Often I find myself wanting to mental click command + z during the day. Or, when bold Margot is trying to pick up italic Ruby and I sense imminent disaster, I think how nice it would be to command + x Margot and paste her on the couch with a book. And then open Ruby with a new application.

These shortcuts that my fingers effortlessly maneuver when I am at my computer to assist with easy and quick editing. I imagine what life would be like if we could highlight the task at hand and drag it to an earlier point in the day and then automate the batch. Or, if we could collect ideas in a trash can and then remove the contents forever never to be considered again.

Whenever we get a healthy drop of snow I feel like the universe clicked refresh. The same January page loads but there’s new content and new composition.

blizzardy walk home from the grocery store

I feel refreshed. The weekend has passed and I no longer have a fear of drowning in snot. I have wonderfully sore yoga muscles and renewed creative synapses. I am thankful to be feeling this way as I need to get on finishing work for my upcoming exhibition. It will be my first show in many years and I feel the usual recipe of emotion surrounding post-kid reentry into a passion: nervous/excited, confident/insecure.

When I struggle and have doubts, I am fueled by my kids. I think about what kind of model I want to be. I want them to know there are no guarantees when one sows a seed but that one will never realize the satisfaction and nourishment of harvest without digging, tending, cultivating, problem-solving, failing and, mostly, just trying. I am trying. Read more in this week’s mama digs: making art, making home.

39 Responses to refresh

  1. Kelle says:

    Nici, this is one of my favorite pieces of yours. Word choice and thoughts were exquisite in Mamadigs and your analogy in this post was so meaningful and relatable.

    Totally love it and going back to read it again.

    And the whole idea of art is open-mindedness and expression. I love that there is a vast world of ways to make art, to define it, to enjoy it, to stretch it. You do it in so many ways, Friend. And that is a true artist. xoxo

  2. Marti says:

    You are a wonderful artist! Of course I’ve never seen anything other than your pictures, words, and clothing but I can tell that creativeness oozes out of you! You have inspired me so much every since I came across your blog – you’re my favorite blogger, you write what I think in my head most of the time.

    In reading Kelle Hampton’s blog I was inspired to learn how you use my husbands camera…it’s been a slow process but I’m getting there – next step editing!

    In reading your blog I have been inspired to plant my very first garden this year. I spent many hours as a youngin’ helping my Grandmother and with her help and my mother-in-laws help it will happen this year…..and I started sewing – so far all I want to do is smash the machine with a bat but I’m able to laugh at myself and I’m getting there too!

    I want my daughter to be inspired by art and music like me and my husband are so I’m exposing her as much as possible. And I’m convinced that your two girls are bursting with the creative powers you are bestowing upon them!

  3. Becky says:

    LOVE this one.

  4. Terri Holt says:


    “Artist. Am I? Nah. Maybe? Why not.” Why not INDEED! Yes you are, in so may ways. I marvel at all you do, try & so gracefully succeed at. I am so looking forward to your Art Show….wonder what your next step into your world of art will unfold?

    Love you so….xoxo

  5. Jean says:


    Oh, Lord, I’m collecting dryer lint, too. If you want it I’ll forego it. I collect colored lint, not the drab stuff. It’s yours if you want it. There’s more where that comes from. I can mail it to you.

    “I want them to know there are no guarantees when one sows a seed but that one will never realize the satisfaction and nourishment of harvest without digging, tending, cultivating, problem-solving, failing and, mostly, just trying.” That’s well-said, sister.

  6. Laura says:

    Rock on! I can so relate to your desire to show up in your creative life, for your kids.

  7. NatureGirl says:

    I love sore yoga muscles and even the occasional blizzard. But I gotta say that post would probably be much funnier if I weren’t a mac user. I have no idea of half of what you said! ;)

  8. NatureGrrl, I use a mac…those are all mac shortcuts. So maybe you meant you are a pc grrl? Perhaps I should have included*

    *PC users: sub “ctrl” for for “command”

    Whether we are pc or mac we all have the same sore yoga muscles! ha. ;)

  9. Roxanne says:

    Funny how times have changed, I can remember a long time ago wanting to press pause on the VCR remote or mute my kid brother. Same wishes, new technology :)

  10. I can’t possibly articulate how badly I want to attend your exhibition.

    I know we decided that Montana and IN are actually quite near one another, but a closer look has me feeling that we may have been overly optimistic. ;)


    ps – What Kelle said about your analogies here. Brilliant.

