Monday, 4 January 2016

Word, Song, Quote

The word for the year has been really hard. I'm not really feeling inspired. Funny, since my art is wordcraft.

I was drawn to the word thrive. I kept returning to it over and over again. Still not quite right. I'm not ready to thrive yet. I am still caught up in a spiral that I need to mend. Mending? No, still not right.

Then an idea came to me. I am thinking of inspirational words. Maybe that's not what I need today, this year.

Ten. Ten minutes a day for meditation. Ten tasks towards my writing goals. Ten letters to write. Eat ten different items of food each day. Run or yoga for 10 minutes every day.

Count to ten before I react. Forgive myself for ten things. Ten?

Nope still not right.

Then, as I am picking at the threads of my sweater....unravel. Yes. Unravel.
It isn't the first time I have used a negative word for my motivation. Remember sabotage? That one was a miracle worker.

This year I have a lot to untangle and unravel. Who I am, who I was. What I want, what I need. Get his voice out of my head, telling me things I am and can't be. Untangle my own voice from that narrative. Try out new things. Help my children make sense of it too. Admit how wounded I was, still am in many ways.

So my word for 2016 is unravel.
My quote for the year, my battle cry, is a revisit to a past year.
“There are no lungs like the ones that breathe poetry.”
D. Antoinette Foy

Breathe. Poetry. Live. Poetry. Walk, eat, dream, be in the words. Every damn day. Make this life worth it. Make raking the chicken pen turn into verse, shovelling cow manure on to vegetable plots, a villainelle. Couplet cutting garden salad greens and free verse falling in love with the night sky and the moonrise can be a sonnet, maybe just maybe fourteen lines would be enough this time. Maybe.

My song for the year? Renegades X Ambassadors

I love this song for many reasons, but mostly the sound of it. Go forth and have no fear.

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Beginnings

Goals for 2016:

Professional Goals:
Write at least an hour each day.
Read as much as I can get my hands on.
Revise and send out work.
Meet IRL the local poets here in Georgia.
Take more photographs.
Send that work out too.
Research MFA programs.
Send out chapbooks and whole book.
Set up Etsy store for framed art.

Personal Goals:
Find a church. Go.
Write handwritten letters to people I love.
Keep in touch.
Find time 3x a week to do something physical.
Find a counsellor. Go.
Find a massage therapist. Go.
Find a nice way to turn down dating invitations. *Keep to it.

Garden Goals:
Make an illustrated map for RJ of her property.
Grow enough food that we have to dry the extra.
Find a local farmer to buy beef and chickens from.

Travel goals:
Begin the Pink Project.
Maybe Prague. Probably Prague.**
If Prague, then Venice and Rome and Austria.
Los Angeles, CA
Tennessee and Florida

*I have made it pretty clear that I need a year of getting my kids settled and quiet solitude. That doesn't stop the inquirers. I get it, I do! I'm a freaking fantastic catch: I'm hilarious as hell, smart as a serial killer, pretty enough, strong, financially independent, a genius in the kitchen, and can handle a hammer fair enough.  When I'm ready, I'll make some one really, really happy. Until then, please no inquiries. I'm not going to sugar coat it. My reason is- I'm not ready. I'm not ready to trust my own judgement. 20 years of betrayal was a lot, is a lot to work through. My kids need me. They need to be my priority. They are my priority. Bringing a new person into their lives (not me) has already devastated them emotionally and the girls asked me quietly and sincerely to please not to also do that to them. They come first. I will make my choices with them in mind.

Someday, I hope, I'll fall madly in love with someone out of the blue and probably get my heart broken into a million pieces. It will be glorious and history worthy. Other poets write about the passion and greatness and the beautiful art that comes from a love like that. That is what I want.

But for now, I need this time and space. I need to breathe. There is time enough for love.

But thank you to all those who have already inquired and invited. I feel hopeful and appreciated. Check back in with me, say, in 2017 or so. Late 2017. Maybe 2018. (Mom, this means you too, no trying to secretly fix me up either now, okay?) I don't mean  to burn bridges, but y'all seriously need to wait. It will be no fun listening to me emotionally vomit all the time about my horrible ex and whine about all the shit I have to deal with. Ha! I mean, I'll tell it in an entertaining way and laughter is a guarantee, but there will also be tears and frustration. So it is in everyone who is interested's best interest to wait, okay? Okay. Just ask Jen and Holly and Breann- right now they get the burden of my spew. Which reminds me, I need to thank them again.

**Prague. I was invited back this summer under the same funded program. I don't have custody in the summer months, so that's taken care of. I will probably have the funds I need for the plane ticket and food. I enjoy the travel and company there. My only concern right now, why it is a maybe, is the unreliability of life. I need to get the kids settled and then see what settles out in Iowa and make sure they are cared for and safe when they are there and not be 5,000 miles and an international flight away if they are not. It would be great to go back though. Better yet if I can get Esme to come with......better yet if Jen too.

*** Running. I never thought I would love it, but there you go. I do. I need better shoes or to go to the beach before daylight and run barefoot. A trail would be good. Or a track. I'll figure it out.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Facing it.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the Light gets in."

- Leonard Cohen

Ringing in the New Year, y'all. 

I started 2015 knowing something wasn't right. I felt it in my bones. I asked for space and was met with resentment. I stated my needs and held my ground. I could feel my life breaking, cracking, crumbling into grist. I started thinking it was me and how much I hated myself. I friend posted something about how mother photographers are always behind the camera and their children don't have a record of their own mother. I started taking selfies.

