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Posts tagged ‘change’

Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ October 7, 2013

Eric Maisel quote

Commit to a regular creativity practice. Regularity — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning.

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals 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. We use a broad brush in defining creativity, so don’t be shy. We also often include well-being practices that support creativity, such as exercise and journaling.

Putting your intentions on “paper” helps you get clear on what you want to do — and sharing those intentions with this community leverages the motivation of an accountability group. Join us!

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If you’re an artist or writer with little ones, The Creative Mother’s Guide: Six Creative Practices for the Early Years is the essential survival guide written just for you. Concrete strategies for becoming more creative without adding stress and guilt. Filled with the wisdom of 13 insightful creative mothers; written by a certified creativity coach and mother of five. “Highly recommended.” ~Eric Maisel. 35 pages/$11.98. Available for download here.

Brittany: The Anatomy of Change

Sam has decided he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. His latest bedtime book of choice? The Human Body. Tonight we read about the skull and the skeleton. Non-scientific Mommy got to explain that the skull is like a bike helmet that protects your ball-of-Jello brain. I also demonstrated the structural usefulness of bones with a spare sock and the pen on Sam’s Magnadoodle. I don’t know if I’m confusing him more or not, but his desire to know all about the body is insatiable. He’s already made a standing appointment with me for another anatomy lesson tomorrow night (when we’ll read about digestion and pelvic bones).

It’s funny, because when I was little, I said I wanted to be a doctor, too. The difference was, I just wanted to take care of sick people and make them feel better. I didn’t care a whit about how the human body worked. That was of no interest to me whatsoever.

I can see myself in Sam, but at the same time, I’m well aware of the ways he diverges from me, too. In a lot of ways I feel like he is the turbo-charged version of me — the one whose detail-orientation and persistence will propel him toward success I could never even dream of. And that makes me happy. I hope he’s able to harness all his potential into something amazing.

It’s hard for me to believe that his preschool days are now over. I don’t think I have anything new to say on the subject without descending into cliches. Where has the time gone? My baby’s all grown up. I can’t believe he’s so big. I feel so old.

I’ll admit I’m feeling anxious for him. Every time he starts worrying about kindergarten, I can’t help but worry along with him, even as I’m telling him it will be all be a wonderful adventure. He seems to already understand that expectations are about to be piled on him — make-it-or-break-it expectations — and that he’s going to have to grow up fast.

I want to cry with him as he realizes that he’s no longer small enough for Mommy’s arms to shut the world out. And even though he still wants the comfort of a snuggle, he’s getting too big to fit in my lap. I knew this day was going to come, but that doesn’t make now any easier.

My friend Kira stopped by today with a friend and her friend’s three-month-old baby. He was so tiny and helpless. So new. So easy.

His mother sat feeding him in the quiet of the living room, her arms enveloping him, in one of those peaceful, protective moments of newborn motherhood that I still vaguely remember. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Sam and John were underfoot, loudly racing garbage trucks with Tyler and Zachary, while Kira and I threw their lunches together. The metaphor was not lost on me. Those quiet me-alone-with-my-baby moments are over. I live in a completely different world now. Seeing Sam and John in one room, the newborn in the other, it was hard to believe how much the boys had grown, and how far removed all of us were from those sweet, drowsy baby days.

I think Sam understands this. He’s wondering how we got from there to here, too. And his newfound interest in the human body? Like me, he’s trying to wrap his brain around that vast world that envelopes the heart.

[Crossposted from Re-Writing Motherhood]

Robin: Missing Germany


 

As a Valentine’s gift for my hubby this year, I put together a photo book of our time in Germany. My hubby and I have very different takes on the experience. His time in Germany has been the most fulfilling time of his life. I feel very proud and happy to support him. At the same time, I would say it was one of the toughest periods of my life.
 
Something silly started to come to the surface as I was putting the book together. This realization that I have not really picked up a camera since I have gotten home to Arizona. I have a few theories. One is I felt so isolated in Germany. I felt like the camera was some sort of reminder to look for the loveliness. I also think I was keeping some record that I was still a part of the world.
 
A new theory is that the place IS beautiful. The seasons changing, the greenery, the history, the architecture all seems to sit in STARK CONTRAST to our residence in the United States. I will admit it. The desert DOES NOT inspire me. My creativity is more of a discipline here.

