Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snapshots

Me, cutting out pajama bottoms for Uncle Trey and Aunt Karen, who are engaged. Serena comes to me, assesses the situation, and says: "Maybe they can put on their matching pajama bottoms and have a party and spend the night in their jammies!"

Me at Christmas Eve mass, Brianna singing "O Holy Night" and positively sailing on the high notes, me, a mother who would sob more if she weren't in church, me, crying, with pride, happiness, I feel bittersweet.

Davis, holding a wrapped gift, grinning and laughing with joy. If he could speak, he would say "a box! I'm so happy! you got me a box!"

Madeline, coming downstairs on Christmas morning, seeing a gift she had asked for, and suddenly she is not 15 anymore, but a magical 6...all wonder and innocence.

Serena: "why don't we have 5 kids in our family, Momma? Like So-and-So?

Me: "Because kids are expensive. They cost a lot of money."
Serena, scoffing: "But you don't BUY kids....you BORN them!"
Me: "so true, so true!"

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Groaning and moaning for 2009

Yes, our holidays were lovely...very lovely. I found myself in a crazy "making" mode....working up enough steam to complete most of my sewing projects and only 2 of my knitting projects that were meant for gifts. I did not heed any of my own advice, and did not take care of myself very well. Now, in the post-Christmas blitz of visiting and unwrapping and traveling, I find myself very down. I told myself I wasn't going to blog when I was depressed, but you know, sometimes I feel compelled to share my humanity, and offer a glimpse into the "unhappy" spaces. I just can't pretend I have it together all the time. Perhaps it will comfort someone out there knowing they are not the only ones. Holidays are notorious for bringing out issues. I find myself in a room full of dragons...they have caught me unawares, they have taken my dignity, and now I must suffer the consequences....go into the loneliness...lick my wounds...regroup somehow...and most importantly, clean my house.
Part of me feels like this is the gift of the 2009 holidays to me...to go to that dark place and come out of it illumined. I keep telling myself to breathe through any bolus of feelings I have as if it were a contraction in childbirth. This seems to help. It's all good in the end, right?
At any rate, I do feel gratitude to all of you who stop by this space. I wish you the most blessed of holidays and happiness(whatever that means!)  in the new year. Ok, then, I wish you inner peace in the midst of the storms.
In love and peace and joy, Angie

Sunday, December 20, 2009

James Geary, metaphorically speaking | Video on TED.com

James Geary, metaphorically speaking | Video on TED.com

Empty

As an artist, I have been on a journey. There was a time I doubted my abilities in the light of so much natural talent out there. Comparisons were made, and I decided the "artist" label did not apply to me. I just didn't measure up. Since then, my definition of artist has changed and broadened to mean anyone who is on a creative path. There is a whole inner running dialog about the meaning of creativity, and included in that dialog are thoughts about origins.
Originality is something I strive for. I believe it is a real struggle. Judging something as original (as in, originating from me) requires my inner critic, yes, and it also helps bring out work that is unique to me. My art is the expression of who I am, distilled to its essence, originating from itself, an outer expression of the Flow I somehow tapped into.
Somewhere along the way, we are taught that the wisdom of books and experts is exactly what we need, that our own wisdom is not to be wholly trusted, that our ideas are suspect. The educational system I was brought up in encouraged a surface knowledge of facts, and an aptitude toward easily recalling these facts. The times I was encouraged to discover and explore and think for myself seemed fewer by far, and by the time I was given those opportunities, I sincerely didn't know how.
I bring this up because we are all a product of our society, we all have so many outer "voices" that contribute to who we are. We definitely live in a society filled with noisy opinions and news and facts and experts and methods and trends. I also bring this up because I believe art and parenting and creativity and relationships are inherently bonded, and if you are a parent, the memories you create for your child, the words you paint with, the habits you form, these are your art.
This art has an origin. We have all formed our parenting based on the example of our parents, books we've read, other parents we've connected with. But still, the relationship we form with our children is unique. Each moment we spend with our child is the expression of those decisions we've made and which voices we've identified with.  Still, I ask myself, and I ask you...what are you...what are you and your child...when you are distilled to your essence....stripped of outer voices...trusting each other? What are you when you are empty and that emptiness is illuminated with only love? What kind of dance ensues when one is that open?
One of the blessings of working with parents in a parent-child class is watching a group wisdom unfold. If I allow the space for parents to talk to one another (rather than jump in with the "right" answer), they touch on what is right for their child...they help each other strip away those outer voices...they help each other remove self-doubt and trust their intuition. They are able to observe more. They engage in the art of parenting.
Being original requires thinking through a thing before merely parroting something we've heard, or our own parents. It requires coming from a place of listening as opposed to mere automatic reacting. Sometimes what we imitate rings true for us, sometimes it doesn't. It is important, at least for me, for me to find out where I am composing the song, where I am putting my voice to someone else's song, or where I am completely composing and singing my own song. When I am the singer and the song, I have found my voice....as parent, as artist, as wife, as friend.
Today I will ponder the meaning of emptiness and openness in my parenting, and keep myself original!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Check this out. Two socks at a time!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Joy of Sharing

