My Carve Out Time for Art Interview

Have you heard of Carve Out Time for Art yet? It's a website and Instagram account started by Marissa Huber and Heather Kirtland and they're "on a mission to share inspiring stories of artists (who are also mothers) who are able to find time to create, despite hectic and full lives." They're also writing a book on art and motherhood because they're "tired of everyone telling new mothers that they can never do anything for themselves again." It's so inspirational, and I'm totally honored to have been interviewed by them this week. Carve Out Time for Art Interview with Jessica Nichols

Head over to Carve Out Time for Art to read my interview!

Thanks Marissa and Heather for having me.

Belief Systems

Once a month this year, I'm going to share a more personal story with you on the blog in a column called Heart and Soul. This month, my story is about changing my belief systems around what my value is as a person. Heart and Soul a personal narrative column on Sweet Eventide blog

During the times when I've been ill with lymphoma, I had to find ways to believe that I still had value as a person. It isn't easy for me to say out loud that I didn't believe I had value, but it's true. I felt useless. In addition, I had to learn anew every time I had lymphoma. Sometimes, I learned again in between but forgot because the old beliefs are a strong, well-used muscle and the new beliefs were little baby muscles that I forgot to keep using.

What I'm learning now is that the new beliefs "didn't stick" each time because of a couple of big things: a cultural belief that our value is defined by what we produce or what we earn (or both), and a subconscious belief that I'm not enough or I'm not worthy or I'm not valuable (or all three). Truth be told, it took a lot of conscious effort and support from loved ones when I was ill to believe in my value.

Guess what? I consciously realized yesterday that my new-found value beliefs go away once I'm healthy. When I'm healthy, I go right into Prove It Mode. I set out to prove my value, to prove I can be productive and helpful, to prove my gratitude and to give back to those who cared for me again. As a result, my self-esteem goes up and up and up. However, it's built upon a shoddy foundation of the old belief that my value is defined by what I produce. I hadn't realized this pattern until now.*

I'm honestly relieved that I realized this eight months into my recent recovery instead of years from now. I can repair my foundation more easily because the new belief system is more recent. I thought this year I had work to do around under earning and now I see that's only the obvious layer of this issue of value. The real emotional and psychological work on value is not really about money. It's also much more sad to face. It's hard to admit these things, to say clearly I don't totally, wholly believe that I have value. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away though. So I made myself a big reminder.

handwritten watercolor affirmations about belief systems by jessica nichols

I'm going to do this deep work. It takes more than a handwritten list of affirmations, I know that. Yet, it's a start. It's a visible reminder to do this work. Again and again and again until I've chipped away at the old foundation until it's gone and replaced by a new solid foundation. Tara Mohr's book Playing Big has been recommended to me. I'm going to dive in this weekend.

* I'm working with Megan of Tended Wealth on personal finances and she is compassionately assisting me with these realizations on my belief systems. I cannot recommend her enough if you have work to do around money!

My 2016 Word of the Year

Happy new year! I'm going to tell you the story of the word I chose to guide me this year. It's a little long, so go pour a cuppa, but it all makes sense in the end.

Tree in Snow on Mt. Hood in Oregon

My journey to my word of the year started back on Winter Solstice, although I didn't know it then. This was my second year doing a small Winter Solstice ceremony. Last year, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to release and burned them in a bonfire. This year, I smudged myself and did a verbal release. My list was very short: I released any need cancer has ever filled in my life, and I released any need to hold on to that identity going forward. Then I welcomed in what I desired which was to be healthy and whole in mind, body and spirit. When I was all done smudging, I pulled an animal medicine card and it was the Swan card: grace.

Photograph of the Swan animal medicine card illustration

It tells the story of a little swan who wants to visit the Dreamtime, but  Dragonfly, the guardian of the Dreamtime, tells her she is only able to enter once she is willing "to accept whatever the future holds as it is presented, without trying to change Great Spirit's plan." She agrees "to surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust" what she is shown in the Dreamtime. When she emerges afterwards, the Dragonfly is stunned by her transformation. Swan explains that because of her acceptance, she was changed and she learned to "accept the state of grace."

