After months off this Morning Pages writing is extremely effective at opening up my mind and generating blog topics and content. Getting through a month of daily blog posting for #nanoblopomore would probably be a failure already if I didn't start up Morning Pages in late October. I came up with three rough drafts just this morning for me to expand on later. I love it! This leads me to believe that I should find a way to make Morning Pages work for me year round and not just during the dark and cold winter months. If I want to keep blogging and I do then I need to write more or my mind will just be visual. The visual is obviously super important but adding text to my visual thoughts and journey and being able to express myself with words is pretty important for eventual success.
I took the weekend off blogging, rode my bike, got my hair cut and spent time outdoors with my family. Did minimal art stuff and didn't spend much time thinking about my next steps. I have been feeling plagued with a lot of "what next" kind of worries and the weekend of glorious weather and one sick child seemed like as good a time as any to step back for awhile. Vacation is next week. The world didn't end and I felt better starting out the week after a bit of rest. I still kept my sketchbook up because that is completely habit at this point.
Spending so much time drawing lately. Last week I decided to take a break from printing because all the handwashing was drying my hands out so bad they were at the point of cracking and bleeding. Eeek! I got some Gloves in a Bottle to help but I think I got them a little too late to help me out until I focus on some serious healing time. I hadn't made the connection of why I tend to draw and carve in the winter and print in the spring and summer and fall until now, maybe dry skin is why. Because I cannot escape the horrible dry winter skin. On the plus side that means as I give my hands a chance to heal by not handling ink and not washing them quite so much I can focus on drawing and generate some ideas and just generally enjoy that time to just draw. It's been pretty fabulous.
It's super cold out there. But it's also clear and sunny with no snow or ice on the roads. And I am very aware that a snow storm is always a possibility in this city until into May. So of course I am picking up my little one from preschool on my bike whenever possible! Life is good. She's already outside and in winter gear when I get her from school and it is easy to just stick her on the bike and go home. If I can bike a little bit in February then I can bike even more in March. I have been having to drive to the burbs for appointments a few times a week and the lunchtime walks and bike rides help heal me from the mental trauma those rush hour drives cause.
Last year I got into riding my bike to get around the city. I would bike to run errands, I would bike by myself and I would bike with my littlest buckled in a seat behind me. Just as I started to really get into a groove with it the weather turned frigid and it started to snow. And I stopped because snow and ice are my limit when it comes to biking. There is still some melting snow on the ground but no ice on the roads so I was able to go on a nice little ride by myself this morning. I know that we could get hit with another snow storm tomorrow so I made sure to get out while I still could. I officially have spring fever. Come on spring! We miss you so much. Sledding and snowman building are both very fun but enough already. Winter is such a drag.
Last year when we went out to dinner on my birthday it was freezing as we walked through Boston Common in the dark windy cold. My husband asked if we could move my birthday out of February and I asked to relocate to somewhere warm. Another year passed and we have done neither. Flight tickets in February are all kinds of expensive and this winter in particular one needs to go pretty far in order to get legitimately warm weather. And I can't just change the date of my birthday. What I can do is change my headspace and catch myself whenever I start feeling sorry for myself. Instead of dwelling on being stuck home alone with the kids in Boston during vacation week as another storm heads our way I am thinking of blessing. Enjoying my awesome kids and coming up with a plan to get us through this day. And maybe even letting them watch too much TV between craft projects so I can spend some quality time in my studio today and this week. Here I am, buried in the snow in Boston with my two fabulous and completely crazy children and it's not so bad. That's just what happens with a February 18th birthday.
Busy day today with no time spent in my studio. Plus February "vacation" is next week. Yay! So disappointed but there is always a chance tonight. It's a absolute mess outside and I'm happy to stay put tonight and get some work done. Staying warm with a cup of hot tea and drawing sounds like the perfect way to spend this snowy winter night. I don't think I will ever be in love with winter. But the winter blues are skipping me this year and that is good enough for me.
I am starting to suspect that happiness is tied to the ability to adapt and roll with the punches of life. Sadly, that is not my natural way of being. My nature is to freak out when something doesn't go as planned. Then get mentally stuck in the problem and the perceived loss. But I am learning bit by bit how to roll with the changeability of life more these days.
The other week I got an extended lesson on being adaptable after dropping the kids off at school when I learned that I had dropped my keys. It was one of the coldest days of the year. Thankfully I found out because the person that had picked them up had called one of the businesses that I have a keychain card for and identified me. Bad news was I had to get myself to the Longwood area to pick up my keys from her. It was a freezing walk carrying my child's mini kick scooter and at times I thought my body parts were going to start falling off. Despite the cold I decided to make the best of being in that area and go a little farther to the Museum of Fine Arts and buy some printmaking paper at the school supply store. They have the best paper selection in the area. By the time I got home it was time to pick up the little one. Oh well. I needed paper and there is never really a convenient time to get it. The next day when I unrolled my paper I learned that I had been given the wrong paper and had to go back and exchange it. Oh well again. I did that last weekend. It was no longer freezing but mild and rather sunny. I walked around Fenway and got lunch at my favorite Thai Restaurant. And they gave me an extra sheet of paper for my trouble. Not so bad at all. The journey took longer than planned but the ending was a lot sweeter.
