gentleness

let the quiet...

quietme

"...let the quiet put things where they are supposed to be." ~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

A dear friend sent this quote to me yesterday. Its as if reading it gave me permission to be okay with my quiet. Most days I have a lot to say, a lot to share but most times words do not adequately express. So I'm embracing the quiet of my days. The need for less words. The welcoming of gazes and sighs, of touch and holding, of lingering and breath.

In our culture, we are so accustom to needing to fill spaces with words. I know in my life, mostly in my writings, I fill fill fill...so many words and yet when in the flesh, I am drawn to quiet. I am drawn to sitting back and soaking in the feeling of the moment, the essence.

When I feel utterly safe with someone, they experience my comfort with quiet. I have surrounded myself with souls I feel safe with the last few years and there is much more quiet and pause in my life and in theirs.

So here is a gaze for you...the utter peace and light I felt in this moment as I captured this image of myself. I needn't share all the reasons I arrived at this place of peace. Can you just see it in me? Sigh. Yes.

What does quiet feel like for you?

touch*

Taken and processed with Cameramatic app.

I've been reveling in touch lately.

A few weeks ago my naturopath asked me to lay down and her hands made their way to my belly. I laid there with my eyes close surrendering to her touch, I felt our breath synchronize. The heat of her hand felt so so very good. So tender. I had no idea what her intentions were but that helped me practice trust and my intuition was telling me my body felt desperate for this caress. She cradled my thigh and applied gentle pressure onto the skin that protects my ovaries...my lower belly... and that is where the emotions surfaced for me. I know my reproductive organs and the muscles and skin that protect them hold so many memories, so much ache, so much need for validation that they are enough. Its almost as if I've been afraid to cradle them, afraid to go there just yet as I go about my life and what is in front of me. But what is inside of me there...there...is tender and needs my attention, my love, my grace...even after all these years. I've been a bit quiet with them.

Later my naturopath told me she was doing Craniosacral therapy. I nodded and took a deep breath, told her it felt good but wasn't ready in that moment to talk about what had just transpired. I got to my car, sat down in silence as the rain danced across the windows and the tears spilled. So much. So much emotion in those parts of my body. Endometriosis, cysts, (in)fertility...now that I allowed myself to pay attention to the emotion that rests beyond the physical pain, there was this tremendous release. I have known for quite some time subconsciously this needed to happen, this attention, this love...but honestly, I've been so afraid of it. Afraid of what would happen if I surrendered to it because it feels like it would be a flood that drowned me. And as I sat there in the car releasing what my naturopath had moved around, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't as frightening as I had imagined. It was good. So good and dare I say even a bit freeing. As cliche as that sounds (and the cliche of it has kept me from believing that freedom could really happen for me), it is true. The days following I have felt a lightness I haven't felt in years. Something has loosened. Something has awakened.

I've been touching those parts more. Laying my hand there whenever I can. Sending affirmations. Touch. Healing touch. Now I feel more aware when Cedar brushes my hand with his or my husband cups my face in the darkness of night to kiss me goodnight. I feel more alive when touching and being touched.

To my ovaries, my uterus, my fallopian tubes...(laying my hands there) I love you...and you are perfect for me, so very perfect for me, so very enough.

I will leave you with a little prompt droplet to think about what part of your body needs your love and affirmations...

two passages that help me feel clearer*

clearer, self portrait

The past few weeks I've felt clearer than usual. I think its a combination of things: An awareness that this year, new age marks a greater consciousness for us humans. I have felt it in the streets and in stores when out and about. A bit more kindness and softness. More smiles and warmth exchanged. A deeper gratefulness to be here. People seem less afraid to engage in conversation. In fact just a second ago, a lovely woman sitting near me at the coffee shop leaned over and asked me a few questions. She didn't really feel like a stranger. A barista brought me my drink and he said giggling "Here's your foggie!" in reference to the London Fog steaming in my mug. We both laughed. It was such a kindred thing to say! Something I would call my drink. This is what I mean about not being strange-ers. I just feel this Universal shift of oneness. Perhaps just on a small scale right now but I have hope that these vibrations will expand out to all humanity.

Speaking of this gig of Being Human, today I read this...

poem by Rumi

Oh how this brought a newish clarity to me, even though this awareness and wisdom has lived in my heart over the years as I've navigated some ache from relationships. Recently, I felt it fully sink in on a deeper level. I needed this shift in perspective of feeling wounded to feeling grateful for that ache, pain, separation, rejection, whatever it may be between me and another human that didn't go as I had longed or hoped. "Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."

Our pain and sorrow, our hurt...it offers us compassion for those around us that may be going through something similar. It give us an opportunity to love deeper and wider...ourselves and others. It brings us to our knees so that we can reMember our strength to stand and be brave in allowing others to help lift us. So much, so much! Our pain and sorrow are gifts. Sometimes I grasp this concept immediately and the healing moves faster through my body, my heart. Sometimes, depending on the layers, it can take days, months years for me to recognize fully why I am grateful something happened the way it did.

But now I have Rumi to remind me.

And in that pain, when in the thick mucky gook of it, when we find ourselves in a spiral, there is goodness in that too.

The other day, I reached out to a friend spilling some anxieties and fears, knowing my thoughts were completely unraveling and out of my control in the moment, I said "These feelings are so unfamiliar. Am I spiraling?"

And she sent me this passage...

passage from Jack Kornfield in his book After the Esctasy, the Laundry

I felt myself lay back, arms wide open...fully embracing the spiral because spiraling is human and we all do it and how healing, how validating is it to just surrender? Surrender to the dance with an awareness that we will eventually come back to our center? And in that returning to center, we will be fuller and wiser? Sigh. Good good stuff. "In the course of this great spiral, we return to where we started again and again, but each time with a fuller, more open heart."

Mmmmm...I wanted to share these nuggets with you as they were shared with me. They offered me compassion and patience, surrender and relief for mySelf, for others and especially for those "guides" that come into my life. ; )

The Secret Life of Darkness*

art above is a beautiful gift from rain, created by messycanvas

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb tonight.

The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.

You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn

anything or anyone that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ David Whyte ~ (House of Belonging)

I am so grateful to this beautiful soul in my life. For offering this quote by David Whyte at a time when I needed to meet these words and this truth.

Ahhh. The idea that the cocoon, the darkness I have surrendered to the past few years has been a WOMB shifted everything for me.

Moving to the Pacific Northwest meant a new beginning for me in many layered ways. I chose this as a time to strip myself slowly of that which didn't bring me life and the figuring out of why it didn't and what truly does bring life was a unexpectedly painful process. My pulling back and peeling layers was nothing personal to anyone or anything. It was all me and my own soul work, all inward and inner. My intentions were to live more in the present, in the flesh and learn to not rely so deeply on online connections for attention, validation, and ego strokes. To relearn how to feel LOVED and worthy and purposeful in my silence. It was full of ache and loneliness. It almost felt like a detox of sorts. Yet it was also very FREEing to create and honor such a simplicity around me. I know this type of lone-quest is not for everyone, nor needed by everyone. It was just what it took for an empath like me to hush the noise and be naked and pure about my choices. To live intentionally, inspired by my own intentions and not influenced by others feelings about me or outside of me. I was quiet and nourished in this womb and the rebirthing process is beginning. I am surfacing with a deeper awareness of boundaries needed to protect my heart and what surrounds me and my family and acceptance of my sensitivities and needs and those of my family. Acceptance of self. Oh, that's a big one for me.

These words specifically from David Whyte spoke to it all for me; "Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn..."

Sigh. Yes, oh yes. My aloneness. My quest of unbelonging, which is leading me to my belonging.

I am forever grateful to those that stood near me in my silence, who saw the vastness of my heart and met me in my own quiet, along with their own quiet, each in our own wombs, aware of the other but with no expectations. This woman below is one of them.

My soul-friend Rain, wrote these words for me, for all of you, may you soak them in and let them marinate as a New Year begins:

***********

all images by rain

Winter's dark casts long shadows over a reluctant dawn. I am soaked in laconic light. I write these words within days of December's solstice, always grateful for year's end, this quiet space for reflection and closure. The past twelve months have been my own kind of (soul)stice, the gift of one long, dark night designed to heal me from what I always feared most.