When we opened the package, Serena was SO excited. She had to set up her treasures on the table right away so I could snap a picture.
 I have never participated in any online exchanges, but this year I am doing this one and this one. We sent out the first (Seasons Round) on Monday, and have one to send out today. So far, it is completely fun. my only regret is that i did not take any pictures of what I sent. My exchange partner, as you can see, is quite talented and sent the sweetest things! We are so excited.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Madness

It sure can seem mad, eh? There is so much joy and excitement (and making) for me, and also a nagging sense of dread for all the things that get piled on my plate(s), sometimes literally! Even if I've been trying to have a simple Christmas for years, the rush-rush feelings always creep up on me and catch me unawares. There is also a sense of dread for all the "things" that come into the house...we are indeed blessed. But I struggle with the excess. I am not a natural manager of "things". I have to remind myself to "breathe." And for me, breathing is at the heart of rhythm.
When you are a mother of young children, the trickle-down theory is most certainly in effect, especially when it comes to rhythm.  Also, when you are a mother of young children, the children's needs come first. How to balance this? How to keep your own rhythm so that you are better able to meet your own needs while nurturing children and creating a nourishing homelife? What better time of year  to end up nourished by all the sensory and spiritual treats of the season (as opposed to thoroughly depleted)?
In thinking about nourishing the senses, I was reminded that the four lower senses as presented by Steiner correspond to early childhood (birth-7) Those senses are: touch, life, self-movement, and balance. These can all be affected by the season. Think about parents too rushed to give hugs, babies in car seats as they are toted from store to store, all the blinking lights and over stimulation of too many commitments, the cold weather forcing everyone inside, children being at adult parties and having to "hold" themselves together.
What if I protected and nourished my own senses, with an emphasis on those 4 lower senses?
So here is how I am going to purpose to nourish myself and keep quiet joy throughout this next month:
Touch: For me, a whirlwind of activity can mean not truly connecting with those I love. So, I will purpose to "touch" them in the larger sense of the word, and not only give hugs, but receive them with warmth (as opposed to rushing on to the next thing).
Self-movement: I will purpose to continue exercising and moving my body in healthy ways, and not be afraid of going outside. We all need the sunlight. Feeding animals, neighborhood walks, and yard work can get us all outside and moving. And I will continue my runs, knowing it is healthy for me.
Balance: I think this one is self-explanatory. For young children, this often means literal balance in their bodies. I am off-balance when I am tired. This just means, for me, saying no to too many commitments and weaving in adequate "down" time.
Life: My sense of life is very full at this time of year. I think with all the joyful preparations at home, the magic of children, and the sense of anticipation, it is easy to be engaged in life. But for adults, sometimes the holidays bring deeper sadnesses. As we spiral inward, we confront shadows. We dig up griefs. We miss loved ones who have passed on. Family issues come out (I've talked to at least two people this past week who recounted family holidays with words like "jail" and "addiction".) This is the core of our work as parents, as humans, I believe. To know about the darkness, acknowledge the darkness, and consciously choose to walk in the light.
Thinking about this really helps me, keeping even more sacred the rhythm we have established at home, forgiving myself when I stray. I have to make these decisions for the self I am going to be after the holidays as well. I don't want to do major damage control because we got too far off the path and everyone is out of sorts for days. I want to make space for the spiritual blessings of the season, and this can only happen from a place of quiet. So, we will see how it goes. Writing about it this way helps make it less of a dreamy idea and more of a tangible goal, and hopefully this will help me be a source of strength for my family.
And now, to announce the winner of my giveaway:
comment #6: Renee of Heirloom Seasons! Congratulations, Renee!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Davis!

