I did a simple macrame project today. It's so relaxing and meditative and I'm really happy with the finished product. I just did six lines of traditional square knots, then a twisted knot, and then I dip-dyed the ends using a standard dye that you can buy at the supermarket. I attached it to a stick I found on a hike last summer.
Here is a brief how-to with photos for the painting and stenciling makeover I did on my staircase.
Hand-held power sander
Polyurethane for hardwood floors (with light amber tint)
Stencils (I used these).
White paint for stencils
Sponge brush (for stencils and for applying polyurethane)
My stairs had been carpeted by the last owner of the house, so they were in really rough shape when the carpet was removed. I sanded the tops and the backs several times. It took about ten or so rounds with the sander before I got them how I wanted them. After that, I just buffed them with a dry cloth and vacuumed the dust.
I started by painting the backs of the stairs with the yellow paint. This took about three coats, with several hours of drying time between them.
I decided to do the same design in a row on each step, alternating designs by step. I simply cut the stencil out, applied it gently to the step with tape and used the white paint with a sponge brush to stipple the paint over the stencil. When I was finished, I let it dry for about 6 hours.
I then applied a thin layer of polyurethane over the top of the stair backs to kind of seal in the stencil and to give it a nice shine. I let that dry for about four hours and then applied a second layer.
The stairs took much longer to dry as I didn't want to use them until they were fully sealed. I applied a thin coat of poly to each step and left them alone for about 9 hours. You will need a fan (or more!) and to have any windows open while you do this. I'd also suggest leaving the house for a while if you can; the fumes are very strong and gave me a bit of a headache and dizziness.
For a finishing touch, I applied one large round stencil (I don't remember the name of this one, but it's a Martha Stewart brand and I got it at Michael's) with two smaller ones on either side on the landing of the stairs, and the same design on the staircase ledge (it's a perfect spot to put knick knacks, books, etc but I can't because my cats - or kid - always knock them over, so I thought this was a good way to permanently dress up this area).
I am so pleased with the result! They are not perfect, but I didn't really want them to be. I wanted them to have an old world, imperfect charm about them, and they do.
There have been times in my life that I’ve been so low I could taste the ground. My mouth was filled with the dirt of devastation, the mire of not good enough, the bitter dew of loneliness. I was never sure I could stand up long enough, and strong enough, to be someone’s parent. However, I come from a rich ancestry of warrior women; both grandmothers, aunts, and cousins, and through their example of perseverance, I have found my center, my holy, over and over again.
Each time when I thought I couldn’t again raise my head from rock bottom, one of them would be there. They show up, time after time, never tired, never angry. The village of their love and support untangles me from the strangling weariness and sets me straight. Without them, I would lack the courage to not only love myself, but to pass on this all-encompassing love that I have for my son.
And, at the end of time, this is all that will matter. The sum total of our days will be measured by the love that has picked up our tired frames in its arms and carried us when we couldn’t do it ourselves.
Life is about being able to look upward from our lowest point and see an outstretched hand.
Happy 11th birthday, baby bear.
In 2012 I wrote about the miscarriage I had when I was twenty, but I re-wrote it tonight after engaging in a lengthy abortion debate earlier. During the course of debating about reproductive rights, I will inevitably bring it up and add that, had nature not taken its course, I would have terminated the pregnancy. I felt no guilt, only relief. The end of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is not always tragic and life-altering; it is, in fact, the least traumatic thing I experienced while growing up. We need to be the authors of our own destiny whenever possible, and there is no room for shame in that.
If you are pregnant and need assistance, please visit www.plannedparenthood.org.
I had nothing to give her.
My entire life still ached, a deep, searing pain that caused my heart to beat with a limp. I still awoke in the dead of night sheathed in sweat, choking on panic. I ate toddler-sized portions of food while sitting naked in front of a mirror, berating myself and frantically counting calories, rubbing my thumbs along my jutting hipbones as though I were making a desperate wish. I would often spend days not leaving my bed, chain-smoking and scrawling poem after poem into sketchbooks, impossibly long hair tangled and wild, un-brushed, a restless spirit hungry, so hungry, wanting to swallow the world whole.
