End of the School Year is Here!

The main reason I haven’t been creating or sharing much this past year is because I’ve had both of my kiddos at home with me, one doing virtual schooling and the other homeschool preschool. We are finally done! We made it, woo hoo! I’m hoping I can carve a little more time out for creating and posting here now that I won’t be lesson planning and prepping every day, but I also want to enjoy this couple of months with the kids, too.

It was wonderful having them home, but I went over a year without a single break aside from a couple solo walks and two weeks of dress rehearsals. I would almost jump into my car with glee when I had to make the hour long drive to get to the theater I am designing for. But we’ve started getting some breaks now that the grandparents are taking the kids once in a while, and I really appreciate the solitude and the couple time with my husband.

Here is the song I wrote in the beginning of the year. I feel proud for surviving with my sense of humor and sanity somewhat intact.

Acrylic Painting in Progress

It’s been a long time since I was able to pick up a paint brush, but I managed to start this cute rodent painting while my 4yo was painting. Still needs the finishing details put on, but it was fun to do! I basically let her pick what colors she wants and then use up the paint so as not to waste it. I’m frugal like that. So the background was from a few weeks ago, and the main body is from yesterday.

It felt good to paint again. I really burned myself out making my shop site and samples for the site, combined with homeschooling/remote schooling and taking care of the house. My energy levels this year have been all over the place, as I get myself excited about something then quickly scrape the bottom of my creative and energy barrels. I’m trying to take each moment as it comes though, and I’ve been giving myself permission to rest when I need to.

As a bonus, here are a couple of the paintings the 4yo did.

The 2020 Parental Whine, a song by Kat Micari

This song sums up what I’ve been feeling the past month and a half, but I feel much better now getting the whine out of my system and being silly while doing it! No joke, I was interrupted by my kids three times while trying to record this, even though I was letting them watch a show they wanted to watch.

These four chord pop songs are fun to play on the uke! It is much easier to focus on the singing when you aren’t fumbling around for the chords as much.

Becoming Myself Again

I am finally beginning to feel like I am reclaiming myself after the birth of my daughter. With both my children, the first few years of sleep deprivation and wanting/needing to spend time with them over everything else, I had this disconnection from myself. My children were the center of my world, and everything else, even frequently my creative work, just kind of went on autopilot. A necessary sacrifice, and truthfully, when I finally reclaimed myself when my son reached about 2.5 years old, my inner growth the following year more than made up for the pause I took. And my life is about ready to push play again, and even though I am still sleep deprived and still learning self-care again, I feel ready.

Despite feeling on pause for the past couple of years, I have learnt so much about myself. I have tested the absolute limits of my physical and mental strength when I worked myself sick two years ago and had such a slow recovery. I have finally grasped the notion of true care. I have made decisions regarding my work in the future in that I have no interest in doing “bargain” quality work for lower pay but prefer to do the very top quality and detail work and be recompensed fairly for it. That is something I had a hard time with in the past, especially working for nonprofits. I have learned to truly listen and hold space for people. And I have continued questioning and studying, although much of what I have been doing has been internal rather than external. Maybe that is the biggest lesson I’ve had… learning to keep silent not because I have to but because I can learn more in the silence sometimes than in shouting my views out. Comes back to that notion of being an active listener. All very important lessons, but it is now time to step out of the blurry haze of newborn and toddler parenting and into the steadier tread of helping to raise decent human beings and reclaim my sense of self again. I’m very interested to see where my creativity and personal growth leads me. And hopefully you all will be interested too.

Kindness is Not a Weakness

It seems one of those odd synchronicities to be running the preorder for The Kindness Book during all the ugliness of the Kavanaugh hearings, but I think it’s really important. There is a lack of civil discourse and a quickness to “other” people, and overall there seems to br increasing polarization lately – those who view other people as individuals with rights and those who view other people as pawns to use in their efforts to gain personal power. Kindness that stems from compassion and true caring can go a long way toward helping to improve society.

