Painting With Scissors by Odeta Xheka

Barbara Bertino‘s Sailing the Dry Land graces the front cover of Kolaj 36. Odeta Xheka discusses Bertino’s work in a larger article about the painterly influences and attitudes of collage artists. Xheka writes, “These contemporary collage artists continue to explore the versatility of the medium. They are not necessarily looking to convey a message or make a grand statement, but are always on the lookout for innovative ways to satisfy their curiosity in aesthetics and materiality.”

Read Painting With Scissors originally published by KOLAJ MAGAZINE here

Iris on My Mind by Odeta Xheka

There is nothing special about these pictures, except, the very act of taking them fills me with a peculiar sense of security. Although they are not meant to be glowing statements of a life well-lived, they capture precious moments of equanimity and, just like that, I am able to explain to my children, with the kind of steely calm required of mothers, how the best form of survival is in recognizing that every day must start anew, sometimes unpalatable, at other times jolly. Take an inventory: who and what and when and why? Love is in the details. The devil, too.

“Anything that consoles is fake.” *

–The Sovereignty of Good (ed. 1970)

Read Iris on My Mind originally published by MEMOIR MAGAZINE here

At the Kitchen Table Where Miracles Happen by Odeta Xheka

To return the favor, I share with my children the pillars of writing life. Number one, tending to your voice is imperative because writing, just like life, relies on constant harmonizing. Number two, do not doubt your intentions as a writer and do not feel bad about the pages you end up discarding in the process of thinking things through or dealing with occasional bouts of self-doubt. Number three, do not feel bad about the things you end up writing either. If nothing else, they represent an honest effort to communicate something to someone other than yourself. So, yes, my darlings, write what you must, but try to see it clearly, and don't equate personal satisfaction with good writing. Chances are, some of it will be bad, some fine, some just a messy kind of writing, yet every word will feel like an excruciating act of exposure which, after all, is what permits us to feel fully alive.

Although there is no singular defining reason why one experiences writing as meaningful or fulfilling, it surely grants us the unique chance to pry ourselves open on the page, bleed profusely, and miraculously heal our wounds by introducing our readers to our innermost thoughts and emotions. We do not, indeed, know who's going to engage with our writing and under what mindset, but it is fair to assume that by sowing the seeds of dialogue we get to experience the depth of the human condition, even as it remains shrouded in mystery. All the more satisfying if along the way we recognize our distinctive ability to be creative, one of a kind, utterly unique in our shared humanity.

Read At The Kitchen Table Where Miracles Happen originally published by LITERARY MAMA here

In My Defense by Odeta Xheka

Apparently, my life story seems to make sense to the world only if viewed through the prism of my motherhood—the rest of me, or what I feel is my whole being, gets relegated to unfulfilled potential. The creator in me keeps a purposefully irregular schedule, craves solitude, must fade out of reach in order to work. The mother, the daughter, the wife doesn’t have a minute to herself.

As the years pile on, I have learned to dig through the banalities of my messy, hard, often lonely and occasionally amazing life and collect the shiny threads left behind each time I have let myself fall in love with abandon, catch the first glimpse of an idea not yet beaten down by my lingering doubts on the validity of the “mom angle,” seek the softness of a long embrace after a hard day, drink from a champagne flute while ignoring the unwashed dishes in the sink. These are the bright spots on the bland surface of the ordinary that bind my daily life together, a life that is, above all, a testament to the way I have chosen to balance family, parental responsibility, and personal creativity.

Read In My Defense originally published by MUTHA MAGAZINE here

I’m Tired of Hearing Self-Care is the Antidote to Mom Burnout by Odeta Xheka

Lucky in so many ways, I still feel the burden of ever-present brooding worry which in itself brings all sorts of challenges to my family. Like the majority of mothers, my days are repetitive, my thoughts are consumed by my children, my hands are full (literally and figuratively), my house is clean, my mind is busy, my back hurts, my calendar is full to the brim with PTO meetings and dentist appointments. Yet, you tell me that a bubble bath is the very thing I need to soothe both my aching feet and my overextended self.

What about the pressure of it all? You tell me! Just, please, don’t say all I need is a quiet afternoon to myself (I’ve had that), a good book (I’ve read lots of them), and a chat with a trusted friend (done and done). I need more than well-meaning but fundamentally non-essential advice to fight my mom burnout.

Read I’m Tired of Hearing Self-Care is the Antidote to Mom Burnoutoriginally published by HER VIEW FROM HOME here

A Body to Die For by Odeta Xheka

Plenty of prominent voices are urging women to portray the conflicted glory of motherhood truthfully. Nevertheless, the message mothers are mostly exposed to is focused exclusively on the dueling narrative between “I hate my mom bod” and “My stretch marks are everything,” a dichotomy which is but a fraction of the nuanced feelings mothers’ face when it comes to their changing bodies. In reality, very few of us are either genetically lucky or disciplined enough to look the same way we did before we had children. That’s not a good or bad thing. That is a biological reality. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t take much effort to acknowledge that a mom’s body is simply another human body – a body that goes through changes and has complicated desires and strong cravings like all bodies do.

