Sunday, February 25, 2007

Post goodness

I am infatuated with a box of wooden stamps. Time to get out the fabric paint?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

while i can still see them

I don't look at my feet often enough. Clearly. If I did, my life would be very different. I would know when to say 'no'. I would know where the boundaries are. I might even turn into a wise woman. Just like that. My feet are good feet. They take their footwork seriously. Occasionally they are rewarded. This year, my mother's friend Valentina sent my feet these little woolen slipper/sock items. Now my feet are warm, and I just can't get enough of the colour. Makes me look at my feet all the time. And feel them too. Might turn me into a wise woman yet. Just like that.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

Isabelle has kindly agreed to model for us her mother's latest creation: the much-too-long, much-too-wide, very-pretty-colours-though dress.

The amazing thing about this, apart from the blinding beauty of the model, is the fact that I have actually begun, and much more importantly completed an item of clothing, my very first one. Ever. Ever. Making clothes has long been a dream (and a demon). Now it's just a hell of a lot of work, and much much fun. I love it. She's worn it all day. She only has to grow 15 cm and put on 10 kilos (without increasing the size of her skull by even one millimeter) and it will be a perfect fit.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Brought by the sea

This morning I took a long walk on the beach. I walked all the way to the end of the wavebreaker and stood for a long time (it was probably three and a half minutes but it felt like a really long time) looking out over the sea.

It is amazing how much breathing and feeling space I have given myself by opening up about my fears right here on the blog. Through sharing my fear I have created room to move. And through moving I loosen the bonds of fear further.

I find it a terrible terrifying thought that Isabelle will ever suffer pain. I find it a terrible and terrifying thought that I will not be able to protect her against this pain. I find it unbearable to think that I will in fact be causing some of it (if not most). And yet, it is a certainty that she will suffer, and it is a certainty that she will suffer through me. How can I live knowing this?

In my enlightened moments (the beach being a very enlightening place), though, I know that for me to stand between Isabelle and pain is not a good idea. I know that it is not helpful to me. I know that it is not helpful to her. I know that it is not what my role as her mother is. I know that it is robbing her, and me, of something essential. I know it is not love, but fear.

By taking pain away from her, I am teaching her to depend on others to deal with pain. I teach her that she is unable to cope with pain herself. I teach her that without me (or someone else) she will in fact die. I am robbing her of her own strength.

I am here to be an example to her, and a guide. I am here to show her through my own experience that pain is an important phase of growth, and that she is strong enough to bear all the pain in the world and come out on the other side a wiser stronger person. To do so, I need to believe this about myself. And to act on this belief.

I believe children come to us bearing great gifts. Isabelle came into my life, she took me by the hand and brought me to a place inside myself where there is peace, trust and unbridled creativity. A place I had no idea existed. She did this simply by being her own gentle self and by letting me love her. I have no words to thank her.

The child inside me is bringing gifts of its own. Already now, from the height of its unborn three inches, it is challenging me to take risks, ruffling my feathers, cutting off fake easy options, confronting me, helping me and guiding me out of my fear, right through my pain, into healing.

Friday, February 16, 2007


This is my grand-mother, Ljatifa Dzhangirovna Bykhovskaja, in 1964, ten years before my birth. She came from Azerbajdzhan. She died of cancer in 1999. Her birthday was on 28 February. I love her very much.

Last night I dreamt of my grand-mother. She was standing in her kitchen in Moscow preparing food, the sun was streaming in through the yellow curtains. The window was open and I could hear the birds outside. There was nothing special about this scene, apart from her being alive. She looked younger than in the last years of her life, more like the person I'd known as a child. She was also very small, it was one of the things I found most remarkable about her in the dream, her smallness. Yet she was substantial too. Solid. Warm and round. She turned away from the stove and smiled at me. She reached out her arms and we embraced. And love came pouring out of her, straight into me. Incredible love, inexhaustible love, warmth, trust, power, waves and waves of it, she was a sun, love was shining from her, she was the source of life, and she was sharing it with me.

I felt blessed. Seen. Loved. That feeling is with me still.

I know that place is inside me. The place where all the women whose blood runs in mine have left their trace, their strength, their love. For me to draw on. Whenever I need to.

