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The ethmoid. Resting between the eyes, it separates the nasal cavity from the brain. The sharp points you see on top and bottom help form the nasal septum, and the many tunnels on either side make up the ethmoidal labyrinth, where fluid-filled cells moisten the air we breath.
My ethmoid took awhile to paint, almost half a year, because I took an intermission in the midst of it. A few months after starting it I found I was pregnant with my third child and almost immediately had a fierce round of panic attacks to contend with. It was easy to find the source — the birth of my first two children, for various reasons (*cough NICU cough*), were the most traumatic things I had dealt with, mentally and physically. Even though I had been hoping to get pregnant, when it happened that third time, I was hit with such an intense round of anxiety it sucked the breath, the sleep, the peace right from my body.
After about two wretched weeks I was able to overcome the onslaught and get back to myself. There was no one trick that did it, but rather a combination of tools: the support of friends and family, a sleep therapist, night time meditation videos, and through God's grace, a realization of internal strength.
During this time, and for awhile after, I didn't feel like painting. I would do my commissions, but I didn't like painting my oils, the ones that mean so much to me, when I was feeling so yuck. So I took a hiatus. When I finally did get back to painting my ethmoid, it was like the sun came out again. Soon after came the brainwave to concentrate on bones to help me sleep. Weird as that sounds, the way bones embody the power of a human somehow makes me feel both strong and hopeful. And of course, the sheer mundanity of listing off all that anatomy trivia is quite soporific. I haven't had a nasty bout of anxiety since.
When I finally did finish the painting, I was delighted with the how strong and formidable my ethmoid appears—it almost looks like a piece of medieval weaponry. This fierceness, I think, is a direct reflection of the strength that grew in me during that time, the mental weapons I was able to cultivate. I am in love with how this painting exudes the ferocious power that all of us have buried inside, a power that I hope and pray everyone can tap into during their time of greatest need.