Spring mandala. Don’t think, just do. Paper, circle, paint/color/draw:
Speaking of hands in the dirt. Do you garden?
Spring mandala. Don’t think, just do. Paper, circle, paint/color/draw:
Speaking of hands in the dirt. Do you garden?
Ever been curious about what’s happening in the stars and how it relates to your life? Check out this video by my good friend, Eugenia. Learn more about her and what she does at eugeniakrok.com.
I just had a birthday. It was on the first warm day of March. It was lovely. I made myself a pair of earrings and that wasn’t even the best part. Today, though, I want to talk about Liam’s birthday. Today Liam would have been ten. Ten years old.
I don’t even know.
He’s been on my mind a lot since we moved back to La Crosse. Back to the town in which he was born. Back to the midwife that knew him so well. Back to the people that held my hand through the very hard and very long part. I try to put my finger on what it is I’m feeling about him. It’s as if I keep the feelings underneath a heavy blanket. They are there, I can feel them, but the blanket…it’s too heavy. It’s too heavy to feel anything else but that weight.
I’ve realized I can feel the emotions when I’m with my other kids. Like yesterday I was putting drops into the six-month-old’s eyes (pink eye (!)) and he was crying, because it burns, and then immediately got sleepy, because he was exhausted, and I had a few minutes of panic that maybe I had somehow just caused him to go blind. Like what if I had squeezed more than one drop–because it was hard to tell–and what if more than one drop can cause blindness. Because that’s rational. And I got really scared and helpless feeling. Until he opened his eyes, blinked at me, and smiled. When I have those kinds of emotional reactions, I know that there is a little more going on and a lot to do with Liam.
I painted this painting a few years ago around the time of his birthday, I think. It’s meant to be him, sitting at his grave, on dia de los muertos (the day of the dead), making paper flowers and getting help from the crows. It’s unfinished, dirty, and beat up, but I have a lot of love for this dark imagery. And I kind of wonder if he would look anything like this. Six months ago when I went into labor with the now six-month-old, I dreamt that Liam, as an adult, was walking toward me arm-in-arm with my grandma. It was as if they were coming–from where ever it is they hang out these days–to be with me. My team. It was an effective dream; it gave me a great deal of confidence that day. I look back on his life and remember the joy I felt in his existence. The love that I could never have imagined. I remember washing dishes in the morning while he sat on the floor in the little bouncy chair, smiling and talking and playing. I remember walking all over town with him, in the stroller or in the carrier, he was always easy, calm, steady. I remember that with him life was better. I remember the day he died—–I feel it in my chest now as I type this. It’s that hollow, scraped out feeling. Fog, pain, emptiness. I remember. But dude. This kid was awesome! For all of you who didn’t know him, you must know. And for all of you who did know him, wasn’t he awesome? I am honored to have been a part of his life. On days like today, when that heavy blanket gets pulled back and I feel everything, I know that because of you, Liam, I am a better person. Happy Earth Birthday, kid.
The altered book directive. What you need: one (1) book, art supplies, your imagination. I love altering a book. I find it entirely relaxing to cut out a bunch of pictures in order to make new pictures. It can also work as a journal, a sketchbook, an art journal, a cookbook, a pop-up book, a children’s book, an erotic book, a comic book. You get it. Lots of things. I find that I like to doodle in mine when I’m working out my thoughts on something else. It sort of helps me clear out. It could just as easily be made with a specific intention, though. Like what? Like, well, what’s up with you right now? Personally, I could create a book around food and health–healthy food, healthy babies, feeling crazy because I’m trying to be healthy, feeling judgmental about health, feeling exhausted by it…that’s a good start. I might have to create that book. What is on your mind? A lot? Make an altered book about it.
It’s weird to come in here and see that my last post was on February 1st. Man. We got sick. Everyone in the house. It takes a while to fully come through all of that grossness. What does getting sick do for you? I find it to be a really bizarre head space, especially when my kids get sick. When Liam died he had had a normal kid cold. I don’t think that’s what killed him, ultimately, but it was there. I remember. And that’s hard to not think about when I see my kids sick now. There’s this helplessness. So much–not always rational– questioning (why do I let them eat sugar? why did we go to the Y? blah, blah, blah, why?). So we get the flu, I hear on the radio that Wisconsin is only second to Texas in pediatric deaths due to the flu this season, and I try to take care of everyone (just like every other parent does).And we’re fine! We’re all fine. It wasn’t even that bad now that I’m on the other side of it. But while it was on, man, it was on. I wasn’t well enough to go anywhere, I cancelled a lot of stuff, and my house began to look like it had the flu as well. In the middle of feeling bad I got an overpowering urge to knit a hat. That’s usually how it works for me; it’s almost as if I become fixated on the creation of an item and I can’t do anything else until it is complete. So I stayed up late a couple nights with a head cold and an orange cat and knit myself a hat. I love knitting. It’s no wonder that I decided I needed to do it when I was feeling so perfectly bad for myself.We do eat sugar. I’ve been trying to limit the intake, but it’s not gone or anything. I find that when I set extreme limits the limit itself causes way to much anxiety or stress or guilt. If I’m feeling those things because I’m trying to be healthier then I’m not getting healthier. Let’s talk about that for a minute. There are a lot of different belief systems around food. Like, is sugar poison? Is gluten making you ill? Should you go Paleo? I don’t know. I think that each person has their own unique body that functions best when fed in its own unique way. I try to pay attention to how I feel after eating some grub. The more I realize I feel not-so-good after eating certain items, the more I know I don’t want to feel that way, therefore it’s easier to not eat said item. It’s not so much about rightness and wrongness, it’s about finding what works best for you. If eating only organic food helps you feel your best then eat organic food. But if it stresses you out because it’s expensive and you can’t afford other things…if it stresses you out because you are super hungry and you can’t get to the co-op…if it stresses you out and you can’t think about anything else…well then, I don’t know, what do you think? What is your balance?So, speaking of sugar, my two-year-old turned two over the weekend and I made him a cake. I call it the Catty-cat Cake, because that’s what he calls it and because it’s fun. I really enjoy baking and cake construction. I made this one when the three-year-old turned two. I like the challenge. I like that it’s edible. I like that it’s a cat. And even though it’s made of sugar and white flour it brings me a the little people a great deal of joy and that is not stressful, that, I think, is healthy.
