Guest blog on being an Artist Trapped in a Physician’s body

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First of all, YIPPEE! My blog is back! I hated not being able to post this past week and a half… but I’m up and running again, with a new website.  There are lots of new features, starting with a main homepage, and tabs for the shop, my blog, etc…

On Monday, I temporarily was able to satisfy my urge to blog (while my own site was down for construction) by guest blogging on the fabulous Art Snark’s blog. I wrote an article on how the world of health collides with the world of art. Please check it out!

I’ll be back to my normal routines now, starting this Friday with “What I’m loving now… around my house.” See you then! xoxo

Breathe.

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I just came across a collection of poems I had written several years ago, when my kids were babies.  This poem is about those intense moments, especially in the earlier years, when you feel that you are spending everything you have, and digging very deeply to find enough energy and time, to care for your kids.

I remember those times much more fondly now that they are few and far between.  Actually, I miss them.  But I still can have moments where I am overwhelmed at everything I need to do, and how important a job it is, being a Mommy.

I was recently talking to a wonderful friend of mine (hi Barbara!!) on the phone, before I had *re-discovered* these poems.  We were talking about how motherhood can literally take your breath away.  Of course, 99% of the time it’s in that good way, the kind of way that makes you stand there in awe at how amazing these little beings are.  But that 1%… that can be intense too… that “I-can’t-breathe-I-haven’t-even-eaten-yet-today-and-I-need-to-do-a-million-things-what-on-earth-is-it-now?!?!?!” sort of overwhelment of parenting.

my kids… having fun, but totally knocking me over

When I found this poem, I immediately thought of Barbara, and I smiled, knowing she would TOTALLY *get* this poem.  Anyone else out there feel this one too?  xoxo

Mother at High Tide

by Laura Koniver

When I feel my children drown me

The impluse is to fight for my breath.

But allowing the tide to come in,

That’s my essential moment.

I’m the sand on the edge of the beach.

My children are as vast

As wonderful

As full of life

Unlimited

As the ocean beyond,

And I have only this one tide to enjoy.

I let them wash over me

Engulf me

Dance and splash and play

While I suffocate happily on the ocean floor.

Thankfully I soaked up the high tide while I could.

Motherhood has taught me to relax in this flood

Of daily frustration and exhaustion,

To just wait,

Soften,

Allow, then

Welcome, then

Want

Admit it — need! — this constant contact,

Where they are bound to me with the full force of gravity,

Pulled upon me with no resistance – no!

With screams of delight!

I just rest.

Look up.

And watch my glorious

Children, vivid as waves in the sun

Rise up and Shine!

They are everything!

Rise higher and higher!

Enjoy this slow, sweet day, my babies!

I’m lost under this overflow of childhood

And I’ve finally found my own current.

The tide will recede

Too soon I’ll watch my own sands dry up

The young ocean waves will dance away.

High tide

Was my best condition.

Opening to intuition

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“Dynamic Universe”

I painted this canvas for a customer who wanted something similar to my original canvas painting “Love Is Everywhere,” but larger.  I asked if she had any specific requests for this newer version, but she gave me complete artistic license to follow my gut while painting it.  And I’m so very glad she did.

I had no idea what was to come, but I trusted and gave it a start.  I love how the background took on a richer, more orange hue… and as I worked the many layers into the canvas, I noticed this orange color really allowed the universe to have more depth, as well as contrasted nicely with the blue of the earth.  I was still thinking from a purely artistic vantage point, and while I was very pleased, the best was yet to come.  I had no idea at this point.

As I began to sketch the souls throughout the universe, I started by trying to echo the original placement of the souls in Love is Everywhere.  I wanted to make sure that my customer got a similar painting to the one that she originally liked.  At this point I was still trying to duplicate Love is Everywhere, albeit on a larger canvas, with different dimensions, and a slightly richer color palette.

In between sessions, I let my imagination awake.  I lay in bed one night, an insomniac through and through, and thought about the painting.  What I wanted to add the next day.  What I wanted to adjust.  What I enjoyed about the painting so far.

