Studio Bria Colleen

Well, this is exciting news! I finally opened the ‘doors’ to my Etsy store. While I am still figuring out how the site works and ironing out the business of selling of my artwork, I am glad I got enough stuff together to pull the trigger on having a space to grow. I even shipped my first order today! If you have a moment I’d love for you to take a peek and see what it’s all about. I will be putting up more and more prints in the next few weeks.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/briacolleen

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Here I Am

The newest addition to my plant family, a purple Hyacinth, is sitting close by as I sip on my coffee and write. The blossoms are filling the room with a soft fragrance and I’m taking deep breaths of it in.

Inhale – exhale

Inhale – exhale

Here I am. Doing the same thing I was doing yesterday. And the day before that. And the one before that one. It seems winter, post-Christmas winter, brings out the worst in me. I should clarify that it is specific to post-Christmas winter because I love the Christmas season and, other than the few weeks of adjustment to more bundling and winter driving, I enjoy the weeks leading up to the holiday despite the rush of it all. But I finally have admitted to myself that I’m not a winter person. I hibernate as best I can, curling up on couches with warm steaming drinks close by.

Winter is actually a lovely time of the year, the slowness of it all. I try to take advantage of it. I try to see the glass half full. The beauty of the freeze, the activities only winter can provide. But then…then I start to feel cooped-up, held back, bored, depressed. Every damn year. It doesn’t seem to matter how much vitamin D I’m popping or the fact that we had a week of warmth away from the kids this time around, I simply get weary of the winter.

I NEED spring. I get excited for the new growth and despite all of its messiness and muck, it revives me. One foot in the frost, one foot in the thaw. Every spring reminds me of perseverance and grace. Seeing life burst through ground that was once frozen, I am reminded of myself in it all.

I could use some reviving right about now.

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Jeremiah 31:25

 

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Thoughts on a Decade

Rhys turns 10 today.

I’ve been frequently lost in thought, yet not really able to come up with the right words to express how I feel about my eldest being this old and myself seemingly graduating to a new chapter of parenting.

He’s been around for a lot of years now. I’ve been a mom for a decade.

What sticks out the most as I’ve approached this day is that I keep thinking back to when he was a skinny squeaking week-old baby. I was sitting on our hand-me-down couches in our tiny rental on Maryland St., totally overwhelmed by what had just happened and what was unfolding in my life. That day, I found myself comforted by my mother-in-law who’s reassuring words turned my thoughts to the future and the reality that I was going to be a young mom. Not that I wasn’t already a young mom. At just 21 years of age I certainly wasn’t the youngest mother out there, but it was much sooner then we had planned and I was the first in a number of circles of friends to have a child. But she opened my eyes to see that even when our kids were a bit older, we’d still be young, and when they were independent, we’d still be young. The days and nights didn’t get easier from that point on, and I wish I had thought back on that conversation more often when I felt the isolation and loneliness that being a stay-at-home mom can bring, but it did stick with me and came to surface from time-to-time.

One of these times, which wasn’t very far off from the original conversation, was when I thought ahead to Rhys turning 10. You can’t imagine (especially if it’s your first child) your kid being that much older. You might have a murky distorted view of what they could possibly be like, or what you hope they could be like, but it’s not like thinking ahead to next winter and knowing it will be white and cold. It’s hard to picture your child 10 years down the road when they are just a helpless baby. It would have been nice to get an inside scoop from future Bria telling me that Rhys would be an awesome kid, full of creativity and intelligence and humour and heart (and that I’d have two more babies down the road!), it would have put my mind at ease. But that specific date, Rhys turning 10 and me being only 31, was a big question mark. I don’t know why it sat in the forefront of my mind for so long. It left a bit of an impression.

