Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It's not really a secret that I want to do something else. Or something more. 
I have wanted it for a long time. The problem I have is I don't know exactly what I want to do. I know what I like to do, I certainly know what I love to do, and I know what I am good at,  but figuring out how to make that into work -- gainful employment -- is baffling me.

I've considered additional schooling for a long, long time. A doctoral degree in health care, a master's degree in some other related field, bachelor's or master's degrees in completely new fields...I haven't been able to decide. Part of what stops me is a set of practical matters: I have three kids, a full, rich life, and my husband is already in school. And I work a day job. Also, the money. And the potential lack of a paying job afterward.

But the other part that stops me is the feeling that I cannot decide, there are too many interesting things to study and become. My life, no matter how long it is, is too short.

Regardless of the length of my life and the vast number of fascinating things to study and become, I have a feeling making a change is going to require some kind of leap, and leaping is not something I am good at, generally speaking. I mean, the kind of leaping required to cast off, even partially, the 'old' and head into the 'new'. It's at these times that I wonder if I am about to make an error that will have me bound to it for years and years, effectively screwing up the future for myself and/ or my family.

I try not to be so fatalistic all the time, really, I do. 

But I guess the time has come to at least make a start, explore, devote some energy to adding in those things that might end up becoming something more down the line. If I don't ever DO the things I love, then nothing will ever come of those things. Also, this:


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Bird

Today is Wren's eighth birthday. Seven pounds, seven ounces at seven in the evening on December ninth, 2005.

It's been a heck of a ride ever since.

I think the best part of parenting this little girl is seeing the incredible creativity and energy that pours out of every fiber of her being. Sometimes it's like lassoing a tornado, and the challenge inherent in not stifling the best parts of her while guiding her on the path she is on is a huge one, but we'll make it. Pressure creates diamonds, right?

Well, this one is going to sparkle with the fire of a thousand suns.

I think she already does.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


When I was younger, it was all about the dancing. I would not survive without the ability to dance, would not live fully without the music in my head and the daily grind of classes and rehearsals. I never, ever in a million years thought the necessity of -- or the ability for -- dancing would fall away from me. I realize that the need has transmuted itself into something wasn't *just* about dancing, although since that was what I did, so intensely, that is what I needed.

What it really was about was the need to create.

Now I work with my hands, and not so much with my entire body. There's really almost nothing I haven't tried in the realm of creative activity, and there are some things that speak to me more than anything else. Working with fabric is precise, tactile, colorful, and I can turn a two-dimensional piece of cloth into something that has shape and definition.

With metals and enamels, I revel in the physical aspects of the work -- pounding, sawing, cutting -- and getting my hands dirty.

And hot is mesmerizing and mystical and dangerous, and I find my mental focus is sharper when I do this work than at any other time. Probably because the possibility of setting myself on fire is real.

I write. I bake. I've recently started carving my own print blocks and rubber stamps.I'm an occasional knitter. Some days, the creative work absolutely pours out of me, like water pouring out of a broken dam, but other days, I am too quiet. I haven't found the balance point.

But I know what I need....and this is it.... I need to make things. I need to think about how to get from point A to point Q. I need to take the raw materials and turn them into something that has never been seen before. I need to synthesize everything that I know and then create something new.

Sometimes, I just need to play with the raw materials until something happens. Sometimes nothing happens. And sometimes the unexpected happens.

I never realize how far from myself I have gotten, when in the chaos and business of Daily Life, I gradually cease to fill the small spaces with creative action. Then one day I feel it, like a lead weight in my soul, and I don;t know who I am anymore, and I can't figure out what I love or want or see in front of me, and I find myself reaching for a scrap of fabric, or searching the files (or the internet) for ideas....and then I just go and do it. And I'm off to the races, then, because after so long away, the ideas tumble over each other, and suddenly, my hands find their rhythm, and one project after another, one idea after another, gets started, worked on, finished.

And I am myself again.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Perseverance is getting back on after falling off.

It's getting up and going out even though it's raining, or cold, or hotter than hell. It's knowing what you want, and wanting to get there, and staying on the path even though it would be easier to just turn around and go home. It's knowing that no matter what your goal is, it's gonna take a while to get there.

Perseverance is doing it even though you are scared.

Perseverance is knowing that a break in the action will mean it's harder to get going again, but going and doing it anyway.

I've been sick, and I've been busy, and I've been inconsistent in my riding for a few months. This afternoon, oh, it showed, but oh, it was so nice to be back in the saddle again.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


For Christmas last year, I got a tattoo. I have wanted one for a long time, and originally intended to get one on the occasion of my fortieth birthday, but getting artwork permanently inked on one's skin requires a certain level of commitment and surety in the artwork chosen. I had a hard time choosing a design I loved and would want for the rest of my life.

Last year, Travis, unbeknownst to me, found some artwork online that he thought I'd love. He commissioned a ceramic mug from a friend, and had her carve the artwork into the side of the mug. Christmas morning, I was beyond thrilled with a beautiful new vessel for my morning coffee, and LOVED his choice of artwork. So much so, that he told me he thought maybe that was also my tattoo art. I agreed.

Here is the mug:
Made by Barbarah Robertson, of Dragonfly Arts

The day after Christmas, we dropped the kids off with friends, and drove to a tattoo shop down near Petersburg, near where he works. The tattoo shop was pretty much empty, save for the four artists hanging out and talking. I admit to being slightly intimidated; a middle-aged couple aren't exactly typical tattoo-shop denizens, but we showed the art to one of them, who said he could do it, no problem. Unsurprisingly, he was well-inked himself.

