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Roadmaps, Love Stories, + Adoption

You may have noticed my absence. My art facebook page has been stagnant, my Society 6 store remains un-updated, and my Etsy shop has been in "Vacation Mode" for a long while. I haven't been updating my website with new pieces each month and I haven't been accepting commissions this year. I'm not even participating in the annual local art festival "Arts in the Heart" later this month (which, by the way, is my favorite festival of all time + something I've poured energy into and participated in for the past 3 years.)

I've changed in BIG ways this year...there's no doubt about it.

So if you only know me based on who I was one year ago, you really don't know me at all.

My growth game is strong. Allow me to reintroduce myself....

I'm Kristen. I'm a wife, daughter, sister, lover-of-life, teacher, creator, and mother-to-be.

I'm stronger today than I was one year ago, and yet I know that next year I'll be much stronger than I feel today. Some people claim to have strength based on how much they can lift. But I'm not stronger because I've been lifting more. In fact, I'm carrying less than ever. I'm stronger because I've been learning how to let go, breathe deeply, and lean into my faith.

Can we rewind for a sec? It'll be quick, I swear.

Andy and I have wanted to become parents for a LONG time. We were one of those naive couples who firmly decided, before marriage, that we'd have 3 children...2 girls and 1 boy. (The boy would be our "middle child," of course, so he could look up to his big sister and fiercely protect his younger one.) We selected their names, of course, and how many years they'd be spaced out. Oh, and we wouldn't wait too long after getting married to have them. Because...Why wait?

I know...looking back it was positively ridiculous for us to think we had so much CONTROL. Comical, even. And as you probably imagined, things didn't go as WE had planned. Or hoped. Or prayed for. We love each other and leaned on one another SO MUCH, but it felt like the world was crumbling all around us. It felt like no one understood the cycle of grief we were going through. Expectant parents one minute...and completely shattered the next. We kept our long string of heartbreaks private as we smiled through the pain and fawned over everyone else's babies.

Exactly 9 months ago, we reached a turning point. Andy and I made the joyous decision to pursue domestic infant adoption. Our longing to become parents weighed us down for years, so our hearts lifted up the moment we opened up and shared our story. Below is the announcement we shared with social media earlier this summer.

The announcement we shared with social media. We were greeted by a giant wave of love and support. Being open and vulnerable about your personal life can be REALLY scary, but it can also feel REALLY liberating. Secrets can weigh you down and there's no benefit to holding on to them if it doesn't suit you.

By opening up, we were greeted by a giant wave of love and support. Being open and vulnerable about your personal life can be REALLY scary, but it can also feel REALLY liberating. Almost the deepest sigh of relief. Secrets can weigh you down and there's no point of holding on to them if you can move past that initial fear of opening up. So we set up a private Instagram account called @roadmaptobabyH. It was perfect because this storytelling platform enabled us to connect with others (many who have walked this path) and share our day-to-day story without bombarding others.

Adoption is hard, you guys. All of the unknowns can seem to stretch out before you like a shadowy have no idea where you're going or how long it will take you to get there. And you have no idea what the view will look like once you arrive. As we were following our tattered roadmap through adoption, I tried to carry on with my artwork. I tried painting the way I've always painted, but the imagery felt forced. I was mirroring a previous version of myself and what I was doing just didn't feel relevant anymore. Art was not supposed to make me feel "stuck," it was supposed to make me feel "unstuck."

I needed to keep creating (for my own sanity,) but I also needed to take the pressure off of myself. So I redefined "Art." I stripped the "make-promote-sell" aspect from the creation equation. I decided that from this point on, "art-making" would NOT be a separate "sit-down-in-your-studio" activity..."art-making" would be woven into my daily life. What if I could turn ever little endeavor into a work of art?

Putting together our profile books= Art

Sending embellished thank-you cards= Art

Repurposing old furniture for our nursery= Art

Capturing + captioning fleeting moments= Art

Sharing my heart on Instagram= Art

Arranging picture frames on our nursery wall= Art

Keeping an illustrated journal throughout the process= Art

See what I mean? Not only did redefining of "Art" take away the GUILT I felt for NOT cranking out allowed me to pour my stored up magic into the everyday tasks. It allowed me to spread my fingertips across so many mediums I hadn't deeply explored. This was and IS our story- our chaotic, fascinating, detour-riddled story that didn't go as planned. And so I began telling it in the best way that I knew how.

After all...what is art, if not the most intimate form of storytelling?

Some pages from our Journal, "While We Were Waiting"

Many adoptive parents hold off on their nurseries until things are set in stone, but we wanted to release our intentions out into the universe. It brought us peace and helped solidify the notion that our child will come. We will become parents.

Once an empty room. Now an installation of found objects that we have pieced together. The scene has been set. The paintings on the wall are waiting for you.

Social media IS kind of like one big gallery show. We're all just picking and choosing which slivers of self-portraits and autobiographies we want to nail to the wall for others to see. Many people stroll by, glancing over their shoulders at the parts of your life you put on display. Some people will walk right up to your thickly textured canvas and try to take it all in. Some people will love it, some people will hate it, and many people will feel indifferent. What about when we leave our own posts and browse through the stories of others? How will we react? But to me, the most fascinating thing is how we reflect on our own stories that we have woven together.

There has been something magical about purposefully recording and sharing this journey as it has unfolded. I think it's because we've crossed a line...and EVERYTHING has become far more personal. There's no turning back.

Vincent Van Gogh said, "There is nothing more artistic than to love people."

And I'll tell you what-----our love runs deep.

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

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