My sister-in-law sent this to me this morning and I was so moved by it, particularly given all that is happening in our world, especially here in the United States, that I thought I’d share it with all of you.
I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I start our day reading from the The Daily Stoic. Often it’s a quote from Marcus Aurelius or Seneca or Epictetus, but it’s always thought provoking and interesting. We then discuss, each taking turns to share our thoughts and intentions for the coming day. It’s a really beautiful way to connect and begin the day.
The thing is I’m an early riser so I am often up several hours earlier than him and that’s when I practice my french, do a workout (yes, I’m still working out on my FitOn App, which I love and now do anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of strength training, cardio and whatever else I can manage! I even have dumb bells that I use! Gasp! I know, I know, but at my age I really cannot let this slide…)
So when I went to answer emails this morning, while waiting for my husband to arise, I loved seeing this link to Peace Train. I teared up within the first few seconds, it is so beautiful. And I kept thinking about something we read the other day from The Daily Stoic about how it’s just as easy to be kind as it is to not be and takes just as little time. Added plus, kindness is a gift to everyone who receives it, regardless if they’re able to return it. The return isn’t the point. It’s the practice of it, the commitment to it, the act of doing it on a daily basis, that’s really the point. At least that’s the case for me.
Yesterday I did a livestream over on Patreon for my patrons, celebrating my 1st goal met, 100 Patrons! How amazing is that? I live-streamed from my summer studio. It was a lot of fun. During that livestream, I had the idea that I might start doing a prompt in my Facebook group: Ariane Zurcher Stitching Circle And then, as I was saying that, I thought it would be really fun to make an even more detailed prompt for all my Patrons over on Patreon. So I’m going to be thinking about that today and seeing what I come up with. But I already have some ideas that I think could be really fun.
There are 5 spots left in my upcoming Finding Your Voice Workshop. I did a short video explaining how that workshop came into being, a very short pictorial history of some of my other work when I was a fashion designer and jewelry designer and then came to stitching and how improvisational stitching was a major turning point and then going to the artist’s residency in France this spring was the next major turning point and what the workshop is all about. You can watch it, if you like, below.
Grief comes in waves. People say that, and I know what they mean. The other day I was happily working away on a new piece, trying to get the elements to behave themselves and talk to each other nicely, when suddenly I thought of my mom. It was a tsunami of emotions. I had to sit down and just be still while the feelings crashed over me. And here’s the thing… this blog? It reminds me of my mom, because when I first began blogging more than a decade ago, my mother was its biggest supporter and commenter. I think she commented on every single post or nearly every one of them. That blog was called Emma’s Hope Book. It eventually reached a massive audience with thousands of views per post. And then it was time for me to move on.
I started this blog: Where Art & Life Meet. I wanted a place where I could write about my work and art and life and everything in between. And so my mother began commenting here too. I miss her so.
During the last few years of her life she began sending videos and funny quotes to a few lucky recipients, of whom I was one. I loved receiving them, especially because it was right when COVID hit New York City and all of us were reeling. The city was in lockdown, I’d just started my YouTube Channel and often Mom’s videos and messages were the one thing I could count on to make me laugh, so I’d post them here for all of you to enjoy too. I miss her so.
Whenever I see a funny video on Youtube I think of her. Sometimes if I’m doing a couple of things at once, I’ll catch myself thinking – Oh! I have to send this to mom!! She’d love it. And then I remember that I can’t.
Her favorite video of mine was this one that I’ve added below. One of her caregivers told me she watched it multiple times.
So when I saw the video I’m posting below, I thought, Mom would have loved this. This one’s for you, Mom. It won’t let me share via this blog, so you have to click on the highlighted text instead.
There are moments that feel impossible and others that fly by unnoticed. Mostly I’m exhausted almost constantly, as though a perpetual scrim has enveloped me, making everything feel heavier, cloudier, more difficult to sort through. It’s not terrible, just different. This is grief, I’m told.
This morning is one of those heavier moments. Maybe it’s because it’s Tuesday, and Tuesday and Thursday mornings are when I post something on this blog. Often I would refer to a video or story my mother had sent me that made me smile and I’d post it here for all of you to enjoy. But there will not be any more videos or stories from my mother and as much as I accept that, I still feel a tightness in my throat, a constriction in my chest, an overwhelming sadness. I remind myself that she lived a long, often beautiful sometimes difficult, complicated life. A life with long tendrils that reached so many. This is grief, I’m told.
When my mother died I was in Africa. At Stanley’s camp in the bush in Botswana, to be exact.
We had spotty wi-fi, but it was enough to be able to communicate with my siblings. It was enough to make me feel connected in our grief.
But then we flew to another camp, deeper in the bush, which had no wi-fi at all. I wasn’t able to reach anyone, and so other than my husband, I was alone with my grief. It was a tough few days, and yet those days were also filled with the excitement that can only come from seeing a leopard bounding up a tree, crouching in front of a bush and then leaping so fast the naked eye can barely keep up, to kill a squirrel. Or the joy and amazement of coming upon a pride of lion: two males, several females and half a dozen cubs, before hurrying off to make one of a half dozen flights before eventually arriving back home in New York City.
Upon our arrival home (it took us almost 40 hours) I had to deal with an array of technological problems, one of which was my computer that had crashed on me the third day of our trip. I am just now beginning to post videos of our African Adventure, with a new video coming out every day for the foreseeable future. Making these videos, in many ways, has been a life saver. It’s somewhat methodical work that is also wonderful as I am seeing all the footage I took of our amazing trip. Traveling is always a joyful experience for me. I love to travel, just as both my parents did. My mother’s death has only made me more intent on traveling as much as I can, while I still can.
