Getting Better

On the rise. Physically and mentally I am improving. I am sitting down while Angelica gets tutoring.

Craig is liking his new job and I am so happy for him. I miss him though. He is already working late hours, and he is on week one of training with his predecessor. His previous schedule constantly rotated between days, swings, and mids during the week, so he was exhausted. That schedule was awful for him and I am glad he’s done with it. However, the one advantage of that job was that we had a ton of family time. We really loved that, especially since he was just coming off a sea tour.

I doubt we will ever have family time like that again.

It is May 9th and it has been snowing today. Nothing that sticks this time, but still – it’s mid May.

Soon I will be taking Angelica on a mommy daughter date. She misses them. It has been a month now. She is going on a daddy daughter date this weekend.

I am in a state of bliss listening to lectures on Great Courses. I am diving into linguistics, natural history (dinosaurs and terror birds!!!), and dystopian and utopian fiction. It is the intellectual joy of college without the expense of actually getting another degree. I do take notes sometimes though. I can’t help myself.

Great Trip

We got home Saturday night from a trip back to the East Coast to visit family and friends. We went to TN, GA, and NC. Angelica spent time with her great grandfather, and then her grandparents in Georgia. Craig and Angelica went with my inlaws to Easter services. I WAS TOO TIRED TO EVEN GO! Part of this was that the hotel pillows were truly the most horrible pillows I have ever laid my head on. I ended up sneaking out at 330 to go to Walmart and buy some at 4 am. I had already tried folding a bath towel onto my hotel pillows to no avail.

We spent time in North Carolina and Virginia visiting a friend – relaxing, talking, shopping, eating, spending time by the water.

Fresh Gratitude List

To praise God and to lift my mood, I want to ruminate on some things I am grateful for at the moment.

  • A working car. I went through a period in my early twenties when I did not have a vehicle. Now, being able to jump in the car and go where I want feels so good. I don’t need to dread cold or rain because I don’t have to walk in it for miles to get to the doctor.
  • I am tremendously grateful that I can put off ankle surgery for at least awhile. I know that technically that isn’t good. They told me to hold off as long as I can because none of the surgical options have a high likelihood of success. But the fact is that every month, every season I don’t have to be laid up and in pain is something to thank God for. Walking is a gift not everyone has.
  • Amazon. I know it is killing brick and mortar stores, and I hate that. But it gives me access to so many books I could never find locally.
  • Evangelists. I admire what they do. It isn’t that I don’t have the courage to share the Good News of Jesus. I do. I am just so awkwardly introverted that I don’t know how to express something so important in real time conversation. Maybe one day the Holy Spirit will give me the right words for the right person at the right time. Otherwise, I will serve in some other way and be glad for the spiritual gifts I have.
  • Snow. Its loveliness laces through my life. Snow is intricately entwined with me. I understand snow.

Private School

At Craig’s suggestion, we started to consider giving private school a try. I was on the fence. I love homeschooling. Of course, I followed Craig’s lead and began to call different schools.

When I told Angelica we were going to look at some schools, she started crying. “What about homeschool?” I told her we were just looking at schools to see what there was and that she might like school. She pointed to her collection of science books we do together. I promised we could do her homeschool books together when she got home from school, that we could always learn together.

WE FELL IN LOVE WITH A SCHOOL! It is absolutely wonderful. I took Angelica with me on the tour, and she was beaming as we walked around the school. When we got out to the car she immediately told me she wanted to go to school, and asked if I could please tell Daddy that it was a good school and I liked it I did, Craig took another tour with me, and that was that. We were both sold. We applied. She got in. It is settled. Angelica is going to school this Autumn.

Craig is 35!

Craig is 35 years old today. I am so blessed to have this man in my life. This morning was the present opening. He opened a bunch from me. I basically bought everything on his wishlist. Then he opened a lovely air fryer cookbook from his parents. His Mom also sent me a personalized sketchbook just as a treat.

Defining Success

Lately I have been butting up against the question of what is success for me? It is no longer grad school. It is no longer teaching. I am really getting into art, but all questions of skill level aside, the very idea of going to an art show sends me into a panic.

