Wednesday, April 20

and cue crazy circus music in 3... 2...

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that *it* hasn't hit me yet. No doubt. Because I have filled my time looking in every other direction and enjoying certain distractions to ensure I only get a few glimpses of *it*.

And, yet, somehow I have actually made progress toward *it*. (must be delirium)

And by *it* I mean my first ever, I'm actually going to be do this, oh holy crumbs!, selling of my art at an expo.

I've spent a good amount of time in my makeshift studio (read: I split the master bedroom in half, no matter how atrocious it comes off looking, just to have some space the two minions can't get into). I've prepped, sketched, painted, lingered, embellished.

For hours.

And not once have I entered into that cyclical negative dialogue over any aspect of it. I'm not sure if it's a testament to the wisdom I gained from my years in therapy and my brilliant therapist or more a testament to that whole fight-or-flight adrenaline thing. Or caffeine. Or Rockstar. Because, God only knows, I am loaded up on that sweet nectar.

So I've spent a majority of the not-being-mommy time either working at my tables or formulating and planning things in my mind or in the presence of confidantes who lend me nothing but support and wings to help fly my dreams. (Omg, I just rhymed. This caffeine + "minerals" sh*t is the BEST!)


Add to having actually, maybe even gotten ahead of myself in preparations for the show this weekend (I know, I know, on Friday I will be freaking out over all the things I somehow missed) I have managed to schedule all this prep work to be done the week my 5 year old daughter is home from school for spring break. And we all know how the five year old daughter can be, right? (Here's a hint: "serious boundary issues")

Said five year old, however, has probably been the best lesson I've needed to learn following the experiences with my parents back in February.

I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I have no doubt it's hereditary. I also believe that, as a child, it was emphatically compounded by my saturated physical experience of and reaction to the world as well as my permeating imagination. (Go ahead and take a deep breath. It's okay. That sentence had a lot of big words.) GAD can exhibit itself in everything from separation anxiety to near-hallucinatory fits. Being sensitive, spirited, creative,  whatever only adds to the body's intense experiences of GAD.

Which brings me to my daughter. Last week my daughter's school had a fire drill. No biggie. Not exactly. Descending down the hereditary ladder, she has no doubt inherited a tendency toward anxiety disorders. Add to this being gifted, creative, high-strung, and intense and we have all the makings of a future GAD patient wrapped up in one little five year old body.

For her, the otherwise-no-biggie-at-school fire drill turned in to an all-out panic attack at home. A calm dinner discussion about the drill rapidly became her in hysterics, demanding to be outside, away from the house because "THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!"

And not like "oh, the house is on fire!"-let's pretend to do a drill and go outside-isn't this fun. More on the side of hallucinatory. Seriously.

Because that's what anxiety does to the body. The mind perceives a threat (real or not) and the body reacts. In overdrive. Because the body's natural response is fight. Or flight. Pick one. For a child, that intense physical response just gives confirmation to the mind that the threat IS real and that the child better DO something.

I spent about ten minutes out in the driveway holding my daughter while her brother cluelessly walked around the landscaping. (He's pretty used to her being loud. Because that's the only volume level she has.) She was terrified. I knew telling her "you're okay" meant squat to her. Because she knew she wasn't okay. Having been on the receiving end of those words myself too many times, I know they do nothing more than invalidate me and my experiences and what happens in my body. It also doesn't help me cope.

I cannot recall just how many times I told her "the house is not on fire". I didn't say it like "the house isn't on fire, dumbass, so move on" (even though I wanted to) but in a calm tone. "Lovey, listen to what's real. Look at the house. Is the house on fire? ("No", she'd respond in a mousy, panicky voice) Are you on fire? (Same response) Is the house safe?" She tripped up a couple of times with that third question because her body's intense reaction was still telling her mind that, yes, the house was indeed on fire.

I persisted with the calm questions and finally lead her into repeating after me: "My house is not on fire. My house is safe. The Holy Angels are watching over me. I am safe." After about the fourth time, her mind was beginning to help her body de-intensify itself and she was calm enough to allow me to carry her inside. Once inside, with her eyes she did a sweep of the house, and then, just as instantly as the anxiety had started, it was over.

(I must tell you at this point that I'm not a genius though I do play one in real life. I've been reading Diane Peters Mayer's Overcoming School Anxiety to help cope with my daughter's separation anxiety. The tools Mayer provides have, obviously, been extremely helpful and effective.)

I have been applying my newfound knowledge and objective experience of GAD to my current situation with the upcoming expo. Because if my daughter learns "high strung" from anyone, it's going to be from me.

But not this time. I want this coming-into-my-own-artistic-skin thingy to be a good experience. For me and for my kids.

