Labels – my new label

Whether we like it or not as we go through life we acquire labels along the way. Parent, child, employer, employee etc. The one I have been referred to most over the past four years is ‘stroke survivor’ or the one I hate ‘stroke victim’. I always feel this is negative and likely to leave one feeling beaten when previously feeling quite pleased with their progress that day.

We carry on with our daily routines not even noticing that if introduced to others we are these days introduced firstly by name quickly followed by stroke survivor or she has had a stroke you know. Last weekend unbeknown to me I was to be given a new label which would last for three days as it was a Bank Holiday.

I had been invited to take part in an Art Exhibition at Great Witley church Worcestershire. It was to run over the whole of the Bank Holiday and a preview evening on the Friday. I arrived Friday morning to deliver my paintings ready for display and my first reaction was there has to be a mistake, did I imagine my invite? Did I misunderstand? The paintings surrounding me were so spectacular and the artists so talented I turned to my partner, Nick and suggested perhaps my paintings should remain in the car. I don’t mind admitting, I felt out of my depth.

The organiser had spotted me and asked where my paintings were so I told her how I was feeling, she kindly said “I shouldn’t be feeling that way as I my work is good”. At this stage I still felt nervous.

Leaving the paintings there it was planned we would later attend the preview evening with friends and my parents. On arriving we were greeted by Anne, the organiser asking did I receive her email? I hadn’t and immediately the nerves returned twofold, my first thoughts has someone remarked unfavourably on the standard of my work. Anne said “one painting has sold already and it is one of yours”. I was both shocked and elated. As the evening and weekend unfolded I was introduced with a new title my name followed by the label ‘artist’. For a whole weekend I forgot about my recovery program and pushing myself as a stroke survivor, I left that label behind and borrowed a different one. My confidence grew.

As you probably gathered, I over did things despite only spending three hours a day at the event. It has taken most of this week to recover, it was the extra mental drain of talking and trying to remember things. I asked to take on the role of selling raffle tickets for a short time. This would have been such a menial task pre stroke days but the concentration of writing numbers on the back of a ticket with my none dominant hand and the correct ticket rather than the one I was handing back to the customer. Also to try and give change. People helped me, I explained my difficulty and everyone understood but I had not appreciated how exhausting that obviously was for me when I was in seventh heaven with my new name of ‘artist’.

It was a wonderful weekend and one I will always remember. I have to make sure I paint some pictures good enough to be a part of it next year, same place and same Bank Holiday weekend.


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