That's what darkness has become for me. Healing.

We are conditioned to consider darkness as something to run from. To avoid. We think of it as the opposite of light, in terms of good versus evil, or horror versus bliss. I grew up with a crippling kind of Dark in the form of deep, abiding fear. At a very young age it became the bread I tasted, the water flooding my cells, the breath I inhaled and held. Fear of God and man. Fear of myself. My future. Fear of the wayward longings of my heart and even my heart itself. It was the kind of fear, I wrote once, that picks apart everything sacred and beautiful until nothing holy remains.

Our life history shapes what darkness means. Our stories shape what haunts us. But darkness doesn't have to be scary, and when reach the end of all we know, perhaps the end of ourselves, we discover the most surprising thing of all: that this darkness? The vast unknown? Everything we're frightened of, the thing we construct our lives around to avoid?

All. Gift.

Let the sun fall in your cupped hand. Today be only this: the thing that holds the light. ~ Shawnacy Kiker

My humble, gentle, you-can-do-this secret

The truth is, all life begins in the dark.

What is a cocoon, but a dark place of protection, safety, and transformation?

What is solstice, but a place of reflection and rest?

What is the earth, but a dark place for germination of seed?

All darkness is a womb if we allow it to be. And what is a womb, but a hollow space for light?

What healed me from fear also healed my heart from an intensely negative concept of darkness. It became a brilliant invitation to my own awakening, and I? Witness to my own birth. You can do this too, love. I will tell you how:

  • Take a deep breath.
  • Exhale.
  • Gather moonlight and spirit. We all need a little magic.
  • Nourish your heart with the bread of comm(unity).
  • Pack the hollow spaces in your bones with deep, divine Love.
  • Drench your cells with the water of life.
  • Your guides are Truth and Spirit but the journey is yours alone. Kiss your feet, place your soles on the earth. Let your toes become alive.
  • Go there.
  • Yes, there.
  • Go. There.

Whatever it is you fear most, whatever your darkness means to you, whatever haunts you and desperately needs healing, move directly into it.

You can do this. You are stronger than you know. Life is on the other side.

Everything you want

is on the other side of fear.

George Addair

I chose unafraid as my word for 2012 and it was only when I embraced for the first time my reality of fear did I begin the arduous yet hopeful task of healing it. Because, truthfully? Fear means this matters. Fear says, this is meaningful to your deepest self. Fear is a wise old woman who knows us better than we know ourselves and who can help guide us home. She tells us, wherever I am, dig deep here. Right here. This is where you need to be. Pay attention. Fear is like an internal systems analyst adjusting her heavy black framed glasses and speaking soft through bold red lips: darling, this is really really really important and you are dizzy and sick because the whole universe of you hangs by a tender silver thread and anyone could come by and whisk it away like they were brushing a spider web off their face. It is that vulnerable.

And when fear's panicked fury subsides and we take deep, shaky breaths, when we bravely melt into the shuddering silence after a storm, this is when we discover something new and wholly unexpected: we find, all along the dark and pummeled seashore of our tender earth-selves, the most radiant, moon-holy of pearls. Rain-soaked and gleaming.

But before we can find them, we must listen.

Darkness is the most sacred portal to life. To become vibrantly alive, leaping from a flat page of black and white into a world of vivid color ~ colors we can taste, breathe, savor ~ we must listen to the secrets of darkness. Remember this, the next time you look around and see no light.

For what is faith, but a journey through the dark?

And I promise you, love, that the day will come. You will, in the words of Rilke, break into being. In the words of a dear friend and favorite poet, that day will come, when

the fear-voice grows small like an echo or a photograph from atop a distant hill 50 years ago,

and when the joy, and the life voice grow strong and near and full of strange woven music - turbulent and prophetic.

from Anthem, by Shawnacy Kiker

Fear, like darkness, has a quiet voice, a grown up kind. And our darkness has something to say, all whispery with promises and barely there:

Honey, can you hold on?

Because if you sit with me a while, I will teach you something sacred.

asking for what we need*

Yesterday, Cedar whispered to me that he needed quiet but wanted me to join him. So we tip toed upstairs and I tucked him into our bed. I laid near him just marinating in the quiet. The shifting rhythm of the holidays has been a lot for him, for all of us. Us visiting family, family visiting us, the house transformed into sparkly twinkle newness. This transition and this shifting, this "change" that this holiday brings is something I am more aware of than I have ever been in my life.

A dear friend of mine has reminded me the importance of asking for what you need and that can be done in so many ways. Just the awareness of our needs alone is a journey in and of itself. Cedar has been a reminder...sometimes fierce reminder, sometimes a gentle one: of how important it is to simply ask. Whether its a howl or a whisper...to just ask for what we need. I need quiet. I need alone time. I need the lights off. I need to be held. I need less talking across the table. All things Cedar has learned to ask for. All things I am remembering that I need too. And even if I am unable to have those things in the moment I need them, just knowing I need them alone gives me permission to be gentler on myself and others.

fear and gentleness*

I know I haven't been here much. But I have been here (see image above).

Monday morning I went on a walk around a lake. As my pace became faster under a canopy of forest, I realized I hadn't moved my body like this in over a year. The life pulsing through my veins and bones felt so deeply healing and good.

Our move to Washington paralleled some huge awakenings about my life. Choices needed to be made to marinate in and live in my own truth but more importantly, to protect my heart and to feel safe. I just ached to feel safe. These choices to free myself from that which didn't serve my heart and my soul were not easy and were full of some grief and separation and loneliness. It felt like a peeling that left me raw and needing to cocoon and rest and be still. I didn't have a lot of expectations of myself beyond learning to live life more in the present, settling into an entirely new h*OM*e and loving my boys and my family with all I had. I surrendered to the aches and pains of going from being so seen, very public and constantly-connected to less seen, more private, inner and solitary. Just recently, a dear friend going through a similar transition of online to offline said to me "I've felt very much out of site/out of mind". I knew intimately and had compassion for what she meant about feeling a sense of being invisible to others. I was living it and yet it was okay, it was so good, what I needed and it was deeply humbling.

Humility has been my companion this year along side gentleness. Humility has been my constant reminder, that gentle whisper throughout my life but most especially now. Being a mother to an intensely wild and beautiful and sensitive child has brought me closer to humility. Stepping away from and losing relationships I thought were deeply rooted in trust brought me closer to humility. Quieting the noise and the influences and constant adoration has brought me closer to humility. To me, humility has always been a home where my true self is. A place I can surrender to egolessness. A place where right now, in this moment, I am enough. For me, in the midst of humility there is less striving and more being, there is deeper compassion and loving. There is less temptation to be anyone or anything but my true self. There is an inner strength that comes from within rather than with-out. To me, to continue to empty my mind and soul of the ego...that is where wisdom and enlightenment set me free. Yet, it is my constant practice to create boundaries where this process can be honored and lived. It can be messy, oh so messy and full of pain because of my humanness.

Throughout my life, in any kind of institution or following of sorts (school, church, blogging community, online media, etc), I have had this awakening. I find myself (not by intention) being swept up by very human desires: the glamor, the attention, the praise, the acclaim and consistently, I have a very similar experience. I pull back, I grow quiet, I do my inner work, I renew, I reinvent. Part of it is the gypsy in me, the wanderer that does not follow, nor do I lead, I just drift because I know there is so much wisdom to gain by exploring. Part of it is that I am a deeply sensitive soul and in circles or tribes, religions or followings, there can be exclusion to that which is outside and I am not comfortable being part of anything that excludes. Part of it is that I see clearly that so much of that need to be seen and heard comes from a very achy, hurty place in our hearts, which makes us all equal and teachable to one another. Part of it is that I witness those that are guiding or leading become so consumed with their leading that their own lives, loves and hearts are not given needed attention and care and therefore, what they are teaching is not what they are able to live.

All of this causes me to pause and reflect. It brings me to periods of stillness, of rest, of letting go, shedding and renewing and surfacing again.