And then, quite insistantly, several images popped into my mind and wouldn’t leave.  I stopped thinking like an artist and allowed my intuition to take over.  One, in the image above, was of a child and an adult.  The adult has his arm around the child, and they are eagerly and joyfully watching the earth.

I had a feeling that this pair were either planning to come down to earth soon, and they were discussing the lifetime that they would get to spend together… or perhaps they were simply watching over the earth, watching a living loved one that they were connected to, enjoying watching her life from a broader perspective.

The second image that popped into my mind was of this one, two young adults who are so happy to finally re-unite.  I didn’t feel like I could fit them into the original design of the painting, but they just wouldn’t let me go.  I saw them all the time, doodled them on scrap paper over and over, and finally had to re-arrange the painting to fit them in.  I got such a relieved and tender feeling when I finally painted them.  I could feel how being together and re-finding each other was the most important thing to each of them.

This couple was in my original Love is Everywhere, and I just love them so much.  This time a very distinct male and female energy came through, much more powerfully then in my first Love is Everywhere painting.  Painting this couple was emotional for me, I felt such a strong yet gentle security emanate from the male, and such a graceful certainty and commitment from the female… I love this couple.

Lastly, my favorite set of souls are the ones to the right of the earth in the picture below… the mother who is greeting her two children.  I know this represents how I see myself in this afterlife.  My entire being and existence seems to hinge on being Clara and Miles’ Mommy.  I just feel so healed by their very presence.  I feel like I came down in this lifetime first, and came specifically to be their mother.  I feel complete now in a way I never did before.

It is my honor to hold a space for them, to welcome them into this earth, to witness them at their most innocent and raw times, to care for them and raise them.  I am equally honored to go first into death.  To return to the full expansion of who-we-are.  To shed my body and wait joyfully and lovingly as I watch their journey unfold.  To be the first person to welcome them home when they are ready to re-join in the non-physical.  Just as I was the first person to hold and love them on this earth.  In some ways, it is even more of an honor.  I want to be their constant.  Their unwavering rock.  Their home.

I want to thank the lovely customer who commissioned me to paint this art for her.  I had so much fun re-working the journey… morphing from Love is Everywhere to Dynamic Universe.  I feel honored that several additional souls wanted to join in on her particular painting.  Do they represent anything special to her?  Only she will know.  I learned so much about trusting my creative instinct along the way.  xoxo

Kids on the edge of a cliff

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On our recent visit up *north* (meaning, Virginia) my parents took us on an awesome hike along the Potomac River, a trail called the Billy Goat Trail.

I had psyched myself up for days before this trip, knowing it would be the first time my kids would be hiking on big rocks, at relatively dangerous elevations, and I knew it would be a big lesson in trust for me.

Of course the kids were amazing.  They just loved it, and they were strong hikers, climbing and exploring and using common sense, hydrating often, sensing which rocks they were comfortable climbing and how they were going to do it.

Thier Grampy taught them how to follow trail markers, and off they went, taking turns leading the rest of us through miles of woods, rocks, and riverside.

That’s no surprise, really.  I knew they would be amazing and take my breath away.

The surprise is how easy it was for me to watch them do it… take the lead, climb unfamiliar paths and steep rocky inclines and navigate narrow ledges.

I really half thought I’d make us turn back before we went.  But once we were there… I felt at peace, and an enormous pride swell up, and I was just grateful to be on the trail behind them.

Witnessing.  Watching.  There.  But out of the way.

I really feel like I grew a lot as a parent that day.  I learned to step back a little.  Worry less.  Smile more at it being “their turn” and not mine.  I guess that’s what parenting is all about, really.

On the way up the trail, my son saw a baby turtle and moved him safely off the path, no doubt saving his life.  I love Miles for noticing what I would have walked right by, and taking his own action to do what he felt was right.

On the way back, my daughter saw a rock that made a perfect heart.  Knowing that I love hearts, she pointed it out for me.  I love Clara for noticing what I would have missed in nature, and pointing out to me that love is everywhere.  No matter who is leading the way, and who is trailing behind.

In both cases, the fact that I was walking *behind* my kids is what lead me to see their acts of kindness and to be able to share in them.

