31 December 2014

the space in between

where have I been
busy, yes,
moving, yes
and being
and trying to find my way.
minimal childcare and the new old house and art shows and client work and managing my own ongoing grief work and anxiety.

i asked my new therapist about the grief, the why now, the what the hell, the why, the why, the why
and she said that grief does not have a time table.
it is not about calendars
it is about when you are strong enough

strong enough to come apart
strong enough to weather the storms, I guess. bend, not break. or break and mend. or break and make patterns with the pieces and call it art.

so this has been hard, strangely and unexpectedly.

grief and shame and oh
just so much of that.

and a vulnerability, raw, perpetual, just below the joy.

so I find myself laughing
I find myself
I am painting a little but not as much as I need to (4 shows in 2015!)
not as much as I need to for me

still finding my way into my new identity as  Kate.
not Engineer.
or Director.
or Scientist.
or Professional.

just, Kate.

I told my sister today, light can't get in if there are no cracks.
I hold my hands open, a bowl, to welcome the light.

wishing on you all, and us all, peace and fullness and hope and laughter, health and wellness and humor and moments of bliss. i send you big love.

10 November 2014

so much

yesterday, my amazing Della turned 4.

I cannot believe it, but here we are. She is amazing, dazzling, delightful, dramatic. She is her own fine self and don't you forget it. She is tender and bright as hell.

Today, we signed the papers for a small (read: tiny) house. This week is all about moving. And with that, and birthdays, a time for reflection and projection, and I am working, breath by breath, to remain or return to the Now.

I brush my face against her hair and breathe in.
Now, I say.

So much.

Photos soon.

13 September 2014

My art show!

In the Denver area?  Please come! And please let me know how you know me. I'll be there without Doug and Della, but with my awesome dad and dear friend Liz. (I AM SO EXCITED!!!)

12 August 2014

like a window

grief opens grief like a window

like a can opener

stirs silt from the bottom

shakes loose parts newly or incompletely mended

rattles around, making noisy messes, reminding me acutely of things that hurt to remember.

As I think about the brilliance lost in Robin William's heartbreaking choice, I think too about the losses we all share, those who have loved someone who has made this nearly unthinkable decision. And while I am so very sad for Robin, that this felt like the only choice he had left, I am more sad for his family, those who loved him, all of us who felt somehow connected to his wry smile, his tenderness, his humanness.  It exposes our collective vulnerability somehow.

After losing a beloved to suicide, 11 years ago this past weekend, I have finally gained solace of a sort during hard work this past year... a hard won healing. Tender always, but a new sense of something like peace, I guess... a still point of understanding I did not have before-- before, suicide was simply unthinkable, unimaginable, and my loss, the world's loss of my beloved, was totally beyond my comprehension.

Now, after experiencing being taken down by anxiety into an underworld of desperation-- I understand things I did not understand before.

I sought help, took it, take it, seek it. And thanks to this intervention I have returned home to myself.

But I understand now, desperation, in a way I did not.

I understand just wanting to make the pain stop. And simply not being able to stand it. Feeling lost, taken over, alone.

And I wish for all who feel lost, to reach out, get help, allow help in. Please.

In this moment, I sit with this sadness, with the echos of my own loss, my own grief, and let it (as best I can) move in and through... knowing, after all this time, that it will move like water, downstream, if I allow it to pass through my knowing, my heart, my memories, and not try to hold on for the sake of having something to hold on to.

04 August 2014

August 4th? how did THAT happen?

Hello from rainy maine. I am up with my darlin, for the first time truly trying to see what it is like to be here for longer than a weekend. I brought my computer and my paints and spend at least a half day each day working while Della takes part in activities and Doug works 24/7 here at camp... Della and I will be here for another week, then back to NH.

Anonymous prompted me to update-- I am not sure how to talk about how I am.
Anxiety is being held at bay by the immense assistance of chemistry: Zoloft and microdoses of Ativan... and by this complete change of scenery. I am worried about re-entry. Worried and aware that my triggers will be waiting for me, and I will be tested especially as school begins, and kids start to share viruses as they always do.
I don't know how to help that future me, except to revel, now, in the relative comfort in my body, and awareness of the sound of rain, of my fingers on the keyboard, and kids (many, many kids) indoors on the other side of a thin wall  when they wanted to be outdoors playing.