So as I was moving my body to a faster rhythm under the trees the other day, there was this awareness of how every pore on my body felt heightened, alive. I could feel my heart expanding, chest opening, face to the sky, limbs stretched. I felt my whole being surfacing from the safe, still place I have created and begin to move again...through the light...and also through the darkness. Fear came to me and my face grew wet with tears. But the tears did not come from the fear. The tears came from a knowing I haven't quite felt so intensely before. The tears came from love. A deep love, a tenderness for and an embracing of my fears.

I wiped my tears under my sunglasses and laughed to myself. I heard this whisper. Perhaps my inner voice, perhaps the Divine. It said something about walking through fear in gentleness is possible. I don't have to be fierce because fierce is not my nature. I can greet fear with gentleness, with compassion and with humility and will still be able to walk through to the other side stronger and rooted and yet free.

beautiful Buddhist ceremony*

{Katie & Lisa chanting}

When we were still living in the blue cottage, there was a time in between tenants where this yellow home was empty. The landlord let my sister and I (who was visiting at the time), walk through. I remember us sighing at every turn. It was so adorably charming. But along with the feeling of familiarity for me, there was a heaviness in my bones. I had chills as I walked up the stairs and I couldn't quite place why. My sister felt it too and after we sat in the blue cottage and gushed about our walk through, we both admitted to one another that we felt a spirit in that house. I thought it was just me feeling this.

Almost a year later, during the first week we were in this yellow house, I continued to feel that same spirit or energy. I wasn't afraid of it or threatened in any way. I felt very at peace in this home and like we were supposed to be here. I just felt an uneasy energy. I felt a sadness. A longing. And I felt it most when walking up the stairs where the two bedrooms are (ours and Cedar's). Our cat Elvis began to sit at the top of the stairs and cry in the middle of the night. It was then that I began to really try to connect with what was happening.

I have always been sensitive to energies or spirits and until I accepted this about myself in my later twenties, I became less afraid and more open to what was trying to be communicated to me. I felt like this spirit needed something from us. My husband felt the same energy.

I had heard from a friend (a previous tenant) that two women used to live here in the early 1900's but that is all I knew. So I shared with a neighbor, that has lived in this neighborhood for years, what we were feeling in the house. Our neighbor went onto share that in this home lived a widow and her daughter. The daughter was more a servant to her mother and was sequestered in the home to attend to her mother's needs. Her mother didn't allow her to have relationships or interactions outside of the home. So the daughter grew to be somewhat of a recluse. When her mother passed away from old age, the daughter lived here alone until she died, too...at an old age. My neighbor was able to meet the daughter before she passed away, tried to help take care of her and was told first hand, the story. Hearing this, it all began to make sense to me. This daughter's story of longing to be free and released from this house when she was living and perhaps this is how her spirit or soul lingered.

Almost a few weeks into our move, when we were still slowly moving things from the blue cottage to this house, our dear friends Katie (owner of Lotus Wei) and Lisa (owner of Wei of Chocolate) were visiting both for business and pleasure. While they were here in our home, we caught up, went on a forest walk and then later snuggled up near the fire.

It was on the couch that I shared about the history of the house. Soon after, Katie offered for them to come back the next morning and do a beautiful Buddhist chant and ceremony to help release this spirit where it needs to be. It is an ancient ceremony that they had both learned in India - Lisa, when she lived in the Himalayas for many years, and Katie, who went to India with the purpose of learning this ceremony.

My husband and I both felt so at peace about this. The timing of our dear friends being here and them both feeling a strong desire to offer what they had learned felt truly divine. The process they explained to us felt gentle and loving, connecting and peaceful. Just what we as a family are cultivating in our life and what I imagined the spirit of this woman, needed.

So the following morning, Katie and Lisa arrived. At first Lisa walked around our home collecting flowers from our yard as an offering to the spirit.

I felt really deeply that the ceremony needed to take place in our upstairs bedroom. I had incense burning for them and I gave them some quiet time to set up. They told us that we could be there in the room and hold the space with them or we could not, it was up to how we felt. Of course we shared we wanted to witness and I had a feeling Cedar needed to witness it too. So my boys and I laid on the bed as they began the long beautiful chant.

Immediately, a peace washed over me and both my husband and I closed our eyes. I could feel the vibrations in my chest. Cedar moved around here and there to grab toys and bring them on the bed. In moments he stared in awe and other moments, he rolled his car or helicopter over our bodies to the sounds of Katie and Lisa's vibrations. At times he giggled at the sounds coming from their mouths. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my entire life. I felt such a trust and surrender and a hope for us but even more so for this spirit.

Then there was this moment at the end of the chant where along with a particular quick yelp sound, I saw a white light before my eyes completely vanish and a heaviness from my body lifted. In that moment, I felt an energy leave and the lingering feeling was freedom, happiness, joy, release. When the ceremony was finished, we sat and talked a bit about what we all experienced. Lisa and Katie shared with us how our home is now protected and that good energy will come in and that the home is very happy about Cedar being here. That Cedar's laughter is healing. But truly, I felt this already even before they shared this with me. We all did. There was just a collective knowing. Instantly, the house felt like it took a deep breath and my chills vanished and I felt a deep solace and peace between all of these walls.

The remainder of the day there was a sense of lightness between all of us. They offered to help us finish the remainder of our move into the yellow house and we were so humbled by their gracious hearts. Their presence is so calm and comfy and of some of the purest love I have ever been near. We acknowledged the ease we felt with one another and how the energy exchanged felt so heart lifting. I am in awe of the souls we are beginning to attract into our life. It truly makes such a difference when you are clear about what you need.

And today the home continues to feel this peace. Every time I walk up the stairs I think about the daughter and how her spirit is finally free. I think about how safe and protected I feel and how I knew there was a deeper purpose to us being here besides rooting ourselves and creating a life in nature we so deeply craved.

I think how I could have just let this linger and made it all about what I felt rather than what this spirit needed from us. I think about how I could have allowed fear to overcome me and pray this spirit away with this idea it was threatening to us in some way. These are all very old ways of thinking and feeling for me. But I breathed through it and I listened and I sensed something deeper and when I opened myself up, surrendered to what may be needed from me, Katie and Lisa came into our home and together, we offered our gifts.

Ever since spending time with Katie and Lisa in San Diego before our move, both of their products (Lotus Wei flower essence elixirs, serums and mists and Wei of Chocolate yummies) are a big part of our every day.  In fact, Cedar savors what he calls his "night night chocolate" an hour or so before bedtime.  We have the chocolates in a vintage jar and Cedar delights in dipping his hand in and picking out his favorite.  Throughout the day we drink elixirs and spray the mists that our bodies need.

Here are a few images of when we first moved to Washington.  Katie & Lisa sent our family a care package to help us settle into our new h*OM*e.  Mmmmm.

{last two images taken May, 2011}

soul*searching.

{our wild and magical back yard}

Perhaps some of you may have noticed or intuited that I am having a rough time communicating fully this quiet journey I have been on since moving to the PNW. I have found when sharing here that I feel conscious and careful to not offend those in my past or present circles or those precious hearts that come to my space. Mainly because I am fully aware and honor all of the beautiful movements that are transpiring in the online world. I see healing and awakening in the midst of circles gathering and ecourses expanding and widening. I know personally some extraordinary revolutionaries that are empowering women all around the world. And yet while all of this bigness is happening around me, I find myself pulling in and away from the online world. Not in a way to make myself small. It felt so much deeper than that, yet so hard to express because I have been so IN IT and unable to articulate what is happening to me.

Throughout my life I have always tried to be careful to not point the finger at what other people are doing and saying and to really look within at my own reactions or triggers or emotions that surface in any particular social situation (online or in the flesh). I constantly strive to check myself to make sure my need to pull back from a particular person or group of people isn't from jealousy or insecurity and if some of those emotions do rise, to work through them, knowing its all about me and not them. So as much as others have wondered or even me myself have wondered if my need to pull in and let go of so much in my life right now has to do with any of those dynamics, my heart has continued to whisper..."its something deeper, keep looking...keep praying, keep meditating...this is grander and wider and lighter and inner...and more freeing".

