Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 8

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin

meadowpix08

Dear Kaitlin,

It felt so good to talk to you. I’m glad you called. It didn’t feel weird at all, as I thought it might, because you sound just like you, and I feel like I’ve known you forever.

How did it go with the therapist?

I hope you have someone who reinforces a sense of agency and helps you create your boundaries and rediscover your strength! Remember: there are so many therapists out there, so if for any reason, this one doesn’t seem to be effective at this time, you have the right to find someone else. You’re the client.

meadowpix09

I might have not been clear when I told you about going back to school: I’m not going back to study art (I’m an artist already); I’m going back to study art therapy!

I’m training to become a trauma specialist, using my background in art and folklore to help with healing. Well, that was the original intention. What’s happened is that learning about healing from trauma has become an over-riding passion for me! Now I want to be more than an art therapist: I want to be involved in all the aspects of trauma healing.

Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, every news story I hear, every novel I read, every work of folklore I tell, every painting, every play, every piece of music, every dance, every yoga pose, every tremble, and every shake–it all seems to rotate around the story of trauma and how our amazing, resilient and wise bodies help us to heal from it.

meadowpix04

I must admit that when I first made the commitment to study trauma therapy, I felt a bit of trepidation: I was worried about the stories I might hear about the terrible things that have happened to people. I didn’t know if I would have the internal strength to bear witness.

But what has happened instead is that I have come to learn about the incredible wisdom of our neurology and physiology in helping us to survive both as individuals and as a species. And this is something that we share with all mammals!

I’ve come, too, to learn that there are deep paths to healing, within the very coding of our bodies and our cultures.

Rather than feeling defeated by what I’ve learned, I feel hope.

meadowpix02

Ah! I’m trying (always) to restrain myself from talking on and on about this too much! Mizuki, who has endless patience and indefatigable interest in all things theoretical, tells me with a laugh on a nearly daily basis that my efforts with restraint are ill-fated. I will never succeed! But watch…

I’m moving on to new topics!

In your last letter (which, I know!, was months ago! I’m sorry! I had no idea being a full-time student and a mom and doing an internship would keep me so busy!), you asked about Mizuki and Youssef and if marriage were on the horizon! Let’s just say, they are interesting–and mutually interested–friends.

Our lives are so much the better for having them in it.

meadowpix01

True, getting needed time alone is a challenge, but there’s always a long solitary walk through the hills! And the rewards I see in Jena’s flourishing make up for having traded in my solitude for company.

Jena loves having Youssie and Mizi around.

meadowpix03

How are your children and grandchildren? Did you enjoy the holidays?

We barely celebrated–we’ve just been so busy with everything. Plus, since we’re all from different cultures, we’re not really sure what we’d celebrate–maybe everything! Or maybe we’ll invent our own celebracion de familia someday… In the meantime, we’re celebrating the everyday.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the full spectrum of life. I think that for most of my life, I felt that “the bad things” were something to avoid. They were evil intruders that tried to rob us of our happiness. But as I learn more, I discover that the full scope of life–and that includes challenges, disaster, and hardship, too–contribute with all of life’s beauty to helping us live richly, fully, and with vibrancy. We are wired to survive–and wired to thrive. Look at all the good that has come to both of us through all the challenges we’ve embraced.

meadowpix13

Kaitlin, fill me in on all your news, especially on your hopes and dreams and new discoveries!

Happy belated holidays! Let’s talk again soon!

Much love,

Meadow

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Whisper 1.12

Somehow, even though life back home is still really weird, I don’t seem to mind it so much.

For one thing, I can call my friends from college whenever I need a reality check.

whisbi1501

“Yeah, Margaret,” I tell my friend, “I’ve still got the two roommates. It’s pretty crowded, but we manage.”

Margaret suggests that I talk with the roommates about moving out. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.

I bring it up to Chauncey.

“So, you’ve been getting some promotions, right? And so has Jin? Do you think you might enjoy living in a bigger place, maybe one that’s closer to work, not way out here in the booneys?”

“Nah,” says Chauncey. “I’m used to it out here. I like the quiet.”

whisbi1502

I figure I’ll make the best of it.

I drink a lot of tea this winter. I found an antique tea set at a consignment shop, and on afternoons when it’s stormy out, I fix a pot of Darjeeling and imagine I am someplace lovely with elegant, happy people, and chamber music playing in the background.

whisbi1503

Jin says, “We should have a real tea party. You know, with real people.”

So the next day, I invite over her daughter, Hetal, our former room-mate, Jack, my new friend Annie Nix and her family, and a few other folks we happen to know.

whisbi1504

Chauncey’s old neighbor Dante shows up, looking like he lost the blueberry round of a pie-eating contest.

“What’s with the face?” I ask Chauncey.

“Don’t even ask,” he replies.

whisbi1505

I spend most of the party talking about recycling with Annie, so I have a good time, after all.

whisbi1506

When I start feeling lost or confused, I put on my graduation robe. That black gown makes me feel grounded and confident.

whisbi1507

While I’m painting late one evening, I hear somebody at the door. Jin and Chauncey are already asleep, so I answer it.

whisbi1508

The guy doesn’t look human.

While I’m telling him about the delicious pies they serve at the Winter Fest, he says, “Cathy Tea, it is you who I was instructed to survey. How is your DNA?”

“Do I know you?” I ask.

“Most certainly,” he responds. “We met that fateful night.”

And I feel a shiver as I try to remember that night back on campus when I traveled up that strange beam of light. There’s not much else about that night that I remember.

whisbi1509

The nonhuman guy stays around for a while, chatting, watching TV, and looking at the dormant plants in the garden. I start to relax when I realize that he won’t be prodding me.

“I’ll see you around,” he says as he gets back into a flying saucer and takes off.

When I head back inside, there’s Jin, doing exercise with the TV.

Jin, even though she’s as unstable as over-proofed bread dough, makes me laugh all the time. She is so full of life, and I never know what she’ll wear next.

whisbi1511

Now that we’ve got a little TV set, we manage to enjoy a few moments of domestic happiness. Funny, I never thought old black and white reruns could introduce peace into our living room.

whisbi1512

The guest list for our gift-giving party is so long, and everybody shows up, and then some. It’s no wonder we don’t have any room when everybody congregates in the kitchen.

whisbi1513

Annie’s there, of course, and once again, I can count on her to share genuine excitement, while everybody else is standing around looking bored.

whisbi1514

After we’ve opened all the gifts, and all the guests have left but Dante, Dante calls me outside and gives me a bouquet of white roses.

“Like the purity of our friendship,” he says.

whisbi1515

“Happy snowflake day,” I say to Jin, after Dante has left.

“Whatever,” she says. “Did you make this roast chicken? It’s delicious.”

whisbi1516

Chauncey joins me while I’m eating breakfast the next morning.

“Did you mean it when you were hinting around about me and Jin getting another place?” he asks.

“Kinda,” I say. “I mean, this place is awfully small. But it’s been nice lately, don’t you think? It seems like we’re not quite as much getting in each other’s way as we used to.”

“Speak for yourself,” he says. “I’m tired of sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor. Another few paychecks, and we’ll have saved enough for first, last, and deposit. I’m thinking maybe we’ll start looking.”

whisbi1603

Just then, I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad. I guess either’s ok–maybe even both.

Though I’ll miss Chauncey and Jin, I can get excited about having the whole place to myself.

“Will you come back to visit?” I ask.

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