bravery

Easter brings newness to our boy*

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us en route to vancouver. someone is a wee excited!

The eve of Good Friday, my boys and I were curled up by the fire and Cedar shared with us that he was ready to get his hair cut. I could hear the readiness in his voice. He has talked about it before only to be followed with a fierce "no!" once he realized a part of him would be gone. We've been gentle about it with him. We know that transitions of any kind are especially hard on his spirit. So many times he has referred to his curls as "pets" and made it clear often how much he cherished them. I intuited they offered him safeness (and sameness). Of course I cherished his locks too, as did anyone that spent time with him. Although they were now down to his bum and on their way to dreadlocks and constantly up in buns or ponies. So we understood that he was ready for soft and new, just like I was last year. So harmonious with our honoring the New Life that Easter brings.

We told him that we will revisit it again in the morning to see if it still feels right to him and if it did, we would make an appointment that day.

Morning came and he crawled into my bed. While we were snuggling, he looked in my eyes and whispered..."Hair cut. I'm ready." My heart both leapt and sunk at once. This was truly the day. The day to let go of those gorgeous untouched baby curls!

A few months ago we stumbled upon a really cool children's salon called The Hair Loft. Its sits on the top floor of the Kids Market on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC. Inside there are chairs in the shape of cars and trains as cartoon characters (Thomas the Train, Lightening McQueen, Dora the Explorer, etc) and there are televisions inside the walls playing animated films or shows. I called them Saturday morning and they had an opening at 4pm! Off to Vancouver we went for the day...

I was so in awe of his bravery. Cedar is very particular about who he allows to touch him. He is very sensitive to peoples energies and of course to any kind of caress. Especially with his hair. I wondered if when the stylist started working her magic on his hair, if he would melt down and we would turn around and go home but quite the contrary, he was just so determined!

Out of all the cars available to sit in, he chose the one that wasn't a cartoon character at all but a beautiful vintage convertible. He's so my boy!! ; )

He asked the stylist if his daddy could brush his hair first. I was proud that rather than push her away or start screaming, he asked for what he needed. This has been a huge shift in our world for him and for us after a few months of occupational therapy and us working with him to take deep breaths and find his words so we know what he needs.

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The stylist cut off his curls in one swoop, handed it to me and I put those locks in a special box I found at an antique store years ago near my parents home. My sister said she wanted me to save her a lock and I want one too.

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I'm giggling as I am writing all of this about his hair but THAT is how much me and my family have cherished it and Cedar has too. Its just been such a huge part of him and that is why shedding it was such a good practice. For him, for us. It felt like a very similar emotional and spiritual process when I got my dreadlocks and then again when I cut them and combed them out. New life. New Beginnings...

So many mothers have shared with me that they have cried when their child got their first hair cut and watched their baby curls fall to the floor. And goodness I cry just about every day because I am such an emotional being. But I stood back and felt his bravery and stepped into it, for me, for him...and it became such a celebration!

The last few days we've been gazing at him. Our boy now truly looks so grown and he feels it too and dare I say its even brought on a bit of sass in his ways. ; )

He said he wanted to look like one of the guys from the band the Beatles (his favorite band) I think the stylist pulled it off with a bit of a modern twist.

Here he is the morning after on Easter. He woke up and immediately put on his boots and sweater to go fetch the eggs the Easter Bunny hid the night before. At the end of the egg trail was a basket full of gifts. We had painted the eggs with natural dye as soon as we got home from Vancouver. It was such a glorious morning...

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vulnerability, ego and laughter*

vulnerable

The other day I laid on my bed laughing at myself with a friend. Laughter that came from my deepest places. Laughter that moved around the parts that felt stuck . I had just been extremely vulnerable with her and in my vulnerable, I knew I was taking a risk sharing these parts of myself that are achy and dark, hurty and insecure, uncertain and fumbly. My vulnerable was witnessed by her, fully witnessed and yet, I was still so very loved and seen, really seen, understood and even celebrated. In her witnessing, I somehow was able to fully witness myself. And in that moment, a sweet release of laughter came forth.