 
So what do I do with that?

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.

Robin: Home is where you dwell…

“You Belong….” – See more HERE

The idea of what “home” represents has shifted considerably over the last 9 months while living in Germany. Those things I held so confidently as the things that would sustain me and see me through the loneliness of being away from everyone and everything I know failed miserably. I spent the last several months mourning the things that weren’t to the point where I suddenly realized I MUST awaken my heart to the things that could be catalysts for change and growth within me. Changes I would not have thought to ask for. People I would have never encountered had I not had to seek connectedness elsewhere. I considered listing these beautiful people here but I know I would leave someone out so I have made it my mission to value them personally.

This mixed-media piece above represents the beginning of some inspirations birthed from this season that is closing in the next 14 days. Oh how I am ready to see it end! And yet, I KNOW the changes I have experienced could not have been chiseled by any other means. So I do extend grace to those who thought they could be there but were not. I ask for mercy for those times when I broke those promises to the people I care about in their most desperate moments and I prepare for the shifts that have occurred as a result of this extended separation.

Kelly: Wonderfully Scary…Change

Nobody warned me. Nobody told me how hard this would be. But fighting back the tears…no, sobs…I found out first hand how hard it is. I’ve told you that my girls start kindergarten next week. We knew that was going to be a hard transition for them. But in looking toward that, I failed to see how hard today, the last day at their current school, would be. Not for them, but for me. They’ve been at this school since they were six months old…babyhood, toddlerhood, pre-school, pre-K…it’s all been there at this wonderful little faith-based school. It’s all we’ve known. And as I signed them in this morning for the last time, the tears that quickly came caught me a little off guard. I hugged Ms. Mary, thanked her for everything she’s done for my girls this year, and then told her we’d be back to visit. Then I went to see Ms. Barbara.

Funny thing about Ms. Barbara. For whatever reason, she moved with the girls every year except this last year for pre-K. She was with them in the baby room; she was with them in the toddler room and the two-year-old room; she and Ms. Belinda were their three-year-old preschool teachers. It wasn’t until pre-K that she was no longer their teacher. Yet every morning when they got there this year, and every afternoon before they’d let DH walk out the door with them, they had to hug Ms. Barbara’s neck.

I have to admit, the first couple of years, Ms. Barbara was not my favorite teacher. She seemed a little hard on the children. But by preschool, I saw how much she truly adored them and they her. Yes, she made them mind, but that was really a good thing, wasn’t it. She helped mold my girls into the well-mannered five-year-olds they are today. So yes, I had to see Ms. Barbara. As I was walking into her classroom, she was sitting down trying to straighten up and prepare for the last big day. When she looked up and saw me, she said, “Oh Lord, not my girls’ Mama, I’ve already been crying enough this morning!” Before she even stood up to give me a hug, we both already had tears streaming down our faces. I wanted to hug a couple more necks but I had to get out of there before I truly started sobbing. Wow. Unexpected…

Change is inevitable. I know that. Yet this thing called parenthood brings in so many new elements to what that change is. I’ve been so anxious for my girls’ making the change, hoping and praying that they’d adjust well, trying to allay their fears by telling them how exciting and fun going to “big girl school” will be, that I completely overlooked my perspective of the change and its effect on me. I sit here this morning a mother, but not the same mother I was yesterday morning. A short fifteen minutes of time changed me this morning. I’m sure this happens to all of us moms at some point. The realization hits that while we can guide and nurture and hope to mold who our children are, ultimately, there are other people in their lives that at times may have an even greater impact, and we are so incredibly blessed that these people have been in our children’s lives. Those are the Ms. Barbara’s and Ms. Belinda’s, the Ms. Tammy’s and Ms. Mary’s, and the Ms. Gaye’s and Ms. Jackie’s and Ms. Tawnda’s of the world. How do we teach our children to say goodbye when we are struggling so terribly with it ourselves? My girls didn’t see my tears this morning. I know after a week or two they’ll adapt just fine, as children always do. But I know they’ll have tears of their own when this realization hits them…when they have children of their own who face a milestone in this wonderfully scary thing called “growing up”. I pray I’m still around to help them through that day.

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