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On Letting Myself Off the Hook

On Letting Myself Off the Hook

When I first started this blog, I named it Koru, one of the classic shapes of a Maori jade necklace. It represents not only the unwinding spiral of a new fern shoot, but all new beginnings and personal growth. I have worn a double koru necklace daily for over ten years. It was a gift from my husband that symbolized our growth together, and the hope that our trip to New Zealand in 2007 would one day lead to a new life in that land.

Not without irony, my immediate pregnancy made us put our dream on hold, to stay closer to family. But New Zealand was only one dream of many. Earning a living as an artist had already peaked in a frenzy of overwork. Once I was able to quit my job and put both kids in daycare for at least a few hours, my interests turned back towards long-neglected writing projects.

This was it, a new calling! I poured myself into my novels, nonsensically burning the candle at both ends even as I sleep-trained my toddlers. As a mother, I learned a new level of work ethic. Anything else felt like stagnation as a person, as a creator with her own mind and goals.

All along, I wore my koru, not knowing if or when the dreams could unfold. Its gentle weight in the notch of my neck became part of me.

The next sea change came on election night 2016. The only good thing about that result was in our clarity of purpose - it was time for New Zealand. Time to dismantle, uproot, start over.

One thing I was very sorry to lose was my writing community, all the events and industry connections, and the stability to get my work done. With nearly all my productivity and vision turned to moving out, visas, and other never-ending logistics, my creativity would be sidelined. But, importantly, I had learned by then that you can only do one thing well at a time.

I let myself off the hook. I had experienced many seasons in my creativity, and I knew that my ideas never died. It was time for my books to go dormant, along with this blog.

Two years later, we were officially immigrants. Now weary of travel and homeschooling, settled in a new home with all our favorite possessions again, we could exhale a bit. My husband was in a new job and the kids happily adjusted to their school. That didn't stop me from complaining to one of my friends that I can never seem to finish my projects. She had to point out that she knew lots of people who had vowed they would move away in case of electoral disaster, but only one who had actually done it.

The necklace picture above is not my koru. It's a near match that I gifted my husband on our return to NZ, in the same shade of jade, but a hybrid design. Along with the koru swirl, it incorporates the hook of strength and the infinity twist of paths that always part and reunite.

So what does that mean for me? Time for another new beginning. You'd think it would be getting back to my books. It's not unusual for friends to ask how my writing is going. But in the same quixotic manner as ever, another old passion has floated to the top - the dream to teach belly dance.

It takes strength to let yourself off the hook, especially when you are a mother, especially if you have more ideas than you can ever finish. Guilt is a snare that strangles dreams faster than anything. I'm not a simple creature, but I need to keep life simple. Do one thing well. At least, one thing at a time.

I know myself well enough now that I can accept this season of my creativity, with faith that it will be fruitful in some way, and that the other facets of myself will push back up into the light when they feel like it. Spiraling, twisting, hooking me again.

I haven't updated this blog in a long time because my writer self is not fully awake (except when it is). When I want to write, it will be here. And so, perhaps, will you.