Residency – Week of 4/9/18

My Artist Residency in Motherhood is not only about the things I create. But also about changing my mindset.

It’s about not thinking that having children means I don’t have needs that also matter. Not thinking that I have to always set aside the things that feed my soul.

Each week I track the things I do and work on that I count as part of my residency. This week included the following:

  • Adjusting my goals. I planned out goals for the next three months and had to adjust them a bit. I think I aimed too big at first. I’m currently focused on continuing to create each day, posting more, honoring a more consistent writing practice, applying for a local residency I’d love to get, as well as a few other manageable things.
  • Writing a post for an art project. I completed a story with my art that I plan to share (!) and wrote out a little something to post with it.
  • Lots of embroidery. I have been learning lots of new stitches and am incorporating them into an art piece I’ve planned. It’s been exciting to get started on that.
  • An art walk. Yesterday the tiny town I live in hosted an art walk which included a local gallery offering opportunities to try various art techniques. I got out for an hour on my own (thank fuck) and tried oil paints, gouache, casein (a milk-based paint), acrylic textures, as well as carving out my own stamp for print-making. (See photo above.)

I love looking back at each week and seeing progress. However small.

It’s good for my soul.

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Since I’ve Been Gone . . .

Anxiety 1

It’s been a long while since posting publicly. I’ve been busy with . . .

  • Continuing to regularly attend therapy and all that entails.
  • Struggling to navigate the abysmal mental healthcare options in this country. And particularly in the state in which I live.
  • Worrying about money. A lot. Especially in terms of feeling like there are no real options available to me for treatment.
  • Learning what self-care looks like and why it’s so important.
  • Refusing to be completely limited by the options I can afford (which aren’t many) and pursuing other options as I can. This typically entails lots of google searching and cobbling together natural and/or low cost ideas.
  • Trying medication that didn’t work and now forcing myself to not be disheartened. Or afraid of trying something different.
  • Feeling a bit more hopeful about the future, even as I still struggle with the past. Even as I still have to work at accepting that my future isn’t going to look much the way I envisioned it.
  • Forgiving myself.
  • Trying to work on self-discipline. More on that when I actually acheive some.
  • My anxiety has, in many ways, worsened. Apparently that’s a thing that frequently occurs as depression gets better. That’s also a thing that blows.

But what I’m most excited about is that late last year I began a self-imposed Artist Residency in Motherhood.

It really, in the beginning, centered around my writing. But my words just wouldn’t come. After tackling so many scary truths from my past through my writing, I began to feel, once I finished writing about them, as if I had nothing left to say.

As if perhaps my past was all that defined me.

I felt no creative pull. At all.

And then, in December, after a very special person spent time schooling me on creativity and the ways in which we fill our creative wells, I randomly used my kid’s Crayola watercolors to paint the image above.

It was a quiet few moments.

Free from anxiety.

And I’ve not stopped since. Though I have moved on from Crayolas.

So I’m looking forward to being a bit brave again. And exploring creativity and mental illness and the ways in which women (particularly mothers) feel free, or not, to express themselves.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

That Moment You Realize You’re Having a Moment

I wanted to snap a picture of it or video while it happened, but it felt so sacred as it happened that I didn’t want to disturb the moment.

I rarely use that word.

Sacred.

It has very religious connotations, and I’m not religious at all. So it’s not something that enters my vocabulary all that often.

But yesterday, at my son’s baseball game, they played The Star-Spangled Banner prior to the game starting. This was a District game, all the teams vying for a chance at States on their road to possibly playing at the Little League World Series, so it had a bit more pomp and circumstance than any other game in which he’s ever played.

All the players on his team who were warming up on the field stood in place. All the players on the bench and his coaches came out to stand on the first base line. All the players and coaches from the opposing team lined up on the third base line.

They played the recording of Whitney Houston’s Super Bowl rendition from years ago over the loudspeaker.

My 10 year old stood on first base and took his hat off and held it over his heart.

I know I was supposed to be looking at the flag, but instead all I could do was stare at the back of my son. He looked so tall all of a sudden. I know I was swept up in the emotion of the song and the power of the singer’s voice and the pre-game nerves.

It just felt like a moment I didn’t want to ever forget.

If you’re lucky, you get to have moments in life that you go into knowing that they are going to be big and memorable. Things like graduating or winning an award you worked hard for or maybe getting married or having/adopting a child.

It seems though like a lot of moments you don’t realize are monumental until they are over.

You end up looking back and grasping at these wispy little vapors of memories that the gusts of time blow past. Large chunks of your life that seem to last for only an instant and you’re left wondering how you got where you are and how time got away from you so fast.

Weren’t you trying to grab it? How did it slip away unnoticed?

That moment though . . .

It felt like a moment as it was happening.

I’m glad it was appropriate to have my hand over my heart, because I would have grabbed for it anyway. I wanted to hold that moment right there over my heart until I felt it sink in and stay there forever.

The moment I realized how quickly the next few years will blow by. The last few years of his childhood.

The moment I took in how broad his shoulders are getting but how small they still seem beneath the pressure he puts upon himself.

The moment I panicked wondering if he would remember to remove his hat out of respect and then watched as he took it off prior to the announcer telling everyone to remove their hats.

The moment he placed it over his heart.

The moment I spent trying to catch my breath because he stood on first base of a ball field while Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem.

Even if it was just a recording.

Even if it never happens again.

He got that moment.

And I got to watch him get that moment.

And maybe it was just a small moment. A blip on his life’s radar.

But maybe some day he’ll look back and remember for himself how great it was and how I stood right behind him, just on the other side of the fence, and took it all into my heart.