Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This New Year? 
Not to constantly feel the tugs - big and small - that I SHOULD be things I'm not, but to finally be who I AM.
Yes. Warts & all.
Basically? I want to YAY my warts this year :D

P.S. this is a cut-out from a collage I did back in January. Note to self - and to YOU! - cutting and pasting random words from magazines, composing wisdom by accident, is a great way to cut loose from the crap in your brain ;)

Monday, November 12, 2012


First day of the first week of Isaak's School Kid Carreer. Courageous kid. He feels it, too, of course. This really is momentous for both of us...

So I came home to an empty house and time. I'd promised myself I'd fill it with something. Something meaningful - as far as I know what that is, right now. Move past the guilt that claiming this time as mine and pristine brings up. Trying not to waver in my resolution to make this time count - for something decidedly not chores of any kind. Nor entertaining distractions, no matter how they whisper that they're easy and instant and will cure all that ails while I let them. I need to start as I plan to go on.

Here's what came up;

autumn comes & shines with an in-your-face beauty that silently SINGS

I'm smiling reluctantly & in spite of myself
letting my bones warm
guilt isn't made to hang on to
especially not the kind we pour over ourselves
masked grief needs colour
healing does start here and now...

In the end, it all starts with permission. Giving yourself permission to smile, to enjoy, to embrace, to really see what we're given to play with. And to play then. Especially when that's the hardest thing to do. Sometimes the only way to take a first, scared, clueless, hesitant step onto the daunting road ahead is to allow yourself to play with what's here, now. So that's what I did.

healing continues, here and now.

Will you give yourself permission to play today? Do something, anything - just because you know deep down that it's good for you! Chocolates - to help swallow the guilt - are on me today :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Hard to get started on this one. Because I want to capture months in a single blog post. For myself as much or more than for the sake of explaining. I think it's time I wrap up the whole mess and tie it with a bow. Not because it's all done and dusted, or because it's chiseled in stone - but because where I've come from, where I'm at, now, is a new beginning of sorts. Not completely fresh, not entirely clean, but a starting point for the rest of it, at least.

This past year has been all about - figuring out where I want to go. At least, that's what I thought. That's what my internal ad agency wanted me to buy into, and I did, with a vengeance. I thought I was ready, for the next stage, but I was clueless about where to start. There is a whole world behind that, filled with never learned to dream Big about my life, but let's just say that by the time Summer came round, I was - disappointed & stressed out. In a way, I'm embarrassed to admit that I was stressed out by something so... selfish and quite vague to boot, but there you go - I was wrapped up in chaotic attempts at capturing the Meaning of My Life, getting angry at myself for not being able to just do it. 

So I went to Africa. My inlaws live there, it was an extended family visit, not a dramatic journey to find my roots in the soil where life began - although at that stage, I would have paid a price for a meaningful retreat with a local Sangoma who'd figure it all out for me ;) 

But the holidays were amazing, all on their own. Because I knew I wasn't going to find my Illuminated Path out there, anyway, I relaxed and let everything come the way it would. And it was beautiful! I saw that the world kept turning without me trying to spin it! I know it might sound dramatic, but I really felt I was accepted and loved - and I wasn't actually doing anything to deserve it! I'm sure that's been true throughout my life - as it is for all of us - but this was the first time I actually saw it, and took it in... And it led to all kinds of  - insights about life, about me, about feeling instead of trying to control!

So we got home, eventually, and I was all eager and ready to start sorting my new from my old perspectives, and run with it from there, but then I got sick. Nothing all that serious, but annoying enough not to be able to get on with things and be all new! And sick turned into another kind of sick, which turned into another kind of not-quite-right, and when I finally found my feet again - after antibiotics, a root canal and two months' worth of taking-it-easy - chaos had put on a fresh set of clothes and was solidly back. I woke up from being sick after taking a long and winding detour - trying to find out where I want to go was a lot like trying to run before figuring out the bones of walking - to find my awesome three-year-old about to turn four... 

I'd been denying and avoiding that can of worms, ostrich-style. Because I wasn't ready to face it. And I still sort of against the odds hoped that the Universe would hold off. Hindsight, my detour might have been a run for a shortcut. To be ready. To be ready-er. To be Me with a Certain Life; a dream, a meaningful goal, an end to work towards. A life that would immediately see good use for all that extra time - because FOUR (in the Netherlands) isn't just a birthday - it's a coming of age. For children and their mothers... Four is - pretty much - the day my child goes off to school...

