The Sound of Silence

Despite my resolution to do so at the beginning of the year, I have not been posting more regularly here. I have not been churning out creative work at the pace I had hoped. I have been having to work through a lot of internal stuff again.

I feel ready to begin the next chapter of my life, and I feel trapped in a cycle of mere existence. Like a snake midway through shedding it’s skin but unable to break out entirely, I feel awkward and stuck. Things are shifting, but not fast enough, and I feel like I’m missing out on the time with the kids that I so desperately crave. I also feel like the universe is mocking me and piling more on top of me lately.

Then all the pain in those around me weighs down. The separation of the family at the borders, knowing the irreparable damage being done to those kids. Knowing the damage being done to so many kids around our country in general. And knowing that all of humanity could be living in abundance and have the freedom to pursue their passions right now, if we used technology to work with nature, if we set aside our hatred and our greed, if we stopped viewing others as “less than”… we could accomplish so much good. What we are and what we could be are so vastly far apart right now, I grieve.

But I have been grieving fairly silently. I have gone deep inside myself, to the very depths of my being, and such a journey is always traveled alone, out of necessity. I’m only just now struggling to the surface.

I don’t know what the future holds, either for myself personally or for us as a nation or a species. What I do know is that we have to make the choice to stand up for ourselves and others, for what is right, even if the cost feels too high. Maybe my personal struggles right now are a reflection of the larger struggle of humanity, as we work to evolve. It’s a thought.

Advertisements

The Fires Burning Within

I have been feeling this increasing need to create for several months now. I’ve laid a lot of groundwork, have my pieces all laid out on the game board, but things keep getting in the way, not least of which is my refusal to ever work myself sick again. Not excuses, just frustration at the delay.

My goal is for all my creative endeavors to be fueling each other, for the art and writing to flow back and forth, to use them as inspiration for both my music and my costuming. My husband and I are talking about starting to sell homemade bath and beauty products which we did as an offshoot of our Fairy Magik label years ago but at the tail end, so we didn’t give it a very good go. To do all of that while taking in freelance sewing work and spending more time with the children. But to do more than chip away at that requires me first and foremost getting out of this stressful and physically exhausting job I’m currently in, which we’re working on.

I’ve been posting older work on Instagram to inspire me to continue chipping away, but honestly, by the time I sit down and have a few minutes to work, it’s so late at night that I’m spent and can’t tap the space I need to be in. Everything comes in it’s own time, and I feel the “soon, the time isn’t right just yet, but soon”, but patience has never been one of my strongest points. So the fires within continue to burn, to grow, threatening to overwhelm me.

When I finally unleash the fire, it will be a sight to behold.

A Dip Into My Past

This past week, while waiting for people and on mini breaks at work, I read through my blog from the very beginning, way back in 2012. It was an interesting trip back for me. Eye opening, and very helpful in finally honing in on the next direction of my life.

The first few years of doing this blog focused a lot on writing as that was what I was prepping for release into the world. I also kept talking about music and art projects that I wanted to tackle. And I really miss having projects that I am passionate about. I miss all parts of that process.

I also posted my dream schedule of balancing parenting with being a freelance creator, and I am so far from that dream at the moment, it is laughable. Working full time (plus) in theater left me with barely any other creative time, let alone quality parenting time, and while the job was fulfilling in different ways before the leadership shift and it gave me the stability to get a mortgage and health insurance to have my 2nd child, I was so much happier when I was only working part time for them. Then going back into a different full time position doing bridal alterations has been draining in a very different way, and because of the hours the shop is open, even though I am physically working less hours, I still feel like I never get to see my kids or create anything extra. Especially since I’m still self-healing from last year. I feel all this pent up creative force longing to burst forth though.

So, the goal for the past couple of months now has been to be freelancing by the end of the year and becoming the at-home parent. Once that happens, I will still do some alterations. I will do some costuming work too as it comes up and as I can find time to do it. But I want to focus the bulk of my energies on my kids and on creating my own work again. I need to feel that passion for creating that I get sucked out of me by scraping myself dry through overwork.

