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Wilted

When I lay my head down at night I prepare myself for whatever colorful, emotional trek I am about to embark.  A dystopian hell in which I cannot find my family. A rendezvous with a random high school acquaintance who hasn’t even crossed my mind in 20 years. An altered memory with an outcome much better or much worse than the real thing. One of my children drowning. The possibilities are endless and, all too often, arduous.

It seems silly to say, but dreams are such an integral part of my make-up. They affect my mood. Sometimes they determine my energy level for the day. They drive me and drain me. I’ve even been known to have a prophetic dream or two—a quality that freaks out Mel. I assure him it’s just intuition painting me a scene since I’ve never been one to listen. I learn shit the hard way. Sometimes twice.

Dreams also come to me as a form of therapy. Even though I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve or appear to be an open book, there’s a whole-fucking-lot beneath the surface. The iceberg analogy doesn’t even cut it. No. Icebergs are white, bright, clean. Solid yet less dense than the massive ocean it occupies. Imagine more of a trench-filled ocean with some hammerheads, a few Portuguese man ‘o wars, the Kraken and a happy little archipelago cause your girl likes to come up for sunshine sometimes. My dreams, they give me the gills to breathe down there. A light to see all the creatures lurking in the trenches. A voice to say what I’ve always wanted to say without anyone in real life knowing the things that haunt me. That’s the pirate booty.

When I’m lucky, a dream comes to bestow a level of empathy and understanding I’d never obtain otherwise. It’s like a divinely-taught, tuition-free course in humanity. And once I catch those feelings I can access them anytime thereafter. Kinda like having my very own shelf full of dream jars (like Roald Dahl’s The BFG). 

I had one of those dreams several months ago. So affecting I woke up in tears and went through the motions of the day in a heavy stupor. I couldn’t get the imagery out of my head. The poignant picture my subconscious painted as to say here—now you understand. 

A person I love, someone in my family, called to let me know he and his wife were pregnant. I felt an immeasurable sense of joy knowing that we’d have an addition to our family, a little girl maybe, with a likeness of the person so dear to my heart. A sense of peace washed over me knowing this person would soon experience a love unlike anything he’d ever known. This person—more than anybody—deserved that. 

Then some other odd and irrelevant stuff happened at that point, in the surreal Salvador Dali way that time passes in dreams, when I got the call to come to the hospital. His wife had a late-term miscarriage. 

At the hospital, a doctor came to the waiting room and asked me to come with him. He took me into a small conference room with a projector and proceeded to explain to me that the wife would be experiencing crippling grief, and I should be there for her as much as possible.

On the projector was an animation: an outline of a woman with a bloom of lush, colorful flowers in her womb. Then, slowly, those flowers began to to wilt. A vine connecting the wilting flowers in her womb to the garden in her mind caused those flowers to wilt too. One by one, all the petals fell. A striking image of grief and depression. 

With the falling of each petal the outline of another woman came into the frame, until she was enveloped by a tribe of love and sisterhood. The vines and stems began to perk up, regaining its color until new flower buds appeared.

It wasn’t the same garden but she would be okay.

When I woke up (in tears), I knew I wanted to incorporate the imagery in a story I’ve been working on for some time. I’ve since tried, but words continue to fall short of the image; plus, my writing has been shit lately.

I’ll never do the image justice, neither with words nor drawings, but if anything, I now know how to be the tribe.

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Doodled before writing this. As close to the image in my mind’s eye as I could get, with a few personal twists. The moon represents life and fertility. My favorite moon phase (waxing gibbous) is hollowed representing loss of the joy I typically feel during that time. Bleeding hand represents God’s promise of healing.

 

 

 

 

Seeker

This evening I caught up on the most recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. One of the guests was comedian and actor Jim Carrey. I looooved Jim on In Living Color when I was growing up and can still do pretty mean Fire Marshall Bill and Vera Demilo impersonations. I didn’t grow to love many of his movies later on, but I continued to admire him as an artist and person and have been interested in what’s going on in his life to this day.

I think the reason I’ve always had a soft spot for Jim is because of how candid he’s been about his struggles with depression and (in the past) drug-use. I don’t know if it’s because I’d mourned the suicide of a loved one so early in my life, but sometimes I feel like we’re a bunch of delicate paper dolls just one bad thought away from crumbling and being swept into the atmosphere. I admire all who suffer and decide the next day might be better than the last. It’s not always easy.

