Practicing Peace

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Summer in Tucson, Arizona is my least favorite season. I am NOT a hot weather person. An Irish lass by heritage, a redwood forest hippie by inclination, 82 degrees would be my ideal summer high temperature…preferably by a body of water (I love oceans best but a creek will do)…under a canopy of trees (redwoods are the best but I’ll take big, old oaks too)…in my daydreams I live in a hut by a river or in a shack by the sea–never, ever under a saguaro.

But here I am. And here I must be. And it’s up to me to make the best of it.

There will be no vacation this year. No trip to the beach. No jaunt up to the Sierras to see my sister. No respite. I’m stuck. Two more months of “too hot for humans” in Tucson.

Can’t tackle any big projects. Can’t spend too much time outdoors. Can’t abide the heat and the glare. Can’t take another moment of the pathetic high crimes & felonies of our politicians. Can’t. It’s too much! It could drive a woman CRAZEE!

So, my “homework” for this sizzling season is Practicing Peace.

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Not “visualizing” peace or “praying” for peace, but actually WORKING toward BEING peace.

Slowing down. Appreciating. Taking in. Breathing out.

Neither creating nor participating in drama.

Reading. Writing. Sewing. Staring off into space.

Re-grouping. Replenishing.

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Observing the antics of two fledgling Great Horned Owls born in a high crook of our huge Grandfather Mesquite.

Blessed to see the delicate unfolding of the fleeting, one day blossoming, ceres cacti.

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Sitting on the front porch with my Sweetheart to watch the sunset after a monsoon storm.

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What I am beginning to understand is, these days, 

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My days of scurrying around, trying to juggle 15 balls in the air (while whistling the entire score of Evita) are over. It’s time to let soooo much go…to make choices that promote my personal peace…

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Eliminating as many old, worn-out obligations and “have to’s” as I can has helped me enter a wonderful new phase in my life. It gives me so many more opportunities to be tuned in to the amazing moments of ordinary life.

I was deeply inspired by one of my favorite mentors, Asia from One Willow Apothecaries in a recent blog post in which she wrote about choosing peace.

You can choose peace, even when everything in the world is telling you that you must push, strive, change, transform, end it all, or begin something new.

You can choose peace, even if that means upsetting the expectations of others.
 
You can choose peace and still change your life from the inside out. In fact, sometimes peace is the path to transformation itself.
 
You can choose peace and still be blessed with an abundance of creativity, love, nourishment and magic— it’ll just arrive differently. Less like an asteroid, and more like a white votive, glowing steady in a hallowed alcove.

So whenever a new opportunity or invitation comes up ask yourself: Will this increase my sense of well-being? Does this support me in nourishing my overall existence? Will this help me cultivate peace?”

It’s amazing, if you make the conscious decision to step off the roller coaster, jump off the carousel, and not feel so compelled to do do do, buy buy buy, go go go, worry worry worry, your life gradually starts filling with peace.

One day at a time.

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And remember, my life ain’t easy. It’s complicated. There’s much going on. It’s not as though I don’t still have a huge number of responsibilities and chores. Keeping my tiny art studio and classes afloat, tending to the needs of my very ill husband, being a writer and an artist and a social justice activist, maintaining our small oasis at WildHeart Ranch to be a vibrant sanctuary for critters and plants…there’s plenty to do but…

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That’s what I’m doing this summer–what about you?

Here’s my prayer…

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what’s yours?

Let’s you and I meet, out beyond the heat and hate, out under the big oak, by the side of the singing creek. Let’s take a picnic and spend all day playing, laughing, talking, and dreaming…

Together, let’s always

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Love And Peace From Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

IN THE STUDIO, HIBERNATING

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Summer in the Southwest is like winter in the East. Time to hibernate.

Summer in the Southwest is a great time to stay indoors, out of the heat, “in the studio,” spending long, happy hours puttering, playing, and creating.

The above picture is not really my studio of course–but the one I dream of. A cute little gypsy wagon, a boho vardo, a magical retreat down a winding green path, snuggled in the deep, cool woods.

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It’s a place entirely set aside for JOY!

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A place where my books and paints and projects can be left out & messy because

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and play is sacred work for an artist. 

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Of course, in my dreams, it has fabulous storage options,

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and innovative ways to store all my loot.

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It would have infinite wall space, a record player (I LOVE records!),

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and, definitely, a cozy day bed where I could relax with the kitties between creative outbursts.

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In my magical creative space, there would be all the tools I’ve ever dreamed of

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and a huge, high wall I could hang big canvases while I worked on them.

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While we’re dreaming, my studio would have all the light and air and space I needed to feel inspired…

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plus a colorful little lounge where I could sit with my friends, sipping intoxicating beverages and laughing all day.

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In my perfect studio, I’d make raw, powerful, evocative work like Freda

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because, after all,  it’s all about the ART…

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So, picture me in my fantastic imaginary perfect studio, spending the whole long, hot, glaring summer ensconced; dabbling, dancing, reading, & painting in a creative chaos of joy…

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because, after all,

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But, for now, I find my art making space where I can–sometimes at the Creative Cottage, sometimes in my converted garage studio, The Vortex, and sometimes just on the kitchen table. The important thing I’ve learned is

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So, please come join me, in your fancy studio or on the kitchen table,

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Because, really, summer in the Southwest is for hibernating!

