Monday, February 8, 2016

6 Months of Grief Project: Day 3

Tools of a Widow

This is Day 3 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.

Well, we're getting racy already and it's only Day 3! My apologies if you are shocked by what you see in today's images. I think sex, especially women's sexuality and specifically widow's sexuality is still a taboo in our culture and that really enrages me. It is yet another way that women are silenced, that our power is muffled and that we are made to feel shame and judgment about something that is completely natural.

I'm 43-years-old and have lost my love and my lover. Suddenly, my bed is empty. It's cold and lonely. But facing the prospect of dating at this moment in my life is unthinkable. I need people around me who love and care for me, not awkward coffee dates with strangers. Now, I have been spending some time with a sweet, sexy friend from the past, which I highly recommend if you are a new widow and have this kind of person in your life. It's easy and comfortable, because he knows me and cares for me and I know him and trust him. We are clear about boundaries and we have no illusions about what this relationship could or could not be.

When we first started spending time together, I felt a lot of guilt and shame. But then I realized that the very FIRST person to encourage me to have pleasure and intimate connection with another human being, would be my husband. 

Another aspect of sudden widowhood that hit me out of nowhere is a much higher sex drive, stemming from deep grief. All widows grieve differently, but my grief seems to include a deep desire for sex. Since I can't see my friend every day(!), I've had to make use of a tool to help out with that, and I think it's pretty clear what that tool is...


If you want to see an animated GIF of this image, check out my Instagram feed.

The other tool featured in this image is a giant butcher's cleaver. I chose this particular knife for this photo because my husband was the one who used the cleaver in the house. He was a lover of meat (his last name was Hunter, after all!) and he was always grilling up something delicious for us to eat. He was also a frugal meat buyer, so he would always bring home whole chickens, or large pig parts from a nearby farm and chop it up in our kitchen with his trusty meat cleaver. This was his job and he loved it. I would never have taken up that cleaver when he was alive.

But now he is dead and I have to take care of myself. I taught myself how to use it correctly, and keep it sharp. A widow needs her tools. What are your tools, as you grieve your loss?

I welcome any kind of support or connection around this grieving process. Connecting with other widows has been one of my life savers, so feel free to comment here, or connect with me on my InstagramTwitterFacebook and/or Pinterest page on Grief.

And since I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:

Thank you, and see you tomorrow.



Sunday, February 7, 2016

6 Months of Grief Project: Day Two


This is Day 2 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.

My husband ran a wild, chaotic business where he bought and sold things. He had never been a very organized person, and it drove me crazy going to his warehouse and wading through the boxes, watching him frantically look for a marker, or a pair of scissors when I know he has bought at least 20 of each over the last few months. I tried to help him get organized, but he seem to take great offense at it - like I was criticizing him, when in reality, I just wanted to help him have a little more calm and order so that he could run his business more efficiently.

The first 2 months after he died, I had to clean out his entire warehouse and shut down his business. When I look back on those months, I am shocked that I accomplished so much (and definitely could not have accomplished all I did without the incredibly generous help of many, many, many people). My husband's warehouse was not just his business, it was also his art studio, costume shop, alchemical lab, and leather crafting space. What I did not sell or give away, I brought back to our tiny house, where it all has been sitting in piles and boxes and stacks.

Some of my husband's "After Life Coaching" as my friend Kevin named it.

Every week, I have been tackling one box. Since my husband was so incredibly chaotic, every box has a wild assortment of stuff stuck in it - from receipts, to vintage glass bottles, to a fully taxidermied fox. Sometimes the boxes have personal letters, or journals in them, and when I find these I am gutted. The air leaves my lungs suddenly and I fall to the floor in a sobbing heap of loss and grief. My husband wrote in his journal every single day, and I have his journals that go all the way back to middle school. I feel strange reading them - he was so private, and would have been enraged if I had ever read them without his permission. But he is gone now, and reading his words and mystical musings make me smile and cry and miss him even more. He was a true spiritual seeker, and he often wrote about his ideas about life and death and God. My friend Kevin calls these pieces of ephemera "After Life Coaching," which couldn't be more perfect.

