Turning Lives Around

Quote of the Day -

"Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight" - Bruce Cockburn

Tonight, I'll be @ a benefit dinner on the Asbury Park boardwalk for 180 Turning Lives Around, a charity organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse in Monmouth County. My function there will be as one of 5 artists creating a piece to represent one of the 5 programs they'll be celebrating the success of. The largest donor to each particular program will win the corresponding painting as a thank you gift. My particular piece will be for their Safe House, which is currently so full they're turning away needy women and children at the door because there's no room to put them. They have bought land and have plans for a new Safe House, but they need the funds to start construction. Please visit 180nj.org and watch the video. Then, maybe throw them a few bucks if you can. Even if it's just a small donation, every little bit helps.

I'll have pics of the painting up later on tonight when I put the final touches on it at the event. It's a bit different than anything I've done before, and, honestly, I'm not even sure what the hell I'm doing. I just hope it comes out looking good enough to hang on someone's wall.

This is a really special project for me and an event I'm greatly looking forward to. In the past I'd be doing this simply for networking or exposure. Actually, in the past, just about every bit of art or music I created was for nothing other than money. I've been through some great changes in my life recently that will be changing that, though.

The serendipity surrounding how I ended up with 180 is quite amazing, actually. You see, way back in September my mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer (which she continues to battle as I write this). Then, in January, my wife and I split up. The next few months were long, cold, and dark (it was winter), but, ultimately ended up putting me on a better path in life than the one I'd been on. One thing I did take from losing my wife and staring my mother's mortality in the face was the importance of wives and mothers in our lives, and how irreplaceable those two women ultimately are.

I got the idea about a month ago of doing a piece that I could auction off for some sort of domestic violence charity, but didn't know where to start. The day after this thought, though, I got an e-mail from a fellow artist putting out the call for help on this 180 event. I immediately said yes, then spent the next few weeks getting in touch with Barbara Napoli, the wonderful woman putting this together and tried to figure out what in the hell to paint. I'm still kind of trying to figure that out. I'll post some pics later and explain exactly what I did come up with.

I've also decided to use this event tonight as a springboard for what I'm calling Craig Mahoney 2.0. I'm 31 and divorced now, and, as I spent the last few months battling depression and reflecting on my life, I realized what a truly miserable little cunt I'd become. I spent most of my 20's chasing cheap thrills and adding layer upon layer of cynicism to my personality, topped with a healthy layer of alcohol-feuled manic-depression. I then ended up getting married to a great girl, but, unfortunately for her, I got married but never settled down. And, while I was no Ike Turner, I was far from a good husband. By the last year of our marriage, I was a cynical, nihilistic, misanthropic asshole whom neither of us could stand living with anymore. She was able to leave, but I was stuck with myself.

That's when I had to make the decision so plainly stated in The Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living, or get busy dying". After a 4 day bender followed by a 2 day hangover, I made the decision to start living and start changing. It was tough at first, but a funny thing happened along the way: I realized that, deep down, I wasn't that big of an asshole and that this world we live in isn't that bad a place. I also realized I had the power to change some bad things about them both, too.

From that moment on I've decided to bring out the little kid in me again. To have hope and embrace crazy feelings like love and joy. It's nice these days to be able to look in the mirror and like the dope staring back at you. Now, before I sound anymore like a god damned Oprah guest, let me say that, in most ways, I'm still me. I've decided to battle the darkness and join the forces of good, but I haven't gone the full Bono. I still love beer, sports, cigars, and boobies. And, I still don't believe in superstitious notions like god and fate. However, I do believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe in happiness. And, above all, I believe in myself, and that I can do more than just churn out copied pictures of athletes or sing in some bar for beer money.

So, yeah, that was my big Stephen Dedalus moment (just google it). From here on out, it's gonna be an exciting time at Craig Mahoney Studios. I've got some interesting things coming up with the sports art, and I'm in the beginning stages of planning the recording of my first album. I'll also be experimenting with a few different things visually, and doing some more charity work as well. And... while I won't be revealing half as much as your average reality tv star does these days, I will be a bit more honest and open about my life and work on this blog, which should make for some interesting reading.

So, in closing, don't be a miserable cunt. There may not be a god, but we're still here anyway, so we may as well make the best of what we got. Get out in the sun, fall in love, smell the roses, sing loud, sing proud, then raise your glass to the sky and make a toast to life. As Frank Sinatra once said, "You gotta love livin' baby, 'cause dyin's a pain in the ass!"

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