Coming up with a title for this post was almost as hard as deciding to blog at all. Then I remembered a favorite quote, actually, it's a book title, from Richard Feynman,
the physicist. He wrote "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"
I recommend the book, and I would like to embrace the sentiment... because I really should care less what other people think.
Far too much of my blog slow-down is a result of being concerned about criticism from certain people over what I write, don't write, overshare, and take interest in.
There it is.
I have grappled with remarks and accusations that directly admonish, accuse, ridicule, and criticize me and my social media presence. And it has just about shut me down completely... here, on FB, emotionally, physically. It's made a hard year (or three) even harder; quite crap, in fact. I have been introspective, and confounded, self-critical, embarrassed, and apologetic. And I have been miserable. And the thing is... as concerned and inward-looking as I have been, as much as I've worked to assess my values, efforts, narrative, presence, it occurs to me that the critics aren't here.
The critics don't hang out with me, or know
me... they aren't involved in our daily lives, and I am not calling on them to bail me out, or asking them to 'like' my posts, fight my battles, sing my praises. I've been waiting... waiting to see what shutting-up
could yield, waiting to see if those critics would like me better, find me more worth their time and interest, if I just backed-off, sat back, made myself smaller.
I can't deny it... I want to be liked and likable, I want to be successful, admirable, especially to the people I have liked and admired all of my life.
But, it's no good trying to be someone else, hoping to be the kind of whatever
that makes me appealing to them.
It's no good not being me, however objectionable, loud, messy, weird, liberal, or sensitive people see me as being. Either I am the embodiment of my body, mind and soul, my interests, skills, and ambitions, or I am nothing. I have cared
a great deal too much what other people think, and it's made me small and despondent, meager... my soul feels gaunt.
And the critics? They're just people with their own bodies and souls, agendas, and ideals, and they're carrying on, living, believing what they do, and I am not stopping them. But I want to take back my will, and a sense of self-worth that is not so dependent on what other people think. In the time that I have been quieter, smaller, I have noticed that the people who do care, who are here
, who can accept my good and bad parts, they see me. They aren't showing up out of obligation, or begrudgingly. They aren't asking me to be anyone else, act like someone else, be less than my own self. I
still worry about what I could lose by showing my dance, singing my songs, being myself. I pay too much attention to the ones who don't like me... demonstrative, over-sharing, objectionable, loud, messy, weird, liberal, sensitive, clumsy, uncool me,
and I want this to change. Time is running out, and I don't want to waste any more of it worrying what other people think...
Our winter break has been sweet. And bittersweet. I miss so much of what, whom, we lost. I miss my Grandmother, terribly.
"Terribly" is that adjective that we use, a figure of speech.
But now, I think I know it better. The missing, the longing and sadness and deep grief I feel is dire and unspeakable, awful, and grave... it is terrible to feel so emotional, to have such a longing for what cannot be, can never be.
I won't speak of it, cannot speak of it, but the truth is: I am inconsolable. And it's not much better with Mister Washburn Foo. And so, you see... our holidays, and liberties, company, the lights on the tree, the carols, and old movies, the spirit of Christmas
has been sweet, but always with the unspeakable terribleness that I cannot seem to cope with.
My Instagram page is all cats and sketchbooks, flowers in the garden, and an almost insatiable yearning to see beauty, to hold it, and feel it, and make any of it that I possibly can.
He's a junior! Being more emotional than rational, I cannot understand how this is possible, already. I am sure if I would look at a calendar, add units, and count months, it would all make sense. But just going by my feelings, it seems so soon. He'll be starting a last semester of classes to pass the time, while he waits to hear from the school he hopes to transfer to, then he can be a math major, like he always wanted.
The day after Christmas we set off a chain reaction that is, to do this day, sending shock waves through the Bird House...
*Chango cannot retract his old man claws, and he made a tear in our bed sheet.
*The tear grew, and made the sheet a total loss.
*I decided to wash the mattress pad cover, while the sheets were off... and realized the foam pad was awful. Gross. etc
*After 23 years, we decided that buying another foam pad was a waste, if we were only covering a horrible mattress.
*We were reminded that our king bed is "eastern" and Costco only sells "western" and so we had to go to Ikea.
*I fell deeply, spinally, horizontally in love with a mattress, and all of my economical and rational inhibitions were dashed!
*Ikea promised next day delivery!
*We had to race home and clean our room.
*I got the harebrained notion to finally arrange our furniture the way I had been dreaming and imagining and plotting to do for seven years... and that entailed huge, huge, huge upheaval and lugging, which Geoff could only observe, because he's still in recovery from surgery.
*Things and parts and stuff shifted from our room, out of the hall, down the stairs, and throughout the house, in preparation for removal of the old mattress, and the arrival of the really big, new one.
*I chased dust bunnies from here to the curb, for what felt like days.
*The new mattress (even without a real boxspring) is so ginormous, that we can hardly see the headboard or the footboard, and I was afraid of falling from the bed... but I love it. I love it. I love it. I think I am even getting stronger abs from launching myself up to get into it.
*I love it. I love it. I love it.
*There has been sleep. You guys, I am tearing up a little. Actual sleep.
This was the little family meeting we were having about a very special visit, and Alex and Max having their wisdom teeth pulled. I got another harebrained idea, and each of them were about to have four wisdom teeth removed, because I thought it would be easier to get all done at once.
The Very Special Visit!
