Turn it Around

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, uses painting tools in Adobe Photoshop to draw a broken clock with glitches.Glitch
by Marika Warden

I sit before a clock of time.
It ticks and tocks and stops.
It’s broken and I can’t rewind
My life stands on its edge.
A record skips when there’s a glitch
But such a glitch I cannot find.

My daughter’s poem floated in my head. All week. It was a week of glitches. Setbacks. Malfunctions. Breakdowns. My camera was being repaired so I couldn’t take photographs. My favorite bakery, where my work was to be exhibited, announced it was “closing for good,” so there would be no exhibit and no more scrumptious Sixth Avenue cakes. My father’s old watch, with its new battery, stopped working. Summer ended. I was left with an unidentifiable longing, an ache like erosion.

I’m trying to dig deep to find what is really at the bottom of this dark pit of depression. Am I missing my camera? My daughter? My father? The summer that was over before projects begun could be wrapped up? The lost opportunity to show my work in a place I loved? What’s really bothering me? Because I need to turn it around. Insignificant glitch or gargantuan loss, I have to find and fix this daunting thing.

“When one door closes, another opens,” a friend tells me. And I’m thinking I don’t need to hear this for the billionth time. But I do. We all do. Because sometimes we have to remember to look for those doors. We have to recognize what is really closing as well as what may be opening. Door by door. They don’t open automatically. There’s usually work involved. And if we can’t find the door we may need to climb through a window, perhaps a barely-recognizable window of opportunity, instead. Or we may need to get help.

We can’t always find and fix everything.

No camera. No new photos. I opened the Photoshop program, with its seventy tools inviting infinite possibilities for control and change, and drew a blank white canvas. I checked my email, ate cake, raked pondweed, and brushed the dog. Finally I sat down, took a deep breath, and tried out some of the painting and drawing tools I’d previously ignored. Having no camera was one glitch I could scratch off the list.


How do you get to the bottom of what’s bothering you? What are ways to keep going when you feel crushed by setbacks and loss?


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11 thoughts on “Turn it Around

  1. Monica Sword

    I’m a “fixer” so this was good for me to read. And always searching for answers when I might be better served by considering acceptance of what is.

    Congrats on finding a place to exhibit! I admire your bravery and perseverance. All the best to you Robin.

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    I’m glad you have a new place to exhibit, Robin. I’d love to see your work in person and hope to go to gallery night. I’ll see you there.

    I understand the collapse into defeat. And I also understand the spunky recovery. I feel close to you when you write about how it is. This Being Human by Rumi says it all. Thank you.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you so much for reminding me of one of my favorite poems. Yes, Rumi says it all in that poem and it would do me good to read it every morning. If you don’t make it to town on Gallery Night, the show will be up until October 29. There just won’t be any wine and cheese beyond Gallery Night. Cheers, Elaine.

  3. gayle gray

    dearest robin,

    i usually save your emails until i have a quiet moment to myself because they always move me to tears. i love both your writings and artwork. i too have many loses, and am facing some pretty big medical challenges. your words inspire and nourish me. be well and keep sharing.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having medical challenges, Gayle. And maybe more than your fair share of losses. Things can look pretty bleak as you lose your health, loved ones, and then the dreams and plans you had, the picture you had of your life. Tears are good. Crying over someone else’s stories of grief, I, too, find inspiration and hope. And I get an amazing warm feeling like a hug that reassures me we’re all in the same boat. We’re all in this together. Thanks for being “here” in the boat with me. And thanks for reading and enjoying my posts. Your note is a gift to me this morning as I publish my new post and wonder who will read it and maybe be inspired by it. Cheers to you and best wishes for facing your challenges.

  4. Lucy Bergström

    Hi Robin,
    I know how it feels when the crap piles up, and suddenly everything seems dark and hopeless. The pile can be unfinished projects – then you take the one nearest to you, in random order, and finish it. The sun gradually comes out when the pile dwindles, and your sense of satisfaction rises. Here you are experiencing roadblocks, no camera, no watch, no exhibit. So you made a gorgeous “glitch clock” – I want one on my wall! Why do clocks have to be so boring, anyway?
    I’m so glad to hear you got a new exhibit lined up!!!! Wish I could come to the opening. But if you sell clocks there, I’ll buy one!
    Love, Lucy

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      The pile of crap building up – yup. One by one, tend to the things, raze the pile to the floor. Sometimes it feels like a bottomless floor though. An endless pile on a bottomless floor. Almost as perplexing as a clock with glitches. Definitely not boring. But it makes for a lot of business and work. Wonder if there’s a market for “glitch clocks.” Cheers, Lucy!

  5. Annette Corth


    I love your clock! Too bad about the bakery but Benjamin Peters sounds like a good place to exhibit your work. Let’s get together soon. Then we can try to bring some sunshine into each other’s day.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I definitely never tire of sunshine. But I did get tired of painting without photos in Photoshop. The camera seems to be doing fine after almost two weeks in repair shop. Let’s get out and celebrate something. Cheers!

  6. Lynne Taetzsch

    Robin, so sorry to hear the bakery is closing–and just before your exhibit. But there are lots of places in Ithaca I think would love to show your work. I know that that’s not the “solution” to your feeling, but it might open another opportunity at least.

    1. robinbotie.com

      I got one! A new place for the exhibit, Lynne. It will be at Benjamin Peters from September 29 – October 29. And I’ll be doing Gallery Night First Friday October 7. Whew! Another door. Another opportunity. More work to do now. Very excited. maybe I’ll see you there? Cheers!


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