The next two paragraphs I read that night gave me chills, considering what I had released during my smudging moments before.

"So it is we learn to surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the universe, and slip from our physical bodies into the Dreamtime. Swan medicine teaches us to be at one with all planes of consciousness, and to trust in Great Sprit's protection.

If you pulled Swan, it ushers in a time of altered states of awareness and of development of your intuitive abilities. Swan medicine people have the ability to see the future, to surrender to the power of Great Spirit, and to accept the healing and transformation of their lives." (I underlined the part that nearly made me faint.)

So I sat with this reading for a bit and then the holidays happened. The new year arrived and with it my thoughts for my word for 2016. I started choosing a word for the year in 2014. That year and last year, a word came to mind quite easily. This year, not so much. I came up with a trio of words to guide my work life for 2016 easily, but I was quite stuck on a personal word. Susannah Conway's email course, Find Your Word, was recommended to me so I signed up. It was truly helpful and a wonderful process that I recommend to anyone. It doesn't matter that it's January 12th either, you make the rules.

Find Your Word 2016 email course with Susannah Conway

First I did a guided visualization on my ideal day. Then, a series of questions about the coming year: what is happening, what I hope to happen, what dreams I want to nurture, what areas of my life need support, what qualities I want to develop in myself and finally, what does my heart need.

From these exercises, plus a long list of suggestions, I made a list of 16 possibilities and then narrowed my list to six words: Power, Peace, Grace, Grow, Golden and Pride. For each word, I wrote how I define the word, what it feels like, synonyms and the dictionary definition. Now the hard part, simmering on the words. I eliminated a few easily: Peace, Pride and Grow. I loved Golden, but decided to make it a color guide for the year instead. So it was down to two: Power and Grace.

These seemed like very opposite words to me, two different directions to go in and both were calling to me. Power meant physical strength, big energy, and financial power. (My husband and I have begun a big money transformation over the past few months so this meaning appeals to me). Power felt awesome, inspiring, hard but worth it. Grace meant soft, polished, elegant, and feminine. Grace felt intuitive, lovely and serendipitous (due to my pulling of that medicine card).

In the end, I went back to the question, "What qualities do I want to develop in myself this year?" My answers were forgiveness, softness, gentleness, confidence and respect. This question is how I have used my word of the year in the past to guide me. It's a very internal thing for me. After sleeping on it last night, and talking it out with two trusted friends, I made my decision.

2016 word of year for Jessica Nichols

And there you have it, a very long story about my word for the year! I put the word in gold glitter to start incorporating the golden word I didn't choose (which meant warm, shiny, magical, magic hour, light and delicious to me). I hope you enjoyed hearing the story.

Do you choose a word for the year? I would love to know, please leave me a comment and tell me about it.

Being a Giver

After I healed from radiation, I had enormous amounts of energy and a desire to give back to everyone who helped me through my relapse. The day after my last radiation treatment, I chaperoned a two-mile walking field trip for my son's class. That was the level I was jumping in at. During the summer heat waves, I found this happy place on the Clackamas River, it was an easy 30-minute drive from home, a short trail walk, a shaded area near a cold, uncrowded bend in the river. There I sat, thinking of a family friend who had been diagnosed with liver cancer in May, right around when I was seeing rapid results from radiation. I felt so good in that spot on the river that I thought it would be very healing for our friend too. Thus began a journey from which I am now needing to restore myself. clackamas river oregon

Somehow our friend did pack himself  and his little Chihuahua up in the car and drive from Arizona to Oregon. I dove right in to setting him up with my oncology team and attending all of his appointments with him. It was the typical newly-diagnosed whirlwind of scans, tests, consultations, etc. At the exact same time all of this was going on, school started and my role on the Board of Directors there became a high priority as we were in the process of hiring a new Executive Director. For five weeks, from Labor Day through mid-October, I gave everyone my all. If I was not at the oncologist's office as a caregiver, I was in interviews with candidates. One evening, we managed to take our friend on an evening picnic to the very spot in the bend in the river where I had the idea for him to move to Oregon.