I was no one’s mother.
She was like being underwater, the roar of letting her go rushing through my ears, an upturned seashell. She was a Rorschach pattern of red imprinting itself on white panties, a pain seizing my insides and wringing them out like a towel. All I could offer up was a deluge of tears streaming as quickly as my blood, her blood.
When the waves subsided, I was left empty. The tide receded with a sigh and left behind a peaceful relief, an invisible and empathetic hand stroking my sweaty forehead. I had no way to guide her, still so lost myself; two babes in the woods, scavenging for our next meal. I wasn’t in love. I couldn’t be whole for her when so many pieces of myself were still broken and jagged.
The prayer of thanks was effortless. I was so grateful to have been spared this choice, knowing full well what my path would have been. Behind my eyes I watched her go and fade into the line of our horizon, a memory tucked in sweetly to sleep.
And then she can breathe again, the fresh air of him plumping out her lungs, pillowing into her chest. This is the only place where letting go is permissible to her, where she crashes into full surrender. He pours his pulse down her throat; his tongue carves a tome between her thighs, and it’s the story of how this coming together is an orchid, blooming in aching night, forever free from daylight’s scrutiny.
Nana used to say that she believed trees were people reincarnated, and you could tell what kind of person they had been by what kind of tree they were now. The full, deeply green trees were mothers, their lush leaf curtains providing just the right amount of protection from a scorching sun. Under these trees you could find respite, a mother’s cool hand against her child’s flushed forehead.
The ugly trees had been bad people. Trees with branches that appear decayed, that have no hope of ever being kissed by spring; dry bark that peels and flakes. These trees had not loved hard enough, given enough, and now they were damned to look on the outside the way they had looked on the inside.
Every tree I see is a potential glimpse at my future. My heart thumps down in these roots.
This is a piece I wrote a year ago, but I have re-worked it here.
The body remembers.
It remembers every time Nana tucked a lock of hair behind my child ear; the prism of shattered glass that lodged itself in my temple, another car's reckless impact slamming my face into the steering wheel; the deeply fragrant coconut suntan lotion I'd slather across my limbs at the first suggestion of summer, days when you could almost taste the wildness of possibility on your lips; the beautiful poet's grip on my hips, moans swirling through thick air, offering my eyes his moonstone smile, nose crinkle-cut with laughter; Max's heavy forest of a paw reaching out to plant itself in my own palm.
It remembers the singular drag of a razor across my forearm, petrified that I was no one's daughter; the hours spent on the tips of my toes, happily trading pain for bliss; the meals skipped and the hollow cavern created inside; the tiny spirit I wasn't ready to love flowing out as an unrepentant river down my thighs; the too many uninvited hands.
A body strains under the weight of collected memory. But it also forgives, perseveres and sustains. I thank it by treating it gently, feeding it with life and motion. We're in this together. We remember for each other.
This past weekend, I did a conceptual fashion shoot for Aveda 501 salon in Bellevue, Kentucky. These are some of my favorite shots.
Then at certain moments I remember one of his words and I suddenly feel the sensual woman flaring up, as if violently caressed. I say the word to myself, with joy. It is such a moment that my true body lives. - Anais Nin.
Thirty-seven and here's what I've learned:
Always say yes to dessert.
Enormous hills are meant to be rolled down.
Only do the drugs that grow naturally from the earth.
Kiss a lot of dogs. All the dogs.
You don't need to brush your hair every day or tuck in your shirt. It's okay to be a little wild.
When your child runs toward you with his arms outstretched your heart will feel like it's too big to stay inside your chest. It will.
You can find God when you stop looking.
Beauty will come to you. Just be still.