As my mother lay dying I called every evening and my sister held the phone to my mother’s ear so that I could tell her about seeing a blackback gorilla charging, and the baboons that were intent on sneaking a treat from the expansive breakfast buffet, and the hippo that came close to our boat in Zambia and how the guide told us his open mouth was the first warning sign and when asked what the second warning sign was, he said a hippo with open mouth running towards us, which was exactly what he was doing!
My days were filled with excitement, even elation as well as overwhelming sadness. It was a lesson in holding two seemingly opposing things in either hand and having both be true.
So I shot a video yesterday because I was feeling a little down and wanted to try and jolt myself out of it. I also went to the gym, rode a bike for a half an hour and then decided it would be a great idea to sprint on the tread mill for a few minutes only to stop after just five because I thought I was going to either puke or faint, take your pick. I’m pretty sure this falls under the TMI category, even though it is an accurate description of what happened. In any case… I was feeling a little down or as I say in the video, I was in a funk.
And then I compared what I was feeling, to a petulant child or a very loud, bossy color, like red or magenta or turquoise blue, which can easily take over a project if you’re not careful. I call those colors divas. And here’s the thing, divas are great, especially in small doses. If you have too many divas all together they start fighting and that just never ends well. So anyway I talk about all of that and then I talk… well you can watch the video.
Except that after I shot the video, uploaded it and posted it, I thought – I hope no one thinks this is a commentary on depression or some of the really awful things people feel and go through. Because I wasn’t doing that. This was a comment on that feeling of having lower energy and just not feeling as I typically feel. I have experienced depression and this, feeling in a funk, doesn’t come close. So I just wanted to clarify that.
Whether it was the exercise, talking about how I was feeling, getting a little stitching done on my improvisational stitching piece despite feeling a bit down or the fact that our next trip that we’ve been planning was looking like it might not happen, but then we did some more research and are thinking that maybe it will after all, or maybe it was a combination of all these things, who knows? Anyway the upside is that I’m feeling like myself again. You know, energetic and basically pretty upbeat. I also had a lovely afternoon with a dear old friend and took a little walk on the Highline. All of this taken together cheered me enormously.
To sum up: Radical Self Care. I didn’t intend to embark on a day of radical self care, but that’s essentially what I ended up doing without meaning to. (However one could argue that sprinting to the point of vomiting or fainting does not fall under the category of self care, so there’s that.)
So what’s on for today? A little reading from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations is in order and then, who knows?
For those of you who’ve followed my Travelogue vlog, the following conversation will make complete sense, for everyone else maybe not so much…
“Did they take blood?” I asked.
“There’s no blood test to see if you have cyanotoxins?” my husband told me.
“How’s that possible? They should have taken blood.”
“It wouldn’t have mattered because there’s nothing that can be done if I do have an infection.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said, even though I do not hold a medical degree.
“Sunburn and a torn ligament,” he replied.
“I have one word for you… “
He said nothing.
“Chartreuse,” I said. BOOM!
And so it goes. My poor husband. Thankfully it wasn’t anything worse. The torn ligament will heal over time and the sunburn, if in fact that really was what was causing his swollen, angry red ankles, has already dissipated.
In other news our flight home went off without a hitch. In fact it was as good a flying experience as one can have in these crazy times we live in, pandemic and all.
I gave a workshop the day after we returned home and am giving the Advanced Dorset Button Workshop this coming Saturday. As I will not be offering this workshop again, take it while you still can! If you want to sign up for it, do, there’s still space. We will be making Dorset Buttons like this one:
After a bumpy beginning we are now in full travel mode as in we-have-to-cram-as-much-as-we-can-into-each-day-or-we-might-miss-something. This is how R and I travel. We are the same in this way and as a result we travel really well together. Even when things go awry, and they almost always do, we still keep going, joyfully, yet determined. We are very determined. However we have been forced to slow down quite a bit because of the lacerations on R’s feet brought about on our 3rd day slogging over slippery rocks in the river bed that makes up The Narrows. If any of you are travel bugs and want to see a day to day video travelogue of our adventures, I made up a playlist on my Youtube Channel, A Travelogue, but will add the videos below.
Day 1: Getting to our destination. Spoiler alert – it was a rough beginning.
Day 2: Discovering the unexpected, and the reason we love traveling.
Day 3: A great adventure!
Day 4: Exploring and taking it easy, which for us means we still pack a LOT into the day!
Day 5: Slot Canyons and a small detour.
Day 6: More detours, kittens, yes I just said that, and getting back to our base. Video will be posted tomorrow morning.
Day 7: taking it easy, ie recalibrating. That’s today. Who knows what today will bring!?
The whole thing about traveling, in my experience, is that the most wonderful things happen when I’m able to be open to them, whether that’s meeting interesting people along the way, finding little caves to explore, the glorious feeling of seeing a vivid blue/green striation amidst grey beige rock, the massive and majestic rock formations that are everywhere you look in this part of the world, that vivid pink flower on a cactus in an otherwise arid landscape, the list goes on and on.
Inevitably unexpected things happen that force us to change our plans. When we went to Iceland, it was my shattered elbow. We didn’t let it stop us, but we did have to recalibrate a bit. On this trip it’s R’s lacerated feet. We’re having to slow down and not do quite as much as we had planned. In the end we come face to face with our own frailties and mortality as human beings. This feeling is what drove us to take this trip now and not wait any longer. We aren’t that old, but we’re not that young either. We figure we have so many places we still want to see on this planet of ours, we’d better take the opportunity to do as much as we can, while we still can.