And then, it all ended. Our friend died unexpectedly two days before he was scheduled for his first treatment on October 16th. The Board finished up the all the rounds of interviews and made a decision on October 22nd. Then we went on a quick weekend trip to California for a family birthday on October 24th. Last week, I started saying no to almost every request made of me. An empty cup quenches no one's thirst is a phrase that has been ringing in my ear for years, but especially now. I am not sure how long it will take me to come back to neutral. I'm not there yet because even simple requests for information around home make me edgy. I want to screech every time someone speaks to me* but instead I go for walks, I buy a ridiculous number of beautiful pumpkins, I go to pretty cafes, I take baths with tons of lavender essential oil. Yesterday, I even got a spontaneous massage when by 11 am, I just couldn't even do Monday, you know? I just couldn't do it.

I possibly derailed my recovery by signing up for NaNoWriMo, I'm not sure yet whether that was brilliant or idiotic. I've longed to do more writing for many years. I was a writer long before I was a photographer or an artist. I'm revisiting a magical trip to Italy with my grandmother in 1999, two years before she died. I've got the photo album on my desk. It's hard work, but I've dreamed of writing the story of that trip for years. I've got three books I want to read right now too: Overcoming Underearning, Daring Greatly and Rework. My paintings have not been touched since September. I have squeezed in some new work when I could.

I do not regret all that I gave of myself. I felt absolutely compelled to help our family friend, although my naturopath gave me quite a look when I went in for a checkup. Her look said, "You were a caregiver for a cancer patient four months after finishing cancer treatment? What?" In addition to the caregiving and the Board work, I signed up for every meal train that was needed since I was the lucky recipient of a meal train earlier this year. I also help with the middle school art program every Friday at my son's school.

I'll be honest, there were some costs for all this giving I did. My house is a wreck. Well this weekend, I got the main level in shape and I felt so much better. My office upstairs is still a mess but I don't have it in me yet to fix it up. I cleaned out the fridge last week and found stuff from Labor Day weekend still in there. Ewww, that's not my style. When I'm giving that much to others, I have to protect myself and cleaning and cooking fell to the bottom of my priorities. But the biggest cost has been needing to be alone while I restore myself. Some things stayed high on my priorities, like going to sleep by 10:30 p.m. almost every single day. I also did some things for myself like attend the Hello Sessions and start physical therapy for some aches and pains leftover from the months spent in bed this spring.

southwest charter school middle school aerosol art field work

It's so sad that despite all I have given, there is still a voice in my head criticizing me for all that I haven't managed to do, especially when it comes to my work. It takes what little reserves of energy I've got left to shush that voice. But I'm never giving up on me, so hopefully no one else will either. That mean voice in my head can suck it, that's for sure. When I follow my heart and my intuition, I don't go wrong.

Probably I am not succeeding at not screeching as often as I hope.


Determination: firmness of purpose sunset portland oregon summer

Since I last posted, I have been to the depths of despair and back again. This fifth journey through lymphoma was painful, literally and figuratively. I have never seen cancer the way I did this time. I was stuck in bed, watching it grow. My husband, family and friends got me through each difficult day. We tried so many things to heal me. We finally found a treatment that was stronger than the lymphoma. It was hard to tolerate, but worth it. Since finishing treatment, I have been embracing life! Walking, swimming in lakes and rivers, painting, etc. I have been eating whatever I want too! I am rebounding. It's been two months since treatment ended. I'm still finding my way, figuring things out, unsure of my future, grateful for every minute I can bend at will, jump, walk -- everything I could not do for months.

