Family Ties

Hey Awesome Ladies! Vanessa here to share an emotional mini I worked on while thinking about May’s theme: Family.

How that word can hold so much weight. While everyone was sharing lovely photos of their Mother’s Day activities and words of love, mine was essentially telling me that she won’t come see us this summer even though we’ll be traveling to Canada from Beijing…because she is too socially busy.

I’m used to it, but find it hard to explain to my kids why their grandmother is just not that into seeing them. This lead me to think about roots and family trees. This is our second posting abroad. It has an impact on how you think about notions of “home” and “roots”.

I made this mini book with thick watercolour paper. I misted the pages and dropped coloured ink into the water. When that was dry, I painted the trees and roots with ink then sprayed it, creating the “flutter”/ vein effect you see throughout.

Living abroad also makes you think about who is your family. Who really sees you as you are and not as they want you to be or how they have decided you should be?  Time spent away from our families can instill distance very quickly.

My family has a history of strong women and matriarchal personalities. But it also has a very strong history of lies and half-truths, of re-interpretation of things. This is both disconcerting and frustrating. My father has passed away so there isn’t much I can do about that side of things. But my mother has developed this pattern of not telling the full truth to paint herself in the right light…even though I witnessed certain events that she is recounting.

All of that creates some very confusing emotions within me. It also makes me not want to perpetuate that kind of legacy. All the unhealthy patterns about eating and my sense of self-worth associated to my body come from my mother. I am making huge efforts since January to overcome years of twisted perceptions. I realize that a lot of this comes from her mother and so on and so forth. So where does it stop?

I am talking about my mother a lot, but that is because my father is gone. Buried with him are the frustrations and questions I may have had. Things I’ll never know for sure, especially since my mother is not a reliable source. These roots, these trees; they represent feelings thoughts and questions I have had to let go of. I have had to manage my expectations and protect my heart.

So who is my family, who sees me and nourishes my soul?

My husband, my children. My sister and her family. My friends. My friends are my chosen family. My art tribe is my chosen family. People who have opened their hearts, have walked along this path with me, people who are unafraid to be vulnerable, to grow older, to take chances, to admit mistakes. They are my family.

I am grateful for them every single day. I see them too, I carry them, I hold them up. And I am lucky to do so.

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of melody willoughby
    melody willoughby 3 weeks ago

    V, this is so good. It would be hard for me to express some of the things in my family but I wonder if it would be therapeutic. I am almost paralyzed in thought just writing this comment. Lots of anexity today surrounding several family matters. Not my husband but other parts of our family. All of this to say I loved your post and mini book. 😊😘

  2. Profile photo of Carol W.
    Carol W. 3 weeks ago

    Love this post. So much courage to actually write a post like this regarding family. My Extended Family is a hard limit for me to talk about sometimes because even though I don’t want to be disloyal, gossipy, untrustworthy, etc…. and at the same time there are others in my family unit whom do not extend the same kind of loyalty/trust etc…. I have so much on my mind that I do need to talk, vent or just let out. Liking the idea of art book. Thank you.

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