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Miranda: Nest

The March theme for Leah Piken Kolidas’s Creative Every Day project was nest. Leah is feathering her own nest in anticipation of her baby’s arrival, so nesting was a natural theme for her — and everyone else who is anticipating (or already enjoying) spring.

I made two projects for the theme. Actually, “re-made” would be more accurate, since both of these were originally created in my last house, but fell apart when we moved to our new house two years ago. The piece “Birdhouse” was entirely destroyed. So, now that I’m settled in my new nest, as it were, I was happy to come back to both of these projects. I put a different spin on “Birdhouse” this time around.

Birdhouse

I extrapolated “nest” into birdhouse, seeing as a nest is, in most literal terms, a bird’s house. Like any nest you would find in nature, my birdhouse was constructed with things that I found around me. The nest itself is real, salvaged from a bush outside my office window after it was no longer needed. The base of the piece was cut from a section of the wood that used to belong to my childhood piano — a behemoth old painted upright that I had to ditch when the soundboard cracked. (Before it was hauled away, I removed a piece of the case and popped off all of the beleaguered ivory veneers.) So for me, this birdhouse, and the timing of its reconstruction, has many layers of meaning.

Seaglass Nest

This one speaks for itself. Well, maybe there’s room for a subtitle along the lines of “People in glass houses…..”



Thanks to Leah for the prompt. I wouldn’t have resuscitated these projects without it.

Brittany: Resolution

In the past, my inner life has been ruled by artsy-fartsy improvisation. I’ve never been much of a goal setter, because I always figured, too optimistically, that if my first experiment didn’t work out, another opportunity would come along. This wasn’t a bad way to live as a single girl in my 20s, but after getting married and having kids, those second and third opportunities grew fewer and farther between. And it left me a shell (albeit, a very overweight one) of my former self. I wasn’t writing, wasn’t crafting, wasn’t sewing, wasn’t reading, wasn’t doing much of anything for myself, really.

And then, this past year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made the conscious decision to make some dramatic changes to my life. When I looked in the mirror, I wanted to be happy with the woman staring back at me. My only New Year’s Resolution for 2011 was to focus on my physical health to the exclusion of all else, but the more I focused on changing my body, the more I changed emotionally.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for a while now, but for whatever reason, the words just aren’t coming easily. My life is profoundly better than it was three months ago, but it’s hard to talk about some of the decisions I’ve made, and also hard to describe the difficult emotional journey I’ve travelled.

In January, I started a new diet and exercise program. In order to make it work, I decided to do something radical. I decided to become someone else.

Since then, I have lost almost 25 lbs. The key to my success? Asking myself what I would ordinarily do, and then doing the complete opposite. I love food, but for the first couple of phases of the diet, I turned my brain off and stuck to the diet like a robot. Instead of yoga and water aerobics, I took up body sculpting and spinning. Instead of writing and watching movies in my spare time, I started doing half hours wii runs in front of the TV. If I would typically sit, I stood. If I would typically eat, I drank.

The first few months were tough. Inside I was screaming, “This isn’t me! I don’t run! I’m artistic! Not athletic!” The more I protested, the more I went to the gym. Then I did something that my former self would’ve never ever done and signed up to run a 5K.

Over time, this new reality has become the norm. I enjoy running and spinning and weight training. I like what it does for my body, which is shrinking rapidly. And I also like what it’s done for my head. It’s made me so much stronger emotionally, and able to face that which I couldn’t face before.

Most people know that I’m a huge dog lover, and before my boys were born, my dogs were my entire life. One of my dogs, Sammy, was only a puppy when he developed a lifelong pancreatic condition that destroyed his body’s ability to produce digestive enzymes. When he was a year and a half old, we adopted him in spite of this, nursed him back to health, and then took enormous pride in the way he recovered, his zest for life, and the way he put the T in terrier. For most of his 11 years of life, he was a complete joy to have around. A loveable curmudgeon who’d occasionally show you what a marshmellowy goofball he was deep down. Even though he could be a gigantic pain in the butt at times (he was a barker with a fondness for chocolate), we relished every second with him.