I have heard this a few times: I would go to therapy, but I feel like it’s selfish (?). And I’m here to tell you that it is.
It is 100% indulgent, all about you, don’t-look-at-anyone-else time. For a lot of people that can sound kind of scary. It can lead to thoughts of, “what about the children?” or “what about the dogs?” or “what about my book that I should be writing?”…what about all of these things that I should be doing instead of going to therapy, right?
As it turns out, the more we take care of ourselves, the more space we free up for the other people/animals/interests in our lives. You gotta take care of your brain, dude, there’s no getting away from it. No matter where you go, there it is, still inside of that big ol’ dome.
Taking time to do things for yourself feeds your brain, body, and soul. It declutters and reorganizes which then, for me especially, gives me greater energy to direct at other things, like my kids. So instead of deflecting them I am able to engage and read a book for the seventh time, without wanting to scream. Or maybe I still want to scream (let’s be real), but it’s without resentment. I find I have time for homemade lotion. Freeing up this space makes room for other things you care about.
This lotion is kind of indulgent. I have to take time out of my day to make it. But it makes me so happy when I smear it on my hands. I love to grease up my kids after the bath and know that I’m not putting chemicals on their bodies. And it’s not complicated. You don’t have to make lotion, but when you start taking time for yourself (therapy, exercise, good food), you might just want to make your own lotion.
The Scribble Directive. I used paper, a pen, and water colors.
Okay, I can’t take credit for the actual scribble, that was done by the little person that snuck into some of the pictures. The Scribble Directive is great for practicing mindfulness. It’s great if your working on living in the here and now. It’s great if you want to paint something. Here’s how this went for me this morning:
As you can see this is simple stuff. Paper and paint. Some inspiration from the bluff I can see out of my window. This is about movement, clearing out the brain, and simply allowing whatever wants to happen happen.
As ever, check out what’s happening through the process. Be an observer of your thoughts. See if you can stay in the present. When thoughts creep in you can acknowledge them and then simply ask them to leave. Practice being here now.
Goodness. Half-way through the week already. How’s your self-talk? Your inner voice. The critic. The devil on your shoulder. I call my inner voice, the super chatty I-have-something-to-say-about-everything voice, the terrorist. And for some reason I also refer to him as a he. As a him. Whatever. This guy reeks havoc on me. He is seriously the biggest meany, jerky jerk. And he’s me. And I’m him.
Beyond that, he’s a liar. Like, clinical. He lies to me all of the time. And pokes and pokes and pokes. An example: the other day I was at yoga and class was pretty full. The owners (or at least the people I think are the owners) of the yoga studio set up their mats right next to me. So I’m thinking alright…yeah…you know…I got this (in my head it looks like I’m at the gym about to lift something heavy, jumping up and down, working out the kinks in my neck, flexing, but really I’m just sitting on a yoga mat zen-like) and then the terrorist joins in and starts saying crap like THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOU THEY THINK YOU SUCK THEY CAN TELL YOU’VE NEVER DONE THIS POSE BEFORE YOU SUCK DID YOU HEAR ABOUT HOW YOU SUCK and so on. I know, deep in my core, that he’s full of crap, but I still can’t help but feel that feeling. Fear. What if they kick me out due to sheer suckiness? What if they don’t like me? What if…? Fear makes us put our heads down, ball up, and cease to exist. We step back and stop participating; stop singing, painting, playing, writing, dreaming, living.
I fight my terrorist in a couple different ways. One, if I’m by myself, I will yell–out loud–not a word or anything, just a long yelly noise to drown him out. It’s like I startle him (me) into closing (stopping) his (my) mouth (thoughts). And it works, interestingly. It works better when followed by some deep breathing, maybe a count to ten, maybe some self-forgiveness. There is lots of breathing in yoga, so I was able to process through that negativity pretty efficiently and then I was able to say I forgive you, Mel, and I love you. Saying those things to myself doesn’t stop the terrorist, but it gives me a really sturdy feeling in my core. That sturdiness is a knowing…and I’m guessing you probably know what I mean. You just know.
Here is my first recipe of the year (and ever), with a goal of no refined sugar–a general rule–and an overall goal of being healthy and delicious. I’ve been making this recipe consistently for a few months and it still wins. Like, I don’t spend time searching “best simple granola” anymore. No sugar, just honey. Go for the local, raw stuff for extra points. Healthy fats, peanut butter and coconut oil. Oats. Simple and good.
I like to eat raw food as much as possible. One, as I’m sure you’ve heard in your lifetime, uncooked food is more nutritious. Two, I’m lazy. It’s way easier to eat a carrot than to cook a carrot and then eat it. You know? When it comes to this granola I often chop up an entire apple, throw in a big handful of almonds and pecans, and top with granola and milk.