Tuesday, 23rd of August, 2016
Everyone says moving is stressful and while I understand how that could be the case I have to say, I am not stressed. I might have been briefly, but as you know I am always healing myself or as I like to now think of it, keeping myself whole. As long as I am whole, I am strong. As Helene said the other day, Attitude is everything and I seem to be managing precisely because of it.
1. a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.
The girls and I stopped by Acorn last week for the last time. It was a happy farewell that caught us all by surprise for just how much we had come to feel like part of the Acorn family. Goodbyes were said with tears in our eyes. Acorn Toy Shop is ever so special, it will live on forever in our hearts, however sentimental and soppy that sounds, it is true. I am so sappy, I know, but my gosh, what is more important to a mother than the memories of childhood play, and this is what Acorn represented to us. A place the facilitated some of the loveliest play imaginable. The people who keep it floating along , the women who work there, well they are just the most talented wise women I know. I will likely say that phrase a lot – (that most talented wise women I know).
So there we were in Acorn and Anna was asking me how moving was going? “Well, you know all moving is, is putting things into and out of boxes. And I really do not mind that.” I said. I was simplifying the process so that we could look at life like packing up blocks. Anna smirked at me with a pleased face, it is novel to have such an attitude in a world of complainers and stressors. “Children do that for play.” Anna said agreeing. “Yes they do!” I said smiling because I know. “I decided to just be relaxed about it, to think of it exactly as you say, as play.”
It really is most helpful to enjoy life this way, through play. As a child I did enjoy putting things in and our of boxes and certainly my children did as well. In fact yesterday Maya put herself in a box and when I went to open it she blurted out “Boo” and scared the life out of me. I screamed, and jumped and she laughed herself silly. I was a little stern in response and did not laugh myself. “Maya! You know Mummy can not handle getting a fright like that!” I said looking down on her smiling ludicrously from ear to ear in the box. I was frowning. But it was funny. I had no idea she was hiding in the box, and to be honest I do not know why I even went over an opened that box at that moment. I guess a fright was necessary? Or Maya needed a laugh?
All of that aside though, yesterday I only did a little packing. What else did I do yesterday? Let me think?
I took Elle bike riding. She graduated to Maya’s bike which is far larger and heavier than her old bike. The old bike was a BMX, and her new bike is a cruiser. I put the bike in the back of the car and took her to the park so she could practice going around corners in a safe place. The bike is big for her, but she managed it and was so pleased.
Then later in the day I went over to Elisa’s house to help organize some things. After breakfast with Elisa on Saturday, it was my goal to help set up Jaz’s creative space. I am sharing because there were some diamond moments.
“I’ll have you know, this is not my glitter. I am not responsible for bringing all this glitter into the house.” Elisa said in the most serious but comical way. She knows me, I mean really knows me. And she knows I detest glitter. Glitter used to be made of glass, and now, Eek, it is impossibly tiny pieces of plastic.
As I found yet another jar of black glitter, she became a little flustered, then decided to be funny. I mean come on now, judgement can be great! It makes us who we are. Elisa knows I draw the line with glitter and as I picked up the third giant cylinder of black glitter my inner voice was struggling to be quiet. With perfect timing she intercepted my mind. “Harry buys the glitter for his magic!” She said quickly enough to belie some guilt. “Oh, ok, point noted.” I said, holding up my imaginary notepad and pencil. “Harry buys copious amounts of glitter, NOT Elisa, full stop and underlined.” I said, with an enacted underline and punctuated full stop. Elisa’s husband is creative and he likes to make fantastical toys for children that involve lots of glitter. It was very entertaining to me that she wanted to make sure I knew, it was not her fault. It was her husband to who buys the glitter.
I love this friend so.
When I arrived at her house we went straight to the room that needed the most work. I surveyed the situation, and it was a bit of a mess. Ok, let’s not hold back. It was a big mess. I was not at all daunted because cleaning, and organizing is something I am very good at and it really is not hard for me. I do not know why this is the case, but I am pretty sure it is both nature and nurture for me, so a positive, positive. Therefore, natural.