Current Affairs

I’ve thought a lot in the past couple of weeks about what I can say to help with what’s going on lately. Life feels more fragile, a little more tenuous in the face of it all. But the truth is that life is always fragile. History is full of brutal manmade destruction and rife with natural disasters even while it is equally full of soaring beauty and truly wonderful levels human achievement. We are being reminded almost daily that everything we know can be snatched away at a moment, outside of our control. And we can either fear that and go on autopilot, or try to deny it and escape reality, or we can accept it and work to live up to our potentials in whatever stretch of time we have. And if we’re not striving towards the third option, what’s really the point?

So do what you have to in order to practice self-care. Heal yourself to the point where you can turn off the autopilot and stop the escapism for little stretches of time at first and then longer and longer moments. Find a life of meaning in whatever you do, and if something isn’t working, don’t fear changing it. And don’t be afraid to shine your inner light. Also, if you feel like you want to change things, find ways to help where you can. You can’t help everyone, but you can help someone. You can’t control the way the world operates, but you can control how you operate within the existing parameters and work to change those parameters.

Finally, if you really want to change the world, stop letting assholes win. If all the caring, empathetic people in the world would adopt this attitude individually and collectively, things would change so fast. Stop supporting those who don’t value their fellow human beings, whether it be the big fish in the small pond or the sharks in the ocean, small-town sleezy landlord or big time Hollywood producer or career politicians at any level. Stop giving them your money, stop giving them your time and attention unless it’s to rub their faces in their misdoings like a dog and say “no” very loudly and repeatedly until they get the message. If you are going to start demanding the best of yourself, demand the best from those who profit off of you as well. There is so much potential power there.

It is hard not to get caught up in the fear and the drama. But that let’s those assholes win, and that is the one thing I refuse to do.

I Am Ready

“I am ready” is a thought that’s been rattling in my mind during my moments of relaxation and meditation that I manage to grasp. I’ve been waking up with it, even delirious from staying up too late prepping things for my sister’s wedding and dealing with a teething baby again, and now that I’m in recovery mode from all that, it’s becoming more and more insistent.

The only problem is that I have no idea yet what I’m ready for. So that’ll be interesting to discover.

Some Thoughts on Life

I’ve been listening to some random lectures and talks online while sewing in recent weeks, and a couple of things I’ve heard have stuck with me, so I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

The first was a positive, truly inspiring lecture, and the line that stuck with me was when the speaker was telling everyone to stop comparing themselves to others, that we each have a purpose to fulfill here in life. And the line was that we are all puzzle pieces making up the world, and the puzzle pieces fit with other pieces to make the whole, and without even one piece, the picture is incomplete. So we’re all vital, we’re all important. And it’s our connections with each other that are truly the most important thing. I thought that was truly lovely.

The comparison game is such a tempting one, isn’t it? And we’re bombarded all the time by advertising and programming that tells us to fall into that trap so they can sell us crap, and the prevalence of social media in our lives makes it oh so easy to constantly compare and then bring ourselves down by our lack. We spiral low, shop to make ourselves feel better, drown our sorrows in more media or unhealthy habits, and let ourselves get trapped. It’s terrible. But I have learned to look at my twinges of jealousy as the sign markers for where I need to grow and direct my life. My friend is traveling off to far lands while I’m trapped with a baby and no money? Plan a day trip or weekend trip with the family and crash with friends. Someone I know released a single or put out a new book? That little pin prick is the drive for me to carve out a little time to create. And continue to make differences where I can. But this metaphor of a puzzle is one that will help quell the twinges all together, I think.

The second was a psychologist speaking about something that touched deeply on my spiritual awakening that occurred several  years ago, and I’m going to be deliberately vague because it’s very personal to me, but mainly what she said cast the entire experience in a very negative light. And I reflected on this a lot, and I’ve decided that I still am glad I went through my experiences because of the profound growth that I’ve had. There was a catalyst, a rebirthing, and then a test, all in one, and there were risks involved, but because I stayed true to myself and listened to my heart, it was a test I passed. It was necessary for my evolution, and this speaker would have cast me as a victim. And I don’t know if she truly sees the world that way, or if she’s just out to make more clients and make a buck.

