The Art of Convivial Living

Hello kindred spirits. It’s been a while since my last “inscription.” WARNING: This blog is the mother of all blogs I’ve written. I’m playing catch up to cap off the year so hold tight and hang with me for a moment. I have much to say.

Since announcing my move to Austin, I’ve been quite the gypsy mama, traveling back and forth from Dallas to Austin. My husband and I have been on the house hunt since renting out our home in November and haven’t hit gold yet, but I’m patient and holding out for the most convivial home of them all. It’s out there and I’m ready to plant my feet on the grounds of the State Capitol of Texas, or somewhere close enough.

Changes are brewing on the convivial home front…

This being in limbo, not knowing where my family will hang their hat and call home screws with a lot. With any kind of move you make, there is no way it cannot change you, and it definitely plays tricks on your mind.

I like to know where I’m going, what the plan is, a woman who, as one friend put it, “requires a lot of answers,” and when there are so many unknowns, well, I’m gonna get antsy, uncomfortable, and I’ll do my best to keep my irritability in check, but I can’t guarantee it.

Not knowing where I’m settling causes unsettling feelings about what to plan for, what to talk about, and it’s created some resistance about writing- really just blogging. You see, I’m a perfectionist (I know…I’m working on letting up) and I put these expectations on myself to crank out a “masterpiece” and share something worthwhile, something profound, and eye-opening, with you, every time. And yet it’s a blog. But it’s much more for me.

In essence, blogging is a simple way to communicate, more often, with you, and yet, I make it difficult by approaching every convivial task as one would a work of art. And when the pressure builds, there are times I do nothing. Like lately. Days pass, then weeks. It becomes overwhelming for me to even catch up. Yeah, I’m still talking about updating my blog! But it’s more than that for me, remember?

This is me, sharing who I am, in the best way I know how…through writing, the art form that chose me, in which I can best express myself (‘cause Lord knows, as well as my friends, that I can have quite the slip of the tongue in person!). And if you know an artist, entrepreneur, or writer’s mind, it’s gotta be just right or it gets shredded, crumbled and tossed into a trash can. If you’re really unforgiving of yourself, it doesn’t even get mentioned.

Epiphanies can be as simple as What The Dog Saw

I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s essay, Late Bloomers, which made me cry twice, and he asks, “Why do we equate genius with precocity?” and talks about the emergence of talent via two kinds of artists: conceptual and experimental. For example, Picasso was conceptual, and so was Mozart. They did not make art with the purpose to “seek”, but instead to “find.” With that unconscious approach, their talents showed through the canvas immediately and their genius was clear; they had the masterpiece from the get go. This is the idea of art and what it means to be an artist that the marketplace perpetuates as “truth” and therefore, what society believes it to be. But it’s not the whole truth, not every artist’s experience, and not the only way.

Then, there’s the experimental artist– the one who does approach their creation with the purpose to “seek”, to explore and experiment their way to a masterpiece. This route takes longer to see results, is tainted with more feelings of failure, requires more faith, more outrageous self-belief and (so importantly) from others. It means you will dabble in this and that, make several moves that don’t seem to fit together, that don’t make sense, but this is how this artist functions.

All of those choices are necessary, because they follow their heart to tread unknown paths, and take detours, in search of, to discover within, something beyond them, or merely themselves, and sometimes, all those twists and turns place them back at square one, right where they began. Yet, they begin again. I’ve officially gone full circle and have reached this point. It was not easy to accept, but I understand why it happened thanks to this essay. I am an experimental artist. No doubt.

Motherhood & My Creative Spirit

These are the stories of people like the french painter, Cezanne, and like me, a stay at home mama writer who created an online space to write, to simply write, and express herself, so she wouldn’t lose herself in the wonderfully daunting world of Motherhood- a world of little to no sleep, stinky diapers and sagging breasts, of giving every ounce of yourself to others throughout the entire course of a day, day after day, and wondering when your time to be considered will come. It’s a world that can turn a strong, beautiful woman into a needy, insecure one.

It’s a world where you truly learn the painstaking feeling of the word “Guilt”, where you stay home in isolation or mingle in play groups and come to see the drama and competition and jealousy and need for attention and companionship and connection that plagues and spreads and brings joy and comfort to the women circulating in that world. It’s a world I craved and resisted simultaneously. You can choose to be part of it or not. I even refused to call myself a “stay at home mom.” I am a full-time mother, period. There’s no clocking out.

Who did I think I was wanting to be called something different? What was so bad about it, anyway? Nothing, I just couldn’t identify with the images “stay at home” conjured up in my mind. It wasn’t my preference and I never liked others to categorize or place labels on me, because I wanted the freedom to create my own identity, so I went with a convivial one. And its not like I consciously thought about how to stand out, or what to call myself. It was emotionally driven. It came about because it just felt right.

Therapy in Disguise

The idea emerged from within me, because it was what I desired to live, to experience, to feel. It was there to preserve my mind and spirit in the midst of a world that could so easily cast my existence into oblivion. I was bound to be misunderstood and disliked (Who does she think she is?) and to feel different and therefore looked at and treated differently, I would learn to deal with my emotions about those experiences. She, me, the mama writer, the resistant, defiant, misunderstood character is still dealing, still evolving.

Indeed, The Convivial Woman exists to encourage and nurture my creative spirit, to keep it strong through all of the above, because motherhood and the responsibilities and social aspects of that world are beautiful yet sometimes heartbreaking. It’s easy to lose yourself. In the last 6 months of 2011, I experienced it myself.

I lost sight of The Convivial Woman. I started to even question whether she really existed. Then came my inability to write, because I was tired, spiritually weary and emotionally bruised. That all translated to being physically unhealthy. I threw the towel in and completely surrendered. And that is not how I roll. When a woman reaches a point where she is tired of pushing for what she wants and just gives up, she’s on dangerous ground. When your spirit gets broken, it’s possible to mend the wound, but it takes time, as well as the love and involvement (not necessarily the understanding) of others to pull you from the wreckage. Remember that it starts with you, though. You’ve got to be willing to pull yourself up first.

During that trying time, I was physically weak, and extremely disillusioned. But no more. I’m back and am in no way the same woman who started The Convivial Woman a year ago. Taking that dip brought me back to understand my original desire and purpose here: Writing.

By giving life to my writing, I give life to myself.

Have a safe and Happy New Year. See you in 2012!


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