It has been three months since I've written here. The three hardest months of my life.
These months have been spent journeying through the mental heath care system for one of my children. I won't say too much more than that about it here. Part of what has kept me away from this space has been my inablity to figure out how to bridge the gap between telling my truth as a mama, challenging the stigma around mental illness and connecting with a larger community, and not telling her truth for her, thereby taking her dignity and privacy for granted. So instead, I will try just to focus on the piece of all this that is my own, and the piece that seems relevent here at True North.
The other part of what has kept me away has been the sheer work involved in helping my girl. The appointments and the reading and the endless housework that make up my days now as I try to bring into existence a scheduled structure that works for our whole family, not just one slightly disorganized, bohemian mama. The New Year's resolutions I wrote about back in January seem hilarious to me now, as all that back-and-forth between can I or can't I whip this house into shape have become irrelevent. It's non-negotiable now. We need clean and organized all the time, whether I feel like doing the work or not. I still believe wholeheartedly in the principles I wrote about here and here, of not relegating yourself to the bottom of the priority list and waiting for some far-off someday to pursue your creative dreams. And yet, in order to respond properly to this moment in our lives, I have had to put my own creative projects on hold: cancel the mural commissions, stop teaching my class, not write this blog... Surrender. Trust that whatever I can do and be right now is enough, even if it feels desperately like not enough, sometimes. Hope that this sacred parenting work I'm doing, this journey through the deep, dark trenches, will only make me a better artist in the end. Accept that there is no other parallel life which is like this one but better, so there is no sense in railing against the difference between the two - there is only this life, with its own beauty and grace and, most of all, people whom I wouldn't trade for any amount of ease. My children in particular.
After three months things are starting to look up. I feel like maybe it's safe now to pick up my head and lean on my shovel for a minute and perhaps even sit down in the sun. This past weekend, I went with friends to the Jazz Age picnic on Governors Island, where everyone mills around (or charlestons around) looking like Gatsby movie extras, and it was so much fun to have fun. I have even started a new, very low pressure photo project that I'll eventually share here. I'm setting small creative goals for myself so I can continue to focus as I need to on our family, but also start nourishing myself again. I feel a little like I'm starting from scratch all over again with this reclaiming a creative life thing, but I think actually it's more like a fire has burned through my life and destroyed everything that wasn't really necessary, and now what I have to work with is whatever is left. I do think it is enough. I do believe that, as with a forest fire, the ashes will end up making a nutrient-dense foundation for new plants to grow.