I mentioned I am painting and have a bunch of stuff I have created while here-- all of my stuff is abstract, some minimally, so enormously-- all intuitive, best done in a flow of whateveritis that comes through like water or a perfect breeze. When I try, I suck, just like Po (Kung Fu Panda), but when I allow, things happen that range from interesting to magical.
The sucky ones make me feel like the flow will never return.
The magical ones make me feel awe.
It is very much like writing that way.

If you don't like abstracts, you won't like my work at all.
But if you do, you *might*--

Are there any of you in the Denver area who might want to meet up very late september/early october? I've got an art exhibit in a local coffee shop there for the month of October (my dad lives in Denver, and it is the coffee shop he frequents)-- I'd love to see you in real life, meet up, say hello. I'll let you know once the details are set for the "reception" (aka: meet the nervous, introverted, yet semi-social artist). I'll also post some art sometime so you can get a sense of it.

If you have questions about my anxiety: bring them-- I will try to answer as best I can.
Right now it is about being
and trying to pull my awareness back to now, and now, and now, and now....

thank you A, for asking how I am.

03 June 2014

update on the big A

So yes. Well, THAT was fun.
Now with Zoloft.

Week 3 begins today, now up to a full dose and I find myself praying more often than I would care to admit.  Two nights ago was complete hell. But then, the sun rose, I got up, made breakfast and was normal in spite of it. So maybe this is also about realizing the fact that even the most horrible moments of this pass.
They may pass after hours and hours of counting backwards, and tapping, and reiki and bilateral whathaveyou... but they pass.
They pass.

the time passes.
the sensations pass.
the memory passes into a slightly less vivid version of itself, slightly muted, more like the remnant of a bad dream.

So.  this, apparently is about letting go as much as anything.

On a more positive note, I have been painting up a storm. Or a storm has been painting its way out of me. However. I am loving it.
And today I hung two big pieces up in my living room.
It is good to know that beneath all of this, this chaos and discomfort, the acute shit, that I am not only still here but Really here.
Loudly wanting to express beyond this experience.


15 May 2014

Anxiety, you may bite me.

Usually there is a rush, first. A whoosh as adrenaline bolts from the solar plexis gate and the race begins-- down arms, and legs, up along my jaw, into the top of my head, and neck, and into an emotional whatthefuckness of total hijacked badness.

under threat
in danger

in this land of no lions, the dangers the threats are ghosts. ghosts of old wounds, rubbed new by navigating grief.
ghosts are reminders of vulnerability, true vulnerability, true threat, true aloneness without resources, without backup, without the ability to keep anyone safe.
ghosts haunt with memories of insufficiency, of true inadequacy, faced with problems that I could not solve, were not solvable, about which I felt responsible even if I was not truly responsible, and ended in the ultimate failure of loss of a loved one.

this cocktail is a potent one,
the pin is pulled, the trigger, touchy, everything good feels temporary, and the anxiety, when it comes, feels like it will never leave.

I have so many tools at my disposal.  Yoga, breathing, nature, love. Meditation, mindfulness, awareness, curiosity.  I have art and friends and family and doctors. I am lucky beyond measure. And yet, with all of my tools, all of my resources, I am failing.  (don't worry, I KNOW better, but that is what it feels like).

beyond the triggery rushes, there is a low lying fog of it too-- potent in its own insidious ways: the fear of fear. a cloud-headed cool tingly feeling of waiting and sadness.
the grief of losing what felt like my own unconscious but oh now i know how sweet it was sovereignty
the grief of losing the innocence of life without this brand of Fear.
This is Anxiety plus Grief.

The timing and the emotional depth suggest the triggering may have started as I truly began to face the grief associated with Jeff's death after avoiding it for so long. But it is cleverly mixed with triggers embedded in things that every parent of a toddler faces. Often.

To get a handle on it at all, I asked for medication about a month ago.
I felt better knowing I had something to take, but I also felt more and more there is some sort of emotional scope creep where I was feeling fear more and more often. So, with my doctor's blessing I am doing an ativan boot camp-- medicating before physical responses as much as I can. This, I thought, would allow me to address the mental and emotional parts more directly without having to cope with the physical manifestations.
But in the 7 days since my plan was implemented, I have had two big triggers, two floods, two chunks of time washed away into the foreign and unpleasant land, and countless hours tinged or awash in fear of fear and grief about the fear.

