San Diego, California
It had happened before when my back against the wall, the loss came in with its scarring moments of emotional and physical pain followed by, when I could listen, my inner voice speaking up leading me to my calling.
In 1990 as series of events would begin to change my life. My immediate family and myself had a relative swindle us out of our properties and entire finances within two weeks I would return home from work where my partner with suitcase in hand informed he was leaving me for someone he met a few days prior, out the door he went.
The next day in numbness after work I emptied the mailbox, walked in the house checked a call on the answering machine that good friend had died, the 20th friend in my close circle to pass from AIDS. We were all gone now, the circle of friends was no more. In a daze I looked down at the mail and they were all solicitations from various AIDS agencies asking for help. I felt very alone, frozen, living a joyful life looked, well insurmountable. What can I do? A voice in my head gently said “you can paint.”
During next month, intuitively I focused creating 30 paintings about my friends and the fun we had together. I entered two artworks in a show winning second place and honorable mention. Those 30 paintings became a show and book titled “Rainbow Nation Paintings of The Gay Community” with I used for fundraising in the community. People loved it they wanted more. My paintings with the happy colors had a familiar sense of place to many. I could see something changing out there, perhaps it was hope was beginning to shine in the community again.
With an art career quickly blooming, I just scratching the surface of my authentic self, my self-esteem was very delicate. I became sidetracked by folks, even my partner at the time, telling me “You’ll never make a living as an artist, you’ll starve, what are you going to do for work when all this is over?” even though I was making a good living! It appeared to me no one surrounding me was happy. That’s way life is and perhaps we’re all victims of it. What a pain in the neck life seemed to be! So back to the corporate pathway in Human Resources after all anything but my passion, that would be selfish. Before I knew it passionless, jobs, relationships, friendships, and most of all years where going by.
First it started with a little tingling in my hands, then very painful. Misdiagnosed carpal tunnel, prescribed rest, surgery if I wanted it, contraptions for my wrists and addictive pain meds. Following doctor’s advice, for seven years this nightmare went on to the point couldn’t drive my car. The job was physically killing me, yet I was grateful to have work and afraid to quit. What would I do if I quit? How could I make a living? I was terrorizing myself with a reality that was discouraging and bleak.
One day my arms went numb. Many tests would follow and I would learn that it was not my wrists at all. What would I do now? If my job couldn’t be performed I am toast! I could hardly make ends meet as it was. It’s true without your health nothing much seems to matter. I was scared and so full of fear I could feel the anxiety welling up from inside like fire. This was not the life I wanted. I did not sign up for this.
In the medical office on yet another visit to the doctor, that eternal wait, I sat and prayed for a miracle.
The doctor, a glowing wonderful man came in, looked at my hands and he put his hand on my shoulder and said to me, “Hey aren’t you an artist? And if I remember you are quite good, you can paint!, and don’t you want to paint anymore?” I know he said more but that’s all I could hear.
His words took me by surprise, as I had heard many times before but usually softly in my mind but not from my head, somewhere deeper. Now same voice coming from someone else!
“You’re not going back to this job, you can’t, you’re a creative soul, surround yourself with people who believe in you and walk away from the ones who don’t.” Ending a thankless career and starting many new blessings of my life. I learned of three torn discs in my neck causing this. Recovery included years of physical therapy and no surgery. The Doctor was my angel. The way I lived changed completely.
To make ends meet responsibly I downsized from my own place and rented a room from some very positive friends. With time on my hands I began to doodle and get my art supplies out. I was grateful to have a roof and my friends were positive about my art and grateful to have some extra income. They loved sharing my works with their friends who came by! I began to feel good about my creativity and hopeful.
An acquaintance of ours one day asked me what I wanted to do with my life, in a funny way. “Don’t tell me, just picture it for yourself.” They went on to tell me that every morning “Picture” what I wanted in my mind and don’t worry how it will happen, just keep seeing it and focus on it every day and then pay attention and be aware of those things around me that line up with my “picture”. Heck! I’m an artist I can do that. I have nothing to lose. Deciding not to be a product of old circumstances, every morning I would sit quietly for
a few minutes consistently picture and tell myself “I am a great artist, I paint, I am happy, loving, healthy and prosperous, I am surrounded by people from all over the world who love me and my art and I love them too, or something better!”
I listened, looked and felt emotions for these things everyday in life that reflected this affirmation while applying my knowledge to my talent and desires and eventually realized I was “being” that person every day. I still do this awareness with what I want in life, make a decision about it, feel it through with cherishing appreciation before it arrives, and act upon what was presented to me with a yes or a no. It’s all about being aware of what is important. It makes life easier and quite surprising!
Today I to continue to create with paint and writing, you can visit my studio and gallery Beacon Artworks inside Old Town San Diego State Historic Park where millions of people visit us each year. As a bestselling author and one of America’s favorite artists I share my cultural heritage paintings with the world.
Time marches on and people places and things change. It’s always good to do a self check-ask from time to time “Am I in living in my joy?” If not there’s a way to get there, it’s your own individual passion. Following our passion will take us to our joy. For me, my passion is sharing my creativity and only I can do it in my own special way and only you can do it in yours. I don’t know about you but when I don’t life literally turns into pain!
Only you can create a beautiful life for yourself. Can you picture it? I leave with this advice. Draw the art you want to see, make the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, choreograph the moves you want to dance and take care of yourself so that you can. You have talent. The thing inside you that says “I want to do something” that is the beginning of talent. Have the courage to explore that. Picture it!
RD Riccoboni®, Randy to his friends, is an innovative, self-taught award winning artist and Best Selling Author who began painting at age four when he got into his mothers paint-by-numbers kit.