I've been so protective the last few years. In my cocoon, healing the raw...inviting few into my world. I needed to do this. It was not easy and quite foreign for me but somehow it felt good in my bones to be this protective of myself, of what surrounded me in the physical. I gave so much light for so long and it was time for me to surrender to the dark that was left and rest alone in it. The cozy womb of safety and ease, simple and hushed. Man, so much was revealed to me about myself while in this sacred womb. And now, is the laboring of birthing myself again...the core of me. I am surfacing gently, slowly...moving towards those spaces where I can be seen. I know its time...time for me to enter back into the uncomfortable bits of opening myself up again. It's freeing along side stilling along side extremely raw. Stilling in that I feel so much that was once in my life has moved on from me...up and out, beyond my grasp and that is when I realize, the grasping is what needed to cease and the surrender of Trust is what needs to be present for me.

My laughter, head down on my bed, rolling to my back, stopping, breathing and laughing again was me recognizing how much my ego was finding its way through what I was sharing with her and it is my ego that I have practiced letting go of the past few years. How quickly it returns when you're wanting so badly to fit back into a space you once were and prove to those around you that you are worthy enough to be there. But oh my dear heart...when I let go of my ego, I don't need to belong anywhere really but h(OM)e within myself. Exactly where I am and who I am in that moment.

You see...I am writing an e-course with a dear friend and we hope to launch it by this Summer and this...this has brought me so much life because I/we have lived so deeply in what we want to put out into the world. We are still in it and it feels huge to invite others into this for me. I've been so protective and quiet, so to be seen again in this way...its vulnerable and frightening and yet heart stirring and life bringing to walk into this unknown.

I'm different than I was. I'm truer to myself and those around me. I've been deeply humbled. And the best most yummiest part is that I laugh at myself more often. Whole heartedly belly laugh at myself.

The words of my friend...

She poured out her self, abandoned her ego, and laughed. Again and again, head down, healing poured through her, and light flowed. She knew herself, knew her Love, and spread it down the bed, across the mountains, and through the portal of sisterhood, into my lap.

Mmmmm...yes.

how they teach us*

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a walk in my sister's almond orchard

In Blackwater Woods

"Look, the trees are turning their own bodies into pillars

of light, are giving off the rich fragrance of cinnamon and fulfillment,

the long tapers of cattails are bursting and floating away over the blue shoulders

of the ponds, and every pond, no matter what its name is, is

nameless now. Every year everything I have ever learned

in my lifetime leads back to this: the fires and the black river of loss whose other side

is salvation, whose meaning none of us will ever know. To live in this world

you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it

against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

~ Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1

**************

Words from Mary that have reached deep inside my bones and offered my heart rest this week. This indeed has been a year of burning fires within and rivers of loss, only to find salvation, find my TRUTH on the other side. Its been a year of holding close to my bosom and clinging onto those last strings of hope and then, letting go of that which I love deeply but doesn't serve my heart. And yes every year of my life is filled with this but this past year seemed to be that of deeper layers of burning, raging, surrendering and flowing with it all. Perhaps because it wasn't just about me but also about my son, who I am so deeply connected to and being along side his own journey. It was about the growing pains of my husband and I learning to be his advocate by paying attention to, listening to, protecting and honoring his unique rhythm despite the selflessness this would require, despite the judgment of some that we trusted with our vulnerability.

Its been deeply humbling and empowering to find my own voice, for myself and as a mother. It didn't come simply for a people-pleaser like me. This past year I've had a greater awareness of how deeply I desire to be liked and loved and accepted by all that come into my life and when I am not, it causes self doubt. I've seen clearer how these parts of myself led me to putting others needs and ideas before mine or my family in a damaging and unhealthy way. I'm slowly breaking free from those peacemaker ways. I am still nurturing the pieces left by gently putting myself back together again, with tenderness and a gentle wildness, as I rise and stand firmer and firmer, taller and taller.

In all the books I've read about parenting a child with unique needs, one thing that is consistent is the importance of circling you and your child with those that trust, honor and respect your choices and desire the same for your child that you do. I am so deeply blessed that this journey with Cedar has attracted a gentle circle of supportive souls around us.

I know all parents travel this journey within their own unique stories. Our children inspire us to find our own voices, inspire us to trust our own intuition and to let go of that which doesn't bring peace into our lives. This is how they teach us.

