Art Is Created from Great Storms


I think I put too much pressure on myself that every blog post has to be written like an essay or written as creative nonfiction worthy of publication in a literary magazine.  I take myself way too serious sometimes.  I am currently dealing with the loss of my mother. I don’t really even know how to express the grief I am going through.

I have been posting photos and mini blog posts that reveal nothing.  Yet at the same time I want to share with the world what I am going through. I recently told a mom acquaintance at Mommy and Me Gymnastics that my mom died. This need to tell the world so they understand the fragile terrain I am walking on is overwhelming. I almost want to wear a sign around my neck that says, “Handle with care. My mother died.” The grief work I am doing is so intimate it is hard to express it in words. I have my mother’s ashes on my mantle and will drive them to Arlington Cemetery  in the coming months. From what I understand, it takes months to schedule a funeral at Arlington. My mom will be buried with my father’s ashes (Korean War Veteran) who passed away in 2003. Both of my parents passed away in December.  In the meantime, I have been lighting my Christmas lights that are intertwined with my favorite set of Christmas lights around fake green garland that snakes across the mantle in our family room. They look like sugary colored crystal balls.  There is a star that lights up that I have connected to the Christmas lights. Two Santas my mom gave me anchor both sides. In a way this lighted mantle is my memorial to her.

My February Memorial Mantle

My February Memorial Mantle

I did manage to take down the Christmas tree sometime in late January.  I took off all the ornaments and un-twirled the lights — my toddler helping me as I walked backwards around the tree. After taking down all the ornaments and the lights, I took a moment to look at the bare dried up tree. It was striking in its beauty — the absence of the decorations — the absence of my mother. I made a connection that there was beauty in looking at the bare tree — its bare beauty.

I have had many moments like this where a great calm overcomes me and I am left to marvel at the sensitive, fragile beauty of life. Then there are the moments of ocean deep sorrow.

This photo is from a recent trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

This photo is from a recent trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Outer Banks Trip 2013 043

Footprints in the Sand
The Atlantic Ocean — Kill Devil Hills, NC

I will share this: I got down on my hands and knees (crying, of course) asking God to help me through this difficult time.  I have never actually got down on my hands and knees before in total surrender, although I have heard of people doing it. I realized this burden and sadness is too heavy for me to carry.  So I asked God to carry it for me.  My mother has not been buried yet. We are waiting to hear back from Arlington Cemetery when the funeral will be. My mother passed away on December 24, 2012.

The month of January seemed to move by slowly, yet I hardly remember it.  I did not move; I was stagnant with acute pain and a deep sadness. Where did the time go?  I have been grieving and getting by. I have enjoyed the time I have with my son as I am a stay-at-home mom.  My son is painting right now. He asked me, “Help me paint Mama.,” gently grabbing my left hand and looking at me with the love a child can express through a  simple gesture such as this. I said to him, holding his hand in my palm, “I am painting here while I type. I am painting with words.”  Now he is creating his watercolor masterpiece as I try to paint a picture of what I have been going through.

My son painting with watercolors

My son painting with watercolors

February photos 2012 003 February photos 2012 006My son and I made a gallery of his paintings. He told me where each painting should go and in what order. For now, I am taking it one day at a time and honoring the grief. I am ready to paint my own canvas and allow the colors to choose themselves. It is a process and art is always created from great storms.

Believe


I saw this photo on Facebook today.  And that made me think of ee cummings’ poem, “I Carry Your Heart With Me.”  It really is powerful when you believe in your dreams and weed out negativity.  I have been working on this.  And I have also been praying about it.

“Would you carry all your mistakes, regrets and failures in a bag and take the bag with you where ever you go? Most people would say no. Then why carry them forever in your mind. Many of us carry a lot of unnecessary baggage with us everyday. What happened yesterday is gone forever. New days should bring new adventures. Everyday should be explored to its fullest.
Have a great day and remember to spread the message of positive thought with those that you meet. Carry in your mind, all the goodness and value you bring forth into into people’s lives.”
~Lessons Learned In Life

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Carry love in your heart; you will have a lighter load.

Anyway, I wanted to share it with you.  And feel free to comment about what your hopes, wishes, and dreams are.  Hope. Wish. Dream. Be. © – memomuse

Maybe by just writing them down, you can start the magic.  “If you build it they will come.” – Field of Dreams

By the way, I have been to Field of Dreams in Iowa.  I traveled cross-country with some friends after college, and we stopped there.

