This is the fourth installment of the Love Series and it centers around something that, without fail, will lift my spirits: a good cuppa. Whether it is coffee or tea, a good cup of hot liquid is something I truly love and usually features in my self-care days. So make yourself a hot brew and enjoy!
Watercolor and Ink. And yes, I was drinking a cup of tea while I painted this. 😛
This is the third installment of the Love Series and one that I drew back in 2014 when my husband and I were trying to get pregnant. After we decided we’d like to start a family, I thought things would happen pretty quickly after that – oh how naive I was. Month after month dragged on and still there was no plus sign on my pregnancy test and Aunt Flo was still visiting.
Well, I got mad. Then sad. Then mad again. I was so frustrated and distraught. “Why was this taking so long? Why hadn’t I eaten better? I should have never tried pot that time!”
For months, I tried to somehow fix it. Fix me. This was one of my dreams, to become a mother, and I felt like somehow it was my fault that it was slipping through my fingers. That somehow the choices I had made up until this point in my life were causing all of this. “This is probably happening because of all my stress. I should have worked harder to be less stressed!”
One day, I was feeling so glum and frustrated and realized that I needed to chill out. Let go. Trust the Universe. I decided it was time to send a little love to the area of my body that I had been not so silently seething at for months. Actually, I started to realize, the fury at my uterus had begun 7 years prior when, almost every month, I’d have debilitating cramps during my period. I decided that whether or not I got pregnant, sending a little love to my uterus would be good for the both of us. And it was.
A few months after I drew this picture, I became pregnant. Months later, during my unmedicated homebirth, I realized that those “debilitating cramps” I’d been having for years were actually very similar to labor! It was all worth it though because we now have a beautiful little girl and I don’t have period cramps anymore. 🙂
#3 in THE LOVE SERIES. Sidenote: This drawing was based on a medical picture, not MY uterus. I have no idea what that thing looks like.
Though this Love Series has been brewing for years, it is the most recent terrorist attacks that have broken my heart and urged me to start this series now. When I read about these attacks in France, I felt dismayed and helpless.
So this is me helping in my own little way. This is me saying, “I’m so sorry, France. My heart breaks with you. I’m here for you.”
This is my act of Love-ism.
#2 in THE LOVE SERIES. Click the image for a clearer, larger picture.
Today begins an idea that has been brewing for literally years. When I was in high school, I was given the assignment of creating a mission statement for my life. Being the over-achieving, perfectionist I was, I agonized over the assignment for days. I fell far down the rabbit hole and had a near existential crisis before realizing that there was only one true answer for me: LOVE. Try as I might to create a more ‘traditional’ mission statement, the only thing that rang true and was all-encompassing enough to satisfy me was simply: LOVE. Love, I thought (and still do), was the reason for life and a straight and true guidepost for any and all quandries. (Later I would find out about the nuisances of loving vs caretaking/rescuing someone). The teacher printed all of our mission statements out and I still have mine to this day.
Exhibit A. She’s a little worse for the wear, but still kicking nonetheless.
LOVE has been my mission and guidepost ever since. It is the thing that drives me, motivates me, moves me and inspires me. Two years ago, when I began my creative journey in earnest, I thought up an idea for a series of LOVE expressions. That idea has fermented for two long years and is now being brought to life.
This LOVE SERIES will be a collection of art about love. Love that I see. Love that I experience. Love that I feel needs to spread. Any and all iterations of LOVE that I come across and wish to express in an artistic way.
Along the way, if you have an ideas, questions or comments, please feel free to share them with me via my “Contact Me” page or in the comments section. If you’d like to receive new posts in your inbox, please subscribe here or in the sidebar.
It is my sincere hope and wish that these pieces might brighten the world in some way and bring our focus back to LOVE. For love is, in my opinion, the reason we are here and a great balm for our weary souls. So it begins…
A few weeks ago, I wrote about being afraid of ‘hard work.’ In my research for that post, I came across a lovely piece called “Learning to Work” by Virginia Valian (which can be read for free as a PDF here). In it she discusses trying to complete her thesis and overcoming her own mental obstacles. She decides to commit to a certain amount of ‘work time’ every day. The only amount of time that doesn’t overwhelm her is 15 minutes. And so she works on and eventually completes her thesis in small, manageable chunks.
This was unbelievably eye opening for me. Before my daughter was born, I could only work on my creative pursuits in large, uninterrupted chunks of time. I had to be in the right ‘mood’ and feeling ‘inspired.’ I also had to be feeling exceptionally well physically. As you can imagine, not a whole lot was completed or even worked on. Just as Ms Valian would procrastinate on her thesis by volunteering and sleeping, I would procrastinate by cleaning, running errands, organizing, etc. Whatever creative project I was trying to work on was just too overwhelming – not to mention the many mental obstacles I faced about worth and value.
