Sunday 30 April 2023

Spring moments

It’s been a busy weekend, mostly in a good way. I took the opportunity to sit down and relax, and when I do that I can slip into contemplative mode. I think about how this blog started, about how unstable things felt when the future was in flux. The future can never be predicted or taken for granted, but when things settle a little, it does take on a shape. Then it seems like my work is to make a coherent story out of the past, present and future, because that story gives purpose to each day.

This weekend the sisters participated in their second spring concert since they started Ukrainian dance. It was great fun, and they did awesome work, although the celebration afterwards was marred by Mr Turtle feeling unwell. With his chronic illness there is always worry there but he should be on the mend soon. The girls and I ended the day with a nice dinner out with my mom and older brother. I feel hugely grateful that compared to this time last year, my mom is doing better physically and emotionally and that she is living in a safe, supportive place. I am hugely grateful for my eldest brother and all the support he gives her and me. I am grateful that I got to see my middle brother in January.  And the girls’ seasonal performances are a ritual that helps bring us together. So I am grateful for that.

We have become quite immersed in amateur entertainment and I am happy with that. I don’t miss professional entertainment at all. We did go to one concert in the fall (Natalie Macmaster, whom I’ve seen multiple times). I investigated other concerts once or twice  but like everything else they seem so much more expensive now. It’s not that I think the performers don’t deserve the money but I don’t want to go badly enough to pay so much for tickets.

Above: AJ and Dani shortly before their technical rehearsal, wearing their matching shirts. (I am wearing one too, behind the camera.) The exhibit featured huge model Ukrainian eggs and the yellow and blue one was designed by their dance organization. 

Although I did not dance with the girls yesterday, my leg muscles ache today as if I did. I checked my steps data from on my phone and apparently I climbed the equivalent of 8 flights of stairs on Saturday. I didn’t count how many times I ran up and down the theatre stairs but I know I was constantly on the move as a dance mom and volunteer coordinator, so it makes sense. 

That is life right now: constant motion and occasional moments of contemplation. Maybe I steal them or maybe something bigger than me insists I take them.

Saturday 15 April 2023

Visual journaling 1a

As a follow up to my entry on my sketchbook, here is some of the art I created on our recent family vacation

(Edit: I have no idea why the pictures frequently disappear from this particular post.)

Marshmallow roast, semi-realist. It was chilly at the cabin but we were able to have two fires and we ate an entire bag of marshmallows in one evening.

Marshmallow roast again, abstract. I really like this one. The words that weave through the fire are what the kids told me about their experiences.

The girls made a fairy garden with one of the little girls they met there. Again, I tried to create a realistic depiction. It was difficult because of all the detail and light and shadow in the photo I was using. But I kept playing with it and actually I enjoy the result. It is called “Nature did most of the
work” since that is how AJ described the process.

In the previous picture, I particularly liked how I drew the evergreen branches. So I did a piece just using that technique.

One morning AJ and Dani wanted to dance to “Frozen” music. This is my interpretation. Each wave represents a daughter and how I see them at this time.

What I learned:
  • I enjoy visual journaling 
  • I’m more likely to do art when there is no wifi
  • It works to start drawing as soon as I have an idea (do not overthink)
  • I’m inspired by life but I like to represent abstractly
  • I like playing with textures and patterns
When done, I will link to an entry with some of my other art inspired more by ideas.

Friday 7 April 2023

Birthgap Documentary

Recently I listened to an interview with Stephen W Shaw about his documentary “Birthgap.” From the interview notes: “Stephen is a British national who has studied and lived on three continents. He studied as a computer engineer and data scientist before starting his first film project, “Birthgap” at age 49. He is president and co-founder of the data analytics company Autometrics Analytics LLC.”

The interview was very interesting. I made the mistake of listening to it in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep, and I stayed awake for the whole thing instead of falling asleep in the middle like I usually do. So that made for a sleepy day the following day but with some provoking ideas to consider.

“Birthgap” is about the huge increase in unplanned childlessness around the world, why that might be happening and that consequences of it. 
Part 1 is available on YouTube . Update (April 8th) I watched Part 1 and I recommend it: well explained and enjoyable to watch. However, the interview (linked in next paragraph) perhaps gives a better sense of the overall structure and findings of the project, since parts 2 and 3 are not available.

This is the interview with Mr Shaw. He shares in detail about his research and some of his conclusions. Prof. Jordan Peterson, the interviewer, chimes in with his talent for sound bites and memorable bits of advice. Many people love Dr Peterson’s advice; many people find it infuriating and this interview isn’t an exception: there are a more than a few comments that could rankle sensitivities. I personally enjoy JBP's style, probably in part because I come from a straight talking family with a lot of discussion and debate. I don't find it offensive or insulting; I find it stimulating. (But consider that a trigger warning if needed.)

I continue to be interested in voluntary/involuntary childlessness because 1) in my peer group* and extended family, childlessness is more common than families with children, and 2) As a parent I think about how to approach such topics with my daughters. My own story / fate / wyrd is pretty much decided and I'm happy with it: I have little or nothing to gain by dwelling on "what ifs." But I have invested in the future and that requires some effort to understand it and plan for it. I balance this with reminders to myself that life is way more complex than any model, and that its not my role to control people or "change the world.” However, there is a role for curiosity and questioning, especially when accompanied by humility.

* I refer to long term friends from university or before, not friends I’ve made through my kids, who obviously also have kids. Of my friend group from age 25 or earlier (a group of about 10), only three women had children. One was an unplanned pregnancy; the others had children in their 30s / 40s. I also know a lot of people who had/have fertility challenges. All my current close mom friends accessed some kind of assistance. These are not people I met through support groups or anything like that, just through the normal channels. There likely is some selection bias at work though in that I am more likely to become close to people who share a defining experience.