Prickly Processes

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Life has been prickly lately, but not without joy.

Four months ago my husband Thomas and I locked the door to our little house in the Pleasant Street neighborhood and handed our keys to the new owners. Then, we drove our last load of stuff to a storage unit and began the work of settling into the spare bedroom at Thomas’s dad’s house, where we’ve been living while our new home, also in the Pleasant Street neighborhood, is under construction.

Thus we have entered a new phase of our relatively new marriage–not only cohabitation but cohabitation with parents. While the adjustment has been challenging in the predictable ways, we’ve grown closer as a couple, and we both appreciate this time with Thomas’s family, who have embraced me more generously than I’d dared hope for.

Perhaps no one knows how truly controlling we are until we’re unable to exercise our typical degree of control, but this has certainly been true for me, and surprise: it’s been good for me.  I’m painting in an exposed part of the house, where people can see what I’m working on. I hadn’t realized just how much I relied on closing my studio door until I didn’t have that luxury. Folks who attend art school learn to create in public and shared spaces, but I never did either one. Though I do find privacy helpful when I’m working on a painting, I’m getting less self-conscious, which is pretty much always a kind of liberation.

What’s also neat about this phase of my life, about this communal living experience, is that I’m discovering what is worth doing regardless of the particulars of my surroundings. I am extremely grateful that Thomas’s dad is letting me use his formal sitting room as a temporary studio, and that I am able to continue painting while living here. Has it impacted my process? Yes. I’m painting simpler work right now, work that delights me but doesn’t necessarily push against my limitations as much as some of my other work. Does that really matter? No, not as long as I keep painting. Art has to be flexible enough to adapt to life’s changes. Sometimes, it’s okay to make simple work. Sometimes, it’s okay to hang out in the kiddie pool, even without kiddies.

Speaking of kiddies, I’ll add that my main prickly challenge right now is not the change in living circumstances but infertility. Thomas and I have been trying to have children for awhile. After several early-term miscarriages, we went to the specialist, who diagnosed me with low ovarian reserve, something no one trying to have children wants to hear. The specialist says I’m running out of eggs and close to being in menopause (at 37, this is difficult news to stomach). Our most viable options are adoption or trying IVF with an egg donor.  We are exploring both possibilities, which involve considerable expense and uncertainty, but life is nothing if not costly and uncertain, and we intend to have children one way or another.

I suppose then that these cactus paintings, which appear simple, have grown out of the last few months of painful and disappointing fertility news. I’m hopeful that Thomas and I will be like cacti, able to grow our family despite challenging conditions. The good news is that, so far anyway, we’re doing okay with it all. I guess in the right relationship, hardships ultimately bring people closer. As a person who has historically struggled to stay in a long-term relationship, I am both pleased and relieved to find myself becoming more committed to our deepening connection and increasingly big (ad)ventures.



  • Anna

    Thank you for sharing your heart & vulnerability. I love these cacti paintings all the more. ❤️

    • Sara Nash

      Thank you Anna–I have a small cactus painting here with your name on it if it fits in your space! 🙂 <3 I'm planning to bring it by soon.

  • Silvia

    I marvel at your many talents as an artist, writer, therapist, podcaster, and amazing human being who isn’t afraid to share openly with the world in ways that tap into so many of our own experiences and emotions. For that I am very grateful and wish you all the best in your latest journey toward motherhood. Here if you need. Silvia

  • Vasanto

    still loving your sharings and your work!

  • Bobbie Jo Finer

    Your writing and your painting complement each other. The introspective nature of your writing always brings me to a place where I learn new things (about me, about you, about the world). Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Your children will be raised in such a caring and loving family!

  • Patricia Voss-Dobbs

    Your mom emailed this to me a few days ago. I so enjoyed reading where life has had you and is taking you now. Transparency isn’t something that one sees often now a day so, that made reading your blog even more of a blessing. Thank you for sharing your heart, your art and your life with us.
    Love you girl

  • Sara Nash

    Hi Sara Nash, my name is Sara Nash too!! I was googling myself and came across your site haha!
    Just want to say hi to my “name sister” and wish you the best. I love these cacti paintings.

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