An Artist Writes Memoir: Joan Z. Rough’s “Scattering Ashes”

Introducing Joan

I met Joan Z. Rough on Chincoteague Island in February 2015, having become blog buddies months earlier. When we met on this writers’ retreat, Joan was using the Scrivener tool to revise and edit the manuscript for a memoir of the 7-year slice of her life taking care of a terminally ill mother she had both loved and hated: a narcissistic, alcoholic woman.

joandog

Let me introduce you to Joan properly from her website “About” page:

Besides writing poetry and nonfiction, I am an artist, passionate about painting with oils and wax, collage, mixed media, photography, and sculpting French beaded flowers.  My work in photography has been exhibited throughout the nation and has found homes in numerous collections. Though retired from actively showing my work, I still take great joy in creating large, colorful works on canvas and paper and smaller encaustic paintings on wood.

When near-collapse from care-taking was imminent, Joan retreated to making colláges, furiously painting in oils, writing poetry and frantically beading, beading, beading, lovely jewelry pieces.

joanabstractpainting

joanpaintingspring

Click here for a poem with an autumn palette.

Her memoir Scattering Ashes launched just yesterday on September 20, 2016. This memoir resonates with healing and hope for adult children caring for burdensome parents.

scatteringashes

My Review

Joan Zabski Rough, author of Scattering Ashes, is a painter, a poet, and photographer. She is also a memoirist who summons her artistic talent in order to lay bare her life story, particularly her complex relationship with a narcissistic, alcoholic mother suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In this memoir of letting go, the author paints a picture of the violence of her childhood and the search for solace through art, taming the dragon lady within, using bold strokes of black, yellow, and red, evident in a colláge she recalls constructing in her journey toward peace.

In Scattering Ashes, the reader observes writer Rough fighting to let go of guilt, shame, and self-doubt as she says a long goodbye to her elderly mother during seven years of caring for her in her own home, becoming a mother to her own mother. Face to face with the woman who birthed her, she is forced to confront scars of childhood that have left her feeling victimized with low self-esteem, a demon she has grappled with her entire life. As a reader in thrall to the unfolding tale of the dutiful care-taker daughter shackled to an ungrateful mother, I wanted to shout, “Stop, you’ve done enough. You are good enough. You are enough!”

Through metaphor, the artistic author vividly describes her muse: her ideal, stable family carved of marble. Then she deciphers the dilemma of her journey with travel imagery:

The crossroads I’m at is not your usual four-corners kind of deal. It’s a hub of sorts, with innumerable roads shooting off in all directions. I’m afraid I’ll choose the wrong road. I know I can’t stay where I am for long, and I certainly don’t want to go back the way I came. But where do I go? And what does it mean to be free of the burdens I’ve spent these last years carrying?

Joan Rough’s memoir begins like Picasso’s Guernica with images of violence and animosity, her home a war zone. It ends as its author promises in the book’s dedication “ . . . to all mothers and daughters who are seeking to love and forgive each other.”

I highly recommend this memoir to all who struggle to make sense of a complicated mother-daughter relationship. This true story lights the way to self-acceptance, forgiveness – and eventually, to healing.


Meet Joan on her Facebook author page

Buy her book here!   scatteringashes


Do you know Joan or someone like her? Can you relate to her struggles? her triumph?

 

Coming next: Aunt Ruthie Longenecker – Her Life in Pictures

Purple Passages: Rich Word$

On December 29, author/blogger Joan Rough published a post declaring her optimistic intentions for 2015 and pondering a single word to characterize this new year while contemplating words of wisdom used other years. Some choices she suggested: Believe, Dare, Trust, Patience, Forward. Even the word Intention would be a good star to steer by, she mused.

Other commenters suggested words like Flow and Connection. Thus, Purple Passages for January is constructed from 3 of these words: DareIntention, Flow

DARE

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”
E.Y. Harburg

INTENTION

Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.

― Phylicia Rashad, the valiant wife in The Cosby Show

Artist Cliff's intention turning to action, recycling old technology
Artist Cliff’s intention turning to action, recycling old technology

FLOW

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Louis L’Amour

“I am rooted, but I flow.”
Virginia Woolf

ADVANCE: My word for 2015

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.          Henry David Thoreau, Walden

What do you think?

“Just go with the flow” is an expression offered sometimes as advice for tough times. How do you experience “flow” in your life now? How about daring, ― or intending?

Have you picked a guide word for 2015?

*  *  *
 A final word: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding.      Proverbs 3:5

Coming next: Signs and a Wonder: St. Simons Island

Accepting the Red Heart: One Lovely Blog Award

Remember getting a gold or silver star on your homework papers in grade school? Well, writers who read each other’s blog posts do something similar – they nominate those they admire for the One Lovely Blog Award. It’s not a gold star. It’s a red heart and looks like this:

OneLovelyBlog Award

In October, two admirable authors nominated me. Thank you to authors Kathy Pooler and Mary Gottschalk. In November, notable writer Joan Rough nominated me, so it is high time to acknowledge this honor and pass on the baton. I consider all three of these writers my mentor/encouragers.

The Rules:

Name and thank those who nominated you.

Share 7 things about yourself that others may not know.

Nominate 15 bloggers (or as many as you like) to whom you would like to pass on the nomination.

7 Little-Known Facts about Me:

  1. I don’t wear false teeth.
  2. My hair was not cut until I was 26 years old.
  3. I’m still married to my first blind date.
  4. My first engagement ring was flushed down the commode by our 3-year-old daughter. She doesn’t remember. I forgave. She was only three.
  5. One summer after college I traveled to 47 states with a friend from college. I had no idea then that my husband-to-be was living in the Pacific Northwest.
  6. One winter a snowboarder hit me while skiing. I became a pretzel, untwisted myself, and stood up again, wobbly but unharmed. I thank God and Mr. Pilates.
  7. First time in over 30 years I haven’t washed the windows in my house. (They didn’t crack or hit me with blinding light.)

My nominees come from South Africa, Australia, and all over the United States. Two are men, who I hope are not too shy to accept an award with a red heart in it. Note: I did not nominate those whom others have named.

These nominees may choose to participate or not. Also, there is no pressure to respond immediately. Remember, it’s taken me more than a month! Just know that I admire your writing and want to honor you in this way:

My Nominations (in random order):

Gwendolyn Plano   http://www.gwenplano.com/

Susan Scott    http://www.gardenofedenblog.com/ 

Patti   https://everypagewhispershisname.wordpress.com/

Diane Reed   http://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com

Judy Berman    http://earth-rider.com/

Steve Piscitelli  http://stevepiscitelli.wordpress.com/

Debby Gies   http://dgkayewriter.com

Jennifer Simpson  http://jennsmidlifecrisis.wordpress.com/

J. T. Weaver   http://jtweaverblog.wordpress.com/

Alexa   http://www.alexa-asimplelife.com/

What blogger not on the list would you like to recognize? Tell us please.

Coming next: The 200th Post Mark with Julie and Julia