#100DayProject: Watercolors-Week 1

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you insane your whole life.” -Anne Lamott

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you may remember I started my photography journey this time last year by participating in the #100DayProject. It was a wonderful experience of growth and I appreciated how much feedback and advice I received throughout the process. I discovered photography was more than a passing hobby, it was something I love and will continue to do for the rest of my life.

When I saw it was time again for the #100DayProject, I did a lot of journaling about what I might do this year to grow as a creative. The idea of perfectionism kept coming up and my desire to think more out of the box. I’ve been exploring this idea of abstraction in my poetry, but I want to push myself further. As both my children did a lot of watercolor painting in their Waldorf education, and I’ve always admired how the colors blend across the paper, I decided to focus the next 100 days on exploring watercolors.

I’ve always been very critical of my lack of artistic skills. Embarrassed would probably be a more accurate word. Art, to my untrained eye, always appears to contain a fair amount of magic and natural ability I don’t possess. So, it was very important before starting this project to create some guidelines to work within. I’m not trying to learn skills or techniques, but rather to allow for exploration, stress relief, and self-expression. I’ve given myself a few guidelines:

  • be messy and imprecise
  • have fun with the process
  • don’t overthink
  • don’t plan
  • don’t judge the finished painting
  • be brave

This first week was challenging. I looked up images in books and online and when I tried to duplicate them found myself getting into the mindset of failure and comparison. It was only when I started painting my feelings and allowing myself to be silly, it started to feel more enjoyable. Each week I’ll share 3-4 paintings without commentary (other than perhaps this format of including a haiku). I hope you’ll enjoy watching me experiment with letting go.

Here are my offerings for Week 1:

wiggly bright full moon
shining in a pale green sky
you grow lovely plants

colors dance freely
across the watery page
revealing flowers

hidden dark red sky
delicate flower bouquets
spring is almost here

wavy broken lines
colorful light bright puzzle
what things do you see?

Oh, the messes we make

There is a pile of cut yarn outside my bedroom door, and five stuffed animals hang from the bannister having “flying lessons.” Every box from Christmas I put in the garage to break down, is back in the house in various stages of transformation, surrounded by tape, scissors and markers.

The dining room table is home to a puzzle on week three of progress, and a half-completed robot model. Stacks of books fill every flattish surface, teeny-tiny scraps of paper are cut up and have been thrown confetti-style down the halls, and two tiny plants appear to be in the process of being repotted by someone in the bathroom sink.

The state of my house is not good, folks. It is a cluttered mess of intentions and creation. We are a family who likes to do things, make things, get lost in the “thing,” and what we seem to hate the most is admitting the thing is over.

If the puzzle is put away, it means we didn’t finish it.

If the books are on a shelf, they may not get read.

If we clean up the boxes, the fort will never be completed.

We are a family of potential.

I have been fighting this for a long time.

I would walk around the house picking up all the messes, bitching as I do, and feeling the overwhelming sense of futility as I turn around to see several new “projects” erupting behind me.

It was driving me crazy. Ask my kids. I had become the Cleaning Dictator often yelling “take this shit to your room” and “what the hell is this mess?” and “are you kidding me?”

I’d march around in full martyr-mode, always feeling a sense of being overwhelmed or buried by ALL THE STUFF. I’d throw projects away because I’d get tired of seeing them or throw everything into a closet and slam the door to have ONE EMPTY SPACE.

Part of this battle was because my insides were in turmoil and I needed my space to not be. I needed everything organized, because I couldn’t categorize all the messy, dirty feelings which weighed me down and made it impossible for me to move.

Another part was embarrassment, of imaging what people would think if they stumbled into our “in progress” home on a day I didn’t frantically shove things into closets or drawers. They might think I am lazy or I don’t give a shit about my family.

I was losing my mind over it.

I was on the verge of completely squashing my kid’s creativity, because I could not contain it.

I could not stand it.

Then I started writing again.

My writing is a mess; the characters are unformed, stumbling along trying to become real and struggling with the half-story I’ve placed them in. I’m having to slowly uncover the pieces and letting it be a jumble for now, while I figure out how it all fits together.

It almost stopped me completely.


I’m still writing.

I’m accepting this mess is part of the creative process, and I’m trying to explore it with patience and curiosity. It’s hard to ignore the unease it brings, but it is necessary. I am not going to just sit down and write a novel. It is a chaotic, disorganized and jumbled process which requires both ignoring my fears and embracing them.

It’s fucking hard guys.

But doing this, being in the trenches, has made me look at the mess of my house, and even my kids, in a different way.

I’ve always been supportive of open play and creativity, actively fighting to provide them the space and time for it; we drive 25 minutes so they can attend a Waldorf school which is in line with these ideals. But at the same time, I’ve been a nagging bitch about the messes which come along with it.

