Thursday, August 29, 2019

Drawing a Blank

I really don’t know what to write about this week. I don’t feel anything profound bubbling up to the surface. Maybe because I’ve already written about one of the most miraculous events in life: birth.

I am so grateful to have 2 healthy, grown children and now 2 healthy, happy grandchildren. I don’t ever take that for granted. I know very well the hills and valleys of childbirth, baby and childhood, adolescence and adulthood. It’s a challenge for each of us, every day. 

Some days are joyous. Some days are not. And some days, maybe most, just fade from sunrise to sunset. Unnoticed. 

I want to notice. 

I want to make sure that somehow, everyday gets my attention. I want to be sure to see the sun, trees and birds. I want to feel the morning air, a kiss or my puppy’s cold nose. I want to hear the water flow in the fountain, sigh of relaxation or even the cry of a hungry baby. And sometimes, even when I need to hear the sound of silence, I want to notice that too.  

As the fan turns slowly above me on this very hot, late summer day, I want to remember the feeling of the air on my skin. I want to notice so I can tuck it away for those cold days when I’m shivering in the wind. 

Silence and noise. 

Last week was filled with beeps and bustle and excitement of a birth, the hospital, flying and driving and finding our way home. It was happily noisy and crowded and a little crazy. 

Now it’s been an opposite week. Unfilled space. Walks under the big fir trees at the park. Cold dinners in the heat. Catching up with all the things I’d left behind. Periods of silence stretched out like a cool blanket for me to rest under. 

And yet, as I rest and catch up, I worry I’m wasting my valuable allotment of life time. But I know in my heart that’s not true. I have packing and deliveries and work in the studio waiting for me. I have grandbaby sitting and doggy playtimes and errands to run.    

Life is so full of stark contrasts. It’s wonderful and crazy and loud and quiet and hard and soft. So maybe, this week, it’s time to celebrate the blank spaces in life.  

Monday, August 19, 2019

Giving Birth

Watching my dear daughter go through the stages of birthing a new human into the world is a wonderful, difficult, scary, exciting, joyful experience. But it is called labor for a reason. It is also a huge, overwhelming task that encompasses the entire body, mind, heart and soul. 

I’ve been there. Twice. 

One question my daughter asked me as I wiped her brow and held her hand was, why would I ever think of having two children? Or more accurately, after 24 hours of labor contractions and no sleep, why oh why would anyone ever consider having another baby after this?

I could have laughed it off and said, ‘Oh, I was just crazy.’ Or skirted the issue with, ‘Really it wasn’t all that bad’. Or lied with the tried and tired phrase, ‘Oh, once you see that beautiful baby, you’ll forget all the pain’. But that’s not me, I don’t lie to my children. 

What did I say?

The simple answer is I knew I wanted two children, 3 years apart. And I thought my second birth process would be completely different than my first. That I’d do it better. That it would be easier. That because I’d been through it once, my experience would help. In most of the above, I was completely wrong. 

But I did it anyway. Again why?
Again, simple answer is I wanted to be a mom. Because I wanted to love, teach, watch, and help make babies grow into strong, creative, amazing adult people. 

And I wanted to do it better than my own childhood experience. I realize now that my desire to be a pre-school/kindergarten teacher and all my classes in education, development, nutrition and psychology were my way to learn better ways to parent. 

But there are so many more equally true answers. 

Life is precious. Each and every one, especially the ones you are privileged to bring into this crazy and chaotic world. 

Life is an amazing mystery. From conception to birth, the process the human body goes through to merge two microscopic elements into ears, eyes, skin, body, bones, blood, veins, muscle and mind into a unique, original, individual person is nature’s biggest and most thrilling secret construction project. 

Life is a miracle. Learning to see and feel and hear and touch. To kiss and walk and read and run and eat and sleep and make love is miraculous. Every day, each of us gets to breathe in new air, awaken our body, listen to our mind, hear new ideas and create with what we have in our lives on that day. 

Some days it might be just putting one foot in front of their other. Swinging on a swing. Planting a flower. Throwing clay. Singing. Reporting the news. Teaching. Walking the dog. 

And yes, life is also messy. There are many chills and spills and heart wrenching moments. But I think you’ll all agree it’s a roller coaster that, once we get on, most of us never want to get off.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Hidden History

It all started out with small spot on the ceiling in the bathroom. It was a leak. The leak was fixed  but the ceiling needed re-painting. I ignored it. I had work to do, right?

And work I did: throwing bowls, vases, cups, mugs; building jars, vases, dishes; sculpting faces and bodies and masks. It all came together just in time for a spring show and my first featured gallery show in many years. 

I was happy, energized and relieved. And yet, I knew there was more to do. 

Staring at the ceiling. 

I woke up one morning and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew it was time to paint the bathroom ceiling. As we all know, one small step leads to big change. That small spot lead to painting the walls and replacing the light fixtures. 

And then, there was the walk-in closet. The black hole that has never been repainted since we built the house back in the 90’s. I’ve dusted in there and re-arranged and organized over the years, but I’ve never taken everything out. Yeah. 

Oh, but it didn’t stop there. 

Nope. In between painting the bathroom and closet, cleaning all the shelves and cupboards inside and out, trashing and donating unwanted items, I tackled the kitchen pantry. But still did I say, enough? No.

I looked over from the pantry into my utility room and was shocked to realize that room has not been repainted since my daughter was in high school. Hint: she’s married, pregnant and has a master’s degree.

I confess, I’m a candle hoarder. Inside those cupboards, I found stacks and stashes of used votives, tapers, pillars and jars. I found stacks of empty jars without candles waiting in case I needed them. A reformed basket hoarder, I was shocked to find in the back yet another stack of unused baskets. 

Time to recycle. And remember.

My utility room got a new coat of paint. I picked almost the same shade of yellow that’s been on the walls for years. Yellow is not my favorite color. I justified it then because I hate laundry and yellow is a happy, bright color for a small, dark room. 

But after I finished painting yesterday and began putting the room back together I saw what this yellow room really means to me. 

The primary color palette was used originally in both my children’s baby rooms. On the wall hangs their tiny primary colored handprints. Across are framed cards with encouraging words I received from my husband when I was trying to find my way from full time mom to artist. Above is a line up of my favorite tins gathered over the years, some gifts from my favorite Gram. And on each side of the sink sit hand-built vases with paw prints of my dear departed dog and cat. 

Rooms, cupboards, and closets hide and hold our history. Our memories of good times and bad. Happiness and fear. Like a time capsule or treasure chest, these covered dark places keep our lives preserved for a time when, if we are brave, we can open up, clear out, let in new light and smile at the memories.