So here it is, any period of growth is tumultuous. Any true spiritual experience has risks because we live in a materialistic age and have lost a lot of the knowledge of the spiritual so you enter blindly. But I know that everything in life has a positive and a negative side – the same tool can be used to heal or to harm. And it is each of our own responsibility to guard our own paths. To a lesser extent, we can help guard the paths of those we love, but really it has to come from within. We need to decide the things we value in our hearts and souls and then not waver from those values. Because it is when we become untrue to ourselves that others can manipulate us.

Anyway, those are my random thoughts.

Life and Love and Creativity

I have been absent again from posting here lately. The baby has been teething and starting her one year growth spurt, and I have also snuck away on a few short trips with the family, visiting the 1000 Islands and Buffalo/Niagara Falls. It is so much work to travel with kids, but the time with friends and getting close to nature was well worth the effort. I feel more grounded, more accepting of the current state of affairs in my life, and ready to allow myself to expand again after feeling retracted for so long.

My time to create has been so short, and this was one of the biggest things I had to come to terms with. Almost all my efforts right now are going into creating my sister’s wedding dress and jewelry. The only writing I’ve been doing lately is an occasional email or letter, and I haven’t had any time for music or painting. Because my energies are being poured into my family and into the work that allows us to survive, and that is where they need to be right now. Because the love I have for my family and the joy I experience witnessing my children grow makes the sacrifices worthwhile.

All this to say that my creativity is not gone; the fire has merely been stoked, waiting the right opportunity to blaze once again. In the meantime, I will guard my embers and feed them as I may.

 

It’s that time again…

Every year I try to look back over the year and take stock of how well I’ve lived up to certain goals. And then I try to set myself some new goals for the coming year. I’ve decided to break up that post into two posts because I’ve got quite a bit of sorting out to do for this year.

Many people have felt betrayed by 2016, and a lot of terrible things have happened to a lot of people, both personally and on a large scale. There was much divine masculine energy being brought online, if you follow that particular spirituality, and quite frankly, people haven’t been processing it very well. Hopefully that will settle in as we move into 2017 collectively. For myself personally, early on, I’ve dubbed 2016 my Year of Change, and it has proven to be that for me right up til the end. Change is not easy, change can be both good and bad, change can be scary, but it is also necessary for growth, so I’m hopeful that the coming year will be a fertile one for me.

What personal changes did I go through? I bought a house, I had my son diagnosed as being on the lower end of the autism spectrum a couple days before his 5th birthday and a week before we moved into said house (which I haven’t discussed on this site before and as someone who hates labels, I had a hard time adjusting to), I had a leadership shift at work and many of my good work friends left but I was assured that things would be shifting to the better, I delivered a beautiful baby girl with all the changes that go with that, and I got fired early in December from the job that rather than shifting to the better was made more difficult.

I have experienced such intense joy and such intense pain through all these huge life shifts, but also a lot of numbness that I’ve blamed on pregnancy and postpartum hormonal shifts which could also just have been a coping mechanism. And a lot more stress than I should have allowed myself to experience.

These past couple of weeks have been difficult for me dealing with losing my job. It’s funny that I immediately felt acceptance, even in the moment, and I still do think it was the best possible thing to have happened given the situation (and if you believe in the law of attraction, I asked for it to happen a few days before it did and I was granted my wish). But two weeks ago, I changed my Amazon Smile recipient to an organization other than my former employer and I unsubscribed from the newsletter finally, and I realized that leaving an employer is quite similar to breaking up with a significant other, and then I further realized that my getting fired after being sick a week and a half after Thanksgiving was an exact parallel to my one break up I experienced in my life – I was 18 and so sick with mono and the boy I was dating broke up with me the week after Thanksgiving. I kind of pushed him into it by making him realize that he was incapable of coping with my being sick (one of those relationships where I was more a psychoanalyst than anything and when I couldn’t fulfill that function any further, he was a mess). So I’m still trying to figure out what lessons I missed that first time that are being repeated here. But I also let some bitterness in. Being unemployed and having to be super frugal was not how I imagined our first Christmas in our new house with our new baby. With the help of my family, I was able to stop myself from spiraling into a deep dark hole and actually enjoy myself, which I was glad for. Then this past week, as I reviewed old posts here and under my real name, I kept seeing how much joy I found in my work last spring, despite the craziness, and it made me sad to think that just a handful of people being switched out was enough to make me feel taken advantage of and abused by my employer.