So, I have deeply trusted and honored that feeling of not needing to name it yet because when I have tried, I never quite felt satisfied with what came out of my mouth or my fingertips. Until today. Today my friend sent to me a video where this woman, a beautiful kindred spirit that I do not know personally, spoke of what was happening inside of me in words that felt so familiar. I found myself with tears down my face and and my heart opening, expanding and my head nodding "yes. oh yes. this is it." And I saw it in this woman's eyes and how she carries herself, what I too am experiencing.  And I heard it in her story, so very familiar to me, different but familiar.

It has been hard for me to explain to people why when I was approached by a well known publisher, that I did not get right on finishing my book when a handful of friends around me were in the midst of desiring a book deal. It was difficult to express to others why I launched my ecourse that hundreds of people have asked me to do and then shortly after decided I needed to postpone it at a time when so many in my circle were launching theirs. It was hard for even me to fully grasp why when I became part of a beautiful online circle full of extraordinary revolutionary women, that my intuition told me I needed to pull back and be solitary for a while. I deleted my facebook. I deleted my instagram. My twitter is very quiet. My life began to be more inner, more private and less seen. My motivation became less about seeking validation from others and more about seeking wisdom within. It became less about the need to guide others and more about just listening and BEing. Yet still...what was happening to me? Why were so many of my relationships shifting, ending, beginning, renewing? Why was I resisting being a part of a circle or tribe when for years this is what carried me through fertility and grief and adoption and motherhood?

What I did know was that this transformation was on a very deep soul and spiritual level. Me, once associating myself as a Christian and then finally surrendering to my resistance to dogma or organized religion and man-made religious denominations and masculine guided spirituality. I knew I was being drawn to something deeply feminine. I knew I began to hear a very feminine voice of God. I knew this was something I needed to work through on my own without others opinions or ideas or fears filtering in. I was beginning to attract Buddhists and Witches, Goddesses and Native American guides. Yet never fully able to associate my heart with any one way of believing and yet being pulled to my Christian roots despite not belonging or wanting to belong. I've just been gathering nuggets of wisdom that felt good to my soul and resisting boxing myself in. And while my search to connect online began to feel noisy and chaotic, I think it was just my soul's way of wanting to slow down and not seek anywhere but inward.

So much of what Sera Beak shares here in this video (below) is where I am. Particularly this part...

"After my interview with Marion Woodman, the very foundations of myself, my spirituality and successful life were shaken to pieces. I knew that I could not continue helping other women or this planet until I faced and found my soul again. So that is what I've been doing the past three years. And some of you might well know that its extremely painful and incredibly humbling when we finally turn and face our soul. Because we immediately become face to face with the subtle and not so subtle ways we have consciously and unconsciously abandoned her. Like that time we kept quiet when we knew we should speak. Like that time we said yes, when we knew we should have said no. Like that time we took on that project despite the devastating toll it took on our body. Like that time we stayed in that relationship despite how unhealthy it was. Like that time we followed the crowd, instead of our inner guidance.

Entry into the life of the soul demands a steep price. What's that price? Falsity. Everything that is not authentic. You see our souls don't pay attention to the opinions, ideas, beliefs, trends, rules given to us by external authorities, such as the media, politicians, fashion magazines, doctors, spiritual gurus. They don't seek approval, validation or acceptance from external sources. They know that true power does not come from anything outside of us. True power comes from surrendering to the divine authority within us. Embodying your soul is about living from the inside out. And requires that we ask ourselves on a daily, even an hourly, even a minute to minute basis…'Does this person, place project, group, teacher, class, book, TV show…does this feel authentic to my soul?' And then we have to bravely act on that answer. Based on answering these very questions in the last three years, I have broken contract with my big fancy publisher, fired my filmmaker, broke up with my boyfriend and pulled away from about 95% of my personal and professional life. I have let go of almost everything that didn't feel authentic to my soul. I let go of everything that used to define me, so I could allow my soul to start to define me."

Hearing her words, feel so affirming. Like I can almost name the un-namable of where I am right now in my life.  And I appreciate her saying that its very messy.  And it has been.  I am in the messy.  The vulnerable. The lonely part of it all.  But down in these quiet depths is where the answers are and where the light comes in and the clarity comes.

I think what I am learning is the true meaning of soul searching.  Or is it soul listening?

"is this life bringing?"

  the beloved  rain .

the beloved rain.

The last few weeks with our move, unpacking, settling in, my sisters visit and how full we kept every single hour of her time here with us, I haven't had much time to venture online.  Its been so very long since I've peeked into the hills and valleys of the internets (that word makes me giggle) and what waves of deep wisdom, insight and inspiration are flowing through.  This morning I had a bit of quiet time to myself, unexpectedly so.  I woke up earlier than usual and tip toed downstairs (which is not an easy feat given our very old stairs crackle SO LOUD).  I poured my sacred cup of coffee and snuggled up near the fire and wiped the dust off of my laptop before I opened the door to Narnia.

Mmmm...oh how the softness and simplicity I am wanting so deeply to manifest in my life can easily become overwhelmed with the energies flowing around in the virtual space that sits on my lap and beyond.  Oh how loud it can feel at times in the midst of my quieter spirit and voice.  It is just the space I am in. Right now I am so hyper aware and conscious of how I process these voices.  I know deeply that it is all about me and a process I am going through.  Its not about anyone else or anything else but just what I am needing in my life, how I am wanting to offer love and receive love, how I am yearning to tell my story in a way that feels true to my own heart.  Embracing my slower, quieter way of being and sharing in the midst of a faster and fiercer realm.  It is so many things, really and I know it is my own path to walk.  My own journey to find a place in the midst of it all.  My journey to surrender to and embrace the tenderness, mercy, humility, authenticity and gentle warrioress-ness that my heart beats to.

So often when doubts begin to rush in and I need to feel not alone and to be understood and seen, I seek wisdom from my dear friend Rain (shown in image above).  This morning she shared with me a question she often asks herself when doubt enters in; "Is this life bringing?"  Mmmmm...yes, oh yes...that resonated so deeply.  What is it, who is it...that brings me life?  It reminds me so much of something my sister once asked of me because she knows I am a very FEELing person. "Check in with how you feel in this moment, how your heart is beating, keep note of when you feel peace and when you do not, when you feel anxiousness and when you feel ease."

These questions help bring me back to center when moments begin to feel cloudy or noisy and it is hard to hear my own voice and feel my own heart.  THAT is the very space I am allowing myself to be in right now.  A space of quiet so that I can hear deeper as I am so sensitive to others thoughts and emotions, mine so often become lost to me.

Rain sent this to me today and it is an exercise that created such a peace in my heart and helped me come to a place of knowing much sooner than usual.  It is something I want to paint on my wall with the most beautiful handwriting.  It is something I want to share with all of you.  I hope you spend more time on her website.  She is so true blue and uniquely her.  I am grateful for this exercise she wrote...

The Soul Journey

rain2

1. Take a deep breath.

That’s it. Breathe deep, as deep as you can, and before you let it out long and slow, I want you to hold your breath. Just for a moment. Hold it for a heartbeat. You can even close your eyes.

That suspension? The quiet place of in-between?

That is where you begin.

Life begins and ends with breath. We forget to breathe and lose our way, but we can always come home to that quiet place. We gain composure and find rest and strength in its steady rhythm. As you breathe, imagine pulling life-nectar up, up out of the deepest parts of your stomach and drawing it, with intention, into your lungs. After you feel your lungs expand, exhale all goodness and healing into the world, and begin again. Breathe without ceasing. Let this become your prayer.

No matter where you are, you can always begin again with breath.

{And this is grace.}

2. Become aware.

As you incorporate patterns of slow, deep, and steady breathing, begin to feel yourself rippling outwards, like water, from your center. Your center holds the core of you, your essence. This is where you commune with God. Your energy is rooted here, your intuition and instinct, and your own sacred presence.

With each rippling, ask yourself things like:How do I feel in my body right now? When I breathe, what do I taste in my mouth? What do I see around me? What is happening in my space? You can start with whatever immediately surrounds you, like the way air feels on your bare skin (cold? sharp? gentle? nurturing?) or how your favorite coffee mug feels in your hand (is it earthy, or slim and sleek? Does its smooth porcelain rim invite caressing?) and work outwards. Practicing this awareness is like gently rousing a sleeping loved one.