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sunbeams, blossoms and healing

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 body stories*

When I was asked by the lovely Sas to be part of this project, it felt so so good in my bones. I have been trying to be really conscious about how much I can give right now in my life based on the reserves I have left after being present with what is in front of me. As I have shared here before, saying no in order to take care of myself and my family has been something I have had to learn. But this project gave me that burning in the belly and I knew my voice had a place here. I said yes and I am so glad I did. I am moved by Sas and her desire to help women who want to heal their body relationship. My relationship to my body has been a spiritual journey all on its own...as it continues to be.

These collection of stories about women and their relationship to their bodies is so deeply real and moving and from various perspectives. I was reading through them in the middle of the night in bed, taking deep breaths, wiping my tears, sighing big sighs and feeling so not alone and validated. I found my own ache and celebration and freedom in each of their stories. What we all need, yes?

You can download the free PDF The Body Stories here.

free and unsquashed spirit*

Right before I took the photo above, Cedar said "Mommy, I never want to cut my hair. Can people keep curls as pets?"

People often ask me if I will ever cut his hair. Some have suggested, since Cedar has a bit of a feminine face, that it might be a good idea. Whenever we've asked him out of concern for it getting in his eyes, we get a passionate "NO!". Not a day goes by when we are out and about that Cedar isn't referred to as a girl by a stranger. But my husband and I have really desired to cultivate nonconforming gender ways of being and have just allowed Cedar to guide us with his interests and needs and what comes natural to him.

When we were ordering him some soft pajamas online, we asked him to pick out which style he wanted. He chose the purple and pink striped ones. My husband and I looked at one another and had one of those unspoken nods of understanding that there may be a journey ahead of us. No matter how liberal and open minded we are, we know there are others out there that are not and allowing Cedar to be and dress how he desires will be a constant choice to let go of those pressures of cultural norms. We know he is only about to turn four...but growing up near San Francisco, it is difficult for my mind to not go to those places of what may lay ahead for him.

We are blessed to live in a very open minded community. One of the reasons we love this place so. Although I still hear people around me say "he is ALL boy" or "girl or boy energy". I'm not sure why whenever those words are spoken, that it stirs something inside of me. Nothing negative but more like a fluttering or nervousness. I never felt this way before having a child. So my intuition tells me that there may be something ahead of me in my journey with Cedar that may have to break through those preconceived ideas of what kind of gender energy he has or what kind of gender he is more like.

A few days ago his babysitter Emily (and best friend) told me that they were outside playing and he outstretched his arms in a moment of complete abandon and yelled with his scruffy voice "I am Woman!!!" and as she told me this, we both giggled and had a knowing look. We knew Cedar in that moment just got the whole woman power thing and its wild because I've never yelled out that phrase to him. It completely came from within. Then of course shortly after that, he'll play with this tractors or cars and let the wild rumpus start. Or he'll be outside playing with our neighborhood girls sitting in his big yellow car making loud car noises and then stop to compliment them on their dress or skirt.

The other day I heard Cedar up in my bedroom. I walked in to find him putting my lipstick on his lips in front of my mirror and saying to himself "I love you". I fought that knee jerk reaction to stop him. Tears welled up and in that moment I realized that is what its all about: Loving himself. We just want him to feel free to be who he is and love who he is and have a strong self esteem. Whether he ends up being more gender-boy or gender-girl or gender-fluid, we hope for him to have a free and un-squashed spirit and we will nurture that in any way we can.

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.

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?

Susannah Conway: this i know*

{her beautiful book, all photos in this post are by susannah}

7-ish years ago, I remember laying with Susannah, side by side, my limbs curled up to her limbs, dreaming about how her journey through grief and healing needed to be put out into the world. I knew from her first brave blog post that her stories would be beautifully bound for many to hold in their hands and press gently against their hearts. Yes, a book that all who knew and loved her were certain she needed to write. And she did. And its here. And its launched! And my happiness for her is permeating from me.

Susannah has done a fun and exciting blog book tour (before she goes on her in the flesh book tour) and this space of mine is one of her stops. We decided to do a Skype interview to share a bit about her book with all of you but rather what ended up happening is us dancing down memory lane. We decided to go with the flow of our conversation and keep it down to earth, real...because that is truly the energy and vibe throughout her whole book.

