Stuck Fixing My Messy Beautiful

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is reflected, praying with cameraIn March 2011, I turned into frozen mud.

I always believed I could design my way into or out of anything. To design is to start with something, a lump of clay, a need, canvas and paint, or a girl who died of leukemia and her grieving mother, and then turn it into something else. For me, to design is to fix and to make beautiful.
But in March 2011, cancer killed my daughter. I could not fix that. I froze. Like mud in winter. Who am I, I wondered? Am I still the mother of a daughter? Who or what am I supposed to fix now?

The day after she died I discovered my daughter was a writer. So I began to write. I wrote our story. And rewrote it and kept writing. Here was something I could fix. I could edit the manuscript endlessly.
But this is messy. In rewriting, I relive the times in and out of hospitals with my daughter. I bring her back to life for twelve chapters and hold my breath as I watch her die. Then, dragging my dashed spirit up off the floor, I fix the next half of the book where I travel alone to Australia with her ashes, come home, and begin a new life. Over and over again, I write and relive every day. For three years.

“When are you going to get a real job with health insurance?” my mother nags.
“It’s time to move on to something else,” says a friend.
“I’m designing my way to healing,” I try to explain. But the truth is I am stuck.

Writing led to blogging. Almost everyone has lost someone or something they love. I ache to fix the pain as another relative is diagnosed with cancer, a friend’s son kills himself, a stranger online reaches out for support.
“There’s life after loss,” I blog on my website, and write the stories of my own struggles in the hope of helping someone else.
Blogging led to photography. I wanted to add pictures to my stories.

My frozen mud began to thaw when I discovered Photoshop with all its fixing tools: a Patch Tool, a Dodge Tool and an Add-Anchor Tool, a Magic Eraser, a Magic Wand, a clone Stamp, …and a Healing Brush. Photoshop lets me redesign my universe. The opportunities for change are endless. The beautiful truth is there are some things I can fix.

“Can you make a photo of me flying in the clouds?” an elderly friend asks from her wheelchair.Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir, CARRY ON WARRIOR, is out in paperback now

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!   And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Please Share on your Social Media

10 thoughts on “Stuck Fixing My Messy Beautiful

  1. Josie Barone

    Wow. I encourage you to continue on with this writing journey. Please. I cannot relate with a daughter dying and the thought of one of my three girls leaving before me, I do not know how I could cope. I am sorry for your loss. But, here me when I say this: you are a writer. Maybe you were an insurance agent, but your gift is shining a glimpse of light through a darkness to the many people in the midst of a deep, dark pain. I can just “feel” it. I found you today because you retweeted me the other day. By the way, thank you. I will be following you on your journey. Take care, Josie Barone

    1. robinbot Post author

      Thank you so much, Josie. Your message was my gift today. I woke up depressed with brain nausea, thinking my book is bad, my writing is bad, my life is … and getting your response has made me feel like maybe I CAN start writing a query letter to get an agent. I CAN swallow my pills. Following you. Cheers!

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    I’m with Kirsten. Not stuck. My mythological view sees you moving through the Underworld. As Rilke puts it, grief is the winter of our seasons. It feels stagnant and then the thaw begins.. You’re doing deep work while you share an important experience for others. Beautiful piece, Robin.


      Thank you Elaine. Moving VERY slowly feels like stuck. To me anyway. Moving through the underworld, now there’s an image to try to photoshop. Thanks for the part about sharing an important experience. Sometimes I feel so selfish doing this, so indulgent to be spending my days writing and photo-shopping. I do hope to help others. Cheers!

    1. robinbot Post author

      Thank you for YOUR share. Just gotta love those feisty daughters.Cheers!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *