I've come to understand that growth untamed and unmanaged can be as much of a set back as stagnation. I know because I seem to be growing wildly in some directions, but becoming stagnant, stale in others.
At first I told myself it was okay, a normal part of evolving. But, I've noticed that my evolution has included cutting and excising other parts of me. Picture me randomly cutting locs for no other reason than to allow space and room for other locs to sprout and fan out from my head. Doesn't make sense, but that seems to be what I've done in my life.
Academic papers have replaced blogging.
Researching has replaced gardening.
"Dressing up" for class has replaced painting, quilting.
Emailing classmates has replaced Facebook updates.
Dreaming about graduation has replaced dreaming about paintings, quilts.
Sitting for hours writing about literature has replaced sitting for hours painting about life.
Packing E's lunch & making his breakfast before Saturday morning class has replaced baking on a whim.
I have felt so many different things the past four months, from excitement to confusion...focused to burnt out...grateful to morose...inspired about the new me to isolated from the old me.
When I feel down, burnt out, and isolated from all that I used to be, I quickly chastise myself. I reel through my ever-growing list of "I'm grateful for..." and rather harshly tell myself to "quit complaining."
I'm happy, I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm so much further [intellectually] than I was a year ago. I'm humbled by what I've learned and what I've shown myself I can do--academically.
But that there is it. I have grown academically, but creatively I have stood still. I don't like that. It makes me sad. It makes me cry on the way to school as I listen to moody music, look forward to class, miss home, and try to talk through it with E all at the same time. (Sometimes, while tutoring or on the way home I've had what E calls panic attacks. Their origins? I don't know.)
I ask him over and over and over and over...if I'm dying creatively. Is the artist in me dying so the scholar can live?
When class is done and I'm filled/sustained by all the learning done I bargain and sale the artist in favor for the high learning induces in me. If only you all could see how much I come alive in class. How much I have to say. How much I thrive. How much I learn. I am the nerd of the class. I am that girl who keeps talking. I am that person who gets up in front of the class energized, ready, willing, and too able to talk on and on. I am always prepared, overly so. I am always so damn happy to be there.
And then there is home.
I stare out my window, between writing & researching, at my garden. The birds, bees, grasshoppers tease me...call to me...land on my window, begging me to come and grow--in the garden. I walk into my studio ransacked for crafting supplies and overrun by the kids and tears rim my eyes. Where is the girl who lived in this hot, sunny, lilac room? The girl who painted one day, quilted the next, all while baking and gardening and homeschooling? Where has she flown?
Last week I was sick and the boy was sick and I begun to have panic attacks when E told me he could not come home early and help take care of us. He could bring home tea and herbs, but that was it. I literally couldn't breath. My throat was raw, closing up on me, and my head was swiming with all the school assignments I needed to complete and how little time I had to be sick. It was sunny, which only reminded me that I was 2 months late in planting my garden and getting sick will push that back another week, or two.
I could not breathe except for in the shower, in the garden, or while crying on E's shoulder. I went from the shower to crying on E's shoulder, to the garden so many different times. It was a rush of me moving from one space to another in a hurry to find my breath and peace.
It was terrrifying, humbling, and saddening.
When E finally left for work, we were in the garden and I didn't look up from digging out weeds from my vegetable bed. I didn't look up because I was praying and afraid that if I saw him leave, or stopped praying I wouldn't be able to breath again. When I finally looked up the kids were next to me, trying to help me dig. The boy was just as sick, but yet there he was...digging in the garden with his unhinged mother. The love and tenderness in their eyes when they asked me why I was crying, the quiet love and understanding they gave me as we three digged--Gave me strength.
While I cried into the soil and prayed I began to realize that my life is without balance. I then begun to beg God to show me a way out. A way to find a happy medium so I wouldn't feel so dead and alive at once.
For whatever reason I started to notice the wild runners of mint sprinkled through our failing lawn. Me and the kids started to dig them up and replant them in discarded planters. I can't tell you the comfort that gave me...finding homes for herbs growing in the wrong place.
Eventually I decided, or at least tried, to leave the yuckiness out there for nature/God to work out. Eventually the cold progressed from my throat and within a few days I was well enough to catch up on homework (though I had to miss class, which I cried about).
Well, in the past week or so I have kept my heart open to whatever would come to me. One answer came: art journaling.
I have been struggling to find a way to combine writing and art, and ironically never made the connection. Though I had planned on signing up for a local, bookbinding class, and in the past I have created some sort of "art journal."
Yesterday, while searching for transcipts and doing graduation prep stuff I stumbled upon the first things I ever drew back in the 10th grade. Amongst it was pages and pages of journaling/writing/poems on scattered and random pieces of paper. I found a few of my prized essays from high school and finally, with my adult eyes realized why they told me I was a good writer. I was.
I'm starting though I don't know what or how or where to begin. I don't know how I can add something creative and consistent to my life. I also don't know how I can continue to breathe if I don't. I'm learning that still, 35 years into life, I have not truly defined and found myself. That is such a comforting thing to realize. Freeing.
God only knows what lies ahead, but amongst these last few months leading towards graduation...I hope that I'll find some balance, peace, and my creative breath again.
I wonder if any of you have ever dealt with panic attacks or stress brought on by inbalance in life? Share with me.