September 6, 2011

Welcome to my journal.

My name is Suzanne Clem-Wheeler.

I am a creator.

My best creations were made with my partner and resulted in two wonderful young adults and a loving home.  Next year I will celebrate 25 years of marriage to my best friend.

I came from a humble background, without much money, but I wasn't poor.  Growing up like this made me understand you can have whatever you want as long as you focus and plan to receive it.  I've always had a different perspective on what life should and could be than my peers, and have shocked my family many times over the years as I reached goals that seemed unattainable.

I had a rude awakening last February when I was shown that no matter how much you worry about something, your worry cannot prevent it.  One of my biggest fears, my children will tell you, was one of them being in a car accident.  They both had their share of fender benders without injury and I was starting to believe that was going to be the culmination of my fear.

At 8:45 p.m. on February 17, 2011 we received a phone call no parent ever wants to get.  The second worst experience a parent can ever have.   Our newly 18-year-old daughter was in a serious car accident and was being airlifted by emergency helicopter to Grady, the Southeast's top trauma hospital.  The sheriff's office asked us what kind of vehicle we drove and told us to get to Grady as quickly as possible, all jurisdictions would be alerted not to stop us for speeding.  During the drive I repeated over and over "they're just being cautious" unable to wrap my head around the idea my child was in mortal danger.

We spent the next eleven days sitting beside her bed in the head trauma ICU while machines assisted her breathing and her brain healed enough to remember to do it without assistance.  We watched as she slowly woke up and re-experienced the transition from assisted small child full of innocence and naivety, to recognizing what she had been through and deciding to defy the odds of her prognosis even though she didn't really know what that was.  She says her first memory in the hospital was recognizing the wheel chair next to her bed for what it was and deciding she was not going to spend the rest of her life in one.

By the grace of God and sheer determination on her part, my daughter lived and after nearly two months in the hospital walked out unassisted, in tact, beautiful and ready to finish high school with her class.

I share this here because, when I talk, I frequently refer to "the accident."
It changed me.  Hopefully for the better.

Sept 8

If you ask any artist, they will likely say "I've been an artist my whole life."  I'm no different.  I've endeavored expressions of my creativity in many arenas including on the stage, non-traditional painting gigs like sets, faux finishes and murals, and have always pushed the envelope to see how I might mix various forms of art to create a single body.  Last year I visited Jonas Gerard's studio in Asheville and was determined to create my own live painting show.  I still may.

As I was preparing an introduction to videos I'm producing I used some photos I was able to gather of me painting starting with one in elementary school when a few of us were selected to paint on the windows of downtown stores.  We were assigned to the Baskin Robins. Yum. The photo slideshow ended up cut from my video intro, but it seemed appropriate to share it here, in the About me section of my blog.  Enjoy!