I have no idea how to start this post really. I am all about reflection. That is all I do, reflect. When you cease action, you become the equal and opposite reaction of inaction, which is not action. Is that reflection? I don't know. I ponder my navel daily. On a bunch of blogs. In art. In writing. In status updates. Ironic really. I remember a time when I was younger when I just didn't really say no to an experience. I chalked it up to experience/writing fodder. I thought I would write when I get old and could no longer do.
Yeah. Then my daughter died. And I sat and wrote it. I sat and reflected it. I wrote the same thing again and again. I aged thirty years in the moment when I found out she was dead. I became an adult. A woman. A mother. The old crone. La Llorona. A writer. In the truest sense of the word, it was not part of me. The me that thinks. It was not conscious. I had a secondary birth of this writer.
I feel compelled to write now about this past year. Last year at this same exact time, my last two friends were in the process of leaving our friendship. I mean the last two friends I wrote to, or had mostly regular contact with. I have friends from before Lucy's death. Well, two. Lots of Facebook friends, which is different, but no less important. When the last two friends left, I had to say. " I can no longer think that everyone abandoning me is about them--their personality defects. This is definitely about my personality defects." I guess me point is that at this exact point last year, I was at my grief bottom. No before-daughter-death friends left. Full of fear and anxiety. I vowed to focus on doing art and writing and surrounding myself with light and love.
My dear friend Jess tolerates my rants quite brilliantly. She reflects back. She listens. I was so upset in November about receiving a rather unpleasant email from a still life 365 person, making me feel unappreciated. I could go on and on about it, especially as the same person ended this year with rather unpleasant unpleasantness, but I won't. Anyway, Jess was wonderful about listening and wrote this:
I wonder if I can ask you to do something as a little experiment? If you're up for it, write a school report for yourself about this past year. What you've achieved, how you've behaved, what you did well and what you struggled with. Write it in the 3rd person, as in 'We are delighted with Angie's progress this year...' And after that give yourself some grades in whatever you like, but I would include a grade for effort somewhere in there.
I wrote the darkest, deepest, musty caves of my brain, the ones that say I fail at things, and I am not doing enough for anyone, and that I have failed everyone, including myself. But the truth is that is a fucking lie. If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times: Grief, Depression and Anger are fucking liars. They are like the Triumvirate of Liars. Or the Axis of Lying Evils. And so, I think for my own sake, I need to make a list of the goals I set and accomplished for the year. Not in third person, or with grades, but it is a great idea. I'm so sad and down. This seems important.
Lose weight after the baby was born.
I lost 45 pounds. YES THE SAME 45 POUNDS AS BEFORE, but still, we are counting accomplishments. I am stymied on weight loss and frustrated beyond frustration, but whatever, maybe today I can just bask in the forty five pounds lost rather than the forty five pounds to go.
Publish a piece of art or poetry, craft or music, by a grieving parent or loved one, every day of the year.
I actually did that. On the blog still life 365. I actually worked every day come surgery, hell, new baby or high water. And I did it, mostly, while smiling. Hundreds of hours surrounded by art.
Why, an essay I wrote came out in a book called They Were Still Born. You can order it and write a review if you are so inclined.
Be Creative Every Day.
I did something arty or writey every fucking day, son. Here is the blog that shows a pathetically small piece of that year.
Write a Novel in a Month.
What?! A novel in a month. Call me crazy. Crazy like a fox. I will post a snippet, I promise.Maybe on my birthday?
Make a painting every day for November for Art Every Day Month.
I even made a book and movie out of that project.
Be a good mother and wife.
I did my best, but I have pretty amazing children who laugh more than cry. Here is a picture of them wrestling on my bed with a cell phone (don't judge.)
Participate and complete the Sketchbook Project.
I also made a movie of that too.
Be kind and sometimes extraordinary.
I kind of feel like I am forgetting something...oh, right, I had a baby. My husband had surgery. My daughter somehow learned how to say please and thank you and write her name and remember the words to the Earth is Our Mother. I also read about a gazillion books, dressed up like Frida Kahlo, read out loud in front of people, cook a meal everyday and cried buckets of tears. Next year, my only goal is to be more loving towards myself and forgive my body.
Happy New Year, my dear beloved friends. You have made me a better person. Thank you.