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Love and Happy Creating,

Kaitlin

(Hibernating)

© Copyright, Kaitlin meadows. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

A Healing Hiatus

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Thank you for waiting for me. For sending cards and leaving messages, for bringing food and extending well wishes through the ether. Thank you for holding my place in your heart and trusting that I would be back just as soon as I possibly could.

It’s been a long, hard, difficult journey. There have been many days I was not sure I could find my way back to you at all. There were nights that I thought it might be best to just quietly disappear without a word or a trace.

But, slowly, painfully, I have climbed back up toward the light and I am grateful that you have been waiting for me here. Thank you.

The tale is too complicated to share. Suffice to say, it involved a couple of weeks of near-death pneumonia for my Sweetheart (plus several weeks of painfully slow recovery), some unexpected emotional tumult for me in the wake of my Mom’s death, a few challenging complications with my own health and heart, several  catastrophic breakdowns of mechanical things, the loss of some dear friends to death, and the abrupt realization that my tank was empty and my battery was dead.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been one of my most trusted spiritual advisors for many years and these words seemed to leap out at me and lend me permission to take a break…

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And so I did. I hunkered down. I climbed deeply back into the recesses of my spirit cave. I stopped talking and doing and being so I could hear my soul whispering sternly to me.

I’d lost my way a bit. I’d been so absorbed in my mate’s cancer and care for the last two+  years that I sort of forgot about me and my own needs. I was deeply sad in many ways for which I had no words. My life seemed an endless round of chores and stressors, emergencies and setbacks, heartache and fatigue.

It was time to…

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A million things combined to make an immediate and prolonged hiatus mandatory for my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

I desperately needed to heed this good advice:

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Of course, I couldn’t do it in the seething midst of the daily crisis of my husband’s pneumonia or between the tumultuous emotional waves of sadness in coming to terms with the fact that my mother died without ever really knowing me. I couldn’t do it with all the chores piling up and the very hard setback of not being able to go visit my beloved sister Kim in the Sierras this Spring.

But something deep within me let me know that what I had to do was get off the roller coaster for a minute, pull into myself, breathe, pray, meditate, make some big changes, and regroup.

In the pause, I began to remember that…

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It wasn’t easy. I’m nothing if not an over-achiever and it’s always been my worst fear to let anyone down or not to be able to help others who need me. But this was clearly a moment where I needed to put on my own oxygen mask first and I did,  gulping for air, as the fragile airship of my life dangerously spiraled toward exhaustion.

There were whole weeks when I did not leave the house for anything but Albert’s medical treatments. There were days when I could do nothing but breathe and pray. I did not read emails or respond to phone calls. I lost track of the world. All I could do was try to re-calibrate my compass and re-sole my emotional hiking boots.

Healing came slowly but I learned soooo much along the way.

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It took some time.

It wasn’t easy.

Often it felt danged near impossible.

But I persisted. I dug in. I refused to let myself be pulled under, drowned in the mire of stress that surrounded me. The storms continued to rage around me. The hits just kept coming. Every time I thought I might make it to the life raft, another wave crashed over me. My heart started acting up–stuttering and stopping, kicking and bucking. I had to let many things go. I had decline many kind invitations and abandon many dreams. All I could do was hold on tight and TRUST.

Gradually, gradually, Albert’s condition improved, things got fixed, my health started to improve, and I was finally able to let my Mom go with no resentment or regret.

I’m happy to report, the storm has broken and I can see the brilliant blue sky and feel the dazzling golden sun again. I’m finally strong enough to climb out of my cave and back into the Cottage to spend time with you, my faithful tribe, my sweet circle of merry creatives.

We got some good news this week–my husband’s chemo treatments are working better & holding the disease at bay a bit longer, I’ve been commissioned to create several exciting pieces of art for various wonderful patrons, my dear pal Anne and I have been sorting, cleaning, and reorganizing the Cottage, and in my garden, the tomatoes are abundant and ripening. It is time to rejoin the universe after a healing hiatus, reminding myself that…

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So, THANK YOU for waiting for me and saving space in your life for continuing fun and art-making at the Creative Cottage!

We’ll be convening at the Cottage beginning next Saturday to celebrate Summer Solstice and to continue our mission to play, laugh, and create together–to uplift and support each other–to go deeper, stretch ourselves, and enrich our creative practice together. We’ll share stories of our journeys and celebrate our epiphanies together. We’ll enrich and enlarge our loving tribe, as we each heal in our own ways together. I’ll be excited to be back!

Come join me for the fun…

I’ll be the one with the happy, rested, willing heart wide open and welcoming at the door of the Cottage, beckoning you inside, where the mischief and merriment live.

Check out the summer classes, call or email to confirm space, and come play!

I’ve missed you!

With Endless Love and Gratitude from Kaitlin

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P. S. This poem helped transform a compulsive “worrier” like me into someone who now takes it one day, one hour, one minute at a time–all the while singing.

“I Worried”

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”
― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

Who’s up for Less Worry & More Fun???