And now that Rhys has turned 10 and I am 31 and we are in the present of what was once just a distant far-off future, I can’t help but think back to the past. I can’t help but hover in that chocolatey-brown room above 21 year-old sleep deprived Bria holding little baby Rhys crying her eyes out, feeling a river of every emotion there ever was to feel all at the same time. I can’t help but want so badly to tell her that it’s okay and it will be okay and that she just needs to be kind to herself. No one has it figured out. No one. And while I’m hovering there, in that room, in that moment in the past, I try to steal a glimpse of my precious baby Rhys once more, wishing with every fibre of my mother-heart to once again have that little bundle in my arms. And in this moment, while I’m thinking back on that moment, I can almost feel 41 year old Bria hovering over me while I sit here balling my eyes out on this chocolately-brown couch, wanting so badly to whisper all the exact same things. It’s okay, it’ll be okay, you just need to be kind to yourself. No one has it figured out. No one. He’s growing up fast, but he’s such an awesome man, full of creativity and intelligence and humour and heart.

Just hold him and love him.

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Only just; almost not.

A summer’s worth of posts all rolled into one or just pick right up where I find myself tonight? The last time I blogged feels like forever ago. So much living has happened since June, and I’m probably too tired to even remember what happened yesterday, let alone a month ago. So picking up where I am it is. (Summer was busy and hot. There. My re-cap.)

The usual end-of-summer angst is upon me. I probably write at least one post a year about being done with summer and needing the routine back, and this August is no exception. I’m at the cusp of my breaking point with the kids and the renovations. Daily I seem to ask myself, sometimes aloud even, how much more I can handle. The proverbial plate is full and spilling over. And, of course, the kids start school late this year. So that’s where I find myself. Wishing I was a chain-smoker.

Even when the kids are finally carted off to school on the big yellow bus, September proves time and time again to be a monumental test of my mental and physical stamina. As if getting used to waking-up early and having to spring right out of bed and into a schedule wasn’t trying enough there’s still all the ‘Back-to-School’ events and ‘Meet-the-Teacher’ nights and Running Clubs and archery that both kids are doing this year. The school jumps right in to fundraising and doing it’s best to bleed the parents dry of all money and dignity they have leftover from the summer months. Seriously, I think I got the first fundraising package sent home within the first few days last year. And because I’m apparently a complete masochist, I enrolled Eli in a condensed swim class for three days a week for all of September. Someone slap me. Or offer to babysit. At the very least, bring me a Starbucks.

Do I sound like I’m complaining? I am. I need a space to be irritated and overwhelmed once-in-awhile. If you don’t understand then I suggest you should have three kids with a shift-working spouse while doing a stupid amount of renovations on your house…then get back to me.

Back in the spring we bought a new laptop. I love it. It doesn’t take a year to turn the damn thing on. Also, the keyboard is nice to type on…which makes a huge difference. I was super excited to be able to quickly get a blog down and published. I miss using this space. I need to get back to it. I don’t need to actually. I want to. It helps.

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Changes

Our big tree on the left side of our house is scheduled to come down at the end of this week. I’m nervous.

We have a lot of renovations planned for this summer and fall and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little apprehensive. It’s not that I don’t want them to happen. Quite the contrary actually. I’m so excited to have a driveway and garage and patio and (fingers crossed) greenhouse. It just seems too good to be true. Like the renovations won’t turn out the way I had hoped, or that we will hit too many snags. Or that it will take years and years to complete. We do realize that some of this (like the landscaping around our patio) will have to happen next spring due to the enormity of the project before us. Things just don’t normally go smoothly for James and I. If there are hiccups and road blocks to be had, we are the ones who will have them. I’m speaking from experience on this one, not pessimism. I so badly want these changes to be what we have envisioned and for them to enrich our lives in the ways we’ve hoped they will. I really want to feel at home in our little piece of Elmwood when all of this is said and done.

So I’m nervous. The tree is the first big change, the first step in our epic backyard overhaul. I’m sad to see it go, it’s been a good tree. But I guess when we start to miss it, we can just shift our gaze and admire the other identical tree on our property. James was thinking of making something out of the wood so we can kind of keep it with us.

Sometimes change is hard, even when you know it’s good.