“Let’s start by tipping out all of these drawers, and putting everything that is on the table and shelves onto the floor and once we have a big pile of stuff, we can sort it out into smaller piles of like things.” I said. Elisa was fantastic, she went along easily with this idea. “We are going to have to make the mess worse before it gets better.” I said, bracing myself.
Before long we had a huge pile of stuff taking up the entire floor space. It is at this point that you might wish you had not started. I looked around at all that mounted at my feet, everything in the world you could imagine. Pencils, markers, paper, books, lego, magazines, cords, staplers, scissors, crayons, photographs, a broken plant pot, soil and plant, synthetic clay, real clay, wax, packing tap, masking tap, washi tap, every measuring device imaginable, random useless promotional gimmick items, children’s artwork, paint, pastels, video cassettes, ribbon, string, googley eyes, a tattoo toupee set, paperclips, envelopes, paper bags, birthday cards and lots and lots of glitter. Honestly, I did not quite know where to begin. This was not even my stuff. When this happens, you just have to let your hands work without thinking. I let my intuitive organizer guide me.
I started by repotting the plant.
After that I got a little stuck, and began to wander around the room surveying. Some of the things needed to be cleared out, but some of the things were beautiful and useful. I reached down and picked up a pile of art postcards. The sort that would have been collected meaningfully over time from museum visits. As I leafed through them, I was moved, the art you know, it gets me. I felt all the beautiful creative souls shining through. When the self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh came to the top of the pile, I was struck with an idea!
“Do you have any ticky tacky?” I asked Elisa. She looked down at the floor that had absolutely every art craft, home office item imaginable, and then said. “Ah, no, I don’t think we do.”
One of things I loved about my friendship with Elisa is that I was always thinking of funny things I wanted to do with her. Our friendship was largely built on imagining skits, ads, or sitcom scenes we wanted to enact. We saw ourselves as a pair of slapstick wiseguys:
[ Ticky Tacky! – “It might stick, or it might not! It might tick you off, or it might tack your poster to the wall!” Wink, wink! Nudge, Nudge ]
Satire aside, and back to business.
“Well, I want to stick these artist postcards up on Jaz’s wall in her bedroom by her bed so she can look at them every day. They will inspire her.” I said.
Elisa liked that idea very much so even though we had just made an enormous mess on the floor, we stopped what we were doing and we went into Jaz’s room with the cards. I could see right away where they needed to go, along the wall where she lay in bed. I climbed in under her bunk, which was sheetless because she wets the bed every night. With my acute sense of smell I could detect the stale urine, but I let it seep into my soul in a gentle way. It is their normal, so I let it be mine. Holding out the cards, I began imagining how good they would look. “Can you call Jaz in here?” I said.
Elisa went and found Jaz and returned with some blue wall tape and handed it to me. With Jaz sitting by my side, I laid out the art cards and explained to her what I wanted to do. Jaz loved this idea and both to my surprise, but also expectedly so, because I know how brilliant she is, she said. “We could put them up in warm and cool colors.” My eyes spread over all the cards that were before us and I too could see that there was a balance of warm and cool colors in the lot. “Oh that is perfect. What a great idea. Very clever!” I exclaimed. “Let’s start with the cool colors. You pass me all the blues.”
One by one Jaz handed me the art postcards that were predominantly made up of paintings with blue. Elisa was part of the cooperation by wrapping pieces of blue tape over her finger, and passing it to me. Before long we had the whole length of the bed, fours lines high of art postcards installed.
There is another bit too, that I also must share. When I sat down on the bed before we started, there was one picture already on the wall. A photo of a dog printed at the top of a piece of white computer paper. You could see fold lines, and tell that the paper had been handled.
“We will have to take this down.” I said in a clear-cut way, pulling the dog picture from the wall. “No!” Jaz blurted out without restraint. Her reaction instantly reminded me of a conversation Elisa and I had on another Saturday morning breakfast date. Jaz had a dog that died, and repeatedly in the evening at the end of the day, Jaz has to talk about how much she misses the dog. Often she cries about it still, over a year later. When Elisa told me this story it very clearly made sense to me given Jaz’s physiology and metaphysics that it was not really about the dog at all.