Remember: you can breathe slow, steady rhythms, even in chaos. And as you breathe, become aware of all that surrounds you. This awareness precedes your awakening.

3. Awaken.

Sometimes we don’t know that we’re not awake, and we stumble around in circles fighting the same old things, over and over, for years. It is important to awaken gently. Will you go to a mirror for me right now? As you face your reflection, what do you see?

For this next step, and for the rest of your life, I want you to begin seeing yourself as Soul. You are not what you see in the mirror; your skin and hair and wrinkles and lusciousness ~ the curves that aren’t where they are supposed to be, and the extra curves which don’t belong ~ this is the glorious vehicle which carries your soul as you sojourn on earth.

And the beautiful thing about this? As you ripple and flow outwards, you will begin to see others as souls, too. Your children? Eternal souls poured into skin that looks like yours, with perhaps a little more energy, but ageless just the same. Your lover? Sacred, multifaceted soul matched to the sacred multi-facets of yours. Your loud neighbor? The alcoholic? The addict?

The world is full of Souls who forget they are.

Remember: your adventure is to come alive. And your shimmering spirit will cause others to hunger for a life essence like yours; you will ignite and inspire, and through being, you will draw others to life, maybe for the very first time.

This labyrinth doesn’t end, really. This means there will always be deep mysteries for the uncovering and places to rest along the way. As you go, keep in mind this secret of mine which will help you make wise choices. You can use this in everything—how to feed your body, the vehicle for your soul; what relationships to invite close, how you spend your time.

Sufi poet Rumi teaches, Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When you can suspend thoughts of condemnation or judgment and be present in your body, you will know what is right for you. And in this place of being, ask yourself—regarding any situation—"Is this life-bringing? Does this bring life to me?"

Whatever is right for you, whatever is the way for you, will always bring life.

love,
Hillary Rain

warmth of summer solstice*

Summer solstice. Mmmmm...Summer SOULstice.

The rays of the Sun are warming our skin today. Pulsing through us the life, the comfort, the warmth, the healing into our bones.

This week has been full for us. We are moving into the yellow house and since the new home is so near, we have spent time walking things over one by one. Last night I pulled Cedar's red wagon back and forth full of books to fill up the library. Oh, there is a library! An octagon shaped room, every wall lined with book shelves. This will be Boho Boy's office but our massive collection of books will find home there. Tomorrow is the moving truck and so it begins...a new beginning...once again.

On this Solstice, I am taking pause in the midst of the chaos. Stepping out to let the Sun, the Sol, wrap me up and let the grass growing so quickly from its rays tickle my toes. This day has such divine timing for me. I needed a reason to be reminded to stand still, just as the Sun does on this day.

There has been so much transformation in my life since moving here. Much of it has come from me pulling back, hushing the noise and allowing my heart to speak to me and honor its guidance. This quiet has been healing but it can also feel lonely at times. I know it is my choice. And it is my choice because I began to recognize how overwhelming the internet and social media were feeling to me. How I felt pulled in so many directions and it would cause me distraction from my present home life. At times I felt the pressure to be louder than I am when what my heart needs at this time in my life is a soft and gentle place to land. I just came to an awareness that I am deeply sensitive to energies and whether they are in person or on the web, I still feel them intensely. So in order to do my personal soul work through this, I needed quiet. I feel like I am almost there. I am learning so much about what I need. What feels good in my heart and what doesn't. I feel I am able to listen to my intuition more keenly. Learning how to love who I am and how I am and come to a place where I can exist a gentle warrior in a fiercer world. But the process hasn't been easy. It has been laden with spiraling down into self doubt, second guessing, comparison and rejection. All the icky hurty mucky stuff that surfaces when you are cleansing and clearing your life of things that are not healthy for you. I suppose I could compare it to the symptoms of a detox but one of the heart. The energy it took to decipher which voices were my truth and which were not felt massive but this burden is lifting and my heart is opening.

Yesterday afternoon when my boys went on an errand, I sat on the bottom of our steps. I took some deep breaths and reveled in the quiet of my home, looked around at what we had created and allowed the tears to fall. As we are packing up this beautiful cottage and starting new, it feels so much in alignment with how my heart feels. I let my eyes drift to the branch lightly tapping the window in front of me and the Sun shining through the leaves. I prayed in that moment. I heard myself say "I cannot do this alone" and I rested my head on the wall beside me on the stairwell. I felt like it was a surrender. I've pulled in deep and it was needed. Now I feel like I am ready and slowly open to trust again and believe that I can create an environment for me and my family that feels nourishing in love, light and spirit. That I can listen more intently if something doesn't feel right without the pressure to make it work just because my heart is so tender and big. I can channel that tenderness and bigness into those that truly see me and can offer this tenderness back. I can channel it into peaceful endeavors that breathe life into me not take energy from me. It is possible.

I went out to our backyard and this deer was sitting there...

This friend did not move when I approached. I walked towards it gently, wondering if it would run but it just sat there, staring into my eyes. I paused and breathed in and thanked the deer for reminding me. Ah yes, this is my Year of the Deer. My year of gentleness. I talked to the deer for a while, it tilted its head. I moved closer and it got up but it didn't run out of our yard through the large hole in the fence between us and our neighbor. It walked around the yard close to me. I walked in a circle and it walked in the circle with me. It felt like a dance of sorts. And I wondered if what the deer was telling me was that I will be surrounded by this energy if I remain clear that it is what I need.

Later in the evening a few gentle souls reached out to me out of the blue.  I didn't realize how much I needed that connection. I shared with one of them about the deer and she responded..."see. that is the real stuff. that is what helps define you. that beauty that is your being."  and again...tears fell.

All I had to whisper from my lips at the bottom of those steps was..."I cannot do this alone...".

Mmmmm...Summer Solstice, deer visits and warmth from loved ones. Such divine timing.

lighter lily love*

{all images in this post are of me last week wearing custom made feather earrings & feather in a bottle necklace from one of my blessed sponsors and new dear friend, laura at roots & feathers}

Firstly, happy Mama's Day to those who mother in all the beautiful and nurturing ways we can be mothering spirits to one another.

I begin this story with the disclaimer that I am calling the upper part of my body "lilies" not only because that is what we used to call them growing up in a household of four females but also to not draw spam or lurker-loos to this post. ; )

Anyone that knows me intimately or has been reading my blog since day one of putting myself out here in this space, knows that I am a lover of a woman's shape. I have always been drawn to it in my photography and was inspired by it in my pastel drawings. You can still find me sketching the hills and valleys, dips and skinscapes when I allow myself some quiet time to write or scribble while talking on the phone. Embracing various shapes is part of my upbringing as a Portuguese/French woman surrounded by my marmie, sisters, aunts, cousins, grannies and nieces that most always were confident in their skin no matter what size or shape.

I've shared much about my journey with my own shape here in this space. How I have always had curves and it was just so much a part of the fabric of my being. When it became a bit tender and vulnerable for me was following my fertility journey, when I saw my body shift and change and without a pregnancy or a birth to channel that acceptance. Many of my loved ones encouraged me and within my own heart, it helped to just believe that even though I didn't carry Cedar in my womb or birth him, my body grew wider, softer and went through the motions because he was so much my spirit baby. That offered comfort to me.

Many of you know that throughout our five years of trying to conceive, most of our intentions were to bring our child into our lives naturally: Herbs, meditation, tinctures, therapy, acupuncture, you name it, we poured ourselves into it. But for 5 months out of the 5 years, we tried the Western approach. I was put on clomid and HCG shots for 5 months and we did artificial insemination. Our insurance did not cover any of the costs because at the time my husband was a sexy librarian for a Catholic high school and we learned the hard way that the Catholic faith does not believe in messing with God's plan (ache. ouch. sigh). So if we didn't get pregnant naturally and needed to get out a loan for 25K, we were going to choose adoption rather than IVF because we knew we could only afford to try it once and well, our hearts needed a sure thing. ; ) At that point, we were open to whatever would bring us to our child. We have/had no judgements on any choice be it Eastern or Western but with my history, I had always noticed my body responded better to natural methods of healing. This was proven after I took clomid and the HCG shot. Suddenly, a few months after being treated, I had endometriosis. If I indeed had it before (I was never diagnosed), this medication made it 10 times worse. Suddenly, I had blood filled cysts on my ovaries, more painful cycles, I gained 15 pounds within a few months and my lilies grew from a D to a G. It was a fast transformation and it took my heart some time to catch up with it. Once we had Cedar, I put all my energy into him and tried my best to take care of each of our bodies with holistic nourishment in all forms.

