Saturday, February 28, 2015

What I have learned in 2 years and 10 months

First of all, I've missed the hell out of you, my darlings.
It's been way too long, and for that, I apologize.  Much has happened in the almost 3 years that have passed since my last post.  I have had a few exhibitions, as well as many new drawings and pieces of jewelry, I got married, and I even had a baby.  His name is Asa and he's pretty awesome, as evidenced by this pic:

Some other things have also happened... I found a new strength and an undefined spirituality which, unsurprisingly, coincided with the beginning of my pregnancy.  It's impossible to predict how the barrage of hormones will impact any woman.  That being said, pregnancy is a pretty magical thing (save the nausea, swelling, acne and clumsiness), and I would expect that other women have had similar experiences during this biologically transformative time.
In January of 2014, before I found out I was expecting, a friend suggested I illustrate a tarot deck.  I didn't know anything about the tarot, but I was intrigued, and as I learned more, I found that the language used by many guides was extremely positive and supportive.  It was suggested that using the tarot was more like an exercise in perspective, and less of  a form of fortune telling.  This made me comfortable enough to start playing; reading my own cards with the beginner Rider-Waite tarot that my friend had given me and sketching ideas.  My first image came to me suddenly and with some force, and I began illustrating The High Priestess.  She is the representation of our intuition and personal psychic abilities, which some (including me) believe we all have and sometimes need assistance in getting acquainted.  

I set up an exhibition with B Square Gallery for June to light a fire under my ass, and by the time the show rolled around, all 79 illustrations were complete, cards were designed, and decks were printed and ready for sale.  It felt good to be surrounded by the drawings and the energy they created.

Since that time, I have been doing amateur readings for myself and friends with my own cards.  I'm thinking about making remote readings available online for a small fee, since it is something I can do from home with the baby nearby.  I'll let you all know if that happens.  
The other piece of the puzzle (which I will delve into more in the coming posts) is a new sense of magic and ceremony in my actions and artwork.
In December of 2014 I was laid off from my job, for which I maintain much affection.  Teaching at a college level felt like a calling.  It came naturally to me despite my speech anxieties and inexperience in the field, and my students and supervisors were consistently pleased with my work.  Rave reviews from my classes would rejuvenate me, and criticisms would spurn excited overhauls of my curricula.  This past quarter, the classes were simply not available, and after 7 years at my job, I still had the least seniority, meaning it was my time to move on.  I oscillated between mourning the loss of a fabulous job with amazingly supportive students, coworkers, and administration, and accepting that this is what the universe intends for me, and being excited about the incredible breadth of possibilities that lay before me.  Now I find myself more firmly in the second camp, but I am dealing with a bit of an identity crisis that I'm sure all the moms out there will be able to identify with;
I don't know who I am supposed to be anymore.
This baby demands a lot.  Much more than I had foolishly anticipated.  And I had not expected to lose my job at the same time.  It turns out the timing is fabulous because I can be home with a high-maintenance little man while I think about what I want most out of my professional future... But the timing is also incredibly difficult.  When I was pregnant, I felt like a uterus with legs.  I had no identity separate from being a baby-builder, and all of my major and minor decisions revolved around the happiness and well-being of this person I had not yet met.  When he arrived, we quickly realized that appetite would not be a problem for him.  He wanted to nurse around the clock.  He would sleep for an hour and a half at best, and I was not comfortable pumping yet, so I transformed from a uterus into a pair of breasts with legs; my sole purpose being to bring food to this very hungry baby.
So, now Asa is 4 months old.  He is happier and less demanding, but still a bit high-maintenance.

The challenge now for me is forging a new identity.
I had always BEEN what I was DOING.  I had never spent any time BEING and getting to know what that means, and my intrinsic value as a person, friend, daughter, wife, artist, and mother.  I have always placed so much importance on product and productivity, and it is difficult for me to go a day without drawing something, selling something, teaching someone, writing something, or, ideally, all of the above.  But I am being forced to figure it out and to see who I am and to love myself for it.
"Asa" is a Hebrew name and it means "healer."  His challenges are gifts to me, and the more I can focus on that, the happier we can both be.  A perspective of gratitude can help me navigate this new territory.  I am a mom, I am an artist, I am a teacher, and I am more than the sum of my parts.  I will do my best to raise this baby to be strong, confident, independent, kind and good, but I will make mistakes, like every mom does, and my baby will learn from those mistakes too.   I will take time to offer myself kindness, even when it seems impossible, and know that there is value in it.  I will trust my intuition and try to help others do the same.

Next time, I will share an experiment in intuition with you.  Until then, much love,