Monday, February 27, 2012

The comfort of routine is not something I ever thought I would enjoy. But, in fact, I do. I crave it.
I need my coffee first thing in the morning.
I need two pieces of chocolate after lunch.
I need to go straight to bed once my lil' guy is down for the night and yes, that sometimes is as early 8:00 p.m.!
My morning cuppa and my Moleskin.
But when I need to get truly grounded because I feel like I am going to vanish into an all-consuming, real depression, what I need is different. I need:
When my energy bucket is empty and I'm running low, I can tell because my phone needs charging and my car is out of gas. (Quite often we also need groceries and the house is a wreck, but really, that can happen any time!) A heart-to-heart with a dear friends or my mom can help then, as sometimes can a treat like getting my nails done or seeing a movie. But those things have 'time guilt' associated with them, and they're only for energy. Not soul.
Today's art: "The only place we have to stand is where we are now."
Journaling, exercising, and doing art are instant heart charging, mind calming, nerve soothing actions I can do. Physical actions that help me get my feelings out, soothe my anger and angst, and allow me to feel some sort of control over my life.

On the heels of Deborah's crushing heartbreak, I've realized that for me, it's pouring my heart out, into something, be it scribbled words, painted images, or an elliptical machine, that keeps me stable.

That, and a daily dose of chocolate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Get up one more time

I've been staring at this blog screen for a long time.  Debating.  Wondering what to write.  Starting.  Deleting.  Wavering between my truth right now and the lighthearted inspirational craft advice I think I am supposed to deliver in this blog.  The tone that Emily seems to deliver so effortlessly.

Pretending to offer something I just don't have won't serve me or you, so lighthearted is out.  So is inspirational and crafty.  Which just leaves me with honesty.

So.  Last week I was pregnant.  About 10 weeks pregnant.  Then there was a checkup, with no fetal heartbeat, and now I'm no longer pregnant.

Such a simple fact.  As the joke goes, there is no such thing as almost pregnant.  You are.   Until you aren't.

So many people go through this.  So many women have hugged me with compassion in their eyes and whispered in my ear the story of their own miscarriage. 

Meanwhile my two beautiful girls blithely continue to demand my undivided attention and to fill my heart and my day with relief and irritation and joy and exasperation.  There is no room for grief amidst the Goldfish and dinosaurs and trips to the potty and refereeing of games.

But it's subterranean.  It's down there, deep.  A strong bubbling force that bursts through at moments I am not expecting and can't control.  It's an overwhelming anger, irrational and frightening.  A rage at the loss and the injustice and the permanence.

It's an appalled recognition of my own former unconscious smugness in the relative ease and success of my first two pregnancies.  The satisfaction I took in getting pregnant so quickly, the entitled complaining of pregnancies discomforts I indulged in, almost a sense that I was superior somehow, and that miscarriages were things that happened to other unlucky people.  I had no awareness of any of those feelings before, but I see it and regret it now that I'm one of the unlucky people.

It is grief.  When I'm pregnant, I walk about my day functioning normally, but there is always a portion of my brain that never leaves conversation with the soul growing inside me.  That never wavers its focus from that baby and the awareness that it is there.  And now I'm still functioning normally, but that deeper portion of my brain is howling in loneliness and loss all the time in the background, until it spills up into my eyes at inconvenient moments.

It's the feeling that when people ask how I am, I have to say, "Fine."  Because physically I am.  And because it's over and there's nothing I can do about it.  Because I have two children and a husband and a business and a house and friends who need me.  Because I am blessed beyond belief in so many ways.

But I'm not fine.  I feel alone and sad and lost.  And like now that a week has passed, I'm supposed to be over it.  Really?  A week?

But I lost a child.  Not a fetus or an embryo, but a real child and the potential of that child's life with me that I was already envisioning.  I lost a part of myself.

Maybe we will try again.  Or not.  This seems to be the thing people want to comfort me with, including my husband.  And I suppose it is a comfort.  But another child will be just that.  Another child.  Not this one.  There is no replacement.

So here is my truth:  I am sad and I am angry.  I miss the child that I only got to spend 10 weeks with.  And I am helpless to change anything about that except to accept that this has happened and move on.

Fall down seven times, get up eight. 

Ok.  I'll get up one more time.  But enough already.  Enough.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentines on a stick

It's a bit silly how much work Valentine's Day has become if you have children.  EVERYONE in their classes must get a Valentine of some sort, (the handouts emphatically say) so if you have more than one child, and they go to more than one school, you can end up making 50 (!!!) some odd favors to hand out.  To 2 and 3 year olds who really could not care less, and whose entire concept of Valentine's day revolves around how much sugar content it has.