But then 18 months ago, that dog disappeared, and in his place, a grumpy, anti-social, aggressive dog appeared in his place. I could only assume he was sick, although I took him for testing at the vet and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. His energy declined markedly, and with every fiber of his doggie being, he told us “leave me alone.” We tried hard to do that, and it was much easier in South Carolina to let him retreat to the backyard year round. But once we moved to New York, it grew harder and harder. And over the course of this long, snowy winter, it became obvious that Sammy wasn’t doing well emotionally. I took him to the vet, who couldn’t find anything wrong with him per se, but assumed from the way he held himself that he was in pain. We tried steroids first. Then a narcotic, combined with a steroid. It helped about 90%. Sammy slept a lot. We’d let our guard down, think everything was fine, and then from out of nowhere, he’d become aggressive about things that dogs are not supposed to get aggressive about (like walking into the same room where he was sleeping). By this point, he had bitten everyone in the household at least once, and was biting the boys’ friends with alarming frequency. Luckily he was a small dog with a small mouth, and never drew blood. But my heart broke a little bit after every new incident.

Tom and I made a lot of excuses about his behavior. The boys were loud and excitable. They startled him and kept him on edge. He just wanted a quiet place to sleep. We taught the boys to give him a wide berth and we did as well. But about a month ago, Tom took the boys and left me home alone for a writing weekend (which I found the gumption to ask for, because I needed it) and even though I was the only human in the house, I didn’t see Sammy the entire weekend unless he was hungry or wanted out. That wasn’t like him at all, and it made me think that his issues were totally unrelated to the boys. He was sick sick and having a hard time coping with it.

But I still thought maybe if I just let him rest and gave him a lot of space he could continue to live out his doggie years in relative happiness… until the morning that John walked into our room and Sammy chased him, snarling, from the room. I called the vet the next morning and made the appointment to have him put down. And then I cried and doubted myself, doubted myself and cried.

It took more inner fortitude than I thought I had to make that hard decision, and I was only able to do it because all this working out I’ve been doing has made me strong enough to face this inevitable outcome. I’ve been working through physical pain for a couple of months now, and I’ve learned how to shut my mind to the pain (physical and emotional) and just do what needs to be done. After I called the vet, I went to the gym and did a really strenuous body sculpting class. At times it was so hard I thought I would pass out, but I did it anyway. The old me would have stayed at home, crying, and drowning my sorrows in a bag of Doritos, but now I see that that’s totally counterproductive. If I’m going to be in pain anyway, I might as well be in it at the gym.

I don’t know what the rest of the year will bring, but I already feel like my resolution was a success. I know what it means to have resolve now — physically pointing myself in the direction of a goal and just going for it. But I also know what it means to be resolved — to see what has to be done and following through with it emotionally.

I’m hoping that my new sense of resolution will impact my writing in positive ways. I’m looking forward to the future and can’t wait to see where this year’s journey leads.

Monday Post ~ March 28, 2011

“It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.”
~Mother Teresa

What creative work would you like to accomplish this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for lastweek, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

Jodi: TtV — Through the Viewfinder — Love

I have found a new love! It’s called TtV (through the viewfinder) and I was hooked the minute I saw this post from Julie Bergmann, one of my FB friends and an incredibly creative spirit.

Her link intrigued me — especially with my collection of vintage cams — the main reason I started collecting them was my weird love of the way the pictures look in camera. I love the noise, the light leaks, the vintage feel and the dust! I went to her flickr stream and fell in love!

I searched flickr and found a group with 6600+ members. The pictures were absolutely breathtaking — like I’d stepped into a magical world! So, when I realized that I already had the cameras that would allow me to do this type of photography — my Brownie Hawkeye, my Kodak Duaflex and my Argus 75 — I couldn’t wait to get started!