Over the past few years, I began to get back, shoulder and neck pain. It hurt to walk around without a lily supporter on and if I tried to exercise, I would have to wear 2 lily supporters (thank you all for hanging in there with me and these fun words!). 5.5 years into living this way, the weight and the pain started to get so cumbersome that I did research about lily reduction.  My husband was so very supportive about me connecting with a doctor in the nearest city to just share my journey and gain some clarity, so we made an appointment with one of the top surgeons in the Pacific Northwest.

My boys and I took a trip to Seattle. They went to a really fun toy store and I went to an appointment. I remember sitting in the waiting room. Me in my layered clothes and Uggs and long dreadlocks and not at all feeling like I fit in with the rest of the women looking so put together and coiffed. But we all looked at one another, nodded, warmly smiled and felt this collective support because I know each of us were there for vulnerable reasons. When the doctor first met me in a private room, he shook my hand and said "Well you're going to be refreshing!" and at that moment, I felt he was a kindred spirit. We talked about our children and our spouses and he sat knee to knee with me in such a gentle and kind manner. I opened up with him about our fertility journey and how I responded to the hormones and of course the emotions came flowing as the story poured forth. He lightly touched my knee and I will never forget the kindness, the warmth in his eyes. "Denise, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. Many of my patients find themselves here after fertility journeys (loved that he picked up on my language). I know you never thought you'd end up here in my office but let me share with you what has happened to your body." He then went onto say that some women, those that do not respond well to synthetic hormones, can get extra tissue growth. Hence, how quickly my endometriosis spread around my reproductive organs and how my lilies grew so large, so fast and full of dense tissue rather than fat. Dense tissue is very heavy and this is where the aches and pain started for me. This is why I began to walk a bit hunched over and why the top of my shoulders have dents and bruises from the pulling. Many didn't notice my size because I chose to wear a lily supporter that was many sizes too small to pack it all in there so that it wouldn't hurt so much.

I think you know where this story is going. Walking out of his office, I felt so validated and the choice was not hard to make. The drive home when I shared it all with my husband he could see the lightness in my spirit and the freedom of sweet validation in my sing song voice. My surgery was set for a few months later and the extra tissue growth that formed from the hormones is no longer a part of my lilies and my natural form is back to the way it was pre-fertility drugs. I am now 14 days post operation and I am still healing physically but emotionally I have felt such a beautiful transformation.

Many of the loves in my life have been so poetic about this choice:  How moving to the Pacific Northwest, choosing to be a bit unplugged from the internet and being more present with my boys and my family, these lifestyle changes, shifts and choices I am making to live a year of gentleness are all connected. That it all is a metamorphosis of sorts. That I have cocooned when first moving here and now I am surfacing lighter...LIGHTER and shedding, letting go of so much that does not resonate with my heart, my body, my soul.

Its so so true. Thanks to my VERY selfless and helpful mother in-law, my dear husband and my sensitive and tender 3.5 year old, the past few weeks I have been given permission to fully REST and lay and meditate and sleep and not lift much of a finger. During this time of healing, it has all become much clearer to me. I am feeling more and more at hOMe in my skin, literally...and in my heart and I look forward to sharing much of that here in this space. I have unplugged from Facebook, from Instagram so that I can keep some things sacred, focus deeper in the present and in my close relationships and on some creative projects but I will not unplug from this space. I plan to be here more often to share this journey with you. I have needed to be quiet. I have needed this cocoon but oh how I feel an opening and inspiration is flowing. I am grateful to my readers and to my sponsors for totally going with my cocoon-y flow.

I realize the choice I made to lighten my lilies is not for everyone. I can imagine some will be disappointed in my choice and may have their own opinions about it and that is perfectly okay. I am attracted to and attract such earthy, elle-naturelle spirits. I get if it will not settle well with some. But I am in such a beautiful, solid and secure place about it (and so are my loved ones). It is human nature to project our own stories, thoughts and opinions onto others. I have compassion for all of it:  For people's reactions. For my own knowing and awareness.

I had many long emotional talks with my body before and after this procedure. We are in a good good space, my body and me. A good, tender-loving, nurturing place.

{I do feel it is important to share that my body's response to western fertility treatments is not an average or normal one.  I have never been able to take hormones (birth control pills, etc).  I am highly sensitive to it all, so know that, please...this is just my own story and it does not in any way mean it will happen to you if you are going down a similar path.  I have known many women that have been united with their children through the miracle of Western approaches and their bodies responded beautifully and were perfectly healthy.  Of course with all things fertility related, consult your healers/practitioners}

quiet mind.

This morning I am sitting here snuggled up in our big green chair. The blinds on all the windows pulled up, front door to the mud room/dining room open. Cool breeze tickling my cheeks. Flowers in bottles and vases and pictures surround me. Some from our yard. Some from our neighbors. Some from a local flower shop. My mother in law is here visiting and I hear her sipping her black coffee while tickity tacking away on her laptop, catching up on some of her work. She is here to take care of me, to take care of us while I am recouping from surgery (will share about this in next post). Cedar is still sleeping upstairs in his bedroom. He's been sleeping longer these days, growing taller each morning. We got him a new puppet a few days ago and are anticipating opening his door with this monster puppet when he wakes. He'll have a new friend this morning. I don't remember the last time my heart felt this at peace. Not only my heart but my mind...quiet. Quiet mind. I wasn't sure if that was possible for me. Being a bit more unplugged has helped with this but so has less television and more toes in the grass and fingers in the dirt and inviting interesting neighbors over for dinner last minute and sinking into their stories.

And I have some stories to tell you. MMMmmm...yes, I do and I will in the next post but for this morning, I wanted to share with you a few images from tiny corners of my world right now.

Oh, and all but one of my dreads have been combed out. Finally combed the remaining few out last week before surgery. I am savoring one. My tiniest dread underneath. I will carry my favorite bead on it. I just had to keep one. Just one.

I hope you feel the peace I am sending out to each of you. Deep breath...slow and clear and fresh...exhale...and Om.

heart flutters*

fireside dinner in our front yard, taken a few nights ago

I've been feeling quiet lately.  I think its just all part of this movement flowing through my life.  A movement of cocooning and healing and being mindful of where I put my energy and what kind of energy I allow into my life.  Its been so so good for me to keep it simple and present. So so good.

Here are a few things that are filling my heart with flutters these days...

Dreaming of the new yellow house we'll be living in this coming July and how I want to a create a nourishing, earthy, calm and inspiring space for my family and visitors.  Amused at how excited I get about dreaming up and designing a home.

Researching what it would be like to have chickens and goats.  There are some pretty darling homes you can build for them!  We went to an animal farm in Victoria, BC last year and got to sit with baby goats and cuddle and pet them.  It was there I learned that if you decide to have a goat in your family, you should have two because they need the company.  Hmmm...just like us, yes?  A lot to learn and a lot of work but its been fun to imagine the possibility of extending our family in this way. ; )

Looking into a studio space for me to put in our new backyard this Summer.  Something barn shaped and wide with lots of light.  My husband surprised me by purchasing this eBook because I want to experiment with painting furniture.  I love love to explore antique shops and oh that furniture from Anthropologie and Sundance makes me swoon.  Can you imagine doing that kind of stuff yourself?  I know.  I can too.  So, here I go.

I have fallen in love with using words for decor.  So far I have "Read" for our library/office.  "Dream" for our bedroom and "Gather" for our kitchen.  It adds such a fun touch.  Also loving the idea of poetry on a wall.

Whole Food Meal Plans is my saving grace these days.  At the end of the week I get a list of 5 recipes that I use for dinners, a few deserts and a fun weekend food project with a grocery list to gather up the goods for the next week.  Every single meal has been mouth watering...and I mean that and I am PICKY.  Usually when I try a particular way of eating and follow a book of recipes, I only like a few.  But oh my...last night my husband and I were talking about how brilliant Nicole and Alex are.  Seriously.  Drool worthy meals and healthy too.  But the best part is not having to plan out my own meals because I'll be honest with you, that is NOT my forte.  I love to cook but the planning bit is not my gig.

