Too Many Tabs and Batches of Insomnia

It’s a little past midnight and I’m wide awake.  Most of the people I’d talk to at this hour are in bed already or about there.  It’s a work day tomorrow for some of them after all.

 

I tried to close the tabs on my browser several times today and got lost.  It happens frequently.  Sometimes too frequently.

I get lost in pages of inspiration.  It’s what breeds more inspiration.

But it has its drawbacks too.

 

My mind resembles my notebooks.  The words run together and twirl and dance.  Sometimes it’s just too fun to play in the rain.

 

Hours drop off like nothing.

Five o’clock becomes eight o’clock becomes midnight becomes…

 

I think I’ve seen as much sunrises as I have sunsets.

(…Well… when I am not sifting through tabs.)

There’s too much to do.  There’s too much information I need to absorb.

Too much.  

Too many.

I wish I could just get some sleep already.

Stupid broken overactive brain.

Here’s to You (and by you I mean me): New Year’s 2014

Where I wasn’t this year:

Happy New Year friends and devoted readers.  And man some of you are really devoted despite how much I haven’t been here.  For that I thank you.  It’s been one hell of a ride over the years especially this one.

But this post is all about the finale.  

 

This New Year’s toast (that never officially happened) is to you.  And by you, I mean me.

Wait what?

 

Every year WordPress delivers a fresh dose of data about all of the powers that be.  For work projects, this data is extremely paramount to making strategic plans for the future… regardless of what quarter or time of the year it is.  The end of the year data brings a bevy of information that showcases the path you have for your company, brand, or even blog.

On this personal blog I noticed a huge missing piece: me.  Over the year I dived head first into work projects with my favorite being a writing project which involved me writing five pieces a week for a paint client.  My devotion to putting my heart out on the chopping block was as microscopic as several of my exes would proclaim my heart is in the first place.

 

My end of the year report informed me that I only wrote a total of twenty five posts here.

Twenty five posts over a three hundred sixty five day period.

Twenty five little snapshots.

 

Twenty.

Five.

I easily did that amount of posts for a client in a month or less.  Where the hell was I last year?

As crazy as it may seem, I was catering to other things and not being selfish enough.  It is generally pretty easy to get motivated to get a story up for a client when its paid or about something outside of my heart yet still inside my heart.

 

So let’s talk about that first picture a bit more and my quiet New Year’s Eve last night.  Last year I did that and it was amazing.  I was fortunate enough to go to the biggest party of the year with friends dressed to the nines.  I had a frigging blast.  Last year turned into the year surrounded with the reminder of the people whom I would then call my good friends… who would prove to be some of the very best that I have.  

This year was spent alone vegging out cuddled tight with my newborn son.  It was quiet and uneventful.  Hell I didn’t even drink a glass of champagne.

But while last year’s gala was a blast, this just… felt better.  

My heart was a bit more complete than it had been in a very long time.  

2013 was about rebirth.  It was about putting my fun a bit more aside and preparing to being a full time mom again. It was about work but as much as it was about me, it wasn’t completely about me.  The beginning of the year was spent taking care of another person.  I was afraid to let go.  I held myself back.  The end of it was about taking care of another person too.. except that in the process, I would find that I was that other person.

2014 is about not holding back on myself.  To embracing opportunities and the unknown without fear.  From this blog to my bigger demons, it needs to all come out. I owe it to you.  I owe it to me.  And you too my babies.  After all, you’re a part of me.

Cheers

(Not quite) A Picture Perfect Holiday Recap


It’s doesn’t always resemble a movie even if you live in a movie town

“It’s [not always] A Wonderful Life”

Well it’s over. You survived. Santa came and went. The savior you were waiting for arrived. But was it everything you expected it to be?It was another picture perfect holiday scenescape here in beautiful Los Angeles, California. The weather showed a delightful eighty one degree high in the forecast.

photo courtesy of Steven Swimmer

photo courtesy of Steven Swimmer

I awoke to the sunshine. It’s not something out of the ordinary here. It’s appreciated but…

It wasn’t as picturesque inside as it was outside. For living in a fairy tale, it wasn’t exactly a fairy tale.

And I wasn’t the only one experiencing that unfortunately.

I saw update after update on social networks with happiness and cheer. It’s the holiday season and I live in a picturesque movie town amongst the most brilliantly spectacular people in the country.

