Saturday, November 12, 2011

Staring at an Empty Page

  Well the chaos at my house is beginning to settle down as my husband and son finish up the post election clean-up. It was a pretty wild ride for a couple of months for both my husband and son since they have been totally consumed with getting their customers ready for the November general elections. It has meant many long days away from home and hearth for them and many long days of being alone for me...  You would think that I would be glad for the time alone to play at my art table, but I found myself feeling empty and a little lost. I have always been the creative/artistic sort, but I have discovered that my creativity is catalyzed by the joy I find in the company of those I love. I am able to take the energy that I feel from the company of my family and translate that into art, letters, landscaping, cooking, whatever I turn my hand to. But when the house is empty and everyone is busy with their own lives, I am left to run on my own energy.  In solitude I find that I have very little spark and much less fuel for generating creativity. I used to joke that I run on solar power since I love being outside, and rainy days used to make me feel thick and sluggish, (that is until I lived in Costa Rica where we received 200 inches of rain a year.  I overcame my issues with rain in self defense!), but now I see that I am really family powered....
 Since early in my marriage I have been a stay at home mom. I separated from the Air Force right before our first child was born in 1982 and I have been at home ever since. I very much enjoyed my time with the kids when they were small. I "ran" on the constant inspiration that I received from seeing the world through their eyes. Later, when our first born was school age, I took on the role of homeschool mom.

The boys rebuild an engine
 as part of science class.

We delved into the sciences and history, math, reading and language with joy and anticipation of what would be discovered in our quest for knowledge. I was inspired by exposing young minds to their potential and found many creative ways to open doors of understanding for them. In return my creative well was filled by seeing the lights come on in my children's minds.

My youngest son was interested in animal husbandry so as part of his high school exit project he managed a herd of Alpine and Nubian dairy goats. He designed and built the milking stand. We built the barn as a family project.

A fountain and shade garden one of
my sons made as a school project

   Of course much of my personal creative time was consumed with raising and educating my kids and providing a home environment that nurtured our whole family. But my creative mind was alive and well and I found ways to vent my creative energy that didn't take time or attention away from my family. Sometimes though, I would long for time of my own. Occasionally while folding laundry or processing produce from the garden, I would entertain myself with thoughts of what I would do with my time when more of it belonged to me. Be careful what you wish for...
   Aside from the craziness of "Election Season", I am now facing life as an "Empty-nester". My youngest son recently moved out on his own which left a void in my daily life and routine. For the the first time since 1982 I don't have the company of one of my kids at home. I have no reason to rise at any particular time, no lunches to pack, no big meal to fix to fill the stomachs of my growing boys (and often their friends as well...). I have little demand on my time or attention during the day, (except for an occasional nudge from the dog for some private time outside or a tummy rub). I anticipated that this would be a golden time of life for me, a time to grow creatively and take advantage of all the freedom I have. Much to my surprise the reverse has been true. I must say I really didn't see this coming. But right now I feel a might bewildered, I am trying to figure where to go from here. I guess I am experiencing a " creative block" of sorts,  I am staring at the empty page of my new life and I don't know what to do with it. Coming to grips with the fact that life as I have known it is now over, is probably a good first step. I know that time will erode my sense of being cut adrift, and that I will come to accept and embrace this new juncture in my life. I will find new purpose and a new muse will emerge, it will just take time.  
  I don't mean to complain or to sound ungrateful. There are a many things I find comfort in and that I am very grateful for : I have a great husband who loves me. He is very patient with me and my sometimes maddening neurosis. I have two sons who have grown to become men I can be very proud of, who love me and still take time to let me be "mom", and I have a whole family of people who I correspond with, who share their lives and stories with me and make me feel like I belong to a larger world. The letters, cards and art I receive from my penfriends have done much to lift my heart. The care and concern these people have shown me has helped me to realize that the life ahead will be much like the life behind, full of the inspiration and joy that flows from loving and being loved.  
  What are your muses? What do you use to spark your creativity? Drop me a line or post a comment, I would love to hear about the things that inspire you...

Now on to some of my most recent incoming mail....

Hester sent me these wonderful windows into Boston in the fall! What a lovely surprise to find this in my mailbox. She has packaged the fall leaves in security envelopes with a window, only the whole business is turned inside out. What an original and nifty idea! Thanks Hester!

One more thought before I close for today. I am leaving at the end of the month for 6 weeks in Costa Rica. I will be writing letters while I am down there, but the postal system is slow and undependable so I can't be sure what I mail will even reach people...  Also I won't be home to check my mail so if a letter comes to my POB after I have gone, it will be sitting for six weeks "on hold" at the post office waiting for me to return home. As much as I hate to say it,  probably the best thing to do at this point is to wait to write me until I return to the States on January 9, 2012. I will be trying to answer any mail I receive between now and the 27th of November when we leave for C.R., but if a letter comes after I leave it will be January before I can answer it. If your letter misses me and is stuck in the post office for a month, I apologize. I will be sure to get a letter back to you as soon as I get home!
  I will continue writing on my blog while I am in Costa Rica. I will not always have connectivity, but I can compose my blog entries on my computer and then when we are able to get to an internet cafe or otherwise have access to the internet, I can post what I have written. I am hoping that during my time outside the USA, those who write to me regularly will for a short time, contact me by an occasional comment at Art of a Letter or by e-mailing me to let me know how things are going. I will be glad to hear from you all!
                             Until next time, I'll see you in the mail!

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