Labor Day Weekend

Things are looking up, but it might just be because it’s Labor Day weekend and I get Edward home for three days straight! We’ll see how I’m feeling on Tuesday when it’s back to real life. Here are a few more photographs from the safari park Mackenzie & I visited a few weekends back.

Yesterday my mother-in-law visited and we were ALL so happy to see her! Sam & Lena when nuts when she showed up! Also she & Beatrice were instant friends – I started jokingly calling her the cat whisperer because Beatrice took to her so quickly. We went to the Montgomery Art Museum & ate a lot of vegetarian sushi & went to the dog park so she could see what it was like to run around with Sam & 20 other friendly pups. It was a wonderful day. I was sad when she left to go back to Birmingham, I hope she comes back soon. I got to show her Edward & my wedding photos, which was a really wonderful moment become when we first kind of “eloped” she was not thrilled about it. But we’ve been married for almost 2 years now & I think she has grown to love me.

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Finding My Tribe

For a long time now, I’m been wanting a tribe of woman friends – and I feel like I am beginning to have one. They don’t all live in the same city as me – but we all have something in common. Mackenzie & I met on an app while I was living in Birmingham looking for models while going through a fashion photography phase. I was anxious about losing her when we moved to Montgomery in May but she’s come to visit me pretty regularly. Last time she visited we went to Alabama Safari Park. Last time Edward & I went to a Safari park in Georgia (my first time at one) the petting zoo part made me cry because all of the animals seemed so trapped & miserable, but this one was different. There was also a massive aviary with lots of parakeets in in that you could feed. Mackenzie has such a soft spot for animals. She’s a bit wary of cats, even Beatrice, but she loves Sam to pieces. She likes his nickname, Moose, because that was her animal name at summer camp once as a child. Also, how could anyone not love Sam?

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Another woman friend I have in my tribe is Jessica. She was the first friend I made in Birmingham. I haven’t seen her since I moved to Montgomery but we still text sometimes and she always has the best things to tell me. Jessica is my spiritual friend. She recently texted me a book recommendation & we talked about starting a little two person, over the phone book club. She’s a blogger too, which is how we met (at the one & only blogging meet-up either of us ever attended) and spent a ridiculously kind amount of time trying to help me figure out what my blog’s problem was when it was at artistashuman.com and glitching out. She’s wicked smart and also loves animals & plants & has the most beautiful, easy-going style I have ever seen.

I meet them in unexpected places. I met a woman named Jessie at the dog park on Sunday and we hit it off so she & her dog, Pig, came over to our house for like 5 hours yesterday and we just talked & talked & talked while Sam & Pig played. It was amazing! I’ve been so isolated since I moved to Montgomery – I’ve literally said to Edward, “How can I find another woman friend who doesn’t work during the day to spend time with me and is understanding of my anxiety struggles? How do I even begin to look for such a person?” Then appears Jessie. I feel like I almost willed her into being lmao. Her man is in law school (read: busy like Edward), she LOVES dogs & is super intuitive about them, she doesn’t work right now because her anxiety is also through the roof & SHE NEEDS SOMEONE TO HANG OUT WITH DURING THE DAY OR ELSE SHE’S KINDA TRAPPED AT HOME – sound familiar?

We all have mental health struggles in common, all of the women in my little spread out tribe. And a love of animals. There’s something about us that just finds & understands each other because of it I think. There’s some kind of magnetism between those of us who have brains that don’t function quite along the rules they are “supposed to.” Maybe it’s because when the rest of the world is telling you to just “not be” depressed or manic or anxious or “too much” or whatever it is, and you meet someone who knows those feelings & can relate to them instead of trying to just tell you to basically “pull yourself out of it,” you feel seen. We recognize each other. We find each other.

A Universe For Us / A Ritual Completed

We did the recommitment-style ritual in the little “universe” I created for us on Saturday. We repeated our vows from our wedding, we read each other things we’d written for each other about our love, each other, the struggles & surprises our marriage has survived so far – it was all very sweet & full of love & made me so giddy. I wish it had lasted longer.

At the very end Edward put an opal ring on my finger. I still love my original engagement ring but it’s rather delicate & I wanted something sturdier I could wear around without worrying about losing something emotionally irreplaceable if a stone fell out. Here’s what Edward had to say about my idea to use opal as the stone for this new ring:

“Opal is the perfect stone for recommitment because it is ever-changing in different lights and perspectives. Yet there is still a constancy to its appearance. The differences are great enough to be enchanting but minor enough to keep an easily recognizable form. The night sky also changes every night and over time but keeps its recognizable form. So to with the universe itself. String theory predicts that tiny universes are springing forth from all of space every second. Dimensions within dimensions ad infinitum. Before your very eves a new cosmos may be born without your awareness. Within this paradoxic consistent chaos let us create our own universe. We can’t do away with the chaos but we can temper it with our love and commitment. This is my ultra Edward way of saying that your creative mind hit upon a brilliant emblem for our love that my stilted hyper educated mind is still appreciating. As I said, you continue to amaze me.”

Here are some photographs I took of us after the ritual:

“I take you to be no other than yourself.  Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, with respect for your integrity and faith in your love for me.  Through all years and all that life may bring us, I will strive everyday to make our relationship stronger.  My promise to you today is to be your friend, your love and your partner for all the days of our lives – in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in anger and in peace, in success and in failure.”