Yet I do want to get my writing out into the world. To this end I am considering self-publishing, which is one of the things that came up in therapy. The question for therapy was about what I would do if I felt I was good enough. Maybe self-publishing is it. I’m not saying I’m ruling out pursuing traditional publishing. But I haven’t been doing that lately and that’s not really where my heart is. I’m just not sure, since publishing a poetry book yourself is not looked well upon. But I’m not trying to make money and I’m not somebody who’s looking for admission into any school, getting any teaching job, or getting any Fellowship. What I really want is for people to read my writing and like it. Or, if it’s on the blog where people can comment on what I wrote or send me an email, people to read my writing and give me critique. Helpful criticism is always great. I just want to get my writing out in the world. That’s what I really want.

I admitted last night in the midst of depression fueled complaining to my husband that I felt like a failure, that nothing I have done has amounted to anything. Being a man, he tried to fix the problem. I appreciate this quality in him, but obviously not every issue I have can be fixed. If it can be fixed he isn’t always the one who can fix it. He questioned me and what I finally got across to him, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on directly before, is that I want to be noticed. I’m isolated. Part of that is my choice. I’m about as gregarious as a spider. But part of that is simply my circumstances as a housewife. Someone better at networking than me may be able to do better than what I am doing, but I don’t know who they are or how they’re doing it.

I just want someone to read my poems. I love it when you guys read my poems. It makes me so happy. I want my art to be seen by people. Ideally I’d like to be appreciated by somebody. I’m not trying to sell it. Some of it I think looks really interesting but either isn’t of the caliber to be sold or isn’t the style that would sell. Still other things I make are things that are by nature impermanent. For instance, you could do pretty interesting things with watercolor on fabric softener. But that’s not something you’re going to be able to seal in and hang on a gallery wall somewhere. It’s really something you take a picture of while it’s fresh and then that’s what’s left of the art. And honestly that’s all I want.

What Craig thought was an expression of dissatisfaction with my life because I couldn’t articulate myself very well is in fact a sense of isolation and of being ignored. I love my life. I wake up in a nice home, spend the day with my daughter, take care of appointments and house work that needs to be done, and spend a whole lot of time reading. When times are good this means I get to enjoy a lot. When times are bad it means that I have much more time to spend at home recuperating than I would if I had made other life choices. My life is perfect for me. But the old ambitious parts of me just longs to see my name up in lights.

I’m giving this a lot of thought. What I think I want to do is just build up this blog. At the end of the day grad school is out of the question and I’m way too much of hermit to pursue much of anything out of the house. And what I really love is coming on here to post the things that I make and the things that I write. That’s what I look forward to. So maybe self-publishing is the right thing to do. If not, then blogging definitely is. And blogging is fundamentally a form of self-publishing. I have what I need. I just need to use it more freely.

Lovely Day, Free Night

Today has really been a beautiful Friday. Unfortunately Craig has to work a 12-hour day, so I saw him off by 10 in the morning and he won’t be home until it least 10 this evening. I feel bad for him having to work so many hours. But soon after he left Angelica and I went to Target and she got to pick out some new clothes. We grabbed some household items while we were there too.

After that we went to Red Lobster for a mommy daughter date. We talked about all sorts of things, but especially monsters and unicorns. Angelica really educated me. There are monsters that are microscopic, and there’s a unicorn on Pikes Peak.

When we were finished eating we went home and it was time to do some serious housework. Angelica decided to be a buddy helper the whole time. She helped me scoop lavender into a new container to make the kitchen smell nice. She helped put away the towels that I folded. She put the detergent in the laundry machine. She put her clothes away in her drawers. She picked stuff up. Angelica was a busy little bee. Angelica wiped down counters with Lysol wipes as well. She helped me take out the trash and the recycling. And this is just a partial list. My buddy helper has been a very good helper today.

We worked on two collages together. I bought a bunch of white poster board awhile back, and gradually I’ve been putting together a collage. Every day or two I add a couple of more materials, whether it is a sticker or a piece of cloth or something. I even have some curling ribbon on there. She helped to add to that one, and then I started a new one that’s going to be just stickers of different kinds. She gave me a hand adding the stickers where they were supposed to go. It was nice to have my little artist-in-residence help me with my projects. One day she won’t be in residence, and I will really miss her.

