Who Is Anastasia?

My photo
New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear, regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a visual folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown and/or painted by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how overgrown and wild it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ...


My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

April 18, 2016

Why Can't We Just Be?

It is time for me to come clean. I am now a member of “AA.” However, I do not attend meetings; if there are any locally, I am unaware of them. But, before you jump to any judgmental conclusions, let me clarify – my AA is not the AA you're thinking of. My AA stands for “Artist Anxiety.”

Visual artists, performing artists and writers, etc. all go through this annoying cycle from time to time. I've always been a stressful, fretful, colicky and anxious person. However, being creative and artistic has pushed me to my limits, and it has become down right debilitating.

I know that stress can and will kill you, and sometimes we – all of us – tend to place that tension upon ourselves – sometimes unknowingly. The first time I was actually diagnosed with clinical depression, I had no idea. I didn't feel depressed … not the way I thought depressed people were supposed to feel, anyway. I thought I was feeling normal, and that everybody felt that way. But a doctor explained to me that a lot of people, particularly women, don't always recognize the unique symptoms involved with depression or stress related conditions.

The Decline of My Emotional Wellness 2, by Stacey Torres
Our physical bodies will often show these signs, but we don't understand that it comes from stress, i.e., fatigue, insomnia, joint pain, headaches, etc., which can lead to more serious problems. We need to listen to our bodies and just slow the heck down. That's what everyone told me last week – slow the heck (and that's not the word that was most commonly used) down – relax and be still. I tell everyone else that, but I don't have sense enough to do the same.

Artist Anxiety can manifest itself in the most bizarre ways. What to paint? What will people think of it? What pigments blend well with red ocher … what is red ocher? Did the dog really chew my best shading brush? Really? What deadline? I sold a painting; did the buyer like it? Did I really sip (for the second time) paint brush water thinking it was my cup of tea? To make matters worse, I challenged myself to do 29 paintings; one per day during Black History Month.

Then it gets a bit deeper. I'm not a hobbyist, it's what I do to pay my bills, eat and exist from day to day. In the last year, I have shown my art in a number of art shows and exhibits, and it's been a learning experience. I do know that March and April were hectic for me last year, and this year is far from different. I submitted work for three different events, all of which were to advise who was accepted (or not) by last week. In my case, two did; the Twitter Art Exhibit, in NYC; and the Inspired by Nature Paint Out at the Indianapolis Zoo. I was/am extremely elated and honored to be a part of these two shows. I stressed all week waiting to hear from them, and they waited until the very last minute to notify me that my artwork was accepted.

But, the cream on the berries came this morning. I had been waiting and praying for two weeks for word on a particular exhibit I have been coveting for a long time. I entered last year, and was rejected. Finally, today, I received notification from our Lt. Governor's Office, that I have been selected as one of the Hoosier Women Artists 2016. I'm not sure how many of us there are this year, but it's somewhere around 10-15, out of 205 entrants. Our work will hang in the Lt. Governor's Office for one year, and we will be celebrated in a reception at the Indiana Statehouse wrapping up Women's History Month. I am still reeling from the excitement, anxiety and worry.

You know, had I relaxed and chilled, slowed the heck down and let things come naturally, the outcome would not have been different. I am learning – slowly – about self care, resting my mind and heart and luxuriating in the blessings and gifts around me. I hope to be creating for years to come – but in order to do so, I need to chill out; let go and let God.

But artists and writers and performers and such – we're all nuts. We're going to stress and bark and overwork ourselves into big balls of fruit cake … it's what we do best. So, for now, I'm tooting my horn that I'm a proud Charter Member of AA.

Have an abundantly blessed Easter.

First published in The Courier-Times, March 27, 2016

Gathering The Fruits Of Our Giving Tree

All things considered, life is truly a giving tree if we simply open our minds and hearts to receive its fruits. Perhaps my message may seem redundant each month. And, every month I attempt to write something new and different, but these blessings continue to come to light again and again.