Those were the vows at our wedding. As Edward said during the ritual, the vows of a wedding are, in a way, easier to make than the vows of recommitment because when you get married you don’t really know what’s going to happen. With recommitment vows, you’ve gotten to know each other on a deeper level, the wonderful parts of each other & the less than wonderful parts.

All I can say is I love this man to death & back. I am super lucky to have him & I don’t care what the future brings for him and I, I’ll be wherever he is.

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 3

Yesterday was a victory-frustration-victory-frustration day of creating a universe. I started out by hanging the lights, creating the stars, behind the center of the universe. It took me much trial and error to get that part to look how I wanted. It actually didn’t end up being how I envisioned – creative endeavors almost never do – but it turned out better than my original idea would have turned out. It’s the part of the universe I am most proud of so far: the constellations.

Then came lots of trial and error with fabric & clothespins. I almost started a fire… oops. Luckily I caught it in time though. At first my own perfectionism was really getting in my way with creating but then I got more into the flow of it & had fun. These pictures are what I have so far. But the universe won’t be used by us (or seen by Edward) until Saturday so there is plenty of time to add more. I have a few more ideas.

I’m anxious to show it to Edward, this universe I am creating, because I really want him to like it. I still need to write the script for the ritual. But it’s only Tuesday morning & I have plenty of time. Probably more time than is good for me.

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 2

I had to make a space for the creation of this universe – so the storage/litter box room was cleared out, cleaned & cleansed with incense. I was happy because I thought this part of the process would take longer than it actually did.

Then the basic structure for the universe, the central piece, had to be built.

I accidentally stabbed my finger on a staple while building the first archway. That part was no fun. I’d been unable to find the exact size/shape I was envisioning so I got the extra large ones and built them how I wanted them to be by not using all of the pieces/improvising a bit with the process of putting them together.

The skeleton DNA of a universe being created/born…

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 1

I had the idea that, since we’d been going through a rough patch, Edward & I should do some kind of re-commitment or vow renewal ceremony. Edward was open & responsive to the idea – though he’s virtually always exhausted from being overworked at the hospital these days, so most of the planning & ideas were going to be coming from me.
The first day I spent time thinking about what we should do, how we should celebrate our love in a ritual once more & celebrate it’s endurance through the rough times, I felt overwhelmed by my own lack of creative ideas. I knew it was a stupid thing to beat myself up over, but I used it as another weapon against myself. I thought, “If I were more like this person I admire, I’d be coming up with something wonderful…” I thought, “If I were a real artist, a truly creative person, I would have more ideas about this.”

I talked with Edward about it that night & he suggested we go to a cabin in the woods for it. This sparked ideas! I spent the next morning searching for the perfect cabin to rent & found one only 15 minutes from us. It was a renovated A-Frame cabin – we’d have the ceremony/ritual upstairs & then go take photographs together in the woods. I knew what I was going to wear. I tried it on to make sure it still fit.

I started a mood board in my studio with photographs of the cabin & some of the nature surrounding it. I included a photograph of me in the dress I would wear, some handwritten notes about a script I was working on for the ritual & about being barefoot in the woods. I pinned up the golden leaf earrings I wore when Edward & I originally got married in December of 2016.

I texted him the ad for the cabin while he was at work and he said it looked perfect. I showed him my mood board when he got home. I’d scheduled our weekend for August 10-12th. But then we looked at his work schedule – the weekend wasn’t going to work. He would have to work way too many consecutive days at the hospital to make the weekend away possible. I felt rather devastated.

I took the photographs of the cabin off of the mood board.

I decided to follow in someone’s footsteps that I’d witnessed from afar. I would create a universe for us here, in a room of our own little rented house. I spent a lot of time searching for supplies & things we could use. How does one create a little universe to hold a little ritual in? It would be just the two of us, like our wedding, like we like it.

I created a new mood board. It’s still a work in progress. I’ve spent a lot of time online searching for a new ring to wear on my finger, to honor this re-commitment. I still haven’t found one. We haven’t set an exact date for this secret ritual in a secret universe yet.

At first I was disappointed that Edward didn’t have the extra time/energy to collaborate with me in planning this. Then I changed my perspective. I decided I would create a world and invite him to join me in it. I sent him an actual invitation.

Here is a photograph of the original very beginnings of the “cabin in the woods” ritual mood board:

Here is another photograph of the one I am working on now. I’m writing a script for us. We are going to get intergallactic style glitter EVERYWHERE & it’ll take forever to get cleaned up & it’ll be a ball.

This is the beginning of the invitation I made for him. The invitation was quite long but the rest is just for him, not for the internet.

“To My Love, My Edward, My Muse,

Join me in an (admittedly cheesy) world I am creating for us, a secret universe within our real lives, within one part of one room of one rented house in Montgomery, AL.

It’s meant to be a brief shelter from the struggles that life & being human inevitably create for two people who are crazy about each other. We will be safe there. We can be one again – two people looking into each other’s eyes while also hopefully seeing into the future & seeing no end to their togetherness. We can feel safe in the illusion that this little pause will last forever, that we will never have to leave the warm & cozy universe I am creating. I can pretend, for that bit of time, that life will always feel this way.”