The Right Directionby Bonnie Druschel
From “Journey to Joy”
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand
as in what direction we are moving.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes.
In the winter my mother often sent my sisters and I to bed with our coats on in preparation for my father’s drunken state when he arrived home from the local bar. So much turmoil ensued that, for our safety, my mother ran us out the front door as he stumbled in through the back.
The next morning, my mother would force me to hop onto my father’s lap, kiss him on the cheek, and tell him that I loved him, and all the while his breath reeked of booze from the night before. I hated that! Why did she make me do that? Was she that clueless?
Four years old, the youngest of three sisters, every night, scared to go to sleep, I had nightmares. I saw dead people hanging from ropes in my closet. My Barbie dolls always ended up looking massacred, no hair, no boobs, no arms, and no legs—only the torso existed intact. I had no voice. I could never defend myself. When I tried, nothing came out.
I remember going to a friend’s house in grammar school. She had a bunch of Barbie dolls and I was amazed at how she treated them—I couldn’t understand why she combed their hair, cradled them in her arms, and spoke to them so gently. Why in the world is she being so nice? I wondered.
Everything was always perfect in my family—the way we dressed, the manicured bushes outside, the clean floor inside, and everyone loved my father. Only I knew it was all wrong. I was five or six years old when, the morning of our family picture, I snuck into my mother’s professional hair salon in our house, grabbed her scissors, and cut off my bangs. She calmly gathered the pieces of hair, taped them to my forehead, and—as if nothing unusual had happened—took us for our family portrait! Everyone looked perfect.
The Artist Within
Despite the emotionally repressive environment as a child, I managed to be a pretty happy kid. My mother’s clients were always friendly to me—I even nicknamed one of them my “fairy godmother” because she brought me gifts. I spent a lot of time playing by myself outside in the woods or in the fields on my father’s parents’ farm. My grandparents lived next door, first generation Poles and very strict. I cherished my grandmother on my mother’s side—always so loving to me, she is still a warm and wonderful influence in my life.
I did ok in school, but hated it. In high school I was an athlete; it felt good to be in shape and to sweat, and sports was a way to prove I was somebody.I worked in the fields at my grandparent’s farm—hard work and discipline seemed to follow me wherever I went, and it made me feel accomplished on some level.
I fell into a crowd in high school that liked to party, hang out, drink, and smoke pot. A small town girl, I didn’t think much about it—it was just what I did. Eventually, I developed a reputation for being with one guy one week, and another the next. I wasn’t the only one, but somehow I got labeled while the others didn’t. Naive, I didn’t realize then I was simply looking for someone to love me.
At seventeen I took an art class at a vocational school and realized how it made me feel—like I had some talent, like I was something or someone special! I loved being there, painting the still life scene set up by the teacher…I decided then that I wanted to be an artist, but had no clue how to make that happen.
I attended community college, but that lasted all of one month. At eighteen, somehow I landed a job in the athletic department at a local university. At the age of twenty, although I knew nothing about the law of attraction, I wrote down on a piece of paper the qualities I wanted in a man: funny, nice, cute, educated, playful, and loving. Later that year, invited by a high school friend to visit him in New York City, I was greeted at the door by his roommate, Tom. The nicest guy, I discovered Tom matched everything on my list! Engaged to be married within six months, I moved to New York to be with him and attend business school. I followed my heart and, two years later, we married.
A few years after that we moved from New York to the Boston area to be closer to my mother, who now cared for my father, recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I not only worked full-time at a Fortune 500 company, but attended college full-time as well. After finishing my Associates Degree in Business we moved back to western Massachusetts.
One day during a routine gynecological appointment, the doctor discovered a cyst the size of a grapefruit on my ovary. I rushed to get a second opinion. What should have been an easy in and out operation turned into major reconstruction of my ovaries, as they pulled out my guts and put back them together again. Turns out, I was really sick and didn’t know it!
What’s going on? I wondered. Why the hell is this happening to me? What am I doing? What’s this all about?
Then my sister gave me Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life” as a get well gift, and I began to answer my own questions. Soon, this book became my bible and launched my twenty-year journey into spirituality and full creative healing.