As for my work? Who knows. I am my work and my work is me. HOW I share it and live from it is another story to be written. I wanted to capture some of my thoughts here, tonight. I cannot compare myself to anyone else, any more. It serves zero purpose, even though I do try sometimes. I am determined to live fully, with love and in color. That's all I know for sure.

An Untold Story of My Life

When I found out about my relapse, after I moved through the grief and shock, I wondered on an energetic level why cancer would return to my life after such a long remission. I asked a trusted friend for guidance and she asked me what untold stories I had inside. I knew right away that the biggest untold story in my life is about my relationship with my mom, who has been absent from my life since I was very young. It is time to share the story. After my friend asked me that question, I decided with utter confidence to contact my mom at the last known email address that I had for her to find out once and for all the real story of how and why she left me. I told her there was nothing she could say that would scare me. My mom's husband replied quickly to my email and said my questions were a shock but that a letter would arrive soon. I was deeply happy to know the email address was valid and the communication process had begun. I felt like a little girl as I checked my mailbox every day. The letter arrived and my mom explained everything to me with sincere and plain honesty. It was a very sad story and I finally learned that she always did love me and that not raising me and being estranged from me broke her spirit in terrible ways for most of her life. At the end of her letter, she asked if I thought I would ever come to a place of forgiveness. Instantly, I emailed to tell her that I completely forgave her. It was the lightest, easiest and most free decision for me to make. It was an utter relief to know the truth finally and I knew it was time for both of us to heal.

nissa morning

Shortly afterwards, on November 6th (a full moon), I met with a shaman for energy healing work to restore the buried and hurt parts of me from losing my mom as a young girl. When I was originally diagnosed with lymphoma, my intuition at that time that told me there was a connection between that parent/child relationship and my health. I worked with a hypnotherapist and healed my relationship with my father, from whom I had been estranged for a year before he died. I trusted myself this time too (see step 6 here) and I knew it was time to heal my other parent/child relationship in order to release all this deep, emotional pain that had been stored in my body for my entire life.

My work with the shaman actually ended up centering largely on how my mind works tirelessly to keep my heart safe from pain and this has actually enabled me to survive many things. However, my brain needs to work with my heart and soul now. We came up with a plan for me to claim space for my heart and my emotions so they don't get brushed aside where they can do me harm. My biggest fear going in to the meeting was that I would cry in front of her. I can cry fairly easily when frustrated but it's very difficult for me to release tears of deep sadness. Guess what? I started weeping at the door while she was smudging me. It was the start to a vulnerable, powerful and very emotional journey.

dear brain

After I left Nissa's house, the beautiful shaman,  I took a lot of time to get home. I stopped in the St. Johns neighborhood, a place I've driven by and through many times but never stopped. I followed my heart to a boutique, a vintage shop and an awesome camera shop. When I got home, there was an email from my mom with this photo that she had kept all this time. I had never seen it before. It is the sweetest gift.

mom and me

I never expected to find myself in this place where I am now. It's a peaceful place of curiosity. My mom and I are continuing to exchange letters and emails. All the anger of my childhood and indifference in my adulthood towards my mom has evaporated. I'm getting to know her now, at the age of 44. It's remarkable.

It has taken me 40 years to find the courage to ask my mom how she could leave me and a month to find the courage to share our story. Vulnerability is hard work but I'm learning time and time again that it's worth it. My name is Jess and I'm not a motherless daughter anymore.

In Honor of Maya Angelou

It took me 10 years to put myself through college, there were many semesters that I wondered if it was worth all the struggle. To be honest, there have still been times over the past 16 years since graduation when I wondered if was worth it. However, yesterday when I found out the world had lost Maya Angelou, I knew it was worth it. It was in the final few years of my college experience when I was introduced to Maya's work. Her words busted my heart open to myself. She was one of the first women who helped me to own my voice, use it in my writing and love myself in that way. maya quote web small

I was so moved by those words yesterday. I paused. I reflected. I shared on my personal Facebook that "In Maya's honor, today I stand proud of myself for all that I have overcome in my life, starting from way back in 1974. I rarely give myself credit, rarely acknowledge it all. It can be uncomfortable, yet therein lies my strength."

