Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Elephant Medicine and Painting

Intuitive painting is one of those things that if you don't do it for a little while, it takes a bit to get back in to the flow. Sort of like when you haven't worked out for a long time and you need to stretch and recondition the muscles that you've grown used to not using before you can pick up where you left off.

Over the past two years I've built up what I refer to as muscle memory that triggers my brain to take the back seat so my intuition and I can have a talk. Not always, mind you, because there is still fun and enjoyment to be had when I sit down and say "I want to draw x, y or z thing" but when I want to do some deeper work and exploration. I set up things just so, get out a particular palette, stretch myself out and then ground myself before beginning.

I went through all these motions the other day and started painting what I figured would end up being three women. As the purple paint swooped and looped across the paper, I was fully locked in to this idea of three wise women; I even blocked out the musculature for the central one. But, as I worked I kept getting this internal nudge that sounded and felt very much like "elephant". What? Elephant? This was going to be three wise women, my intuition said so!


The turning point.

Wrong! My brain had decided that's what the painting was going to be, not my intuitive muscles. I stepped back from the painting for a moment and sure enough, I saw the beginnings of a large elephant in the shapes I thought would be women. Following the nudge, I began to work on it and was working much more easily than I had been. In the same time it took me to struggle with 3 shapes and some color, I was able to block out and color this spirit animal as well as begin work on the background before calling it a day.


As I talked about in a previous post, my motivation has been holding steady at empty, which has been frustrating to me, as I'm normally a doer. So I've been bringing myself to the paper for 20-60 minutes a day since Thursday - except the weekend, during which I was busily working on things outside. Some days it's been a struggle to get started, but once I'm actively working the process becomes relatively easy and cathartic. Probably because I'm working on a big blue elephant.

So, why an elephant?

Elephant is what I like to refer to as my lifelong totem. She's been by my side, literally, since the day I was born. Winter storm child that I am, I was born in a blizzard and all the shops aside from a small one near the hospital were closed. My dad, on his way to the hospital having left work, wanted to get me something and the thing this little store had that caught his eye was a ridiculously gigantic elephant toy. This toy is totally the carnival variety; filled with styrofoam beads, covered in not so soft flocking and wearing a party hat and clown ruffle (though the ruffle has gotten lost over the past 31 years). I loved that elephant and still do, it lives with me still and hangs out in my studio with me.

She's been a huge part of my life, as a favorite animal and totem since that day. I've read through the different tales and mythologies surrounding elephants in world cultures, have been active in conservation efforts for them since I was a teenager, have written numerous letters to have them released from carnivals, petting zoos, circuses and small zoos where they aren't properly cared for over the years and I even have one tattooed on my calf that I had done when I had come through a few years of emotional turmoil wiser and stronger than I had been before.


Ganesha, the elephant headed God and I have had a close bond since I found him over a decade ago. I will admit that at first I was drawn to him for his unique appearance but after getting to know him, he is one of the most gentle gods I've ever known. He is said to be another aspect of Hermes, much like Thoth, and seeing as how Hermes has been with me since childhood the connection to other aspects of Him makes sense to me.

But I digress. Elephant comes to me most often when I am feeling empty, drained and washed up. She lifts me up with her mighty trunk and lays me on her wide, strong back to rejuvenate. She fills me with strength as she carries me forward, removing obstacles that stand before me while bestowing on to me the wisdom to be gained from having struggled.

She comes to me when I'm faltering emotionally. When I feel scared or anxious, when I feel lost under a sea of "what ifs". She gently opens the door back to the space outside of those dark emotions for me, allowing love, confidence and commitment to the things I've chosen flow back in to me. She shows me through the actions of elephants out in the world what it is to be part of a family or community, what it is to care, to love and to nurture.


She comes to me now, when I'm at a huge threshold of change - when I am frustrated with myself, nervous and excited about the future, to give me her pearl of wisdom. To show me how to mother, by reminding me of all the mothering I've done for myself and others throughout the years. She comes to support me, to comfort me and to reassure me when I once again need her.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gratitude*Monday

I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots and several other lovely bloggers in honoring the things for which we've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook.

If you would like to join us, just click the image at the bottom of this post.