To ensure that I am not overwhelmed by my own fight-or-flight response, I put together a list of what needs to get done as well as a plan as to how it will get done. And I called in my cronies who unconditionally support me as a safety net.

Having this GAD issue at the forefront has also helped me to see that I am not this disorder and this disorder is not me. Neither am I a victim. This is just life. Some of us are more charged up than others and it's not a reflection of my worth. And it's not a reflection of my daughter's worth either.

GAD has also helped me realize that I can put into motion something deep, something big, something incredibly amazing. And that I can experience and exhibit it without compulsively diving off the edge of sanity.

Oh, who am I kidding? I jumped a long time ago: I had kids. And it probably was more calculated than compulsive.

Cause that's the way I roll.

Friday, April 15

I'm Domestic...not Dead!: Success in Housewivery

This woman hits it straight on. Read, my fellow Fabulous Moms, and revel in your success. I'm Domestic...not Dead!: Success in Housewivery: "We're all proud of what we do with our lives, right? Well, if you're not, then you should be, and that means you'd better get to doin'..."

Friday, April 8

enough about me, let's talk about me

I am so ridiculously far behind I've almost caught up with myself...  really. And I have a great excuse... really.

Thinking about my blog for this week and the plethora of excuses that I could use that may or may not be true I decided it'd be best to just stick to something simple.

Because I really do have a ton of legitimate excuses beyond procrastination. And being sick. And being lazy. Which I'm really good at all three of those, by the way.

The number one, um, "excuse" that is underlying it all and that has kept me from doing anything blog-worthy and cramped my ability to be creative and focus on my art is an issue I can't ever remember not dealing with in everything and it is, obviously, one that comes up just when I think I've conquered it.

I have a paralyzing fear of commitment. And not commitment in the sense of "should I buy the pink converse or the black stilettos?" (always go for the converse - never pay for stilettos, I mean, c'mon, we all have a slutty friend we can borrow a pair from) but commitment when it comes to doing anything remotely healing, psychologically helpful and/or opening for myself. And mostly - if I were being real honest here I'd say entirely -when it comes to unconditionally and unabashedly expressing my heart : my art.

In the innermost part of my being, I've spent the last thirty-plus years wanting to be an artist because that's where my freedom was. And for the heavily influenced developmental part of those thirty-plus years, I was told that being an artist amounted to nothing. "That's nice" was the consistent answer I received as a child from the adults in my life and general disinterest was the response I received from people I valued once I became an adult. Needless to say, my talent was "nice" but it wasn't supported or encouraged and rejection always seemed to lay on the other side of my commitment to staying true to my heart.

So I hid said heart away. For years. Only letting it come out in forms where people wouldn't be able to directly comment on my artistic abilities and thus, I was safe.

Until about this time last year when I began to find clarity and climb out of the incapacitating abyss that is postpartum depression. And I could no longer ignore the drive and passion screaming atop its lungs to be released from within the depths of my heart.

Oh my God, I so did not intend for this post to become so deep. I was only going to tell you about Twitter, I swear. Too late now, ha! Bwahahahaha! (Thank you, Mother Caffeine.)

I began just sitting on my bed at night with some of my daughter's colored pencils and an old sketchbook I had. I'd put on a baseball game I'd recorded from earlier in the day (yes, baseball is my place of zen) and start swirling. It's like my hand was driven to draw these swirls and swirly trees; I can't exactly explain it other than to say it was my heart telling my conscience to "just move the f#&$ over, shut f#&$ up and enjoy the f#&$ing ride". (I gave up swearing for Lent, remember? And, yes, it's <expletive-ing> killing me.)

And I have enjoyed it, completely. For the first few months, I enjoyed it all to myself. I'd show one person who I knew would unconditionally support me. Then, slowly, I began to grow that little support group from just one individual to more, widening it to include people that I knew always wished the best for me.

And the feedback I got was incredible. My art, my talent, my heart were no longer "nothing" and neither was I.

Then, of course, with that realization came the all-part-of-the-processing conversations of "could you just imagine if I'd been encouraged in this, what I could be doing now?!" But that's not what's important because that kind of thinking is only going to keep me from appreciating having finally climbed this mountain. And that kind of thinking is only going to encourage my fear of commitment.

Which is the point I'm trying to make. (No, really, I have a point.) I signed up to sell my "wares" at several events put on by my good friend's Marketplace Expos. And the first one is April 23rd so I have work to do. And I have to do that work while the part of me that is thoroughly ecstatic about this opportunity is fighting to the death with the part of me that is completely paralyzed by fear of having committed to doing this.

Which is why I haven't gotten any blogging done of late or much else for that matter. Because the fear bleeds in to every other "commitment". 

Be gentle. Be kind. Be loving. I will get there, fear or no fear.