Friday, 31 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 8

At the Market, acrylic, 16" x 20"

Blog 17

In early May 1997, it was still a month until my due date. However, on May 9, our son decided that the time was ready for him to meet us. Even though he was four weeks premature, he had a healthy weight of 6 pounds 6 ounces so that we were released two days after his birth, which was Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day ever.

However, after the first night at home, Dominic had a blue crust on his lips and looked yellow. We made an appointment with a pediatrician who assured us that everything was normal. I should continue breastfeeding and put Dominic in front of a window so that he would get some sunshine. A horrible mistake that almost cost Dominic’s life!

Four days later, we called the hospital when Dominic started to refuse feedings and was gasping for air. A nurse suggested to get some nose drops and to keep observing him. We waited another couple of hours before we took him to the hospital. At this point, he was already in critical condition. He was hypothermic, and the sodium content in his body was extremely high. While we waited in the waiting room, he collapsed and was immediately put under a heating lamp and received infusions.

I felt so guilty. I felt that my failure to breastfeed Dominic correctly had threatened his life. I collapsed at the hospital in shock. The nurses tried their best to comfort me but with no success. The doctors warned us of seizures, possible permanent urinary tract and brain damage.

It was upsetting to see my little son attached to so many wires and tubes. I spent the next ten days with him, holding him in my arm and reading him stories. I was sitting on a hard rocking-chair among sick and crying children and their worried parents. Some of the stories I heard were heartbreaking. We were lucky: Dominic did not suffer any permanent damage. After ten days, we were able to bring him back home.

Having a baby in the house was extremely exhausting. While I had been complaining about not feeling well enough to do much while I was pregnant, I still had spent some time creating bears until the end of the pregnancy. With a newborn, I did not have any time to myself. Without any outside help, it did not take long until I experienced the first signs of burnout. In the beginning, Dominic still was only able to drink small amounts at a time (beginning with 60ml). I had to feed him all the time. However, after four weeks, he was thriving. Nevertheless, he kept crying due to colics. We had a tough time ahead of us.

I still looked for opportunities to be creative or at least to surround myself with art. I joined the “Stitch & Chat” group of the Orleans Newcomers Club and occasionally managed to sew bears. I enjoyed visits to the National Gallery of Canada, where I enjoyed the fantastic art of the old masters. I also made sure to visit other cultural events like shows at the Ottawa Little Theatre.

Reading my journal entries from my early motherhood, I can see that I had no idea about the sacrifices and hardships of caring for a baby. I had been seeing things through rose-coloured glasses, imagining that I would be able to pick up my creative activities after a period of adjustments. I neglected to cave out regular times for nurturing my creativity. At least, I was still determined to make bears, but it took about two years before I started painting again.

All my life, I have had the urge to create things, whether I was painting or designing clothes. As a result of the guilt after Dominic almost lost his life, I wanted to be the perfect mother. I neglected my own needs. In two weeks, I will tell what happened before I slowly regained a little bit of creativity in my life.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you know someone who can relate to my journey, please share my blog.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Blog-free Week

A Bunch of Lilies

Wool and mixed fibres, 19″ x 14″, $550, custom-matted

Every year, I can hardly wait for the appearance of the first flowers after the long and cold Canadian winter. I love colours and the winter season, when everything is covered with a white blanket, makes me ache for the beautiful colours of flowers.

Once I see the first leaves peeking out, I go into my garden every day to admire all the new blooms that appear. I thrive in the warm weather as do the flowers.  I am mesmerized by their natural beauty and variety. Have you ever looked at a flower and studies the fine lines, the colour variety, and the shapes and structure of the petals? My paintings capture this beauty so that I can have some permanent flowers in my home that make me happy on the darkest day.

It is hard to believe that half of the summer is already behind us. I hope you have a chance to enjoy nature's beauty this weekend by spending time in nature. I will be back with a new post about my immigration journey next week.

P. S.: Did you know that you can buy this painting online at Please email me to if you have any questions.

Friday, 17 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 7

Rose, mohair

Blog 16

The year 1996 ended on a high note for me. After weeks of feeling discouraged about my teddy bear business, I finally experienced my first success. Ingo had taken some of my teddy bears to work as one of his colleagues had seen them and wanted to buy some more. It turned out he sold five of the bears. I was not the only one celebrating. Ingo was so excited that he offered to create a website for me. What a prospect for the new year!

When the day of our trip to Germany arrived, I was very emotional about having to leave Jessie in a kennel. She was not only my first pet, but she was also my confidant, my English practice partner, my cuddly buddy. She helped me immensely through my lonely days. It was the first sign of what would be my reality for the future: No matter where I stay, I am always missing people and pets in my life. A friend once told me that he divided between his country of birth and his new home country. It was only a first glimpse of his reality that was slowly becoming mine, too.

Once in Germany, it was time for our big revelation. We gave the letter of resignation to my father that we had set up as he wanted to retire when the first grandchild arrived. He read it aloud and caused quite the excitement. My parents and sister could not believe that we had kept the news from them for such a long time.

We enjoyed the time with my parents, sister, and grandmother. We also visited Ingo grandmother, aunts and uncles who excepted me immediately as part of their family. I felt close to Ingo’s Omi as she reminded me of my Oma, my mother’s mother. She and I had a very close relationship. I still miss her interest in my life and her openness to the world in general.

I was excited to see my friends, especially my friend Claudia, who was also pregnant. I was a little envious because she had already a couple of ultrasound images of her baby. We still had to wait until January for an ultrasound and had not even heard our baby’s heartbeat. The gynaecologists were on strike, and our family doctor did not have the right equipment.