The night before, at 16 days overdue, I had walked the Winter Spiral at our school. My inward whispers were desperate,pleading. Please come out, child. I had been pleading with him for some time now, my body had betrayed me as I tried herbs, castor oil, sex...everything you are supposed to try to get a baby out. Contractions would come and go, sometimes strong, sometimes not. Mostly just frustrating.
Madeline had been stubborn like that. She held out 3 and a half weeks and came out a plump ten pounds. I had previously given birth to a 7 lb. 11 oz. baby. I did not want to give birth to another ten pound baby, so I called my midwife and she helped me along a little bit.
The next evening, amidst the bickering and bantering of the dinner table, my contractions started up again. The clock said 5:15, 5:20, something like that. I didn't feel much like eating. The last thing I remember was Brianna saying, "I don't like you, Chance. You're never home." They ate, I puttered, called the midwife but told her I wasn't sure this was it, asked her to come check me whenever she thought she could. and went to the basement to put in a load of laundry. I had a doozy of a contraction down there, and that was the first time I felt I needed support.
Back upstairs, the contractions were strong enough to keep me from talking through. Chance called the midwife this time, and luckily, she was nearby. I was so far inside, coping with the contractions that were not coming at a leisurely swell and recede, but intense wave after wave after wave. With such little time, I really had to stay focused and centered. The midwife came, we set up the bedroom, I went to the bathroom and felt pushy. I moved into the bedroom, draped myself over the bed while kneeling, and started working with my body to push this child out. It was completely overwhelming and I was using all my inner resources to ease him out. At one point, the midwife said, "reach down and catch your baby!" This pulled me back into the room and I helped ease Davis's head out by pushing as gently as I could. The cord was around his neck, the midwife looped the cord over his head, and I pushed his body out. I don't remember whose hands were on him first. The older girls were upstairs but not in the room. Except for Serena.While we were admiring our newborn child, Chance kissed me on my bare shoulder. For some reason, this little detail is one of the most significant moments of the whole birthing hour. The time was 6:04, 6:05, something like that. Davis came barreling through indeed!
I began nursing him right away and we never had a problem. Everyone cleaned up and someone brought me food and drink. I was on such a high. Phone calls were made, Chance's parents and brother and girlfriend came over, my friend came over....it was so wonderful to finally meet baby Davis. Everyone was so kind to us in the aftermath with food, gifts, and lovely hand-me-downs.

And now I've been in love with this child for a whole year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today



*I was going to post something else but I'm feeling chatty and wanted to show you this ornament I received last year. Is this not the funniest thing? . Check him (her?) out. Heels, lipstick, beard, and a third leg. Yes, I am a 7th grader in my humor.
*I also have a big old blog post simmering to update school happenings, more specifically, handwork. In my parent-child classes, we are crafting, and will be baking and painting.Our story is The Star Money (as suggested to me last year by our new kindy teacher....do we not just give and give as mothers? The story is a beautiful picture of the blessings of giving.) Our circle centers around the animals giving their gifts to the child of light. We are also having a winter spiral walk and potluck this week.
*I re-discovered Jonatha Brooke in her online journal. Her music got me through my divorce (14 years ago? I think) i want to read the book she mentions.
*Tomorrow I feel compelled to revisit a birth story. I cannot believe it: my baby, my beloved son, turns 1. So, I will write about his coming into being.
You will have to tell me what you think about Santa. A new name, perhaps?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crafting A Weekend


Wool candle holder



Wool trees, the second one glitzed and glammed by the 6-year old.

Candle holders wrapped like the ones used for Martinmas (the ones with tissue paper and glue) only I used dyed silk strips (great use for worn out silks) and Mod Podge.

The cast I made from my own drawing, with the carving in process, and the final product: a Pegasus...wild and free and strong. And, the Pegasus horse is a symbol used here during the Kentucky Derby Festival, so there you have the aspect of debauchery too (that was supposed to be funny....you must come experience Derby sometime to know what I mean.) This is the horse ornament I'm giving away as mentioned in my prior post.
We made something else...something fast, easy, and something I will have to share later.
In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying Christmas Roses: Legends For Advent, and The Light in the Lantern. During the first week of Advent (the light of stones...crystals...rocks...bones) it was all about teeth around here. A six year molar is appearing and two more baby teeth appearing for Davis. Which is why I have not blogged! (let all moms with teething babies now commiserate, and lift your cup of coffee: cheers!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lucky Me, Lucky You

Once you get started blogging, you start to wind and wend your way among lots of people. There are all kinds of people out there...all kinds. It can really be overwhelming....like a virtual New York City where everyone knits and spins and eats local food. It can feel a little isolating too and I need to really remind myself that there is a real world to engage in as well. Balance is the name of the game for me...I tend to really live into life's polarities.
But, one of the reasons I blog is to stay on a creative path and help myself organize myself. It works! Winding my way among all those blogs I learn things. And if I don't learn things, I come away with a sense of fellowship, or that I've been to the "house" of a kindred, or hope for the world. And sometimes I even leave comments!
Ah, comments. All bloggers love comments. I always think of my analogy of the 5 year-old bringing her finger painting to grandma. She wants grandma to say something.
Now, here in the blog world, comments can also mean winning something. Something cool. And I just wanted to let you know that, as someone who has never really won anything, I have had some luck with blogs. I just won this from between hitching posts. I also, some time ago, won a copy of Handmade Home from beauty that moves.  Lucky me!
Now, because it is in the netherworld of between Thanksgiving and Christmas around here, I am going to show my gratitude for all of you who take time to stop by this space, and have a holiday giveaway, and give back what I can. Included in the giveaway will be a cast paper horse ornament (I'll also be selling these on Friday here.), a 2 oz. tin of homemade, completely natural hand balm (people keep asking me for it so I make it every year-you will want and need this for your hands!) and a small journal with a thread painted cover (my header is a mixed media thread painting I did). From me to you, in the spirit of love and goodwill. Just leave a comment here and I'll announce a winner next Thursday. In the meantime, I will try to put up pictures of what I'm giving away so you have some idea.  Hopefully, lucky you!