Did I mention I was published??

So. Thank you for the kindness shown on my last post. I don’t have words to tell you what your words mean to me. Or how much comfort they bring as I muddle my way through this.

Thank you and much love. xx

In the interests of this place not being all about my sadness I have some quite exciting news…I have been published.

Start the squealing and jazz hands. I received the actual copy of the book {an actual book with my art in!!!} just before our holiday and then later events took some of the shine off, but oh my gosh. One of the pictures selected was my class I did for 21 Secrets. Just exciting.

It is a book filled with contributions and interviews from other art journallers, as well as a few ideas for how to get started. Ironic if you think about my own situation…maybe I should dig it out for more than looking at the photos and MY NAME!! ;)

Here is the book…you can find out more about it here.

image

And here are my pages….oh my gosh!!

image

Geeky thrilling.

And a recent discovery that thrilled me no end as well is that I was mentioned in the introduction!!!!

image

Again…more advice I should remember and actually live.

So not all about the sadness…and that is good to remember as well.

The teal of my tale

I am hesitant to experience what Brené Brown calls a vulnerability hangover, but equally if I don’t have somewhere to share I will explode and this is so very much part of my tale and this is my space. So I am sharing my current experience of miscarriage and I also know the power of sharing our stories and literally how reading another’s experience in the middle of the night can ease some of the pain and aloneness. 

I know everyone experiences things differently and some don’t struggle with a miscarriage like I have but I am struggling. In the very depths of my soul. 

I will start backwards though because yesterday was three months since I delivered my 7 week bean I have named Constance on the side of the road in the middle of our family holiday. It was a day of reflection forced upon me because over the weekend some who I care most about in the world indicated that I was not sad over losing Constance but sad over my life in general. Intimating ever so carefully and what felt not understood that I was grief crazy and not in my right mind. 

Sparked by my husband declaring he did not want us to try for another baby. He felt that his age and our lifestyle would not benefit from a new baby. I disagree from the most primal heartfelt place in me. But it was framed over the weekend that my husband held the practical rational point of view, while I was heartbroken and grief filled and presumably in that assumption lacking reasonableness and practical rationality. Maybe. But when did emotions become wrong or lesser against logic?

In any event this is a discussion that will continue to be had by my husband and I because I am not ready to concede that life that I glimpsed. Rightly or wrongly this is where I am. 

I do however concede that my husband’s decision has made me realise that I had delayed feeling all my grief over Constance with the thought that I would be blessed with a new baby. When my husband told me that was not what he wanted I have felt the feelings of grief all over again. So strong. 

I have felt every part of this pain. I have faced it. I have journaled in a special book I bought on the day of my miscarriage where I have written to God, my baby and even to myself. I have sat and just cried. I have sat and felt sad and heartbroken and broken and empty. I have sat and listened to whispers. That is how I learnt my baby’s name and even that she was a girl. I have consciously felt my grief. Touched it. 

Though on the weekend I was made to feel that I had had enough time. This was not over a lost baby and I felt like I was been made to move on. But I was not even at the three month mark. And I say to them and to you and to myself that at three months we are still allowed to be deeply sad and broken and numb. We are allowed to have good days and bad days. We are allowed to cry. We are allowed to want another one. And I know for sure that grief is not rational and practical and we are damn sure allowed to not be rational and practical and that is good. That is okay. And I am not the only one. Neither are you if you are reading this in the middle of the night with tears running down your cheeks wondering if you are crazy. You aren’t. Neither am I. 

Mothering is not a rational practical journey. So I don’t think the deciding factor on a baby should be only rational or practical either. And the also don’t think our grief over lost babies is rational or practical. The biggest loss I feel is the lost dreams I had for her. I had worked out where her 3 month portrait photo would go next to her brother and sister’s. I had glimpsed my future of breast feeding, wondering what sort of sleeper she would be, wondering what it would be like after the big gap. Excited at what I knew now and looking forward to cherishing the heck out of her. I didn’t just lose a 7 week old foetus, I lost all those dreams and thoughts and wishes because you don’t just start loving your baby when they are born, you love them in your belly if you are lucky and blessed enough to conceive. 

On the side of the road, telling my children to stay in the car, four hours after my labour pains had begun, one day after been told there was no heartbeat anymore, two days after I first started spotting, I delivered a baby and lost dreams and so much potential. It wasn’t tidy. It was hard and traumatic and surreal. I am beyond grateful my beautiful husband was there to support me and hold me up and love me. I know what I have and am lucky to have when I look at my beautiful children. But knowing that does not take away from what I have also lost.

It was real, and three months does not make it any less so. Even with the thought of a need for a new baby to bless our family. Because I will still be the mother of an angel. That can’t change. I know because I have wished and prayed for that very thing and it is still the same. 