Nonetheless, I didn't want to be that Mom who was the grinch who didn't give anything (although seriously, is anyone keeping track of that--I know I have no idea who gave what) and so I pulled out a leftover bag of lollipops from Youngest's last birthday and a few crafting supplies and got to work.

Using my hole punch I punched out a kafillion pink circles.  Then I stamped "With Love" on one of them and wrote "From..." and each girl's name underneath. 

I wanted the girls to participate but their abilities and interest in this project were pretty limited, so I decided to make it their job to adhere stickers to the other circle.

This led to a lot of sloppy overlapping and stickers stuck on my coffee table (despite the newspaper I put down) but it was fun, got them to participate, and they made it about 1/2 way through all the circles before they lost interest all together, so I didn't have that many left to finish.

Now I had a stamped circle and a stickered circle.  I put one on each side of the lollipop, grabbed my trusty stapler, and stapled the two circles together over the candy.  Here's the finished product:

Acceptably cute, sort of handmade, kids participation, and relatively quick.  Favors I can live with.

What did you do for your Valentines this year?

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm Telling Ya: I'm a Rule Breaker!

Oh, yeah. I'm a rule breaker. Big time! And proud of it!

I started Flora Bowley's fabulous Bloom True e-course this past week and heeheee! I am breaking rules and I am lovin' every second of it!
Day 1 of putting paint to canvas.
Ms. Bowley, a unique, beautiful spirit and fantastic painter in her own right, is teaching us how she approaches painting (but not her 'style', per say). It's a mind/body/spirit class, with meditation, yoga stretches, and of course, painting with color -- lots of it! -- and creative souls from all over the world. We check in daily to read, watch, listen, and do a bit of work.  Before I had a chance to get intimidated, she started us off, nice and easy, with simple stuff, thoroughly explained and clearly demonstrated. Nothing daunting, nothing overly time consuming. Just the basics. With soul. If we have questions, break-throughs, or frustrations, there's not only a Flickr group for posting photos, but also an on-line chat group where anything goes.
Second day of painting.

As someone who can see pretty clearly where her art is going, I usually feel in control. Even if my piece turns out nothing like I thought it would, it's still okay. Not now. I'm letting go. Breaking rules. Playing. Breathing. I'm even starting to do a teeeeeeny bit of mediation (and I mean teeny!). Allowing Ms. Bowley to lead us, I'm trusting in {her} process. That's breaking my first rule. And I love it.
My faithful assistant, Maxi, waiting to hold my palette.
*Wishing Well Weekend Workshop! March 2-4, 2012

We women are always in transition! We move, get married, divorced, raise children, switch jobs. Transitions of any kind -- even good ones -- can leave us feeling lost, alone, and unsure about what to do next. We're here to help.

Our fun, creative exercises will help you reveal *your own* answers and insights. Beginners to professionals welcome: no crafting experience necessary! Space is limited; register (here)!

***Special offer for the first 4 paid registrants: a free 5 x7 print of your choice from the Ruby Shea Etsy shop.
***See "What's New" page for information about a scholarship.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Get up

"Fall down seven times, get up eight."
                                   --Chinese proverb

There has been a lot of turmoil in my life lately.  For a while now, if I think about it.  I keep optimistically telling myself things will calm down and get better, but the last couple of weeks have been a doozy  .

We had some work done on our kitchen--getting new granite countertops and new flooring installed--which turned out lovely but meant I was without a sink or a stovetop or most of the contents of my cabinets for nearly a week.  When you are responsible for packing lunches and providing meals to demanding little ones, this is rather inconvenient, as is juggling schedules to be available for the workers' "we'll be there between...(insert 8 hour time frame, which they will show up 15 minutes past)" windows.

Also I have a horrendous head cold that refuses to go away and which renders me a phlegmy, cranky, exhausted mess.  And Youngest has had a stomach flu that has meant many middle of the night pajama changes, bed strippings, wall wipedowns, and a decided setback in the potty training effort.

Then my regular babysitter who has been with my family for the last two years got a full-time job and left.  I was happy for her, but still need help, and so scrambled to find a pre-school situation that would accept both girls in mid-winter.  My first 4 choices had no availability, but I finally found one that could take them both.   After numerous deposits, tuition payments, doctor's records, birth certificates, notarized forms, and two bags full of clothing, diapers, snacks, lunch, sleeping bags, and blankies, I dropped them both off.  Three hours later I got the call to come pick them up, because Youngest was crying inconsolably.  Happened again the next drop off.  I know this is to be expected from my not-so-independent little one and that she will do better as she gets used to it and accepts the routine, but meanwhile, I am falling farther and farther behind in my schedule and to-do lists, and more pertinently, am crippled with mommy guilt.