Someone asked me "What happened in 1974?" You see, I was born in 1970 and 1974 is the year my parents got divorced and my mom left me. That is the year everything changed for me. I don't remember the years between 1974 and 1978 very well, I have glimpses of things in between. I've always called it a "swiss cheese memory." And I have been overcoming things ever since, all my life. Haven't we all?

As I said on Facebook, I want to be stronger, lighter and more free with every passing moment.

Thank you Maya for everything you have taught me and for all I still have to learn. For now, today, I stand proud of myself.

P.S. This poem of Maya's, "When Great Trees Fall" was extremely soothing to me yesterday.  Did you know I used to have a series called Friday Poems on my blog? When I read poetry, I feel called to write. When I read Maya Angelou's work, I feel called to write. I was a writer long before I was a photographer.

Coral Charm Peony: A Color Study

Peony season has arrived. I purchased my first one as an early Mother's Day gift for myself. The astonishing transformation in color has been astonishing and delightful to observe. Photographs were taken on May 11th, May 13th and May 14th (from top to bottom). I never knew about peonies until I lived in Oregon, so my first year here I fell in love with their newness, my second year here I went to a peony farm and this year, I plan to study them in detail with my camera. I was asked recently what florals represent to me and my answer is that they represent triumph over adversity. They remind me of me in that way and that is why I am so drawn to observing them with my eyes and my camera. coral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nicholscoral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nicholscoral charm peony photograph by Jessica Nichols

Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Year of the Horse!

Xi Nian Kuai Le!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Schleich horse and knight photograph by Jessica Nichols

I am really excited about Chinese New Year this year. Why? This article explaining the meaning of the Year of the Horse and what led us here resonated with me on a deep level. I feel I have been through two years of "degeneration, dissolution and chaos" while I adjusted to life in a new state and struggling with different issues in all facets of life: family, motherhood, business, health, loss of various kinds. I have been soaked, sometimes drowning, in water for two years.

And now, I have shed my skin as the Year of the Snake was ending. I said goodbye to some clutter, cleared some space; I've started trying new things, driving new routes, and saying yes to things my intuition was voting for without letting my head take over too much. It turns out I actually started this intuitive work last year. It turns out it has been leading me right to now.

The Year of the Horse is "a year to follow your inner voice like never before."

I feel so ready.

Let's gallop!

Year of the Horse

Hello my friends and happy belated new year! I have been hibernating like a bear, as you could tell from the lack of posts. The holidays tuckered me out and I wanted to take time to rest before springing into action this year. I did a one week detox and I have been swimming and doing some decluttering. We are leaving the Year of the Snake and I love the imagery of shedding our skin to prepare to gallop into the Year of the Horse. I did choose a word to guide me this year and it is WILD. forest trees nature pacific northwest

I had considered four words: magic, let go, wild and soften. I went for a long hike with my family on New Year's Day and realized that when I am out in the wild, I let go of negative things, my rough edges soften and I see magic everywhere.

I am not the type to plan out my whole year on New Year's Day, but it took some conscious effort for me to resist the external and internal pressure to "get going already" all of this month. I am ready to get going now. I needed this rest and I'm proud of myself for taking the time. I look forward to a new year here in this space with you all!

The Declaration of You: Success

Special note: The Declaration of You, published by North Light Craft Books, is available now and gives readers all the permission they've craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! This post is part of The Declaration of You's BlogLovin' Tour, which I'm honored to participate in alongside over 300 other creative bloggers. Learn more -- and join in by clicking here.

When I was approached to contribute to The Declaration of You BlogLovin’ Tour on the topic of success, I said “Absolutely!” immediately after reading the email. And immediately after that, I thought, “OMFG.”