In this clip, we talk about how we first met and how that was the catalyst to her beginning her own blog and how the healing process of writing and sharing her self inspired the beautiful journey she is living.

{here is the post Susannah refers to when she reached out to me the first time}

My heart feels full. As I said during our Skype session, it has been such an honor to witness her unraveling from the very raw beginning of days until the present. To witness her channel her grief, healing, self discovery and creative awakening into inspiring others to find their own way has been one of the most sacred gifts in my life. I feel a bit like a proud sister and with a lump in my throat and such deep love in my heart for her, I encourage each of you to pour through her pages. What I love most about this journey for Susannah is she never pretends to have arrived. Through her teachings and inspirations, she is constantly right beside all of us, learning and growing as she continues to unravel just like me and you.

You may order the book through Susannah’s website by clicking here. There are links on the page to Amazon (US, UK and Canada), Barnes & Noble and Chapters. Her book is also available at your local bookstore. Other places you can connect to Susannah is on her website, her ground-breaking e-courses, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram.

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}

soul*stice.

"On the longest night of the year, as we prepare to enter back into the light, it is important that we honor the darkness with as much reverence as we do the sun's return. Gestation and regeneration take place in the dark. We once grew in a dark womb. Plants begin their lives under the dark cover of soil before they emerge into the sun. Our dark places are not to be feared. They are as necessary to life as the light. Without a shadowed haven into which to retreat, even the life-giving sun will eventually kill you. The light and the darkness give balance and perspective to all of life."

Thoughts on the Solstice sent to me tonight by my love Mani.

{dream catcher was a beautiful gift from my friend rain, custom made by roots & feathers.  the star ornament is a gift from my friend sus and i hope she leaves from where in the comments because i know you'll ask!}

its the journey, not the destination*

The other day I was walking on the grass at the park with Cedar. I had my iPhone ready to capture some moments of him during play. I ended up tripping a bit on a wee hole and falling. My phone went flying. I heard the camera go off. This image above is what was captured. The red you see are my favorite pair of pants that I live in. The flare is from the sun. I think you can see a whirl of green grass even.  So much beauty captured before landing to the ground.  Which reminds me of a quote.  "Its the Journey, not the destination...".

I am sure some of you have sensed by my quietness here and what I have shared that there has been a lot going on with our Boho Family.  Just a lot.  There has been some heavy emotional terrain within my immediate family that my sensitive heart has taken on.  Then there has been Boho Boy and his health not being where he needs it to be with a chronic sinus infection, kidney stones and a bladder infection.  We are information geeks and he is most comfy with holistic treatments, so that takes energy to find what suits his body and to continue to be mindful of what could be causing this for him.  Then there is our precious Cedar and the entrance into his two years on this earth where his body and mind are growing fast beyond his communication skills.  A space where he needs to release all these new sensations physically and emotionally and unless we are fully present, there is an abundance of emotion expressed.  He is our spiritedly passionate, wild, sprite, gnome boy who deeply wants others to be in his imaginary world...right there with him and he senses when we're not.  ; )  I think because of all this, preparing to uproot ourselves into a new home and a few other things, I feel like I am always on the verge of having a cold.  That achy, tired, sore throaty feeling.  Sometimes it goes away only to come back later that evening or the next day.  Having both Celiac since birth and endometriosis, two auto immune disorders, I know this means I don't have the most stellar immune system.  Usually when there are big things going on for me emotionally, my body absorbs it and releases it through a bit of illness.   I usually know what to do to prevent such things but with all this whirly stuff going on, I have to be honest in that my focus hasn't been on taking the best care of myself.  We've all been there.  These seasons within our bodies and the ebb and flow of self care depending on how much energy we can give ourselves.  I think those periods of time when it feels this way is called Survival Mode.

So this brings me to my e-course.  My husband and I sat down the other night and got a bit real with something we've been trying to ignore.  Registrations for my e-course are coming up and neither one of us feel as prepared as we had planned.  On his end, he is designing a gorgeous feature for my Nectar Girls and has not had enough time to finish it.  He had to take on a few more clients for his database design business in order to build up his clientele for when he goes independent and the work load is greater than he had envisioned.  On my end, with all that has been going on, I wondered how I would guide so many soulful women to get in touch with their nectar, when mine was feeling undernourished.  Throughout my life journey, it has been so important for me to remain authentic and when I teach this course, I need to be in alignment with the truth that I am sharing.  There are so many elements to this course that are nourishing and what I need to do in order to feel in a place to teach is to make them my practice and reconnect with my own nectar.

