© 2014 jen

Retracted: Death, Loss and Dreams

I’ve been retracted all week.

Like an ink pen. The kind you click the top of to put it back in its plastic shell for protection.

I’ve been needing protection from all of the things pulling at me.

It all started crashing down a few weeks ago. I was so busy helping friends and family who needed my help, and I was glad to help them, but I felt like I was being pulled farther and farther away from myself.

Then I found out a childhood friend died. She drank herself to death.

She and I were so alike as teens. We were both artists who didn’t know our talents yet, and we were both from difficult homes. We got into a lot of trouble together, trying to work out our inner struggles with our lives and with ourselves, while in pursuit of a good time.

And now, this person who was so close to me at one time, so much like me at one time, has passed on because of how she chose to take care of herself – or, how she chose not to take care of herself.

When I found out, I cried many tears for her and for myself too. I cried for the misunderstood, trouble-making kids we used to be. I cried for everyone who doesn’t get what they need out of life. I cried for the people who gave up on living and opted out early.

I wrote a text to a friend last week to excuse myself from a social engagement and mistakenly said, “I’m in a hermit right now,” which is my favorite new saying, because that’s about as reclusive as you can get, being in a hermit. That’s where I’ve been.

All of these things are resting on the heels of the decision to discontinue The Maven Circle.  In case you didn’t know, The Maven Circle was the business that Jena Coray and I have been running for the last three years, and it was a project that was close to my heart.

Jena and I are still good friends and I have no doubt we’ll work together in the future, but not as business partners. This is something that needed to happen. Jena was really struggling with balance, and I haven’t really put the proper time into developing my blog the way I have wanted to because I was busy making The Maven Circle my priority.

Saying goodbye to The Maven Circle is really like giving up a dream. I was already experiencing feelings of loss that I thought I just might shake in a few days, then I got too busy to focus on myself, and then my friend passed away.

It’s been too many things. Many of them small, some of them big and now I’m retracted and living in a hermit.

When you’re living in a hermit the world is different.
It’s quieter, except for your own voice in your head, which can get quite noisy sometimes.
In hermit habitat the world seems to turn on its axis more slowly.

photo1Here’s a photo I took last week while contemplating life at the rhoddy garden by my house.

I’ve excavated parts of my home that I was no longer acknowledging as being parts of my home, due to their mess levels: messy closets, the cluttered pantry, kitchen backsplashes that I hadn’t noticed or chose to ignore that were so dirty, and all of them are now clean and organized.

It’s funny how a closet can seem like such a big task when you’re a “normal” person. You might put it on a to-do list, with a check box next to it, but then you find a hundred other things to do rather than cleaning out the closet. Until someone dies or until you no longer have the business you spent years working on – then you think, “This closet is manageable. I can quiet this chaos. I can fix THIS.” I don’t recommend the loss part as a prequel to housework, but if you’ve got it – it’s amazing the mundane chores you can take on in this state of mind.

 It’s a thinky time. So much thinking. So much dreaming, and do you know what I’ve been dreaming of? Art. Making art.

At night I’m dreaming in vivid art projects. I’m dreaming of crocheted wall art, crocheted rugs, of the macrame ukulele strap that I want to make and of a new dress that I already bought fabric for.

I’m feeling the pull again. I NEED to make art. I NEED to design.

There is a hunger in most artists that can only be satiated with making art. That part of me has been asleep in the recent past, until now.

I’ve found myself wondering if a little piece of my friend’s spirit broke off when she died. That piece of her that needed to make art left her. This little bit of hungry artist from her wasn’t as ready to leave this world as she was. It had no place to go and it landed in me.

Crochet, macrame and sewing are the art forms I practiced most when I was a teenager and child, and these are the forms of art I’m dreaming of now. I spent so much of my life fully immersed in these media. I made macrame until I discovered crochet, and I have been sewing  my entire life, until I got really sick a year and half ago and was diagnosed with celiac disease. That’s when my art making pretty much stopped and I started writing, which I ‘d never done before.

I’ve spent the last year and a half focused on self care. I still make things daily, but more in the realm of healthy food and personal care products, and then there’s my ukulele. I’ve been making music this whole time during my healing process, which is definitely a form of art, but different from my former handcrafted nature.

You’ve heard of a pregnant woman eating for two, well, I think in the future I might be making art for two.

It’s a time of renewal, discovery and gentle care, hinged together with sadness.

As a younger person I would have felt confused and troubled by all of these complex feelings, but as a more experienced feeler of feelings I know that this too shall pass, so I’ll continue to be retracted, in a hermit, dreaming of art for two, cleaning, organizing and thinking until I’m ready to poke the tip of my ink pen back out into the world again.

Do you hear that? It’s art. It’s calling me. Does it call you too?




  1. Kari
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:07 am | #

    I sure do like you and I’m so glad you’re here, Jen.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 10:18 am | #

      I feel the same way, Kari! xoxo

  2. Nicole B
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:40 pm | #

    I know how hard it is to let things go. But sometimes letting things go means new things can jump into your lap!
    Thanks for your transparency and your wonderful heart to give to others!
    The Maven Circle was a beautiful season in your life. There’s a new season coming.

    • Posted May 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm | #

      Thank you, Nicole! xoxo

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