Labor Day Weekend

Adventures, Being An Artist, JournalKait MauroComment

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.

Finding My Tribe

Adventures, Being An Artist, Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

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?

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.

The Beast / Anxiety

The Healing Work, JournalKait MauroComment

I don't feel much like an artist lately because I haven't been making much art. The obvious solution is just to do some creative work - but the trouble is my anxiety. I'm struggling so much with anxiety lately that it's getting in the way of my ability to function in day to day life. I realized last night that except for a photoshoot I had last week, I haven't left the house without Lena (my little dog) or Edward in far too long. Even driving alone is anxiety provoking. I have only been going to places Lena is allowed to go with me. I just don't feel safe alone out in the world. I don't know why this is. I feel too exposed - I need, for some reason, to have someone with me. I need to wear a cozy cardigan or wrap despite the Alabama in August heat because I find being wrapped up comforting when I am out in the world - less exposed, safer somehow. I feel overwhelmed by how much work I need to do on myself, how stuck I feel right now, how many emotions and experiences and traumas I still need to process, work through, learn from. I feel overwhelmed & under stimulated at the same time. I've started a new blogging project that's aimed at exploring these mental health things but I am keeping it private for now, separate from my name. I may change this eventually.

I'm trying.


Magpie Anxiety

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

"There is a time for growing, there is a time for hibernating, there is a time for basking in the sun. Right now, this is a time for making good soil. Allow the things that need to break down to break down. Shake off the dead leaves. Weather the hard knocks that are shaping you. Breathe into the new spaces even though the air is sharp and stings sometimes. It won't always be like this but right now, it needs to be. I have faith that I am where I need to be. Always on the path, always pulled in the right direction." - Aislin Fall 

I'm a magpie lately, collecting things I hope will help me cope with my anxiety - books, words, inspiration, knit stitches across my bamboo needles, guppies, fresh flowers in the vase once a week, chores, errands... I saw this quote on Instagram the other day & it resonated with me though, so I am sharing it here.


A Room To Be An Artist

Being An Artist, JournalKait MauroComment

After experiencing having my first designated "studio" room as an artist, I don't think I can ever go back. Having a designated & private place to work & create makes my artistic practices feel more legitimate - it makes me feel more like an artist. Before I had a studio, when I'd just work in bed or on the couch or on the floor, I was always distracted by other things that needed to be done. While I was trying to write a post or edit images or collage or whatever my artistic practice entailed that day, I'd be constantly reminded of the other responsibilities I had. I could see the dirty dishes in the kitchen, the laundry on the floor, the floors that needed to be swept, the bedding that needed to be washed.

A Universe For Us / A Ritual Completed

Adventures, Being An Artist, JournalKait MauroComment

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:

Rabbit Hearted Girl

Journal, The Healing WorkKait Mauro2 Comments

First came the depression when I was a child. Then came the bipolar diagnosis when I was in my early twenties. Then came the borderline diagnosis a few years after that. Now, lately anyway, my main problem is anxiety. Anxiety is newer to me than depression or mania are. I don't think I had much of it back before Edward & I got together because my life was such a wreck that I had very little to lose. Not much to lose kind of means you have no reason to be anxious but there are lots of reasons to be depressed. That's how it has worked for me anyway. I still haven't worked out how to cope with the anxiety in the optimal way.

Falling Apart & Putting Myself Back Together

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

It was a scary alone feeling, I don't know how to describe it to you well or how to explain what made it a scary kind of loneliness instead of just garden-variety loneliness. I guess it wasn't just loneliness - it was isolation & depression & panic & fear of the unknowns (will I always be this lonely in this marriage?). I wanted to just stay in bed with the dogs today, give up for a day, but I didn't & I'm not.

The scary loneliness led to a panic attack. Afterwards I was exhausted from it but I got out of bed, grabbed some coffee & went outside to drink it in the sunshine for a little bit. Then I took a shower. The shower really helped.

No Choir

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

I have my now weekly therapy appointment in an hour & a half and I don't really know what to tell her. I'm working on myself so much - but am I getting anywhere? I've started a journal of sorts, I've been moving my body, I've been doing the therapy, I've been keeping up with the housework, I have been creating, I've been listening to audiobooks meant to help me heal...

But am I rushing this process like I rush so many other things? I always want immediate results. I don't remember if I've ever had much patience. I don't understand how a person can feel so overwhelmed & so completely under stimulated at the same time. What am I even hoping for though? How/who do I want to be?

Last night, fall apart.

Two nights ago, fall apart.

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 3

Adventures, Being An Artist, JournalKait MauroComment

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.

A Universe For Us / Process: Part 1

Adventures, Being An Artist, JournalKait MauroComment

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.”

What I'm Learning Lately / Dancing Is Medicine

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

My body holds a lot of trauma from it's past. This has shaped my brain and the ways I think, react & feel. But I can change it, heal & move forward.

Not all medicine comes in a pill bottle from the pharmacy. Dancing is medicine, making art is medicine, reading or writing can be medicine, a shower can be medicine, housework can be medicine, rituals can be medicine, rest can be medicine, breathing consciously can be medicine...

Tangled Roots

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

've become interested in how developmental trauma effects the brain, changes the way it forms. If I'm being more transparent: I've become interested in how my own sometimes traumatic & highly strange childhood has effected my brain, how past traumas are related to my current mental health issues & how I can fix it (to the extent possible). When I read too much about it, I get overwhelmed. I feel irreparably damaged. It feels like such a big project.

What Bloggers Like Me Are Supposed To Write, Then The Truth

Being An Artist, Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

On Friday morning I learn I've gotten a grant I applied for - a photography grant having to do with reproductive rights! It is my first real grant as an artist & I am so excited I almost cry. I am floating around for a while after that news. But then the anxiety returns & I spend most of the afternoon giving my aquariums a very thorough cleaning and fixing the issues with the water so hopefully my fish will stop dying. It makes me really sad when one of them dies - I feel incredible guilt.

Now that I'm done being a good blogger, summarizing a week in my exceptionally dull life up with pretty words & photographs for you, here are four truths about my life right now:

  • I feel invisible.

  • My throat hurts from screaming.

  • Sex feels like abuse.

  • I want to disappear but I've cleaned the house instead.

Giving An Insulin Pump Another Go

Journal, The Healing WorkKait MauroComment

I have been on my new insulin pump for 9 days now. I like it so far, it doesn't annoy me too much. I was on one, a much older model because it was quite a time ago, from middle school through the beginning of college. I stopped wearing it because I had so much frustration with the infusion sets kinking up/not working or getting the tubing caught on things. I also think, being a freshman in college in a new part of the country, I felt like I had an opportunity to be someone new, in a way, and I didn't want to be the one everyone knew as "the girl with the beeper-looking thing on her hip."

Show & Tell

JournalKait MauroComment

I'd tell you how marriage is pure magic sometimes and really difficult other times but is usually somewhere in the middle. I'd tell you I have no urge to flee from my own life anymore though, like I used to experience often. I just want to make my life even better than it already is. I want to make myself better too. I just want to love & be loved & make my home as cozy and beautifully nested as it can be & make art & write & grow things & read a lot & dance & sing & live as wonderful/interesting (in the good ways, pray to whoever & knock on wood) a life as I can while I am here.