When Elisa shared this, I instantly said, “Oh, I understand. This is a release for her, of the sorrows and fear at the end of the day. It is how she is able to cry it out any other worldly pain she may have felt.”
I am not sure that Elisa had even had a chance to think what was happening herself, beyond Jaz really missed that dog in a big way, but together through his conversation we established, that Jaz had worked out that crying from death was ok, and socially acceptable. Every night she needed to release all the energy that she picked up in the world, and so she cried over the dog that had died, the only real tragedy that she knew. The dog represented a place to release emotion. She would look at the picture of the dog as an outlet, and here I was wanting to take the picture down. I was privy to this thankfully, and so instantly I knew what to say.
“Oh Jaz, I remember now, this is your dog!” I said apologetically. “You know what, this dog picture needs a better place, it should be on your altar! Do you have an altar for your special things?” I took a quick look around her room and could see an altar space was not possible. “Well, if not, you could put this at the top of your bed, above your pillow, and then you could make it even more special, by sticking other things around it to make it into a work of art.” I said, imagining her developing something that would be symbolic and meaningful.
It was then that I was able to go deeper with Jaz. I had thought if this before I arrived at their house, in the dark hours of mediation, I did not know why, but here was my opening. “Jaz, did you know, that you can communicate feeling, through mark making?”
Jaz set one vivid blue eye on me like I was a great source of power. The other eye was hidden under a lock of think red hair. You know when you get direct soul attention, at that moment, she knew I was going to shine some light on her.
“Well,” I said, picking up a pad and paper that was to my side. “In our daily life, we make marks. It could be as simple as walking on the beach and leaving our footprint in the sand. That is a mark. There are also other ways to make marks, where you do it on purpose, to communicate with greater intent. Communication comes in many forms, not just with words. We can communicate with marks. Art is language.” I began to draw lines on the page. “Some marks can be quick, some marks can be slow. Some can be zig zag and some spiraled. Some marks are much more literal they look like something we clearly know. All of these marks, regardless of what they are, can have meaning. They represent something. Like for instance, so to does color. What do you think red represents?
“Anger” Jaz said fiercely, seeming to emulate the word. My minded wanted to soften the association of red for her and explain that it could also represent love, but I let anger and red be her choice. “Yes, red can represent warmth and heat and fire. And blue can represent cool, and calm and water.” Blue can also represent death, but it is good to keep things simple to start with. Jaz was listening and so I continued.
“Really the most important thing to understand is that you can communicate through colors and mark making. You can let your emotion and feelings, out into the world in ways other than words and tears. Your Mom, can not be there every night for you to talk about your dog, and when you grow up you are going to need a way to show your feeling in a way other than by talking. If you are able to paint a picture, and say, this is a picture about my feelings for a dog, well then that will make you into an artist, and people will be interested to hear your story about your dog, and how you expressed that.”
Jaz was with me, watching me make marks on the piece of paper, watching my lips move. I could feel her absorbing. Elisa sat by my side, and I could feel her heart beating, with love. Just wanting her child to thrive in this world.
“I really like to talk to your Mom too, but she is not always there for me either, and when we are not together to share, when I can not tell her about my feelings and emotions, well then I have to do art too. From the moment I met you Jaz, I knew you were an artist. You are an artist Jaz”
I pointed to an abstract painting, of blurred warm lines. “This could be a painting about the artist’s feelings for his Dog.”
Jaz’s eye became very vivid at this moment. It was her soul responding to my words, she lit up in hearing someone confirm her soul calling, what she did not know herself, but somehow knew. That YES, it was there, the artist in her.
To shift the feelings Jaz began looking at the few post cards that were left on the bed. “I want to put this one up.” She said, choosing one card of a red rose with a black background that I had purposely left out. It had a lot of black in it, and I did not think it fit in. For some reason it had been scissor cut and it had a wonky edge. It was smaller than all of the other cards which were lined up in unison. My immediate reaction, was that the card would look wrong with the others. I can be fairly particular and I wanted to dissuade her from adding this card to the nicely formed pattern.
