How Becoming an Artist at 53 Helped Me to Grieve–and Find Joy

All my life, no matter where I was or what I was doing (including earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics), I thought of myself as a writer, mostly a poet, but one who would venture into other literary arts, from personal essays to short fiction. I played guitar, but did not consider myself to be a musician. And I knitted, but would hardly cLiam to be a fiber artist. In my personal and professional lives, I wrote: happy, sad, busy, engaged, exhausted or exhilarated, from the moment I could first spell my name, I wrote.

But when my 94-year old grandmother died last winter, I had no language but tears. The fact of her very long life, and its profound connection to mine, did not mitigate my grief. When I went to write about it, my usual way to cope with emotions, good and sad, I could not.

Instead, inspired by something I had observed among the visual artists in a creativity group I belong to on Facebook, I thought  I might try to draw. The artists had introduced me to something called Zentangles, so I went to Michael’s craft shop to buy pens and paper. While there I was drawn—of course—to the pens, which included a gorgeous collection of watercolor pens. I bought two packs.

I have since published a book, a tribute to the women who made me, entitled  What Are Mothers For? On sale now via Amazon at, it is a cheerful gift for any mother, or anyone who has ever mothered you.

Proceeds up to $500 will be donated to Reading Partners Baltimore
Learn more about this effective program and how it changes the lives of children and volunteers. The volunteers participate in schools throughout the city, working one-on-one with children ages 5-to-8 who struggle to read.

This post originally appeared on Architects of Change by Maria Shriver. For the complete story, click here.

3 thoughts on “How Becoming an Artist at 53 Helped Me to Grieve–and Find Joy

  1. I just read your interview of Dr. Barfield in The Sun, and it was wonderful. It led me to your website, which I also find very intriguing and engaging. Thank you for sharing this good work. I also noted in your introduction to the interview that you mentioned having burning mouth syndrome. I also had this a few years ago, and I know how devastating it can be. If you have not yet resolved this issue, please email me and I will tell you how I finally found relief. Maybe it will help you, too. Also, I am going to see Bruce Springsteen on March 10 in Arizona, and I loved reading about your obsession with him and his music. Best wishes and many thanks!

  2. I am also into Zentangle art and adult coloring books. If we lived closer to each other, we could definitely be friends. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, look me up!

    • Sorry for the delayed reply–you must be my soul sister! I have discovered, to my surprise, that I LOVE to draw. I have two sites where you can see the things I draw and sell as notecards, posters, or whatever the person would like to have. I even drew one for Nils Lofgren!

      I’ll see Bruce on April 20 in Baltimore. I could only get one ticket, so this will be odd, going solo. But once you are in the Church of Springsteen, you are really with all those other souls, too.

      My etsy shop is called JustByJaice, and on Amazon it’s:

      See what you think!

      And thank you for taking time to read and comment.

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