Monday, March 29

a corner of my own

Since becoming a mother, the room of my own became the space of my own, which eventually became the no space of my own.

I hadn't thought about it much... dreaming of the entire room I'll get in the new house... okay, technically I'll share it with the Wildflower, but still, a whole room for books and creating!

I have a teeny tiny corner of a sofa where my laptop sits, along with current crochet project, camera, notebook and pen. When we have guests, it all gets moved. That's my space. Blink and you'll miss it.... or sit on it.

My recent 'rediscovering my creativity' journey meant I needed to stretch my space. And you know what, it was E S S E N T I A L that I did not feel guilty about it. (oh, and if you're interested in what I've been doing come visit me at Bohemain Shadows)

My small corner is......... one end of the dining table. Yup, that's it. But it's mine.

Erm... this has grown since I took the pic...
Videos!! of me creating in that space.

Everything has to move if anyone comes over for dinner, but that's rare. Otherwise, it sits there always. Plenty of room on the other end for the two of us.... as the Wildflower doesn't eat sitting down, or at a different time, or sits in my lap.

Is it a mess? Yes! A lovely lovely mess. okay, I do tidy up if I'm not working on anything.
Does it take up room that could be used for, say, a fruit bowl, or flower vase? Yes!

I don't care how small, but all us mothers need a space that is ours, that doesn't have to be tidied up (or not too often anyway), or have things damaged or moved. Even if it's just the corner of a corner of a sofa, or dining table, or closet. Even if it's a mobile space, that is dismantled after use.

Creativity needs to breath, and it IS possible to breath within limits, or so I'm learning.

Small Creative Spaces

The tiny closet-turned-studio of the woman who runs Oliver + S.

Another closet.

My own corner is temporary, so organisation isn't an issue. Although for the sake of not spilling out everywhere I have implemented several boxes to store things. But for a more permanent space, organisation and storage is KEY.

And another - sewing station.

How much space to write?
Jane Austen's 'desk'.

Has not having your own space hindered your creativity? Do you yearn for a bigger space? Are you still trying to crave out that niche? Do you feel guilty claiming precious space as your own? Are you fortunate enough to have a lovely big space? Tell me about where you create!

I peruse creative spaces on flickr all the time. I just find the space where someone creates as inspirational as looking at creative projects.

Btw, anyone read this month's Book Club Mamas title - The Joy Luck Club?

Wednesday, March 24

friendships AC

I'm in that world now where whether you do or don't have children affects who you are friends with. As well as the age of the child, their sex, their personalities, their sleep patterns and health. Whether they attend school, or certain after-school activities. Their pastimes.

Suddenly you find yourself friends with someone for no other reason than because she happens to have a child that is roughly the same age as yours. Or because her child's schedule fits around your child's nap.

Perhaps someone you never would have been friends with, because your worlds never collided, suddenly is a best buddy because her child has the same energy levels as yours and you're both desperate for their energy-releasing playdate.

You find yourself avoiding someone you actually like because her child is violent or always ill.

Finally you (a non-spanking calm parent with a sensitive child) find someone you like, who has 'nice' kids... and during a get-together she freaks out, starts screaming bloody murder, and spanks her kids.

What about the person you click with and that you feel that you could really have a great time together? But she hasn't got kids and views you as a mama first. So you're last on the list for margaritas.

Or the lovely mamas who want to talk about nothing but mamahood, when you'd rather discuss the meaning of life.

Perhaps you find someone who does want to have a glass of wine with you but doesn't understand that you don't do babysitters, or that your focus is family get-togethers.

With a child at school, you end up friends with the woman who looks as dissheveled as you when dropping her child off. Feeling that there's a kindred spirit.... or at least someone who won't judge your parental disorganisation.

 The New Yorker

There's a scene in Desperate Housewives (yes, fine, I watched a couple of seasons), where two mothers break up a fight between their sets of twins. Both apologise for their own children's behaviour, as they are both aware of what terrors their children are. They're accustomed to the other parent shouting at them to control their kids.
There's a spark of recognition. One tentatively asks the other for a playdate, and they agree. There is immense relief. They never followed the story line. But I could imagine a friendship blossoming under these very simple but profoundly important conditions - thet they each happen to have violent boisterous boys.

There's also online friendships of course. Ones made initially because you both have mama blogs and children around the same age, or same health condition, or same psychological issues.