I assured him I would not faint, scream, flail around, or do anything unexpected. I didn't. Heck, I didn't even feel the need to hold my husband's hand, even though some parts of that drawing HURT like unholy HELL.

But after about an hour, I had this:

Inked in henna brown, on the outside of my right leg, just over my ankle. I love it.

I'm thinking I want another one, but as before, finding the right artwork is key. One of these days, I'll get my next one. I was warned they would be addictive, but I don't see that happening to me. I don't really like the overly-inked look, so maybe one more in some not-terribly-obvious location will be about it. And it has to be some kind of artwork that has meaning. The horse, the spirals, the Celtic/Norse feel of my ink all appeals to me as an artist and as a person. I would like some version of the Tree of Life for my next one, I think.

But nothing ever on my face, or neck, or hands.

Monday, December 2, 2013

One of my big things to do this fall was a research project for the docent group I am a part of at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I've been a docent there for about a year and a half, not counting the year I spent in training there, and I have grown to love deeply the teaching, research, and learning I have been doing in order to give tours of the permanent art collection. For this project, I researched a German Gothic altarpiece and today and this evening, I presented the results of my research in a talk for the docents.

Teaching has always been something I have enjoyed, but it has been especially gratifying to teach in the context of a museum -- at a time when arts and humanities are marginalized in favor of more objectively-evaluated subjects. I'm on a mission to get people into the museums and see what's there, and see how it relates to their lives and the world around them.

I love research. I love to look things up, find out information I didn't know, and then relate that to other thins I *do* know, and put it all together into something coherent. I think as much as I love to write, I maybe love the research more. Funny, I never used to enjoy it at all, but now, I see it as a fascinating process.

And I am a maker, a creator of things, and ideas, and objects. I am in my element when I am manipulating fabric, or hot glass, or metals into the visions I see in my head, creating objects of adornment, or clothing, or visual expressions of inner thoughts. I need to make things, like I need water and air.

Teaching, learning, research, and creating. All the most essential aspects of what makes me feel whole and human.

How can I turn this into my life's work?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Of Mice and Men

I see that I have not updated this blog since the end of September. Wow. I love to write, and I hate that I have not been writing. Well, I *have* been writing, just for various other outlets and requirements.

The autumn season at our home has been the exemplification of "the best laid plans....".

I had hoped the spend the fall working, and riding, and making things. Getting into a routine of daily life that was, if not predictable, at least regular enough so as to be manageable. Doing research on a sculpture in the museum that I was going to be giving a talk to the docents about. Planning Halloween costumes, and getting Christmas shopping done early.



School started, and while Noah had a completely seamless transition into the rigors of full-time public school, complete with bus-riding and cafeteria lunches, Wren struggled mightily. Still is struggling. Kira, on the other had, had the best-ever beginning of school -- making A's in five of her seven classes, getting her work done and on time, answering my daily "How was school?" question with "It was great!" more often than not. A *major* change for her, just major. We even attended an admissions evening event for her first-choice college -- The Savannah College of Art & Design -- and the admissions administrator, an animator by training, loved her work. Amazing.

Then, about mid-October, the hard-won joy and progress was shifted when Kira was the victim of ridiculous policies of the high school and the school system. I don't want to go into it here, because we are still in the process of making the issues known, and I'm sorry for being vague. Suffice it to say, the next six weeks were among the most stressful I have experienced in the last ten years. Filled with emotion, and discussion, and meetings, and decision-making. It affected everything about my life from that day to just about this one. It ruined her hard-fought grades, and shifted her motivation.

I thought about turning to my blog, to air my grievances, talk, write, and get it all out of my head. But I wish to move cautiously, judiciously, in matters concerning my daughter -- all my children -- and thus, left it out of this corner of cyberspace. I know you understand.

We celebrated Noah's sixth birthday earlier in November. I'm a convert to having kids' birthday parties outside the home, now, after several years of throwing two parties almost back to back, two weeks before Christmas.

I still cannot believe my sweet baby boy is six years old. And an elementary school kid.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we were so thrilled to be able to celebrate it (on Wednesday night, as is our custom) with my Dad! I think it's been at least ten years since I have been able to share food around the table at the holiday with either of my parents, Kira's schedule with her father being what it has been. The table was full, our hearts were overflowing, and the food, as always, was spectacular.

I even found linen napkins the perfect shade of gold to go with my inherited (from Travis' grandmother) china. We have been pretty happily eating leftovers for the past few days.

I can't believe it's December already, either. Wren's birthday is up next, with a party at the Richmond SPCA. Tomorrow I am giving a talk at the museum in the docent's training session about a beautiful German Gothic sculpture. I'm really looking forward to it for a number of reasons, and the act of doing the research and learning the things I needed to learn has sparked many trains of thought for me. Sharing that is a separate post, I think.

I have not been riding nearly as much as I had hoped. Not even weekly, which disappoints me and makes me sad. It can't be helped, though, as I have so much work to do, and the additional issues this fall just prevented me from making it out to the barn regularly. I hope I can remedy that this winter into next spring. Same with running, which has been as irregular as ever since the summer. It's been hard not being able to throw myself into these pursuits, but other things have had to take priority, unfortunately.

My goal is a horse trials in the early spring, and possibly the Disney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon in the fall of 2014. We'll see.

Of course, I had a riding lesson scheduled for this morning, but I managed to get sick over the weekend, and riding in the below-freezing temps before a week of critical work is probably not a great idea. Sometimes being a responsible adult really does suck. You know? I'm staying home, instead, while Travis takes Wren to the barn for her lesson this afternoon. I think I'll probably sew, and study my paper for tomorrow's talk.

And relax. I need it.