Kindness is viewed by some people as a weakness, but there is a distinction between being kind and being nice. Niceness is more related to manners and is frequently motivated by wanting people to like you and not wanting to make waves, thus a very passive state. Kindness comes from empathy and often requires action, even if it is just active listening to others. And so kindness requires a steel core of convictions underneath the softness. Kindness sometimes mean saying “no”.

And here is where kindness can really help in society. People who care can look at those who view people as pawns and love them for the individuals they are and the load they carry but out of that love say “no”. It is a lot like parenting. Say “you are mucking up this sandbox we are all trying to play in, and I love you but you may not knock down the other sandcastles and you can’t force other people to build you the biggest sandcastle. That is not okay, it never was okay, and it never will be okay. And until you can respect that, you have to go sit on the side.”  Imagine doing that to those currently in power, just making them sit on the sides until they at least play nicely, if not kindly. The trick then is that you then have to live by example and play by the rules yourself.

Anyway, The Kindness Book preorder is up just through Monday so make sure you snag your copy while you can!

Drained

So, I almost worked/exhausted myself sick again. My inflammation has gotten really bad, causing joint pain that I haven’t felt in a long time. My daughter has been teething her molars still and is going through a huge cognitive growth (her vocabulary has doubled in like a week and she’s started teaching herself her letters!), and waking up every 1 to 2 hours for over a week now, and I’ve been pushing myself to work past midnight every night for over a week too. Last night, my body said “nope” and I went to bed right after my daughter, which was helpful, and I was able to rearrange the delivery date of one of my projects to make my week better, so I should make it to bed at more reasonable hours for the rest of the week (except for Friday – I’m working til 9:30PM then going to have to finish packing for our trip to my interview, so I’m sure I’ll be up late).

I feel silly for letting myself get in this situation, and I can blame some outside factors for holding me up on my original schedule, but I never want to work myself into being bedridden again. So that’s something for me to bear in mind if I continue trying to freelance while still having such a young child and working a full-time job. I can’t do it all. I have to practice self-care, especially when I’m going on so little sleep. Otherwise I can’t be present for my family or present for the bigger issues facing us a society.

I’m So Very Very Tired…

Cue Madeline Kahn. If I ever decided to pursue a career in acting, my goal would be to follow in Madeline Kahn’s footsteps.

But seriously, I’m so tired. My 9 month old has been going through a sleep regression for weeks now. And the lack of sleep is taking a huge toll on me emotionally and physically. I’ve been suffering a severe lack of “me” time, either to relax and self-care or to create. We know what we signed up for as parents, especially being the second time around, but it’s still not easy. I pity those who are chronic insomniacs.

I’m also tired in the sense I blogged about last spring. You can read it here. More people seem to be growing aware of the bigger picture, that change is needed, but will it be enough?

And really, I’m so tired of being strong. Strength of will, strength of character, a pillar of strength, a warrior woman, juggling it all…  Is it strength to do what you feel you have to do? I don’t know.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t start this blog until after my son was a year and a half years old. He was a terrible sleeper and I was a “mombie” for a long time. A couple of weeks at a time with his sister doesn’t seem half bad by comparison.

I’ll be back to normal soon, I hope. I feel like I’ll be emerging from my cocoon soon.

Life Changes Yet Again

I apologize for not posting for a long time. This past project I was involved on was brutal, and I wound up working myself sick, the project had to be completed without me, and it cost the organization extra money to do so because I wasn’t there to see it through. And yesterday, I was “let go”. Mistakes were made by everyone, myself included, but I was the most expendable one and I suspect that sacrificing me is an effort to protect themselves. So be it. I was overworked anyway, with no time for self-care or for working on creative projects that felt more important to me, and it took so much time away from my children. And the organization has shifted to being very different from what it was six months ago, and a “dream job” soured fast.

So, lesson learned. Sometimes you can’t do it all. I’ve grown a lot through the work I’ve done there, I’ve gained so much confidence, tested my strength (both physical and of character) time and again, and when I finally broke, I’ve had so much support from my family, both blood and soul. The amount of love I am receiving and am giving back to others right now is incredible.

I am going to take some time, focus on healing and on my relationships, and then I’ll start creating again. I’ll have a lot more time to devote to projects that I do under this name going forward, as the baby will allow me, and I think I’m going to promote my freelance custom work under my specialty more. I have been granted a gift of time that I didn’t expect to have, and I will make the most of it.

