A couple of weeks ago, Winter began to expand its boundaries into some mythical time warp, like the last week of a pregnancy.Reality can be cruel. I used to say that by the time any season has officially arrived, we’ve already experienced enough of the upcoming telltale weather to believe it’s truly here. We’ll have a lovely couple days preview of warm weather for Spring and that enables us to put up with the rest of the ridiculous blowy cold stuff. This year, nature made me and my little saying untrue and ridiculous.
Not only did I become an unwitting liar, I also began to feel like a girlfriend of a compulsive liar. But you said you’d never snow again?! I couldn’t bear to hope anymore. Trapped inside my house with a befuddled toddler (she keeps pointing to outside the window), I was forced to endure more Winter masquerading as Spring. For inspiration and a dry happy experience on the last rainy cold Sunday in March, we adventured out with girlfriends to Homestead Gardens, an indoor plant place and decor extravaganza showplace. Then finally, Fiona and I grabbed a stroll last week in search of a nap and some proof that Spring may actually be here despite my cynicism.
The following are the shots I took with my phone on our stroll, squinting in the sunlight and not even knowing if I’d gotten what I was shooting at. I love the volunteer pansy with the weeds in the bricks.
I forgave Spring enough to take pictures but Mark, my husband, is the only one with enough hope to want to garden. Babies prohibit me from having my former enthusiasm for gardening I once had. Hard enough keeping the little being alive without fretting over whether the other stuff is dying. We’ve had some bad luck several years in a row. My rosemary and my rose-bush seem to have been sacrificed to this past Winter. Once burned, twice shy.
Another day outside today.
There’s a theme emerging that I found myself wanting to follow and question and gather opinions and empowerment on. The theme is creativity and mothering. I started my quest for clarity when I wrote this piece on the Cone Collective meet-up in Baltimore, an event organized by Jennifer Cooper. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her experience with being a creative and a mother. She also kindly offered me my first guest post on her blog Classic Play(note her comment on helping others in the Q and A).
I wrote and she published The Needs Of The Many and The Needs Of You , my thoughts on taking care of my creative needs and the needs of my infant. I then realized I’d found a subject I was interested in exploring a little more.
On the blog on Monday, the next installment in my journey to explore this topic as a Question and Answer with favorite blogger and magazine stylist Suzonne Stirling. She’s a Mom and is full-time freelance creative. Her answers were really interesting and gave me insights I hadn’t expected. How to balance creativity and motherhood will be an ongoing theme and one I hope benefits you or someone you know. Enjoy.
Sitting in my hair stylist’s chair, deep into a conversation, she says she recently heard that we don’t see ourselves through our own eyes, we see ourselves as we think others see us. I asked her to repeat this. She said our self-perception is based on how we believe others think of us.
I’d agree. For most of my life, self-worth has been ‘less than’ and was created from bit’s and pieces which I was required to mind-read to gather. From my parents and from everyone I was in contact with. My views of me are then fractured. I feel I’ve never fully seen myself. I am crazy-quilt and my low self-esteem is the rotten thread binding this quilt.
In the past, people have told me sincerely how much they admire my talents. I would nod and smile. Not only did I not see these talents, I would duck and dodge their every attempt to move me on and improve me. I was comfortably stuck under my crazy quilt turned cloak of invisibility.
My cloak kept me safe from the expectations of others. I believed if you got too close, you’d see me the way I see me, an unworthy fake. My failures and my humanity would be unforgivable. Why would either of us want to share that ugliness. I already knew how this would all end. And so I didn’t start. I controlled what you thought by giving you nothing to think.
I wouldn’t have to show up for myself, join any groups, be accountable, or have any goals or dreams or aspirations to unveil. These were all safe as long as I remained invisible. I thought it was easier this way. But, alas, my cloak became an anchor.
The therapist named this sense of invisibility low self-esteem. I was shocked. Others, yes, but not me. After my rage subsided, my brain began to shift. I didn’t need to be fixed because I was not broken just afraid. I began to hear my harmony when I sang. I kept writing and I kept singing. I reached out to people in far away places online through my blog. And what I let myself hear was that I was contributing something valuable to their lives. And I kept contributing and I’ve kept reaching out. I have begun to catch clearer glimpses of my outline, my profile. And a ‘me’ that I see is materializing.
This Bold Brilliant Beautiful You project came when I most needed to cement into place the bricks of me I’ve been gathering. So here is my very revealing ‘I am’ list, February’s BBBY project homework. And thanks to this group of women, and a growing sense of self, I’m feeling better and bolder than I have in a very long time.
I AM :
• I am a doer, an enthusiast, and an energizer bunny
• I am a writer, essayist, memoirist, and humorist
• I am a wife and a mother and an individual
• I am funny, almost always smiling
• I am brutally honest, soul-searching
• I am visually fixated, detail oriented, and sloppy
• I am a closet artist knocking at the door to get out
• I am invisible and afraid of success
• I am a Virgo with a huge helping of Libra, a devoted and intentional friend
• I am a good listener, hearing what’s said and what’s not
• I find lessons in anything, everything and I am a positivity fanatic
• I have come a long way despite where I’ve been
• I am a UU, respectful of all choices
• I am from a broken family and co-dependent
• I am a great cook and a non-practicing waitress
• I am a pet lover and a plant killer
• I am looking for purpose, connection, and permission to become myself
Why is my life so important to honor now? This need to connect, to express, to create, to thrive, and to give back? Maybe it’s the baby girl I just had at the ripe age of 46 who needs me to show her that you can be your own hero despite the adversity you’ve encountered. The only way to lead is by example. Read the other ‘I am’ lists by these amazing women and to make an “I am” list for themselves. There’s a simple way to do it here. One we can do with our children and see where they stand with their self-concepts. And join with the link up party if you are inspired. I am practicing intentional intouchness while making these connections. Staying quiet and alone never worked so good for me and requires a lot more work than just being bold and brilliant and beautiful.
I have a deep respect for fellow blogger Marg Hogan. She is one of a handful of women I met through the Blogging Your Way online course created by Holly Becker of Decor8. ‘Met’ is a loose term since she lives in Australia and I in the USA. She is a kindred soul of the visual and poetic kind. I dig her photography and her simple word accompaniments. I aspire to be this simple. Her posts are like wonderful mind snacks.
She posted a piece with so many pictures, it’s an art installation masquerading as a blog post. The subject was on an artists village called Hills End.
It’s called The Day the Artists Open Their Doors.
And she poses a question about bravery to let go and define yourself as “artist”.
To make the artist you are your real job. I wanted to share this lovely post everywhere.
Art and life are one. Voyeurism is allowed on this day. Snack with your mind on her pictures.