It’s been months, going on years now, of rolling around in the goo.
In 2020 I let go of my business and my identity. I became pregnant and then, mother to my darling Violet. I’ve since been taking time to focus on motherhood, while also allowing myself to exist in this liminal state — the sticky, gooey cocoon of time between two phases of your life, when you don’t yet know exactly who you are becoming.
I’ve been leaning into it all. The discomfort. The unknown. Who am I without my title, my achievements? What is it that I really want to do? I’ve been learning, excavating, allowing, exploring.
All of that work has led me here.
The spark has returned.
Earlier this week, just after midnight and auspiciously almost down to the minute of the Aquarius new moon, I was suddenly jolted awake — to an idea, to a dream, to the thing I want to do most.
I haven’t been getting much sleep since. The vision is so strong and clear, and I’m having trouble shutting it off, even (especially) at 3am. The strangest thing is, I’ve been starting my day at 4am, or even 3am, or maybe waiting to get out of bed until 5 after having laid awake from 12:45 onward — yet I feel fine the next day. Able to tend to my darling V all day, even doing my pilates in the evenings as I usually like to do. I don’t know what this means, to be functional on so little sleep, but it feels a bit magical.
I’m sure I will be sharing more details about this next chapter here at some point but for now I am holding it close, in these sacred early days. 🌱
For now I just want to say, damn — timing really is everything. It is all such a beautiful, winding path that has led me here. And never before could it have made sense the way it does now. So much within me and my life has had to grow and evolve for this to be possible.
If anyone out there is in a period of unknown, swirling around in that discomfort, I hope this little note can bring you some relief — to know you are in the right place. Stick with it, stick with yourself. It’s the only way to make progress.
It’s clear now that I had to make peace with myself, to get to know who I am underneath all of the doing and distraction, to forge the space for this seed to grow.
Writing here has helped me to clarify, to distill. In last week’s letter I wrote about a process of analyzing the way I spend my time. Looking at every project, every habit, every default. Is this what I really want to be doing? Is it adding meaning to my life? All of those idle moments on Instagram add up. Do I truly care about making YouTube videos, or is this something I’ve been doing because it’s easy or because a brand reached out or simply because I need to be doing something?
I will, of course, continue to write. But I do think that allowing my writing to not be such a grand focus for me is healthy, to take the pressure off of it, because as I like to say, I am a “baby writer” and a baby-anything should feel no pressure to grow or to improve or to be good, for that matter — no, it should simply be offered nourishment and love, tools and knowledge and space to flourish and unfold in its own authentic way.
I’d like to continue on with this newsletter for this reason, though I’m not sure exactly how it will look as things move forward. Nor have I any idea of how long that will take, this “moving forward,” because I am in no rush to move quickly or make things happen as I used to do. I am all too content to be here in this moment, to know this feeling of purpose, to be Violet’s mama. To trust that I will indeed be able to balance at all, because it’s all up to me.
As always, thank you for being a part of my journey.
Sending all my love to you on your own,
In the Studio
I’ve started a new rule that Fridays are painting days. Maybe with my new focus I will find myself wanting to paint more often, but for now I like having this as a rule, to carve this time out for myself. I’ve taken to listening to all my favorite songs as I paint, volume way up high on my headphones, singing and dancing around my studio as I work. It is so freeing, such an escape to lose myself in my own little world for an hour or two. And so needed in this phase of life as a mama.
I was planning to start a writing course next week, but I’m thinking of cancelling, only because there are some classes I want to take in preparation for my new venture. I’d love to still take the writing class in addition, but I have to be realistic in terms of how much time I have.
Good God, the obsession with Violet… it’s impossible. My best little friend. I find myself sitting behind her, setting up the mirror so that I can watch her face as she plays. How I love to watch her discover the world, to hear her first little sounds. (Even the not so little ones, as she is quite an expressive soul — i.e. Jared’s daughter, i.e. lots of baby yelling, currently.)