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Moving Forward While Staying Put

We’ve been making some pretty big life decisions around here lately. The lists of pros and cons have been written, or spoken, again and again and again. The ideas have been flying and the different paths have been considered and laid out and weighed.

The simple question with a not-so-simple answer? Do we stay or do we move.

I’ve blogged about our house before. It’s a total love/hate relationship that I’ve got going on with the thing. When it’s clean and working as it should and our family life is flowing smoothly, I love it. When it’s a disaster, when I notice the half-finished state of things, or when everything else is stressful, I hate it. Fairly standard I’m sure. Most people don’t love their living accommodations 24/7, unless you’ve just built yourself a dream home or lucked out on the perfect place in the perfect neighbourhood (which is totally subjective, obviously).

We live on a good block in a “sketchy” area…although having lived here for 7.5 years is changing my mind on just how sketchy our area is. We have a lot of seniors and young families around us. There’s the odd house that is run down and filled with questionable people, but we’ve started saying, “If you live in Winnipeg, you live in a sketchy area” because the truth is, crime happens everywhere. However, we are on the outskirts of this sketch-hub and we’ve only had a couple run-in’s over our years of being here.

We’re also outgrowing our house, or rather, how our house is set-up right now isn’t working for us. Storage is minimal, our shed is dilapidated, our garage is filled with water in the spring and has mould growing in it, we have three (large) children in two small bedrooms. What do we do?

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile, I’m sure you’ve noticed a fairly consistent theme that I struggle with; the overwhelming part of me wants a simple less-is-more life. Living pared down, not following the buy bigger and shinier and spiffier trend always wins out in the end with me. But it’s hard. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice things. I really like shopping too. But I also like thrifting and making my own things and thinking through a lot of what we bring into the house (this is seriously hard with 3 kids!).

So, after all of our talking and list making and path weighing, we’ve, again, decided to stay put as we move forward in life. We have some exciting projects happening around the house that will help make this place work and, hopefully, enrich our lives over the next 10 years. I’ll delve into those a different day. But, truth be told, after we both continually came to the same conclusion about our housing arrangements and what this means for how we live our lives, I had a huge light-bulb moment. I don’t want to move! Seriously! I just don’t want to pack-up and move somewhere just because it’s the typical “next step”. After I realized that was a massive undercurrent of how I was feeling, I felt so freed-up to be excited about how this place can serve us and how we can make it even better.

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Studio Space

As I delve more and more into my artwork, as I explore different veins and methods and subjects, the more I realize I’d like to make this a ‘thing’. I want to make it work and it’s scary to say that out loud or write it down. It feels like if I let that out, even just as a little whisper, it will blow away, it will be gone in the blink of an eye and I don’t want that to happen. I’d love to spend my days painting!

I came across an interview with Australian artist Cressida Campbell where she describes her typical day, here’s a snippet:

“A typical day starts, depending on whether I have slept well or not, between 7.30am or 9.30am. I start the day by feeding my tortoise shell cat Kinta and my goldfish in the long pond, going to the front gate and picking up the newspaper from under the wattle trees.

I read the paper over breakfast and then walk up the 13 sandstone steps through a small courtyard garden of banksias and cliveas and unlock the studio, and sit at the easel and paint, listening to the ABC radio or talking to someone on the phone while I work.

I have a small lunch any time between 12.30pm and 2.30pm and keep on working till about 6.00pm. Sometimes I work at night if I have a deadline or the subject looks better at night. I usually have a gin and tonic at the end of the day and then a simple but good dinner, grilled fish or pasta or risotto. Or I go out for dinner or entertain!” (taken from thedesignfiles.net)

Doesn’t it sound lovely?

In the next half-a-year I will be acquiring studio space and I couldn’t be more excited. Finally, a place for me to let my artwork and supplies take over! No more stashing things in a little corner of the basement, or under a chair in the dining room. I can leave projects out on a counter and come back to it without having to worry about little fingers getting Nutella everywhere. I can surround myself with things that I’m inspired by. I’m excited by this opportunity and what it means for where my energy and focus can go.

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