Anyway, Bill Maher remarked on Jim’s struggles with depression and how he always considered him a “seeker”. Then he said something that really struck me.

Bill: I always thought of you as a seeker. You’re always seeking…something. Right? Cause you’re not always happy.

Jim: No, no I’m not always happy, that’s for sure. Happy is the weather.

Bill: But that is the mark of a seeker. It’s hard to find what you’re looking for—especially when it’s deep.

Who knew your stoic self could be so profound, Bill? Thanks for articulating what I never could.

It’s hard to find what you’re looking for—especially when it’s deep.

Yes. Yes it is.

A year ago, Jim was accused of acting bizarre and awkward in an interview during New York Fashion Week:

Jim: I wanted to find the most meaningless thing that I could come to and join, and here I am. I mean, you’ve gotta admit it’s completely meaningless.

Interviewer: Well, they say they’re celebrating icons. Do you believe in icons?

Jim: That is just the absolute lowest aiming, you know, possibility that we can come up with?

At that point he goes off on an existential tangent, but I was all I don’t see what’s bizarre-o about this. He was speaking my language. It also made me think of something he said many years ago

I think everybody should get rich and famous, and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.

What is the answer, then? Is the benchmark of happiness different for everyone? Or is it some universal thing that’s managed to elude most of us? Is it love? Is it faith? Even those concepts are subjective. Are some people just wired for a morose life despite their good circumstances? If happiness is weather, how do we turn it into climate?

Sometimes being a seeker-type can feel self-important, futile, lonely. You wonder why you can’t just experience life, its most mundane and magnificent moments, without perusing its interconnectedness and meaning. If only you could float easy at the surface, eyes closed with the sun beaming down on you instead of soliciting the darkest trenches for answers yet to be found by mankind. What makes you think you’re going to find them? And at times you are floating easy at the surface until you remember there are individuals, groups, species, ideals that are drowning. That’s enough to pull you right back under.

See, this post already feels self-indulgent. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s late at night and I spent some time on this, my inclination would be to delete it. That’s the loneliness and dichotomy of a seeker—to feel, to question, to have the audacity to seek and return to you empty-handed.

Can anyone relate?

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Extended Nursing: That’s a Wrap!

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The past week has been bittersweet. It’s the end of an era between my son and me. An era I never imagined surviving a year much less three and a half. 

Apollo never took to bottles or pacifiers, so I served as both. My husband couldn’t help with feedings since, quite frankly, he wasn’t the one with the milk-filled boobs; and when Apollo figured out that boobs not only provide milk but pacify too, it was mama, mama, mama, and only mama from then on out.

Throughout the first year I:

-was sleep deprived.
-had sore, cracked nipples.
-leaked a lot.
-was supper emotional (see: sleep deprived).
-dreamt about the one year mark, when I’d begin the weaning process.

But when he turned one, I wasn’t quite ready to initiate weaning. I knew some resistance and crying would be involved, and since I’d become a pro at pacifying his qualms (with boobs) I wasn’t ready to replace this challenge with a new one. We’d gotten into a groove, a routine, a bond. Besides, we were about to embark on a cross-country move (Hawaii to Maryland) and I wanted to preserve as much normalcy for him as possible.

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Okay, so on our way to Maryland from Hawaii we made a month-long stop in Texas. He bit my nip one day while nursing and it hurt so bad I shouted. My shout scared the bejeebus out of him and he refused to nurse for three entire days. Crabbiness ensued and nothing else could pacify him. I was afraid it was the abrupt and unexpected (i.e. I wasn’t emotionally prepared) end of our breastfeeding bond. I captured a moment of him resisting the boob. I was an emotional mess. That is probably mascara on the blanket. Ha!

Once we were settled into our new state/home, he was pushing two. What the hey, I thought, I’ll just wait until after his second birthday to initiate weaning. But by then I had read about the benefits of extended nursing for both baby and mama. Say what? I’m reducing my risk of developing breast cancer? I’m still boosting his brain development and resistance to illness? I’m not particularly crunchy, but that sounded like a sweet deal. 

