Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts on Lost In Living

The highlight of International Women's day this March 8th for me was the free online screening of Lost In Living a documentary film that confronts the contradictions inherent in personal ambition and self-sacrifice, female friendship and mental isolation, big projects and dirty dishes.  More specifically this film follows 4 artists over a period of 7 years.  2 are best friends embarking in motherhood for the first time and 2 are women in the later stages of life looking back on how they managed their families and careers.
I have waited a long time to watch this film with much anticipation.  And I was not disappointed.

What the filmmakers were able to capture so well was the profoundness of the change that occurs when you birth a baby and how in the aftermath you flounder and float simultaneously.  Unlike the women in this film I had not established an art career prior to having my boys so I didn't have the pressure of maintaining it during the most intense first years in babyland.  The complexity of moving back and forth from artist to mama is indescribable but is a struggle that all parents trying to feed their ambitions while raising children face.  What is different to me about being an artist and doing this and what the film really gets at is that the emotional and creative toll of making this type of work inevitably leaves casualties.  Whether they are your kids, your career ambitions or your sanity something has to take a back burner.  And when that happens there will be something left behind that may never present itself again.

The depth of the relationship between the two new moms really hit home for me as well.  Having a best friend that I am traveling this motherhood roller-coaster with has made a huge difference for me.  Our styles of mothering are not identical but compliment each other enough that we did not experience a long period of emotional  isolation from each other as Kristina and Caren did and I am grateful for that.

Marjorie and Merrill offered a perspective that gave me hope but also resonated the most deeply with me.  Hope emerged when I saw that they were still working and had grown families that more or less functioned and were successful.  What hit to my core was that Merrill's definition of success still eluded her.  One could not help but wonder if that was due to motherhood, was merely a product of her generation's lingering sexism, or had a wrong place wrong time randomness.  Regardless it left me with the truth that what will be will be and I will have to let my view of success remain fluid as I age.

Nothing was sugar coated, this is a film that tackles these issues head on and lets you watch 4 women make their choices and lie in the beds they've made.  Raw and personal it confronts the reality that mothers face when navigating the myriad of choices we are so privileged to have.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

bye bye sugar

I've had at least a dozen posts float in and then out of my head these last weeks.  Many sounded really good in my head and then faded into a foggy recollection minutes later.  Often they were rants of one sort or another as I struggled through these last days of Elliott being 2,  praying that 3 is better, while trying to examine how I'm contributing to the issues the two of us face together.  How can we argue this much in one day?  What can I change, how can I expand my horizon and make this work for us both?
 Often it comes down to the little things in parenting, doesn't it?

So I began with one issue at a time.  Sleep being the most important.  About two months ago sleeping through the night 5 out of 7 times a week turned into up every night, sometimes several times.  Needless to say a tired mama is not a patient problem solving mama.  So this week I've begun an experiment in diet to see if "treats" were the culprit.  I've noticed a difference already.  So Elliott and refined sugar are taking a break from each other.  And he wasn't even eating lots of sugar at all, but just small amounts were really making him have mood swings.  So sugar is out for now.
And next I've established some set activities that we do together while Ky is at school and even when everyone is home.  Reading is a perfect transition for him from screen time to play.  And activity books help him focus so we are doing them more.  Kyan was a very independent child and Elliott needs more direction and that is a lesson mama took a while to absorb.  Luckily he didn't give up trying to show me.

As always nature, nature, nature helps us too.  A huge snowstorm helped add some outdoor adventure to our week.  I'm hoping our family mojo will stay positive until spring break in three weeks.
As we approach 3 it heralds a welcome transition for me.  I know mamas are supposed to be sad that their baby is no longer...but while E was an adorable babe he was not easy.  I think he has yet to hit his stride and I have yet to hit my stride as his parent but we'll get there together.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

the waiting place

Our largest visitor to our bird feeder is this guy: a Pileated Woodpecker.  Isn't he lovely?  I've named him Woody since that is everyone (of a certain age's) only example of a woodpecker character.  We waited months for the big birds to become daring enough to check out the new feeder.  Luckily we were all home when he came for his meal and Dave was quick on the draw and got photos.

This week was on the low key side.  Both boys were down with fevers & coughs and so I felt like we were in the waiting place.  Waiting for the fevers to break, waiting for coughs to subside, waiting for their immunity systems to tackle the virus....I must admit I got cabin fever and wanted to get out and about.  But I was able to finish my jam from 2013's frozen berries, watch some interesting documentaries, and catch up on housework.  Our forced hiatus from regular scheduling will be over on Monday.

January has brought new projects to us all, new learning and new perspectives.  I feel really blessed in many ways these days.  There is a lot of hope in working towards goals either as individuals or as a family.