Walking behind my kids, watching them shine, is ten thousand times better then me getting to walk the trail first.  I don’t even want to walk it first any more.  And they don’t even need me to walk it side by side any more.

It’s time for them to walk it first, even in the rocky places.  Even in the steep places.  Knowing and truly trusting that they will still turn to me.  Still feel that connection.  Still show me the baby turtle and the heart shaped rock.

Damn I love those kids.  Have I said that on this blog yet?  xoxo


A can of paint for the kids

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A new, huge, wall filled with chalkboard paint.

I’m saying it is for the kids, but it is totally for me.

I used to have about 15 different family pictures on the wall cluttering up our main hallway, and as much as I love them, they needed to find a bigger space then a narrow hallway.  Time to simplify.

I just finished reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne…  and it really had me thinking.  I don’t align with all of it, because I deeply feel that kids are a lot more able to self-regulate then he gives them credit for.  Top down parenting is absolutely not for me, and he does tend to veer in that direction.

But there were many many gems that even an unschooling, free learning homeschool family like mine could benefit from.  One was to reduce clutter.  Reduce the quantity of toys and clothes and foods that are out at any given time.  Start them in rotation.  I liked that idea for the toys, but I loved that idea for the food.  The old fashioned “roast on Sundays, pasta on Mondays, soup and salad on Tuesdays” mentality is rockin’ it at our house.

Not that we have to have the same pasta dish each Monday.  Some Mondays it will be roll up lasagna, sometimes pesto noodles, sometimes chicken alfredo over linguini, etc… but always some variation of a pasta meal.

This change isn’t so much for the kids (although once they notice the rhythm, I think they’ll appreciate knowing what is coming for dinner) but it is so much easier on ME.  And damn if that isn’t the bottom line once in a while 🙂

So back to the paint… mama needed a bit more open free space, and dreams of a wall with nothing but a chalkboard danced in my head.  A wall I could write the day’s menu on.  A wall I could write my to-do list on, and thrill as it gets checked off.  A wall that the kids could make comics on and decorate with drawings for special holidays.  A wall that would be free for any form of expression.  Two coats of paint later, the kids got first crack.

Clara wrote a comic strip immediately… and Miles?  He he used his freedom of expression to tell me flat out what he was thinking:  “Lego.  Need Now!  For Real,  or I’ll Die.”

Figures.  So much for Simplicity Parenting.  Right back into more Lego clutter.  But hey, he was practicing writing letters and words and sentences with a smile on his face.  And I got my dream chalkboard wall out of the process.  I’ll take it!  xoxo

Manacotti Hack

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I almost named this post Personal Lasagna.  With a title like that, how can you go wrong.  Your own personal lasagna.  Sounds so much classier then a personal pan pizza, and yet so much less expensive then a personal shopper.  A personal lasagna, ready to be slapped on a plate next to a salad and garlic bread, ready to be eaten.

I have no idea how to photograph food… so I hope this looks good and doesn’t make you nauseous…

But I switched it to Manicotti Hack, because that’s how I invented these.  After a few failed attempts at filling a manicotti… completely breaking the noodle and heating up the kitchen with a few choice words, I decided to try a new tactic.  And that is when inspiration hit.  Why use an over-sized spoon to try to fill (read: destroy) a pre-made tube of noodle when I can roll a flat one up instead!  Easy, peasy.

Try my recipe out, you’ll be so glad you did.  I tend to make my lasagna taste more like pizza to please my kids… feel free to *adult* it up with fancier ingredients at your discretion.
The best part about this recipe is that you no longer have to wait 10 minutes for your lasagna to set before you slice it, nor do you have to smash your spatula down in utter irritation when you serve the lasagna and it doesn’t stay perfectly stacked.  Yours slides off to the side too, doesn’t it?  I hope I’m not the only one who winds up serving my lasagna in a bowl with a spoon.

These are ready to plunk down individually the moment they come out of the oven.  Yum.