Contradictions are apparently my thing.

There is a big part of me which would love my house to look like Restoration Hardware; seriously, everything in that store is gleaming and beautiful and fucking rad.

But it never will.

People don’t live there.

Duh, right?

I can’t remove the mess, because WE are the mess. I’d be replacing all the little stories they create with their stuffed animals, all the pictures they draw, all the badges and houses and forts…for some idealistic version of a home I’d probably hate.

I want my kids being loud and crazy and wild.

I want them making shit out of everything.

I want my kids to know their ideas are worth exploring fully.

The dishes and laundry are done. There isn’t anything rotting or smelling bad in the house. It is just projects, crafts and imagination exploding out in all directions.

It is the chaos of a creative life.

There is an important lesson for us all to learn about finishing things, cleaning up after ourselves and respecting the space of others. I’m not throwing up my hands in defeat. There is plenty of work to do still, and I’m sure we can get there.

For now, though, I want to stop yelling and allow more space and time for the messy creativity to happen. I want to stop struggling so hard against it, and learn to give things the time they need.

Maybe I can even learn to love the mess as much as I love the kids who create it.

Probably not.

But I can stop how I react and realize how temporary this all is.

So, bring on the Styrofoam sinks:img_8435The random piles of coins:img_8437Whatever this is:img_8439Bring it on.

Because we live here and this is what we do.

A messy little memory

Sometimes we just had to leave the house.

So we would walk.

I would put the little one, then about 10-months-old, in the carrier to save my arms.

I can remember the weight of her, the layer of sweat that would form between our bodies, and the way she would reach her chubby hands out and point at things.

She was so darn cute when she was strapped to me. Twenty-four access to milk and mommy’s face to touch were all she ever wanted.

We would follow my 3-year-old boy as he wandered the neighborhood in search of new sticks and rocks to add to his ever-increasing collection.

This day was particularly beautiful out. Spring was showing all over the neighborhood with bright purple flowers climbing a fence, ladybugs swarming the base of the neighbors Oak Tree and sunflowers reaching about knee level.

My boy skipped ahead and started playing a game involving counting, quick sprints and startling fast stops. I kept my distance so I didn’t run into him.

Then he fell.


I caught up to him and tried to calm his screams.

That boy could yell so loudly for such a small thing.

I could see both his knees were bleeding and one of his hands.




We are three LARGE blocks from the house.

“Can you walk?”


OK. Think.

“You have to stop screaming, you might make people think you’re really hurt.”


OK. Seriously…THINK!

I took the baby out of the carrier and sat her in the neighbor’s yard.

I grabbed him up, told him it would be OK, swung him and the carrier around to my back and adjusted the straps until he was securely tied to me.

He stopped screaming.


He buried his face into my now sweaty hair and I’m pretty sure blew his nose.


No biggie.

I wasn’t really going for that “model mom” look anyway.

Then I realize I still have to carry chubby girl home.

In a maneuver, that thankfully nobody witnessed, I widened my legs and SLOWLY inched myself forward to grab the baby. I had to be careful not to topple over and kill her.


It was hard!

That’s when I noticed she has crawled next to the flower patch and apparently feasted on mud. She opened her mouth to smile at me and I could see nothing but dirty drool. She also managed to have it smeared into her hair and on most of her clothing.

She looked very pleased.

I do manage to get her in my arms and I start walking.

I’m sure you can picture it.

Here I am walking down the street in my suburban Rocklin neighborhood. You know…perfect lawns and nice SUV’s all around.


It doesn’t escape my attention that I look like a lunatic.

I get it.

I am carrying a very HEAVY three-year-old on my back that is bleeding, softly crying and repeating in a very loud voice, “can you walk any faster?”

I am also carrying a 10-month-old that looks like I found her in a ditch somewhere drooling dirt onto my shirt and occasionally shoving her muddy hands into my face providing me with a nice little paint job.

I get it.

The several elderly neighbors out “weeding” their already perfect lawns had no idea what to make of me. They stared and shook their heads in judgment.

An impossibly fit mother jogged past with her twin babies happily, and very CLEANLY, eating snacks in their $10,000 custom-stroller that just happened to match her outfit. She sneered at me.

I laughed and continued to lug my darling offspring all the way home silently saying to myself, “judge all you want, cause I’m a badass.”


I. Am. Awesome.

The moments when things get ridiculous and I do things outrageous for my children are some of my favorites. It’s those dirty, crazy and insane moments that make everything else worth it for me.

I’m a messy mom who sometimes does things over-the-top for my kids.

I can’t do it any other way.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Here they are all little and cute and stuff. I miss those days.