Or at least I’d like to believe that.

How could anyone feel anything but festive on this most joyous day? Well unfortunately there were the other messages. The messages that reading a piece of your heart broke with them a little bit.

Of friends and family apart.

Of lovers lost.

Of abandonment.

Of “Ebenezer Scrooges.”

Hardened hearts in the most spectacularly vibrant people on the planet. Obliterated but doing their best to just get through the day.

This year I took the path of a single mother. And, while I wasn’t alone entirely and I had plenty of offers to do things with friends just as I did that day I had him, I was… very alone.

Remember when I told you in my last post about the separation that happened back in February of 2008? According to the “*current order” it’s not my year to have my children for this holiday. (Yes, holiday. I’m not particularly religious despite/because of years of Catholic schooling and teachings.) Nonetheless I was supposed to have a Skype call with my children to celebrate the day together. I planned the entire day around it -turning down several offers to go out that would potentially interfere.

So I waited with great anticipation… it was my version of waiting for Santa to come on Christmas morning.

It didn’t happen…

broken-heart

You would think I might be used to this stuff by now..

Reel back to a few days prior when I posted to my private social network about my eldest son not behaving the greatest enough to make me question giving him coal.  

(I didn't by the way.)

(I didn’t by the way.)

And I thought about my ex husband and my children.  

And why the call likely didn’t happen.

And why I wasn’t there with my eldest as he opened gifts earlier that morning.

About the fighting with my father on Christmas Eve because of differences in parenting styles.

About how my eldest believes the world revolves around gifts.

About how my other children believe the same.

About the comments calling me “negative” and picking at my lack of religion or beliefs in Santa and the otherwise commercial version of this so called picturesque holiday of “goodwill towards your fellow man” and “cheer.”

dontbelieveinsantagrinchmas

I had a couple of friends offer to have a few drinks with me in celebration and “bah humbug’ing” this abysmal reality of a day.

That didn’t happen either.

Thousands of miles away two of my children were living a lie.  Sure there were likely tons of gifts and warm home made cooking to go with the “Leave it to Beaver” Christian lifestyle my ex believes he is currently giving my children.  A similar smaller version could be said with my oldest son at my father’s.

 

The posts kept coming.

Presents and joy.

Happy families gathered around piles and piles of presents and food.

The friends who were also “orphans” drinking their cares away.

The friends without children going to dedicated “orphan” outtings.

The friend who ended up at the beach.

The friend who joined another family of friends for their meal.

The friends who went to the movies together.

And then there was me.

I could have gone and done a bunch of things.

So why didn’t I?

This isn’t a completely sad movie.  Earlier that day I had some very positive conversations.  My oldest son called me and told me he’d missed me that morning.  We talked about the differences in how his grandfather and I parent and about his newest little brother.  And while it wasn’t perfect, it made me smile.  My children are my heart.  This year has been all about reuniting with them.  Little by little there have been some major steps of progression towards this this year.

And then there was something else entirely.

My grandparents aren’t doing very well.  There are several health issues going on that… will likely lead me back to Illinois very soon to see them.  My family fears these may be their last days.

On the last phone calls I have not been able to speak with my grandmother.  Her health and the timing of the calls has prevented it.

I got to talk to her yesterday however.

not taken yesterday

It snowed.  The house was full of visiting family- my sister and her daughter and my uncle and his daughters.  I laughed as she scolded my grandfather and told him he couldn’t drink wine (an Italian must at the table) because it would not be good with his current pills.

I listened as I could tell her face was glowing as she regaled about how my cousins closer in proximity were picking up art.  And she asked me about my newborn.

“Does he look like you?”

“I’ll send you a picture.  He’s little like me.  We’d like to visit soon.  I’m worried about you.  Will you even have the strength to hold him when we get there?”

We spoke about the argument with my oldest son.  About her son and me differing on our versions of respecting ones elders.  About how because of the argument we were not able to see each other that morning.

“It sounds like you can have some quiet time with the new baby then.  That doesn’t sound like a bad day at all.”

Suddenly the rest of the day didn’t matter.  The other things making me blue didn’t matter.

At least for that moment.

She was right.  In the simplest of all things she was ever so right.

Our phone call got cut short due to some technical difficulty.  I thought I would end up calling her back and telling her that the line had dropped.  I never ended up doing so.  I had the Skype call coming up and needed to tend to that.