After my daughter was born, it was pure survival mode for months. Then we moved. More survival mode. Then we slowly crawled our way out of survival mode and into the adjustment period of having a new, wonderful little person in our lives. It was here that I started to want to work on my creative projects again. And at first, I tried to go back to my old way of working – large, uninterrupted blocks of inspired time. Ha! My time was now such a hot commodity I knew that if I ever wanted to do some of ‘my things’ I would have to prioritize my time. One by one, ‘priorities’ and distractions fell off my list. Bye constantly clean house. Hello messy, fun times with my daughter. Bye folded laundry, hello haphazard pile of clean clothes. Bye 20 blogs that I follow, hello cherished few. Goodbye filler TV and movies, hello books I want to read. Now I at least had my priorities straight and some time to myself, but the ‘hours’ of creativity I still felt I needed to complete anything were elusive.
As I contemplated how to get anything done, my urge to be creative grew and I was drawing or singing or writing in the small moments here and there that I could find. In my mind, these small stolen moments were satiating but not enough to ever complete anything. And then I read “Learning to Work” and it changed my little world. No longer were these 15 minutes of creativity just scraps to feed the hungry beast inside me. They became wholesome, fulfilling sustenance that not only filled me up but would allow me to create AND complete something. Ms Valian created her 15 minutes for herself with a timer and increased her productivity. My 15 minutes are created by my new life as mom to a toddler and I’ve been more productive than ever.
As prolific author Nora Roberts says “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.” I might only write a couple of paragraphs, or create just the melody to a song or paint a small corner of a canvas but it’s at least progress. And it’s progress without all the mental anguish and endless procrastination because if I’m ever going to get anything done, it has to be in the small moments and I kind of like it like that. Afterall, all these little moments will eventually add up to something big. 😉
What do I have against hard? Ever since my daughter was born, all I’ve been looking for is easy – the path of least resistance. I’ve shunned hard hard. So what is it about hard that I’m so afraid of?
My dear husband makes my life harder in many ways. I’m a neat freak, he’s…not. I love veggies and tofu, he… doesn’t. I’m a saver, he’s…not. But sharing my life with him is so worth the ‘hard.’ There has been so much joy and healing and fun and unconditional love because of him. And it’s only the beginning.
My daughter makes my life harder too. But she is so unbelievably worth it as well. Owning a home makes my life harder but it’s worth it. Being a stay-at-home mom, in many ways, makes my life more difficult, but it’s also worth it. Breastfeeding. Cloth diapers. Co-sleeping. Trying to get my daughter to nap on her own. Cooking unprocessed, whole foods. Eating low sugar. Self-care. Exercising. Meditating. Creating memories. All of these things require substantial effort and make my life ‘harder.’ But they also, in many ways, make it much easier at the same time. And they’re all things that I have chosen consciously and created within my life. And they are all worth it. And somewhere along the lines of exhaustion and fatigue, I’ve forgotten that hard isn’t a bad thing. I’ve forgotten that just because the path is hard doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path for me. If I’m presented with a hard path and an easy path, the universe isn’t telling me to take the easy path just because it’s easier. Giving birth to my daughter was hard but so worth it. So worth it, in fact, it didn’t even register as hard. It registered as a challenge but one I was happy to meet. And somewhere along the line I have stopped being happy to meet these challenges. All I want is easy. All I want is effortless.
Sometimes I think about my life if I had never gotten married and had children, almost as a fantasy. And when I’m in a dark place, so weary, tired and run-down, it seems like a wonderful fantasy. But thinking about it now when I’m only slightly weary and exhausted, it just seems sad and devoid of the chaos and mess of life. This life that I have, that I have chosen for myself and created consciously, it’s hard but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is time for me to stop choosing the easy path simply because it is easy. Sometimes that will be all I can do and that’s okay and forgiving myself for that and being gentle with myself will be the hard part. Because even when I take the easy path there is always a hard part that goes with it. So no matter what I choose I’m taking the easy/hard path or the hard/easy path. Writing a book while being a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious 1 year old who doesn’t seem to want to sleep without her mom next to her will be hard. But it will be so worth it. Unschooling my daughter for the next 17 years will be challenging but it will so be worth it. Making time for my self care is freaking hard but it’s worth it. And making time for dates with my husband is hard but worth it. Making time for friendships and family is hard but worth it. It is time I stopped running away from hard. It’s not something to be afraid of – it is something I have chosen consciously, to create a life full of love, chaos, fun, mess and even challenge. Because an easy life, though seemingly wonderful at times, is boring for me and not the life I will choose for myself. This is the life I choose – time to go live it.