What about the friendships before having kids? Some become stronger and some melt away because of having or not having kids. Or seeing a different side to your friend in their parenting style.

We, as parents, tend to, I believe, gravitate towards families, as opposed to singles or couples. And those families with similar parenting styles and values as our own. But we don't always have that luxury to pick and choose. Sometimes you have to make the best of what is around you. Including how others view you and who your children are.

What about if you're not particularly sociable but feel pressure to make friends with other adults for the sake of your child?

Me? I live in Montenegro, amongst a tiny English-speaking expat community. We have been so fortunate to have found expats are own age, and with small children. It means that children's parties actually have other children there. It means there is at least some understanding about obligations and child-related needs. It means general moral support as parents.

However, it's not all smooth sailing. We are all very different people. Our parenting styles can differ poles apart. Our personal needs, goals, and socialising styles differ. Boy children tend to seek each other out. We have a girl. The Wildflower's nap and general sleep is shambolic, and almost always clashes with social events or we get up too late to take strolls with others. Or we're simply too tired for anything involving other people.

Ironically, me, a non-natural mother, is probably seen as the most mumsy around here.

On the other hand. The Wildflower's late nights mean we can socialise when others with kids must go home. Her ability to speak and get on with adults means we can go many more places. Her love of reading means we can sometimes navigate a coffee at a cafe, something that most with kids don't bother trying. Our cultural background, where family is first, means our attitude is very relaxed about going places with her - not feeling we have to find a babysitter.

Of course, as our kids get older it changes quite a bit, I think. We feel less responsible for finding friends for our children, or working friendships around Family, and thus can make our own friends too.

My ideal situation? Well, since you ask. It would be something like this.
A small group of mothers with mindful parenting styles, with children of varying ages who got on well together. Who were pleased as punch to get together with all our kids and discuss life, art, philosophy, and the many merits of chai, as our kids played happily around us.

But an ideal isn't always what we, our soul 'we', truly needs. We're in the situation we're in for a reason. We fight it or we learn from it. I've certainly learnt a LOT, especially this last month. I'm happier for it.

So what's your situation?

AC = After Children

Wednesday, March 10

my walkin' talkin' heart

I tell her daily, in many ways... but I felt like saying it louder...

I love this crazy ball of energy.

Thursday, March 4

thorns and rivers

For over 6-7 years I have been battling, taming, soothing, or healing the shadows around my head. The ones that whisper to me, 'It needs to be better', 'It's not good enough', 'no point in doing it with your mediocre skills'.... and on and on about perfection.

It's a constant tinnitus of doubt in my ear that I had quietened. Or so I thought. Well, I did really, it's just that there was a big chunk left hanging around and it was so buried that I hadn't noticed. Or when I spotted a little corner potruding out I simply dismissed it as unimportant.

Anyway, I wanted to share with you where I am these days.

Face the Unknown, Me

I'm tired. Usually exhausted.
Yes, I know, a broken record. But it's so constant that it effects everything. And unless you are going, or have gone, through it, it's difficult to truly appreciate the impact something so ordinary can have on a person.
Currently going to bed with her at about 1am, up at about 9am, and wakes 3-5 times through the night.
Last night she woke EVERY. SINGLE. HOUR. Today I cried.

I'm content.
Despite the tiredness, I've given myself permission to be creative. To do non-practical art. Husband is supporting me. And although I'm at a place now where I no longer need his support, I'm very glad to have it.
I can do bits between attending to the Wildflower's needs. There's paint on my clothes and my fingers are black at the end of almost every day. The art is gushing out of me. And it's imperfect and clumsy and amateurish and I adore it.

Oh, and if you're interested in journaling, creating, even blogging, with Full Moon questions/prompts, take a look over at my other place.

I'm quieting the inner critic.
Slowly, sometimes painfully, I'm learning to let go, to let loose, to be free with my creativity. It's opening up wounds, but in a good way. Or at least, I'm at a place that I can see it as good. The wounds were festering. In reopening them I can begin to heal them properly. So emotionally, it's a bit odd right now. Lots of frowning and tons of grins.

But my recent mind-decluttering, and my continual softening of what Time means, has me much less anxious. I can't do it all. I no longer want to do it all. Sometimes I cook and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I clean and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I follow a lead on an interesting subject and sometimes I don't. And when I don't, there's no regrets (mostly, still a process), and I simply chalk it up to choosing a better life for myself.

I used to believe I was choosing less. Now I know I'm choosing more. Quality over quantity.

