During the second half of my first semester I experienced a really difficult pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage in December. It was a horrible experience. The whole pregnancy was a painful experience but it wasn’t until the final ultrasound that doctors confirmed it was an unusually difficult experience for me. They concluded, “you have been experiencing chronic emotional and physical pain for 3 months,” as they said my symptoms were extreme.
Unfortunately this took me away mentally and emotionally from my degree. I couldn’t focus on anything at all. I had insomnia for months but laid in bed all day unable to do something as simple as reading becuase I had no attention span from my extreme fatigue. I had really bad cramping the entire 3 months and my hormone levels were exceptionally high. It turns out our Wild Rice as we called her had a genetic disorder called Monosomy X where the fetus only develops one chromosome.
During this time I was also faced with a lot of feelings around becoming a mother which led me to a self exploration about femininity. I realized how much my negative outlook of femininity was impacting me and my experience in the world. All discomfort aside it was making me very uncomfortable with becoming a mother, the loss of autonomy, feeling trapped, unable to be me and to be free. It was almost as if I put my exploration of sustainability on hold though I was also aware at the core of my being that this ultimately was going to be a large part of what it takes for us to transition to a circular economy.
So for my first studio prompt I was obsessed with the idea of exploring where I developed my core beliefs around femininity. I started with journalling and drawing a page a day. Unfortunately I also got Covid my first week back at school so I was completely exhausted and journalling a page a day was about all I could take. Now feeling like I have been stuck in my bed for the better part of 4 moths but unable to do anything I was itching to get creative so I also wanted to incorporate watercolour painting into the experience. Unfortunately I didn’t plan this out well since I had Covid and was unable to leave the house for a period of time and had gotten rid of my painting supplies about a year ago. As soon as I could venture out of the house again I popped down to Opus and picked up a little case of paints. I was planning on making 7 pages but I only got 5 done forgetting how long it takes to paint and allow watercolour to dry between sections.
For the first page I just recounted my miscarriage and why I was doing this exploration.
I recounted my initial thoughts on femininity through my experiences as a child with my mother. My father was a geologist and always away on adventures like a modern day Indiana Jones while my mother appeared to be trapped and depressed taking care of the kids. I am sure I blamed myself for her trappedness though there were other reasons for this to which I was rather unaware.
Puberty was really hard on me because it started so early. I had been one of the boys and going through puberty felt like it outted me for something I didn’t want them to know. It made me feel like an outcast and all alone.
My experience with private school uniforms and the hell being a child in a skirt every day brought at recess. It was like having a handicap, not being able to participate in the same way the pantsed folks could.
Entering 7th grade as a fully developed woman made me stand out. At first it was exciting having the attention but it quickly switched to painful as roumours spread about someone I clearly was not. I began to hide myself behind baggy clothing and long hair.
Obviously I didn’t go as deep as I would have liked to for this project, I think I tried to put too many things into too short a time but I am glad I got this step out of the way. I have spent a lot of time thinking about where I got my impressions of femininity over the past many months and I am now interested in incorporating a practice of femininity into sustainability. I am not sure where that is leading me to yet but I know there is a deep connection. With all our language about nature being feminine such as Mother Nature, Gaya, birth and reincarnation filled with cycles and fertility. Perhaps we have been addressing sustainability with too masculine an outlook trying to put things into rigid boxes, compartmentalize, systematize, and institutionalize in ways that just don’t work for nature. Perhaps it is the exploration of femininity that will lead me to the next step in sustainability. Perhaps it is just the next step in freeing myself so I can move towards more important work. Perhaps it is just preparing me to get ready to welcome the next generation of eco-warriors.