Loving and embracing the rhythm with my son.  His language is exploding and imagination widening and its so fun to be brought into his world.  His new found independence is a trip to witness.  Just the little things like gardening together or me being able to work in the yard while he rides his bike around me.  Being together but doing our own thing.  Its a groove I am really cherishing these days.

The other night I moved the chairs and fire pit from our backyard into our front yard and it shifted the energy of time together around the fire.  Its now something we can share with passersby or our neighbors rather than being so closed in.  I notice we spend a lot more time out front than in the backyard anyways.  So, opening up space like this felt really good on our hearts.

Would love to hear about what is making your heart flutter these days...

Guest Post & GIVEaway ~ Herbmama

A warm hello to all the Boho fans. My name is Latisha, herbmama. A giant thank you to my sweet friend Denise for giving me a chance to talk about what I love in her beautiful space.

After my daughter was born, I went in search of natural alternatives for health and healing for her. Something about the conventional ways just didn't feel, well, natural for us. And I struggled to know what to do when she was sick. So, I poured myself into learning as much as I could about natural remedies and my understanding and trust in earth medicine grew. The plant people came to greet me and show me their gentle ways and I found myself whole and home again. Now that my girl is older and she is joined by a little sister, I can look back at this time with more understanding. I remember how frustrated and small I felt among the massive amount of information out there. I made it my mission to help mamas feel comfortable and joyful and safe about using natural medicines. What was born out of that frustration was the HerbCraft Camps.

A multi-sensory experience using herbs as medicine the HerbMother way. This isn't necessarily a class for folks interested in setting up shop as an herbalist, though it could be a great staring point if you are just beginning. The herbmother way is written for the home herbalist. People who want to begin caring for their family and embracing plant medicine as a way of life in the home. Part herbal medicine making. Part crafting. Part re-wilding. Part re-childing. A whole lot of fun.

HerbCraft eCamps are a virtual nature camp for anyone interested in learning about fun, easy, mamafolk methods of herbal craft making. If you’ve ever wanted to start using herbal medicine, but just weren’t sure where to begin. The plants communicate with us through our senses, at camp you will be invited to awaken your childlike expression in the world as we greet our own HomeDirt with fresh young eyes.  It is my hope to pique your curiosity about the greenstuff growing right in your backyard and encourage you to begin using natural remedies in the home with ease and a feeling of security.

HerbCraft Camp is a gentle entry into the world of plant medicine, with a loving guide who wants nothing more than to help you feel success with treating you and your family in a natural way.

I'd love to have you along. I am giving away one free spot in the upcoming Spring Session camp starting Monday, March 19th!

GIVEaway rules:

  • To enter, please leave a comment
  • One comment per person, please
  • Comments will be closed this Friday at 10pm PST
  • Winner will be contacted on Sunday to begin eCourse this coming Monday!

WINNER: Congrats to Jennifer Blevins! HerbCraft eCamp starts this Monday...so excited for you. You will be contacted very shortly about details. xoxo

{images of latisha by the lovely georgia cranston of gypsy rae photography}

the power of our words*

My husband had a wonderful idea. Every Sunday, we sit together as a family and watch or read something together that moves us. Whether its a paragraph from a book or a video of some sort, it is something considered spiritual to our souls. A message that shifts our way of being, opens our minds, widens our hearts to love deeper. Our plan is to find something during the week and save it for Sunday to share with one another.

My husband found this video (above) and as we cuddled on our couch to watch, I wept. Oh, the power of our words. Something for all of us to meditate on this week. I will share more of our Sunday inspirations with you.

my dread journey: transformation ~ welcoming softness {part two}

shortly after i cut my dreads

cedar processing the loss and pretending to cut them. ; )

goodbye precious beauties of all tones, shapes and sizes. you hold so many stories and magic.

the products (details below)

cedar helping mama brush out a dread

mmmm...softness. taken last week. a bit more has been brushed out since.

cedar and me in vancover, b.c. last weekend. you can see how long my hair is even though the dreads were cut to my shoulder or above. when your hair is dreaded, it shrinks up in length.

Days have been moist with grayish tones in these parts lately. The sun will come out for a few minutes to remind us of what is to come and quickly hide beneath the mist. This morning the sun came out and shortly after our second snow of the season began to fall. In this moment as I sit up in our bed, snuggled in the sheets, looking out the bedroom window, I can see the snowflakes getting larger by the fall. Its so romantical to me. We are not used to Winter's permission to cocoon having lived in Southern California for 10 years. This time of cocooning has been full of so much transformation for my wee family.

Just as I am moving slowly and mindfully and simply in my life these days, I am doing the same with my dreadlocks. Brushing them out has been a very slow and mindful process. I didn't really know how long it was going to take. I didn't have much of a plan. I know some people just get to it and keep brushing until they are all smooth, a few days later. But for me, my life with a toddler that requires me to be fully engaged doesn't lend for that kind of time. So, I've been doing one or two during the evening when he is asleep. Most days just one because they take about an hour to an hour and a half to finish. I pick them out slowly and gently for less damage. There have been times when I let almost a week go by because I needed a break from it. As soon as I started to feel impatient, I took some time off. Because I want this process to be a peaceful one. And I want it to mean something...to be a ritual of letting go of what does not serve me and keeping close what does.

I started with 40 dreadlocks. I think I am down to 25. When I do it, I choose one on each side of my head to keep the loose parts even in the front. So I am moving from front to back. Right now the sides of my head are completely loose and I am going to start with the back of my head tomorrow but will do the top part of the back first.

I thought I was going to have a few friends help me. A handful of beautiful souls have offered but I am finding myself wanting to do it alone. I also have a certain way of picking them out that is working, so I worry that it would be hard for others to emulate. Part of me wonders if this is a control issue I am having or if it is more my inner self knowing this ritual is something I need to do for me. I am not sure yet. I do know that if a friend is over and I am feeling it, I will most definitely try to have them join in. I know since I am doing it alone, it is why it is taking so long. My husband would do it but since his job is designing on a computer all day, the last thing his already sore wrists and arms need is to brush out one of my dreads. It all works out perfectly.

I have noticed that my boys are cuddling up to me more. As I said in my video, they both have sensitive skin, so were unable to snuggle me and my head for too long before red bumps or rashes appeared on their skin. This is part of why I am craving softness, although not the whole of it. But an important part. I love how Cedar's been laying his head on my shoulder for much much longer these days. I marinate deep in those moments.

As each dread is released, I am feeling lighter and more weightless. My head hitting the pillow at night feels more freedom to roll about and sink into its softness. I have less headaches and neck aches. In a deeper sense, emotionally right now I am rising out of some old patterns in my life that were not healthy for me and I know this ritual has been part of that. This transformation to softness so much confirms the gentleness I am wanting to attract into my life. It is all becoming so clear to me.

More on that later. Here is what most of you have been writing and asking me about...

Boho's Dreadlock Removal Ritual:

  • In the late morning, I soak the one or two dreads I want to brush out in a big bowl of warm water for as long as I can handle it. 10 minutes is ideal but I soak them realistically for about 5 minutes.
  • I then wash those dreads in the sink with Knotty Boy Dread Removal Shampoo and rinse.
  • I pour a quarter size dollop of Knotty Boy Dread Conditioner in my palm and work it into my dread and root.
  • When the dread dries (which for me is by evening), I sit on my couch or the floor in front of a mirror and begin picking with the comb that came with the Knotty Boy Dread Removal Kit (I hear Dreadhead HQ's Dread Zasta and their comb is awesome too).  I start from the bottom of the dread and finish up at the root.  The root is the most sensitive part.
  • I like to pull the dread apart first before picking.  Its not really a brushing motion.  The brushing motion seems to damage it more.  I just pick and pull out the hairs and I brush the dread at the end when I am all finished.  You will find a lot of gook in them, which is product that was left inside the dread probably from not rinsing them well enough.  Its a bit groovy to see what comes out.  ; )
  • When I am finished, I treat the hair that has been brushed out with a few Shea Moisture organic all natural products.  I start with shampooing with Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Moisture Retention Shampoo.  Then after rinsing, I apply the Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque and leave in for about 10 minutes.  Once rinsed and lightly towel dried, I apply Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl and Hold Smoothie to retain my curl and bring bounce back.
  • All of these tips were inspired by watching this gorgeous diva's video.  Although she used Dreadhead products.  I wanted to but they took too long to ship.  I am happy with Knotty Boy.