I'm feeling claustrophobic.
I'm desperate to get out of this apartment. We have controlled the mould situation. I lost count of how many loads of washing I did in just two days! Trying to squeeze the most out of the only day of sunshine. So at least I'm not depressed or ill.
Having most of our boxes and stuff strewn all over the place (because we're not using the mouldy rooms) and thereby feeling cluttered, can't be helping.

But I want to get up that mountain, amongst those woods, in a tranquil village. I want to open my windows wide and breathe in the distant muskiness of goats and the crispness of snow-capped peaks. I need to stretch.

I will not mention the unfixed leaks at the house.....

I'm feeling disconnected from those around me.
I fully realise this is largely due to circumstances (sahm w/ high-needs child) and largely of my own making as I'm not very social. While I enjoy meeting up with others - my favourite being a cup of chai and a 1-2-1 engrossing dialogue, that doesn't present itself too often. But my day revolves around the Wildflower's needs - when she wakes, when she'll need to nap, go to bed, have a bath...... or I'm beyond tired and am lucky I can manage to dress myself let alone attend anything.

Instead I watch from the sidelines as parties, weddings, cultural events, and general get-togethers happen around me. Even a baby shower that nobody invited me to. Did they forget 'cause I'm so non-existent?
Odd feelings around this as well. I'm not upset at all or feel excluded. Just observations. Probably more amused than anything. Like, wow, look at me, I've become the Invisible Woman!
I do prefer my privacy and quiet alone time, yet feel a twinge when human contact seems to be occuring from behind a curtain. So what's that about?

And yet again - parallel to that, I have been gifted with the online company of a few of the most amazing and inspiring women I have ever known. We just happen to have never met face-to-face. With them I get to be me, I am supported, I have the best conversations EVER, I am filled with love, acceptance.... oh dear, seems gushy? Well, you get the idea.

So really, I'm getting what I want, no? My personal space and privacy, and meaningful contact when I want it. The Pisces energy against the Virgo moon does amazingly roller-coaster things with your heart.

So a topsy-turvy month. But like I said to a friend earlier - we're doing great in the areas that matter.

Did you realise that the Pisces month is the end of the astro cycle? ... we can often feel around this time a lot of vague discontent. You see, we have been given lots of opportunities during the cycle to sort out our stuff, to let go, to free up, to cut off, to grow, to move forward. Anything we didn't choose to face will carry over. And that's ok, it isn't doom-and-gloom. Not everything takes one cycle.

But it does mean we're feeling vulnerable. Despite weird emotions of late, I'm glad I've dealt with the worst, last year, so I'm going into the new one hopeful and excited.... if sleepy.

I hope similar joy for you as well. If not, then I hope for the strength to face further challenges.

Monday, March 1

Book Club: food

Book Club Mamas

Here we are on our titles for February. Although it was actually for the previous month but it looks like December and January both need to be a break for us. Busy months!

Our choices were, The Mistress of Spices, Chocolat, and, Like Water For Chocolate.

Please tell us which one/s you read and your thoughts (even if you've read them in the past). Be as academic or basic as you like. This club is for FUN first!
If you wrote your own blog post, let me know so I can link it here.

I read LWfC and Chocolat years ago. I enjoyed them both.

Chocolat has a dreamy quality to it and I enjoyed the mother-daughter element. I loved that the chocolate was used to open up people's, often secret, desires, or even just their more passionate selves.

I enjoyed the film as well. And it has nothing to do with Mr Depp's appearance as a rugged and free-spirit gypsy at all, nope.

LWfC has a special connection for me, being Spanish, and I totally relate to infusing food with intention, or even unintentional emotion. The magic-realism here was pushed up a high notch as the passion got out of control. I really loved the mayhem that was created by the emotionally charged food. Very Latino all that chaos!

I read The Mistress of Spices last month and also enjoyed it. I enjoyed reading an Indian perspective. I have lived amongst so many Indian communities and have cooked Indian foods for so long (taught by an ex-boyfriend's mother), that it is a second food-home for me. But I don't know the deeper mystical qualities of the spices used. So that was great fun to discover.

I also connected with the whole 'service or bust' theme, as that's something close to my heart within my culture.
The love story came as a surprise and I liked the way it was handled. And although I felt some sadness, I was satisfied with her final decision.

It was an easy and enjoyable read, and gets you hungry for connecting to the profound in the mundane.