And I’d like to share my favorite Walt Whitman quote, “Be curious, not judgmental.”  Walt was a fine man, who followed his heart, which is at the center of the Attachment Parenting philosophy — following your instincts to love and nurture your child.

“Follow your heart and you can never fail.” – Stacey @ Moonstruck

Really, it’s an ancient thing.  Dr. Sears did not invent it, he just coined the term.

That’s my two cents on that!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  I will be posting a special post about Memorial Day.  My father was a Marine, who fought and survived one of the worst battles in Marine Corps history: Inchon.  He was a member of the Frozen Chosen.  I miss the heck out of my marine.  He passed away in 2003.  I am proud to be his daughter.  When I watched the documentary, Chosin, about this horrific war, it broke my heart to know my father went through this.  It was so cold — their eyeballs froze.  It’s in the documentary. 

Temperatures dipped to frigid levels and a veteran recalled a “mind-numbing” cold so intense that the troops’ eyeballs would freeze until they put their hands up to warm them. “It was 30-below zero,” Wiedhahn said. “You lived in 30-below temperature, all the time.” – Quoted from Military Connection article.

Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Another interesting article about frostbite and skin cancer — the Korean War and frostbite.  My father had 70% frostbite in his legs.  He fought really hard to get disability for this too.  I remember how all the paperwork stressed him out.  He was a right brained person like me.  And yes, he had skin cancer.

Needless to say, I cried while I watched it.  He never talked about the war.  I wrote this essay about my dad and how he found peace in gardening.  He had a poet’s heart.  He taught me to marvel at nature and to be curious, not judgmental.  He taught me honor and respect.  In the video below — the first line one of the Frozen Chosen men says, “Freedom is not free.”  The website is http://www.frozenchosin.com/.

This photo was in the patio garden my mom and dad created.  That’s my marine.  I love you Dad!  Happy Memorial Day.  My father is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

This is a photo of my father, while he served in the Marines, during the Korean War. He is what some refer to as, a member of the “Frozen Chosen.”

In the documentary, Chosin

This is what my dad wrote in my journal.

“Keep up courage and hope.” – Dad 

What’s in your heart today?  I carry my father in my heart.  I carry courage and hope.  What do you carry in your heart?

Monday Museletter May 14 – Drowning


I feel like I am drowning in the realities of being a stay-at-home mom to a two year-old.  I can’t get anything done, except clean the house when I am motivated enough.  I wish I could stop the chatter in my head and the CONSTANT need to achieve, but I can’t.  Writing keeps me alive inside. Otherwise, I just am a mom. It is not enough.  I am mom enough though.  I want an agent to sweep in and hold my hand through the writing process. As if an fairy godmother agent will fly through my window and offer child-care (of course on the dime of the agency), pay me a big ripe advance, and then here is the kicker — the agent will ask me what other projects are you working on?

Seriously.

I know.  Too bad I can’t afford therapy, otherwise, I’d be there right now.  So, here I am at my free therapy — writing on my blog.

I worry that an agent will read this post and say, “Too high maintenance.”  I am so sick of trying to impress someone I have never met. In fact, I am sick of trying to impress people I don’t even know.  Geez.  How about trying to impress the people I do know, like my own son.  Today, I am leaving an impression of exhaustion on him.  I managed to deep clean the living room and it is the only clean room in the house.

Elmo is singing about imagination.  My imagination is on vacation.  She bought a one-way ticket outta my mind after I got an email from an agent that is not interested in reading my collection of essays about the first year and half of motherhood, which is a collection of journal entries and essays, coupled with anecdotal Attachment Parenting information.  I am an Attached Parent, aren’t we all attached.

The recent cover of Time magazine has everyone is a sh$tstorm.  Enough of the clotheslining and headbutts.  I saw this posted and thought it was well put:

“API Advisory Board Member Isabelle Fox puts it so well.
The question should not be, “Are You Mom Enough?” The questions should be:-Are you responsively parenting your child in a timely way?
-Are you attuned to his or her individual needs?
-Are you providing a safe, protected and predictable environment?
-Do you understand and respond to the developmental differences between infants, toddlers and older verbal children?
-Are you available and empathetic when your child needs you or is under stress?If the answer is “yes” to these questions, you are practicing attachment parenting. You can reasonably expect that your child will become emotionally secure, will be able to give and receive affection, and will lead a productive and successful life.

