Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch: Four Boys

There seems to be a movement developing - as I am once again bringing to you a guest author who is writing on the topic of being vulnerable. The author of my last guest post, Jan Avellana introduced me to this quote by Frederick Buechner from his book Telling Secrets -- writes "What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier . . . for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own . . . ”

And so without further ado, I introduce to you my friend Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, the author of two bestselling books on Encaustic Wax Painting and the brainchild behind EncaustiKits and EncaustiCamp, here today to share vulnerably from her heart the story of four boys.... 

And then there was one~

Vulnerable:  tender, precious.
These words come to mind and more when I think of being vulnerable.  Oftentimes connoting negative imagery, on the contrary vulnerable has proven to be my greatest ally.

Four boys.
Giving birth to and raising one child catapults you into a place of vulnerability-your heart tears open wide- your senses go on a keen alert; perhaps likened only to the alert necessary to keep oneself alive in a battle ravaged war zone…
for the next eighteen years your hearing, seeing, smelling, even tasting and touching are all hair-triggered to the being that just tore your heart away and at the same time filled it full.
I have four boys.
four red headed, left handed, brilliantly wonderful boys. Men now, I must admit, since they tower over my 5'6^" frame by more than a head each....
'Have four boys': I read that again and wonder on what it means. How it is defined. For to have, implies I hold them, possess them, am with them.
I don't.
I don't have each and every 'finish your breakfast' 'don't forget to brush your teeth' 'have a great day I love you' days. I don’t have them all under my roof.
They are 2200 miles across this great US. Land locked in the center of the mitten state.
My boys.
It wasn't always this way. I married their father fully intending to 'till death do us part' never part. Raised Catholic, conservatively protected, 'always stay together no matter what' family history; I was trained to live no other way.
And then we failed. Marriage crashed. Trust departed. Love, exposed never existing love, vanished of possibility and we were no longer together. Parted.: Yet not yet 'until death'.

Four boys.
Amicably; that's what we called our efforts to remain centered around raising the boys; amicably communicating.
And so we left the decision of whom to live with up to each individual child. For a year I continued as mom of four; everything I had ever known and been still intact and all appearances of carrying on properly fortified.
Until Daniel left.
I put him on a plane with a stilted, hard-fought smile that came crushing down as I hit the passenger seat of my ride home.
Conner went next; but not so painfully.
 Taking off at eighteen to find his wings he returned to the fold three months later; growing into his leaving in stages until finally flying at twenty.
Brian was close behind.
Just shy of his sixteenth birthday.  I'd begun to play the game in my head that Daniel had gone off to boarding school; and so took up the same mind game with Brian’s departure.
So much too soon before I was ready to release them from my fold.
So vulnerable.
But in this vulnerable, real. In this vulnerable, pieced back together. In this vulnerable, throwing away the super glue and no longer furiously trying to hold the pieces together. In this vulnerable, realizing I had the super glue inside of me all along.
This didn’t make it easy. It didn’t make it make sense. It didn’t ward off the demons of judgment telling me ‘what kind of mother are you?! That your children would leave?!’
But it made it possible.
And that was enough.
To wake up to. To begin again to. To open my eyes to.
Four boys.

Daniel's departure had prepared me for the reality of living this new way; his growing potential for success, thriving in his 'only child' status under his father's roof had proven hugely positive.
And so despite being newly sickened by my second child's early departure, I was nonetheless a bit more emboldened to trust it was a good thing. And,
Patrick remains.
At sixteen now himself, he steps into the next stages of life firmly determined to finish under my roof. I am grateful, yet also recognize the immense value of the long distance mothering I've been gifted in my others' departures.
Vulnerable to trusting my boys to a world I don’t trust. Vulnerable to trusting them to trust who I am. Vulnerable to trusting them to still let me be mom; without being able to make them dinner, and kiss them goodnight, and watch out the window as they walk up the road with their backpack slung low…
So vulnerable. Yet, so empowered.
Giving birth once, twice, thrice then four times proved to not be the real picture of vulnerable after all.
Their before their time leaving did.

Because life turned.
And from vulnerable: weak, defenseless, exposed, came vulnerable: tender, precious.
I am momma.
I am confidant.
I am counselor.
I am encourager.
And I am believer.
Their leaving has given me space to give birth to more, while birthing in them more.
More than their next meal or homework assignment or chore.
More than their clean clothes, brushed teeth or washed hands.

I couldn't have, in my worst nightmares, have seen their early departures from my fold, but in my wildest dreams, couldn't either have foreseen the beautiful growth of confidence, opportunity and courageousness that was gifted not only to them in this independent decision, but in myself as well. Stepping into motherhood in a whole new way and becoming an inspiration and hero to my boys.
I have four boys.
And it is so vulnerable.
And it is good.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jan Avellana on Safe Community

I'm practicing the art of asking forgiveness over permission today by borrowing my friend Jan Avellana's recent blog post on being a safe person and practicing safe community. It's only 4:30 am in Hawaii as I post this, so I tell myself Jan would rather I steal her post then call her to ask to use it at such an ungodly hour!

Jan say's the vulnerability I displayed in my last post inspired her to step out and practice a little vulnerability of her own by writing this post. I'm pretty honored to have my words effect another person in this way, especially someone whom I admire and love as much as I do Jan!

Once you finish reading, i hope you will take a moment to leave Jan a comment and let her know how her post spoke to you. And if you have a blog post that leaves you feeling vulnerable be sure to leave me a comment too! And so without further ado (and Jan when you wake up this morning and find this in your inbox, I hope you will forgive me....