Last Tuesday, my baby turned four. Beautifully, magnificently - wise, gorgeous, amazing & awesome - four. & there is hard ahead, in that. In letting go; sending him - reluctantly, completely! - off into a world of his own where he'll weave his own magic fabric & face his own fears and triumphs. Where I take another, bigger, step back - always there to catch, kiss & make better, but forced into the sidelines a little more. Less able to 'look inside his head', less able to know what's going on, less able to fix what isn't smooth...

I know it goes with the territory of - raising a human being. Because that's what we do, us mothers, in the end. Having a baby isn't about a baby, although it feels that way for the longest time. It's about teaching another human being to be ready for the world. & the better we do that, the more stepping back we need to do. There is beauty in that, of course, but it's terrifying beauty when you're in the middle of it! Knowing that  he's happily running away from you because you made him feel safe and confident enough to do so doesn't console when you're looking at his cute tiny backside & all you can see, all that drowns you, is the fact that he's off. Skipping, no less!

He comes back of course, with stories of his own to tell. And you're still a mamma, his mamma! & you hope - more than actual knowing - it will get easier with time. Because all your friends and people who care tell you it will. And you believe them because you want to, and the tiny - hindsight! - steps before got easier as well. But for now, for right now, the hole in your heart is so big, a world could pass through without touching the edges...

All of this wraps itself around me, of course. Because my baby is ready for this step. And on the outside, I'm cheering him on! Of course I am! I remember from being a kid myself - new things are scary, but exciting, and growing bigger is all you want to do!

But I'm left with a hole to fill. And along the way, since coming back from Africa, I've realised that - this year isn't about finding out where I want to go with my life - it's about finding out who I am. Who I've become. It's about seeing all that I've shedded and all that I've taken on - in bigger and wee little steps - to become the fallible but actually okay human being I am. It's about defining myself, starting with where I am, instead of where I was.

Because I came into being a mamma with a whole lot of bagage. I came from mud. I came from - never enough, and never going to be anything but a failure - all that, drowned in Chardonnay. And I grew, with my kid. I am a world away from where I was before. As a mamma. Here I am, on this threshold that looks like a mountain, feeling like I'm nothing but a mamma. Like there isn't enough of me to fill all that kid-in-school space with things that matter. It's exactly why I started this year thinking it was all about finding direction, when it's really, in the mud of things, about finding me. I've been hiding inside the mamma. Right now, I feel like I only matter in light of being a mamma. Because before I became a mother, I was nothing. Nothing of much consequence, anyway.

& in the middle of all that thinking, feeling and crying - so who am I, with this hole in my heart? - I found myself pregnant.

We've been trying for a second child for about 2,5 years now, swinging between failing to conceive and miscarrying (before you ask: we haven't seen a doctor about it yet. No. Because I used to believe in natural, and in accidents, and in belief, and trust, and hope, and in it will happen if it's meant to be. I'm losing balance on that perch, but that's another story). Another can of worms when it comes to my identity as mother - because it's hard not to think 'if I'm so good at being a mamma, why can't I be a mamma twice?' followed by the crushing thought that - I might be a mamma before and beyond everything else, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm great at it! - eventhough I know, of course, that it doesn't work like that and it means nothing as much as it means everything.

My miscarriage started on Sunday, the day of Isaak's birthday party. And I kept it together, sort of, not yet ready to let go. On Tuesday, his actual birthday, there was no point denying it anymore. There wasn't going to be a baby. Not this baby, anyway. At 6 weeks, 1 day, I lost another dream. But I kept it together again, as much as I could. Because it was my amazing kid's birthday! Because Isaak turning 4, going to school, that was meant to be my emotional sinkhole!

And it was, and it is, of course. My emotional sinkhole is - being a mamma. Not being a mamma. How much of a mamma I am, how I measure up. How far does my mamma-ness stretch, and where am I, beyond that. Stretching myself around that pregnancy - gingerly - thinking that I wouldn't need to find myself beyond being a mamma quite yet, and the relief in that, too.

Life is as much about saying goodbye as it is about saying hello. I realise that. Life doesn't like holes, and as long as you don't go sit down in one, occupy it like you own it, it will fill itself with something else. Something meaningful, too - if you take care, are willing to see it for what it is. So yes, I'm open. I'm an open wound, but open, nonetheless. The gaping moment after goodbye is terrifying - when you let go of something - especially when it's something you don't really want to end; something you don't want to lose; someone you don't want to see leave - and you're not quite sure, never less sure of what it is you'll be saying hello to.