But even after that phone call no show, and the blue that I felt with that, I know that maybe that little bit was all she was supposed to have done.  It was just enough to push me through the rest of the day.

I spoke to friends here and there but essentially kept to myself on Christmas.  To me and my newborn, it was just another Wednesday.  It wasn’t the most perfect day in our most perfect movie town but, it was real, and that’s ok.

In the real world life, and holidays doesn’t always resemble a movie.  That’s just how it is.  And you know something?  That’s alright.  Even if you live in a movie town.  It’s alright.

Criminal Complexity: Hard Knocks Back and Forward

It’s nearly four o’clock in the morning and I am not quite ready to sleep.  I have an article that I want to write.  That I should write.  That… I might not write until… well, at least after this.  This is my treat to myself.  I’d like to think that maybe I’ve deserved it.

Last year was really difficult.  Or rather, the year before were really.  It’s been that way for quite some time.

Oh “time…”

Life has hit me hard.  The top photo was actually taken during a relaxed moment last year… before it all happened.

After it all happened.

Same difference right? Heh.

The inside kitchen wall of my then loft just outside downtown but not quite in an artist colony might make me look like a bit of a hard ass criminal.  Rest assured, that is not true.  You can even check my record if you’re curious.  The funny thing, however,  is that I seem to get the criminal label quite frequently.  Confused?  Read on and hopefully you will understand a bit more.

There is a quote by Butch Patrick (aka Eddie Munster) which just sort of stuck with me since that first time it came into passing:

“I may be little but I’m odd.”

At four foot, ten inches in stature this rang true for me on all sorts of levels.  It’s been the blessing and curse that has followed along beside me each step of the way.

I could potentially have to go into labor tomorrow.  This pregnancy has been an abundance of surprises and complexities.  A test tomorrow at 1 will determine our fate.  So why the hell am I even awake at this hour?

My exes would lead you to believe I’m crazy.  The entourage of potential clients in the background might believe that I might be…

And I think about how much different my life is today than it even was yesterday.  Reeling back to a month ago.  To six months ago.  To a year ago. To two years ago.

And so on.

And so on.

“You wanted this.”

I found scrawled on a piece of paper.

I did.  

I didn’t know it.

I didn’t plan it.

But it was likely there… waiting.

Like that first day I saw my son on that screen.

In the following months that would come into fruition after that night I finally got the guts to leave I would be amazed at the wonders of the heart.  Of the wonders of all of those around me.  Complete with their flaws as well as their peaks.

Nearly a full day week has passed since I started to write this draft.  My doctor’s appointment has come and gone.  Thankfully I am not typing this from a hospital bed.  I’m still at home on my computer… thinking about how to tell those potentials that I might not be available for a week or two to talk, plowing through Amazon looking at strollers and car seats (that won’t be here until after I have my son thanks to crappy customer service and shipping deception), thinking about the next few days hours… and enjoying a bit of the quiet and introspection.

He’s going to be here soon.

I was glowing as I left the appointment.  I am excited.  My doctor let me decide when I’m going to be induced.  Due to the complications with this pregnancy (of which I feel has been about the entirety and theme of it), I have one week day maximum before he must make his exit.

It all started a  couple of weeks or so ago when something just seemed a bit odd.  I didn’t know what it was and I barely mentioned it to my doctor.  Why the heck was I itching so much? Was I just nervous?  Surely it wasn’t all those nonexistent hikes I’ve been going on.

I was told that I have some uncommon liver issue that makes my son’s exit necessary or I could potentially lose him.  They call it cholestasis.  Feel free to click the link and read about it further if you dare.  I won’t be boring you with all the nitty gritty medical details.

My due date wasn’t for several weeks.  I remember joking about it during my pregnancy how funny it would be if he came before/on Halloween.  And now?  Well, hopefully he will.  I go into the doctor later tonight in hopes of potentially having that Halloween baby.

The debatable crazier part?  I might be alone.

Even crazier?  It’d be my choice.

Papa bear will not be present.  I didn’t give him specifics nor will I.  After he’d told me several times about how he wished this baby not to exist, I fought with my heart to tell him anything more beyond my diagnosis and planned induction. Hours left to go and… I still wonder if not telling him more than that is the right decision.  But I can’t be stressed to think about it more than that.  It’s admittedly somewhat selfish but after all that has happened, this is a special moment going to be shared with the one person who always (didn’t know) wanted him to exist.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about my upcoming birth.  He asked me how I was going to get to my appointment tonight.