As a mom (in possession of a bod), I take umbrage at the notion of a mother’s body reduced to this level of superficial yet vicious in-fights between those who show off their tight stomachs as a sign of hard work and superior self-discipline, and those who proudly exhibit their out-of-shape body as a sign of self-acceptance and personal growth. Bodies are not meant to be viewed as some sort of moral compass. Bodies are bodies – amazingly functional machines that allow all of us to experience life.

Read A Body to Die For originally published by THE MOPS Blog here

The Sacrificial Mother - The New Global Icon by Odeta Xheka

On the brink of turning forty, an artist by profession and a jack of all trades by necessity, a poet and a picture book creator, a disenchanted wife and an engaged social crusader, a daughter and a mother, an avid reader and a good baker, how do I want people to see me? Which facet of my multidimensional persona do I choose to put in front of them as worthy for further examination? Unfortunately, the choice has already been made. No matter what else I am (decent at chess) or aspire to one day become (a voyager of distant lands), to the world I am first and foremost a mother.

Turns out, motherhood is the thorn in my flesh after all. For all the love for my children, and make no mistake, I love them fiercely, I am angry with the over-validation of motherhood. I am an entity in the world, with a body and a personhood to go with it, and the weight of my momentous yet banal existence should not lie solely on the fact that I was born with a uterus.

Read The Sacrificial Mother - The New Global Icon originally published by BLUNT MOMS here

Mamma Mia by Odeta Xheka

As if being a guilt-ridden working mother or an equally guilt-ridden (of a different sort) stay at home mom is not hard enough, the vastly different ways we interpret child-rearing practices, as well as our first-hand experiences with the societal pressures of motherhood, have us all scratching our heads. Is there a parenting mode far superior to the rest? If not, how should one go about figuring out the best way to mother her brood?

Parenting is not easy. Overzealous parenting even less so. Motherhood, specifically, has been stripped away from its basic premise, a loving relationship between the mother and her child. Instead, it has been distilled into a maniacal focus on the children that is supposed to eclipse everything else in a mother’s life. It is no wonder that us, mothers, famous or otherwise, can’t catch a break.

Read Mamma Mia originally published by TODAY SHOW Parenting Team here

Tonight’s the Night by Odeta Xheka

Yet, if you feel you are failing miserably at having it all figured out, don’t. Listen to yourself. Don’t be afraid to feel your feelings. After all, there is no manual on how to live, and growing up surely does not abide by age limits.

  • The world moves so fast, don’t let your mind get caught up in its endless race - pace yourself to your own rhythm.
  • Don’t equate your purpose with goal-based achievements.
  • Embrace your enthusiasm passionately and without shame.
  • Cancel the idea that it’s cool to be “detached” and uncaring.
  • It’s OK not being OK (not everything heals).
  • Give yourself room to breathe.

Read Tonight’s the Night originally published by TODAY SHOW Parenting Team here

The Least Identifiable Bully: Mom and Dad by Odeta Xheka

Despite the abundance of interest on the topic, there is still yet another dimension of bullying that has escaped scrutiny almost entirely: accidental bullying. This occurs when a well-intentioned parent tries to positively impact his or her offspring by utilizing an ineffective technique.

In a nutshell, the accidental bully is someone who is regularly overbearing. It may seem strange to think that parents can be bullies, but they can. Of course, every parent has made a misstep. Tired and overextended, we are, after all, only human. However, parents who are overbearing, constantly belittling their children, or seeking to be controlling may actually be crossing a line into bullying parent behavior. What’s worse, bully parents raise children who bully. In order to end this vicious circle, parents need to reflect on how to handle children’s unwanted actions and discuss solutions rather than dictate behavior. After all, a respected child is the best warranty for a better future.

Read The Least Identifiable Bully: Mom and Dad originally published by TODAY SHOW Parenting Team here

IndieReader Interview-ing debuting picture book author Odeta Xheka

All art rests in the gap between that which is aesthetically pleasing and that which truly captivates you. Generally speaking, art is an instrument to encourage the process of thinking in an innovative way.

Read Interviewing Author Odeta Xheka originally published by INDIEREADER here

The Children's Book Review Interview-ing debuting picture book author Odeta Xheka

How did you approach the creative process for creating this book? And how long did it take you to complete the project from conception to published book?

Although Here Comes Ingo is technically a wordless picture book for children, it can easily qualify as an art book in its aim to familiarize children with figurative collage, an ancient art technique.

Read Interviewing Author Odeta Xheka originally published by THE CHILDRENS BOOK REVIEW here

Encouraging a Growth Mindset Through Picture Books by Odeta Xheka

Picture book art illustrations (increasingly popular even among older and/or sophisticated readers) are ideally suited to foster a growth mindset by presenting children with rewarding opportunities for interpretive discussions. In other words, by allowing children to take ownership of the story, wordless picture books give readers the unique opportunity of transforming into storytellers in their own right instead of simply probing the book pages for clues on the author’s intentions.

Picture books can be used in myriad ways to further hone children’s ability to navigate through their life in a spirit of constant learning. Open-ended picture books, especially, do a great job of acknowledging that children thrive when they create, experiment, and discover things they enjoy.

Read Encouraging a Growth Mindset Through Picture Booksoriginally published by KIDS’ BOOK REVIEW here