today, the morning after the second trigger...I am so tired, bone tired. but also trying to revel in the good feelings that the lack of anxiety-in-this-moment means.
when it is not here, my ordinary, spectacularly ordinary life is so rich with good feelings, with openness with unclenched body.. but even with the relief, I am now on watch
and I hate that.

aware, alert for any change that may mean It's Coming Back.

constant vigilance.  vigilance does nothing but sap me. it does not keep it back. hold it at bay. make me more effective. it does not make me a better parent, a better person, a better artist (oh, maybe it will actually, who knows?), it does make me more compassionate to all who suffer from this bullshit.
man alive. I am just so tired.

this month marks one year of this dance.
and I toast it, with irony and  a quarter of an ativan.
I am working this, hard. and also trying my hand at allowing. at listening. at believing there are messages in this for me that are important.  I have a care team, I have Doug, I have my own stubborn tired self.
there are gifts in this, I am sure. and I say I am open to finding them. but in this moment, knowing there must be gifts is not the same as feeling it to be true.

14 May 2014

MagO7 you may kiss me now

About poop.
Della has never again pooped on the potty. But that is not an issue for me or us right now.
she is pooping.
every day sometimes, every other day.
some very tiny bit of anticipatory crying sometimes, more in fear of what was rather than in response to what is (OH just like her momma)
sometimes, she just asks for a pull up and poops.

We have overcome this horrible terrible bad bad thing with LUCK, fear (of the butt medicine) and MagO7.

Do not do any of this without medical advice.  This is serious. Poop withholding can really cause damage, so make sure you talk with someone who knows about this for real, and can help.
I am not a doctor.
We tried all of the miralax, chewies, etc, that were not stimulant laxitives. we did stimulant laxatives exactly once. We also did the butt medicine (liquid glycerine suppositories) a few times out of pure desperation and need for her to poop.. but nothing was actually working, not breaking the cycle, calming the freaked out kiddo, or the parents.
I did more and more reading on the internet and found MagO7 which is used for colon cleansing on crazy adults. Big magnesium molecules that draw fluid into the colon, keeping things soft. So they say.

We started giving her about a half capsule every night for a week then increased to one...but have found one capsule of MagO7 at night mixed in with something yummy (say, one spoonful of ice cream), and a little fiber (Heather's Tummy fiber, acacia?  1/4 tsp 2x/day)-- to be our magical combination that keeps the poop soft, keeps signals clear for her (no cramping), and appears to be allowing our little one's immense colon to return to something like a normal one, not that I would know what that is.

I just wanted to share that this nightmare appears to be over.
we put the butt medicine away in happy ceremony.


now if we can have the same success with my anxiety, we'll be golden. but that is a post for another day.

For folks to find this: stool withholding, poop withholding, Mag07 MagO7

22 April 2014

angels singing

Della pooped on the potty.

That is the angels and gold dust and unicorns and rainbows part of the story. The rest of the story is this:

Poop withholding is an evil bitch.
It is a sneaky stealer of heart and soul, energy, enthusiasm, hope.
It is a killer of days, an eroder of moods, a shortener of fuses.
It is a lifestyle unto itself, with its own rhythms of happy and fearful and sad and crazy.
It is like labor in the prolonged badness of sensation and the only way out is out...
It is like my experience with infertility in that it started smallish, with an acknowledgement that things might not be working as it does for "other people"--
then it was like infertility for me in that I began with a whole lot of NEVERS. I will never use a suppository on my kid, EVER. That one gave way to, ok, this once. This once. This once. As I tried, as we tried, to address this horrible thing.

Into the weeds with this side story:  When I was little I had the opposite problem-- with colitis, I had nearly no control over my bowels, and spent hours upon hours in pain and on the toilet pooping. I had horrible invasive tests before there were fiber optics that made instruments flexible. I have turned out ok, but I cannot say that did not impact me, hugely, deeply, badly, in ways that take ongoing healing.

So yes, I said NEVER to suppositories.

So, one by one, my Nevers were breached, my hope was dashed, my fear increased, anxiety up, stress up, my child in pain and in fear and inconsolable.
Potions, powders, oils, eye of newt, massage, reiki, pressure points, rewards, gold stars, ignoring, attending,

just an awful storyline that would reset to zero with a forced bowel movement, a horrible prolonged horribleness that I will not even try to describe.

then one night the suppository failed.
and then it failed again.
and I felt hope leave, in a big whoosh followed by a wave of fear and outofcontrolness, anxiety, sadness... since this was the nuclear solution. the one I held in reserve as the thing that would work no matter what.

then I read an entry by some person who called himself the poop whisperer (I cannot make this up) saying, suppositories/enemas, same time each day, until new pattern is established.

well fine kind sir, but since I could not bring myself to do the suppository thing unless Della was in acute duress, and it had failed more than once (different kinds, different failure modes)-- WTF?  So the next morning, loins girded, we tried *one more time*, and it worked, she pooped, and off we went with the time zero haze of happiness that we can hold until day 3 or 4 or... yeah..