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© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Inspired To Keep Going

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Life, for me, is getting so much more difficult. My Sweetheart is increasingly ill with his cancer and needing more and more of my care. There are endless “asks” for my energy and attention. The demands of my various responsibilities are ramping up. Summer is coming to Tucson and I absolutely dread the months of pure inferno heat ahead. Not to mention, the world is teetering on the brink of utter disaster.

How do I keep going?

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I invest heavily in the notion that the only way forward is through. So, I just keep chugging along, singing a song, trying to muddle through, and even if I’m not sure I’m making much forward progress, I’m NOT giving up! There’s too much at stake.

I collect inspiration everywhere I go: art, music, science, poetry, tuva throat singers…but, at the end of the day, what really motivates me is the power and grace of women aspiring to rise. I firmly believe

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So every day, no matter what, I suit up and join the ranks, put my shoulder to the wheel, throw my heart into the fray, and add what good I can to the mix. I am inspired to keep going by women all over the world, in more challenging straits than mine, in the face of more woes; wars, famines, genocides, who keep the faith alive that we can make a difference.

I firmly believe…

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So, I can’t give up. I’m an activist, a witness, a  warrior, a worker, a healer, a poet, an elder. It’s my job to show up. To pitch in. To do what I can. To make sure

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I have to keep my eyes open. I have to keep my ears open. I have to keep my heart open. My work is to be fully present–no matter what. There is work to do. I have been called.

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Believe me, there is plenty to do. We all have a place in the struggle.

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Many have come before us…and many will come after us. We can only do what we can…but we must all do all we can.  The world needs us!

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There is no more holding us down. No  more shushing us. We are determined…

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My work with women in transition, young women in crisis, mothers who are torn from their children, crones who have been marginalized and dismissed–my work is to listen, to help heal, to love. It’s not to “fix” anything. It’s not to “change the world” or end its evils. It’s just to show up and do the best I can.

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We may not live to see the changes we want.We may not survive to see the world in peace. But we must keep at the task. We must support each other. We must uplift candidates that speak for us, protect and enhance our rights, and welcome us into the realms of power that can make the world a better place.

We must protect our food and water and air. We must support the women of the world who know more than we do about scarcity and diminished resources and living in harmony with nature.

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 We must VOTE and urge our sisters to vote in every country around the world.

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I’m no super-woman! I don’t have any magical powers or super-hero sidekicks.

I’m a 72 year old  feminist anarchist artist healer poet who’s seen and done and been a lot. But I’m no big thing. I have no illusions about that.

Some days I’m exhausted. Down. Depleted. Disappointed. Deeply distressed.

Often, I have too much on my plate, there are not enough hours in the day, and my Beloved needs far more of me than I have left to give. These days, (much to my huge chagrin), I have to miss deadlines, cancel dates,  release my very high expectations of myself, and suspend pretty much all my “shoulds” in favor of being fully present in the complicated, tangled, demanding narrative of the moment.

Right now, I have to let go of offering Cottage classes this month, meeting up with friends for fun excursions, finishing up my final project for my Book Arts class at Pima College, and pretty much everything else in my life cuz my Sweetheart is very ill and we are just trying to hold on to every moment we have with love.

That’s just part of the deal. It’s the only choice I can, in good conscience, make. But choosing to stay stuck there is a choice I will not make. There is too much beauty in this world–too much hope–too many people who are helping lift the load for me when I falter.

I’m doing the very best I can. And that’s all I can do. It has to be enough.

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So, whatever challenges you are facing, whatever your struggles, no matter how hard and steep and fraught with perils your path is…please remember…

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At the end of these very long days, these very emotional days, these very stressful days, I am still inspired to keep going. Because you are coming with me, because you are doing your part, because there is power and grace in our sisterhood and, together, together we can RISE!

In Solidarity & Love,

Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

The Joy of Missing Out

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I almost missed this gorgeous sunset some years ago.

I was busy. I had a zillion things left on my extensive “to do” list and the day was burning down around me without much progress. The phone was ringing, there was someone at the door, and the washing needed hanging on the line. I had to get showered and dressed for a school board meeting, but I was frantically trying to juggle cooking dinner and catching up on the television news while scrambling around trying to find my grocery list, because if I really rushed, if I really pushed it, if I tried to sneak out of the meeting a little early, I could, maybe, (if all the stars were lined up properly), race to the market on the way home!

But, I needed a moment.

I needed a breath.

I needed a cuppa tea.

I craved something I could not name.

So, I stepped out onto the back porch and there was this sunset.

I had to sit down in the old wicker rocker (whose cushion I really was going to re-cover some day), on the front porch (that badly needed paint), with a cup of tea (in my favorite old chipped cup), and watch the dragonflies skim the absolutely still surface of the water, while the sun melted into the cool pool of evening.

I sat there. For two whole hours. Long past when I had to leave…missing the meeting, the news, the laundry, the groceries…but feeling the beauty of the world, celebrating a very rare sense of timelessness and complete peace.

I was hooked. I enthusiastically began to

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Before that, I had a terrible case of “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO) fever.

I over-booked myself constantly, collected new hobbies and interests, cultivated new passions, took up a boat load of “good causes,” and assumed responsibilities waaaaay beyond my pay grade. I was up for everything; a tireless adventuress in a dozen realms. I read all the latest books, saw all the best new movies, and knew the names of dozens of musical groups across many decades and styles. I kept up on all the global news AND had intelligent views on many subjects. I was devoted to being an energetic and enthusiastic “part of the change I wanted to see in the world.”

