• Art,  daybook

    Cultivating margin…

    I wrote on Instagram the other day:

    I find myself strongly questioning the path I’m on at the moment. Our summer was one of healing, rest, and restoration in many ways, especially for those of us in the family who have chronic illnesses. Less than three weeks into what one might call a ‘normal’ fall/school schedule (such as it can be in the strange times we find ourselves in)—and I am completely and utterly depleted. My fellow Spoonies in the house are also showing the strain. Needless to say, we’re calling a time out and recalibrating. I’m not even sure what ‘normal’ can or will look like for us anymore, but running on fumes ain’t it. Now what?

    It’s been roughly a week since I wrote that, and I feel no closer to an answer. I feel like ‘butter scraped over too much bread’, and well, where does one get more butter and less bread? How do I serve the needs of my children, physically, emotionally, spiritually- serve my husband and myself similarly- when there just isn’t enough of us to go around? While for the first time in our family’s history we are not struggling financially- Glory be to God- everything else feels short. My husband and I both fell ill with you-know-what in March. While my case was milder, my husband suffered severely and required oxygen support for nearly three weeks. He has since suffered many long haul symptoms, and it feels like we just can’t quite get his ‘gas tank’ back to full. He will get a bit of rest, a bit of healing, and then something comes flying at us and it drains him to fumes again. We keep walking back and walking back from commitments, saying no far more than he would like, and still, there’s just not enough margin for him. I feel like a decision is before us that is going to greatly disappoint some people, cause some hurt and discomfort, but it’s a decision that has to be made, and soon.

    I could say similarly for myself in the gas-tank department. While I’ve gotten better and better at managing my symptoms and diet, there are still days, physically, where my illness just says, yea, nope. And it drains me so badly, those days- and it seems to take longer and longer each time to recover from them. And then regular life throws a curve ball, and what little gas I might have in the tank takes a nose dive.

    Both of my medically fragile kids seem to be transitioning too- one has improved a lot meaning less interventions, and the other (who has been pretty healthy for awhile) has suddenly downshifted and we’re having to recalibrate and recalculate there. The mental load of that is pretty exhausting, which I don’t think I was willing to acknowledge to myself back in the day but I do readily acknowledge now.

    I keep praying for wisdom and margin.

    A few reads that have encouraged me lately in this department:

    Finding Ground by Jordan Durbin

    Lord of the Sabbath by Leslie Bustard

  • Books

    Thoughts to think.

    As you know, I share quotes and book stacks over on IG on a bi-weekly basis. These were the quotes and stacks for August. The quotes are done in situ the week that they are shared. I don’t plan ahead, and the quote is chosen by what I most need that week or what’s really hitting me hard and I want to remember. It’s always interesting to see how they resonate with others that week.

    This will surprise absolutely no one I know in real life, but recently, my bedside bookshelf literally collapsed under the weight of all the books stacked on it, two and three deep. Granted, it was almost twenty years old, but still. I may have a problem, and no, I don’t want to admit it, nor do I want to get help. Ha! The first stack of August of course was all of my homeschooling re-reads. Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie was missing out of the stack because I had loaned it out.

    The next book stack week was a particularly dark week in the world; a week that kind of makes you question who are, what you’re doing, what you stand for. I think as an artist and a writer it can really shake you to your bones, almost making you forget that the exact times when things get so dark is also the exact moment artists, writers, and poets need to get to work! So the book pull that week was dedicated to that thinking of, and approach to, craft.

    The last stack of books was all the poetry books I found tucked here and there in the bookshelf collapse. I didn’t realize how many I had actually collected over the years- this doesn’t even include the Norton Anthologies of American and British poets I saved from college stored elsewhere. I have distinct memories of reading through The Prayers of a Young Poet (Rilke) the year both of my children fell so sick and were hospitalized. It went with me through many doctors appointments and hospital stays- each page seared on my brain. It was a good companion.

  • Art,  WIP Fridays


    So August just kinda ran past me. Good gracious. I had a pretty consistent, relaxed rhythm for the summer (which is nothing short of amazing in and of itself, seriously!)- and then August happened. It came, it saw, it conquered. Slowly finding our feet in the fall/school/ballet/teen work schedule rhythm now, adjusting of course for the ever changing realities of pandemic life.

    For all that, still had some time to play. The first one is digital, done in Procreate. The other two are gouche and ink in my sketchbook (which I think is a mixed media cold press).

    I adore how the girl turned out! For some reason I kept thinking of Maraly Weaver from the Wingfeather Saga stories, who always struck me as this feisty, scrappy redhead when we were listening to the audiobooks. I guessed I missed the little detail that her hair was black, which actually makes sense as a Strander. Red hair would have stuck out like sore thumb and made her a target. Maybe, though! She streaked it with mud or something and by the end of the stories she’s more herself. Who knows! That’s what I love about reading.

    The middle one of the girl in the leaves was an old sketch in ink in the sketchbook that I abandoned for some reason. Colored it in and really liked it. Have no clue why it had been abandoned? Maybe I ran out of time and forgot it was there.

    The last one was the first time using gouche in hmmm, at least a year or so? Maybe more. Again, I had forgotten how much I liked working with it and the coverage. It actually started as a car doodle while waiting for a kid to finish a physical therapy appointment. Could not find a pencil anywhere. Ink makes you commit in a way you don’t with an eraser at hand- I think I need to stretch a bit. Hilariously after working digitally in Procreate all summer, the learning curve to ease back in traditional media was…interesting. I definitely want to keep working in both, but I totally see why I often default to digital when I’m short on time! It ‘dries’ faster, hahahaha!

  • collecting stories

    Do not be afraid…

    Preaching to myself. Have you been following the story of Nightbirde? This quote immediately floated into my brain after watching her stunning golden buzzer performance on AGT. I’ve never really watched that show, but a friend sent a link over. I’m so glad they did.

  • Art,  WIP Fridays

    Following the muse…

    Making art has always been a retreat for me. It is not necessarily a place where I am producing or measuring up to something, though I’m always pleased when I cross a threshold of skill or understanding when it happens. It’s ever been, for me, about the process and the exploratory, playful aspect of it. I could take classes and level up my experience much faster, but I prefer the slow path of intuitiveness and figuring something out for myself. Art is one of those things that belongs solely to me, in the quiet of my days surrounded by the hubbub of being mama to six.

    For all that, it always surprises me where the muse ends up taking me. I told a friend recently that I felt like a new project was coming on, but couldn’t ‘see’ it yet. I’m still not quite sure what is bubbling to the surface. I had some ideas for new folk florals…but guess what I’ve been doing when I have a few minutes? Drawing portraits. In Procreate-digitally. And boy, does Procreate have a learning curve if you are used to working physically with traditional media! And yet, frustration has ebbed quickly and I’ve been enjoying the process each week. Who knew? Each week I’ve felt like my drawing skills have leveled up, and I’ve been so pleased to sit back from drawing and see more and more that what is in my head is coming out on the ‘paper’.

    These three pieces are the last three weeks’ work, usually posted to Insta on Fridays. I need to have a better posting groove for the blog. I keep forgetting to tuck in here. What have you been curious about and exploring lately?