“What about you stick that card up on the wall next to the picture of your dog? I suggested. Jaz was open to this idea, and we went back to the discussion of sticking other images around the dog to make it more special. “You could collage other things around the dog photo.” I suggested. It was then that I took the oddly shaped card from her hand to look at it closer. “Oh my, it is a poppy! Not a rose at all! I exclaimed feeling the marvelous effects of when everything is meant to be. “Do you know what a poppy represents Jaz?” I asked. “It is a symbol of remembrance.”
The magic was felt by all three of us equally. This one funny little card that was left over, became the perfect beginning of Jaz’s memorial collage. I had grand visions then of an out of this world creative remembrance shrine for her dog. Which would be a capsule in the cannon of Art object standing in place for loss and pain.
Everyone needs an outlet for feelings to be released safely. #Artforwellbeing. In schools. PLEASE.
We went back to organizing. I requested Jaz help by testing a huge pile of markers on paper so we knew which to put in the recycling. After she was about half way through the pile she looked down at the sheet of paper in front of her that was now covered with all variety of lines, shapes and colors, and she announce, “Do you like my mark making?” Elisa and I smiled at each other feeling incredibly pleased.
Jaz got it.
That feeling of healing. That feeling of being whole.
After three hours of helping at Elisa’s I went grocery shopping. To my delight our very favorite supermarket employee was back at work after being off for months from knee surgery and rehabilitation.
“Dahlia” I cried out from the bakery aisle. “You are back!” her face lit up and even though she was swiping food through the register for someone else she began to speak to me. I could see her eyes flickering at every item while her exuberance poured out of her sweet heart. “Ooooh, it is you!” She shrieked back equally as loud and excited. She does not know my name, and that is fine with me. “Dahlia, we move in a week, and I have been asking about you, I have asked about you so many times and I was worried we would not see you before we moved. We wanted to say goodbye.” Dahlia’s cheeks seemed to get rosy under her melanin skin. “I knew which customers were askin’ about me.” She said, “I said, that’s my girls, they’re special ones to me.”
Dahlia then asked about Maya and Elle, and I explained that they were excited about going to Maine, “Awe, I’m gonna miss y’all.” She said as sincerely as one can to someone you do not know the name. I took a moment to look her over, she was sitting on a stool behind the register which was not the usual thing to do. Her braids were fresh and new for back to work. She looked happy and the same. I felt a tinge of worry that the weight she carried was making the knee surgery recovery long, but I decided instead to focus on the positive.
“Did you get to spend time with your grand-baby?” I asked. “Yes, he looks for me now.” She said just beaming. “Oh I am so glad, when I heard you were going to be off for so long I thought to myself, that you would enjoy the time with your grandson.” Dahlia nodded, “It was god’s plan.” She said.
Dahlia had shown me photos on her phone just after he was born, in fact I was there being served by her after she had received news that her daughter in law was in labour. I could see she dearly wanted to leave work right at that moment and be with her son. I had wanted to go and ask the manager to excuse her and give her a paid afternoon off so she could be with her family at that exciting time. I had asked him lots of things, lots of times, and were it not for being a franchise I knew he would have said yes. But you know how the world works, sadly, at this point Wholefoods does not have grandparent maternity leave. Unless you have to have knee surgery.
With groceries in hand I left Wholefoods and made my way home. Gosh I was tired. I was glad when I walked in the kitchen and there was dhal from yesterday on the stove and I did not have to cook dinner. Cam wondered where I had been and what I had been doing? It was rare for me to come home at 6:30pm.
“I was at Elisa’s helping her organize her house.” I said. Cam looked at me like I was a weirdo. “Aren’t you supposed to be doing that to our house?” I nodded with a knowing grin. “Yes, I will do that to our house tomorrow.”
Thank you for reading Magnesium Blue