The Clean Side of the Living Room

I am typing this post in the messy half of the living room. I just cleaned half of the living room — vacuuming and steam cleaning. I moved all the toddler debris to the other side of the living room. I moved the couch until I could not move it anymore. I blocked in all the mess and decided it was OK to clean what I could. Half is better than none.

I managed to put away rogue toys and forgot (intentionally) about the proper container to put them in. Thinking to myself — if they are in a container that is good enough and then musing about containers and problems and people and who is an IKEA or container store person and WHY. WHY? Why must all the debris be put away? It is in the messy side of the living room that true living happens, but I long long long for the clean side of the living room, with its toys put away and rug vacuumed. And steam cleaned. Steam clean it all away — all of life’s dirt and grit.

But the dirt and grit is where the living truly happens.

F that. I want a clean living room. But for now I acknowledge that the messy side is where I really live.

Ben sits in front of me finger painting  his lime green Dollar Store Play-Doh knock off cap (with water colors).  A stack of boxes he will not let me have or rather disassemble to put in the nice IKEA/Container Store cubby shelves. The plastic cubby buckets are his ladders to his roof. His roof is his Mickey Mouse Playhut. Ya know the square tents that fold up to be one dimensional. But once unfolded are three dimensional with a fourth reserved for the imagination of a toddler’s mind. The dimension which transforms it to a roof to a house that hold everything that is needed: messy imagination on the other side of the living room.

So, one side of my living room is clean. The other still messy. And guess where I feel most comfortable and write this right now? Yep, the messy side.

Life gets messy. And sometimes it is just as beautiful and serene as the clean side.

Photo by Megan Oteri

Photo by Megan Oteri — Field in Southeast Wyoming


March Muse

Ben picked camellias today on our walk. Camellias mean perfected loveliness. In the Victorian era, they were given when courting. Click here for list of different flower’s meanings in the Victorian era.

From The History and Language of Flowers

  • CAMELLIA (PINK) – Longing
  • CAMELLIA (RED) – You’re a flame in my heart
  • CAMELLIA (WHITE) – Adoration, Perfection, Loveliness

Camilla — Youth and Beauty

I live in a house built in 1880. I guess that means I kind of live in the Victorian age.

Victorian Snow Fall

Victorian Snow Fall

We also saw a bright red cardinal. It was interesting because I literally was just thinking about my mom. And the cardinal came out of nowhere. It was so red. We stared up at the tree, our necks craned. Then I reminded Ben that Bob the Builder was into birds too.

This is a link about the meaning of cardinals. The second paragraph is very interesting to me since my mother recently passed away.

Cardinal in tree

Cardinal in tree

“Many spiritual people will tell you that a cardinal also represents death or afterlife. Reports from loved ones and hospice workers often state that a cardinal appears just before or after a death, or that a cardinal frequently visits or appears in dreams after the loss of a loved one. As a totem symbol, the cardinal symbolizes vitality. A balance of intuition, perseverance and strength, the cardinal is said to offer safe passage into the realm of personal power to realize one’s goals and dreams.” –

My mother gave me this angel and her mother gave it to her.

My mother gave me this angel and her mother gave it to her.

“Many spiritual people will tell you that a cardinal also represents death or afterlife.”

"Where there is sorrow there is holy ground." - Kahlil Gibran

“Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.” – Oscar Wilde

I spoke with someone I went to junior high with in Chicago today. He lives in my hometown, where I grew up (Wheaton). He is going to help me create a video for The Community Kitchen to help promote the book project. Anyway, he went to the elementary school where my mom worked and he remembered her. He remembered her red hair. Her beautiful flaming red hair as bright as the cardinal. I got all verklempt and couldn’t hold back the tears. It was strange being so vulnerable with someone I hadn’t seen or spoken with since junior high school.

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

My mom, Betty with her beautiful red hair and amazing smile

Those two moments today were beautiful, but sharp. Like an elegant stick — like the elegant stick that Ben grabbed as I tried to corral him away from the street as he walked in toddler wonder, curious about beauty with his two camellias he picked for his daddy. Perfected loveliness.wm Ben with flowers
“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott

In memory of my mother, Elizabeth Miller.

in memory wmstone statue wm

Recommended reading: The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh

“It wasn’t as if the flowers themselves held within them the ability to bring an abstract definition into physical reality. Instead, it seemed that…expecting change, and the very belief in the possibility instigated a transformation.”
― Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers

Who do you miss and what makes you think of them?