And then I turned 70. I had a heart attack. My Sweetheart was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  I had to re-prioritize. Re-think the “busy.”

That’s when I heard about…

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At first, it was counter-intuitive. I was addicted to a wonderfully abundant and demanding life. I had responsibilities. I’d made commitments. People depended on me. But, gradually, cautiously, thoughtfully, I started to “retire” from most of my “busyness.” I slipped out the back door of many old responsibilities that no longer fit my commitment to slooooow down. I stopped racing out the door to DO and tried to just sit more often and BE.   

It’s getting easier as I practice. I’ve unsubscribed from three dozen emails, I’ve stopped obsessively checking the news, I  don’t even have a cultural calendar of cool things I could be doing anymore…in favor of just staying near the core of my own life, in my own home, at the Creative Cottage, with the wonderful circle of good folks who love me. And I may just be happier than I have ever been in my life!

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For the most part these days, I don’t feel like I’m “missing out” anymore. I can still get caught up in the old habit of saying “yes” to too much. And there are lots of things I’d LOVE to do that I just can’t squeeze in. But the difference now is that the sunset comes first. The joy isn’t the last thing on my list anymore–squeezed in around all the stuff I’m ‘spozed to do.

I can actually say these days that I prefer letting the world rush right by me!

The “news” now is about the speckled eggs nurtured by the cactus wren in the raggedy nest in the cholla. The next big event is the full moon coming up over the barn. The “vacation” is the sweet peace of a deep sleep after a long day in the garden.

Now, instead of reading about the world or seeing movies about it or obsessively “pinning” ideas about things I’ll never actually DO, I

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a constant tug and under-tow, this trying to learn to let go of being in the big, colorful fray every single day.

I miss the days me and my Sweetie did archaeological stewardship or spent the whole weekend at the fabulous Tucson Folk Festival. I miss our weekly jaunts to the Loft Cinema and hanging out in the evenings with convivial friends. And I really, really miss camping and road trips.

But, as it turns out, I can amuse myself just fine, thank you very much. I like solitude and actually prefer quiet pursuits. And the joy of missing out means there’s time to

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and that’s what I’m doing.

So sometimes I go quiet and you don’t hear from me for weeks. Sometimes these blog posts are a little spotty and class schedules have to wait because there are tomato plants and marigolds that need to get planted. I don’t go out much at night or travel on jet planes anymore.  These days, I decline most invites, don’t sign-up for many cool classes or attend many fascinating lectures. And, frankly, I’ve stopped thinking I can single-handedly “save the world” from itself. 

Around all my Beloved’s chemo treatments, doctor appointments, prescription runs, worries about money, and concerns about the woes of the world, I’m trying to carve out a little island of peace. I am discovering that “Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. “We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the next extraordinary moment,” as Brene Brown says.

Sometimes, to really change your life and priorities, you just have  to

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And that is what I did…and do, every single day. Grateful for the past. Hopeful for the future. But ardently trying to live in the NOW. Trying to embrace with open arms the great joy of missing out on all that isn’t important (or meaningful) to me anymore.

My Sweetheart’s cancer is really digging in now and his marker numbers are off the charts bad, but he’s bravely starting a new, fiercer, more complex form of therapies that may have even more challenging side effects. Life is beautiful and precious, fragile and worth fighting for.  We’re on the journey together. It’s scary and exhausting and fraught with danger but…

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Just climb into the canoe, put your oar in the water, and head out toward that far horizon where there’s a glorious sunset just waiting to fill your heart up with joy again.

I’ll meet you there.

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Much Love

& Gratitude

& JOMO

from Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

My Big, Beautiful, Messy Life!

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I’ve been in a black and blue funk for a few weeks.

Trying to process lots of stuff and think through many things. I’ve been trying to give myself time. Trying to absorb and digest my feelings. Trying to be gentle with myself.  Trying to honor the messy parts…(and, frankly, there are PLENTY of messy parts!)

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I’ve been crying a lot, unbidden, over both silly and profound things. Usually the driven, over-achiever, I’ve been lazy and slothful and responsibility shirking. I’ve been wiggling out of kind invitations to do and go. I’ve been caught in a kind of limbo that I’ve not often allowed myself to experience. But, I realize,

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It’s a part of who I am–all the messy bits, the tears, the uncertainties, the unfinished projects, the unrealized dreams, the awkward, raggedy, imperfect me!

  But after a difficult winter of the soul, I am re-emerging into the warm Spring air,

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I am relaxing into the notion that I’ll NEVER have it all together. That I’ll NEVER have everything organized and “under control” and that I’ll never be/have/experience all that I’ve dreamed of.

I’ve begun to realize that…

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and it’s okay!

I’m finally learning to accept, that try as I might, stress as much as I do, I’m not ever going to be much more than a happy, loving, creative, compassionate, change-agent, artist, storyteller, poet, activist, nature-loving, wild woman who lives a wonderfully full and well-loved life.

And that is enough.

