on our coffee drive this morning…

Upon closer observation, I loved this tragic and truly fascinating creature.

I felt an odd kinship of sorts, being a bit prickly myself lately.

“The porcupine, which one must handle gloved, may be respected, but is never loved.”

—Arthur Guiterman, poet

 

Here’s my own version of that quote.

The end of the school year mother, which one must ‘handle gloved’, should be respected, always loved and often feared.

top rack only

On this Mother’s Day, I really wanted to be honest with myself about it all. Mothering my kids has been heart-shatteringly beautiful and sometimes just plain heart-shattering, without the beauty part to soften the daily blows. 

I can’t change anything and regret is a waste of energy anyway.  If I try to tamp the regrets down, I know they will leak out in uncomfortable ways at inconvenient times. 

Recently I noticed the TOP RACK ONLY button on the dishwasher.  “Jeff and I will be a top rack only couple probably a few nights a week when the girls leave for college.”  When I said this to myself, it made me cry inconsolably.  Damn, that’s bleak.  

These episodes are getting more frequent now as our nest nears it’s emptying…clearly a time for a little extra grace. 

When Ellis, Lucy and Willa were growing up, I often did a quick review at the end of the day, asking myself one simple question: Did I love them more than I was pissed off at them?  I don’t remember ever answering, NO.  It was all the encouragement I needed to wake up and mother them another day.

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

my 1980s spy movie fantasy

 

This week I was sent a cryptic message from someone named, Andrew Silva, alerting me that he left two photographs inside the front door of my home.

When I studied them I immediately thought of two things:

1.  I really love my $5 yellow, thrift shop, 1980s jacket.

2.  These images look like I’m a spy in a 1980s movie.  I was rather certain I had other images to round out my spy thriller storyboard fantasy.

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The film opens with an urgent call being made from a phone booth in Florence, Italy by the spy in the yellow jacket.

She’s investigating a missing American student studying abroad in Amsterdam.  The student disappeared in Florence on holiday.  The photo was taken by her roommate and potential femme fatale in their shared Florence hotel room.

Male characters (suspects #1 & #2) are photographed in Florence.  They are being exceedingly careful with their public conversations.  The younger of the two is an American architectural college student.  He was seen seated next to the missing student at a cafe the day she disappeared.

An older man (suspect #3) is waiting for the bus in Florence.  He’s under surveillance by the spy in the fabulous, yellow, 1980s, five dollar, thrift shop jacket.  No one is quite sure why though, and neither is he.  The spy’s sneaky photographs are really annoying him.  He’s constantly swearing at her in Italian.  This provides the levity in the film.

The American student’s roommate (suspect #4) was spotted walking toward the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam two days after her roommate’s disappearance in Florence with male (suspect #5). They clearly both know more than they’re telling investigators, casually seen shopping at Albert Heijn, the grocery store near the museum to give the appearance that it was just a normal day.

Male (suspect #2) is unknowingly photographed enjoying dinner out in Florence the night of the student’s disappearance.  He’s the father of the American architectural student and there’s obviously something quite shifty about him.  The angle of the photograph was carefully composed because the spy in the yellow jacket really wanted to remember the brand of balsamic vinegar from Modena on the table.

double image of andrews shots

 

 

images by Andrew Silva, April 2018

what’s your comfort zone?

I know I have to get out of my comfort zone more often, especially in this current political & social environment.  Doing so might actually be an act of revolution now.  On a long drive yesterday I caught up on some podcasts.  The first one I listened to was:  TED radio hour: comfort zones.  I highly recommend it for everyone at every stage of life.

Here’s the link: comfort zones/TED radio hour

Last week my daughters and I traveled to Washington, DC.  Lucy participated in the admitted students overnight at American University.  She slept on the dorm floor of strangers, introduced herself to kids from all over the world and wondered how her skills and talents stacked up. Talk about a seventeen-year-old stepping out of their comfort zone, right?  She stepped way out, which provided rocket fuel for her growth and made me think about my own.

Human beings tend to stick with our own kind.  It’s soooooooo much easier.  Hearing other people’s perspectives or learning something that doesn’t gel with what we’ve held to be true requires intellectual agility.  It’s hard work and requires lots of practice.  That’s why we often end up sticking to what’s safe and familiar.

In adulthood, if we don’t force ourselves into unfamiliar situations, we can get really stuck. 

As an artist, I’ve worked mostly alone for years, with very little feedback or performance reviews of any sort.  If I want to grow, I need to be told when my work is bad, uninteresting, needs far more research or is hard to understand.

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I’m truly grateful for the encouragement over the years from my friends and family regarding my creative work.  The LIKES and comments have been very supportive, but it’s not enough.

True critical feedback is hard for people to give who are close to us.  If we want to grow, we have to actively seek it out ourselves from other sources.  It’s easier to hear when there isn’t an emotional risk involved.  NOTE:  I need to keep this in mind with my nearly eighteen-year-old girls now.  They aren’t asking and I have to quit offering constant feedback now.

In the podcast, a social scientist says that possibilities come from reaching out to our “loose connections” NOT our friends & family.  This makes sense to me especially when thinking about professional opportunities.

It’s time we all take off our fuzzy slippers, put on some sturdy walking shoes and start exploring the world way outside of the comfort zone.

 

 

is a picture always worth…

a thousand words?  Or do the stories we hold onto shape the narrative a lot more?  My Mom always told me that as a newborn I possessed a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill.  I can’t tell from the photo and I don’t actually really care.  I find it funny.  However, I’ve always held it to be the absolute gospel truth.

What other stories of greater consequence have I never questioned that I was told as a child?  

 

the past, the future & the neglected now.

This week I read that forgiveness will only occur when we recognize that we can no longer change our past.  That’s a relatively simple concept.  I’m able to intellectually grasp it and yet…why am I wasting time with would of, could of & should of thoughts?  If thinking about my past can give me the blues and worrying about the future causes anxiety, why am I doing it?  I don’t have to feel this way.  I have a choice.

My past is my life’s circumstance.

I cannot possibly change one thing.

My future is uncertain.

The only certainty is that my life will contain both joy & some devastating heartbreak.

 I’m neglecting my NOW.

What can I do?

I tried saying to myself what I’m doing at any given moment.

“I’m calling the dentist now.”

“I’m watching a video my daughter wants to share with me.”

“I’m checking my email now.”

“I’m listening to (insert the name of everyone you encounter) now.”

You know what?  This really helps.  It slows time down and reminds me that I’m doing this one thing right now.  When I practice this, I feel more in control and less manipulated by those lousy would of, could of & should of thoughts.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”

—Eckhart Tolle

 

It seems damn near revolutionary to try to be more present is our distracted world. 

I’m going to try.

 

 

getting nostalgic in color/part II

Since I’m not a twin, I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like for my girls to split up and go to different colleges.  I have a hunch they can’t quite imagine what it’s going to feel like either.  Please note the title of the article in the first beach picture.  I believe it’s about the Kardashians, however, with high school graduation looming, it’s a funny photo to unearth at this time.  Oh, the irony of life, isn’t it grand?

    

  1. Cape Cod beach day.
  2. Coming from or going to Mirabelles bakery in Burlington, Vermont.
  3. New York City for their 9th birthday to see “Wicked”.
  4. Lucy’s hair flying on the shuttle to the Martha’s Vineyard ferry.
  5. Getting ready for the Justin Bieber concert, Quebec City.