Feel free to write a comment and/or add “In memory of…”

Writing Addiction

I would prefer to write than shower.  Seriously.  I know I am gross. I have been ordered to shower by my husband.  I can’t remember the last time I showered, but please know that I have mommy brain so I can’t remember what I had for lunch.  Oh, I didn’t eat lunch because I wrote.  I get so caught up in the creative process that I will take any free moment I have to myself to write, take photos, blog, create, or organize my little create-o-sphere.  I wouldn’t call my create-o-sphere too organized these days as there are so many piles of journals, papers, and junk all over my desk.

I am just going to name ten things on my desk:

1.  A bottle of calamine lotion (I used this recently to make a hand print with my son for his father’s birthday card)

2. A photo of a church door taken in Vermont in 2000

3. A pair of scissors with an orange handle

4. A Little Tikes plastic sander

5. The book:  Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published

6. A Patriots jersey — size 18 months with Brady written on the back, turned inside out,

7. A soup spoon

8. A binder with typewritten journal entries from a summer camp I worked at in 2000, and a journal made of construction paper — knot bracelets and friendship bracelets create a makeshift binding — the entry facing me says, “Dear Meg, I don’t think I know a freer spirit than you.  I admire your intellect and heart of gold.  The world needs more people like you.  Stay sweet & don’t forget about me. Love Always, Madeline.”

9. A roll of Dollar General clear tape

10. One flourescent green sticky note: blank

I am not sure how to get this mess organized. It seems I just put stuff on my desk after taking it out of my toddler’s hands. He recently ripped a photo of my grandmother from the 1920’s.  I am living in a state of chaos.

My Little Wonder Boy and Chaos Creator

I am reading Natalie Goldberg’s, Writing Down the Bones — on page 101 – 102, chapter titled Write Anyplace:

Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write, just write.  In the middle of the world, make one positive step.  In the center of chaos, make one definitive act.  Just write.  Say yes, stay alive, be awake.  Just write.  Just write.  Just write.

Finally, there is no perfection.  If you want to write, you have to cut through and write.  There is no perfect atmosphere, notebook, pen, or desk, so train yourself to be flexible.  Try writing under different circumstances and in different places.  Try trains, buses, at kitchen tables, alone in the woods leaning against a tree, by a stream with your feet in the water, in the desert sitting on a rock, on the curb in front of your house, on a porch, a stoop, in the back seat of a car, in the library…in Texas, Kansas, or Guatemala, while sipping a Coke…

It wasn’t the physical accommodations that were perfect, but when we are in the heart of writing it doesn’t matter where we are: it is perfect.  There is a great sense of automony and security to know we can write anyplace.  If you want to write, finally you’ll find a way no matter what.”

So, here I am writing.  Trying to absorb the chaos as motivation, as muse, and something to get me going.  But really, all I want to do is tell my husband –“Why don’t you take Ben to Grampy and Grammy’s house.  I’ll get cleaned up and meet you over there.”

I love time alone.  I can be surrounded by a million things, and I will make a space of 12 inches by 12 inches and write.  But noise, and toddler tantrums, and splitting my mind in ten second fragments doesn’t work for me.  So I write on the weekends and at night, when my husband can watch our son.  I just am being flexible.  What other choice do I have?

I should really shower — seriously.  But I think I will write some more, since I have the house to myself (the dogs are outside and my boys are at my in-laws) and a fan on my desk in the room I call the Art Room, where I write.  I was once mobile, but my laptop crashed.  The Art Room is not air-conditioned, but I have a fan on my desk.  I think I could place a cat on my desk and it would blend into my desk, which  is such a mess.

What things are you doing to overcome your difficulties to make time and space in your life to write and create?

What doorway do you walk through to overcome your struggle to find space and time to write?  (door metaphor — since I really want to share the photo of the church door in Vermont — #2 in messy desk list)

What difficulties do you walk through to get to your creative space?