  11. Daniele says:

    The universe is about to click refresh big time on our asses – 10 to 20 inches of snow expected in the Chicago area over the next couple of days!

    I love what you said about it feeling forced and natural all at the same time…I’ve experienced that feeling for sure.
    Can’t wait to see what you create! Lint balls, I’m already intrigued!

  12. RMAinMD says:

    ,,,this is why i “dig” you so,,,

    “I think about my kids, seasons, landfills, dust and physicality. These things inform my writing, my making, my art-making, my home-making.”

  13. nic says:

    i have a feeling you will be brilliant. and even more importantly, as you pointed out, the unspoken lessons your girls gather from your beautiful risk-taking will be worth it all.

  14. Love. :) I, too, sometimes think of my days as keyboard shortcuts. Glad to know there are others like me out there. ;)

  15. Melina says:

    YES! This is creativity and fun and awesome. COOL STUFF! I LOVE word play, and also the mental image of you zapping your daughter onto the couch with a book.
    I want to try it:

    I’ve been reading your blog and Kelle’s blog now for a little too long, and I should go open a new browser in me: writing Melina, not reading/gawking melina.


  16. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the wonderful words..very thought provoking, especially last paragragh.

    And for the record, I would LOVE a blizzard (not totally out of the question living in Western PA, but just can’t seem to score this year). Your photo of snow is great!

  17. Sarah says:

    awesome! i remember last time i was at your house you had some sculpture of pieces of measuring tape cut up and sown together. And remember your cow painting? i believe it won an award.

  18. Mihaela says:

    You are amazing. I would love to see your exhibit. I remember seeing the pillow mobile on your blog and L O V I N G it. Your art is so special. Good luck :)

  19. Jen says:


    This is just beautiful! You ARE and artist….and I am completely intruiged by the lint balls!

    Most important, what you are teaching your girls is priceless.
    I have no doubt your show will be a huge success, but regardless, doing what you love and expressing that for all to see is success already!

    Please let us know the dates!

  20. Joan Cline says:


    I want to take a risk. Hmmm maybe it will be that I strap on the old skis again on a Red Lodge blue sky day. I did risk life and limb yesterday when I put in that yoga tape. I thought yoga was just standing there raising your arms high over your head and then bringing them down in front in to a praying postition. Breath baby breath.

  21. Wendy says:

    Control F would be one of my go-to commands if I could transfer computer operations to the real world. ;)

  22. Monte8750 says:

    Trying…I am trying… I so get that and I so get the importance of that…I loved your post…and I loved the way it helped me validate my ‘everyday’ art and reminded me that art is constantly changing and made up of different and everchanging people, places, ideas, colors, light, lives, and beautiful effort…that’s what makes it art… Love your words, love this post… Thank you!!! Much Love, Val-Marie

  23. Tina says:

    You are totally going to rock your solo art exhibition. Being nervous is healthy… keeps us on our toes. I’m sure Ruby & Margot are going to be (and also currently are) super proud of their Mama and appreciate you being real with them as they grow and learn.

  24. Jennifer says:

    Being an artist myself I understand the jitters! It’s like being the nude model on your first day of figure drawing. Exposed and nervous!

    I love that you love where you live!


  25. Michele says:

    It’s amazing how kids can inspire us to do more, try more, want more. More more more. I think I am far more fearless now that I have two children. The fact that they are girls makes me want to be an even better example of a strong and creative woman.

    You’re going to rock their socks off :)

  26. Heidi says:

    Best of luck! Putting yourself out there, trying, opening yourself up… all wonderful examples for your wee ones.