This Week I am Grateful For:

* Sunny afternoons spent outside.
* Long warm baths to soak the aches from bones and muscles alike.
* Free iced coffee! (I'm an iced coffee junkie)
* A safe and enjoyable (if quick) trip to NJ to visit friends and family one last time before baby comes this Summer. The trip back felt so much better than the trip up.
* Getting all the baby things tucked away neatly in to the closet. The rest of the future nursery is still a disaster, as it's a holding pen for all the stuff we'll be trying to get rid of at a garage sale next month.
* Canoodling with the husband.
* The yard looking better than it has in 2 years! We've been working really hard to get things in order this season.
* Biting the ears off chocolate rabbits, dying eggs and other Easter shenanigans with Joe.
* Homebrews galore! Every batch Joe's made has turned out delicious. The one I made is still fermenting, but since it came from a super simple kit, I'm sure it'll be just fine. ;)
* Long weekends.
* Forcing myself to not be a hermit and join Joe for a game night at a friend's house. We had a lot of fun, stayed out late and as a bonus, there was cheesecake. :)
* Getting a little bit of painting mojo on. As mentioned in my previous post, my motivation these days is somewhere in the toilet, so every little thing is a victory right now.
* Little successes on the road to not being hard on myself for aforementioned lack of energy and motivation.
* Hitting the 26 week mark! It's both exciting and scary as shit.



To join in Gratitude Sunday, click on the image below! Happy Week, lovelies.

Gratitude Sunday

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Of Trips and Funks; A Wee Ramble

We took an incredibly quick trip up North to visit our families in New Jersey this past weekend and attend a baby shower that my mom put together for us. And by quick, I mean brutally quick. As in 2 days quick. The car ride up was as expected, long and uncomfortable, as I had to stop, stretch and use the facilities every 1-2 hours and it poured for the last 4 hours of the drive, which made it slow going.

But, we made it safe and sound and stayed at a friend's house and were even able to meet up with friends we haven't seen in 2 years to catch up over late night diner munchies. We spent time with all of our parents, some of our extended family and were even able to visit our favorite woodland spots... mine on a mountain top and his in a swampy creek. We had a good, if hurried, time before heading back South on Monday.

We could have taken a longer trip, especially since I'm now a homemaker and Joe has vacation time, but we're squirreling that paid time off away for when the Acorn makes its arrival. His company gives him one week of paid paternity leave, but he wants to stay home with us for as long as he can afford to so he can give me time to recuperate, so we can figure out this new parenting thing together and so he can spend as much time with his baby as he can in the beginning. I'm over the moon knowing that he'll be here with me for those first few weeks and I've put a "no visitors allowed" rule in effect for that time period. Some people will think this is mean or tacky, but this is the first and longest time we'll have together as a family without work interfering. Everybody else can give us those precious few weeks (a grand total of 21 days) to enjoy and respect our wishes, or they can get bent out of shape over it. Their reaction isn't my concern, my newly made family is.

All that aside, despite how very much I love my family and friends up North and how very homesick I am for New Jersey sometimes, I couldn't wait to get back to my house, curl up in my own bed, pull the covers up over my head and go back to vegging. That's not a normal feeling for me, usually I love trips and vacations and want to prolong our stay by another day or two. Especially when we're back North, because there are so many places I want to visit again that we never seem to find the time to get to. But not this time.

I've also fallen out of my crafty, outdoorsy and spiritual practices. Blood Moon? What blood moon? I didn't even make it outside to look at her. I've been unemployed for almost three weeks now and I've not gotten even half of what I'd hoped to have accomplished by now finished. To be fair to myself, I was stressed out with vet visits and animal illnesses and took a small trip, but even so, the motivation is hard to dredge up most days. It's not a depression, but it is a funk. I feel worn out, pooped and sloth-like most days with the occasional day of ludicrous motivation in which I dramatically overdo it thrown in just to keep me on my toes. It's a bizarre feeling for me, one which I can only really blame on pregnancy hormones as I sometimes feel this way during my Moon Times.

While I'd very much like to snap out of it, I'm having a hard time finding the fucks to put towards doing so, until the end of the day when I become frustrated by all of my inactivity and sluggishness. My family and friends tell me it's ok, because I'm pregnant and my body is undergoing drastic changes and the baby is sucking up some of my resources and while I want to believe them, as my own worst critic, I have a nearly impossible time not being hard on myself for being lazy. I've always been a doer, a mover, a fairly motivated person and this drastic change is beyond frustrating to me.

Hopefully I'll get some of my pre-prego energy back soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Purple, Fudge, and Flowers

Thank you everyone for your kind words, crossed fingers and tails for Chico. I'm happy to report that his appetite returned to normal yesterday and we awoke to a strange thing to be excited about, poop in his litter box! Only when pets and children are sick do you get excited about poo, ha ha! He goes back to the vet tomorrow for a re-check and I'm optimistic about it.

Good news after a weekend of worry, cat stalking and a mini stomach bug would be much appreciated!