Personal Lasagna

(preheat oven to 350 degrees F)

Ingredients:

12 lasagna noodles

16 oz ricotta cheese

2 cups Italian cheese blend, shredded

1 egg

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

6 slices of mozzarella cheese

garlic powder , basil, and other dried Italian herbs, to taste.

1 jar of pizza sauce or marinara sauce or whatever spaghetti sauce your family will eat without endlessly examining each bite and picking out the invisible onion specks

1.  Cook the lasagna noodles until done.  Not falling apart, but done.  They do not continue to cook in the oven.

2.  While the noodles boil, mix the ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 C mozzarella, 1/2 C parm cheese, 2 eggs and any dried herbs you’d like in a bowl.

3. Once cooked, use tongs to take out one noodle at a time and pat it dry on a non-terrycloth dish towel.

4.  Put a half a slice of mozzarella cheese at one end, plunk a heaping dollop of cheese mixture on top of that, and roll up!

Here is the noodle with a half a slice of mozzarella cheese and the ricotta mix on top…

… then just roll it up!

5.  Place in a baking pan that has one spoonful of marinara sauce smeared all over the bottom (to prevent sticking.)  I had to use two loaf pans because I was too lazy to hand wash the 9 x 13 inch pan we have…

6.  Continue until all the noodles and all the filling are used up.

7.  Pour the jar of sauce over the noodles, sprinkle the last 1/2 C of Mozzarella on top, then slip it into the oven.

8.  Bake for 25 minutes, until hot and bubbling.

Meanwhile, make your salad and garlic bread.   If you have a garden, now’s your chance to head out and pick some veggies for your salad!  For some reason, the lettuce has really taken off in my garden, and it is so lovely!   I just have to share — isn’t this *almost* as pretty as a bouquet of flowers?

Do you this much butter on your garlic bread too?

Pop one or two personal lasagnas onto the center of each plate, and stand back and admire how low your blood pressure is and how perfectly rolled up the personal lasagnas remain.  It’s lovely.

I promise you this will be one meal that your whole family will eat.  Even your cat.  At least, if your cat is like ours and only eats human food.  xoxo

Visit from an old friend

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I just had my dearest childhood friend come in for a quick visit.  It was too short but then again, it was just right.  She’s the kind of gal that I can go for a year or two without seeing, and my connection to her never changes one speck.

I get really attached to people.  I will love my husband always and forever, and no other man.  I will love and adore my children beyond measure forever, and never can anyone ever compare to them in my eyes.  My family is now my *one thing*, the one thing I need in this world.  I can do without anything else on this earth but those three souls.

I’ve always been like that.  I had one best friend growing up, and that’s all I ever really needed or wanted.

I met this fabulous human being when I was only 5 years old… that’s 31 years ago now.  She was my best friend all through the rambunctious silly childhood years, all through the awkward pre-teen years, all through the tumultuous teenage years, all through my evolving college and med school years…. really, until my husband became my soul mate.

And even now, she is someone that I will always treasure.  Because I’ll never have that kind of one-on-one amazing friendship ever again as an adult.  My family is my one thing, and I like it that way.  The amount I have left over for friends has changed.

Once I became a Mommy, everything past my kids became secondary.  And not only that, but friendships became much more communal, which is a good thing.  Playdates expanded to include entire families, social circles evolved, neighbors, artist gatherings, patients and customers — they all have special spots in my heart and I’m a richer, more balanced person for having this wider social network.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.  It’s just what I need as a mother and an artist and a woman.

But.  There is just no denying that, for me, I really did love having one, lifelong friendship.  If any of you have ever had one amazing best friend, you know just what I mean.

I didn’t have to wonder who I was going to go trick or treating with every year, who I’d sit with at lunch every day, who I wanted to hang out with after school.  Who I’d give a ride to my very first time driving a car.  Who I’d have spend the night on my birthday.  Who I wanted to see most on the first day of school.  Who I wanted to figure out growing up with… hairstyles, make up, bras, periods, boyfriends.

My friend of over 3 decades… I love knowing that when I’m 80 years old, I will have known you for 75 years.  94% of my life.  If that’s not special, I don’t know what is.

Thank you so much for visiting, Kristin!  xoxo