. Fully enjoying “wintering.” The next moment I’m creating a new website to try to start some new career that I can’t really imagine, so it’s hard to get going but I just know I am on the right track, so I spend hours working on it – publish it and see 5 people looked at it and none of them went past the first page. So, was it a waste or was it my first step towards something new? Only time will tell for the future is SO unknown.

Lately, I’ve been anxious. I think that is the best word. I feel excited that the future is unknown and full of possibility, but the unknown is also scary and full of insecurity. My studies taught me to become more observant and see patterns, so I do not allow these feelings to rule me as they once did. Part of how I understand what is going on – because when I get like this – anxious, restless, excited, agitated, and basically at a loss for how to cope, I say ‘what is going on?’ – is to turn to stories for guidance.

I have been bouncing around between myths, trying to figure out how relate myth to myself and to others. I went from painting an octopus, to studying the Kraken, to the Hawaiian god that transformed into an octopus, and finally the octopus-woman that returns to Earth every few generations to have offspring with her offspring. I decided this was not the rabbit hole for me at this particular time. I have been continuing with this pattern all year (all five days of it!!) actually it’s been going on for weeks – I started drawing and painting and then realized I didn’t know what to do with all these paintings and drawings and painting and drawing take a lot of time and I want to learn the guitar again and how to sew and start a new writing project and also do a myth workshop and the list is endless. So, I stopped painting and started writing – why do I write? I do not know – I have like a bazillion things to say about winter, about transitions, and Janus and all these things – it all makes sense in my head – it begins good – but then it starts to split and spread, and I feel myself chasing the ideas – my ability to start is so much stronger than my ability to follow through and finish.

My Octopus painting

Last year, I finished my dissertation and I completed clearing out and selling my old home. I had two, very major areas of my life end. It was wonderful and liberating to be DONE – I do not have to work on the paper I worked on for more than five years. I do not have to deal with caring for a home I did not live in and things I did not use. I’m DONE – so the big question is – now what? Time to begin – and where better to begin than at the beginning. As a starter, actually finishing these two major milestones left me in a strange state. I like the freedom of not having these things to work on – but don’t really know what to do with myself. I know things to do – I have a million things to do, but what can I do that will be meaningful, that will be helpful, that will give me fulfillment? What makes me happy and how can I do that for employment? What makes me unhappy and how do I stay away from that? There are more questions about the future and the instability of the world makes the questions that much more difficult to answer.

According to the Romans, at the beginning – there was Janus. He was the first god to be invoked in prayers, the first month of the year is named after Janus, and his two faces represent the dual nature of beginnings – because we all know that beginning is exciting AND scary – it’s liberating AND paralyzing. It’s crazy and mixed up, but if we do it right – we can use January to reflect on the past, plan for the future, and be ok with the doorway of right now (the present).

The past does not exist, it is done – it only exists as a story. The future is also a story, we can make plans and can make predictions, but until it happens – it does not exist. Now exists, but it is always gone – now quickly become then. Trying to be in the now – to experience life and not be swept up in what came before an what goes on after is almost impossible – so we have to see now as the threshold of the past and present. Janus the god of thresholds, the god of in between has two faces. He looks both behind and forward. To me – this says reflection and planning. January is frustrating because planning is not doing. Planning is only telling the story of what you want to do. January is exciting because planning is full of possibilities. But does not just look forward with his plans – he also looks back. He reflects – and hopefully learns from the past. I think it is important he has his eye on both. The past without future is death and a future without a past is foolish. January – beginning the new year (ending the old one) is a time to winter, a time to plan, and a time to plan. This is the time the seeds lay dormant – but they are not dead. We can nurture those seeds – feed the ones we want to grow in the spring, summer, and reap in the fall and let those that harm us stay in the winter of the mind for next year’s reflections.

From fishing to bean soup

The time grandpa lost his patience with me

My grandpa was a kind and patient man. He was slow to anger and quick to smile with us kids – but there was a time he lost his patience with me, a time with Jeff, and a time his dad lost it with him that I want to share. These stories have continued to be told in our family as the few examples of times when grandpa’s patience wore thin.

I don’t know when my grandpa started to take me fishing by myself. I must have been about my kids’ ages (7-10) when I became a good fishing buddy. We enjoyed fishing the Santa Ana River in Southern California together.

My kids when they were little, at the Santa Ana

I was a city kid. My dad didn’t take me fishing and my mom and stepdad do not fish. It was grandpa that introduced me to the river, that taught me about the currents, and that showed me where to cast my line so it wouldn’t scare the fish, but flow naturally so they would bite.

Grandpa also shared his love for photography with me, specifically black and white photography. One winter day, grandpa thought it would be fun to take me to the aspens to take black and white pictures in the snow and catch a little fishing on the way home.

Like I said, I was a city kid, wearing city clothes. A long sleeve shirt, light jacket, jeans, and tennis shoes. If you are unaware of how to dress for a day in the snow and at the icy river – it is not jeans and certainly not tennis shoes.

The day started out beautifully. The aspens were the perfect subject for our pictures – especially in the snow. Soon however, my feet started to hurt and I wanted to go back to the warm car, but I was a trooper and I didn’t complain. I don’t think I even had gloves on – I was clueless.

We had time to warm up in the car from the aspens to the river. It was a pleasant drive as grandpa told me stories and we watched the snow covered mountains and trees pass the window.

As we walked out to the river, I hesitated. I knew the further we walked out, the further we had to walk back – and I was still cold. But, grandpa loved fishing, he wasn’t going to let a little ice on the creek stop him (he had full waterproof waders on). His enthusiasm was contagious as we got to the river to fish.

It was cold – but it was also very pretty. Until I slipped on one of the icy rocks in the river. I fell – hard – into ice, cold water. That was it, I had enough and wanted to go NOW! Grandpa was concerned but I was okay and we hadn’t fished long. I was crying and making lots of noise – between my splash and noise, he wasn’t catching any fish anyways and we hurried to his green Ford Explorer and cranked up the heater.

It wasn’t major, but I know my grandpa was irritated with me that day. His tone was different, his actions sharper – he has lost his patience with me. I felt like a fussy baby, not the tough oldest grandkid of Jack Jones. I was wet and cold and at that moment couldn’t even enjoy the beauty of the snow – it was the only time I remember grandpa becoming irritated by me.

The time he lost his patience with Uncle Jeff

Grandpa told me a story about a time he lost his patience with my Uncle Jeff when he was just a boy. They were walking the river, fishing. My uncle, being a small boy was lagging behind, I’m sure, and his arm brushed against a purple thistle. If you’ve never touched a thistle, it stings! The sensation is similar to how I imagine a hundred burning pins. There is an easy way to ease the pain – you either hold the affected area in the cold water or put cold river mud on it. At the time, my grandpa was already annoyed with Jeff.

Maybe grandpa didn’t know how bad a thistle sting could be but after seeing why Jeff was crying, my grandpa did something uncharacteristic – he lost his patience and got angry. He told Jeff that those flowers didn’t hurt that much and grabbed the thistle firmly into his hand.

Purple thistle
Illustration by Ben Levitt

Now, I’ve touched thistles plenty of times, but never grabbed it to were the needles would press into my skin. Grandpa told the story about how his anger made him foolish and the pain made his eyes well up with tears. He told me it was one of the worst pains he ever felt and it was even worse because it was a pain he deserved because it came from anger at his hurt son. He told me the story to teach me not to touch thistles but also to warn me not to let the anger win.

The time grandpa made his dad swear

I never knew my great grandparents except through stories, but my great grandfather was a good, kind, and gentle man. He was a farmer that prayed and often shed a tear when he took an animals’ life for food. My grandpa was raised a Quaker and according to him, his father never cussed or swore but did have two ‘Yankee curse words’ and I want to share a time of when my grandpa made his kind and gentle father so mad – he said them both.

Grandpa as an adult was mischievous and a bit of a trickster so I can only imagine what sort of fun he must have been as a young boy. One time, he and his friend got the idea to trick his dad. They got a bucket, filled it full of water, and balanced it on the wedged door his dad would be coming through and then, hid and waited.

When great grandpa walked through the door, the bucket did not turn over and instead of having a bucket of water spill out on his head, he had a bucket full of water fall directly, with full force onto his head – and then spill on the floor.

My grandpa said he could still remember the sickening sound of the bucket hitting his father’s head and the extreme sudden remorse he felt. He had only meant to play a joke, not seriously injure him.

Little boy grandpa and his friend stayed hidden out of fear as his father’s face grew red from the neck up and tears rolled out of his eyes down to the floor and he very quietly, but with great anger said “Rats … BEAN SOUP!”

And that is the only time my grandpa said he remembered his father cursing.

I found this image when I typed in rats and bean soup. Kind of funny (it was with a story of a soup company that made rat meatballs which isn’t as funny) but I liked it enough to add as a combo of the swear words – rats and bean soup.

Grandpa Jack‘s anniversary

Today would have been my grandparents 69th wedding anniversary – my grandfather passed away almost two years ago and my grandma just remarried this week. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking of my grandpa more lately. I miss him so much and I cry more now than I did a year ago. He was an awesome man.

My grandpa and I had a special relationship and part of that relationship was built on fishing. I love fishing because it is a connection to my grandpa, to his dad, to my children, to my husband, and to my grandpa’s family in general.

So today, I was going to go to the creek to remember grandpa, but it didn’t feel right. We went with the kids to celebrate his life but this was his anniversary and my grandma was freshly married.

I wondered what grandpa would have thought. He loved grandma with all his heart. His love was beautiful, their love was beautiful. It was an example for our family and for the many people they reached through their lives.

Grandma was sad without grandpa, her health deteriorated, and she began to feel she could not live independently. Her new husband makes her happy, he brings the bounce back to her step … at 90, my grandma is giddy with new love. I know grandpa loves grandma enough to want her to have that happiness. I can almost hear him chuckle with her at her girlishness. I’m crying as I write this. My grandpa had a great laugh.

So, I didn’t go to the creek, I painted. I painted a fish, a frog, a puma, and another rainbow trout for grandpa.

I think grandpa would like my paintings. I think he would place them on reading desk in the back room or on the bookshelf in the living room. I think he would be happy to see how we have carried out what we learned from him.

I miss him most with the happy times. He would have loved getting to know my husband better, seeing the great grandchildren with their growing personalities. He would be happy to know Mike’s kids live a country life, that Joe’s kids are as athletic as ever, and mine have their mother’s creative spark. He would love knowing we all keep the river in our hearts as a part of him.

So happy anniversary grandpa. We love and miss you forever – here’s some rainbow trout for you – I hope you enjoy them in heaven as much as I enjoyed painting them for you here on earth.