“I’ll take a bus. No big deal.”

He seemed baffled by this.

“No one is taking you?  Who is bringing you home?”

“I had offers but it’s not that big of a deal.  I can get a bus there. My friend is going to pick me up since she has a car seat already and mine hasn’t come in the mail yet.”

He wouldn’t let me do that.  He offered to take me.  So did others.  I wasn’t going to take any of their offers.  I was ready to do it alone.  I feel like I have been alone for a majority of this pregnancy anyway.  I’d made peace with it.

But I caved.

“Well maybe we could get dinner or something before I go in?”

“Ha.  What do you want for your last meal?”

“Poutine. And maybe some [famous named] ice cream.”

“We should post a FB invite for people wanting to have dinner before you pop!”

I couldn’t really go that far.

And while poutine is magical, there’s still a part of me that wonders if I should just take the bus.  I have some wonderful people around me and… I just think I want to be alone.

 

Going back to how things were once upon a different time ago…

Last year I turned 30.  My then best friend moved up North to Seattle and… I nearly almost moved there myself.  I was doing fantastically.  The year before that had been.. an absolute nightmare.

(I haven’t talked to her much since I got pregnant.  She has mysteriously disappeared from contact…)

Most people enter their thirties and freak out.  I did the opposite.  So much so that I remember that last airport train back when someone asked me about my boyfriend back home and I was glowing when I answered.

“I don’t need one.”

That was, of course, before I met bear.

Fast forward to a few months later.  To coffee shop visits in the early morning and later to that day I let this guy I knew help out with some work around the office. (With results so disastrous I had to fire him only an hour later.)

“That’s your boyfriend isn’t it?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

To the yearly Halloween party at The Studio Bar.

(I wish I had those pictures.)

Greg and Janet (pictured below) host the most amazing holiday parties every year.  Little did I know it at the time but the man I brought to that party (dressed as Hi from Raising Arizona) would be the father of my future child.  And while I wasn’t dressed as a cop to that party, perhaps the baby part was the one thing missing from that costume.  Lord knows that I could imagine that’d be the look on his face when our son (not named Nathan Jr) would have garnered from him if he… actually was going to be present.

 

haha Jena is going to be pregnant

But that’s the way life goes.  It’s unscripted.  And as much as these past couple of years have had their down points, there has also been a tremendous amount of glory in it all.

And maybe that’s why I fight so much.

I get a lot of flack on a nearly daily basis for why I stay here in Los Angeles despite all of the hardships and struggles.  During my pregnancy I was told by several people (including and especially family) that I should just “move away and be a better mother” and that staying was “selfish” of me.  I get talked down to like my choices are that of some sort of criminal constantly.  I have learned who my real support system is.  Who my real friends are.  Who… I was wrong about.  Who… my REAL family is.

So why is being an individual with out of the box ideas something to criminalize?  Why does society constantly feel a need to punish those who are educated in ways of… perhaps the full effect.

Mind.

Body.

Soul.

(I swear I showered and am not a hippy.)

It’s a constant struggle with the world to tell them to… just open their damn eyes.

When my children were here this summer we analyzed the word “monster.”  Our Disney experience was filled with laughter as I asked them why they were not scared of people like Sully from Monsters Inc.

“Because monsters aren’t real mommy.” they told me.

“Oh but they are.”

They didn’t understand.  I talked a bit more about it with them.

“Monsters are real people.  They can be anyone.  They can even be me or you.”

“How?”

“Everyone has a monster living inside of them.  It’s not always a bad thing.  But anyone is capable of being a scary horrible monster.  It’s a choice. “

Later in their visit, my father would start talking down to me condescendingly in front of them.  I said the word again.

“Monster.”

The kids understood.

The same could be said about this criminal complexity.  Anyone can get the title just like anyone could be a criminal.  (Or so at least the Joker tried to prove ala The Killing Joke)

Being an actual criminal though is a choice.

There is so much magic in this world.  There is also so much disaster.  Our society has not “grown up” much as we’d like to think.

We are embedded to think that different is bad.  That it must be squashed, medicated, criminalized, and otherwise reprimanded.