Part of the afternoon was spent hanging out on the porch swing in the backyard. Now we are unwinding some more and in a little while the babysitter will be here. My Friday night is free and I get to decide what to do with it.

Blizzard

Today we are locked inside by a blizzard. There has only been a couple of inches of snow fall, but the wind is really high which makes it a bigger storm. Part of our flagpole snapped off and broke. The wind is blowing so hard that the snowflakes can hardly fall to the ground because they keep being pushed sideways across the land. Angelica’s occupational therapy was canceled because the clinic was shut. She did her speech therapy in a video chat. I had an appointment up near Denver and I had to cancel it.

Craig is sleeping because he works a mid tonight. I’m trying to make the most of this day being shut-in. Truthfully I’m really grateful. I feel like I’ve been on the go so much and I’ve just gotten tired of it. There’s always an appointment or something to go to. Sometimes that’s nice, like earlier in the week I got to get the first massage I’ve had in ages. It was absolutely phenomenal. My body felt so good. I’m going to start going more regularly. Other times the speech therapy, tutoring, occupational therapy, psychiatrist, therapist, and all the other appointments really add up. I just want to recharge at home and have a clear schedule.

Earlier this afternoon I set up an art space on the dining room table for Angelica. She used acrylic ink, her watercolors, and alcohol ink to create some art. I think she had fun and it was good to get her using her creativity. Right now I have a TV show on for her. We lost power for a little bit, and now I’m afraid that the power could go out again at any time. I’m running appliances as much as I can. Laundry and dishes are running. I’ve been charging up my phone and charging up my Kindle, since if the power goes out again light will just get dimmer and dimmer and my Kindle will be the only thing I can read from. And then in between charging my phone and my Kindle I am recharging the charger that charges them. Charge. I just had to say that word one more time.

Anyways, I’m just trying to enjoy electricity as much as possible in case we don’t have it again. That probably won’t be an issue, but I want to make sure that everything chargeable is charged just in case, and that I’ve gotten as much housework as I can finished. That’s why I’m letting Angelica watch TV now. Usually I let her watch a little bit in the evening after a day of playing or making art. However, since it’s a possibility we might be sitting in a dark house later I’ve decided to put it on now.

My little artist!

Artistic Identity

No matter how busy motherhood gets, I can’t imagine giving up my creative activities. I just read an article by a woman who did exactly that. She was a blogger and photographer, and she did no work for two years while she took care of her children. She said that she needed to be more present with them. She’s not the only one I have heard of who has done that. I have friends who have done that as well.

I admire the self-sacrifice and self-control, but I can’t really imagine doing that myself. Maybe it’s good that I have to stop at one child, as much as I wanted to have more. But if I had 10 kids I have a feeling I would still be squeezing in time to write poems or to paint. That maybe I would be in a situation at that point where I shouldn’t be doing those things, but I would do them anyway.

Poetry is such a part of me that I can’t imagine giving it up. I go through spells where I primarily read poetry rather than write it. When I do that I am often soaking up inspiration and gearing up for a period of intense writing. But to simply not have poetry in my life? I can’t even imagine.

Painting and photography have become primal urges for me. I can’t imagine putting my camera down as some of the mother photographers do. I might sometimes get lazy or too busy to take out my expensive camera, but I’ll at the very least be taking photos on my phone.

Perhaps all of this is selfish or self-absorbed, but I’m not so sure about that. Everyone needs their own identity. Everyone needs something that they love to do and an opportunity to do it. Naturally your husband and children have to take priority, but you can’t draw from an empty well. If you want to give them more, then you have to give yourself something. So many women say they’ve lost their identity in motherhood, and I just can’t relate. When I had my daughter I became even more myself. I still had all the artistic aspects of myself, all the general personality traits like introversion, I still liked the same foods and movies, only I was finally fully tapped into my maternal potential. Having a child didn’t sap my sense of identity. It completed it.

Not that I think I am really at risk of this, but I pray that I never put down the pen or the camera or the brush. These things are apart of me. Without them I think I would fall to pieces.