So here I am, my creative barrel scraped pretty dry. I’m healed up physically fairly well now though I still need to bring my stamina and strength back to my pre-pregnancy self as I still tire more readily, but creatively I’m having a difficult time tapping into where I need to go. I’ve been doing some project daydreaming, played the piano and sang several times a week for a couple songs, and my aunt got me an adult coloring book for Christmas which I started one but coloring other people’s designs isn’t really fulfilling. My morning pages are lackluster and whiny, which is what they need to be, but beyond this blog and a couple of longer Facebook posts on my other site, I haven’t been able to write. So the healing that still needs to happen is deeper than I’ve managed to get yet. But I will.

My goals for 2016 were to get the house set up to be as sustainable as possible, and that didn’t happen. We still are unpacking! But we’ve made great progress since I’ve been home. The previous owners actually left a compost bin, and we’re planning out our first veggie and herb garden for this year. A friend of ours has a phenomenal green thumb, so we will be tapping him. So, in brief, everything around the house is taking way longer than I thought it would, but part of the fun is planning long term finally. I feel like I didn’t have enough energy to do as much as I wanted creatively and self-growth wise, but I’m giving myself slack since I was creating a baby instead.

Tomorrow I’ll look ahead to the coming year with hope and optimism. But I think it’s important to be honest about where I’m at presently.

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.

Life Lessons from a Baby

I was having a difficult time of it a week ago. I would be trying to do something, accomplish something, have fun with something, and I would get interrupted by the baby or my son would be having none of it and I would have to have my husband step in to finish cooking or clean up a mess and I would feel guilty about it or I was getting frustrated at feeling like I couldn’t get anything done, even keeping myself clean. And my husband had to give me a talking to, which I could tell he was unsure how I was going to receive it. He told me that I was trying to do everything I did before having the baby plus take care of the baby, and I had to stop because I was driving myself crazy and he could tell I would start taking it out on everyone else soon. And he was absolutely right. So I had to take a step back and rethink my approach. I took a week to only aim at generic goals and not specific ones, and focused on trying to enjoy everything more fully. And it’s worked – my brain has been modified, and I started watching my daughter more and am applying the lessons to my life.

  • Take joy in basic things. My daughter, now six weeks old, will sometimes pause as she is about to latch onto the breast and make eye contact with me and smile a huge smile, then start eating. Like she is so excited that food is on the way and that I’m sharing the moment with her. Eating is a necessity, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t savor it and the company we find ourselves in when we do eat.
  • Be amazed by the world around you. Like bath time, which the baby  gets so excited about. When was the last time you really enjoyed your bath or shower simply because of the feel of the water? Now, as a creative, I love using and exploring my senses, but there are times I get too caught up and forget, and I’m sure many of you do too. But if we’re able to experience the sensations, how better can we then describe them if we’re writing or express them in our artistic endeavors? The feel of the wind on your face, the smell of food cooking, the way velvet or grass feels beneath our fingertips. These are sensations we should take the time to enjoy. Don’t take the good things for granted.
  • Celebrate small victories. During tummy time, my daughter pushed herself over the tummy time pillow using her back legs (she’s very strong), and she looked so pleased with herself after the fact. It’s still not what she wants, which is to be fully mobile, but it’s a step in the right direction, and her infant brain knew that. For me, maybe my work space isn’t coming together as quickly as I’d like and maybe I’m not making as much progress on creative goals as I’d wanted to while on maternity leave, but I’m chipping away same as I always do, and progress is getting made nonetheless. So breaking things down into smaller steps (empty these three boxes today in my workspace, etc) and really feeling accomplished for doing that much has been very helpful to my psyche.
  • Never underestimate the power of a nap. This may be the most important. If the world gets to be too much and you’re feeling overwhelmed or cranky, take a little nap. We all mostly lead very overstimulated lives, and giving our brains a break to process is a good thing.