I’m not gonna lie—I was dead tired. Constant night wakings and co-sleeping in uncomfortable positions took a toll on me. I swear I’ve aged double-time. But his nursings throughout the day gave me a break too. I enjoyed taking a moment to slow down, be present and catch up on my own rhythm.

Before I knew it we were celebrating Apollo’s third birthday. The white flag was completely thrown in and I decided I’d let him decide when we’d be done. I had long stopped caring about the well-meaning, though misinformed, comments by relatives about how spoiled he was and how he was too big to be nursing. I knew I was doing what was best for both of us both physically and emotionally.

Last Sunday we were in bed and on a whim I said “Mama’s chichis (boobs) are tired, and you’re getting to be such a big boy. How about we just snuggle?” He turned around, went to sleep and that was that.

It’s been a challenging, deliriously sleep-deprived, beautiful, learning curve, but we did it together. Our bond is physical and emotional. It will always be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

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(Side note: I really wish I would have taken more photos of me nursing him.)

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Free FALLing

 

 

Right now I am snuggled up on my couch with a blanket, the fireplace is crackling, the aroma of pumpkin spice candles is conjuring images of pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin EVERYTHING. It’s no secret. I FREAKING LOVE FALL. It’s perhaps my most favorite thing about living on this side of the U.S.

Some of the basic bitch things I like to do during fall:

  • Hike
  • Drink a shit ton of (decaf) pumpkin lattes
  • Hike
  • Get some new sweaters, scarves and boots and wear my favorite ones incessantly
  • Cook a lot of soups, stews and casseroles
  • Hike
  • Eat
  • Hike

Seeing a trend much?

This is why I am devastated that I didn’t do any fall hiking this year. Or at least go out to take photos of fall foliage. I guess I’ve been too busy with my kids (I’m basically an Uber driver) that it slipped by me. This week is a little too cold to have Apollo outdoors for extended times, and even if next week is a little warmer, most of the foliage will have fallen.

 

So today I am just admiring some fall photos of the last two years. Nearly all of them are from around my neighborhood. Gahhh. Why must it be so short lived?

 

What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?

Psst! Follow me on Instagram. I follow back! You can follow my personal account too :).

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10 Ideas to Inspire Your Creativity

Your muse goes missing. Inspiration seems elusive. Creative blocks are burgeoning. However you describe it, we’ve all experienced those slumps in creativity. And it doesn’t matter what your niche is, a lack of inspiration and ideas can be pretty frustrating  when you’re  trying to write a book, run a business, or enjoy a hobby.

So should you let the slump run its course or should you catch up to it and show it who’s boss? Do you have your running shoes on? Good. Let’s go.

Here are 10 ideas to get you back in the creative spirit:

  1. Spend a day at a museum. Any museum. Other people’s brilliance and ingenuity will remind you how amazing human creativity is. It is a gift within all of us.
  2. Go to an open mic event at a local coffee shop. Buy yourself a treat, relax and enjoy the beauty of others’ thoughts, ideas and delivery.
  3. Take an art or how-to class. Choose one that is outside of your current niche.
  4. Go to a play or musical. It does not matter if it’s a Broadway production or a local community college production. Just marvel at the pro.duct.ion.
  5. Attend a cultural event. Preferably one outside of your own. You will have fun learning the intricacies of a culture.
  6. Watch any movie by Laika Entertainment. The stop-motion animation studio never ever disappoints. Their creativity, attention to detail, resolve is astounding! (Imagine the patience it takes to partake in stop-motion animation.)
  7. Attend a writer’s group meeting. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, writing and sharing ideas with observant and thoughtful people (cause that’s what we are ;-)) gets the wheels turning.
  8. Go to a costume party. They’re not just reserved for Halloween! You can attend Cosplay, a Renaissance fair or Victorian era party, Diner en Blanc, etc. Anything that forces you to play dress up.
  9. Upcycle/repurpose something. Make it a project to find something cheap or free from a yard sale or thrift store. Repaint and repurpose it.
  10. Go to a bar or winery. Take your notebook of bright ideas with you. Lord knows all we need sometimes is a little liquid courage to get past our inner critic. Enjoy!

Which one of these would you choose first? Also, name something you would add to the list!

Let’s follow each other on Instagram!

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