30 April 2015

Freshly Squeezed Newborn Baby Blanket

 I didn't realize until earlier this year, how far away from my own artistic endeavors I've gotten in the past few years.  I'd been so focused on external matters, being a caregiver, being a good citizen and giving back in my community, and being an encouraging person for other people and their creative efforts that I'd forgotten myself and my own creativity, my own needs, my own desires.  Then, a few months back, I was thinking about how this one woman I know has delved further into her art as a release from the more stressful and less creative obligations in her daily life.

A light bulb lit up, the bright hot filaments burning away some of the haze clouding my vision.  My aha! moment stretched into a whole hour, or perhaps week's worth of moments.  Instead of thinking, "I can't perform quality work at this time when I am so distracted, so overwhelmed, so tired, so stressed, so whatever", I could shift my perspective to something like, "being creative is not only an indulgence, but it also will help me in ways that are essential for my health and well being".

Now, theoretically, I knew that.  But in practice, I didn't apply that to myself.  For a very long time.  Years, even.

So I decided to do something about that.  Some days I don't remember to play with yarn.  And that's ok.

I visited the library the other day, and checked out more books than I have in quite some time, just to read at my leisure because I want to loll about in bed, in my jammies, and just read all day, and night, into the next day ~~ sleeping and eating when I want, because I have nothing due at a certain time.  Because that vague but threatening feeling of "or else" has overshadowed me and robbed some of the joy I had found in doing things that I used to like doing, turning them into obligations and chores.  Reading allows me to dust off the imagination and flex those wings, stretching them creakily to take a few rusty flaps at flying.  My brain takes a huge healthy yawn and settles in for some mental adventures of various characters through the years.  Oh, yes.

Over the past few months, I've started to knit again on a more regular basis.  I'm basically using the same pattern, creating chevrons, in both stockinette and garter.  I'm letting my own curiosity creep out cautiously and poke its paw into matters.  I'm indulging my desire to know, what happens if I use this yarn?  Made of this fiber?  What about cotton?  How about this fuzzy stuff?  What about this bulkier sort?  What about if I use these bamboo needles?  Or this size needle with that weight yarn?

Eventually, I'll move into trying this number of stitches, that depth of chevron, this width of stripe,   Then I might get more adventurous with colorways, color combos, yarn combos, and so forth.  Or I might move on to a completely different stitch, pattern, or technique.  Who knows?  Cuz that's part of nurturing that creativity for yourself, you can learn to go with that flow, and go where it goes, and see what's what along the way.

So to that woman who probably has little or perhaps absolutely no idea what sort of inspiration she has ignited for me, thanks for being an artist, for sharing your art, and for being an exemplary example for me and others...just by being you and living your life as you do.  Thanks for being you.

05 April 2015

Accepting grief, it's inevitable. It happens.

Today, my husband and I went to my mother's.  Jerry's been so supportive, in and of everything I do and don't do.  Having lost his first wife nine years ago and also his father when he was about my age, Jerry understands the grieving process and encourages me to continue to cope in whatever way I deem necessary and appropriate for me.

So when I dissolved into an ugly snotty mass of tears and allergens, Jerry just went to get the tissues, handed them to me and waited til I blew my nose and cleaned up a lil, and then hugged me while telling me that it was ok to do what I can and then stop to wait for another day.  Which was good, because it turns out that going through mom's clothes was harder than I thought it would be.  On reflection, it makes total sense that the sight and scent of her clothes, the outfits she'd worn, the shirts that were her favorites, the zippered hoodies and flannel shirts that were her jackets...those things brought mom more clearly to mind than I was prepared to deal with today.

I've saved a ton of her clothes, mostly because they are cotton and I can craft with them, making various items to give to others who loved her and want a piece of something of hers to remind them of her and to be close to her.  Even while I quickly designated which pile, box, or bag each item when into; I had ideas of what to do with this shirt, or these jeans, or that hoodie.  But then I was bowled over, when I opened a small center drawer and found her silk scarves that she'd had since she was a teenager, and other accessories and broken watches that had been her own mother's, and the few pieces of jewelry mom had used for special occasions~~a string of pearls, a wristband, an anklet.

And a photograph of the falls, which ones, I am not sure, was tucked into a stack of postcards, bookmarks, and print outs with lists of audio~books she'd listened to.  My father, so tiny next to the grandness of these falls, striding across the stones near the base; he must have been in his fifties~~so the picture could have been when my parents were traveling across country, or it could have been when dad visited mom in the Great Smokies of Tennessee, probably not the tall falls in Ricketts Glen, PA though.

As I view these things, the entire pool of people mom knew and folks who loved her deeply sit upon my shoulders, nudging me with exclamations, "oh! I'd like those ticket stubs, you know; she and I went to see that show every year" or "this goes to dad, I know he'd want that" or "Mic and mom loved these songs, that movie" or "the guys would want these, they were in the house for all those years in PA and then again in AR" or "mom's friend, so&so, would want this" or "this is just perfect for this person or that person".  The entire cast of "this is mom's life" waits in the wings, drawing back the curtain to peep out at what I am seeing, mumbling, "not that, don't throw that away" and I nod and put it in this pile to go to that person.

My psychiatric practitioner expressed concern last week that I'm not allowing myself to grieve.  That I am thinking, after this next event, or after this next month, or after this next set of deadlines, or whatever the next thing is, then I'll take time away from it all and grieve.  Then I'll have fulfilled these obligations; if I just drop it all now and retreat, it'll let these folks down, or that group in a lurch or this person disappointed.  And then I tell my psych. that the backlash and aftermath would be worse than if I just wait til after this next...she nods and smiles and tells me that this way of coping is ok too,  This is just another part of my grieving process and that's ok, she gets it.  And then I feel relieved, as tho I've passed another test of normalcy and acceptability that I didn't even know I was dreading.

Over four months, and I'm just now going thru her clothes.  Then my mental psych/therapist voice chides me for chiding me.  It's ok, I know, but I feel this tremendous inner pressure and yet I want to be the one to do this, I want to be sure to pack things properly and designate this item for that person or know that this box has that in it and will go to these people {usually that means, the guys, my father and brother}.

And I know, that in a few months, a few years, sometime later down the road; I'll be going thru what I have kept for me, to again sort things,,,because maybe this person will have said, "oh, is it ok if no  one else wants this, can I have it?" and that person will have asked, "do you know what happened to...?"  And I'll be ready to part with that item, or this painting, or that piece of clothing will have been made into this thing that this other person wants.

It's ok, being this work in progress and not having all the answers and not being perfect and being a mass of conflicted feelings and having strong reactions that swing widely and wildly from sharp pangs of missing mom to laughing at this memory or that shared story or cringing at hearing her voice coming out of my mouth.  Rolling my eyes, because I can hear her saying, "you watch weird shit," when my husband's sci~fy movie takes a turn into Cheesy~Cavern territory, is becoming customary and accepted, by others but mostly by my own self.  And that's ok.  And it's also ok when it's not ok.  Ya know?  If you've said goodbye to someone you love, then I think you do.  I think you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And if you don't, that's ok.