I needed a bit more technical information about the process so I went to one of my favorite photography sites, JPG, and found this article. It really helped to make sense of it all. Another very informative and goofy site is Photojojo. Their article on TtV really simplifies the process for anyone who’s itching to try it out.

The one thing that I honestly haven’t done yet is to make the contraption that they talk about — the one that joins the 2 cameras together for added stability and so that no light is able to get in. So far, I’ve not been disappointed with any of my shots but, I do plan on rigging up something in the summer, once I can get outside and shoot for extended periods of time. I want the full TtV experience!

The first picture is what the process actually looks like. I’m aiming into the viewfinder of my Brownie Hawkeye and taking a picture of what is in the viewfinder.

The neat thing is that there is no film involved! I use my Canon 7D DSLR and my 100 mm macro lens — this gives me a nice, crisp shot of what is in the viewfinder of my Hawkeye. Here is a SOOC (straight out of camera) shot of what is downloaded from my 7D and before any editing.


The viewfinder of the Hawkeye.


I really like that there is not alot of editing involved. I crop out everything but the thick black border — the hallmark of TtV, regardless of the vintage camera that you use — and depending on how I’m feeling, I may saturate, de-saturate or run a vintage action on it.

The final TtV image. I left this one unedited to show you the dreamy, noisy
feel to the image.
My boys through the viewfinder.

I edited this one of my toddler more true to TtV. Darker, blurrier, and noisy!

Another characteristic to TtV shots is that they are reversed. I took this picture of an old telephone with my 7D and my Kodak Duaflex IV. You’ll see the letters and numbers are reversed. Some photographers choose to flip the image while editing so that it is visually correct — I don’t. I like the quirky look.


An old Northern Electric phone done in TtV and sepia-toned.
This image was my very first sale in my Etsy shop! It’s my favorite!

My third TLR (twin lens reflex) camera is an Argus 75 that I found on ebay. It was in great shape and good and dusty! All of the speckles that you see are permanently embedded in the viewfinder. I can’t imagine ever cleaning it! I took this shot in the back of our truck — I balanced the Argus on the edge of the truck and shot straight down.

Winter in Timmins, ON. All I did to edit this one was slide the saturation up a notch. The sky was beautiful that day!
My husband. Edited to have a 70s feel.
Me. My daughter took this extreme closeup. Boo!

That’s my new love, TtV, in a nutshell. It’s definitely not for everyone — if you like clean, sharp pictures, you probably never made it to the end of this article! Ha! If you’re a lover of noise, speckles and something different — like I am — go and get yourself a Duaflex or an Argus and get shooting!

Joyelle: Fear

I am afraid. I am afraid because these dreams that I have been planting are starting to grow. And I don’t know where this all leads. And I don’t think I am grown up enough. And I don’t think I am good enough.

In the past couple of weeks, two lovely women have asked to interview me about my music and art. And of course I said yes, I would love to be interviewed about my art! And then the first set of interview questions arrived. And I thought, who would want to hear about me? I’m no Kelly Rae Roberts or Kim Klassen. I still don’t know what my “style” is. I don’t have an Etsy shop. I don’t even have my own website. As if that is what being an artist is about. And yet…

I have been putting off a magazine submission to Digital Studio for two weeks. I am afraid. Like a turtle retreating into its shell, I want to go back to what is comfortable and known.

I recently did a Pecha Kucha presentation. In the weeks leading up to that night, I was terrified. What could I say? And then the moment arrived. Remembering some performance advice, I took a deep breath and walked slowly up to the mic. And then I was talking, and singing, and the fear was gone. And I talked about my art, and what it meant to me. And it was not about Etsy sites or book deals. It is about my soul. It is about my heart. And this is why I am afraid. Because every time I create, I am pouring out a little bit of my heart. And this heart has been broken so very many times. So many, that sometimes it feels like nothing but cracks, fissures and scar tissue.

