Dec 19, 2007 | Life in Progress

i know this is the season of being present. of paying deep attention. of being grateful. but for me, for many years, this season was a recount of loss and grief. it was a season of unspoken pain and memory. only in the last several years has it been different for me. i feel different and more whole because of it, too. when we release our grief and really take ownership of our hurts (instead of always being the ‘fine’ one. the ‘strong’ one.), we really do free up some space within ourselves for growth. not only do we get healing, but we get growth. but still, sometimes i feel myself slipping into moments of melancholy. it’s only natural.

i am feeling grown lately. as if i’m stretching into something more specifically me. it’s a feeling of bursting, on the edge of something, but having no idea what that ‘something’ may be. i just feel it and it feels warm and fuzzy. i’m also feeling the blessings of this life, but also the burden of blessings, too. i’ve been working at the hospital this week as they’re desperate for social workers…and i wanted to be in that space a bit more right now. today, i found myself talking with a very young cancer patient, not far from my age, and with a newborn baby. she was like many of us. loved her life. loved her man. followed her bliss. she warmed me with her story and her compassion and her fearlessness. she said something today that really struck me. she said the hardest lesson in her recent illness was to “allow her vulnerability to enter her everyday life and relationships.” yes. i get that. i’m learning that, too. i left her room with the perspective, as i often have after talking with cancer patients who are in the very center of their lives, that i must let go of the smallness of life. the details. the things that simply don’t matter. a few weeks ago, john and i decided that this year for christmas we would give one another nothing but a letter. we do this on our anniversaries, but have decided to do it this year for christmas, too. we have everything we could ever need. a thoughtful letter, in his handwriting, to me, sounds perfect to me right now. especially after this day i had on the oncology unit.

i am loving the spirit of togetherness lately. we are all connected, collected like a handful of wild flowers in the palm of this world. i am moved by it and feel very much supported by it, too.

how are you? i really want to know.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (22 comments)
  1. Anonymous

    It was almost uncanny reading this blog. I’ve been out of town this week and the unoffical theme of the week has been stretching. I am learning that though I can imagine the person I want to be, it does take time and patience and most of all trust in myself that every step of this journey is growing me into who I want to be.


  2. * mY fRiEnDs cALL mE Rella *

    Kelly, dear…..there is no one like you. It’s like a warm and loving hug every time I visit.

    I wanted you to know that my sister cried when she opened the ‘Heart to Heart’ print; or as I call it
    ‘Once There Were Three” She loved it so much and it touched her instantly as it did the moment I first saw it after losing our sister. I had framed it myself before wrapping it, so it was ready to hang.

    I told her all about you and your art and your life and your generosity as she was opening the gift. When she found out I also had the print and the story behind that, she was doubly excited.

    Before I left tonight (our annual Sister Christmas Dinner) the special, very special, piece was hanging and it was such a gift to ME to give her something I knew she would treasure always.

    Thank you, most sincerely and I wish you and John the most joyous of Holidays.
    xox Rella

  3. Alex aka Gypsy Girl

    What a beautiful post, Kelly. I love that we are “wild flowers” ;P We are so lucky to be full of life and ready to receive more blessings, to make more dreams come true… I’m on a long leave of absence from my film work, trying to transition into making art for a living! I would really like that! You continue to inspire me with your story, your constant smile and you kindness. Happy Holidays! xo

  4. Alexandra

    Weary, actually… Recovering too slowly from a stomach bug (I am normally never ill) and wondering how I will ever find the energy to go back after Christmas to my own work in a cancer-care setting … Wanting to take some time out to ask myself “How are you? I really want to know”. And being too scared to even begin to answer…

  5. Earthmamagoddess

    It made me cry to read you really want to know….

    and that is how I am right now.

    thanks for asking and really wanting to know.

  6. Julie H

    Oh Kelly, thank you for this heart felt post. I am well, the most well I have been in at least a decade and yet this season and its commercial focus puts our tendrils to pull me down in to the gloom.

    I have decided to soar above it. Thank you for opening a dialogue, for showing that others are at odds with the season too.

    Bless you for the work you do with those in desperate need – a special job.

  7. Marel Lecone

    I need to let go. I get easily moved by the stupid stuff. The work stuff, the making money stuff. I try to remember what someone told me recently. “I’m good with my husband. I’m good with my kids. So, I’m good.” Thank you for this post.

  8. Katrina

    i love the part about bringing the vulnerable into each moment, each situation, each conversation, etc. that’s beautiful and also completely brilliant.

    and i love that you and john are doing this through your letters as christmas gifts this year too. somehow the vulnerable, the intimate, the delicate, the tender always comes through in those simple handmade presents.

    so thank you for this and happy new year to you dear wonderful woman, artist, crafter, friend.

  9. Sherry

    Kelly, this is what makes you such a brilliant artist. You are in touch with your passion, compassion and your soul.

    I feel for you with grief and overcoming it. I’ve been in that place ~ it takes time but there is a sense of well being and having “risen” when you see the other side of it.

    How are things with me you ask? Quiet, slow…I’m not putting a lot of “effort” into the holidays. Being a 2 year and counting cancer survivor I “heard” what you were saying about spending time in oncology. We do lose so much but we gain even more. We must or the lesson is lost. Life is about simple things. Simple, every day joys.

    I love that you and your husband are gifting one another with letters for Christmas. This is what it is meant to be about.

  10. Cindy In Carolina

    I also love reading your post.