But then there are some lucky, wonderful, amazing people who see through the bullshit and know better.  And these are my friends.  They are the music makers.  They are the dreamers of the dreams.  They are part of my inspiration to keep going towards these dreams and why I am closer and closer everyday to actualizing them all into reality.

One by one.

Day by day.

It’s all happening.

All because I’m making it happen.

Alone.  

that’s ok I don’t need it

…And it’s the best place I’ve ever been yet.

The Gift of Not Gifting

Over the course of time I have become enamored with the idea and action of gifting.  There are so many rewards to the heart with the act of giving.  What people tend to forget is that there are also so many potential setbacks.

Here’s an  image you are likely familiar with if you have been on the internet longer than five seconds.  It is a silly but accurate reminder of what I will be alluding to with this post.

free_candy_van

When my children were here with me over the summer, I wanted to do so much for them.  Any parent should understand how hard it is to be apart from their children even for a short time.  So, when the time came that they were finally here, I wanted more than anything to give them the world.  To get them here in the first place meant the world to me.  In that regard, I am thankful that I was privileged with the company of good friends to facilitate that visit happening including getting them here (despite my ex husband moving cross country without any notice so he could be with the newest woman he met in a video game) and even getting them to Disneyland.

While the material things themselves were wonderful, especially as I was beyond broke and having to tell my children that unfortunately I could not buy them everything, the act of it was far more meaningful to all of us.  Or… at least at that moment.

As more moments passed where my children have been distanced, I have began to abhor giving.  Not because I don’t want to… but because I see the little acts of bribery and compensating techniques that are actually happening.  Giving, especially to children, gives less when it is done all the time.

Both of my sons have had birthdays since my last postings.  I have found myself taken back with disgust for the reactions to giving and lack of giving done to them.

A little bit of a super personal background:

My oldest son is currently living with my father.  It was a decision made years ago as a temporary solution to my ex husband essentially leaving me in a very desolate space.  So desolate, in fact, that I am finally gaining the momentum to…

My younger son and daughter are living with their father.  That situation is extremely delicate and frustrating.  The man stole my children and ran off with them after emotionally and physically abusing me.  My last visit was the first one I had been able to get in YEARS as the man had: told them someone else was their mother, refused to take phone calls, and jumped states and cities several times while he leeched off some woman.  I have been working on this- without assistance- for a long time now.  As you may know, however, Los Angeles (and most of California in general) is a very difficult place to get on your feet.  I have suffered and learned so much from this grand place.

Since that visit, things have been progressively different.   My children know again that I am their mother.  They are very young and are starting to question the world around them.  This is something I have been encouraging and my ex has been discouraging.

(No guy like that wants to hear: Why did you keep me from a mommy that loves me so much and wants to be in my life?)

As the years and bits of time have passed, I have seen first hand how damaging both of the environments are for them.  One of the biggest reasons?  It’s the one thing that I haven’t been able to do a ton due to the lack of free flowing finances… as I have been working to recover from the financial shackles I allowed my ex husband.  Giving has been a cross to bear actually.

My younger son, when here, showed a major addiction to video games.  This is not completely surprising.  I met his father at a gaming company I worked for years ago.  His father has met two women in online gaming since me.  He is clearly focused on gaming…  it is… at a frightening level.  I fear that my son might…

A friend of mine loaned me a Game Boy for the plane ride and while they were here.  As my son didn’t have a portable gaming device, he was enamored with it and didn’t want to let go.  Combined with his learning and developmental problems, this only made me more nervous.  Near the end of the visit, I didn’t want him to have anything to do with the device.  He couldn’t handle the responsibility on even a sharing level and would break down when it was taken away.

As his birthday approached, he voiced to me on a webcam visit that he wanted a portable gaming device for his birthday.  I told him no.  I explained that he had not been able to handle it and, when and if he could show me differently, I would reconsider it.  At this point, he broke down.

“I don’t like you Mom.”

Can you guess what happened after that?  Yep his father and his latest girlfriend bought him one.  They had overheard the conversation.

It was one instance of many with regards to gifts that has bothered me.

When the calls were to initially start, and the kids had left here, the gifts and things I gave them were mysteriously lost.  I sent two cameras out to even get the visits.  They never arrived and there was an excuse for several weeks paired with talking down to me and telling me that my confirmation slips and testing of equipment were simply not true.

Something important given to my daughter also went missing.  One of my grandparents sends jewelry found at thrifts every so often. I found two butterfly pins in a bag of jewelry and decided to do something special for the two of us.