And still, I keep creating. As if it was a choice. I create because I would rather spend money on art supplies than therapy. Because I would rather record a song than sit on a couch talking about my feelings. I create because I believe that my purpose here is to take all that pain and transform it through the alchemical power of art into something beautiful, something to be shared. I want to shine a light for others to connect with their divine selves. I want to shine that light into all the dark places, the places where you feel alone, unloved, misunderstood. I want you to look at what I have created and know that you are not alone.

I am still afraid. But I am taking little baby steps, being gentle with myself. Taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I will be ok. Yes, my heart might be broken again. But I have survived it before, and I will survive it again. And then there will just be more fuel for the fire.

Monday Post ~ March 21, 2011

“You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind. The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.”
~Anne Lamott

What creative work would you like to accomplish this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

Miranda: Turning Japanese

It’s been hard to focus this week. I spend any spare moment rushing to my computer to read the latest updates on Japan, tuning to NPR news at the top of each hour, or watching BBC news on the TV. As the catastrophe unfurls, we get to sleep in warm beds, fill up on fresh food, and enjoy creature comforts like heat, electricity, kitchens at the ready, closets full of clothes, shelves full of books, albums full of photos….and put our arms around our loved ones, who are alive and well. It’s so difficult to make sense of these blessings when others have lost everything — and when we do not, in fact, even know the ultimate outcome of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and how the Japanese people may yet suffer on an even greater scale.

I am so consumed by this continually unravelling loss — and find myself perplexed by how many people around me don’t seem to be troubled by the scale of human suffering that is happening in Japan, or even how these issues may potentially affect those in the US. I do have relatives in Japan (they are reportedly safe, but evacuating), although I don’t think that that’s why I’m so riveted.

Horrible things happen all around the world every day, but this catastrophe is in many ways unprecedented. And it’s a story — a story that is still being told. How can one not be on pins and needles, if not consumed by empathy? It doesn’t seem like the time to go about business as usual. In the days following 9/11, everything ground to a halt. Media outlets gave continual coverage — even eliminating commercial breaks — for quite some time. Yes, 9/11 was an attack, not a natural disaster, but the loss of life in Japan has already far outweighed the loss of life on 9/11, and the number may yet skyrocket. Add to that the perilous nuclear situation, and we have a terrifying reality, regardless of the many what-if outcomes. Japan is on the other side of the world, but these are people. Beautiful people who live with a grace far beyond what most Americans can muster. They inspire me as my heart aches for their utter loss. What must it be like to have your own child ripped from your arms as a tsunami wave destroys everything that ever mattered?

But again, this difficulty in reconciling the blessings that some of us have against the apocalypse that others are navigating. How to live with what can border on a sense of survivor guilt? I posed this question to Robin Norgren earlier in the week, and she had an eloquent response. I share it here, with her permission:

It is INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT to reconcile the pleasure of one group of people against the pain of the other EXCEPT for me to deepen my sense of gratitude in my life. This year I felt like I needed to give more time at the local level which is the only step I can do with hubby still deployed and little one still at home, and I know we both share that constraint.

I think that your going through the certification is also a part of giving back: committing to the program and then helping others find their sense of gratitude through creativity. I find the the CREATIVE PEOPLE are the ones that tend to give back more because their hearts are more open to the world. Does that make sense?

Yes, Robin, it does. We do have a responsibility, all of us. Live life to the fullest — this precious, fragile existence that we seem to see as an obstacle more often than not. Go out and live. Hug your children. Paint that painting. Write that book. Give. Foster someone else in some small way. Look at the sky and smile to be alive. Celebrate life today, while sending thoughts and prayers and donations to those who so desperately need them.

Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders

Robin: Transitioning

my family (minus our two older boys — ahem — MEN!)

