Posts filed under creativity & motherhood

a glory long forgotten.

She asks me what I would say to my daughter if she were to come to me with the exact same dream I possess. 

The minute the words leave her mouth, my throat tightens. It's what happens when I try not to cry. My neck grows red and the corners of my eyes squeeze together and the burning grows and grows and grows until it feels like my neck may burst with pressure. I always have two choices here: cry and risk hysterics, or swallow it and feel the gravelly resistance settling into my chest and bones.

This question scares me with its weightiness.

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a name. It was a girl's name, and it rested square in that space where my soul begs for me to pay attention. 

The name is not important—at least not for this story—but the feelings surrounding it won't leave me alone. The truth?

I know I am meant to have a daughter. 
And even though this human doesn't even exist yet, I am scared shitless I will fail her.

This is more than a fear of acting out of my human-ness. This is the inherent fear of percolating cycles just waiting to float to the surface. I know the feeling of worthlessness settling in your bones. I know the way dreams beckon and mock you. I know what it means when someone you love looks at you and makes little of your words and story.

So when my friend whispered this question with tears in her eyes about what I would say if my daughter approached me, I knew.

I've known for a while.

First, I would reach across her and grab her hands. I would place my forehead against her own. I would soften my words to barely a whisper and say —

Baby girl, your dreams matter. This dream matters. And more than anything I want you to know that the shaking in your knees? It means you're alive. Fear can be your friend. Close those eyes. Breathe deep. Feel the way the your pulse is pounding in your chest and arms and how your throat is tightening because all the emotion is threatening to cut loose.

Let it out, love.

More than anything, I want you to know your gut is golden. Listen to her. Believe in the beauty of friendships with women because they'll be the ones who help you up when you fall and push you back out into the ring when you don't think you can go another round. Don't look for the enthusiasts. They'll leave you as soon as you disappoint. 

Look for the ones who will challenge you. Look for the ones who will grab your face with tears in their eyes and whisper with a ferocity unmatched that you are worthy and capable of more than this because you ARE, baby girl. 

They'll be the ones who remind you to move. One step in front of the other. They won't care about whether or not you'll leave them behind because they'll know that's not possible.

 And when you doubt, when you begin to wonder whether or not this dream is worth the pain and stress and exhaustion, breathe in and breathe out and smile because the way of a woman finding her calling is a glory long forgotten. 

 

Posted on June 20, 2014 and filed under creativity & motherhood.

so we'll beat on.

When I was in graduate school, I took a class on Educational Psychology. We focused a lot on developmental theories and how our brains work and what makes kids react the way they do and why sometimes, it seems we're shorted out a bit in reactions. 

One of the things that interested me more than anything was that our brains can be emotionally hijacked - especially if we're processing traumatic experiences. When this happens, it's literally impossible for us to compute anything beyond basic functions. Sleeping. Eating. Walking.

Creativity is forgotten. Intelligence is hidden.

For however long our bodies need, we go into this stasis where the only thing we're worried about is survival.

//

One summer I took a course called the New Jersey Writing Project (it's called Abydos Learning now). For three weeks, I studied the brain and writing and how words can heal so much more than our bruised egos - it can open portals into other worlds for our kids.

While taking the course, we were to read a book (because reading+writing are explicitly linked). One of the books,The Female Brain, tackled the way we approach life as women. I wasn't nearly as obsessive about brain-based researched then as I am now, but some of her research enthralled me, specifically - when women have children, their brain can be completely re-written. 

So whereas before they may have been completely career or love centered, now, all they can process is baby.

//

Now, I don't know if I completely believe Brizendine's study because I'd like to believe women can be more than singular-minded regardless of their stage of life.

But I do know this week has been excruciating at best when it comes to focus. Every day has brought pacing, back-spacing and an attempt to not pull out my hair. I sit down to write, only to be lost to some type of anxiety attack, and every time my phone buzzes my heart jolts awake only to be severely disappointed when it's a friend texting. I mean, I love my friends. But they aren't who I want to here from right now. And, the chances of me being able to hold an actual conversation right now is slim. My mind keeps wandering. My thumb keeps hitting the home button. My heart keeps wondering. 

And all week long, as we wait for Little Lion Man to arrive, I keep thinking of these two moments in my past where I learned a little more of what our brains can take.

So, you know...being overwhelmed is a thing.

//

But creativity still moves me. This week, out of a certain desperation for distraction, my husband and I finally went to go see Gatsby. And as I sat there in the theatre watching Fitzgerald's tale of a lost generation I breathed in the inspiration. I remembered that before I am a writer, before I am a woman, before I am a mother I am a human and art speaks so much into humanity and where we hope to be in the future.

This week was hard. Words didn't come easily. Art journaling was brushed aside. But I have hope for next week. 

I also know this - even if this next week is hard, even if these next few months are hard, this dream still echoes deep inside my chest. It's not going anywhere. And more than the hard days and the easy days and the ones where I remember to keep my chin up because it's just another notch in my belt of experience, I want our son to see us pushing and believing and not giving up - especially when it seems all hope is lost. I'll look back on my writing and these dreams and remember they serve as guideposts for a reason.

As Fitzgerald said, we'll beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Posted on May 25, 2013 and filed under creativity & motherhood.

i'm not alone

"You're going to need to find the ability to say no. Up until now, it's been about saying yes. After your baby is born? Choose wisely. Build in those margins." 