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Our beautiful Sonoran desert has had an abundance of rain and mild weather that has spawned the most glorious wildflower bloom I have seen for many years and, for the first time, I have really slowed down to delight in the joy of it. My Beloved and I have been making time to  sit out on our porch in the cool evenings to savor the gorgeous sunsets. I am finding time to garden and read and listen to music with a much keener appreciation. I’m in the middle of a dozen wildly engaging creative projects, strewn all over the house, studio, and yard!

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Sometimes there are dishes in the sink. The laundry basket is often full. Once or thrice I’ve left the bed unmade so I could go out to play. This is all new to me. I’ve never been able to ENJOY until the chores are done–and, trust me, they’re NEVER done!

But, at long last, I’ve come to know that to live a full, fun, vibrant life…

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The other night, we had a wonderful group of old friends over. For once, I didn’t stress over trying to be a great hostess or crafting a complicated meal. I cobbled together a few of my favorite easy recipes and asked my friends to bring theirs. The table was informal, the dishes were mismatched. We talked and laughed until very late and had the best time! I was left with a heap of dishes that I, very uncharacteristically, put off doing until the next morning because I realized

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So, here’s my advice:

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It’s waaaaay more fun and it sure beats being worried and stressed and always striving for impossible perfection.

Allow yourself to get out your art supplies and PLAY!

CreatiVity Has No Limits

Go check out the wildflowers, catch a sunset, make some art, fly a kite, invite some friends over (even if the house is a mess!), and

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I’ve finally figured out that…

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I’m glad to count you in that number!

Thanks for loving me and sharing my big, beautiful messy life!

Happy Spring!

Love, Kait

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Love Is Complicated

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My Mom passed away earlier this week. She was 93 and in very poor health. We knew it was coming. Sometimes we even prayed it would come soon because she was in so much pain. But, still, it was a jolt. And there is grief. And there is relief. And there is the tangled muddle of emotions that come from unresolved relationships.

Love is complicated.

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(image above: a dying star creates a flower in space)

My mother never really liked me. She found it impossible to love or accept me. I was her first born. She was young. My Dad was a difficult man. Her own life before I came along was hard and she had many old woundings that she could never share with me, or anyone else it seems.

My Mom never knew me or had any conception of who I was. At the time of her death, we had not seen each other in over 32 years–though at one time we lived only a few hundred of miles apart. In recent years, we sent each other brief, cheerful emails once a month and occasional greeting cards, but she never knew any of my friends or lovers, never met my beloved husband, never wanted to know about my family or grand kids…She had no idea what I did in my life or what I dreamed of doing, and never expressed an interest in knowing. It was painful. It was confusing. It was sad.

Love is complicated.

In order to cope, instead of the sad, lonely, fractured life we actually lived, I created an imaginary family in my head. I found these old pictures in a bin at an antique shop that symbolized the mother love I so much craved…

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and I made up a happy story that my Mom and Dad were once madly in love and having fun at the beach before I came along…

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and that my siblings and I were close and shared many happy memories together.

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Love is complicated.

Because she was very secretive and often told conflicting stories, I never knew my Mom. We never shared anything faintly resembling a mother/daughter relationship. She would have been appalled if I ever confided in her or asked her for help. It would never have occurred to her to attend my college graduation, my wedding, or any other significant event in my life. I have no memory of my Mom ever hugging me or being affectionate with me in any but the most perfunctory of ways. But it all made me who I am…

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Love is complicated.

Please don’t get me wrong. My Mom was a lovely person in many ways. She loved her gardens–especially roses & lavender, she adored her dogs, she loved tea parties, she was a good cook who early on got interested in organic foods & simple living. She practiced yoga for over 40 years, volunteered at the hospital thrift store, and was tremendously proud of her Irish heritage. By all accounts, she was a good person and had a small community of “ladies” she knew from the Garden Club and the yoga studio.

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She loved the artist and illustrator Tasha Tudor and wanted nothing in life so much as to live as she did–in a tiny cottage, in a sea of flowers, simply and without artifice.

She collected spoons and music boxes. She was happiest pouring over spring seed catalogs and sharing cuttings from her garden.

But alcoholism, violence, secrets, and an ever present tension lived in our home. There was judgement and criticism. There were no family vacations or festive outings. We never really knew our aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents as people.

Yet, that difficult childhood made me who I am…and helped me realize that

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Love is complicated.

Last Spring, my dear sister Kim and I (who I reconnected with after almost 30 year apart!) were attending a workshop with a woman who had recently lost her own Mom. She played “Motherless Children Have A Hard Time” by Roseanne Cash and we each burst into tears, clutching each other’s hands, because, though our Mom was alive at the time, we both felt all of our lives like motherless children. It helped me to know that my sister felt as I did…that we had to grow up on our own and that the sadness and confusion of that childhood had tainted our judgement about what love was in our own lives and complicated our relationships for decades. But my sister and I are finally learning that…

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Love is complicated.

So, with my Mom’s death, I am letting go of all of those old soul injuries, releasing the sadness of never being worthy of my Mom’s love, jettisoning the dream I’ve had all my life that somehow, someday we could heal the space between us.

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I have been so lucky to be loved and healed by other mothers in my life. My best friend Allan’s mother Manetta embraced me as her daughter when I was 18 and her sweetness, her unconditional affection, and her loving support and appreciation of me helped me understand what a Mom could be. My dear friend/mentor Mari Stitt helped me to understand that  my Mom did the best she could with the life she was dealt. My sister/friend Sandi helped me celebrate my own gifts and have confidence in my own grace. And Pimm, my renegade side-kick, who had a terribly sad, complicated relationship with her own Mom, is teaching me that sometimes you never get the answers you need and that hurt feelings are okay.