I have had a whirlwind of change going on over here. I can’t believe that hubby was here two weeks ago on leave.  And in those two weeks, I have said “YES” to a couple of major things:

These things feel like they are bringing me back to my purpose. This year marks 4 years since I graduated from Fuller Seminary and I have struggled in my heart and on this blog the reasons for why I even took that step. This year seems to be the year that this all fits. Josey heads off to kindergarten in a matter of months. The stress and tension I used to feel over finances and loneliness due to hubby’s deployments are starting to subside a bit. And I feel a bit more settled in my identity.

I LOVE that I can connect creativity with my faith. I LOVE the idea of putting the two together and helping others to do the same. The process of writing the creativity workbook really made some things click as far as next steps. And I am VERY PLEASED with this new direction.

Monday Post ~ March 14, 2011

“The thing about creativity is, people are going to laugh at it. Get over it.”
—Twyla Tharp

What creative work would you like to accomplish this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

Bonnie Rose: Walk Around Your Neighborhood

I want to encourage you today, no matter where you live, to do this:
Walk around your neighborhood.
Find inspiration.

It’s all around.

I took these photographs at one of our local garden centers.
Bright colorful garden pots.
Big bold color.

My kind of place.

Discover your world.
Walk around your neighborhood.

And discover something NEW.

Are you looking to infuse your life and your world with more color? Check out my self-paced e-course COLOR YOUR WORLD here. Classroom opens April 1st!

XOXO

Monday Post ~ March 7, 2011

“Creativity is an essential part of being human, a vital force without which we can exist, but not truly live.” —Ann Cashman

What creative work would you like to accomplish this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic task or a milestone to reach for. Share your goal(s) as a comment to this post, and let us know how things went with your creative plans for last week, if you posted to last week’s Monday Post.

Suggestion: When you’re deciding on your creative intentions, it’s a good idea to think about WHEN you’re going to write those 2,000 words or paint that canvas. Try to schedule the time slots in your calendar (if you keep one), understanding that flexibility may be required. If things don’t happen when you wanted them to, that’s OK. Give yourself a gentle push with one hand, but pat yourself kindly on the shoulder with the other if you don’t reach your goal for a given week. Sometimes it’s easier, sometimes it’s harder. Ride whatever you’ve got.

It’s also useful to have a sense of your minimum requirements (come hell or high water I’m going to write 100 words) while keeping a lookout for sudden opportunities to do more. You know, the day that the baby takes a monster nap or your partner takes the kids out to run errands and you find yourself with an unexpected “extra” half hour. Grab that time for yourself. You can catch up on the dishes and the laundry later. If you keep something creative in the back of your mind for those sudden opportunities, you’ll be more likely to use them to your advantage — rather than squandering your precious bonus moments on Facebook or vacuuming out the sofa cushions.

Jennifer New: Full Circle

Reprinted from Mothers of Invention, by permission. (If you aren’t already a subscriber of Jennifer’s blog, go directly here, do not pass go, do not collect $200!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everything that happens will happen today
& nothing has changed, but nothing’s the same
and ev’ry tomorrow could be yesterday
& and ev’rything that happens will happen today.
~David Byrne

No doubt it’s the 50+ degree weather and sunshine that’s making my synapses fire more brightly. The sluggishness and fear of just a week ago is melting away with the snow to the point where I have these great ideas that BANG me in the head and then are gone — whoosh. I’m left wondering how many of these ideas might ever get accomplished? How many will ever be realized, let alone remembered long enough to be pondered and fiddled with? Not so many, I’m beginning to see, and I’m more and more ok with that. In the past, the notion of all of these unused, unexamined but no doubt amazing ideas being lost sent me into a state of mortal depression; I will die with my precious ideas.

A useful word advice I once received from a writing teacher: Kill your babies.Good advice for any artist, difficult as it is to hear as a mother. Some of your seemingly most inspired ideas/prose/images are there for your benefit alone. They help you move from one lilly pad of creativity to the next, but they needn’t become full-fledged forms.

