Respite For the World Weary

Today I thought of the lyrics “But Not Tonight” by Martin Gore:

Oh God, it’s raining
But I’m not complaining
It’s filling me up
With new life

The stars in the sky
Bring tears to my eyes
They’re lighting my way
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

Just for a day
On a day like today
I’ll get away from this
Constant debauchery

The wind in my hair
Makes me so aware
How good it is to live
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon
Is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
But they’re not like tonight

Oh God, it’s raining
And I’m not containing
My pleasure at being
So wet

Here on my own
All on my own
How good it feels to be alone
Tonight

And I haven’t felt so alive
In years

The moon
Is shining in the sky
Reminding me
Of so many other nights
When my eyes have been so red
I’ve been mistaken for dead
But not tonight

Setting Up A Cleaning Station

After watching this video with Sanjay Gupta cleaning his groceries I created a cleaning station to wipe down packages and groceries before they enter our home.

It occurred to me that we need a cleaning station for our mind as well.

My therapist recommended that I had control of the “inputs”. I can choose to watch the news, to refresh Twitter over and looking at all of the bad news one scroll at a time.

Or I can choose to focus on what the positive:

  1. How I’m connecting more to my children.
  2. How I am taking pleasure in the simple actions of every day life: cleaning, cooking, tidying.
  3. How I reconnected with my favorite cousin Tonya in West Virginia.
  4. How many great friends have reached out and supported me and my family.
  5. How we sang all sang You’ll Be Back at the top of our lungs and laughed hysterically.

There are things that we can and cannot control. The one thing we can control is our mind and that is our entire reality.

xo,
Natalie ❤

A Drawing Process For Self Care

To stay sane I began artist Ohn Mar Win’s 14 Day Drawing Challenge on Skillshare on April 1st. I came across Ohn Mar’s work in 2018 where I took one of her classes and found her so lovely: gentle, kind and a generous artist who shares all of her best secrets.

We’re taking everyday household items and drawing them, creating a plan and committing to drawing every day for 14 days.

Sometimes it takes all of my effort to sit down at the table and draw but I find when I do it, there is a joyful release, no matter what the outcome. I have the satisfaction of having created something and that somehow carries me through the day.

For a brief moment I can sit and focus on something that I love to do and those moments bring me a lot of joy.

I finally get what it means to enjoy the process and not worry about the outcome.

Drawing of a spray bottle.
Drawing of a brown and orange dinosaur toy.
Drawing of our tomato plant.
Drawing of a Matchbox car.
Various drawings of a teacup.
Drawing of of some cosmetics.
A drawing of a controller for a video game system.
A drawing of a huge earring from Patricia Fields.
A drawing of my daughter’s seal doll.

The class is actually a lot more in depth than I expected and it focuses not just on the drawing but the mindset. I highly recommend Ohn Mar’s classes. She is the perfect tone for these interesting times.

❤ Natalie

An Urban Garden

Life as we know it has come to a screeching halt.

I am living in New York City with my family. We did not run to the Hamptons or Upstate, NY. We stayed put in New York City so as not to potentially spread anything 

I was working at a job that I absolutely loved with people I adored. 

Then the pandemic struck and my husband was deployed to care for covid-19n patients in the hospital. I had to take leave from a job in tech sales that I recently got. Suddenly I found myself a stay at home mom doing things that I abhorred: cooking, cleaning and laundry. 

But under the given circumstances, I found caring for my children and being a mother was different and I found joy in the very things that I thought I hated. At the end of the day I was tired, but a good tired. The saying: "The obstacle is the way" is very true in my case: My children are the very thing that help sustain me mentally and physically.

It's not been very easy but at the moment I've found peace.

We planted seeds a few months back and now we have a full fledged veggie and garnish garden. It's very helpful to have some greens that we can pluck and eat.


Two cut scallions in water sprouting new growth on top! (I saw this on Twitter)




We have arugula. (Perhaps too much arugula). The taste of fresh arugula is potently spicy and so alive.


Cilantro! We usually use a lot of cilantro but haven't used much of it yet.



And hopefully some tomatoes. Pray for them.

We also planted strawberries as well but those never came in.

My husband requested some Thyme and Rosemary.

