June 15, 2013

in time, on time. slowing down: a reflection.

i am not a very consistent time-keeper or maker of plans.

i'm averse to schedules and deadlines. i thought that calling them lifelines would motivate me to stick to the self-imposed ones a bit better but not quite.

for example: this week is gone and the plan was to have 10+ kits full of supplies and surprises listed on etsy. it didn't happen. 

all this good stuff AND MORE coming soon to an etsy shop near you!

yesterday morning, i woke up at 4:25. i went to the loo and considered staying up, getting some coffee, editing photos, or painting, or reading...or.

i was alert enough to contemplate having time to myself that wasn't the same as my late-night, exhausted time but then i got tired thinking about all the things i have to do.

naturally, i went back to bed.
lately i've been thinking that so much of what i do is half-assed. half-done. never complete. never ending. i'm frustrated and frazzled. exhausted by the demands of my life. so much, sometimes, that i wish things were different.

really, though, i know that to wish anything was different is the opposite of being in the moment, at ease with what is. i often find myself stumbling on some memory or whim or desire or expectation. those things that, according to buddhism, are the very cause of our suffering. i know this. i work through it.
the other night i was working on a big commission and i had just spread paint on parts of the canvas when i realized my sponge was dry. i made a mad dash for the kitchen sink, in a hurry to get back, eager to move some paint around while it was still wet and my ideas were still fresh.

as i'm at the sink my four year old comes into the kitchen and i notice that he's got a nosebleed. i pause. put down sponge. guide him to the bathroom. clean him up.

it didn't stop right away and he started getting impatient. the moment he said, "i don't yike this, i want it to be done," i realized i was getting impatient, too. so i slowed down.

i told him that i also used to get nosebleeds when i was young and that i'd once missed an entire field trip when my nose started bleeding shortly after our class took our seats.

one of the teachers had escorted me into the bathroom and left me there to fend for myself (maybe first-aid for nosebleeds wasn't in their job description?). i was maybe in second grade and i pretty much knew what to do but i was bummed that i was alone and missing out on the nutcracker.

before i slowed down, though, i had considered setting him up with a rolled up piece of tissue in his nose and leaving him there to return to my studio before the sponge and paint dried. however, in that moment, i was thankful to be the one there with him, not only to administer first-aid but also to provide comfort. i comforted myself, too, by reminding myself that in each moment we have what we need and that whatever happened on the canvas after this moment would obviously be okay.

and it was.

still, sometimes it's still a challenge. (which is a fancy way of saying it's #@*&ing hard.) especially when i focus on how much i just want peace and quiet and how contrary it is to find in a house full of wild things (myself included...when i get down to it, would i even know what to do with peace and quiet? at the same time? probably not.)

so this week i didn't meet my self-imposed lifelines and instead of marking off some etsy-or-laundry-related items from my to-do list, i took 800 little breaks between yesterday and today to type this out.

it's washed. it's dried. some is even folded. why can't i put it away?

this week has been whirlwind of complaints and grace. on one hand, i get flustered because i have to stop in the middle of what i'm doing, every four minutes, every day, to feed someone, referee, let the dog out, answer the phone, switch the laundry, or just generally tend to life...

...and then i tell myself such is life...

and this is the life i've chosen. this week i've turned most gripes into gratitude through consciously accepting that i wanted this. the madness. the chaos. the dusty house. the messy art. the unschooling wildness. the challenging, supportive and never boring relationship with my partner. the beautiful awareness.

"mom, avocado pits bleed but only when i hit it on the tile, not when i scratch it with my fingernail."

colorful fizzy foam is fun.



looking back on the last week, it was actually pretty full (and fun!). the littles and i went to services at the UU church i used to attend, park day with our unschooling tribe, the children's museum, and conducted a science experiment everyday (did you know that i can amaze with vinegar and baking soda but totally fail at making rock candy?) and we're about to go to a super-fun birthday party.

we also painted, learned new interpersonal communication skills, and had story time nearly every night.
  • i also spent several hours with my bestfriend because they could very well be the last.
  • i started that big commission. finally, and worked on a few other projects.
  • i fell asleep with the boys most nights but going to bed "early" is part of self-care so it's all good.
  • i picked out a father's day card for my dad and sent it even though it seems to be more of a challenge every year.
  • i sketched something out and wrote: i may not always keep a tidy home but when i do i'm certainly ignoring my inner work.
  • i did some inner work, even went on a mini meditative journey courtesy of the magical pixie campbell.
  • i decided to make yet another (this time big and huge) commitment to my health and will be starting a candida diet soon, with the help and inspiration of my sweet girl jess yelvington (btw, jess - we're birkenstock twins!!) and awesome papa and i decided to re-join the gym. 

some of you mama-artists amaze me to pieces with all that you manage to accomplish and you serve, not as a model to compare myself to, but as a true inspiration and example that all things happen in their own time. so. i didn't list stuff on etsy but looking back at what was done, rather than what wasn't, i can see where my priorities are truly focused right now and it feels right.



  1. I hear you! It is bleeping hard...I feel that my creating moves at a snail's pace sometimes...that when I find the time, I just sit and stare at a blank canvas letting the guilt and pressure seep in because I am supposed to be making wonderful art.

    I don't know how some of the other Arty Mamas do it either....they are something to aspire to, for sure....

    I love that you took the time to type how you feel...and turned it all around to a positive at the end....

    You're quite the inspiration yourself ;P

  2. I hear you too Valeri, what a wonderful post. My girls are now in late high school and uni studying art, and I am a full time artist. When they were little the pressure to work full time was huge. Big bills and self imposed pressure that I been trained to work. I thought I could do it all, to have it all and I ended up with nothing that I enjoyed. So I stopped, turned off, tuned out and connected with them, played silly soap games, dress ups and painted our plates with food. Back then social networking was on the horizon but fortunately wasn't part of my way of connecting. Blogs were just beginning so I was able to escape seeing, but I still heard what other mums got up to.

    I have come to realise, I can have it all, just not at the same time. Now each day as they need me less I get more and more time, it's like a flower opening up. I kept my hand in where I could to my creative life and now I am finding my feet albeit a few kilometres behind other "out there/do-it-all mums" but I have walked at my pace in my time, in my way to destinations they have not been to. My girls support me now, knowing what I gave them and they say they want to be a mum like me too.

    Being a mum is THE MOST creative thing I have ever or will ever do. Slowing down, connecting, being their enough to know when what you are doing isn't working, taking the courage to change, just as in a painting. Life is not a script, we don't get to do it twice and no one can tell us what is good enough except ourselves in the quite moments when no one is looking, when we are alone.

    Did I do enough? Was it perfect? I don't know, but I did love the opportunity to do it, to be a mum, some women are not so lucky. Tune in, drop out and enjoy the love children so abundantly give. No amount of money can buy that. Blessing and joy to you.

    1. thank you so much for sharing your experience, suzi. i not only have two young boys, but also a teenager. i know how it's all too fleeting and how these moments should be savored (and they are).

      when my oldest was young, i was a single mom - i went to uni and worked, sometimes full-time with a full course-load, and my relationship with my oldest definitely suffered. now i stay at home with my children and homeschool the younger two but still feel the pressure to make art that sells or else all the time i take away from my family and domestic duties is for naught but as i process through a past laden with guilt, i understand that i NEED the time to create regardless of the financial outcome.

      i need time to myself and sometimes it only comes when i get studio time. all of that is about to change as my teenager transitions back into our home and i will likely no longer have a studio. right now, in this moment, today, i'm trying to look at only the good possible outcomes and not dwell on how sad i am to lose the creative space that i worked so hard to feel i deserved.


thanks you for making a connection. all comments and feedback are like little sprinkles of starshine!

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