The month of February is a bittersweet month in my life; particularly this year. It's been a year since I lost my mother; the 16th of February, to be exact. I had been dreading dealing with the date for quite a while, and when it did come I took it much harder than I had anticipated. In fact, the grief I experienced all last week was overwhelmingly painful – much worse than the year before when I and my family dealt with her actually passing. It was easier then; almost a relief – because at least my mom was no longer suffering, and the anxiety of it all was over … so I thought. However, I've had an entire year to ponder and wonder, and miss her, and relive the last six years of our lives over and over.

But, for all my faults and quirks, I remain a woman of faith, and instead of asking God “why?” – or begging Him to bring my mother and my family back, I prayed with a grateful heart and thanksgiving. I thanked Him for the gift of life (my own, in particular) … But more so, for the gift of family and friends who have stood by and taken care of me over the last year. I prayed and thanked Him for giving me such a mother who led me to where I am in this life. I also thanked Him for opening my eyes and receiving the gift of creativity again. I've said it a million times before, but my artwork, my dance and my writing have literally saved my life.

And, then, I also thanked God for the other relationships I've had in my life … the ones that went terribly wrong. For those are the ones that have made me stronger. It is said, that sometimes the wrong man's purpose in a woman's life is to help her become a better woman for a better man … And, of course, vice versa. Some women can be equally dreadful, I suppose.

I've been focusing on my spirituality. So, last week, in all my grief and blind hopelessness, I chose to be silent. Sometimes, like many of us, I have difficulty with prayer. I know there is no right or wrong way to pray to my Creator. So, I choose to have simple conversations with Him. But, I never felt I was getting a response, and didn't know if He heard me. I decided to just be still … to listen in total silence, clearing my brain of all activity. I sat in silence, and I knew instinctively that the first thought that entered my mind would be my answer.

I won't tell you what my prayer was, or what the answer was. I will confirm, however, that it was on point, and by Friday morning, I felt comfortable, at peace and motivated.

That evening, I reconnected with someone dear to me, and we watched funny movies for hours. He shared with me a family tragedy he was dealing with that had also occurred last week. The laughter and the comfort of a warm companion helped us both through our heartbreak and confusion. In the end, he gifted me with a beautiful guitar. No, I don't play an instrument or read music. I'm clueless! But, the other gift from him is (possible) music lessons – Yes, at 62, I'm learning yet something else new. He assured me, that he would not teach me to play songs; but to play a guitar!

At the beginning of the month, I challenged myself to paint one picture a day during Black History Month. This is an exercise that has freed my mind, purged some ill feelings and sadness, and allowed me to express my pain and joy within myself and my ancestors through my artwork. I've worked very hard at this, and on the 22nd day, I sold a painting I did about two years ago – one of my “church ladies.” The collector who purchased it, along with one of my hand painted tiles, wrote me a beautiful note encouraging me to continue creating. He said my artwork held a message that would be different to everyone, and a blessing to others.
So, the point of all this is that a week that began as a literal nightmare, ended in beauty and hope. I'm constantly telling you all this … there is always hope. We cannot stop walking – moving forward and living our lives and giving of ourselves.

In the last 12 months, I have so many friends who lost loved ones, somehow we are all still here – we made it through. The week my mother died, I also lost an aunt and a cousin. Three women in our family gone like feathers in the wind. Yet, all three still shine like moonbeams on all of us.

There are cardinals in my backyard now. There's always cardinals out there, one is very prominent and relevant to me; a female. I've painted her a few times, and the sight of her and the sound of her simple little song brings me much comfort.

Life under this Giving Tree ain't so bad after all. Keep Walking!

First published in The Courier-Times, February 28, 2016

April 1, 2016

New Castle artist honored by State of Indiana

New Castle artist honored by State of Indiana: INDIANAPOLIS — New Castle artist and Courier-Times columnist Stacey Torres was honored Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse in recognition of her talent. She was one of 29 named as 2016 Hoosier Women Artists.

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips