The teal of my tale

I am hesitant to experience what Brené Brown calls a vulnerability hangover, but equally if I don’t have somewhere to share I will explode and this is so very much part of my tale and this is my space. So I am sharing my current experience of miscarriage and I also know the power of sharing our stories and literally how reading another’s experience in the middle of the night can ease some of the pain and aloneness. 

I know everyone experiences things differently and some don’t struggle with a miscarriage like I have but I am struggling. In the very depths of my soul. 

I will start backwards though because yesterday was three months since I delivered my 7 week bean I have named Constance on the side of the road in the middle of our family holiday. It was a day of reflection forced upon me because over the weekend some who I care most about in the world indicated that I was not sad over losing Constance but sad over my life in general. Intimating ever so carefully and what felt not understood that I was grief crazy and not in my right mind. 

Sparked by my husband declaring he did not want us to try for another baby. He felt that his age and our lifestyle would not benefit from a new baby. I disagree from the most primal heartfelt place in me. But it was framed over the weekend that my husband held the practical rational point of view, while I was heartbroken and grief filled and presumably in that assumption lacking reasonableness and practical rationality. Maybe. But when did emotions become wrong or lesser against logic?

In any event this is a discussion that will continue to be had by my husband and I because I am not ready to concede that life that I glimpsed. Rightly or wrongly this is where I am. 

I do however concede that my husband’s decision has made me realise that I had delayed feeling all my grief over Constance with the thought that I would be blessed with a new baby. When my husband told me that was not what he wanted I have felt the feelings of grief all over again. So strong. 

I have felt every part of this pain. I have faced it. I have journaled in a special book I bought on the day of my miscarriage where I have written to God, my baby and even to myself. I have sat and just cried. I have sat and felt sad and heartbroken and broken and empty. I have sat and listened to whispers. That is how I learnt my baby’s name and even that she was a girl. I have consciously felt my grief. Touched it. 

Though on the weekend I was made to feel that I had had enough time. This was not over a lost baby and I felt like I was been made to move on. But I was not even at the three month mark. And I say to them and to you and to myself that at three months we are still allowed to be deeply sad and broken and numb. We are allowed to have good days and bad days. We are allowed to cry. We are allowed to want another one. And I know for sure that grief is not rational and practical and we are damn sure allowed to not be rational and practical and that is good. That is okay. And I am not the only one. Neither are you if you are reading this in the middle of the night with tears running down your cheeks wondering if you are crazy. You aren’t. Neither am I. 

Mothering is not a rational practical journey. So I don’t think the deciding factor on a baby should be only rational or practical either. And the also don’t think our grief over lost babies is rational or practical. The biggest loss I feel is the lost dreams I had for her. I had worked out where her 3 month portrait photo would go next to her brother and sister’s. I had glimpsed my future of breast feeding, wondering what sort of sleeper she would be, wondering what it would be like after the big gap. Excited at what I knew now and looking forward to cherishing the heck out of her. I didn’t just lose a 7 week old foetus, I lost all those dreams and thoughts and wishes because you don’t just start loving your baby when they are born, you love them in your belly if you are lucky and blessed enough to conceive. 

On the side of the road, telling my children to stay in the car, four hours after my labour pains had begun, one day after been told there was no heartbeat anymore, two days after I first started spotting, I delivered a baby and lost dreams and so much potential. It wasn’t tidy. It was hard and traumatic and surreal. I am beyond grateful my beautiful husband was there to support me and hold me up and love me. I know what I have and am lucky to have when I look at my beautiful children. But knowing that does not take away from what I have also lost.

It was real, and three months does not make it any less so. Even with the thought of a need for a new baby to bless our family. Because I will still be the mother of an angel. That can’t change. I know because I have wished and prayed for that very thing and it is still the same. 

So. The start of my story or what I will share for today because it is enough. And it is a start because it is a journey. And not all of it can be tied up in a bow, sometimes it is just messy, and may skip around and make no sense, but I will share and express my story here. A blog that started off about how to define my joy. Ironic that it will be this space where I hopefully find it again as well. Where I will define a new joy.

I am sorry to those who are only here for the art and creativity. But that will be here too. This influences a lot of my art at the moment. I have become obsessed with spirit vessels and plaster angels and wings which I will share here. And emptiness. That too.

But this will be here too. For those who are looking for threads in the middle of the night. To try to weave together so they can hold themselves together in the light for those that need them. And because I need this for me too. In a purely selfish way. 

I see you. I see me. And we are doing okay. I have never subscribed to rational and practical and I won’t start now or try to define my grief journey through that lens either. I love those people that want me to be in a different place, and I know they only want to help and are trying to do what they think would be best. Sometimes though we need to trust our own whispers in the darkness. 

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Still standing

Goodness is anyone still here?!  

No need to answer that!!! :)

Since I was last here I got married after a two week engagement…which was a whole lot of crazy and even more magic. I have never felt so well held by my friends and am eternally grateful! So now I am no longer Natasha White but Natasha Watson!

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Our parents had become resigned after over a decade together that there would be no wedding but just when we had no money we decide to have a wedding…perfect timing because with more time and money I would have spent more and the day was gloriously perfect how it was. 

It has taken me a while to get used to the name change after living 37 years as one name, but it was important to my husband, more important than I realised and it is becoming more normal!! 

My perfect wedding reception...

When my closest friend/wedding planner asked me at the start what my perfect wedding looked like, I replied a combination of Downton Abbey and the wedding in Mamma Mia. I wanted a sense of occasion and an event, but also the celebration of love in Mamma Mia. And my wedding planner delivered and then some! The day was just magical and I wouldn’t change anything. 

As well as that little miracle performed by God I found out I was pregnant in January with what would have been a wedding baby. Once the shock wore off we were very excited but unfortunately while we were on our big Summer South Island adventure I lost our little bean. Which is the most devastating experience I have had. On so many levels. The loss of potential and expected dreams and memories. I am grateful that we were together during the loss and that we left her in a beautiful spot in the end. 

The spot where I left a part of my soul.

 Also that at the moment I felt like my heart was breaking to never be repaired that I had the presence of mind to take a photo as we hopped back into the car. 

And so I come back to this space not the same person, and with a new name. I am not sure what this space even looks like now but I picked up some paint a couple of days ago and it was a start. 

A bit like this post. As I figure out what I am doing and what anything means and where on earth is my next step. This step is right here. And I am climbing back on. 

Again. 

Holding the parts of my life

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The poem from the yesterday {when I began writing this post} the other day was my way back to this space.  I read it just a little while ago and it gave me words to even begin to describe where I have been.

I have been flat for such a long while. But pretending otherwise, because if you fake it you make it, and all of that. You are what you think so I was all on top of everything and holding it altogether and actually inside I wasn’t so much.

But I didn’t think I was depressed. Because I wasn’t crying all the time, and I wasn’t really sad, I was just kind of joyless. Ironic given the name of the blog!! :)

But I was holding it together, to one extent or another, not many people would have realised quite how out of whack I was…because even I didn’t. So..life happened.

Things got a bit demanding on the Board and took so much energy and time to work through the processes we needed to go through unexpectedly as a school, my Beloved was made redundant, both of us looking for work to pay mortgages and all that other unfun stuff but to no avail.

Feeling completely useless and not of service or value to anyone because I was not/am not getting employed in paid work. Losing all creativity (perhaps the scariest thing of all because it just is, really scary, still). Not sleeping except for a couple of hours for weeks. Suffering panic attacks…4 or 5 a day at one stage. Having a difficult relationship with my family of origin and that going to a place that is completely foreign to me, and I was in a place. A place where I had nothing left, just really flat.  Not really sad, though I had tears as well, but I felt more lost and completely overwhelmed than sad.

I was also completely empty.

So I put a brave face on it, but I only had enough for the most immediate of needs, which was not here, and besides with my dearth of creativity, I had nothing to share anyway.

A friend came over and opened a well of tears while she was here but I still felt I could manage this.  I had not yet succumbed to needing drugs again.  I was aware, I was taking self-care steps, I was not weak enough to need drugs.

And then one Saturday we went for a drive to the beach and I saw this view of the ocean (in the photo I took above and it was the most beautiful moment of grace that I didn’t have the capacity to hold it and I broke down and realised I did in fact need drugs. So over the rest of the day I came to the realisation that I couldn’t do it anymore and in fact I needed to go on drugs. Again.

And I snapped a couple of self portraits on that day of breakthorough. As well as some shots of scattering sea gulls that felt a lot like the mixed up detrius of my mind.

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So I made an appointment and went to my most fabulous doctor, and got sleeping tablets, and anti-anxiety tablets, and antidepressants and I evened out…eventually.

I still had no joy. But I was not crying and my panic attacks were only a few a week. No creativity though I did try.

I thought I may art journal my way back but I couldn’t even finish this page and didn’t get any further.

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At the doctors 6 weeks ago she asked how I was doing and I shrugged, and said okay, better than I was, and to my surprise she said she was going to double my dose of antidepressants because she thought I was still under medicated and my usual joy and spark still wasn’t back. So she did.

And the most amazing thing happened.

I felt lighter and actually happy for the first time in over a year maybe. Actually truly happy with no thought at the back of my head about what a faker I was. I made these photos when I was playing.

And I am there now. Feeling lighter. But still no creative urge so that scares me.

But I am here.

Trying to find my way back and trying to figure out what that means for me.

Toward the Solstice

p20141128-103935 Toward the Solstice

by Adrienne Rich

The thirtieth of November.
Snow is starting to fall.
A peculiar silence is spreading
over the fields, the maple grove.
It is the thirtieth of May,
rain pours on ancient bushes, runs
down the youngest blade of grass.
I am trying to hold in one steady glance
all the parts of my life.
A spring torrent races
on this old slanting roof,
the slanted field below
thickens with winter’s first whiteness.
Thistles dried to sticks in last year’s wind
stand nakedly in the green,
stand sullenly in the slowly whitening field.

My brain glows
more violently, more avidly
the quieter, the thicker
the quilt of crystals settles,
the louder, more relentlessly
the torrent beats itself out
on the old boards and shingles.
It is the thirtieth of May,
the thirtieth of November,
a beginning or an end,
we are moving into the solstice
and there is so much here
I still do not understand.
If I could make sense of how
my life is still tangled
with dead weeds, thistles,
enormous burdocks, burdens
slowly shifting under
this first fall of snow,
beaten by this early, racking rain
calling all new life to declare itself strong
or die,

if I could know
in what language to address
the spirits that claim a place
beneath these low and simple ceilings,
tenants that neither speak nor stir
yet dwell in mute insistence
till I can feel utterly ghosted in this house.

If history is a spider-thread
spun over and over though brushed away
it seems I might some twilight
or dawn in the hushed country light
discern its grayness stretching
from molding or doorframe, out
into the empty dooryard
and following it climb
the path into the pinewoods,
tracing from tree to tree
in the failing light, in the slowly
lucidifying day
its constant, purposive trail,
til I reach whatever cellar hole
filling with snowflakes or lichen,
whatever fallen shack
or unremembered clearing
I am meant to have found
and there, under the first or last
star, trusting to instinct
the words would come to mind
I have failed or forgotten to say
year after year, winter
after summer, the right rune
to ease the hold of the past
upon the rest of my life
and ease my hold on the past.

If some rite of separation
is still unaccomplished
between myself and the long-gone
tenants of this house,
between myself and my childhood,
and the childhood of my children,
it is I who have neglected
to perform the needed acts,
set water in corners, light and eucalyptus
in front of mirrors,
or merely pause and listen
to my own pulse vibrating
lightly as falling snow,
relentlessly as the rainstorm,
and hear what it has been saying.
It seems I am still waiting
for them to make some clear demand
some articulate sound or gesture,
for release to come from anywhere
but from inside myself.

A decade of cutting away
dead flesh, cauterizing
old scars ripped open over and over
and still it is not enough.
A decade of performing
the loving humdrum acts
of attention to this house
transplanting lilac suckers,
washing panes, scrubbing
wood-smoke from splitting paint,
sweeping stairs, brushing the thread
of the spider aside,
and so much yet undone,
a woman’s work, the solstice nearing,
and my hand still suspended
as if above a letter
I long and dread to close.

(1977)

Come in…

I was asked to participate in a virtual blog tour by the wildly spirit-inspiring Cynthia who I met online while doing Big with Connie Hozvicka.  I was then asked again for the same day by the multi-talented Jeanie who I met while doing Deep with the same Connie Hozvicka

So, here I am inviting you in to my little virtual tour behind the scenes in my own messy creative life.

I will admit I did get a little nervous at the questions (do I even have a genre…it seems like such a grown up question!). But here are my answers as best as I can give them right now.

The questions were:

  1. What am I working on?  
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  3. Why do I write/create what I do?
  4. How does your writing/creating process work?

So without any further rambling, here are my answers :)

What am I working on?

I wish this was only one thing, how much easier this answer would be but I have so many balls in the air right now.  I have some non-creative work that I am working on and is demanding a fair bit of my time at the moment.  As well as that, I am behind on a few online courses that I am trying to catch up on.

I am trying to teach myself to paint with a palette knife. Trying been the operative word:

Palette knife wip

I have been busy with making postcards:

Mail art wip

Playing with charcoal:

Charcoal sketch

Reflecting, planning and organising in relation to how to achieve my creative goals:

Planner reflection

Using up my postcard scraps on an idea for another piece:

Art piece wip

Reading my bookclub book and trying to develop an online course on tarot cards that I have had a brainwave on.

Planning an ebook on texture making…

In fact writing all this has made me realise why I feel so scattered and all over the place right now. Because I am! There is a lot spread out over my table at the moment, literally so I am going to need to pare back and refocus.  I will put that on my to-do list. :)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Honestly…what is the genre? Creating in general??  This is the question that scared me.  What I would hope is that what makes all my stuff different is me.  I made them, and I could go through all the guff about been raw, expressive, and intuitive, and heart-centered, and self-aware, but really, to keep it all real, what makes it all different from anyone else’s stuff is that I made it, as opposed to them making their stuff.  That feels like a lazy answer though, but the more I have pondered it, the more I come back to the fact that my work is different from the work of anyone else because I did it.

Why do I create what I do?

That is how I play and practice self-care, how I process things that are going on for me and really because at the end of the day it keeps me sane and I think it makes me a better person to be around.  And I want to.  I create what I do because that is what I have been inspired to create as I have been inspired or intrigued by what I find down the rabbit hole.

How does my creative process work?

Morning pages for the organisation of thoughts and flashes of inspiration (though at the moment it is honestly more sporadic than it should be…if I am confessing to the truth though it is at least four times a week), lists and routines support the creative work to actually happen and make it a priority in amongst everything else, and then doing the work, because nothing else gets it done other than pulling out what you need and actually doing it, as opposed to thinking about doing it or writing about doing it.

I have a creative to-do list and if I am stuck (not that I can remember that happening any time lately) I could find something on there to do, or I have an ideas and planning book and sometimes I just go through my sketchbook and see something I wanted to play with a bit more.

Where the inspiration comes from is infinite, but the actual process is really just the doing.  Ideas can hit me anywhere, in the shower or out on a walk, in my morning pages or my idea and inspiration journal.  But the idea is only part of it.  The other is always the doing.

Taking action, starting, pulling out the paints or the charcoal or whatever it is I need and doing it.  In whatever time I have available, hence the organising and scheduling is a big part of my process as well, and deadlines.  I work well to deadlines even if I am the only one making them up and enforcing them.

And that is all really.

Three people will continue the tour on their blogs next Monday:

Wendy has been messing around with something ‘arty’ since childhood, has always been able to squeeze in time to explore some new creative venture, but still hasn’t managed to settle on one thing . . . she’s not unhappy at the prospect of remaining a mucker for life, living on a beach on the wildish west coast of the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. You can find her at Late Start Studio.

Patricia Dattoma is on a creative journey to find & explore her own voice as an artist,  after many years of teaching art to young teens in inner NYC. She is inspired by the grittiness of NYC (her hometown)& her love of the American Southwest. She believes in the power of creating something everyday. You  can find her at Magenta Matters.

Carmen is a mixed media, colour loving, illustrative, arting, zombie loving creative in the UK who inspires me on my own creative journey.  She is busy in the thick of life but is always supportive and finds time to work on so many swaps and collaborations, I don’t know how she manages it all. You can find her at Whoopidoings.

 

 

This week’s happy

Day 15:

My beloved splitting wood to keep us toasty warm during winter is right up there in happy making for me. #hiskindofromance #100happydays

I have a strong aversion to been cold and there is something about this man of mine splitting a ginormous pile of wood to keep us warm over winter that cheers my heart. I feel like it is a gift to only me. There is security in having a giant wood pile, I feel like we are well ready for the cold. (Though it now needs to be stacked and we will all be required for that).

Day 16:

Thanks to brilliant godparents there are no children in sight and I have spent the afternoon hanging out with my Beloved. #100happydays

My son’s godparent took the children out for the day and while they were having a fantastic day of laser strike and hanging out with people they adore I got to hang out with this man I adore. We visited a couple of quirky shops, people watching and I got lost in a couple of second hand book shops. He suggested we go to an art supply sore I had mentioned earlier in the day but that had JUST closed just before we went there but he said we could come back another time and I will hold him to that. :) We had a coffee on our way home and it was very good. It was so lovely to just have a chance to talk about nothing and hang out together.

Day 17:
Here is to fantastic free holiday programmes in the local community.  #100happydays

Our local community had a free holiday programme for a couple of hours a fay in the last week and Victoria loved it. Some arting and craft activities, visits to the local pool, face-painting, bouncy castles, dance classes, and games, they did a great job and I got to read Divergence in the downtimes and do some planning and organising.

Day 18:
First fire of the year.

We had our first fire of the year and oh my gosh the excitement. Truthfully it was possibly not cold enough for a fire, and after a little bit we were all a bit too hot but there were no complaints here. It thrilled me just looking at the fire, and what is the point of having so much wood if you don’t use it I say!

Day 19:
Making feijoa and apricot jam and feijoa and fennel relish was happiness yesterday. #100happydays

One of my most favouritest things is seeing a pantry filled with homemade preserves and so making feijoa andd apricot jam and feijoa and fennel relish was right up there for me. Especially the relish because I made some last year and I didn’t like it, so I made this recipe up completely and it works and tastes just how I wanted to make it. Which actually makes me think I should note down what I put in it so I have the gist of it for next year.

Day 20:

Not that you can see it very clearly but he was carrying her through the water on his shoulder. After a morning of squabbling and bickering hearing their laughing together was a much needed tonic. #100happydays

The last week of the holidays and there had been a fear amount of squabbling between these two. In fact there were even threats brought out that they would not be going to the pool unless there was an end to the fighting, yelling and tears. So it was heart-warming to see them actually choose to play with each other and be giggling together when faced with the other children at the holiday programme as well. They went their separate ways shortly after this photo was taken but fir five minutes they loved each other. :)

Day 21:
Going away for the weekend and no longer feeling carsick. #100happydays

We went to my Aunt’s farm for the weekend and it was fantastic! But it was not an easy journey for me. I also tempted fate with this caption on the photo because just after I wrote that I began feeling ill again. But the scenery and all the space was just beautiful as we spent a few hours in the car looking forward to the arriving.

I hope you all had just as fantastic a week and a joy-filled week coming up!  :)

My second week of happy

Day 8:

Easter detritus,  good food, good cake, bubbles, good people and a private concert to boot.  #100happydays

We had Easter lunch at the house of one of my closest and dearest friends and this photo caused much mirth for how staged it is, but it is what it is. :) I am a photo stager! I confess.

The bubbles we had bought and had given to us a while ago, but when is ever the right time to justify cracking open those kinds of bubbles, (maybe when my Beloved proposes, but I would probably faint instead and knock myself out!), so I decided to take them with us and that was the perfect choice. My friend had made a Maggie Beer Orchard Cake and it was all kinds of wonderful (she made a perfect lunch full stop but slow roasted beef did not look quite so appealing as the image I was going for!)

I am a wee bit going to chet and include one other photo. This could have been a photo representation of my happy as well.

What perfection looks like.

My friend is what I call a magic maker. She creates magical events that she so generously shares with others. On this night she had arranged for a “private concert” for us. She had organised one for her own Beloved very recently for his birthday, and I had wondered if that would be a bit weird. She had approached this amazing busker musician and he had said yes, and she said it was very not awkward at all.

As a surprise for us she had arranged for him to come back and he brought his backing singer from the band he is in as well and it is very not awkward. It was just magical, and they sung Beatles songs and all other songs of that kind of ilk including one of my favourites:

I also love how this photo shows how awkward my son and her son were, not able to make eye contact before escaping to lego. It was not a normal kind of night in my life (I know…spoiling all my staging), the whole day was memory making and filled with belly laughs and love. A perfect day. Also the Easter Bunny came (not to the dinner I hasten to add…bunnies in costumes was not where she was going and I know she sometimes reads this blog and would be mortified by the suggestion…though I am laughing just at the idea of not clarifying)! :D I am that kind of friend! :)

Day 9:

She just gave me her Easter card she made for us. How I love her!!

Victoria remembered she had made us an Easter card and oh my gosh the cuteness. She was very proud of her sounding out. I was surprised she had sounded out at all but I was a very happy and proud pernet in any event. One of the most loved up pernets for sure. I nearly died at the cuteness.

Day 10:

Creating with Victoria using @gypsy999's creative bingo prompt cards. #100happydays #autumnholidays

We played with Tammy’s Bingo cards as you can see in this separate post. There was a lot of laughter as this turned into quite a competition. I am also pleased to have discovered a perfect activity with Winter coming up.

Day 11:
Children on playdates and enjoying a quiet afternoon of planning, reading and rose & vanilla tea. #100happydays

The Autumn holidays are upon us and I had a joyous afternoon to myself with both of the children on spur of the moment playdates where I read and made notes in my planner and drank tea. The morning had been taken up with children wanting to kill each other and a tired grumpy mother making an appearance, it was nice to enjoy the silence and have a moment to myself. It felt like a self-care luxury (especially because I made no efforts to do the housework that was waiting for just such an opening).

Day 12:

A happy mail day indeed. Perfect timing for restoring my sanity. #100happydays

This little beauty arrived which is a magical publication you can find out about here, I have plans to talk about it this week (in my blog schedule!!!! She says like a grown up.) where I will discuss it’s magical qualities, but I received the latest installment this week and it is just as magical as my other additions. It was a treat to sit down and begin to dive in.

Day 13:
Somewhat ready for the ANZAC day parade.

It was ANZAC day today and the children were in one of the many parades as we remember all those mother’s son’s and daughters who gave their lives for our freedoms. It has felt a lot more poignant since I became a mother and you think how young many of those soliders were. A mother’s heartbreak. I can’t even imagine. It makes me feel all quite teary and not happy. But I am ever grateful.

In the afternoon this happened:
My beloved splitting wood to keep us toasty warm during winter is right up there in happy making for me. #hiskindofromance #100happydays

And I am ever so happy about having so much wood split and ready for Winter. I have a fond dislike of been cold, though I am half hoping for a coldsnap soon so we can have our first fire of the year. I am sure as soon as that arrives I will regret wishing for it!  But this woodpile is all kinds of happy to me as well.  (Cheating again I know with multiple photos)

Day 14:
Receiving a spur of the moment pedicure. #100happydays #gladwedidthisoutside

She offered to give me a pedicure and who am I to turn down such an offer although I did request to go outside in case of spillage. I have the loveliest blue toes (including my nails). :)

I hope you all have a week of happy to celebrate as well.