I am not even going to lie to you all, that is exactly what I thought. Exactly like this lady, whose photo someone didn't keep, thereby enabling me to buy it at an antique store and pin it above my desk for moments just like this.

The reason I had such a wild set of reactions is due to the ongoing conflict that exists between my heart and my head. My heart said YES without any hesitation whatsoever. Then, my head bullied its way in and took over for awhile.

This is what I wrote when I accepted the invitation to write about success for the BlogLovin' Tour:

“Success is a challenging topic for me in some ways but not others, so I'm grateful for the lead time to think.”

After preparing to write this post, I have a renewed clarity and sense of authenticity around success. I will tell you what success means to me. But first let me tell you about how I recently lost my way.

For the past three months, I have narrowly and wholly defined success as getting an A+ on a Giant Metric Test Fest (so that I could then advance to the Giant Consumerist Society Test Fest). You see, I had made a business plan for Sweet Eventide Photography, and I had outlined my goals for the second quarter of this year (in a gouache painting no less). Then I dutifully began doing a number of things that I thought would help me meet these goals:

I was blogging consistently on my pretty new blog/portfolio website!

I was including a short description before my photos to improve my SEO!

I was creating and launching a new product that represented my mission!

I was out shooting new work!

I was making treasuries to increase my visibility on Etsy!

I was trying to think like my customer!

I was actively maintaining my Facebook page by asking questions and posting a photo with my links in the comments!

I was still dealing with the Chris Benz/Lancôme/Saks copyright infringement drama!

(Oh wait, that wasn't one of my quarterly or annual goals)!

Hold up, wait a minute, let me put some boom in it!

(Sorry I couldn’t resist.)

Do you know what I was not doing in April, May or June?

I was not making the quarterly goals!

I was flunking the Giant Metric Test Fest!

I was not selling a damn thing!

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I sold 12 things over these three months. That is an average of one, yes, ONE sale per week. One sale per week does not a thriving, profitable business make. I was very aware of this fact every excruciating minute of the second quarter of 2013. I was studying my ass off but failing the Giant Metric Test Fest anyway.

While I was not making enough sales and when I was not throwing my hands in the air, I was either reading the umpteenth article on how to run my business or obsessively refreshing my stats. Over the past year, I have purposefully created a symbiotic relationship between me and my business. I even made a Venn diagram to illustrate how I was in the middle between my life and my business. You see, I want to have an authentic, soulful business because I am an authentic, soulful human. This is a lofty idea but it can cause trouble if you’re not careful. I was not careful and I was defining myself by Sweet Eventide’s success or failure. (Although it took writing this post to realize that is exactly what happened.)

Towards the end of the Giant Metric Test Fest, I got the request to write about success. I also happened to have a light bulb moment about my need to divorce information, because the way I consume information comes from a place of lacking and it divorces me from my heart.

I do not want to be divorced from my heart. because my heart knows that the kind of success that is not a challenge for me to think and write about is life success. It is only when I measure myself against the standard, traditional life path that I come up wildly short. I didn’t go through college in four years, I didn’t choose a degree that led to a career where I worked my way up the ladder, I didn’t get married, buy a house, have two kids, in that order and build a nest egg all along the way.

No, instead I took 10 years to get through college. I married the wrong person the first time. I bought a starter house and went back to renting instead of upgrading. I am building a business around a passion and a gift and it has nothing to do with my degree. So maybe I don’t have all that career and money success stuff figured out yet, but guess what? I have some important life success stuff figured out already.

I know that being in a four-year durable remission has allowed me to graduate to annual oncology checkups, without scans. This is a special, incomparable level of success for a cancer survivor.

I know that my second marriage is based on love, friendship, respect, admiration, honesty and awesome communication and it has a solid decade behind it as a foundation for the future decades.

I know that my son is growing up in a stable home with two loving parents, who make mistakes and admit them, try new things and get help when it is needed.

