Monday, September 30, 2013

Story Teller

It occurred to me today that all of the things I do well are all versions of the same thing; they are each a form of story telling.  The bad news here is that I thought I was good at a lot of things and it turns out I'm really just good at the one.  The good news is, if I'm not wrong, you may enjoy yourself, here where I'm in my element.
The sobriety of the both photographer
and the subjects is in question, I have no idea
how that happened.  

I write; which is story telling at it's most obvious.  It has always been a part of who I am.  It's how I filter through the things going on in my life and figure out how to apply them to my daily life and relationships.  It's how I've been coping with my mom's death and the upheaval in my family life that has been going on recently.  It's how I sort through joy, pain, heartbreak, chaos, love, hate, friendships, confusion, instinct, happiness, hopelessness, name it, I've written myself through it.  I'm pretty sure it's what keeps me off of the evening news and out of jail; which, let's face it, is good for all of us.  Not writing has never been an option available to me.

I decorate things; mostly cakes and rooms and gardens and water color paper.  
Painting, cake decorating and gardening are really just another form of story telling.  It's sharing stories on a visual scale.  You formulate a plan, decide on a shape, a character, a color, a texture, a add to it in layers, eventually you've given your audience a piece of yourself....a story.

I cook;  cooking and baking are simply layering ingredients with flavors and melding them together to create a story with food.  There is a message for the receiver in anything I cook, if you are paying any attention at all you will hear it.

I talk; and that is no joke, while I may be quiet at first, if you get to know me in any sort of intimate capacity you will be amazed by how much I do not shut up.  I like to think I can tell a pretty good story.  It is a genetic gift bestowed upon myself and most of the people I'm related to; it makes family parties absolutely excellent.  While I can't actually read any of your minds, I would venture a guess that one of the things you may like about me is the way I can tell a story; especially if I am the object of humor in said story.  I cannot stand the thought of public embarrassment  I spend a good amount of time planning how not to embarrass myself on a daily basis, unless it will make for a good story.  In my book, the telling of a good story trumps nearly everything.  I happily embarrass the crap out of myself for a story.  I will  totally embarrass myself to get a good laugh, which you already know if you read my blog, have followed my skirt stuck in the van door status updates on facebook or have ever spoken to me at all.  Ever.

Then I noticed something; first, each of these things are gifts from Cheli.  My mom was not much of a hugger, she didn't suffocate me and Erin with "I love you."  She showed us her love with her food, her magic, her Halloween costume sewing skills, her amazing budget room makeovers that were better than anything I ever saw on HGTV and her stories.  Sometimes when people compare me to Cheli I cringe a little, although, to be fair, no one wants to be compared to their mother, except maybe the children of Madonna and Angelina Jolie.  Other times, I have to say, it makes me feel like a bad ass. My mom was a total bad ass. I think I have moments of bad ass.  I aspire one day to be the complete bad ass package, we'll have to wait and see.

Second, each of these things is how I show people I love them.  I'm better than my mom was at telling people how I feel about them; I always have been but her death, specifically, was a turning point.  Life is short, if I love you I will tell you and I will probably tell you a story illustrating why I love you and what that love means to me and in it I will try to illustrate in some intimate way that you are important to me and that the place you fill in my life is valuable.  And that story?  It could be a painting, a batch of cookies, a poem, a plant, a gallon of paint painted, a chapter written in your honor, a character that wears your smile or speaks in your voice, or perhaps a pan of what appears to be horribly mismatched vegetables but what is really the only three individual vegetable types that each of my three individual children is eating that week....they are in some form, my love letter to you.  I hope you read it, I hope you hear my voice, I hope you understand...I love you.

And here is where we come around to what got me thinking on this subject to begin with....(I love this part).  I have spent a lot of time trying to get my kids to see me as a person.  I don't know how my mom did it, but she did.  It happens to be of incredible importance to me.  I want my kids to know I love them (they do), I want them to know that being a mom is intensely important to me (it is).  BUT!!!!!! I want my kids to know other things  about me too.  I want them to know that there is a really, really important message that the flight attendants give you every time you step foot onto an airplane.  IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY, PUT YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON BEFORE YOU HELP YOUR CHILDREN. This one sentence should be tattooed on every mother leaving the hospital with a new child, right on the inside of your wrist where you can see it all the time.  I want my kids to understand this because I want them to know I value myself and my needs.  I want them to know that what I want and feel and think is important because when they grow up and navigate the treacherous waters of parenting and marriage and....whatever they decide to navigate, I want them to know that their wants and needs and feelings are important.  
I want them to put their oxygen masks on first because if they don't take good care of themselves they won't be able to take good care of the people they love.  My kids get a better mom because I take painting lessons twice a month.  I want my kids to know that I am a writer, that I am a sister, a wife, a reader, a gardener, an explorer, a creator, a student, an artist, a poet, a friend.  That last one?  Super important.  I am blessed beyond measure in my friendships.  Look at my life at this moment.  My kids and I are living with my friends, Melissa and Paul.  One of my dogs and my TWELVE EFFING CHICKENS are living with Thia and her family.  My husband and my other dog are staying with my mother in law (who was my friend before Dan was my husband).  I am certainly gifted with friends and I want my kids to know that friendships are important and they require some work occasionally and that they are entirely worth it.  

We're getting closer to the message here, I promise.  

So the girls spent the weekend at my mother in law's with Dan and Aidan was off with friends and I had a lot of time (too much) on my own.  Things are a little stressful right now, I have lots of stuff on my mind and I needed to stay occupied.  Enter....the lesson, I spent most of the weekend with my friends Donna and Rob who are in the process of moving into a new house  (Side bar; they bought a house two doors down from the one they live in.  It's my new policy; I'm instituting a strict one block rule, no moving trucks, no meeting new people, no new's epic-ally genius).
 They think I'm helping them paint their new house.  And, I am but that's not all I'm doing.  First off; the two of them together should have a reality show, they're completely entertaining not to mention that they are warm and welcoming and they let my kids jump on their furniture and call them Uncle Shrek and Auntie Fiona.  
Second; what I'm really doing is mitigating stress through painting and helping friends.  Crossing my fingers, in thirty days I will have a house to paint, but right now I don't, they do; it's win win.  So today I painted a little bit of trim and then left to go get the kids from Dan and stopped back  with  Grace and Olivia who seem to think they belong quite comfortably at both of Donna & Rob's houses .  I painted some more, the girls ran around like crazies and Donna fed us.  

We get in the van to go home and Olivia says, "Mom, I really like all of your friends a lot."  I do too, Liv, I do too.

And....wait for it, an honest to God full circle moment....

Gracie says, "Mom, I think you're a really good friend."  I hope so, Gracie, I hope so. Win, win.

P.S. Donna and Rob? There's a chance that when you get home from work today that some OCD painter may have sneaked in and finished the trim in your master bedroom because she's literally writing this late at night in part because she can't sleep because the trim didn't get finished. XOXO, Kris


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