Max, Tamsyn, Maria, William, Alex, and Bambi. Tamsyn! From Virginia, no from Edinburgh, wait, no, from Paris, by way of India!
It's been way too long since we last saw her.
She's in graduate school, in Paris, and while on break, she came to California, and this moment... seeing these children
together, it made my heart overflow, and feel so thankful and joyful. (Pinching myself, and gently reminding me, too, that I have been very fortunate.
This is my submission for whatever photo contest calls for "The Epitome of Ungulate Love and Adorableness." I will win that contest with this entry.
No pictures of Alex and Max, home from the oral surgeon. No video, either. It was rough, and they were dear, sweet patients, that would have loved to spend a better quality of time with Tamsyn, while on their school break.
Do you do this? Accommodate a pampered fluff nugget when he won't get off the bed, so you make the bed around his fluffy butt? Apparently, it's what I do. And then I take a picture and share it on Instagram. It's who I am, it's what I do.
Maria was inspired by the birthday card Belinda gave me... from when I turned fifty. The original photograph was taken in Venice, 1952, by Georges Dambier, of Francoise Dambier.
Maria's drawing... well, it just keeps getting better and better. And I guess it's not a surprise, considering how much she practices and studies. And the best part is... she enjoys it.
Tamysn was such an easy going guest. And really, more like one of the family than a visitor. It was so nice to have the kind of visit where ordinary pastimes and relaxed time together was the order of each day.
And she made us dinner! A fabulous Indian dinner. How good? So good that we had her make everything, again, the next night, so William could learn the recipes. (Still recovering, Alex opted to be out of the picture.
But he did love the soft, vegetarian meal.)
I miss her singing. So much. When we were neighbors, when she was like one of my own, we had the regular enjoyment of her singing. I think Chango remembered her, just at this moment. He is very hard of hearing, but if you could see how he watched her, and moved closer and closer, peering into her face... I know he was remembering her.
And. I kept thinking, Mister Foo is going to walk over here, any minute. He loves music, and singing.
And I kept waiting, thinking, Where is that Foo?
It was only later, I recalled, he's gone.
Tamsyn, and Mister Foo, and old blog posts... this is why I had to come back here, and post, again, so I would have more stories to look back on, more memories to revisit, plans to recall, moments to share. Years from now, I don't want to find that I was too shy to write something down, too conservative to discuss an idea, or self-conscious to post a photograph. I could do this in a paper journal, and leave it on a shelf, I know. But Tamsyn is in Paris, and so is Grant. And my Mom is in Oregon, and other family is in Wisconsin, and I have a friend in Massachusetts, others in Australia, one in England, another in Spain, and it's nice to stay in touch, to hear from them, and let them have some glimpses of how we are getting on. It was really dear finding old pictures, and details from ordinary days when we lived next door to Tamsyn, when we tried new things
together, and shared adventures,
even from other times when we had to say farewell.
Maybe, Chickenblog will just become a Cat Blog,
with loads of expressive cat photos.
Maybe, I'll post artsy photographs of chamomile tea, the damp texture like a watercolor painting, and I'll add a few lines of obtuse poetry about dappled sunlight on winter mornings. Or I could write long essays about the nature of art, and ratastic
expressionism in the modern era.
Something. I think I will keep doing something, here.
Cairo had it coming.
Now I need to take care of laundry. It's okay if you didn't read all of this post, if you only skimmed through the pictures. It's okay if you think blogging is weird or obsessive, or pointless, but... please, no need to mention that to me. I am just trying to do good, where I can, to think about things, deeply, or just scratch the surface.
The first sweet peas. I'm pinching myself.
thank you for reconsidering!! your words and photos from your blog are so beautiful and inspirational!
I love your posts. Your artistic talent is stunning. Please keep blogging and sharing - some of us really enjoy it. Thanks for everything.
Happiness. Thank you.
Really nice post, Natalie. Sad, but joyful, too. Beautiful pictures. And...I didn't skim,honest.
I read the whole thing. Love what you share, as always.
"Be True to Yourself" - that's what my darling husband instilled into me and our children. You can be anything you want to be - and you are amazing. FB - one of our modern world's mysteries to me (and I used to teach IT), can be and is frequently, a negative phenomena. I know young, grown up people who find it easy for others to be 'exclusive' rather than inclusive and friendly. I do have an a/c which is permanently deactivated. Those who delete it have been known to blossom and gain so much in confidence - it's an intrusion on a gentle life - let it go and don't subject yourself to the negativity that others hold and seem to want to pass around. I loved this post - the first sweet peas - they seem such a long time away even though we're half way through our January winter already; antirrhinums - they've gone on my list to grow from seeds; your Miss Mouse sketch and the bluebird painting - awesome; Maria's art work - stunning, what talent; your amazing family of 4-legged (and 2-legged children and hens) - beautiful. I know what loss feels like and it's different for each of us. I miss my beloved man beyond words, but we talk about him every day as though he's right here - he is, in our hearts and in our heads. Flora my little puddleduck - oh, how I ache to hear her quack when I go into the garden. But creativity is a wonderful healer and passing it around, spreading the gift gives joy and contentment. If you've got to the end of this comment, Natalie then know that you have friends who love what you do and choose to share with us. Be True and lead your own life.
sigh...thank you for continuing to post, and share. I am still firmly a reader, appreciative of the details and the stories well-told! I sometimes wish for a Star Trek transporter so I might visit the people and places I get to 'visit' through the magic of the internetz...thank you and yours for sharing!
Peace, from southwest Virginia.
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