I gave my daughter a pink butterfly pin and I kept a green one. I told her where the butterfly came from. That it was from her great grandmother.  It would be a reminder of each other no matter how far away we were each time we wore it.  I told my daughter:

“No matter how far away we are, when we have these on especially, remember how much your mother loves you and that you are always with me, even if you’re not physically there.”

“You’re not just my mommy.  You’re my friend.”

It was a way to remember the love we shared no matter how much distance was between us.  It was nothing fancy material wise but it was a special bond between the two of us.

In addition to the butterfly pin, I gave her a jewelry box with other little costume jewelry. I told her to make sure she kept the pin safe in the box.

For a couple of weeks after the visit, it was a wonderful and special shared moment. She told me that she had worn the butterfly to her first day at the new school.  I wore it en route to a prospective client.  It was the magic and love of giving.

Not too long after she returned she told me that her father lost the pin.  We had talked about it on our phone calls prior.  He had to have known how special it was to us.  But there it was, coincidentally missing.

Another instance with my kids has been that the kids are always showing me gifts on my weekly webcam visits.  They then ask me when and if I will be sending them things.  It happens every single week.  Items are shoved in front of the camera.

“Mom look at what Tuffles got me.”

“Mom look at this [thing given by my ex husband & his girlfriend]”

It’s always something.  And it was always followed by:

“Mom when are you going to send us more things?”

I found myself responding more and more:

“Gifts are not the measurement of love.  I show you how I love you in ways beyond gifts.  Material things are  great but they’re not important.  Hearts and genuine love are what matters.  Those are the real gifts.”

My ex husband and his girlfriend didn’t like this very much… and the consistency has not faltered.  I await tomorrow’s gift.

Now back to California and my oldest son.  My oldest son knows I have an affinity for fish.  After some casualties, I found myself with an extra small tank.  I wanted to give him this tank and get him some betas.  There had been a whole economical discussion about it and some comical adventures with his siblings (to be written about in a future piece).  He told me that he couldn’t have fish because his grandfather said no.  The tank topic stopped and we went to birthday requests.

My son’s birthday present came from some great timing as I assisted my friends over at Loot Crate.  The box included a Ninja Turtle action figure amongst other geeky treats.  Since this son was named after one of these figures, it was absolutely perfect.  To add to it more, there was a blind box key chain from Futurama in there as well.  There is a very embarrassing story of when my son was a toddler that revolved around the character Bender.  We didn’t know it at the time, but Bender was in that blind box.

For several weeks leading up to his birthday I tried to coordinate something to assist with it.  I wanted to have a pizza party and make decorations with my Preval vFan Airbrush System and center the experience around that (albeit small) gift.  It didn’t happen.  My father wanted to do everything and spared no expense to get the biggest, most unnecessary amount of tokens and gaming for my son and his friends.   Oh and about the fish?  I arrived at my father’s house to find that my son now had a goldfish… and that my father had bought a big tank specifically him now.

My father gloated about all of it.  My son was happy, but ungrateful.  It was frustrating.  I couldn’t say anything until after the fact.  I wanted my son to have an enjoyable time with his friends.  I watched, but kept my distance.  I wanted to allow for some independence and freedom.

When I was to go back to Los Angeles, my son had an attitude about him.  He was unappreciative and showing it.  I explained to my father that this was part of the reason I didn’t want things to be so extravagant.  He didn’t agree.  He just kept gloating about how much he’d spent.

My son and I discussed his gifts when we got back to Los Angeles.  There had been talk of me taking things away as a form of discipline for him being ungrateful.  The talk helped a lot.  I saw my growing little boy in there.  After our talk, he apologized and went back to tell his grandfather that he didn’t like how he was treating his mother.  He remembered that gifts, while great, were not everything.

I have a stack of material things I wanted to give the kids.  I wanted to share some small things with them to show them that I think of them constantly.  But now?  I am now in a position where the act of giving has soured me from wanting to do it… at least in one way.

“I believe more and more in the words I spoke to my children.  Of the importance of the heart and compassion that are far more material than any material possessions.  I struggle daily trying to get to the point where I can give them everything I dream they would want.  But perhaps, especially in this instance it’s for the best.  Perhaps the best gift for them is what I have been doing all along… the real one that they need the most…. and that’s holding back and not giving. 