I found one of her first little diapers as I was cleaning out her closet the other day and just about died. The tininess! How has this happened?
She is proving to be the world’s best eater, people are in shock when they see the way she takes the spoon from my hand and so deftly feeds herself. For breakfast I like to give her oatmeal mixed with a little mushed banana, almond butter, ground flax, and cinnamon — though this week I switched up the cinnamon for some passion fruit puree I had in the freezer. For lunch, she has been loving to nibble a big slice of mozzarella cheese along with an accompaniment like roasted winter squash wedges or portobello mushroom strips, or here’s another that she loved: a little caprese salad of tomatoes and strawberries that I chopped up finely and mixed with a bit of olive oil and balsamic. Avocado toast works well for breakfast or lunch, topped with sesame seeds and a gentle squeeze of lime, and for dinner she would surely tell you her favorite is sweet potato, which I will just bake and feed her the insides with a spoon, that or steamed broccoli, also a fave, maybe with some mashed beans or a protein like chicken breast, another fave. We gave her salmon for the first time this week (see the recipe below; I just omit the salt from a piece on the end and reserve that for her.) So far, there is nothing Miss Violet doesn’t like.
There could be a whole other newsletter on Dining with Violet, so I better stop now. The joke is that she eats better than most adults, which is probably true.
From My Country Kitchen
Here’s a great, simple salmon preparation that I’ve made a ton. If you don’t have a NY Times cooking subscription, the idea is simple: a little mix of whole grain dijon, maple syrup, and mayonnaise along with tons of chopped cilantro stems (reserving the leaves for garnish) is applied to the salmon before slow-roasting.
I am in the mood for fish a lot lately, as we have a wonderful new fish market in town. This weekend we are having friends stay the night, and I am thinking it will be fish as well. A platter of fluke topped with a vibrant winter slaw of citrus, olives, fennel… something like that. I will serve it with something warm and hearty on the side, probably roast acorn squash as I have one sitting on my counter, rubbed with a spice or two, and maybe a pistachio couscous or rice pilaf as well. Though I also have an eggplant I’d like to use…
My friend who is visiting has requested a very decadent little chocolate-olive oil cake that I made years ago, that funny enough I think I made for Valentine’s Day, which is now approaching. So perhaps I will share that recipe with you if I can dig it up.
Hudson Valley Life
We are definitely settling into life here, as I’ve realized that so much of what had me craving being back in the city had to do with Violet being a newborn. No, I very much do not recommend doing the newborn phase isolated in the middle of the woods, if you can avoid it. But now that we are in these glorious post-newborn days and months with her, it’s feeling so much better, even if it is the dead of winter and there isn’t much to do, which feels very promising in terms of what the future may hold.
I am pleased to report that my new friendship is also blossoming, which I’m sure is making life here feel that much fuller. I’ve been going over there once a week (her babe is still a wee-one) and we had a lunch date so the husbands could meet, which was a great success. Now we just need, like, one or two more great restaurants to take our talents to, and Garrison really will have it all. Or it will be enough.
I’m almost done with the last book in Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic series, which I have enjoyed immensely. My favorite was probably Rules of Magic, because I do love historical fiction taking place in New York City, and this combined with my favored themes of witchcraft and magic was just 👌. Another old favorite I must mention, because I just learned that my new local friend had her bat mitzvah in this theme and in that moment I knew we were kindred spirits of another level, and that is Mists of Avalon, which she so aptly described at “feminist King Arthur” and oh my god, this is one of my favorite books on the planet. In case you really need to lose yourself in another world for a while.
And speaking of historical fiction taking place in New York, I am loving the Gilded Age, from the creator of Downton Abbey — and while it is decidedly not as good as Downton Abbey, I mean how could anything ever compare, I do enjoy the portrayal of the city in the late 1900s. This is a great show to watch sans husband, which for me makes it feel like that much more of a treat, like eating good dark chocolate in bed, though one does have to be careful doing so in white sheets, I’ve learned.