I freaked out a bit because I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with anything. I texted my cousin, Tonya in West Virginia who is very handy and wise:



We can grow some of our own food and I sewed some masks (despite some obstacles, one of them being that I don't really sew.

 



I take great pleasure in knowing we can do these things, with our hands. We can create and we can cultivate our own gardens and therefore our lives.

Be Well,

Natalie ❤

How Fleabag’s Dead Mum Saves the Day in Season 2

Statue of Fleabag's mother, created by her Godmother

Here are some of my thoughts of the amazing show, Fleabag created by the illustrious Phoebe Waller-Bridge

WARNING SPOILER ALERT: THIS POST IS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEEN SEASON 1 AND 2

I thought about why Fleabag’s father, sister AND her Godmother are so hostile towards her and it’s because despite being a fuckup, she is loved, she is funny and especially because Fleabag reminds them of her dead mother.
 
By all accounts Fleabag’s mother was also beautiful, funny and beloved by all and it must be painful for the father to see Fleabag who reminds him of the love that he lost.

Fleabag’s resemblance to her mother is particularly disturbing to her Godmother (soon to be stepmother). Fleabag’s existence is a constant reminder to the Godmother that she will never measure up to the original mother she desperately wants to replace. The bond between Fleabag and her father irritates the future Godmother so deeply and overall, she is threatened by the unwavering love between her fiancé and his daughters.

Drawing of Fleabag or Phoebe

In fact, upon further reflection – the amazing qualities of Fleabag’s mother permeate Season 2 in such a loving and gentle manner that you realize it is very possible the episode is an unspoken love letter to her mother.

The gold statue – a symbol of the mother – shows up in so many unusual ways.

The Godmother created a tiny gold (literal) bust of Fleabag’s mother with no arms or legs or head, just the body. Did she create this statue with the mother actually modeling? What drove the Godmother her to create it? To empower herself and diminish the mother’s presence in her mind? Or is the statue a tribute of love to her friend, and a token of gratitude for the new family she has acquired? While the statue is small it is made of precious material and it’s extremely valuable.

Fleabag steals it when she desperately needs financial help to keep her cafe financially afloat. Of all pieces of her Godmother’s, how could she unknowingly steal the statue of her mother?

I also thought about how the statue “saves the day” for Claire’s presentation after Fleabag accidentally destroys the impeccable glass award Claire so painstakingly chose.

And at the very end, in the dank bus stop when she loses the love of her life, she pulls the statue out and it seems to give her solace.

The statue quietly vibrates with life and her mother’s presence gives Fleabag the unconditional love she needs in a moment where she is (and we are) completely shattered.

Fleabag & Hot Priest

The Significance of Fleabag’s Motherand Motherhood in General

Fleabag’s mother also quietly upends the myth of the asexual “good mother” who is dutiful and and lives for her child. 

When you see paintings of mothers in the male gaze it’s usually an angelic woman “sitting with child” and fulfilling her domestic duties: giving a child a bath, breastfeeding or holding a child as if she is the Virgin Mary personified.

These images of how mothers are portrayed aren’t empowering for women who have children as these ideals subtly reinforce the sentiment that no matter how much mothers progress professionally: a “good mother” stays at home with her children and are always haplessly out of touch and ineffective.

Source: “Korean Mother & Child” By Elizabeth Klein (1924)

Even comedians cartoonishly portray their own mothers in a buffoonish “mom jeans” fashion and the Fleabag series completely throws this paradigm out the window.

Fleabag’s mother (though unseen) is portrayed as beautiful, complex woman who is not defined by a vocation, her children or other external things like status or education, but by simply being authentically herself, just as Fleabag does.

That said, it is quite clear that, despite her mother living a full life on her own terms, her unconditional love for her daughter was never sacrificed. Though Fleabag’s mother affection is never explicitly shown in the series, it is unmistakable that she loved her daughter very much and vice versa.

Her mother is one of the most reliable and purest forms of love Fleabag ultimately turns to when she faced one of her most challenging moments.

Fleabag realizes that despite being devastated by the priest choosing God over her,*she* was the one that she was looking for all along. 

This feeling is so beautifully highlighted by the Alabama Shakes singing: “But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright.” and you know she means it as she motions to the camera she no longer needs it’s artifice to live.