That all said, the weekend wasn't all bad. Spring seems to have decided she's ready to stick around in my area, the tentative old oaks have begun to bud and unfurl baby leaves. As they are always the last to do so, I take this as the sign that I can safely begin my Springtime planting. So, off to the store I went to pick up flowers to add to the garden this year. When it comes to planting flowers, I'm sort of a lazy daisy gardener who prefers to invest in more perennials than annuals, so I can watch them grow up year after year (and not have to plant so many things!). I did pick out a few show stopper annuals, like big gerbera daisies and dahlias to plant in the pots and a flat of dianthus to fill in the gaps between my perennials and keep the weeds down. We also laid out a very thick layer of new pine mulch to help keep the weeds (and therefore mosquitoes) down around the patio. I don't mind weeds in the yard really, but stay outta my gardens!



They just opened a Cabela's near us, and having never been, I wanted to go check it out. You know, I really had to twist the husband's arm to go to the outdoor store. ;) We walked around looking at all the camping gears, fishing stuff, taxidermy and armory sections. While I was off getting some just made mint chocolate fudge, Joe made friends with this wild boar:


He and some friends have plans to eventually go on a boar hunt so we can have some wild ham and bacon in the freezer, but now that I've seen how big they get (I've never seen a full sized boar living or dead before, I'm completely freaked out by it. After having a swift dose of pork based reality slapped in to my head, we hit the check out where I managed to spend 3x as much as he did. What can I say? Archery and fudge eating are pricey hobbies!

One other thing I did this weekend, is something I've been wanting to do forever but couldn't because I've always worked in corporate environments. And that my friends, is to have some purple hair! Not all of it, mind you, because I *just* cut out the last of my previously damaged by dying hair about a year ago and want to keep it mostly healthy for a while longer. So, for now it's just the bangs. My brother's fiance did it for me the other day as she's far more girly and knowledgeable about these sorts of things than I am and I think she did a great job. Hell, I even liked the bangs post bleach and pre-purple. It's sort of subtle in regular warm household lighting, but really pops in the sun and under fluorescent lights. I've gotten several compliments on it already, mostly from old men. Those guys have got some good taste!


excuse the "selfie face". I'm not good at taking photos of myself where I don't make some sort of face!


Once this fades out, I'm thinking I may go with fuscia or teal. And maybe some bold streaks or something on the underside of my hair where root upkeep won't be such a problem. The rainbow is the limit!

This post is all over the place, a by product of having some major writers block but not wanting to just let my little blog fall by the wayside and collect cobwebs again. I've found that like art, the more you write the easier it is to keep doing it. So, there may be some incredibly random postings here for a bit. And some folks will probably wonder why I'm not writing more about being pregnant and honestly? Not only is being a mommy blogger not even remotely my thing (if it's someone else's great, but it's not for me) but it's honestly not that interesting to write about shopping, doctors visits and my expanding waistline and I'm sort of talked out over it thanks to people offline turning that in to the only thing we converse about now. In this space I can still be Danni the witch, artist, crafter, rambler, wife, friend AND future mom and not just Danni the pregnant. And I want to keep it that way. :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chico and the Vet



This has been a very long week for me, as my Chico (that adorable cat face above) has been at the vet's office since early Wednesday afternoon. Out of nowhere he began walking around the house meowing, not unusual for him as he's a very vocal kitty. But then the meows became howls and I noticed him squatting around the house. Needless to say, I called the vet as I scooped him in to the carrier and prepared to get in the car.

Chico's had some health issues of the urinary tract infection type before, so I thought it was probably that again and prepared to have his usual pee sample and antibiotics. But when the vet touched his abdomen, my usual belly rub loving cat hissed and clawed at him as the vet pronounced he was full of feces. I scratched my head as they took him off to be x-rayed, thinking he had just eaten so that was probably why he was so full.

But when the x-rays came back, I was horrified to see that my poor kitty's colon was stretched in to an unearthly shape and his 2.5 pounds of weight gain was not the good kind. The vet discussed our options for clearing him out but also warned me that while this could be a one time thing where he had a blockage someplace, it could cause permanent damage or be a recurring issue. In either event, the first course of action would be a dietary change and medications and the second, last ditch effort, would be a surgery to reconstruct his digestive system. Which, my non-bullshit vet told me, is an awful procedure for both him and the patient and is something that may not work in the long run anyway, leading to future discomfort and prolonging the inevitable.

Needless to say as I left the office that day with my empty cat carrier, I was upset. And have been upset since. I've been wondering what will happen to him, but also noting the behaviors of Luna and our other kitty, Mister Molly. Luna has been moping and Molly has been extra needy in between bouts of wandering around the house calling for Chico while opening closet doors and looking under beds... as if he were hiding.

After several conversations with the vet the past few days, today he said things looked optimistic and that I could bring Chico home for the weekend to be started on a new diet and monitored for sufficient potty breaks. However, if he isn't eating or doing his business properly, he has to go back to the doctors on Monday and we'll need to go from there.

We've all got our fingers, toes and furry tails crossed that he'll be just fine over the weekend and that this will be a one time thing caused by stress, eating something he shouldn't have or dehydration. Any other crossed fingers, toes and tails are greatly appreciated.

xox

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gratitude*Sunday

I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots and several other lovely bloggers in honoring the things for which we've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook.