Back at Work with Baby

I started back to work on Monday. I only took 8 weeks this time because I couldn’t afford to do a month unpaid (for my non-US readers who don’t know, the United States “maternity leave” is a joke – you get 6 weeks of disability for vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for cesarean, and disability is less than $200 a week). My work gave me two weeks of maternity leave, on top of the disability, and came up with an extra project for me to do now that I’m back to make up the difference in my salary, which is great and more than my previous employer did for me, and I have the flexibility of being able to work from home and make up hours as convenient and I get to bring the baby with me as much as I need to, which will be all the time at least through the end of the year.

But I’m exhausted. Trying to do it all is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. I’m getting about 2 hours less sleep than I have been and I’m not able to rest while nursing at work like I do at home. Monday was tough on both the baby and I, Tuesday was good, yesterday was tough again, and today is good again. I had hoped to get a break and get some me-time and extra work done in the evenings after my son goes to bed, now that the baby is taking one bottle a day from my husband, but she needed me both Monday and Wednesday night as she’s transitioning to being out of the house all day and teething at the same time. Monday I was holding her, too tired to even cry even though I felt like I needed to, and last night I just accepted it – after screaming her head off for the entire 30 minutes I was putting my son to bed, she immediately calmed when I took her from my husband, then I tried passing her back to him ten minutes later and she went off again (he feels really bad about it), so we took a bath together, she and I, and then I just held her and read the rest of the evening.

It is harder than I thought, but every time I want to whine, I just remind myself how much better I have it than so many. I get to make the choice of having my baby with me, I have a supportive husband and family, the company I work for is transitioning to being even more supportive of it’s employees and trying to avoid us all overworking quite as much as we’ve been in the past. So I feel like an ingrate when it doesn’t seem like enough. The hardest thing for me, I think, is now that my son is in school all day and I don’t get home sometimes until 5:30PM, I feel like I get maybe 15 minutes before bath time and then our 30 min at bedtime for stories and cuddles and that’s it, and it’s not enough time for me. And I look at all the projects I want to do around the house (we still haven’t even finished unpacking) and all the creative projects I want to do for myself, and I have to remind myself that an infant is hard enough to take care of all by itself and everything else will come in due time. I have to continually let myself off the hook or else the tension starts building too high.

On the plus side, I’m feeling good about getting back in the swing at work now. Things are getting organized, we’re in the planning stages that I really like to be a part of, and there are some really fun projects coming up for me, as long as I let myself have fun with them and not stress out. And I’ll soon lose all the baby weight I gained (already more than halfway there) because of all the manual labor I’m doing on top of wearing the baby for hours every day. There will be days that I know I’ll barely be holding things together, that I feel like all the threads are starting to unravel, but it’s all worth it. At least, I hope so.

A Brief New England Adventure

Winter Island, Salem, MA Copyright 2015 Kat Micari

             Winter Island, Salem, MA
            Copyright 2015 Kat Micari

I took some time off finally, and we decided to take a little trip to the Massachusetts coast. My heart was aching to see the ocean, and so off we went. I planned our route, opting to add an hour on our journey to MA by going through Vermont and New Hampshire, and that turned out to be faster than our supposedly shorter route home along the Mass Turnpike thanks to traffic that reminded us of being stuck on the freeways of California. But that is how a road trip goes.

My son travels exceptionally well, loving to watch the scenery go by and read road signs, loving exploring as much as we do, so we count ourselves really lucky on that front. It is vastly different to travel with a young child than with a baby. More difficult in some ways, because at least a baby and young toddler can be pushed around in a stroller and you can still set a normal pace. A baby is more likely to just fall asleep when exhausted too. Things we’ll definitely keep in mind for our next trip.

But I got to see the ocean for a couple of days, which was glorious, and we spent a day in Boston and saw some old friends. I was able to take my mind off of all of my projects for half the time (I cheated and responded briefly to work email and did some initial research for my next project a couple of the days and my husband scolded me soundly). And I was able to get quality family time in, which we needed.