(Jan enjoying summer near her home in Hawaii)

True story: A woman at my old workplace would go out of her way to be super-duper friendly to me. She’d stop me in the street as she drove by, rolling down her car window to wave to me, to chat at the stoplight, even. I let my guard down and let her in. My weirdo-radar (apparently an obsolete model) gave me no indication that I should keep my distance from her. So, I didn’t. After a few months of this easy-breezy-chatty-friendship, I found out that she and another woman I hardly knew were spreading rumors about me that were totally untrue.

I was speechless. Really. The fact that someone can even conjure up something sinister about my life (whose highlight is going to the 7-11 for some spicy tuna sushi) is pretty exciting—oh, I mean really, very sad. My first reaction was to defend myself to “everyone”, to show them my resume, let them talk to my pastor and best friends who could vouch and attest for me that I am indeed a non-evil-entity and someone who can be trusted not to eat the very last piece of chocolate in the box because she thinks so of others more highly than herself. Truly. Kindof. My next reaction (and this sickens me to say) was to be extra nice to this woman! As in, there is something wrong with me and if I were just nicer then she will take back everything she said and I would be okay again. As in, more truthfully, I didn’t have the courage to confront her and ask, “What the hell are you talking about woman? (continue reading...)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Identity Theft

"Identity Theft" by Crystal Neubauer  36" x 24" Encaustic and Mixed Media on Panel

A spin off from my "Clean Slate" series, titled "Identity Theft", explores the errant messages we women receive which diminish our sense of true identity and self-worth. The right side, done in encaustic and ink, depicts a woman whose bare body is exposed for all to see, but her face is obscured as an illustration of the emphasis society places on the shape of a woman's body over that of her mind, heart, or accomplishments.

The left side is created to resemble a worn chalk board. The viewer can write words that have obscured her own identity and sense of worth and then erase them in a cathartic-like exercise.

I have written and erased many words. There are the obvious derogatory words designed to silence, degrade, or reduce to one-dimension: "Bitch", "Slut", "MILF". But even words as seemingly innocuous as "she's such a nice girl" can be hurtful when the heart of the message means she doesn't challenge the system or upset the status-quo. "Leave the tough stuff to the men-folk little woman", "Just don't you worry your pretty little head about it", "Nice christian girls don't. . ." Nice christian girls don't write words like bitch and slut in their blog posts! What will people think? and after all, who does she think she is anyway?

I've written words many of us can identify with as women- we are either too thin or too fat, we are too loud or too quiet, we can somehow simultaneously feel as if we are too much and not enough. Yet when we set off to discover our authentic selves and find what we were truly designed and called to be, we may face opposition in the most surprising places. Sometimes it comes from those who fear that the change in us will force them to face their own shortcomings, but often the opposition comes from within. Change is hard work and usually results in things looking worse long before anything gets better. 

 The current state of my studio - July 2012- a story for another day

I've been on this path to self-recovery and self-discovery for a few years now. I've written some, and shied away from sharing other parts of the journey. I confessed at the end of May how my desire to seek a higher level of professionalism in my work as an artist made me leery of writing as authentically and openly as I once had. And somewhere along the way to finding my voice in my daily life I lost my voice online. 

In my real life I had to make tough choices, say hard things to people I cared about, and draw a few lines in the sand. Life got really messy. I stopped sharing these things because I didn't know how it would end. I thought in order to share my testimony the story had to be complete, neatly wrapped up with a bow and a happily ever after. That nice christian girl syndrome again, how could I point you to the glory of God if my testimony didn't end the way a nice christian girls should?
Now to set the record straight, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a "nice christian girl".

But I wanted to be. I tried to be. I thought I was supposed to be. I did things like cut my hair short and bought cute sweater sets and even wore a string of faux pearls a time or two. 

I knew there were changes that needed to take place, but I didn't understand what they were. I saw other people with lives that were more functional then mine and I thought if I emulated their behavior on the outside I would achieve what I was looking for on the inside. But that's not what God had in mind for me. 

What he had in mind for me was a complete shaking and tearing down of the old unstable foundation. Everything that was not right or true had to be torn away. What He had in mind for me was complete liberation from the lies that kept me bound to the past. The ones that whispered "Who do you think you are?" every time I tried to break free. The ones that made me frantic about finding my worth in the eyes and arms of others. The ones designed to steal my identity

What God had in mind for me was a radical life changing encounter with Jesus. 

And lest you be mistaken, this Jesus is no one-hit wonder. An encounter of that magnitude isn't here today and gone tomorrow. It is a life-long-earth-shattering-mess-making-years-long-walking-through-the-desert journey. My testimony isn't stagnant. It is a flowing-never-ending story. It is shocking and tantalizing and filled with the realness of a crazy-mixed-up-broken-and-put-back-together life. And it isn't just for my benefit that He started this tearing away and rebuilding process. I've been doing Him a disservice by hiding it, so I've confessed that to Him and now I'm confessing it to you, and I am recommitting to talking about it here for anyone to see. A light on a hill of sorts. Raw and real and vulnerable. 

Just like He created me. Just like He created you.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

New Gallery and New Work

Refresh Me With Apples:10" x 10" Collage comes in 20" x 20" shadowbox frame &mat 

I'm happy to announce I have new gallery representation in Scottsdale Arizona at Xanadu Gallery where several of my new works will be available, including the one shown above. If you are visiting the area stop in for a visit and enjoy a taste of fine art in the desert or take a virtual tour of the gallery online.

I have also updated my website with many new works and made several of these pieces available with free shipping there. Along with the original collage works, I now have several works available as fine art Giclee numbered and signed limited edition prints at my Etsy site.