Living (not grieving) beside Judith

The majority of my posts on this blog about my mother, Judith Puotinen, have focused on grieving for her. ┬áThis summer I hope to write about my memories of living beside her for 35 years. Of course, my grief still exists (it won’t ever end), but it should not be my only connection to her. I need to find ways to re-connect with her joy, creativity and fabulous troublemaking spirit.

Last July my sisters and I divvied up my mom’s journals and notebooks from my parent’s basement. Almost a year later, I finally have some time to look through them. In one notebook, I found a talk that my mom gave to a women’s club (I think she wrote and gave this talk while in remission–in 2007?) entitled, “Creativity and Weaving : A Journey of the Soul.” While I enjoyed reading the entire talk (before she got really sick I think she was hoping to give this talk to many other organizations), I was particularly struck by her discussion of the challenges of creating.* She writes:

In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about a character in her head that she labels, “The Censor.” The censor is a nasty internal and eternal critic who resides in our left brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as truth. Things like, “You can’t call yourself a weaver. That last piece was a pile of junk. What makes you think you can be creative?…” and so on.

The rule I try to remember here is that my Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth. One way I deal with this is to keep a journal. My journal might be on paper or it could be in the form of a collection of weavings that I just keep on producing. I have a record in front of me of what I can do. Another thing that is very effective is to personify the Censor and paste its picture on the wall and throw darts at it. I have done that as well.

I read this and laughed out loud (luckily I was by myself). I wonder if her audience laughed at this line about the darts?

I love what my mom writes about her weavings as a form of journal “writing” that enables her to prove what she can do. This line makes me think about my blogging and how and why I write. And I love her comment about the dartboard. I remember that dartboard. It was in our basement (well, at least in one or two of our basements. We moved around a lot). I also remember her telling me that she loved to play darts. She never said why…Now I know.

I do have one memory of her in the basement by the dartboard. Her lips are pursed and she is aiming the dart with quite a bit of determination and a playful twinkle in her eye. It’s a wonderful memory to have. To me, it speaks to her refusal to give in to the Censor and her great sense of humor.

*Note on may 21, 2011: My mom organized this talk around different shawls that she had made. Her section on the challenges of creativity involved her putting on a blue shawl. When I get a picture of this shawl, I will post it here.

5 thoughts on “Living (not grieving) beside Judith”

  1. I laughed out loud at the part about the dartboard too. (FWA, sitting next to me, asked what I was laughing about.)

    Reading this and your subsequent post about teaching on the day your mom died, I really see how both of you are/were natural teachers… teaching in a world that doesn’t necessarily honor the true nature of the profession.

    It’s great that you have these memories to hold onto. And even though I wasn’t there with you when your mom was throwing darts, your description evokes vivid images in my mind of the expression she must have had on her face at the time, and it makes me glad I have memories of her too.

  2. Thanks for your comment here STA–I really appreciate it. I think we might have some footage of my mom throwing darts up at the farm–I hope so. Once I am able to transfer the tapes (uh hum), I will look for it and maybe post it here.

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