I first started painting rocks about 15 years ago. My youngest son, Jake was struggling in school. He had some behavioral problems – yelling, screaming, disrupting the classroom, hurting other students. On top of that, he was way behind the other students academically. I was called to school on numerous occasions and had countless meetings with the teacher, the principal, the school counselor….. Jake was getting sick all the time. His behavior at home was odd – lots of pacing, spacing out, aggressive behavior, meltdowns. He was in counseling but there was no improvement. It was a stressful time to say the least.
Prior to Jake being born, I was diagnosed with myofascial pain disorder – which means my muscles constrict and then don’t relax – which resulted in a constant painful headache that at times radiated to my neck, chest and arms. I could no longer work, so my husband and I lost our house, packed up our kids and moved to a small community where we could afford to live on one income. During that time, I learned to paint using books and videos. I didn’t notice the pain when I painted because I was concentrating on something I loved to do and it was a wonderful relief!
Two years after Jake was born, my marriage fell apart and I was left with 3 kids to care for. Despite my physical pain, I got a full time job. It was hard to juggle everything, but I did – for a time. When Jake started school, my two older children, Caitlin and Asa, were teenagers. Jake was having such a hard time at school, my older kids were fighting a lot, and I was working, and managing all the other aspects of being a single parent. The stress of it all made my pain worse and worse, until one day I literally put my head down on my desk at work and said to myself, “This is ridiculous. Why am I doing this? I can’t do this anymore.” So I put in my notice at work, took Jake out of public school and was a stay-at-home mom.
Our income consisted of Jake’s disability which was about $700 – and $75 a month in child support. (Not $75 for each kid. $75 for all three of them together). Now $775 a month is not a lot of money to raise three kids considering the mortgage was almost $700 itself. So I applied for food stamps, charged my credit cards to the max and took out a loan against my life insurance – and I began to paint again.
I still had some paint supplies – and rocks were plentiful where we lived. I got books about rock painting and started in. My first rocks weren’t that great, but I kept trying and I listed them for sale on ebay. I was so excited when I actually got bids on them! So, I kept painting and painting – and I got better and better – and sold more and more. I was not getting rich by any means, but my painted rocks brought in enough of an income for us to get by – for awhile.
Eventually our house was foreclosed on and I filed for bankruptcy. My credit was ruined. But something wonderful happened when I quit work, which money could not buy. I was not as stressed, so my pain improved. I got to know my kids better, because I spent more time with them. My kids didn’t fight as much. Jake’s behavior improved, and he rarely got sick. We grew closer as a family. And I got to paint! How cool is that?