Truth at twilight…

treesattwighlight dress sketchbook

The day started out on the completely wrong foot. Usually it’s the children that are off and I am the one soothing and straightening and brokering peace. But what happens when it is mama that is off? I couldn’t even explain why at first. I just knew I was vastly unsettled, struggling to focus, struggling to be present in my parenting and helping the children with their school day.

I kept trying to focus, kept trying to push through.

At lunch, my husband noticed something was off. He is an incredibly perceptive and patient listener. Slowly, bit by bit, with his kind ear, I was able to bring into the light and name a fear that I didn’t even realize I had until he granted me the space to bring words to it. Just like that, the day shifted back into more normal lines, the thing unsettling me named and dealt with. His precious gift to me in the midst of a busy, full Tuesday.

Truth is a strange companion some days.

I was thinking about President Obama, of all things, and his Blackberry. He has spent eight years within the guarded space of the Secret Service, and hasn’t been able to tote a smart phone on his person his entire presidency. When he entered his Presidency, Blackberry phones were the crack du jour, the precursors to the smart phones we all carry around now. There were very few apps; social media had yet to hit full zeitgeist. He noted how hard it would be to give it up at the time. I would love to be a fly on the wall as he enters private life again, at least insofar as it goes as he enters the smart phone/social media world at his fingertips. Will he find the onslaught difficult? Will his time away help him to quickly find a happy medium, sort what is important and what isn’t?

This, in my typical rabbit trail thinking patterns which are never explainable or reasonable- I’ve just learned to hold on tight and enjoy the ride- led to a whole host of thoughts- about the election obviously- but it eventually led to a historical novel I’ve been reading, which has a returning soldier in it. I got to thinking about how soldiers even now struggle to re-integrate into society after serving in a tight knit military community, whether in peace time or in war.

I have railed against the very regimented-ness of the military many a time when I really wanted my Dad present at a life event he couldn’t be at, because, military. They may not be able to call their souls their own in many ways, but military life is very predictable. You have to wake at a certain time. You always know what to wear. You always know where you have to be and when under every circumstance. You know when your next meal will be. You know when you’ll have free time. Even on the worst of days in the worst of wars, you have a purpose and a plan.

Bear with me, but I kind of feel like a returning soldier at the moment.

I’ve come off the front lines, so to speak….

now what?

It’s when you realize that everything is different and nothing is different and why do I keep checking my phone? Why do I keep cringing when I hear someone step on the porch? It’s because that’s the sound that is made when mail is dropped off and mail is rarely good- so many bills- and I’m actually reacting to a sound?!? When you realize that you can put the phone down. In another room. On the charger. You’re not constantly having to track down a doctor, constantly on the phone with insurance. (Though there are still days…) Constantly text with your husband about this crisis or that crisis. You can use the phone for happier things. Enjoy a laugh. Reconnect with friends. You realize that you can, you must take an hour and draw. Paint. Read. Shower. You realize that you can make that healthy delicious food you’ve been craving but have had no time or resources for. You can take a walk. Or five. You can take a whole weekend and sew a dress, because you want to, because it is important to you- you really like a dress you have but can’t find anymore like it- and necessity is the mother of invention- and it’s okay. You can breathe.

It’s harder to adjust to than you might think. I find I’m asking myself “why am I doing this?” often these days- and I’m making sure to listen carefully to the answer. It’s a sorting process. Oh, I was doing this thing this way because of xyz and that isn’t true anymore and I can do it differently. Or not at all. 

One of the most nebulous struggles, post-trauma, I think, is that you realize you have a whole spectrum of feelings and emotions again. It’s why Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is so prevalent in first responders and soldiers- trauma forces you to stay very much in the now whether you like it or not; there is no thinking to yourself, whoa, this is really awful- this scares me- this makes me angry- I’m confused- I’m hurt- I’m on overload- you can’t. You just put one step in front of the other, deal with the now. All the rest of that comes later. The brain literally rewires itself after being under siege for too long, shorts out in a manner of speaking. And I can honestly say that I’ve forgotten that it’s okay to feel, which is the direct correlation to what happened today. I had the time to absorb, process, and respond to something, but I couldn’t name the truth that was being revealed to me because I had forgotten that I could. Saying to my husband that I’m afraid about ——— clicked a neuron back into place in my head, I swear. Oh. That’s how I’m feeling right now. Here’s what I can do about it. 

Truth has been standing there all along, in the waning light of an afternoon. I’m just learning to see it again.

Fullness and fortitude…

twilight greenhouse floralcanvas


it has been a full couple of weeks. A good full, but full nonetheless. There was quite a bit of preparation going into my shop launch at the beginning of the month, then two birthdays for two of our boys, a Harry Potter-themed celebration with friends, field trips to war and art museums, chess club, guitar and ballet lessons, and of course, ever present doctor appointments. We are in the thick of our fall schedule now. It is perhaps the first autumn season in three years that is not laden with hospitalizations for one child or another. Even the ever present doctor appointments are greatly reduced, much to everyone’s relief. We have definitely crossed the threshold into a new normal.

I have looked forward to this season for a very long time, not realizing that, once arrived, it is very bittersweet indeed. It brings me great joy to see this day arrive, yet I am unbelievably shocked at how far off course my little boat has been blown. The grieving period is transitioning into rebuilding. But oh, how dirty, how exhausting!, such reconstruction can be.

I am humbled by how distracted I became by the constant buffeting.

I’m not sure how to characterize it exactly, other than to extend the boat metaphor. A sure captain keeps his eye on the horizon and the stars, the direction in which he is pointed. When the wind blows and storms, he doesn’t watch the wind, though he might glance at it. Neither does he look constantly at the boat, though he likely knows every deck board and sail like his own child’s face. He cares for it, certainly, but were he always looking down at the boat or up at the sails or at the buffeting wind, he would fast be off course. No- a good, wise captain focuses on where he is headed. When the winds blow, he adjusts the sails. When the deck splinters, he repairs. But day in and day out, he is ever looking for his way ahead. A captain that does not is headed for ship wreck.

That is where I find myself now, a formerly-distracted captain, shipwrecked on some island, most repairs affected and putting back to sea, knowing that the boat, while sea-worthy, will fast find itself becalmed, or worse, wrecked, if I don’t learn (and fast!) how to keep focused on the horizon, remembering the lessons of navigating. A deeply humbling thing.

I am grateful that each day is new, each day the sun rises, each day I can set my course again. There is incredible mercy in that; a mercy I don’t think I really understood prior to our long storms. The storms taught me fortitude and courage; now I must learn faithfulness and focus.

Giveaway time!


Hurricane Matthew definitely made things interesting the last few days. Amazingly though, I am still on schedule to launch my print collection on Friday! I’m so excited. I want to share with you, dear readers, who have been with me through thick and thin. I’ll be giving away this print to one lucky reader- simply comment below to enter. It feels utterly crazy and wonderful and frightening and ludicrous and a million other things to launch this into the world. I don’t think I would ever have had the bravery to begin at all without you, dear readers. This launch is as much yours as it is mine. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart! The giveaway will close on Friday, Oct 14, at 9 am EST. Good luck!

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