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Love is complicated.

At 72, I now feel completely loved and accepted in my life. I am blessed to have the most extraordinarily loving life-mate. I am surrounded by deeply caring friends and my Cottage tribe continually uplifts me. My sister and I are closer than ever.

The message I share with anyone going through difficulties is…

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With my Mom’s death, I must let go of the wish I have nurtured all my life, that one day, somehow, some way, my Mom would love me, SEE me, & embrace me exactly as I am.

It’s a new day, and I am ready for it!

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So, Mom,

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For everything.

Mostly, for bringing me into the world when you didn’t want to.

And for teaching me, by default, that…

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Love IS complicated…

but beautiful and scary and worth every ounce of energy we put into it.

I love you Mom.

I wish you safe passage to someplace that is pain free and full of blooming lavender and romping dogs.

Rest In Peace.

Love Kait

©Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows. All Rights Reserved.

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Exciting New Adventures!

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Hello Beautiful Friends~

Where in the world has Kaitlin been?

I’ve been away on the most incredible inner soul voyage–replete with epiphanies and dragons, dark night’s of the soul and radiant moments of utter clarity & peace. It has been six weeks of intense soul searching and letting go, deep family time and intentional solitude, plus a dash of much needed shifting and stretching mixed in.

I’ve loved every minute of it and cherish the healing time I was able to whittle into the long prayer stick that has been my waaaaay too busy life.

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I had a wonderful holiday season: cozy & warm & full of twinkling lights, good friends, and much simple joy! I languished and lazed: read books and took walks, saw movies and spent time in nature. I had long, loving, sweet days quietly snuggled in at home with my Sweetheart.

In the process, I spent some deep time re-thinking my life and the use of my time and re-calibrating my direction and intention. I even dusted off many long dormant old wishes and dreams!

It took me a while (and much trial and error!) to come up with my guiding words for the year, but they finally came to me on a moon-full night around a campfire.

My words for 2019 are: PAUSE & REPLENISH.

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Pausing is not easy for me.

(It’s danged near IMPOSSIBLE if truth be told.)

I’m a chronic, persistent, insistent over-doer, over-thinker, and over-feeler.

I  was taught that idleness is a waste of valuable time, better spent doing something for someone else and that self-care is a selfish and self-centered indulgence.

I’ve always had a boat-load of energy, run circles around everyone I know, and been the quintessential over-achiever. I prefer being fully engaged at all times with everything that crosses my path. I lend my whole heart to everything I do.

But, it’s taken me years to learn that living life at that pace leaves little time for reflection, introspection, and rest. After my own heart attack two years ago and, now, my Beloved’s on-going cancer and chemotherapy, I’ve (finally) begun to embrace the philosophy that…

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As an experiment, I’ve been actively practicing a new way of being for six weeks now–learning to re-prioritize the “good stuff” instead of all the “have to’s” and “gotta’s,” learning to ENJOY tiny moments of exquisite bird song and glorious Tucson sunsets, and gently (but firmly) beginning to navigate my life towards some exciting new soul-stretching adventures.

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In my lengthy inventory of gratitude, I found soooo many things to celebrate and cherish. Including the realization that this February marks my eighth anniversary of being the Mistress of Merriment at the Creative Cottage!

All those years ago, when I wrote in my Mission Statement that it was “My hope is to provide a safe, nurturing space for women to share solace, inspiration, creativity, and joy while building deep and abiding friendships,” I could not have known what a fabulous experience it would be! I could not have predicted what a loving, supportive community we have built together. Eight years ago, I could not have imagined holding an average of 125 classes a year (that’s over a thousand classes!) and doing so much social justice, youth mentoring, creative writing, and counseling work at the Cottage! And, most certainly, I could not have known what an amazing tribe we would become!

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You have generously supported my classes, volunteered to teach classes of your own, made amazingly creative “stuff,” celebrated each other’s triumphs and setbacks, laughed and cried and supported each other through sickness and health, through hard times and good. You have shared your stories and your resources, boosted each other, celebrated together, brought yummy potluck food to share, and even helped with the dishes. 

Thank You with all my heart! You have helped make my life so full and FUN and bubbling over with JOY!

But,

as with all things,

it is time for a change…

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I need to replenish myself.

I need to learn new things, try new things, explore new things, and have new adventures.

I need to embrace these

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I need to follow the sage advice of Melody Ross, a delightful spirit sister/teacher, who counsels ways to live a beautiful “real life.” This is from her Brave Girls Club–(sign up for it–it will feed your soul!)

She writes:

Dear Growing Soul,

Please, dear friend, let yourself keep growing. Do you hear me? LET YOURSELF KEEP GROWING. Let yourself change. Let yourself learn. Let yourself become. Let yourself let go of who you once were if it’s time for you to become something new.

And the fact is, it’s time for all of us to become something new all the time. We are living, growing beings. This means that every time we grow, we are different than we were before. There is no shame in this, there is nothing wrong with this and there is also not a real way to prevent it from happening. Because it is supposed to happen this way.