    Me……I have to keep up being the “fine” one. My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last month. If I give into my feelings I don’t think I could make it through the days.

    Thanks for sharing part of your world with us.

  11. kelly

    kelly….i am one that allows much in my life. i feel deeply and tend to feel so connected to those i know and even those that i read about. and sometimes i hear myself for apologizing for being sensitive, but it is honestly the one thing i love about me. but i sometimes end up feeling like others struggle with me feeling so deeply.

    right now – i just want to embrace life more. all of it, each day of it.

    and thank you for bringing much joy to my life, with your art and your words. i am so happy that i fell upon your piece of the world.


  12. Cotton Picker

    Kelly, first let me start by saying that I love your paintings.

    This has been a very hard year for me because I lost both my parents and my best friend. I am sad about that and feel that I don’t want to celebrate Christmas.

    What what I find uplifting is listening to Christmas music while spending my time handcrafting a few gifts for close friends and family. My husband and I decided our gift to each other would be a few small renovations in our house.

    I will watch “White Christmas” with my sister on Christmas Eve and we shall sing the “Sisters” number together, like we do every year.

    Happy Holidays to you.

  13. Judy Wise

    How am I? I am being open to all of life. To the possibilities, the disappointments, the things that are opening up and the parts that are closing behind me. I am grateful for my life and my loved ones. Thank you for a lovely post.

  14. Kate

    I read this post and a sudden swelling of sadness came over me…of the weight of trying so hard to be the “fine” one…thinking of how hard it is to let that go. My mother hates nothing so much as she hates a scared victim…I have always tried not to be that. As I read I thought, “Yes, yes, this is what I want–to be vulnerable! The relief of dropping that weight!” and already I sense myself editing this comment, worrying that even this sounds like a victim, that my mother, somehow, would see it. I give away my power.

    How am I? So often scared, so often comparing, not trusting, thinking about measuring up. This is with me every day on some level. I haven’t yet fiured out if this is just part of my life’s work–a daily process of working through this–or if the day will come when it will fully lift.

  15. Lina

    Thank you for that post, and thank you for asking…i could just say ‘i am fine’ which is what i usually say when people ask but the ‘real’ answer is…
    I am better than i was last year. This time of year has been difficult the past couple of years, and i felt almost required to spend it sad and grieving for the loss i had. Over the course of the last few months, i am so appreciative of what i have right now, at this moment. I can no longer hold on to the pain of tragedy past. I will never forget but i will not torture myself with the why and why nots of it all…i am thankful for it all. I read something that really stayed with me a while back- Don’t be sad because it’s over, be thankful because it happenned. Thats me right now, thankful.
    Have a very Merry Christmas Kelly Rae.

  16. Lelainia N. Lloyd

    I am learning too Kelly. I am learning the depth of my relationships with my close friends as they circle their wagons for me and about humility and vulnerability.

    When you are a social worker or work on a crisis line (like I did for 8 1/2 years) you get a rare, intimate glimpse into other people’s lives and pain and that is a gift. There’s a sacredness to it and a raw honesty that can’t help but change you, in the best ways possible.

    Deepak Chopra said something recently that had resonance for me. It was this:
    “From suffering, compassion is born. Where there is compassion, there is love and where there is love, there is healing.”

    It’s the hard things in life that make the cracks for the light to shine through. How blessed we are.

  17. jacki janse van rensburg

    the most beautiful people i have known are those who have known defeat, suffering, struggles and loss, and have found their way out of the depths by the grace of GOD. these people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. beautiful people like YOU are not born this way, they are formed this way by GOD’s loving hands. take care beautiful person. sending you lots of love and light, your angels are watching over you…

    if you don’t mind, please tell me how old you are?

  18. Tammigirl

    Happy holidays, Kelly Rae. Your blessings are contagious.

    How am I?
    Today…thrilled about life’s unlimited opportunities.
    Thank you for asking.

  19. Patty  Craft

    Amen, little sister!

    I so love that you and John are just sharing your thoughts and feelings through your letters with each other for Christmas. It’s a beautiful, sane idea at a time when we all have so much (and do we really need more stuff?)

    I had to go to my oncologist yesterday for a check up and after spending many hours in the waiting room and treatment suite, I was feeling a rash of emotion. I’m so grateful I’m well this Christmas (I wasn’t last year). I prayed for those I could tell were in the middle of treatment. For a moment fear crept into my heart, but I reminded myself to choose love rather than fear.

    I’m so grateful our paths have crossed. Thank you for sharing more than your wonderful art with us.

    peace and love,

  20. Michelle

    Your posts often make me reflect and think, think about what the problem areas are but also about what the positives and plusses are too.

    There seems to be so much going on in my life now and all I keep thinking is ‘I must downsize, take more off of my plate, not sweat the small stuff’ but it’s hard isn’t it? It’s an art all of its own.

    I hope you both have a very special Christmas together.
    Michelle x

  21. Brahdelt

    Thank you very much for this post, it’s so “just in time” for me this Christmas season. I’ve always been very stressed and tense during this time of the year because my mom was always making a lot of unpleasant fuss about Christmas. So this year I’ve also prepared myself for this ordeal and … she seems to be stress-free as if she finally let go. And I’ve just noticed that so it’s time for me to let go my tension, too.
    Happy Holidays!

  22. Lynne

    Perspective is something that we often need to jolt us back to reality.

    How am i is really a loaded question for me right now but thank you for asking because it made me ask myself how i am doing and i needed that.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family.


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Hello + welcome!

I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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