So today, Day 2 of my 6 Months of Grief Project, I spent sorting and organizing. I sat on my little knitted hassock and I sorted screws and nails and needles and threads. I counted 15 hammers, 27 pairs of scissors and more permanent markers than any one woman should own. I have laughed and cried and felt like I couldn't go on. Tomorrow morning is the New Moon, and it makes sense that I would be pulled to do this work today. The New Moon always asks me to clear things our and start again.

Chaos before Order

There is a certain kind of empowerment in finally being able to make order out of the chaos that he lived in every day - the chaos he often forced me to live in. Please know, there is almost nothing I would not do to have him back in my arms, but part of the complicated feelings of being a widow is finally getting to do things like this. Finally getting to make order out of the chaos. Maybe it gives me the much needed illusion that I am in control of my life. Maybe sorting all these stupid nails into similar sizes gives me a chance to think that my life will some day make sense again. A life without him. A life on my own.

I welcome any kind of support or connection around this grieving process. Connecting with other widows has been one of my life savers, so feel free to comment here, or connect with me on my InstagramTwitterFacebook and/or Pinterest page on Grief.

And since I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:


Thank you, and see you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

6 Months of Grief Project: Day One



Tonight marks the 6 month anniversary of my husband's death. Exactly half a year ago, I kissed my husband goodnight as he curled up next to me. About two hours later, his body started to convulse and within an hour he was dead. He was only 40-years old. He passed away right at the threshold of midnight, so I will forever see his death date as spanning two days and one night.

Anniversaries are brutal for sudden widows, not to mention any other survivor of the sudden death of a loved one, and hitting the half-year mark has been particularly painful. Time does not always heal. It can often feel like a thief in the night, who steals your loved one away from you - marking the days, weeks, months and then years that you are without them.

Since creating art and making is my spiritual practice, I have decided that I must return to making art every day around my grief. I have always really thrived with these kinds of daily practices, and I think this daily commitment will hold me in my grief as I get through these next 6 months. Now, that's not to say that I have not been creating over these past 6 months. You can see some of what I have created on my Instagram feed, as well as listening to my radio shows on Grief. But those moments have been sporadic and if I am to make it through these next 6 months, I really need a daily practice. So I am making a commitment, on this most important night, to my #6MonthsOfGrief Project.

Rest in Power, My Beloved Bear

6 Months of Grief Project

Every day, for the next 6 months, I will create and share one creative piece, every day. My favorite media in the past has included drawing, painting, photography, writing and my radio program. I also will be doing rituals, which always have a creative component to them. I will share what I create here, on my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest page on Grief, and I will use the hashtag #6MonthsOfGrief, so it can easily be found on any platform.

The project will have an arbitrary ending on the one-year anniversary of his death. I hope that I keep creating art long after that, but all projects like this need an end date and I hope that the last offering in this project is a one-year grief ritual, honoring this year of living with grief.

I welcome any kind of support or connection around this process. Connecting with other widows has been one of my life savers.

Some Grief Support That Has Helped Me

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Grief & Loss

My husband and I at Francis Ford Coppola Winery


For those of you who do not know, my husband passed away suddenly in early August 2015. I am deep loss and grief, but I managed to record an episode of my radio show, Spilling Rubies, that focuses on this difficult time as I navigate this great loss.

I want to write more about this process, but for now, these are some great resources for your own grief process:
Thanks for your support. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Power of Revolutionary Art

Here I am wandering around the Napa Valley Ruins & Gardens Tour, hosted by the American Canyon Arts Foundation


I was quoted in the American Canyon Eagle this week, talking about the power of revolutionary art!

Some of the visitors on Saturday, like Petaluma artist Tristy Taylor, would be pleased if the city left the site as is with its graffiti, towering weeds and abundant plant life. “I think it’s beautiful,” said Taylor, whose own work includes painting, sculpting and embroidery. “I’m glad I got to see it now, today, in this decaying archaic form. It really reminds me of visiting the Greek ruins.” Hearing that the development project may include new art on the site, Taylor said she’s happy that commissioned work is part of the plan. But that’s not the same thing as having “free-form, revolutionary, out-of-the-box, in-the-moment creativity displayed on the walls here. I’m glad they’re thinking about including artists in the new development,” said Taylor. “But it’s not going to feel like this feels, and that’s a loss.”

I love these little moments of connection and inspiration.