Who you were is different from who you are. Who you are is different from who you will become. You are meant to progress in this way, everyone is. Don’t let anyone steal this miracle from you and don’t let yourself try to steal it from anyone else.

Sometimes we have giant growth spurts and we grow out of everything that fit us before. There are growing pains, but it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Change is hard and and change is beautiful and change is absolutely necessary.

Grieve and let go of the old, and open your hands joyfully to the new. It will make everything just a little bit easier, beautiful friend.

It is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You are just right just as you are, and you were just right just as you were, and you will be just right just as you become. Trust this. Life is a beautiful messy process and you’re growing new wings.

You are so very very loved.
xoxo

Melody Ross believes in living a REAL life, with bumps & bruises, with setbacks & heartache, but mostly, with LOVE. Her advice came to me at just the perfect moment. My head was incredibly stressed- out with all the usual negative self-talk: I wasn’t doing enough, that I should be out there trying to save the world, that I hadn’t written a new blog post in over a month, that I couldn’t think of any new classes, blah, blah, blah…I was still struggling with that same old “I’m not good enough” demon even as my heart was INSISTING it was long past time for me to PAUSE AND REPLENISH. Melody reminded me change is awkward and bumpy and messy as hell…when I read her note I had one of those moments…

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It’s time for new beginnings!

Big changes in my life:

I’ve already started a wonderful weekly bookmaking class with the talented Maria Lee at Pima College, won a coveted writing residency to work on my book projects, started attending a movement class, scheduled several art retreats, made plans to spend more time with my sister in the Sierra’s, and about to begin a modest new hiking practice.

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My new little business called Enhanced Environments, (I de-clutter, organize, and re-enchant other people’s creative spaces), is taking off big time (thank you!) and, it turns out that I just love helping folks reclaim their creativity and sense of personal peace in their homes & studios. (Call me if you are in need of some re-enchantment!)

I am taking Seth Apter‘s workshop at PaperWorks and I’ve signed up for a three month series with Naomi Ortiz at Antigone based on her soul-healing book Sustaining Spirit: Self Care for Social Justice. I’m  learning to play the kalimba,  starting to create new metal sculptures, and eagerly begin a massive re-enchantment process at my home studio, The Vortex. AND, I’m already preparing my spring garden for more herbs and flowers!

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These are my commitments for now:

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and I firmly believe it’s okay to

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I am already feeling better, stronger, healthier than I have for a very long while.

I already KNOW that I am on the right path.

I’m EXCITED about my life again!

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In February, at The Creative Cottage, we will begin a new chapter too.

There will be more emphasis on Creativity Chix adventures: invitations to join me at other people’s classes (Andrea Edmundson‘s mosaic classes, Marnie‘s jewelry making classes, Ben’s Bells, etc.), plus more shared matinees and plays, more music and merriment meet-ups.

At The Cottage, I will hold only 4 classes a month until June and then we’ll regroup and see how things feel…please support my classes if you can–if we want The Creative Cottage to survive I will need your help with the rent (and the merriment)!

Meanwhile:

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Let us embark on all our changes with excitement and not regret, with all our love, creativity and friendship…will you join me?

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For me…

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Come join me! And may we all celebrate new possibilities together!

Stay tuned–we’re going to have a very fun new year together!

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With love & gratitude and a big dash of excitement,

Your Mistress of Merriment,

Kaitlin

P.S. Check out classes for February & March by clicking the Cottage Classes tab!

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2019. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

By Kaitlin Meadows

Hangin’ In There

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I’m baaaaack!

Thanks for sending so many lovely emails and cards to cheer me!

It’s been a bit of a struggle of late.

My Sweetheart has had some very rough days with his chemo and its complications. We’ve spent far too much time in Emergency Rooms at 2 a.m. and whole days get devoured at treatment centers.

The truth is: We were both just plain pooped out and frazzled! We really needed a “long winter’s nap” with a little extra dash of hope & seasonal joy. We needed to burrow into our snug little cave and cuddle up and just let the world take care of itself for a while. We needed to remember…

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I know, I know. Seems I have to remind myself of this magnificent truth over and over again. But I’m starting to get it and this little break really helped cement the wisdom of it for me.

Tis the season, after all, and it’s all about the fa-la-la and the “be merry” cuz it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” messaging being pumped full-force into the stores and the media…but, frankly, I was just not feelin’ it. I was just not feelin’ like glitzing it all up, sprinkling glitter on it, and wrapping it up with a big red satin bow.

Life is hard. Times are lean. People are sick and dying and being wounded by hate and violence all over the world. Dear friends have lost loved ones, others are facing health issues of their own, a few have lost jobs or been forced to cinch in already very tight budgets.

I’ve just barely been able to

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and I think it’s kind of rude to tell someone who’s clinging to the slenderest strand of hope in the face of sadness or despair to just

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Sometimes you just have to let go. To cry and wail and wallow in the grief and pain. Sometimes you just need to blurt out to the kind-hearted folks who offer you that cheery advice that you’re losing your grip, slipping off the radar, and going under. You need to NOT put a pretty face on it. NOT “get over it” or wait for the rainbow that’s ‘spozed to be just around the corner when all things are conspiring to rain on your parade.