Winter walks taking in the beauty whenever the sun is shining. I miss biking but these walks help. Spring is coming.
Another snow day here in Boston. What is it with all these mid-week storms? I shouldn't complain because I think another storm is forecasted for this weekend. Looking at the snow piling up outside it is hard to believe just this past Sunday we were stomping around in rainboots at light jackets at a local farm. Not today. We might go out later to build a snowman or sled. But mostly today is for staying inside and doing art. Like contact paper sun catchers for our windows. That is, we will do that if they ever stop playing together in their room. Little sister is super excited to have her big sister home with her today. My Little Pony, Lego, Magnatiles, dressup and even trains have all come out so far this morning. There is still plenty of time to make one of these right? We did it!
The radiator in the bathroom drips a little bit. The other morning the floor was so cold that the water was freezing on the tile in a little stalagmite icicle. There isn't much snow on the ground either so there isn't much winter fun to be had. Plus, have I mentioned that it is really cold outside and I have a three year old that hates winter coats and snowpants and is generally a pain to go outside with? Yeah that. It is all okay though because this makes it the perfect time to stay warm in the house moving around doing some pre-spring cleaning, organizing and purging and working on art and crafty projects with the kids. Look it is Olaf from Frozen in a shrinky dink that I made with my six year old! Winter isn't so terrible when you adjust your mindset a bit and adapt to what you are given.
Despite living in cold and snowy climates my entire life enjoying or even accepting winter does not come naturally to me. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in the mid-west in an area with snow but no hills so no good sledding unless you can find another kid or a dog to pull you. Not the same kind of fun as sledding down a steep hill on a simple plastic sled. In Chicago we built a lot of snowmen and igloos in the winter and had many snowball fights. Out east the snow is less conductive to building things but hills are all over the place and we have a great one for sledding with the kids walking distance from our house. I have good boots, a good coat, wool socks and snow pants so I was ready to spend hours having fun in the snow with my six year old. And to my surprise I actually had fun and didn't complain about the weather once. If you live in New England and spend all winter pining for spring and summer like I have done in years past then you are bound to be miserable. No more pining for Summer or crossing my fingers and praying for a mild winter. Just acceptance and doing my best to enjoy the winter that we get. After all we only get so many of them to enjoy why waste the time year after year being miserable? Also, how can I possible be miserable when she is so happy? It just is not possible to be sulky around such pure joy.
Snowy days, illnesses, furniture building, redecorating, milestones, birthdays, parties, no school and Christmas. That has been my life these long cold weeks. Before I knew it these things had taken up all of December. No time for myself or for my art. Then I got my surprise trip to NYC without the family to recharge and came home just in time for the New Year to start and Boston to get a blizzard. The snow is coming and my kids are off playing nicely together and I have a chance to write and think. It won't last so I need to seize the peace whenever I have it. It's all about balance. Sometimes I lose the balance but I always find it again with some effort.
We are buried in snow here in Boston a week before Christmas and I am trying to enjoy it while deep down I am pining for Autumn and feeling my annual winter Autumn regrets. Regretting that I let myself get so busy that I didn't enjoy glorious fall it it's full potential. The snow is really pretty right now and sledding is fun but winter in the city is a challenge. It gets ugly fast and the ice makes getting around just plain dangerous. At the very least getting around in the winter can be very tricky and require some extra planning and time. And of course it is very cold! But autumn is just lovely! The colors, the crisp air and the food. Just wonderful. Unfortunately that is also when school and activities start and the weekends fill up quickly. Right now I regret that we only went apple picking once, that we never made it to the Arboretum when the leaves were turning, that I didn't go on more bike rides and that we didn't carve a pumpkin for Halloween. The snow is on the ground and there is no going back now. Not until next fall when I will again be busy and partially crippled from anxiety about the impending winter.
Like just about everyone my days are very busy and it is often very hard to carve out art time during the day. Unfortunately I typically don't have much creative energy left in the evening after the kids go to bed. Which is a pity since that is sometimes the only time I have to make art. Thankfully carving is totally different and doesn't take much creativity or energy once I have a drawing already mapped out on the woodblock. Carving is a mentally minimalist and meditative process that gives me a chance to unwind at the end of a long day. Not too many things out there get me to slow down but carving a block of wood is one of those things that does force me to slow down and narrow my focus to the quiet and labor intensive careful task of carving a block of wood to print in the spring. As the days get shorter and colder there is something just right about spending the evenings in my little studio carving while drinking a cup of hot tea. As summer ended I found myself craving to have a large block of wood to slowly carve away so I got started on the planning and sketching. That is what I did during most of October. Now I am ready to carve.