I know that the incredible, wise and utterly beautiful circle of family and friends that surround me offline and online are a clear reflection of incredible, wise and utterly beautiful ME.

I know that when I listen to my heart and trust it, I am not only on the right path. I am on the only path that matters.

I know that I'm on the right path when one of my lovely customers said, "Your stuff is stunning. Seriously. What you are giving to the world is beautiful and thought provoking. That's what you need to focus on and remember. I spend 10 hours a day in a grey cubicle doing meaningless work. But it pays the bills, right? You are infusing the world with glorious and uplifting images."

I know that when I choose self-care over housework that I have made a good choice that day.

I know that when I open the door and invite people into my wabi sabi home for good company or a simple meal that I have made a better choice that day.

I know that when I keep my patience and encourage my child, or any child, that I have made the best choice that day.

I know that when I tell my son that anger is powerful and scary but love is more powerful and infinitely stronger that I am giving him a gift that I did not receive as a child.

I know that every day, no matter how little sleep I have gotten or what is ahead of me, that I wake up and open my eyes with an internal sense of hope and optimism that my wonky life path has never managed to squash.

I know to look for light and beauty everywhere I go because I have seen plenty of darkness and ugliness.

I know that when a life ends, metrics and money are meaningless.

I know that on the Giant Life Test Fest, I have earned my A+ and that is how I define success!

You can watch The Declaration of You book trailer right here!

Thank you Michelle and Jessica from the bottom of my heart for inviting me to be a part of your colorful, beautiful BlogLovin' Tour!

Dear Blog, I Miss You

Dear Blog,

I miss you.

I miss posting every day. I miss taking photographs to share with all my friends on you. I miss reading sweet comments and writing back. I miss making new friends. I'm having a hard time adjusting to our new schedule. I'm having a hard summer all the way around, and you normally cheer me up when I'm blue and now I can't have you as much.

Your sad author,


My Dear Blog, I'm so thrown off my routine, I forgot to put in the picture I chose to show you how much I love and miss you. I've edited you now to include it. See? Three hearts. Because I heart you that much.


While I go on and on in circles in my mind about new blog names, I will at least mix up the look here for now.

That banner photo up there? Taken on the Coast Starlight last weekend somewhere in Southern Oregon when the train came to a stop in a forest to check on a power failure on board. It was quiet, still and it started snowing. It was dreamy. It was the most peaceful moment in time I have experienced in years (if not ever).

I may hate all this grey on the blog when I wake up tomorrow but I will live with it for a few weeks. Spring is coming and hopefully by then, I will have made a decision on a new name.

Take My Poll

If you peek over to the left there, you'll see a little gadget wherein I'm wondering what my sweet, lovely readers think of me changing my blog name.

The fact is I do not really want to label myself as a big, fat, stress case anymore. It's catchy and all but I have been thinking about this for some time. My blog is really a wonderful creative outlet for me and I want it to be mostly a happy place and when I see my url, I don't feel happy anymore.

Please vote in my poll.
It would mean a lot to me.

Good Bye 2008

The past 30 days have been an exhausting, emotional whirlwind of moving, holidays and sickness. If I have any readers left after my long absence here, thank you for your faith and loyalty.

To close the year, I would like to share a video performance that combines two musicians with meaning from different periods in my life: Tracy Chapman and Bob Dylan.

Because people?

In 2009, the times ARE a-changin in many ways and not a moment too soon for me. Happy New Year to all and to all a happy new year!

A Little House

Betty has a set of little wooden houses and I found myself drawn to them the other night.

I find myself in a little "house" trying to make it into my home. I close my eyes and I am back in my house that is not my house, clearly was not my house and yet IS MY HOUSE.

I stare at this red wooden house and somehow it is me right now. I am wooden and small and a little cute in a weird fake way. Here I stand in my neighborhood of family and friends who are trying to prop me up until I am strong enough to stand alone again.

Pros and Cons

Many, if not most, people know that on Jaden's first day of kindergarten, we got an email from our landlord informing us of a 15% rent increase. Thus started the Housing Drama again for us. After weeks and a lot of searching and crying, we managed to get it down to a 12% increase instead. We resolved to stay put and pay it.

Not too long afterwards, an amazing opportunity came our way to rent a duplex at a savings of $750 a month compared to our new rent. This threw us into turmoil again but we decided to go for it. In the meantime, it got rented to someone else without even being offered the chance to work something out.

Now what?

We had resigned ourselves to spending a lot of money and staying put. I was calling the rent increase a Stability Tax. But the lost chance to move made us think maybe we should keep looking at the lower price point. Thus the past three weeks of me living and breathing the Craigslist page for my area. Hour after hour, I watch the search results in my price range go from 178 to 9 once I click "dogs allowed" in my search terms.

When we lost the duplex, we were all in shock as it seemed like a pretty sure thing coming from the source that it had (good friend of a good friend). My MIL said, "well there's always the studio."

Yes, the studio. You might remember not too long ago I posted about how I had 12 days to get out of our house and mostly into storage so we could fit in my MIL's studio while we searched for a rental.

Here we are with the same troubles (price, dog), different day (a year later).

So on Thursday we came to my MIL's for a one week trial of living here again, commuting Jaden to school via train/bike with Jeff and me in the car for the afternoon return trip. Friday's morning commute went well. Then I picked him up and realized that there was no school Monday or Tuesday. Plum choice for a trial week, not.

Still I hound Craigslist. In the meantime, things at Jeff's work have been unstable. We're not sure what is going to happen there yet. So we made the decision this morning to give notice to our darling, overpriced house.

We plan to move on Thanksgiving Weekend. We plan to stay through summer and then..... -- well we don't know for certain but let's just say we are damn tired of not setting down roots, not owning a house and the constant stomachaches of life here.


  • $2550 will no longer be going out of our account for our landlord's retirement. Therefore we will make unprecedented financial progress over the next 8-9 months.
  • We will be close to our old friends from preschool and playgroup.
  • I will be in walking distance to my therapist, which is good because I'll probably spend all the rent savings on that. (Just kidding Jeff.)


  • Jeff will be gone 12 hours a day again with the commute.
  • We will not have any privacy from Jaden for months on end.
  • Jaden and I will not be able to swing by and visit Jeff at work spontaneously.
  • I will not be able to host any kindergarten playdates for Jaden.
  • We will not have our own home and our own space to be a family.
  • Jackson is extremely anxious at my MIL's.

There is a whole category of social losses for Jeff and me that I really don't care to list because I will get too upset.

The bottom line is I never looked back after we left San Jose last September. I haven't missed it at all. This decision feels like moving backwards in every way but one, financial. But the financial reason weighs equal to or more than all the emotional, social, time CONS.

Jaden will be affected the least as I will do anything and everything to make it possible for him to succeed in school and continue socializing as he grows his friendships there. That is my job.

But people?

I am so worn out. I am not sure I have all this in me. I'm getting to the point I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, I am so beaten down. I love my town, I love my house, I love Jaden's school, I love(d) getting a text from my husband that he was on his way home and seeing his sweet face 10 minutes later.

And it's all gone now in just a matter of weeks. I will have to make a new mantra: two steps backward, one step forward; 35 miles south, 658 miles north to real home ownership and the stability I have craved my entire life.

I am sad and heartsick and will probably take some form of hiatus from posting here. But since I stupidly signed up for NaBloPoMo, you'll be able to find me every day at Wee Festivity.


This is some driftwood I passed on the beach in Pajaro Dunes.

A week went by in the following ways: a PET scan and results*, a weekend trip to the beach with family and the first sickness of the season has set up camp. I will catch up eventually!

*The scan results were better than expected; there are no new areas of cancer, two of the prior three decreased a little and the third increased as I knew it had. I am holding steady Freddy. No treatment yet, next scan in February.