Success is Being Able to Not be Afraid Successfully

For several nights, for several reasons, this has been the look on my face as I lay awake and thinking about… far too much and not enough.  It has also shown a bit about how I know that there are still pieces of the woman I was the day I was raped by my (now ex) husband.

Yesterday a friend posted a link to an absolutely wonderful project endeavor: Project Unbreakable.  It is my plan this weekend to add my voice to the project.  It is a voice that has felt so frozen and paralyzed… but doesn’t want to be afraid anymore. As cheesy as it sounds, I have learned through these years just how much success is the ability to not be afraid successfully… even if you are.

So many people have approached me over these years and said how strong I am.  So many people have said that they value my dedication to this city, my goals, my passions, my art, and…

But I feel like a phony sometimes.

People handle their pain in their own way.  It is not ours to tell them that their way is wrong or right.  It is, however, our duty as people to be there for them or not if they extend their hearts to us… respecting the ways that they would like us to do that.

Monday I nearly didn’t go out.  I was invited to attend a mini conference.  I have been feeling physically dreadful for the past few weeks.  Feeling physically ill does not necessarily make for the happiest of Jenas.  I have been on a fair amount of personal quarantine this week as I cope with it.

Going to that conference made me remember my strength.  I was just.. me.  Little did I know that doing just that was enough to be remembered in a substantial way I would find out later this week.  It is humbling to even think about… and perhaps, nearly as scary.

I think about those people who believe in me.  About the strangers that have me in confidence.  Of the new faces I met because I decided to shove the pain to the side and just… wake up and walk out there.

You motivate me.

You give me hope.

You give me strength.

 So why am I so damn scared sometimes?

A couple of wonderful things came into view this week.  Reminders of all the impact I have done.  Reminders that that girl laying in bed sick and scared is also bold and brazen and confident and… strong.  Reminders that… the scars are still there but they are not to be afraid of.

This is my day.

This is my year.

The scared girl doesn’t need to be forgotten.  She needs to be remembered as she is the reason why the strong one that exists is here in the first place.

 

Editors side note: the movie images used in this post are from a movie which I knew would become one of my favorites before it came out.  It was, as fate would have it, a movie my ex husband would refuse to watch with me.  I didn’t end up watching it until after he was no longer around physically.  Perhaps that was a little sign in itself.

Design: United in Color We Stand

Originally I started to draft this post for a client that I regularly contribute pieces about colorful experiences and how they impact our everyday.  Today, however, media is frowning against anyone talking about anything regarding 9/11 on a brand format.  Rather than face a media frenzy about it, I decided to not publish the piece for the client.  However, as I’m not a complete fan of censorship and feel that the piece still deserves light, here is a slightly modified version of the article not posted and my take on  design and its importance with relation to a major event in the headlines-

I remember that fateful day now twelve years ago, I want to put my heart out to all those who were lost and for the vibrant colors extinguished by the events that happened September 11, 2001.

In reflection of these events, let us turn to the colors that helped make headlines and assist into the impact of getting messages like “United We Stand.”

Color and composition are an integral factor of design.  Whether it’s showcasing a tragic event or otherwise, design execution can make your audience remember or forget.

Today we remember the events and the great design elements.  The presence of bold or muted colors or absence of color at all can make or break a design.  In examples taken from a wonderful showcase on http://www.poynter.org, we take you on a journey through time, color, and textual composition.

The first example above demonstrates how minimalist design can still be tremendously impactful.  Old Glory is hinted at as “The Desert Sun” drops its three bold colors into this powerful cover. The next time you look at a box of colors and only find a small sampling to choose from, do not fret as you may have everything you need.

Matching shades of a similar color can also convey depth in your design.  The cover for “The Courier News” piece highlights that in four shades of blue as each box present in the images represents the lost towers.

Lastly, “The Daily News” showed a bit more somber look at the decade past with their cover.  Using its bright orange and simplistic dark color contrast of the buildings, one could detect a sense of sadness.  Even without the words “We will not forget,” the viewer is taken back into a time machine remembering that fateful day.

How will you remain united today?  Will you be bold enough to stand up and show your colors in design and composition to greatly impact your audience? To those amazing visual artists and to those whom are commemorated today with these images, I salute you.  Thank you for being brave enough to use your talents to make an impact.. even if it is a controversial one.