I wrote this in April of 2015, a year into my grief journey. I thought it deserved dusting off, reposting, and revisions so I could reflect on where I am today. Reflections are italicized so you can sort then from now with ease.
There’s room for all of it.
The joy of spring springing up around me.
The longing for more time out of doors, and less virtual time.
The body’s hunger for skin, and its equal love of solitude.
The mellow dog, the geese flying over head, the coyotes yipping in the night, the chickadees.
Spring is late this year. We are under an ice storm warning this weekend, and I haven’t yet had a day when I felt the joy of spring’s uprising. I live in anticipation of it, but I live in a different apartment now, and I miss nature desperately. This girl is not a three flights up girl. There is no yard here, no easy access to a step upon which I may sit and contemplate, no creek nearby to meander to. This is starting to wear me down like a road. I’m thinking about moving. That being said, there are crows here who caw in my windows in the mornings, so I count them as a blessing.
The blissed out tears over my daughter’s wedding dress.
The sadness that I never did wear a dress like that and likely never will.
The worry for my adult children.
The relief that they are adults now and I can be flawed and human without the kind of consequences that come when one is flawed and human and still raising little ones.
The therapy. The hours and hours of self-reflection. The silent walks by the creek with questions tucked between my tongue and teeth (they rattle if I don’t hold on to them).
I miss that creek like mad, but I don’t miss living as a basement dweller in someone else’s house. You win some, you lose some. My children are all doing okay. I’m about to be a mimi (due in July) and I can’t wait to spoil him rotten. I want to be that g’ma that will babysit at the drop of a hat, that will buy all the ridiculous, noisy toys, that will be the first person called when kid let is annoyed with his parents. Oh, and yes! It’s a boy! He will be named Isaac and I will be his biggest fan.
The neighbour passing a honeycomb cut fresh from the frame across the fence.
The children playing in the yard next door, excitedly showing me their new Frisbee.
Couples meandering up and down the trail at the end of my garden, holding hands, breathing deep.
Apartment living. I have no contact with neighbours except the sound of their comings and goings, the cooking smells, the occasional snippet of whatever television show they’re watching.
Yes, I am definitely dreaming of a house.
All of it.
The moments of regret that hit like a rubber hammer against the knee – jarring and stirring up reflexive reactions.
The way I have to talk myself down off the ledge of ‘it will always be this scary, this uncertain’ back down to ‘sometimes you’re scared, but mostly, you’re not.’ The sudden burst of social followed by the protracted period of hermity.
It isn’t scary anymore. Like, at all. It’s full of promise and optimism. I am in full possession of an awareness of my own resilience. I know I can handle whatever comes my way.
I still social and hermit in spurts, but that works for me.
The cold pizza at midnight. The hot coffee at 7 a.m.
No to pizza. I cook for myself much more often than I did then. I choose things from the outer isles of the grocery store – fresh veggies, eggs, cheese, cream, meat – and while I may treat myself to the occasional carb binge, I mostly eschew them in favour of food that isn’t laden with sugar.
Yes to coffee, but no more double doubles. Buttered. Frothy with heavy cream. Spiked with cinnamon. No sugar.
There is a quiet percolation beneath all of it – a rising up of a self I have never known. She takes it all in stride and let’s it wash over her the way a breeze might. It stirs her hair, but doesn’t knock her over, and yet she’s light as a feather. Life is light as a feather.
Life isn’t quite so light right now. I have things I’m dealing with, and they require me to be anchored to a schedule, to structure, to lists to slay. I am okay with this. I like feeling embodied, grounded. I like testing my mettle against the things that must be done. I like winning every day.
There’s room for all of this in my journal.
My journal can take it. It soaks up the paint and glue and ink and transforms it into proof of my existence, of my moving eternally in the direction of my longing, of my prayers. The journal is a constant where there are few. It is a vessel I can pour into and then, when I’m done, it pours back out into my eyes – always surprising me with its unexpected beauty, hidden meaning, little bits of the profound peeking out from underneath the profane. It’s an inanimate object, has no life of its own, and yet it is easy to anthropomorphize it, to talk to it and stroke it as though it is the hand of a beloved friend, to look forward to meeting it for coffee and a long talk.
Yes. Still. All true.
This is my ode to all the space it makes for me – to all the space I’ve made for myself to engage it.
This is my ode to my awareness of how valuable a practice this meeting myself on the page has become. It’s my ode to my life’s work, to my vocation.
And this is my way of beginning anew with this focus on the journal – not on canvas or on product or portraiture or whimsy. Not on the Gelli Plate or the spray inks or the Stabilo pencil or the *stuff*, but on the process.
I marry the process. I give myself up to it. I commit.
I have come to recognize the power of being a devotee to practice. I am still married to process. I’m still committed to practice.
My earliest artistic influence was Natalie Goldberg, who wrote Writing Down The Bones. My journal practice, the way I am process driven instead of product driven, emerged organically from years of ‘writing practice’. Writing was the way I prayed, reflected, and sat in stillness. My journal was sanctuary and my pen was a magic wand.
The same can be said of my journals now. The point of my practice is not to create pretty things for other people to look at, though that is a lovely icing on the cake. The point is simply to practice. The point is to engage the practice, to let the practice be as simple as that. Practice. Sitting with myself. Meeting myself on the page. Letting myself come through.
It’s not (as I used to think) about fixing yourself. It’s not about figuring yourself out or digging out all the ways you are flawed so you can eliminate them. It’s not about fostering awareness as though awareness is some kind of panacea (it’s not). It’s about accepting was comes through. It’s about accepting what is. It is about seeing the beauty in it, (in you), flaws and all.
That part wasn’t in bold when I first wrote it. I’m putting it in bold now because, so much yes. I am not to be ‘fixed’. I am not to be examined for what is broken. There is nothing wrong with me.
Practice makes presence. There’s room in the journal for that.
More Recent Work In My Journals
It’s always a pleasure to compare and contrast where I am with where I was, because I do the work, and that means there’s always something to celebrate.
*Clinks mugs with you*
About The Blog Along
Every year, twice a year, once in April, and again in September, I blog every day for a month, and invite others to do the same. We have a Facebook group, and in that group the only rule is that for every link you post to your own blog, you go off and read three other blogs and leave a comment. This is simply a way to ensure that a community happens rather than just a ‘promo’ group. You’re welcome to join in as long as you are willing to read and comment on three blogs for every blog you post. Click here to join us! If you’re too busy for that, you’re welcome to just blog on your own for a month. Easy peasy. No one is keeping score. There are no prizes except that you get to build your own readership by regularly populating your blog with good content.
To read all my entries for the Blogalong, please click here to access the Blogalong With Effy Category on my blog.