What I didn't know was that this project, a selfie a day, would become a record of my grief. My husband of 17 years asked for a divorce in April, or rather informed me that it was what I wanted. I wanted, begged for counselling instead.

In the wake of that world shattering, gifts started showing up at my metaphorical doorstep. An invitation to AWP, a fellowship in Prague, a job offer in Savannah, an offer to buy my antiques, a good lawyer, publication offers, friends holding space for me, another fellowship. As I was wading through the grief and rebuilding my own life, these things brought me small joys and more importantly something to keep me busy and getting up out of bed in the morning.

My sorrows compounded because of other people's choices that were out of my control.  It was like driving through a torrential rainstorm with traffic all around. Do I pull off the shoulder? Do I trust that others are in control of their 1000+ lbs of steel? Do I crash? Will there be a flash flood? Panic. Hold on. Cry a little or a lot.

And then the rain stops. All that's left is wet road and darkness, the stead thumping of the road beneath tires and a warm engine. Maybe there is even a rainbow. Maybe you are in Nashville now.

And finally, on Christmas Day, under the full moon in South Carolina, I held my sorrows in my hand and blew them with a kiss into the Atlantic Ocean. This mermaid is no longer landlocked. This is my offering. My grief.


I read a hilarious piece and then watched a parody with Tina Fey on "girl squads," the new jargon-y hip word for a group of girlfriends. I love watching Taylor Swift's Bad Blood video. I love hearing about groups of friends supporting each other. For so long I didn't have anything like that.

The last two years though, everything changed. I may even go back and say it has been the last 5 years- when I first met Holly and Breann, and three years ago when we created an online community and added my sister Jen, and two years ago when those folks (not all ladies, actually) facilitated and pushed me back into writing and taking a few risks (like riding the MegaBus to Georgia for a writer's retreat).

My "squad" isn't all women, but I am grateful every day for the support, the late night phone calls, the visits, the encouragement, the friendship and support. This last year was especially difficult for me and through it all I had folks sending me more encouragement and love than ever.

I can't list everyone here, but I am going to call out a few.

Thank you to Jennifer J, for actually flying out to be with me after the kids and I moved out and then again for Christmas so I wouldn't be alone. Your friendship and family love means more to me than these words can tell. May you find true love, good work, and creative space this 2016.

Thank you to Breann for being my random chat gal, holding my dearest fears and hopes, and generally encouraging me to laugh and love with reckless passion and write that way too. Your house burned down and you still showed up for all of us. May your tummy cease to be queasy and you finish your novel in 2016.

Thank you to Holly (Hollywood) P. and your incredible humour and grace. A conspiracy of oestrogen may have influenced you, but your support in my leaving Iowa was key. It was your words that ultimately gave me courage when I was doubtful and scared. I was in an abusive and toxic marriage and too drowned to see my own way out. You were my lighthouse. And now? I can count on you to talk me out of panic, get me to write through it. You've been my light since 2010 when Isaac was born. May your light burn bright and you keep on speaking your truth, fiery and brave, this 2016.

Thank you to my Ossabaw Literati. Tamara and Neil pointed me to the Vermont Studio Center, Neil also introduced me to James which led to the summer in Prague (which I needed for graduate credits to keep my job, a breathtaking space to recover from heartbreak, and the writing......), Tracy who emails me at just the right time as we each make our way travelling all over the world, Patty who gave me the very first advice through her advice column wisdom to put my own and my children first and let go of trying to care for and fix someone who needed to make the journey on their own, Tony who started the retreat that brought us all together to create a community and continue an island legacy, Victoria of the Midwest Crew who also has great taste in music and food and will be in Tybee soon, Lenore and David for opening their home to me on my journey South and for encouraging me to write the monsters out of the woods, and so many others. Thank you. May you all write your way back to the island soon!

Thank you to my mother, for your grace and forgiveness and your apology too. Thank you for sheltering and clothing all the lost souls who show up at your doorstep. Thank you for doing so with my children too while I recover from drowning and build our new home. Thank you for dedicating your time and home to creating a safe space for us. May your 2016 bring more laughter, more family, more stories, and more of everything good.

Thank you to Ms. Sparkles. You really do leave a trail of glitter everywhere and hope too. Watching your path through the mess that is divorce, one that is similar to mine in the reasons, the wounding, and the toxic aftermath, special needs parenting, homeschooling, and now healing and finding your way too, has helped me and others more than you know. Thank you for sharing your truth so we all know we are not alone.  May your 2016 bring you more love and more magic.

Thank you Dawn of Morning Rain. You helped me heal. Blew oxygen on my nearly dead ember to help kindle the fire again. Your touch pulled out the fear and the grief. You have a gift, love, for healing. May your 2016 bring more fire, laughter, and may you find good bacon again!

Jen H.- thank you for your time and words too. The website design, Art on the Prairie, and artists worry sessions. You know. May 2016 bring peace for you and space to create and more friends and music and also a trip to Savannah to see me, love.

Jen B- I do have a whole crew of Jennifers! Thank you for your sobriety. I am so proud of you. Thank you for being you, for lifting me that day when I could not stand on my own. You were a lifeline in a crisis, and so so brave. We are all lucky to have you in our lives. I miss you so much, love. I raise my glass of handcrafted local root beer to you and make secret plans for a girls getaway and beach time with you. 2017? Maybe? Yes? May your year be full of glitter and stage lights and feeling pretty and feeling loved.

And so many others too. This is but a short list and my gratitude goes so far beyond this. When I can't fall asleep at night, instead of counting sheep I count all the people and things I am grateful for.