Please forgive the pretentious title, but I sure am proud of my costume for this year’s local Art Car Parade. My friend Sarah Gish has a beautiful art car called Phoenix Rising (which I’ve mentioned before) and she was kind enough to let me skate alongside. Here’s the Phoenix costume I created for the occasion:
The finished product – ready to roll!
I had a freaking blast! The best part definitely had to be the kids’ faces when they’d see me coming and the smiles and waves I got from them as I ‘flew’ by.
If you’re curious how I made my costume, it was heavily influenced by this very impressive Phoenix costume. I didn’t have the time or resources to be quite that elaborate, but I think my thrift store body suit, Amazon Isis wings and $30 Michael’s trip did it justice. Of course, I wasn’t without my share of hiccups:
No mannequin = paint in all sorts of places.
No mannequin means I paint with the body suit on and that fabric paint does not wash off easily.
It’s a good thing she’s a David Bowie fan.
Also, my impatient, walking 10 month old didn’t wait for paint to dry before resting against Mom’s leg.
One last note: we were in a car accident a few weekends ago (a lady ran a red light – we’re all okay). That’s not the exciting part though – the exciting part was that we had to get a new car and we got a fully electric 2013 Nissan Leaf. And it’s WHITE.
Look at the beautiful blank canvas.
Which means it’s just begging to be turned into an art car. Who knows where I’ll be at the next Art Car Parade. 😉
Happy World Poetry Day! Below is a poem I wrote when I was pregnant with my daughter and sleepy ALL THE TIME. I’m thinking about including it in my upcoming book of pregnancy poems – what do you think? Enjoy!
I WANT YOU
I want you.
I want you now.
I need you.
I need you now.
Why can’t we be together now?
All I think about is you.
All I want is you.
All I want to think about is you.
All I can think about is you.
You are a need, a drug.
I cannot live without you.
Why can’t we be together now?
These are my obstacles.
They cannot be overcome.
Not until I am at home
And I lay down on my silk pillow
Surrounded by a mountain of fluff
And we can be together again.
We will be together again, soon.
I am coming soon, my Sleep.
One of my teenage relatives was recently having a rough time of things.
This is what I would say to her (and my high school self).
I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear and already know: life isn’t fair. And sometimes, I think, a teen’s life can have extra bits of unfair-ness. First, there is school. Don’t even get me started on school. You can read about why school sucks here, here, and here. Then there is the fact that you’re almost sort-of an adult but not really. You are given tastes of freedom and independence but none of the trust or respect to go with it. “Be an adult. Stop acting childish” but also “Listen to me. Do what I say. You live under my roof, you have no rights.” This is in addition to the pressure and expectations of everyone around you: friends, teachers, parents, relatives, your church, your culture, the media, etc. And as the cherry on top are all of the ‘normal’ things in life that suck: trauma, abuse*, hardship, death, etc. What I’m trying to say here is that, generally, a teen’s life can really suck. And when your life has a tendency to suck, you tend to have a few bad days (or weeks or months or…).
This is for those times. The bad days. First, I’m going to give you some advice my mom gave me (yes, parents do actually know something from time to time): you can’t change anyone but yourself. Another gem from the old lady: what other people think about you is none of your business. And lastly: don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides (this includes the crap people post on Facebook). These three statements have profoundly changed the way I look at myself and the world.
MEDITATION : Am I spending enough time alone? Do I make time to deal with my big emotions? Do I make time to get in touch with myself and figure out who I am and what I want? Do I listen to my inner wise voice?
SELF-EXPRESSION : Am I making time to express myself in a way that feels true to my soul? Even if I’m not going to share it with another living person, it still needs to be expressed.
What I’ve just listed is essentially radical self care. And contrary to popular belief, caring for yourself is not selfish. It’s like they say on an airplane: you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else put on theirs. And let me tell you – self care isn’t easy. Change takes time and you will fall off the wagon. Be kind and gentle with yourself and just get back on. And don’t be afraid to ask for help or get creative.
And if all else fails, get some perspective: read a book, make a list of what you’re grateful for, help someone else, give back, focus on what you do have. The world is so much bigger and more beautiful than high school and you are stronger, wiser, braver, and more resilient and powerful than you know. Hang in there – I promise you it will get better.
Oh, and one final thing:
YOU ARE VALUED.
YOU ARE NEEDED.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
YOU ARE LOVED.
All my love,
*If you are currently in an abusive situation, I urge you to seek help. Please call one of the hotlines on this page. You will get through this. You will survive.