BIG IDEAS – not of the Barney ilk, not of the board book kind.

It’s hard to remember this when the ideas are flying. I felt this way most keenly after my second child was born. I’d just signed a book contract at the end of the pregnancy and ended up toting baby Tobey around New York City as a sleepless infant in order to get interviews done for the project. Laying on a blow-up mattress in my friend’s parents’ Upper West Side apartment with a very wide awake tiny kid by my side, I was dizzy and nearly ill with the combination of zero sleep and nerves. I was interviewing David Byrne the next day. David fucking Byrne on no sleep and betwixt and between semi-public breast feedings?!? The next day, I managed to get the collapsable stroller up and down the subway with a hefty six-monther under one arm and a backpack full of diapers in the other. He was charming – both the rock star and the baby. I didn’t spill anything or say anything as chaotic and unhinged as my mind really was.

by Margaret Mendel

For the first two years of Tobey’s life, it was often some variation on this: me not sleeping enough, me wanting terribly to write (my god was I pained by it!), me taking care of a baby and a toddler with mind-numbing attentiveness. Ideas were bombarding me. BIG IDEAS — not of the Barney ilk, not of the board book kind. They were lovely and rich, full of such possibility … and yet they were downright impossible to fulfill, even to consider fully, as I carried one kid on my hip, drove the other to preschool, dealt with acid reflux, and folded laundry. So much laundry.

Grace Paley by Diane Davies

A few months back, I was taken with Garrison Keillor’s (or the ever-so-good writer who surely must work for him) description of Grace Paley — the way in which she somehow got the milieu of motherhood to workfor her:

“So she kept on writing poems, but she had plenty of other things in her life — she did occasional work as a typist, she was active in community projects, and she took care of her two young children. She had moved to Greenwich Village when she got married, and she spent many afternoons in Washington Square Park, hanging out with other mothers, hearing their stories. She would write down poems on scraps of paper, but she was too busy to think of writing anything much longer. Then she got sick, and she sent her kids to daycare so that she could recover. She had several days a week all to herself, so she started to write stories, drawing on the voices of the women she spent time with in the park every afternoon, writing about the kinds of events and characters that filled their lives.”

(Ironically, I’m currently discovering Paley as a wonderful poet of middle age – poems of old people in love, poems of aches and pains and the grace of aging.)

How to step into this moment of our life and open to its possibilities, rather than mourn what can’t be? I think of my friend Jill who lost her photography when she started having kids but returned to drawing, taking a journal to playgrounds and sketching the other mothers. I think of the novelist Marilynne Robinson who kept notes for a novel in a drawer, and when her kids were in school and the university she was working for went on strike (this was during a sabbatical in France), she had the unexpected time to start cobbling those notes into a novel.  I think of everyone who has a crib pulled up next to a writing desk. And everyone who has had to refigure her studio or even her art in order to keep toxic fumes away from a baby. And every mama who has given up her studio altogether in lieu of a nursery.

Our babies will kill something in us – a certain degree of focus perhaps, naivete or selfishness.

So many babies being born – one to a friend this very day, another to a fellow yogi a few weeks past. So many ripe ideas and fresh perspectives being born — not only in the babies but in their mamas. Our babies surely kill something in us — a certain degree of focus perhaps, naivete and selfishness. They’ll also take a few “brilliant” ideas away through their need for our attention. Their all-encompassing love won’t always leave room for clever wording for a pitch-perfect verse. But these are replaced with patience as we surrender to the knowledge that it will all come around. Full cycle. We grow into our ideas; they re-find us when we are ready. I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago who is a few years into being a widow and has a grown son who is through with college. “I get so much more writing done now,” she said with clear pleasure. I heard no regret for what had come before; only satisfaction in the now. It was a window of what is to come. The ideas that are out there, ripening and reforming.

Cue the song, David. Thanks.

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