If you would like to join us, just click the image at the bottom of this post.


This Week I am Grateful For:


* Making time to work in my art journal.
* Venting heavy, but honest feelings to a small number of friends. Being witnessed and actually heard, versus just being told "it's ok" or having my back patted out of pity was more cathartic and helpful than I can say. These friends sharing their own stories of loneliness, longing for a tribe close at hand, womanhood, pregnancy and motherhood made me feel so much less alien and alone.
* Members of my Fearless painting tribe here in the South East hearing my frustrations and needs through my venting and pulling together to try to host a date to come circle with me here in my town. To meet up, paint, recharge and lift me up in the true spirit of sisterhood. Even if it doesn't happen due to scheduling, distance or other circumstances, just knowing these women who I've traversed this creative and emotional road with care enough to even consider doing this, means more to me than I can honestly put in to words. The closest I can come is it's magic. Pure fucking sisterly feminine magic. And it's amazing.
* Women sharing stories of strength and beauty rather than horror stories and worst case scenarios.
* Honest, no fluff or bullshit, conversations.
* The simple magics wrought through candles, incense, stones and oracles.
* My husband's never ending patience with me, my slower place and my horrid food aversions. Especially when I am so frustrated and hard on myself.
* Sleeping in until what felt like a completely decadent hour. 11 am! Haven't done that in forever!!
* Working some more on that king size quilt I started nearly a year ago. I know you've all forgotten about it, I almost did too!
* Finding a four leaf clover on a rainy day.
* FINALLY getting my seeds started. Indoors. It's still too chilly at night for direct planting of most things. :(
* Luna being especially well behaved and loveable lately! I know I don't talk about it much, but she's sometimes very grouchy. I take days when she is sweet as can be as blessings and to get an entire week with only a few half hearted grumbles as I bump her over when I get up to pee in the middle of the night? It's like a miracle!
* My baby shower here in SC today. I'll have photos up soon. But it was a wonderful day! The girl friends who I asked to plan it for me did a beyond amazing job getting everything taken care of and set up, and though we held it at my house, I wasn't allowed to lift a finger. There were fresh flowers, fancy garnishes in lemonade for me, thoughtful and fun gifts, hilarious games. But the best part, honestly, was the lack of drama and time spent with our friends just hanging out and shooting the shit on a beautiful day. It was coed, because I don't see why guys should be excluded, so it was less of a traditional "baby shower" and more of one big happy BBQ where Joe and I didn't have to work and got to open gifts. :)


To join in Gratitude Sunday, click on the image below! Happy Week, lovelies.

Gratitude Sunday

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quietly, She Comes



Despite the turning of the wheel, I know many places are still shrouded in the death throes of The Winter Crone. Even here in the land of eternal Spring, we've still been having cold days and frosty nights. The other night there were flurries! It's been keeping me from beginning my gardens as early as I normally do, not wanting the baby herbs and vegetables to be burned or killed by ice.

But still, she is coming. The Maiden Spring and her train of merry making and beauty. You can see signs of her arrival all around; in the return of the warm weather birds, in the buds of trees, in the flowers that say "I've slept enough, I'm blooming now!". In the growing strength and warmth of the Sun. She is coming, slowly, not being rushed by a calendar date or the celebrations of the Equinox.

And quiet, as her returning, were my celebrations of the shifting seasons. I woke up early on Ostara morning and had coffee with my visiting friends before heading out in to the warm sunshine after 3 days of cold and rain to sit in comfy chairs and catch up while the dogs played in the yard. My altar, much in need of a cleaning, was stripped of its stones, crystals, bones and bric-a-brac. These treasured pieces were brought out to let the sunshine burn away old energies and be renewed with the energies of the Equinox.

The space itself was cleansed with smoke and fire and the ringing of bells. Then everything was lovingly returned and rearranged, ready for this new cycle.

In small ways, I'm still celebrating Spring's returning. The windows are stubbornly thrown open whenever the sun is shining, the cobwebs of winter are being chased from nooks and crannies and the house is getting a top to bottom scrubbing of both the physical and spiritual variety. I've got yellow candles and sweet rose incense burning amidst bees and birds on my mantel and am soaking up the sound of birdsong.


Most years I celebrate the coming of Spring with a lot of pomp and circumstance on the Equinox, as the transitional seasons are the ones with which I am nearest and dearest. But this year, I'm taking my cues from the Maiden herself and doing so slowly, quietly and with faith that soon enough the Crone will retire her cold throne and make way for rebirth, renewal, growth and warmth. Making way, inevitably, for the Mother's return. Which, as I prepare to enter her sacred circle, will be extra special this year.