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Sometimes “hanging in there” is just not possible. We live in a “buck up, walk it off, shake it out” culture. We feel such guilt and shame when we need help, when we need space, when we need to NOT plaster a brave face on our broken heart.

Sometimes, despite all the well intentioned advice, we need to shout to the world…

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and claim it for ourselves–even when other people expect cheery blog posts or lovely classes or the always happy-go-lucky Suzy Sunshine to bounce back.

So, maybe you’ve noticed, I’ve been

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I needed to close myself down for a little bit. To go quiet and let myself FEEL all the sadness and anxiety and uncertainty and pain of this last year.  To try to process the sudden critical illness of my Mom and the helplessness I felt not being able to help her out somehow. To step off the whirling carousel and sit on the park bench for a while.

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I had to make the dark, perilous journey inward and redefine myself. I had to disentangle myself from too many responsibilities and too little relief. I had to just sit out in the garden and NOT feel compelled to weed it. I had to remind myself that life is a “one day at a time” adventure and not a long-term terminal prognosis. I had to remember that I was human and flawed and tired and scared. I had to wake each day and make this vow…

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and, especially when things skidded terribly out of control, to remember

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That’s the best I can do for now.

I’m hangin’ in there, thank you.

So here’s the update:

My Mom, after a long, horrible hospital stay, is going back home (with my dear sister Kim’s loving help) for her final days. Albert continues to devote himself to the brave practice of trying to live each day with joy and purpose amid his pain and the uncertainty of his future. I am slowly recovering from some health setbacks of my own.

My friends have been a rock: bringing food, taking me to plays, sharing their love with Albert, and patiently understanding my silence.

Marnie & Kaitie

I am gradually re-emerging from my brief hiatus. There are some new class offerings for the remainder of December and lots of very cool stuff planned for the New Year. The tree is up and the house is radiant with good cheer. I am feeling much less wiped out & my tank is slowly re-filling with hope and dreams and GRATITUDE. Gratitude.

You are all a part of my blessings–my tribe–my beautiful band of merry pranksters, fabulous creative beings, and sassy, soulful sisters.

Thanks for hangin’ in there with me!

Now sign up for some classes and come play at the Cottage so we can brave forward together–sharing our love and laughter and creative power together.

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Happy Holiday Season!

Much Love and Thankfulness for you,

Kaitlin

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

By Kaitlin Meadows

Blessed Are the Weird!

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Eccentric, eclectic, unusual, unique, odd, nuanced, passionate, creative. All possible definitions of ARTIST. And I proudly fit that description and wear the tattered, paint splattered, cloak of it into a very frayed and jaded world with pride and aplomb.

It didn’t take me long in life to realize the “weird” people were the most interesting, had the most to say and share, and lived life with a passion and wild abandon that I craved.

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I was utterly blessed to be a child of the 60’s–deeply immersed in a cultural and political upheaval that yielded an urgency to speak up; sing, dance, write poetry, make art, and live lovingly.

I was reared on the philosophy that we are all divinely connected and intertwined and each of us has a vital role in the grand cosmology. I was blessed to live collectively with others “on the land” and to be an active part of collaborative relationships.

I was raised on barter and co-ops, shared parenting and schooling, consciousness raising circles and a moral imperative to try to make the world a kinder, more tolerant place.

But I never, ever “fit in” or ran with the “in” crowd..or, truth be told, ever wanted to…I was always the odd-duck, the one out of step, never stylish or trendy, forever lost in a book while others were at parties and out rambling in nature while others were primping for dates.

Mostly that was okay with me–I’ m a happy loner anyhow–preferring my solitude and creative pursuits to “hanging out” or shopping, but it wasn’t until I stumbled onto the inspired work of Jaocb Nordby, author of “Blessed Are The Weird,” who seemed to be speaking to me directly with this…

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Jacob Nordby’s philosophy is to exalt our weirdness and give it the deep respect it deserves. He says:

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I’ve come to realize that almost all of the writers, poets, musicians, scientists, and regular folks I admire and revere are “weird.” And, though I have some wonderfully “normal” friends and care deeply about many people who are “straight” in lots of ways–I prefer those who are odd, interesting, unique, and, in short, WEIRD!

I see weirdness as a blessing! A gift! A sacred calling! I celebrate weirdness and honor those strong enough, brave enough, “authentic” enough to be weird in a world that extols the value of “fitting in.” Blessed are the weird!

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Weirdness has responsibilities…

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and rewards…

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Weirdness requires us to

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and blesses us by attracting others to us who are unique too. So…

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and

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Instead of feeling (as I have all of my life that I’m “not of this world”) or lamenting that I’ll never be “normal” by anyone’s standards, I now celebrate my weirdness…and admire it in others. I realize that

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I see the tribe of creative women who come to play at The Creative Cottage as divine weirdos, eccentric brave-hearts, and soulful sisters of mercurial merriment.

So, come on!

Lighten your spirit, shake off your bondage to “normal,” stop worrying about what other people think…be YOU–wild wonderful weird YOU!

Do It NOW!

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Love & Blessings Fellow Weirdos!

Kaitlin (who is letting her freak flag fly!)

© Copyright, Kaitlin Meadows, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Images from Pinterest with thanks.


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By Kaitlin Meadows