I want to thank all of you who have responded to yesterday's post, here or elsewhere. It is through you that my grand-mother's love shines on me today.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Six really good things

1) Today, for the first time, I cycled to work in the morning, and from work in the evening, entirely in daylight. The sun, she is on the return.

2) Crocuses

3) This passage from Audre Lorde's essay Man Child: "I give the most strength to my children by being willing to look within myself, and by being honest with them about what I find there, without expecting a response beyond their years. In this way they begin to learn to look beyond their own fears". So true. So hard.

4) Our local organic supermarket sells large pots of Aubergines which taste exactly like the Baklazhanovaja Ikra of my childhood. Very large pots. Hhhhmmmm!

5) This book.

It's not just incredibly beautiful, it's therapy. It helps me reach the place where the tears are. Every single time I get to 'I cannot take the sky', my lip starts trembling. By the time I read 'What you know first stays with you', I am sobbing. It's all about leaving the safe places. Go figure. The engravings alone are worth it.

(I just realized if I'm going to be showing my underbelly, you are bound to find out sooner or later that I draw much of my life wisdom from books for the under-10 year olds)

6) Ssshhht! She is reading...


I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time (well, not literally). The immediate future of the blog seems to depend on my writing it or not, posting it or not. Doing something or not. Or not. Or not. So far, it’s been mostly not. Ever since I got pregnant, I’ve been in a ‘not’ kind of place. Not sewing, not knitting, not photographing, not writing, not blogging. This is not a sulky ‘not’. It’s not a coy ‘not’. It’s not a powerful angry ‘not’ either. It’s just a grey, heavy, sad, stagnating, despairing kind of ‘not’.

And so I’ve been thinking that I have essentially two choices (why always two? binarity invading all corners of the universe…): either I talk about my ‘not’ right here on this blog and the blog becomes a place where I can talk even when I have nothing pretty to say, or I don’t talk about it, but then I’d better quit altogether so that at least I don’t have to deal with the pressure of having a blog I never update, sitting there on my screen like an ugly symbol of all the things I am not doing.

I figured I’d try the first option and see how I fare. Option two is always there anyway, a back-up, plan B.

I am completely stuck. Instead of being delighted about the pregnancy (it is all going very well, miscarriage danger gone, the clock is ticking, only 5,5 months to go), I am just sad, and I feel guilty about being sad, because of all the lovely people who wish they were pregnant and aren’t, because of the baby inside me who didn’t ask me to let it come but who is coming now and deserves better.

This sadness of mine is so deep that I cannot even get to it. It’s just a huge cloud of doom hanging over me. Which is why I’m so stuck. Isabelle and I, we are very close. Joined at the hip. We sleep in one bed. I still nurse her. Every day. I still know when she’s hungry or thirsty, even at a distance. I still know what she means when nobody else does.

I have a younger brother, he was born when I was five, and from the moment I got pregnant with this second baby, I have been discovering how very difficult and traumatizing it was for me as a child when my brother was born. The pain of my own loss then, of the loss of contact with my mother, is compounded with my fear of losing my bond with Isabelle (and really, deep down, they are just one and the same thing, I know that).

I am terrified. I live on the edge of the world. I live at the very end of paradise. I know the date of expulsion, they told me. I am counting the days to the end.

Like a rabbit in the headlights. Not. Moving. Not. Feeling. Not.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sheer insanity

... is the only possible explanation for my blowing an entire month's allowance on this derelict second-hand Victorian great monster of a doll-house. It has live wires coming out of all the walls, peeling wall-paper, untreated wooden floors, missing windows, scant and ugly furniture, no front door...

I would have been quite safe from the demons of purchase if it hadn't been for a treacherous ray of sunlight (never there when you need them, but if they can cause any mischief ...). The light falling through the windows, and I suddenly thought: 'I want to live in this house; this will be my room, there, with my desk right by the window, and this room here will make a beautiful bathroom...' I was lost by then.

Insane, buying a doll-house at the age of 32. Insane, being so damned excited about it. Insane, throwing a fit because your three-year old has her own ideas about the decoration:

- Dit is een waterkamer, mama, met allemaal water, voor Bubulle de vis, en hier kan Emilie de schildpad wonen, gaan we lekkere blaadjes sla neerleggen, ja? (This is a water-room, mama, for Bubulle the fish, and Emilie the tortoise can live here, we can put nice lettuce leaves all over the floor, yes?)
- NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!