So. The start of my story or what I will share for today because it is enough. And it is a start because it is a journey. And not all of it can be tied up in a bow, sometimes it is just messy, and may skip around and make no sense, but I will share and express my story here. A blog that started off about how to define my joy. Ironic that it will be this space where I hopefully find it again as well. Where I will define a new joy.

I am sorry to those who are only here for the art and creativity. But that will be here too. This influences a lot of my art at the moment. I have become obsessed with spirit vessels and plaster angels and wings which I will share here. And emptiness. That too.

But this will be here too. For those who are looking for threads in the middle of the night. To try to weave together so they can hold themselves together in the light for those that need them. And because I need this for me too. In a purely selfish way. 

I see you. I see me. And we are doing okay. I have never subscribed to rational and practical and I won’t start now or try to define my grief journey through that lens either. I love those people that want me to be in a different place, and I know they only want to help and are trying to do what they think would be best. Sometimes though we need to trust our own whispers in the darkness. 

Week one of my 52 week project

These are in my sketchbook from week one…some are still awaiting colour and are not finished so I wasn’t going to post them but actually…that is the point. And if I set rules that things need to be finished I will never post so I am just going to post the pages and not comment on their finishedness. 

They are in my sketchbook after all!!

Spring colour study #52weeksofsketching
Sketching with charcoal and soft pastel and painted strips. #52weeksofsketching
Pattern making. #52weeksofsketching
Preparation for a colour study. #52weeksofsketching
Shapes to be filled in for a colour study. #52weeksofsketching

Friday forging

I did week two and it seemed all over the place. One that the messages will take a while to process…some of them anyway. :)

Week 2 of #fridayforging. Messy and not all that clear. Some messages take a while to process.

And in between there was a hospital visit and Easter and the completion of my RCIA journey so I am now a proper Catholic in the most beautiful and intimate of celebrations at the Easter vigil service on Saturday night. 

Week 3 of #fridayforging.

And then this week. Where I am now Programme Director of an After School Programme which is crazy insane and a huge jump from where I am trained and where I was looking but I am excited and terrified in equal doses and it feels good. Very good. 

I have been thinking about art workshops for children and when I saw this come up I had a calling to explore the possibility and I did. I was successful…and then wondered what on earth I was doing but the experience will be invaluable and in the terror I am feeling very alive as well. So hopefully this goes well. I start in a couple of weeks and have started planning…actually looking at the messages on this last page it perfectly reflects what I just said…some weeks you don’t have to try too hard to process!!

Friday Forging

This morning I started again…yet again. I decided to begin with what I know works because I don’t have any answers or know where else to start. 

So with morning pages which I have not done for a very long time…hmmm…wondering why I feel so lost and wandering is becoming somewhat clearer when I am not using the tools I know work for me and which I possess in my toolbox already. 

I bought a new book for my morning pages yesterday…I didn’t need one, I have a few half started ones but I just couldn’t get started in them. So with awareness that while waiting for a “perfect book” to start is another procrastination sign and while I know I am being mindful about my mindless spending…I bought one anyway. And this morning I started…again. Some cracker truths came up that knocked me in the gut and reminded me why it is such a valuable practice and why I need it. 

Starting again with what I know works. Sometimes it feels like I am always starting again. #morningpages

And while I was back to utilising my existing tools I decided to pull out my weekly reflection journal and do a found word collage. It is very wordy and I haven’t reflected on it yet but I really liked that pairing of “Friday Forging”.  The idea of creating with a bit of hammering and beating and reflecting on my week, and what I want to come. Taking my weekly reflections to a bit of a different place but the same idea…we will see. That is my intention for right now. 

More of back to what works. Pondering the messages. #weeklyreflections #fridayforging

And this…52 weeks of sketching. It was a spontaneous idea and I have decided to run with it. It scares me because of the commitment when I am not sure how I am but sometimes we need to run with these crazy ideas. To at least start and see where we end up. I like the idea of sketching too….no pressure, less than drawing, raw, able to be unfinished, exploring and meandering. Seeing where they go. I need this to start creating again. I need to create again. Need to. But I don’t know how to start and so my sketchbook will be where I begin. 

So I pulled out my sketchbook and did a quick logo and I am ready for the weekend. To sketch and to see where that goes. To start. Yet a bloody again. Not knowing what lays ahead or what the right path is…or even where the path is but knowing that sometimes you just need to do it and start. 

A new project. Somewhere to start. #fridayforging

Still standing

Goodness is anyone still here?!  