So last night, after a day in which Della had been showing telltale discomfort, the familiar run up to the whole dramatic horribleness, we were about to take action- butt medicine (thanks to Dooce for the name)-- and Della chose to try the potty instead.

Ok-- I had not mentioned this before in this note but Della was pathologically afraid of pooping on the toilet. She regresses to diapers when she feels any belly feelings to avoid it.  All that I had read said for the love of all that is holy UNCOUPLE potty training and poop withholding since it is too complicated to do both if the poop part of potty training is not enthusiastically embraced by the kid. It was not. It was rejected so firmly and with such trauma that we decoupled.

Until last night.
Faced with imminent butt medicine, she chose the potentially lesser of the evils, the potty
and then
no kidding





I do not pretend we are out of the woods but I do know this: we won the lottery again with this happening Ever.
She is happy. We had cake. We sang and lit a candle and danced and hugged.
She is comfortable.
She is not in fear or in pain.
I felt like a weight of a bazillion pounds just rolled off my shoulders (at least for now) and I am *hopeful*.

For any of you out there with this withholding issue, hear me now: I feel your pain. I wish I could say I knew what to do, a magic pill or protocol. I can say this: soluble fiber, and magnesium, prayer, and the fear of suppositories.

And for me, at time near-zero, I can breathe. And tonight, we'll ask her to sit for a while while I read to her maybe, and then, chocolate chips... and I can be hopeful that we can create a new normal for all of us.

12 March 2014

non-linear: on eventual child-led toilet training

Oh my good god/goddess/all-that-is, just when I thought Della would never potty train in any way, ever... she did.

Backstory: Over a year ago in daycare she was using the potty there. She would occasionally use the little one here. But just occasionally.  We always celebrated appropriately, and I thought it would just be that way. Then she was pinched by a toilet seat at daycare, and that was that.
The end.

We live in a small carpeted apartment. The whole, let her go nekkid thing was never going to work. Also, while she is smart and wily, rewards (stickers) were of no interest. Not even chocolate chips...
But then...
Suddenly (and I do mean suddenly), a few weeks ago during a visit at my sister's, something clicked and she just started using their toilet.
Not that it has been linear-- a week of perfectly perfect perfection then a strong desire to be back in diapers... somehow (like her momma) taking a few steps forward and a few backwards, maybe afraid of letting go of being "little".
A few pees in pants when distracted, and then days in underwear with no issue. Then a few days in pull ups again...
wow. It is happening, finally, but non-linearly, and this is all about bending my knees and riding out the bumps without freaking out. (But why can't you use the potty today? You used it for the past week? what the heck?)-- well, it comes down to poop.

HOLY CRAP PEOPLE, this child is textbook retentive.
We're talking hours of intense crying, arched back, tiptoes, terror, holding it in with all her might. Don't touch me! MOMMA! horrible ness. She does not want to sit on the potty ever when she feels anything like anything that may mean poop is moving.... WILL NOT. Any sensation associated with it causes fear. It is horrible. HORRIBLE. I hate it. I do not use the word hate lightly.

We have had to take action (aka "butt medicine"/suppository intervention) once to avoid a trip to the ER one late evening when I thought they might actually need to go in there and get it out.

This has never been easy for her, but lately it has been just increasingly dramatic in terms of withholding and fear.
So she will only poop in her diaper (fine, I just want her to poop)-- and we are now supplementing with some good soluble fiber after an epic fail with
-all things food (prunes, plums, pears)
-all things gummy (fiber)
-all things that are miralax-ish (thick, slippery, salty, eww)
-all things small and chocolately and bear shaped, and magnesiumy (she ate them but not happily, but they did nothing)....
-all things small and fake-watermelony (HA one lick and it was over, salty badness)

we are doing what we can with our camel of a non-drinking child.
No juice passes her lips.
So water, yes, and yes we are still nursing but let's leave that alone for now, shall we?