In November through to January I had a piece included in a Mail Art Exhibition.  My piece is the middle of the bottom row.  It is called Mary I and the central image is custom designed fabric with a photo of my paternal grandmother.  At some point this year I will receive another artist's work from this show and another artist who participated will get my pieces (I sent in three).  All pieces were 4 x 6", what are known as Artist Trading Cards or ATC's for short.  Overall the show was great with so much variety and work sent in from all over the world.  So again, I wait for my pieces to arrive in the mail at some point in the next months.  I love waiting for mail.  Sometimes the waiting place isn't bad at all.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December, an end to 2013

Here we are again as another year reaches its end.  This month has had some lovely quiet moments and some hectic ones.  Tensions that flow with the cycles of life and death that the earth clearly wants us to embrace at this time of year.  And yet we find it so hard to embrace them....

  Our solstice was perfect and quiet and just us four.  Its bookend was sickness for us with recovering just in time to celebrate Kyan's 6th birthday even if we were the worse for wear.  Our Christmas was not white but that was fine with me.  A little bit of snow around this time of year is all we need to feel the energy of winter arrive.

Tonight will be a thoughtful one for me.  I plan to think, evaluate and count my blessings.  There are not many words today.  Happy New Year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fair November

What a stunning month November was this year.  The thing about my birth month is that most people find it wet, cold and depressing.  Which I try not to take personally really.  I mean, there is little I can do to redeem it for anyone...it is what it is.  Except when it is not.  Like this year when it was sunny almost every afternoon and that sun streams down like a gift to those of us that are usually huddling under umbrellas and feeling pale and gloomy by mid month.  The above photo is of two bald eagles on the edge of the Harrison river.  This was their moment to feed on the salmon as they return to lay their eggs and die in the process.  Such a fascinating life cycle and such a delicate balance that we were privileged to witness this year. 

On the right in the above photo lies the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa where we luxuriated in the healing waters for a lovely weekend.  It was the highlight of the month for me.  So relaxing after a busy month of soccer games, gatherings, school, cleaning...you get the picture. A mini vacation it was and a grateful person am I.

And just cause I want to share a lovely poem I found about November that gives it a nice sentiment rather than the gloomy one that is often associated with the 11th month.

November comes
and November goes,
with the last red berries
and the first white snows.

with night coming early, 
and dawn coming late,
and ice in a bucket, 
and frost by the gate.

the fires burn
and the kettles sing,
and earth sinks to rest
until next spring.

-Clyde Watson

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

October Memories

 The first time we trekked out from the city to the country to pick apples and pose with pumpkins was 6 years ago.  The biggest guy in these pictures was only 2 and the second biggest guy was in my belly.  The next year we had two little ones and one on the way (actually only a month out).  Several years and subsequent visits later we brought the littlest one who decided to sample the dirt during his first pumpkin photo shoot.  And this October these pictures were taken of four rapidly growing boys.  In various stages of becoming men.
 The thing about tradition and growing up is that while we adults try and create memories we really can't.  Ultimately what the boys remember will depend on them, what is important to them, what they value, what sticks as odd or fun or silly.  It may be that I may cherish these outings way more than they ever do.  I acknowledge my part in that, my attempt to influence their childhood stories to reflect my own values and interests.
 There was no picture where they all looked at me and smiled.  Photographing 4 boys between the ages of 8 and 2...good luck my friend.  But in each one you can see a characteristic; the stoic leader, the mischievous one, the thinker with his heart on his sleeve, and the unpredictable wild card.  Each so close and yet miles away from the person they could be tomorrow or were yesterday.  
There are many definitions of family that ring true for me.  I don't hold one above all others because the path of my life has taught me that every type of family that we encounter whether we are born into in, make it ourselves or have it forced upon us shapes us and teaches us more about ourselves.  All I can hope for these 4 is that the family that they most certainly are gives them strength and deep love and acceptance that they can carry their whole lives.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shapes of September

September was of course a lesson in adaptation for us.  Kyan going to Kindergarten was the whole scope of the month.  A little getaway with friends, a soccer routine to get into....and weather that was just steady.

Can it be that almost 4 months have passed since this new routine came about?  And while we are not old pros yet we certainly have a rhythm that wasn't overly disruptive to our lives.

Kyan likes school.  He does well with the schedule and while he is more tired as seasoned parents always say happens that first year, he takes it all in stride.  The transformation has been positive.  I see his confidence growing, his ability to adapt is better and his learning capacity is impressive.  We have yet to get a report card, but I don't feel I need to read it to understand how he's doing.

What I see and what he exhibits is very promising for a school experience that enriches him.  But as with everything we'll just take it one day at a time.