While picking/brushing the dread, strands and clumps of hair come out and by the time you are done, you have a big ball of hair to throw out.  Which I hear is normal because we lose hair every day but if its been locked in a dread for years, all of that excess hair needs to be released.  It was an odd feeling at first because my hair seemed thinner and a different texture.  Once I washed and conditioned it, it felt a lot more like my hair but I know its going to take time for it to be more nourished.  I have patience. ; )

It does feel wavier/curlier than it used to.  Which is fun and playful.  And I have really enjoyed wearing hats that I was unable to wear with dreads!

joy that dwells far within slow time*

{my favorite feather, given to me by Rain. it reminds me that it is okay to need softness in my life}

As I sit here at my desk facing the window and little rain drops lightly fall onto the glass, I am feeling a deep peace. This peace comes from a dear friend reaching out and sending me a poem that spoke deeply to my heart. So deeply that I feel it puts words to the journey I am currently on and it puts an end to my quest to find the words, to name it. That is a weight lifted. As I read it tears fell and I whispered "yes...that is it. every. single. word."

I wanted to share it with hope that you to may find comfort in these words as well.

A BLESSING FOR ONE WHO IS EXHAUSTED:: by John O'Donohue*

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic, Time takes on the strain until it breaks; Then all the unattended stress falls in On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,

The light in the mind becomes dim. Things you could take in your stride before Now become laborsome events of will.

Weariness invades your spirit. Gravity begins falling inside you, Dragging down every bone.

The tide you never valued has gone out. And you are marooned on unsure ground. Something within you has closed down; And you cannot push yourself back to life.

You have been forced to enter empty time. The desire that drove you has relinquished. There is nothing else to do now but rest And patiently learn to receive the self You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken And sadness take over like listless weather. The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground; Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight, Taking time to open the well of color That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone Until its calmness can claim you. Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit. Learn to linger around someone of ease Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself, Having learned a new respect for your heart And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

{thank you, kirsten. i love you.}

shedding, peeling, healing, changing*

self portrait today

The other day I was driving down a coastal road and the song Dream by the Cranberries came on the radio. A rush of memories swirled through my mind. That song seemed to carry me through so many enormous transitions in my life. Somehow it would end up playing at just the right time. I remember it being on repeat when I would take jogs around downtown in Northern California or on a hike with me in the hills overlooking the valley or when I would pull the top down on my Tracker and ride to Santa Cruz with my long ponytail flapping through my denim Gap cap. Still...the other day, it came on and I rolled down our windows even though it was raining and I looked back at Cedar with his eyes shut and a huge smile on his face. I had one of those happy cries. The kind where you giggle to yourself and a tear follows and your breath deepens and it just feels goooood.

I needed this moment. Life has felt intense lately. I've really pulled in and am in a space of peeling layers of old. I told a friend tonight "we grieve over things lost even when they are not good for us. even when we no longer want or need them in our life, we still hold love in our hearts for them. its a shedding, a peeling off and it hurts and leaves us raw and in time, some longer than others, it heals." I am in that space where in order to live in this new life fully present, I am needing to let go of old ways of being and there are so many layers to that.  It involves how I move my body, what I put into my body, the relationships in my life, in my family, the way I share myself with others, the way I communicate and connect and its not just one big thing its tiny little things among each of these that add up to feeling enormous right now.  But its beautiful.  Its hard.  Its ugly.  Its vulnerable.  Its frightening as heck.  But its also so very freeing and grounding all at once.  And I feel so very blessed because I have had new and old dears come to me, without me seeking them out, that have been so very patient with this process, and I feel like each of them have been aloe to my soul...to the wounds that are left from the peeling.  I am a sensitive being and I know that cannot be easy for others at times but man, the gentleness this attracts into my life is mmm mmm good.

I see a lot of peace coming around the corner for the new year.  I see a lot of change.  I see being the change.

yummiest. parenting. book. ever.

deer medicine*

Every day this sweetness of a deer comes to visit us. Walks up near our doorstep. Peeks in near our window. Sometimes the mama comes. And each time, the gentle medicine it offers is at just the right time.

When we see it stepping on our lawn, Boho Boy runs to our backyard to grab a few apples from our tree and we throw it the apples and sit on the steps to watch it feast. Such a peace washes over us with her gaze. We look forward to this every day.

The first photo I took was the first one up above. When looking at it on my phone, I thought I caught a sun flare at the top right corner. But once I uploaded it onto my computer, I realized it was my reflection in the window. It somehow seemed significant to the place I am at in my life right now. Me, connecting to my roots, what connects me to Mother Earth and the Divine and how we are all so connected.

I was given this book by a friend when I lived in Berkeley 10 years ago. It was my first introduction into animal totems and the medicine and messages animals offer us when they come into our path. Most recently I have been awakened and made more aware of this by some dear souls in my life.

As I said earlier...this deer offers wisdom that I deeply need right now.  I was guided to this link by a friend and it resonates so deep with where I am right now on my path, especially the section I wrote in blue: Deer's medicine includes gentleness in word, thought and touch. The ability to listen, grace and appreciation for the beauty of balance. Understanding of what's necessary for survival, power of gratitude and giving, ability to sacrifice for the higher good, connection to the woodland goddess, alternative paths to a goal.

Only when we move through life in the spirit of love for all beings can we melt the barriers that separate us from others, from other life forms, and from the beautiful mystery which is our own magical and spiritual gift.

By observing the ways in which deer behave, it is possible to see what amazing qualities - or powers - they possess. From the deer we can learn that the gift of gentleness and caring can help us overcome and put aside many testing situations. Only love, both for ourselves and for others, helps us understand the true meaning of wholeness.

If a deer crosses your path, this may show you that you are a very compassionate, gentle and loving person. If you don't have these qualities, then consider if you have a problem that needs addressing. Are you facing a challenge in your life, whether with a fellow human being or a delicate situation? If you are feeling negative emotions such as anger, try letting go. Think about whether a gentler and more loving approach can sort the issue out. It may be necessary to speak the truth, this is best done with kindness and from the heart, this will generally give a better result.

Deer teaches us how powerful it is to be of gentle demeanor, to exert keen observation and sensitivity. Deer's are in tune with nature and all it comprises. They are sacred carriers of peace and show those with this power animal how to open their hearts and love unconditionally.

Deer has entered your life to help you walk the path of love with full consciousness and awareness, to know that love sometimes requires caring and protection, not only in how we love others, but also in how we love ourselves.

Deer teaches us to be gentle, to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are in our lives. Don't push people to change, rather gently nudge them in right direction, with the love that comes from deer. Love and accept people as they are. The balance of true power lays in love and compassion.

When a Deer totem enters your world, a new innocence and freshness in about to be awakened. New adventures are just around the corner and there will be an opportunity to express the gentle love that will open new doors for you.

listening*

I think so many of us, me included,  feel the need to fill up space with words in a conversation.  That when a loved one is navigating their way through something hard or uncomfortable, we feel a pressure to say the right thing or to fix it with advice or wisdom.  Most of the time, we all just need to be heard.  Sometimes just simply feeling validated for our emotions is all we need.  A lot of the time, hearing stories from another person going through the same thing is what heals the most.  It helps us to not feel alone.  It gives us strength to carry on...in our own way...in our own time.

I want to practice listening in a way that allows for someone to feel held exactly where they are without them feeling as though they need to move forward right away. I want to practice sitting with it, with them...and breathing into the emotions of now. I want to practice saying "I hear you, I feel you, this is hard or this is wonderful or yes, I understand where you are" more than "This is what I think would help...".

And I want to invite more of that into my life, my circle, too.

I am holding space for all of this today.