We hide the fiber in a few bites of chocolate pudding, feel like heros, and spend time in prayer that she will poop before it becomes too painful and just reinforces the horrible cycle of badness.

So today, I celebrate the good: she is at daycare in underwear. Wow.
and today I celebrate that she pooped yesterday, so we can all just relax.

10 February 2014

4 years ago (aka winning the lottery)

4 years ago tonight, I was at home, wondering what might be happening with the two little embryos that had been transferred that morning... I was feeling oddly happy. Optimistic even.

Right now, one of those two little cell clusters is sitting on Doug, saying Again, Daddy-- I am bringing the baby to the doctor for a shot, but not an ouchy shot, a gentle shot...you be the doctor.

A billion and a half shots later, here we are.
holy moly.
How amazing is that.

09 February 2014

dirty little secret

Hear me, those who are still trying to make it to this heaven called parenthood. I am not forgetting That loneliness. That hell. This is not that.

With that said.
Mothering is at once truly consuming and profoundly lonely.
In my particular and perhaps peculiar mosaic of working at home and parenting, my ambient human interaction happens mostly at the grocery.
I spend days when I see Doug and Della and few if any others. I spend days in the summer seeing Della and no others at all.
I keep wondering how/when/where the energy could come from, the energy needed to foster possibilities of connecting, of meeting, of imagining friendship, of conversation, of even knowing if there is a fit beyond the knowing shared look of fatigue as we pass, cart by cart, in the aisles.

I don't know, exactly, how to remedy my situation. I've reached out today, the first time in a long while, to friends already made, local friends, people I love... but schedules are hard, complex, how do we do this?
It is a logistical tangle. No, not tuesday, a week from sunday, no... and then.... I peter out, not pressing on to three weeks hence because who knows?

I miss funny things, sustained effort of any kind... painting, writing, editing, reading... aimlessness....hiking. My little one's idea of sustained attention is about 15 minutes and that is if the show is of her choosing. Confessing, right there, the role of video in our parenting style.

We can walk, sure, but 15 minute loops...

I forget to lean on Doug, forget that I don't have to shoulder this all my self in the off season, when he is in town... I forget I can ask.
Tonight I went out to switch laundry over, and noticed the light, twilight, and noticed I was alone.
Upstairs quick quick to get into a jacket to walk around the "block" which is to say the parking lot behind our section of buildings, and back across the snowy field between us and the road, under some pines that feel like magic to me.
Back and forth I walked, because the first time I was not paying attention... so the second time I did. And the third.
And I came back reconnected to Me which, I guess, is the first step to all of this connecting anyway, isn't it?

08 January 2014

rose colored glasses

Hello world.
here we are in January, and I am sitting at my desk having just cleaned the living room as much as I could in one hour.
One hour to take the tree down and vacuum the billion needles from the carpet, to push back, pile up, drag, dust, and make a dent in the squalor that just happens, magically, when I am not constantly tending.

It is rather horrifying how fast things turn to shit, and also just what "clean" looks like now-- proving, truly, that everything is relative.

I was so wanting to "finish" the job, but the job, I think (I know), is unfinishable.

This is about progress, and then holding it or returning to it, or something. But this is not, apparently, about truly cleaning or truly finishing.

So, fueled by warmed up tea and honeyed up toast, here I am. Needing to return to workwork but after a truly aggravating day yesterday work-wise where I discovered that the website I am working on looks like shit too, not even in a living room way, well.
today will be about starting over.
But. Not quite yet.

I wanted to say that
Little miss Della is a fierce companion, and she is every bit the mini teenager with stubborn righteousness that is both fabulous and maddening and
she is so tender.

I know my tenderness and am surprised by my fierceness.
I know her fierceness and am surprised by her tenderness.

this is about staying open to what is, not what I think I know, or what I want or wanted for me or for anyone... this is about this moment. this joy. this fierce tenderness and tender fierceness. this is about a million kinds of love. this is about taking notice of what is working with such intense gratitude. this is about taking notice of the ordinary moments that are truly extraordinary.  this is about reveling, it really is.

I posted the following images on facebook but realize that my incremental updates have been there of late... but I am pulling back from that particular soul sucking vortex, not completely because apparently I am addicted to seeing other people's lives through rose colored glasses... but pulling back, yes, to better appreciate and revel in my own fabulous imperfect reality.
So I will leave with you a few things that make me very very very very very happy-- no rose colored glasses necessary.

Best. dad. ever.