What do you do when you have to say good-bye to a beloved companion of 18 years? Apparently, you drink tequila at 11 in the morning with someone who knows you, won’t judge you and then you get your craft on!
Monday, was a blur to me. I knew my sweet Shakespeare, my calico kitty of 18 years had taken a turn for the worse. On just the day before, the vet had informed me of the seriousness of her condition.
Her diagnosis was in stark contrast to the Happiest Kitty on the Block of the previous year. She had appeared to have a new lease on life. With the passing of her dominating roommate last Christmas Eve (yes, Christmas was just around the corner again), she scampered through the house as though a kitten once again.
I too, had a new lease on life. After a life altering year, I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Our lives were parallel in many ways. She was rescued as a young cat, living on the streets, just old enough to learn the ropes, but didn’t stay there long enough to become hardened to human touch.
The need for sane self expression, camaraderie and of course tasty food, is how I feel safe. I called some friends over to my house. We gathered in the dining room around a simple assortment of salty and creamy cheeses, medjool dates, and decadently drank champagne while getting to know each other. I do love a good Manhattan or Sazarac, but come holiday time, bring on a good bubbly, some twinkle lights and I am happy! I was so thankful to be surrounded by these thoughtful, creative, clever ladies, each with her own story to tell. Some go deep, some stay protected, some deflect with humor. But in the end, we all come together for that same bit of nourishment, a feeding for our souls. We ate, drank, soaked each other in, and then moved on into the studio to create, where it was safe.
With various sized glass jars and colors to choose from, we dove into the vibrant blues, pinks, reds and greens. Some commanded their projects with ease while others approached with trepidation as if a misstep might leave her (me) with a crappy craft. Art is a place of safe self expression. Isn’t it? I love art and artists. Unfortunately, artists are often their own biggest critics. When does that little voice start inside our heads? Who put it there? We did not come into the world with it. As adults we can provide a community for each other where we can be creative and productive without judgement. And if there is silence, it is not uncomfortable, because we are thinking, we are creating
That night I made a simple salad of roasted beets that were so sweet, just like the life I was living for that moment. I savored the sweetness of life with each bite. I don’t think that we are so different from our kids. And, in fact, when I slow down, I learn from my kids. For some attachment parenting pros that conceit is probably a no brainer (you know who you are), but for some, we have had to make a conscious effort. For others, this is all brand new. Whether you have children or not, it doesn’t matter. As humans, especially women, we need to savor these moments of freedom and vulnerability. I had huge plans to make a feast for us all. It didn’t happen. Honied little bites are what I prepared instead. That’s all I prepared. I used what I had, in the time that I had and didn’t make myself crazy trying to “create” under unreasonable time constraints. Something that I have been known to do in the past.
Later, it came to me that that night the entire ceremony of the day and night was all a learning process. For those of you already familiar with the Reggio Emilia philosophy, this might be old news (you know who you are), but just like when children find tools within their environment, they can make their environment their classroom. Children also become active participants within their environment, hypothesizing and finding resolution within their day. The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and my kitchen became my classroom and those beets where my tools. We drank, we ate, we talked. There was no right, no wrong, no judgment.
– M. Byron Trent