The Creative Side

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My creative side has been neglected for a long time now. Between having (3) kids at a young age and all of the life hiccups that have happened over the years, it’s something that I reluctantly put on the back-burner in terms of importance. I had two New Years resolutions for 2015; pare down on all of the junk around the house and do more artwork. I’ve always felt that creativity is something that was woven into my fabric. I can’t shut it off. I can ignore it and close the door to it, but it doesn’t go away.

I shared this sentiment recently on Instagram and I feel it expresses very clearly what has been happening in me over the past few months:

When you set something aside for a long time, or neglect a crucial part of your being, your make-up, your personality, you start to feel like a shadowy version of yourself. Not totally there, not completely fulfilled. When you re-open the door and set aside time to cultivate that certain gift or quality, things seem to come back into focus. You are more yourself. You are more at home. At least that is what I have found to be true with my artwork. It’s like the world is brighter and I find I am inspired by everything around me; a lyric, a feeling, a phrase, a dish pattern, a colour. The floodgates have been opened! I’m finally allowing myself room to get it all out and, I gotta be honest, it’s been an amazing process thus far. I finally, after years and years, feel like myself again.

I’ve often felt that my artwork was just silly little doodles or paintings that weren’t anything special. I decided to take a risk and put some of what I’ve been working on onto my Instagram account. The first few posts were nerve wracking, it’s hard to put things like that ‘out there’, but the response and support I’ve received has overwhelmed me! I feel so supported and encouraged. I’ve completed my first order and have a list of people who are wanting a piece. Friends are sharing my work and nudging me to open an Etsy store. I’ve even received some t-shirt requests! I honestly didn’t think it would spin into this, but I’m so happy it has. Spending my days drinking coffee and creating are what my dreams are made of (I mean, a tropical or European backdrop is usually involved in those dreams too, but for now Winnipeg will have to do).

So I will continue on in opening the door and allowing my creative side to flow into my daily life, to become my new rhythm.

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Grief

Grief is a funny thing. It hits you at the strangest times. There’s the obvious initial response to the death of a parent that is emotional and jarring and raw, but then that gives way to daily life needing to move on and that’s when grief creeps up, bubbles up, bursts forth at the oddest of moments. Seemingly odd at first, but very fitting upon further observation.

James’ dad died in the middle of February. It was sudden and unexpected. He wasn’t the healthiest of people and seemed to be aging rapidly, but no one would have guessed he was going to pass at 62 years of age, not yet two months into his retirement. I’d never experienced anything like that before. My husband hadn’t experienced anything like that before. We’ve lost grandparents and a few people on the outskirts of our lives, but never someone so close and dear and…there. Having to tell the kids their beloved Grandpa, the man who would pick them up and take them for pancakes and read to them was gone was one of the hardest things to do.

I found that because James is the eldest child and his dad was alone and we had children going through their own grieving process I shelved a lot of my emotion. After Pat died, after the room cleared out, I sat there and just thought about the mountain of things that this meant. What this meant to everyone, all of the things that had to be done and taken care of. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and have been for a long time now, but the list grew instantly and I went into ‘care’ mode.

But now I find it creeping out or bursting forth at bizarre moments like when I walked into Safeway the other day. It was the first time since he died. Pat had called James from Safeway because he felt dizzy and short of breath. It was the last time they talked. The manager had called Pat an ambulance and by the time James got to him he was unconscious. I put Eli in the buggy and walked through the doors and an instant flood of emotion came over me. “He’s gone” I just kept repeating in my head.

It also caught me off guard when I put a dish of rice pudding in the oven to bake. The last time that I had made it was the day he died. The connection to a time when he was here was too profound. The absence of the person is felt so deeply. Too deeply. But it’s good. I need to feel it. I need to care for the people around me during a time like this, but I also need to wade through my own emotions and let them break the surface so that I can work through them.

I imagine it will be a long road of these sorts of things. We will never fully recover from a parent dying, they are linked too closely to our lives. They mean too much to us. Especially if they have been the type of parent, like Pat, who, despite his flaws and our flaws, has loved us greatly and unconditionally.

 

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‘Farewell’

 

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The Gumption is Gone

Call it the winter blues, a February slump, SAD’s or just straight-up depression, but whatever you label it as, all I know is the Gumption Train left weeks ago.

This is fairly normal for me during these dark and bitterly cold winter months. Last year was particularly brutal considering it was about -40 most days with mountains of snow taking over the city. I thought this year would be different. We stocked up on Vitamin D, booked James some time off for the end of this month and hoped that we’d be able to afford a warm vacation. It hasn’t been as cold and we’ve had barely any snow (for Winnipeg). However, I’m finding myself having only one or two “good” days every week. Which isn’t all that good…

I’m not so sure that it’s the weather, although it does play a part, as much as I feel a bit lost in life right now. I don’t feel like I’m fitting in to things. I don’t feel like myself. I could use a good dose of sunshine for sure, but it’s more then that.

I’ll have been a parent for ten years this coming September. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost all of that time. I think that lately I’ve been feeling the weight of that undertaking, if that makes any sense. A lot of myself is on hold, and has been for a long time now. I’m finally getting back into my artwork, which has been good for me, but I’m still so limited by space and nap times and shift work and the energy to do it.

The gumption to press on and move forward and keep my chin up is waning. I need a break. I need to recenter and rejuvenate but there’s no break in sight.

Someone said to me the other day, “The days are long but the years are fast.” I’m currently feeling the long, dark days.

“The Lord will work out his plans for my life,

for your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever.

Don’t abandon me—for you made me.”

Psalm 138:8

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Oh, the comfort—
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

– Dinah Craik

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A Moment

My phone was at 2% so I quickly ran upstairs to charge it. The kids had been home from school for a little while and I had already lost my cool more times then I’d like to admit. Once I got up to my freshly cleaned room (the bed was even made) I plugged my phone in then sat on the edge of my bed. I was tired and had only a shred of patience left, if that. I swung my legs up and relaxed onto our oversized pillows. James was downstairs with the chaos, so I decided to catch a couple minutes of quiet.

Not two minutes later our little guy noticed my absence and came wandering up the stairs to look for me. If I had a door it would have been closed and he would have been turned away. But, being a loft, he had free access to poke his chubby cheeks around the corner and ruin me with his toothy grin. He ran to my side of the bed and said “hi!”, clearly proud of his success in locating his lost mother. Without a second to lose he hoisted himself up onto my bed and settled himself beside me, under the covers, using “his” pillow (one of our throw pillows that he has adopted as his own). We sat for a minute in silence. Eli started looking around, then he tapped James spot and yelled “DADDY!”. This happened a few times until I called louder and james came running up the stairs.

“Eli wants you in your spot” I said to James, “Apparently it’s cuddle time.”

So he crawled into his spot and the three of us sat there, Eli grinning the biggest grin.

It was just a blip in our day, and the silliest thing, but it managed to recharge me and put a smile on my face. I live for those moments where, in the midst of the chaos and tantrums and arguments and dinners and Baby Sumo sessions and every bin of toys being upturned, I find a peace and a reason and a purpose and a resolution.

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Farewell

It was time.

Our eight year relationship came to an end. I tried to prolong the inevitable. I took breaks and limited my time, but in the end it had to happen. I kicked-off 2015 by shutting down my Facebook account. And you know what? It felt great.

I’ve blogged about my FB frustrations before, and I’m sure it’s not a stretch for most people to understand them, but it had gotten to a point where every time I logged-on I was left wondering why I allow that in my life. I have my blog (however infrequently I’ve been using it lately), I have Instagram, I have e-mail and a phone. My true friends will contact me without needing a social media reminder. I have other platforms to get my thoughts out and to allow little glimpses into my life. So why did I need it? Why was I wasting my energy and mental space on it? The cons were drastically outweighing the pros when I would go through an internal debate about keeping Facebook. Eventually there came a moment when there were no pros, and that meant it was time.

To be totally honest, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, which is a good thing considering I’ve been pretty stressed these days. I need the room. I need the space. I need those shreds of composure to deal with my life. I need the energy and time. Facebook doesn’t need any of that.

So that’s that. The book, as it were, is closed and I’m moving on.

 

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Rest

The house is quiet. So still. The only noise is the humming of the furnace pumping warm air through the chilly house, battling the winter weather.

The snow is fluttering down, getting heavier and heavier. Coating everything. My big knit sweater helps me to see the beauty of it. I hear the occasional crunch of boots on snow from a passerby.

I put the coffee on, plug in the Christmas lights and tuck in under my blanket on the couch.

No sign of the kids. They’re away at a winter wonderland for a few days. I miss my little guy and his crazy bed head and pyjama cuddles.

I should be sleeping, but I’m not. Too much tossing and turning. I’m up before first light trying to be quiet so as not to wake my tired husband.

And yet, the stillness, the soft snow, the twinkling lights, they’re calming to my weary spirit. Peaceful. The way the season should feel.

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