No need to answer that!!! :)

Since I was last here I got married after a two week engagement…which was a whole lot of crazy and even more magic. I have never felt so well held by my friends and am eternally grateful! So now I am no longer Natasha White but Natasha Watson!

upload

Our parents had become resigned after over a decade together that there would be no wedding but just when we had no money we decide to have a wedding…perfect timing because with more time and money I would have spent more and the day was gloriously perfect how it was. 

It has taken me a while to get used to the name change after living 37 years as one name, but it was important to my husband, more important than I realised and it is becoming more normal!! 

My perfect wedding reception...

When my closest friend/wedding planner asked me at the start what my perfect wedding looked like, I replied a combination of Downton Abbey and the wedding in Mamma Mia. I wanted a sense of occasion and an event, but also the celebration of love in Mamma Mia. And my wedding planner delivered and then some! The day was just magical and I wouldn’t change anything. 

As well as that little miracle performed by God I found out I was pregnant in January with what would have been a wedding baby. Once the shock wore off we were very excited but unfortunately while we were on our big Summer South Island adventure I lost our little bean. Which is the most devastating experience I have had. On so many levels. The loss of potential and expected dreams and memories. I am grateful that we were together during the loss and that we left her in a beautiful spot in the end. 

The spot where I left a part of my soul.

 Also that at the moment I felt like my heart was breaking to never be repaired that I had the presence of mind to take a photo as we hopped back into the car. 

And so I come back to this space not the same person, and with a new name. I am not sure what this space even looks like now but I picked up some paint a couple of days ago and it was a start. 

A bit like this post. As I figure out what I am doing and what anything means and where on earth is my next step. This step is right here. And I am climbing back on. 

Again. 

Holding the parts of my life

p20141030-224518

The poem from the yesterday {when I began writing this post} the other day was my way back to this space.  I read it just a little while ago and it gave me words to even begin to describe where I have been.

I have been flat for such a long while. But pretending otherwise, because if you fake it you make it, and all of that. You are what you think so I was all on top of everything and holding it altogether and actually inside I wasn’t so much.

But I didn’t think I was depressed. Because I wasn’t crying all the time, and I wasn’t really sad, I was just kind of joyless. Ironic given the name of the blog!! :)

But I was holding it together, to one extent or another, not many people would have realised quite how out of whack I was…because even I didn’t. So..life happened.

Things got a bit demanding on the Board and took so much energy and time to work through the processes we needed to go through unexpectedly as a school, my Beloved was made redundant, both of us looking for work to pay mortgages and all that other unfun stuff but to no avail.

Feeling completely useless and not of service or value to anyone because I was not/am not getting employed in paid work. Losing all creativity (perhaps the scariest thing of all because it just is, really scary, still). Not sleeping except for a couple of hours for weeks. Suffering panic attacks…4 or 5 a day at one stage. Having a difficult relationship with my family of origin and that going to a place that is completely foreign to me, and I was in a place. A place where I had nothing left, just really flat.  Not really sad, though I had tears as well, but I felt more lost and completely overwhelmed than sad.

I was also completely empty.

So I put a brave face on it, but I only had enough for the most immediate of needs, which was not here, and besides with my dearth of creativity, I had nothing to share anyway.

A friend came over and opened a well of tears while she was here but I still felt I could manage this.  I had not yet succumbed to needing drugs again.  I was aware, I was taking self-care steps, I was not weak enough to need drugs.

And then one Saturday we went for a drive to the beach and I saw this view of the ocean (in the photo I took above and it was the most beautiful moment of grace that I didn’t have the capacity to hold it and I broke down and realised I did in fact need drugs. So over the rest of the day I came to the realisation that I couldn’t do it anymore and in fact I needed to go on drugs. Again.

And I snapped a couple of self portraits on that day of breakthorough. As well as some shots of scattering sea gulls that felt a lot like the mixed up detrius of my mind.

2014-11-28 10.35.38

So I made an appointment and went to my most fabulous doctor, and got sleeping tablets, and anti-anxiety tablets, and antidepressants and I evened out…eventually.

I still had no joy. But I was not crying and my panic attacks were only a few a week. No creativity though I did try.

I thought I may art journal my way back but I couldn’t even finish this page and didn’t get any further.

20141202_095542

At the doctors 6 weeks ago she asked how I was doing and I shrugged, and said okay, better than I was, and to my surprise she said she was going to double my dose of antidepressants because she thought I was still under medicated and my usual joy and spark still wasn’t back. So she did.

And the most amazing thing happened.

I felt lighter and actually happy for the first time in over a year maybe. Actually truly happy with no thought at the back of my head about what a faker I was. I made these photos when I was playing.

And I am there now. Feeling lighter. But still no creative urge so that scares me.

But I am here.

Trying to find my way back and trying to figure out what that means for me.