  27. KWQR says:

    I definitely think there is an “art” to motherhood… to finding the beauty & creative fuel in the ways we spend our days. I have always struggled with the identity of an “artist” but have come to understand it as “one who sees”. Sees beyond what is already there… takes us along with them through painting or photography or other mediums. Art *is* life, seen through new eyes.
    She said, waxing all philosophical…

  28. Jeanne says:

    Most of the time when I read your posts I am mentally saying “right on!”. But tonight I am saying “RIGHT ON!!!”. I think you have put words to the concept I have been grappling with for over a week. I just gave birth to a darling little boy two weeks ago. And with such a major life change comes a major in depth review of yourself and what ideals you old dear. Figuring out what truly is important in not only your life but the lives of your little people is really a big deal. I think that with my parents visiting here to help out with the other kids while I gave birth really made me reflect on what being a mom is all about. Or at least what I want motherhood to be.

    My mom never showed me she was human. She never showed her happiness. She never showed her passions. She never showed her emotions. I think she was so wrapped up in the role of enforcer that she never was free to express herself to her kids. That made me sad to think that I will never really know my mom in a real way.

    Anyhow, thank you yet again for the inspiration.

    And I am partially jealous of your Montana snow…only partially.

  29. I love your article this week. I “get” the dichotomy that you’re feeling about defining yourself and your art. You’ve never stopped being an artist – your medium has just changed/shifted and your studio is now your house – so yes it’s different but you’re evolving. As a dancer, I always felt that you will never reach your ultimate potential because A) if you reach the top, the only direction to head is down, and B) life is an adventure of continual growth.

    And yes, I agree with comment that I have never felt more like myself thanks to birthing and to raising a child. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt stronger, more beautiful, and more inspired in my life.

    Glad to see that you’re refueling between snow and yoga. My refueling was taking Alex skating again with her best little friend on a warm day (40′s) with blue skies. It definitely was a Command + Z day.

    Wishing you all the best. Keep the butterflies fluttering inside. They are there for a purpose. :)

    -Jennifer from Annapolis

  30. TRB Holt says:

    (Font Color RED) I (Comic Sans MS) LOVE (Clrt+B) THIS (Clrt+Shift+P 72) !!!!!!!!

    xoxoxo, Mom

  31. What a strong mama role model you are, and an inspiration for your girls. I look forward to seeing how your art show comes together.

    You’re so right — when we struggle or when we’re at our worst, we are fueled by our kids.


  32. Love this post…and I although I’m not always feeling like I’m winning the war (or even the daily battles) I’m just trying too…to be a good mother, to set a good example, to make the world a little better one little act at a time…just trying.

  33. Tammi Salas says:


    Beautifully written and very honest.

    Thanks Nici.

  34. heidi says:


    “sculpting children!” love that. chills for this gift of an article!
    proud and grateful of you…
    grateful for inspiring me to at the very least fold some laundry and get some photos out of their hard drive hiding and proud that you are taking this exhilarating and vulnerable leap!

    forget tidy and cohesive… do it your way!!! love the message in this beautiful writing!

    fist pumping friend.

  35. Renee McGrath says:


    I’m fist-pumping already. Where’s the show?

  36. Erin says:


    You sound exactly like an artist getting ready for a big show if that is any consolation! I so relate to the struggles you wrote about today. You are right on track, your aim is noble and therefore, you cannot miss your mark. Women artists (mama’s or not) have many unfair hurdles, yes. But you know you reap the sweetest rewards making pine needle nests with Bug and painting salt dough with Ruby. To hell with what your college art profs would say. You are a grown up artist now and you are free to break the rules having already learned them The best advice I gleaned out of my mentor in college as he watched me struggle with my terminal exhibition was, ‘If you aren’t having fun you seriously need to reevaluate what you are doing here!’ As I said, best advice I ever got out of all those years studying art and theory! Can’t wait to see what you do

  37. Cheri Greer says:


    Can’t wait… Feel as if I did my best work when the kids were little. I had to make the most out of “the moments.” Enjoy. See you at the opening

  38. Awe! Thanks for your support and encouragement. My show is the month of April at The Brink in downtown Missoula. My opening reception is on April 1 from 5-8pm and everyone is attend in the nude. Only shoes may be worn or you will be turned away. April Fools! Ha, my opening really is on that day but you may come clothed.