We had the rare chance to celebrate the 75th birthday of one of my uncles with a big party. Since my move to Canada, I missed most of the important events that brought my social circles together: weddings, special birthdays and funerals. I became an outsider. My husband and my children cannot understand the feeling because they hardly know my family and friends, except for their close relationship with my parents.

When we came back to Canada two weeks later, the only silver lining was the reunion with our beloved Golden, Jessie. She had made friends at the kennel and was not at all heartbroken when we picked her up, even though she was excited to see us. Once at home, she wanted to be part of every activity. She wanted to cuddle all the time, even when I tried to exercise.

I was still without a circle of friends to share all my news and worries. I had a hard time connecting with other women. I hoped that our baby would become the connecting link as it seemed that women with children had an easier time to make friends.

In January, I had my ultrasound and the first visit to a gynaecologist. We found out that we were expecting a little boy. Having a baby finally felt real. Despite all the excitement about my new role, I vowed not to give up everything as I had seen it with other mothers. My hobbies were still important to me. I realize now that although I did not paint or draw during the time, making my teddy bears, as well as all the projects I created for our baby boy, helped me to get through the lonely days.

Do you turn to arts and crafts when you want to relax? How do you feel when you create something? If you would like some help to be more creative, please check out my summer schedule at On Saturdays at 1 pm, you have a chance to experience working with me for free during my 40-minute Art and Craft projects. I invite you to join me to explore and play.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Block-free Week

Beebalms and Globe Thistle

Acrylic, 8” x 8”, $230

While I am still on my summer break, I hope that you are also enjoying the long summer days in nature. There is so much to see and do outside. The landscape is always changing. You can have fun being active or being still and watching the clouds, dreaming of exotic animals or magical landscapes. The possibilities are endless. There is no better place to relax and re-energize. I will be back with new content next week.

Friday, 3 July 2020

My Immigration Journey - Part 6

Jessie Swimming, acrylic, 24" x 30"

Blog 15

When I moved to Canada, I left my social circle of friends and family behind. One of the main struggles was my loneliness. I needed to make new friends to become more independent. Ingo and I joined the Newcomers Club of Orleans. We volunteered as newsletter editors to get more involved with the people and activities. However, instead of getting closer to the other members, I still felt like an outsider wondering whether it was my lack of understanding that made me feel so uncomfortable. I continued to worry about my English and was self-conscious even if people complimented me on my language skills.

My first friends were other Germans. However, I soon realized that it was more the common language than the interest in each other that brought us together. Often these relationships were very short-lived. My first longer friendship was with Astrid, who was married to a Canadian soldier. She already had two children and was expecting her third child soon after we met. After the birth of her third child, she hardly had any time anymore, which was understandable but also quite disappointing. I realized very quickly that friendships with military wives were only temporary. They moved every couple of years so that it was impossible to keep in touch. Therefore, many of the first people I met were very focused on their immediate family and had only very superficial relationships with friends.

It was hard for me to get out of the house to meet new people due to the severe morning sickness during my pregnancy. At first, I felt especially sick at night and just not very hungry in the morning, but with every week, my nausea got worse. I felt ill for the whole day. The more weight I lost, the more and more tired and exhausted I became. I spent a lot of time asleep. I could not even do the housework, let alone continue to exercise. My energy was so low that Ingo had to walk Jessie even before I reach the third month of my pregnancy. He also started to cook and go grocery shopping. I felt quite guilty for not being able to do my share and got irritated by everything that piled up.

I was also worried because I still did not have health insurance. I was in a strange position. As a landed immigrant, my travel insurance was no longer valid in Canada. While I was eligible for the benefits Ingo received, regular medical visits were exempt as they are covered by OHIP in Ontario. Therefore, I did not have health insurance for the first three months after becoming a landed immigrant.

While I was looking like a picture of misery, I told my parents and sister who did not know that I was pregnant how marvellous my life was. We wanted to surprise them during our visit to Germany in December. We decided to write a letter of resignation for my father. He had always said that he would stop working when his first grandchild was born. I imagined his surprised face. Covering up my bad health got, however, more difficult as my sister started to get suspicious. She had called several times when I was alone at home, while Ingo was at the gym or walking Jessie – activities we had always done together.

Aside from the physical ailments, the loneliness was tough to endure. Nobody called or visited to take my mind off my troubles. I was thankful for our soft puppy with the big brown eyes. Petting Jessie’s soft fur and holding her in my arms helped me to get through the days and feeling a little bit less lonely.

Things also did not look positive on the employment front. After a visit to a teddy bear and doll show, I had applied for the necessary registrations as well as bought new materials to open a teddy bear business. However, my fragile health threatened the start of my business because I was too sick to sew my bears.

There were some days when I felt well enough to do things. I enjoyed my plein air course and continued with my painting classes downtown. I had also started a part-time French course for landed immigrants and new Canadians. However, I missed a lot of classes which I found quite embarrassing.

After the plein air course had ended, One of the participants of the plein air course had complained that she had not learned anything in the course. Therefore, two additional indoor classes were added. Funnily enough, the participant in question did not show up, letting the instructor know that she had changed her mind. The other participant had already said that she would not join so that I was lucky to have two private classes. The teacher complimented me on my progress and told me that I had the potential to become a good painter. I was delighted and, for the first time in weeks, happy. What a mood booster!

Whenever I struggle these days with an artwork, I remember the support I received from former teachers which helps me persevere. It is important to me to offer the same support to you on your journey to express yourself creatively. Therefore, I limit the number of participants also for virtual workshops so that I can give individual attention to each of the participants. I am passionate to share my skills with you and to build a creative community to support and inspire you. If you are looking for art workshops for yourself and your children during this summer, please check out my schedule at