The path to becoming my full creative self was gradual and persistent. Eventually I learned that the site of my injury resided within my second chakra—a strong indication of repressed creativity! I realized I had layer upon layer of emotional blocks and hurts locked deep inside.
I began to apply new, more positive concepts to my life, and things began to shift. I felt better and took better care of myself—got myself into therapy, started practicing meditation, improved my diet, and began exercising again. I could feel some of the shame melting away.
At about the same time, I decided to allow myself to do something I loved and enrolled in an art class as an elective. Hours would go by seamlessly when I had a paintbrush in my hand! All I knew is that when I painted, it made me feel really good, and making art became the only thing I wanted to do.
I decided to go for my dream—I applied to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and was accepted into the art department! We moved back to my hometown and I began to live my dream of becoming an artist. Immediately the tape in my head began to say “art is a stupid career choice!” I didn’t care. I had to do it! Everything would work out somehow…
The Art of Forgiveness
In her book, Louise Hay states that all “dis-ease” comes from a state of un-forgiveness, and this resonated strongly with me. She also writes that the very person you find it hardest to forgive is the one you need to let go of the most. When I realized I’d never completely forgiven my parents, I began to practice forgiving and releasing. I knew I needed to stop seeking approval from others, and build greater self-acceptance. In doing so, I began to release my internal critic and remove myself from toxic relationships.
Shortly afterward, all of this deep shame about sleeping around in my teen years came bubbling up from inside of me, and I realized my low level of self-esteem. I remembered some nasty comments boys had made to me, and in a flash, a memory surfaced: In high school I was invited to my first bon fire—the peer pressure was on.
The girl I got a ride with abandoned me at the party. I asked the other girls I barely knew if I could have a ride home with them, but they laughed at me and said “sorry our car is full!” I was the only girl left standing around the fire with eight guys…in the mountains, ten miles from home! I had to ask a guy I barely knew for a ride home. He took me home, and nothing happened.
So much pent up rage surfaced—I painted frantically on huge nine-foot canvases, I beat pillows fearlessly, I spoke up for myself! It was the hardest thing to do, and much of it came out as screaming, but my voice was finally being heard! I had to plow through negativity with positive statements and recondition my mind.
Early on, when negative feelings surfaced, I’d reach for a cigarette or a sweet treat. Now, I allowed myself to feel my feelings, to say “I love you” to painful memories that surfaced. Over time, I realized that to make art that resonates with others, I had to access experiences and emotions that were locked deep within me.
Along the way, I tried all types of healing practices: Vipassana—the ancient Indian practice of silent meditation; sweat lodge ceremonies; medical intuitive sessions; and shamanic healing. Certain healing practices resonated with me more than others, and I learned to live in the moment, participate in personal growth seminars, practice affirmations, and connect with nature.
Today I feel so alive, happy, and free! I take one hundred percent responsibility for my life! I let go, let God, and trust that what is right and perfect will show up for me. Every day, I live in gratitude and always ask the angels for guidance.
My artwork has been exhibited in the United States, Germany, and West Africa, and appeared on mugs, votives, gift bags, journals, and jewelry sold throughout the U.S. and Canada. My story is included in Louise Hay’s book “Modern Day Miracles” and this past June my photographs graced billboard-style screens on 42nd street in New York City. I‘ve spoken at women’s conferences to audiences of more than one hundred people, and coming out in the fall of 2013 is my first published book “Sunflower Adventure: Always Facing the Sun!”
Life is good and continues to get better every day! I’ve found that the present moment is where the power is and where creativity can flourish. I’ve learned to be who I am and to practice the art of forgiveness. I just needed to move in the right direction…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bonaventure (Bonnie) has a love of nature inspired by a childhood spent in the gardens and farm of her grandparents. Her work is in collections and has been exhibited around the globe. Her inspirational artwork has appeared on mugs, votives, gift bags, journals and jewelry. Bonnie has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an AS degree in business and has worked at Fortune 500 companies. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband, Tom, and cat, L.G. ( “Little Guy”). Bonnie believes nature heals, and it has always been her inspiration in art and in life.
Bonnie Druschel, Inspirational Artist
N.I.C.E. “Nature Inspired Creative Experiences”