Then our hot water heater exploded, flooding our basement.  We've gotten a new one installed, and thankfully it will be covered by insurance, but again with the coordinating with the hot water heater installers, the insurance adjuster, the flood remediation company, the workers tearing out the drywall, and don't forget the anti-mold chemicals, the industrial fans, and the giant pile of everything that was on that side of the room piled in the one section that didn't flood.  So this space, which is the girls' playroom, where we watch movies, my husband's office, where we do laundry, where we store supplies, where we live, is unusable.

So what does this all have to do with a blog devoted to transitions and creativity?  Well, I don't really expect you to care that much about my trivial inconveniences, but I do expect that you can relate.  That you have had a week (month, year) where you just feel like it just keeps coming, like you've fallen down seven times, and don't really know how to get up that one more time.  Where you are tired, discouraged, sad, exasperated, mad, defeated, resentful, and bewildered.

I barely have the energy to get through my day much less to create a card or painting or journal entry.  But sometimes creativity is just this.  Writing your blog when you are too tapped out to know what to say, much less inspire, and so you spew the minutiae of your week instead.  It's figuring out how to make a meal without using a sink or stove.  It's entertaining your child while you wait in line to get your form notarized.  It's choosing to keep going when you really just feel like giving up.

I have been falling a lot lately.  (Or being violently shoved.)  So being creative for me right now means finding a way to get up one more time.  That requires a lot of will, a lot of originality, a lot of focus.  There is no better training for your creativity.

Keep getting up.  I'll be right there beside you, creatively cursing the whole way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nowhere is Between Somewheres

After two years of transitioning (changing jobs, and moving from a home that I loved in Los Angeles to the suburbs of New York), I am realizing I am not in mourning anymore, but instead I feel more neutral, more numb. I don't feel as if I have fully started my new life (which is quite strange: I have!), but I am aware of things falling into place: I can see new pathways. 

I visited the White Plains Unitarian church Sunday, and the guest speaker (who's name I did not catch -- my bad!) introduced me to author William Bridges. His book "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes" talks about how transition is psychological, and there are three phases of transition. 

He says in transition, we first we experience...
   (1) The ending, the letting go and saying goodbye. There's feelings of loss, mourning, and confusion.
Then there is...
   (2) The neutral zone, where we are in limbo. We often feel anxiety and/numbness; old conflicts come up.
And eventually, we get to...
   (3) Begin anew.

As I was thinking about how much I have been struggling in so many aspects of my life, the speaker suggested while we are in the middle of change, that we take time to feel and talk and express ourselves. That I can do! She told us with a smile, "Nowhere is in between somewhere". I can remember that too.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


The right tools are such an important part of creating.  Paper, glue, scissors, paint, brushes....we all have favorite pieces that we turn to when inspiration hits.  I have to admit that one of my absolute favorites is the stapler.

Emily and I both love to craft with found objects, things like grocery lists, old discarded photos, leaves scooped off the ground on walks, bottle caps, scraps of paper, etc.  I was tearing up some old business cards the other day--the address was out of date, but I was saving the portion that just had my name and cell phone number--and in the part I was discarding were these pretty swirls of flowers that I hated to waste, so I ripped those off and put them in my scrap pile.  I wanted to share some of them with Em, but it's messy to hand over a fistful of scrap paper. Plus, even scraps feel a little more special if packaged right, so I quickly threw together a make-shift envelope.

I grabbed one of the shipping tags I keep in a cubby on my desk,

folded up the bottom third and stapled the edges.  I stuck the scraps in the pocket it formed and glued one to the front as decoration.  Done.

Cute, functional, and took maybe 30 seconds.  THAT is why I love my stapler.  It's the lazy efficient way to create.

Okay, maybe it is lazy but it is also valid.  In fact, I love the look that staples make.  I often include them in my crafts, just a bunch of random staples clustered together, sometimes attaching things, and sometimes not, just adding interest and texture.  I call them my mosh pits.

There's nothing wrong with taking shortcuts sometimes.  Part of what I love about staples is that they are so mundane, part of any office desk.  Their function is not hidden, like glue is.  They bring things together, and they do their job and are obvious and functional and everyday about it.  I love displaying the inner workings, celebrating the ugly ordinary metal, and I especially love the convenience.

What tool is a staple of your routine?  Any to which you are particularly attached?