~Isabelle Fox, Ph.D., author of “Growing Up: Attachment Parenting from Kindergarten to College”

I don’t even care about the cover or what people are saying.  It just doesn’t interest me anymore.  Well, maybe it does, as I am trying to jump on the opportunity of the media storm to let agents know, “Hay, I have a thesis all about Attachment Parenting, from the trenches of motherhood.”  I didn’t even know I was practicing Attachment Parenting until I posted an essay I wrote in a mom forum, trying to get enough clicks on this essay, Love is Not Always Flood Lights and Fireworks, But Sometimes It Is, at Mamalode to get $30.  The Executive Director of Attachment Parenting told me to submit the essay to the Attachment Parenting International website.  I’ve been a regular contributor for API Speaks ever since.

I was asked to write a post on motherhood for the API Speak blog, well before the Time cover came out.   Mother: I Was Desperate for the Title was posted on Mother’s Day.

I thought, yippee — instant fame.  Well, it got some attention, but the phone isn’t ringing off the hook.  Remember in the movie, Julie and Julia when the agents and publishers call her after she is put in an article in The New York Times?  I want that to happen to me.  But I want them to call and tell me, “We will help you with the editing and organizing of your book.”

I know — head in the clouds.

Photo by Megan Oteri © All Rights Reserved

Anyway, I’m exhausted from motherhood, and life, that I just am not finding the balance I need to write a novel.  I hate this.  I am burning inside to write.  But the chatter in my head gets in my way.  And the fact I can never find any of my notebooks because my toddler grabs them and hides them.  I didn’t understand when my mom told me I used to hide her valuable jewelry because I would wrap it up and lose it in the process of wanting to give her presents.  I was like, How could you lose track of valuable jewelry?  I think the term two year-old toddler has to be learned by experience.

Blah blah blah.  I don’t even know if I want to post this as I feel like I sound like a whiner.  Then again, here I am trying to impress people I don’t know.

I met several deadlines in the past couple weekends.  Two of them were the API Speaks blog post about Motherhood and a food review I did for Dassant at Grocery.com: Dassant Vanilla Bean Cake.

I know part of the writing process is dealing with the rejections from agents and publishers, but it stinks.  I did see this quote today that shed some light and I have to reread it every ten minutes. ha ha

“One must avoid ambition in order to write. Otherwise something else is the goal: some kind of power beyond the power of language. And the power of language, it seems to me, is the only kind of power a writer is entitled to.” – Cynthia Ozick
She also said, “The engineering is secondary to the vision.”  That particular quote makes me think of my book project, The Original Journal, where I ask random people and strangers to sign my journal.  I want to create a website that mimics actually signing a real journal with pens, markers, crayons, and paint.  I just don’t have the Graphic Design or web skills to create it.  SO if you are a graphic designer, and you want to design the website pro bono, give me a shout. I am putting it out there in hopes the magic will come.  “If you dream it, you can achieve it.” Didn’t Walt Disney say that?

The Original Journals — filled with signatures of “Original Journal” signers
© Megan Oteri – All Rights Reserved

The thing about The Original Journal is that if it gets published or a left brain fairy comes to my rescue (to create the graphic design elements needed with the hand written signatures and to create the website where you can turn the pages and write in the journal) I am going to set up a foundation to benefit artists, creatives, and eco-activists that will help people get their “wish” granted to make their dreams come true.  So many artists struggle with the publishing process because of the left brain skills that are needed (marketing, computer skills, and all that razmataz).

I’d love to have the resources to be a fairy godmother to artists and creatives. The world needs creativity and it is not being fostered in school as it should be.  It is the foundation for brilliance.

Anyway, that my Monday Muse.  I hope you are having a good day.  I actually am feeling like I am doggie paddling now because I fired out another query letter to an agent, pitching my Attachment Parenting memoir of motherhood (the first year and half).  It is actually my thesis I wrote in grad school.  Of course (this is for agents trolling my blog) it would include more than just the first year and half.

This is me and my favorite horse.