I was talking with a friend on the phone when she told me this. It's been just about the only piece of advice I've listened to concerning motherhood+creativity. Probably because this friend is a lot like me. She doesn't just crave those moments of creative respite - she needs them. 

So this past week, my calendar lay bare. I've been filling her up - making sure every spare moment is filled. This week? I took a trip to the library and stocked up on a few books. I cashed in an Amazon gift card and added a few more. I {tried} to sleep and when I couldn't, I allowed myself that extra dose of grace in the morning when it was just too difficult to get out of bed.

I'm slowly putting up the walls. I feel it. A maybe here - a no there - brick by brick I'm building the boundaries I will need in order to not stretch myself too thin. I've scheduled guest posts throughout June, and a friend is armed and waiting to step in to complete the Spring session of Story101. 

I'm realizing slowly: it's better to go deep than wide.

And I have no idea what my life will look like tomorrow or three weeks from now. This isn't me trying to build a schedule of sorts only to have it blown to pieces by colic or diaper changes. 

It is me learning a different type of self-care: one that includes my future son. Every decision I've made in the past few weeks carries the slight overlay of motherhood. Could I host a retreat with my husband and our three month old? Could I start a third round of Story101 in July? Will I have the mental where-with-all to tackle manuscript edits during June? I don't know. But the confidence is growing just in case I can and the grace is waiting even if I can't. Because it's not about proving something. It's not about saying to the world that I can do this or that even when - it's about bringing something out of nothing. It's about the rush of capturing beauty on the page and the thrill that pushes through my veins when the words fall hot. It's about #littlelionman watching his mother come alive before his eyes.

And when my husband chuckles and whispers under his breath no one tells my wife what she can't do, I remember I'm not alone. 

Posted on May 18, 2013 and filed under creativity & motherhood.

for this, I will write.

For close to a year, I resisted beginning the adoption process because I feared losing myself as a person.

At the time, I worked 60+ hour weeks and locked myself in a closet in order to finish editing Come Alive and rarely showed myself in public because therapy had me in emotional lockdown and I didn't know what it meant to socialize and work through trauma.

Even in the fall, when it looked as if we'd be expecting a baby girl come November, I hesitated to find the excitement because holy cow a tiny human. In my arms. In less than a few months.

And when it fell through, I did lose myself for a little while. For months I'd looked toward motherhood as my next big task. I'd launched my book, I found my groove with my blog, and I was 10,000+ words with a new manuscript. So who was I if my next step ended up being a mirage?

[enter Story Unfolding]

There's an article I use in my Story101 course that talks of breakthroughs coming with a fever. Whatever your "breakthrough" may be, it typically follows some type of emotional or physical upheaval. Whether it be a dream deferred, financial crisis, a failed adoption or the flu, for whatever reason creative people often find clarity in the midst of these difficult situations. For me, my clarity came after copious amounts of Gossip Girl episodes and side eye glances toward my laptop. I couldn't imagine finding creativity again. I couldn't picture what it meant to dream because what I thought was my dream, just being a mother who wrote and published books, it all fell through my grasp so easily.

I don't know anything about what it means to take over responsibility of a tiny human. I do know it's a lot of work.

I also know those months of disappointment following our failed adoption in the fall served as a special sort of refinement for my dreams and who I wanted to be as a woman and mother.

I want to be a mother who pursues her dreams

I want our son to wake up in his rocker sitting next to me or in the carrier resting on me and see me typing away on my laptop because it's what I love to do. I want him to know we are a family who breathes life into dreams and doesn't give up because of a shift in schedule or an unexpected wrench in our plans. 

I want to be a woman who doesn't lose her creativity with the birth of her child, but finds a deeper well because of the love and inspiration flowing through her veins as she watches her son discover his hands. I want to capture the delight of hearing his first laugh, or experiencing that first slobbery kiss, or watching him run to greet his dad at the end of the day. 

Here's what I believe: I'm not losing my life when our son comes home. I'm gaining a whole other dimension. And while my schedule may seem a little whacked out and while I've allowed time and space for margins those first few weeks, I have every intention to continue to pursue this creativity that pulses through my soul because I have to and because I know in the deepest parts of me that it will make me a better mother. 

So. Starting today, I'll be posting my thoughts on creativity+motherhood every Saturday. With exception for June, where I have a few friends on the docket for some guest posts that first month with our son, I'll be wading in these waters of what it means for me as a new mom who needs writing as an outlet. I'll wrestle through priorities, schedules, rhythms...maybe share some lessons learned and new things I'm trying. All of them will be bent toward encouragement and reminders that no one is perfect and we're all in this messy pursuit together. 

In the fall, I viewed motherhood as a task. A job. I assumed it would take up every.single.second. leaving me with no breathing room for other things.

I'm realizing now it's a both/and. It will take up every second of my day. It will leave me with what seems to be no breathing room at times. But that will leave me breathless and inspired by the absolute magic of it all. Motherhood is not a task or a project or a job. It's love in action. It's life in motion. It's tripping and stumbling and swinging and flying and soaring and careening toward a single hope that this soul now in our care will know one day just how much we loved, just how much we prayed, just how much we waited for him to come home before his name was even a thought or a whisper on someone's lips. 

It's Beauty and Risk and Authenticity and Freedom and Healing. 

And for this, I will write.

Posted on May 11, 2013 and filed under this-here blog, creativity & motherhood.