All I know right now, is that I'm saying goodbye to the baby I nurtured to be ready for school, not knowing who we'll grow up to be, either of us, but open to it, with heaps of love, knowing this 'in-between' will pass (and come again in various shapes and forms). And I'm saying goodbye to the baby I didn't get to hold. I'm saying goodbye to the me who thinks she's nothing but a mamma, and hope to discover who she is when that second skin comes off. And I'm holding this space - no matter how tiny it feels to be right now.

It's been cathartic, to write my story down. I'm weaving fabric here. The fabric of my human life. There is no point in construction - part of me wants to tie the loose ends and force the pattern to repeat - force the colours to match - but there is no such thing. Trying only keeps me spinning my wheels in sadness. I want there to be space! Space to see the sights, space to find roads and detours. Breathing space. Space to find the wisdom in hindsight - not that which masks as wisdom, ahead of its time and place. Been there, done that, and it's never yet led me to where I truly live.

It would be too easy - no matter how it beckons - to tie loose ends to make space. Because right now, I don't see much space ahead. But it doesn't work. You can't outrun goodbyes forever - say hello to whatever looks promising, no matter what - just to embrace something. There comes a point where you have to sit down and take your time with it.

It feels like I've been trying to outrun this while paradoxically sitting down with it at the same time - for months. In the shortcut I tried to take, in the months of inflamations, and in the too-real things that happened over the past weeks. Like I've been holding my breath for a whole year by now, only to find that it didn't help, and I'm not ready, and I don't know when I'll get up again. But I will. I'm already in the process of getting up, although not quite ready to move on.

I think I'm ready to take on all that time ahead - the hours when Isaak is in school - and fill it with not knowing. And to be okay with not knowing for a while. I mean really okay. An open sort of okay. Not limited by frustration or a need to know. I think, basically, I need to see who I am for who I am, and see what happens next. And draw some of it!

I hope you made it all the way to the end of this post, but if you didn't, that's okay. What matters to me, quite selfishly, is that I did. I'm here. I made it through to the end of it, and the end is merely a new beginning. If I let it be that. And I will. I'm willing and able and courageous enough.

I love this quote:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened to us." - Helen Keller
& it tells me exactly where to be right now. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Summer is well and truly over. It has been for a long time. But I haven't been able to find my way back here - until now. Too much has happened - especially in my head - and it all falls into the category Big Stuff. And it's been building in chaos for so long, that I just wasn't able to capture it in words. Or art with a real heart. It wasn't a lack of bravery - I truly believe I'm growing braver and more courageous by the day - but a lack of words. Of not being able to string it all together in a way that makes sense. To you, or me.

Not being entirely clear on what my blog is meant to be all about doesn't help to find my way back. It's about what I make, my art work, my colour struggles; but in the end - as I'm finding in the doing - my art is about meaning. About scratching an itch, about getting stuff out of my head and onto a page, about making some sort of sense of what's going on in my life - in lives in general, of what makes us tick and what weaves the fabric of human life. About what helps when things aren't smooth - like coffee, chocolate and cakes - and about what I look at when I can't see the bigger picture - like flowers, lots of flowers and plants growing roots. That is what ends up on my page, anyway, when things are flowing.

I'm in the middle of finding out - of trying to find out - of finding the courage to try and find out what my illustrations are about. Where my art fits into my life and what I want it to mean, and to whom. In the midst of re-invention, pretty much. I'll get back to that, but that's what makes it hard to confidently, loosely share what comes out of my pen & paint box. In these days of chaos, it's crazy hard to get to my dining room table 'studio'; to start something and to finish it. Nothing I create comes close to what I want to convey, and I feel lost. My muse doesn't dig chaos. She signs off, without leaving a note, to come back when I know what I'm doing. And she wears a fake innocent smile, like she had no idea I needed her. I'm finding out, among other things, that I need to know what's going on to be able to put it into images. And that isn't an excuse - although I've mistaken it for procrastination on numerous occasions. It's simply what is. My illustrations are about me, about where I find myself & what finds me. And when my GPS is off, like it has been for months now, I'm having a really hard time painting myself to be...

And this isn't even the beginning of what I came here to put out into the world, but I'm out of time, and I suppose it's as good a re-start as any ;) I want to be back here, and I will be. Hold a space for me if you can!