So many fears surfaced about me postponing my course.  I worried that many of you would lose interest and not be there when I finally felt ready.  I felt a bit like I had failed myself, failed you...and my vision.  The hours following that discussion with my husband, I wasn't very gentle with myself.  When I get like this, I put a call out to my soul sisters to help me clear the muck, quiet the voices that are false and get back to my truths.  One of them said to me; "I think one of the many reasons so many of us admire you is because you always honor what's right for you. This is just another example of you honoring the space you are in." and another said "You are wise and brave and you are teaching more by doing this than you ever could by teaching about nourishment when you yourself were undernourished!" Man, I felt so loved and understood and blessed to be surrounded by gentle teachers.  Their support confirmed so much to me what my heart was aching to say to myself, to all of you.  I just want to always keep it real and I couldn't pretend in order to live up to what was expected of me.  When I shared it with my sister last night, she said that she had a feeling it would be too much but what I love about her is that she allows me to figure it out on my own. Another friend reminded me of being on an airplane and the flight attendants telling us to put our oxygen masks on first before we put them on our children. I need to breathe first before I can help another breathe.

I also feel so deeply that this journey I am currently walking on will become part of my course.  As I am shifting and evolving through this process, so will what I share with you.  The timing will be just what it is supposed to be.  I don't know when yet but as soon as i begins to feel right, I will announce the new date.  We are imagining mid Summer, after our move.

Just as in the photo above, the unplanned, unexpected and down right messy can turn out to be quite beautiful because our lives are about the journey and not the destination. This time, this ebb, this mess... is all part of that beauty.

firm and fragile*

.A dear friend the other day, in a loving way, suggested that I get a thicker skin. I've been meditating on that and what a thick or thin skin means for me.

There are periods of time in my life when I feel more centered, more calm, a firm pillar for me, my family, my friends. Then there are times when I feel stripped raw and fragile and a bit anxious and in serious need of being protective of what surrounds me, what I allow in. But in all times, I am a tender soul. I am empathic. I feel most everything profoundly and deeply. I have had do a lot of soul work on being aware of what emotions are mine or of someone else near me, in the same room or walking by (or even virtually). My sweet husband would tell you that I have come so, so far in recognizing these emotions and how I am more able to establish boundaries that help me to be in touch with what is mine and not feel responsible for what isn't.

There are times when my skin is thicker, yes... but right now is not one of those times. My reserves feel low. We are going through a huge shift with our move to Washington around the corner. A lot of energy is going into preparing for it all. My husband is building his client base so that he will be able to quit his day job and support our family with his own business. This means working quite often around the clock and this also means less time for me to nourish my creative diva . Or what one of my friends calls my Creatrix.  It means less time for connecting with those that I love.  Every spare moment of Cedar's nap is spent cleaning and working and attempting to connect with others, yet not feeling present.  Two hours a day goes by so, so fast.  My poor email box is beyond full. I know I have disappointed many people that have reached out and I have been unable to give back the way I would like, or they need. I haven't even phoned my parents as much as I long to. This is crunch time. This is what my husband and I call it. It is temporary but necessary.

I think it is why I am having a difficult time putting what is going on with me in words. There are elements that are holding me back when I usually just let it flow, regardless of how it may be received by others. I find myself feeling protective of my heart. More sensitive to opinions or unsolicited (but well meaning) advice.  So, I've been coming to this space feeling stuck and I am hoping that by writing that I feel stuck, that I will somehow become unstuck.  I know that so much of where I am is a result of pouring what reserves I do have left into Cedar and this very powerful, emotional entry into boyhood for him and also my husband, who has been dealing with some health issues.  I don't have a lot left for me right now, let alone all of the people in my life that wrap me up with their unconditional, radical and uber forgiving love.

The thing is, I know what I need to do in order to feel centered and what type of self love I need and what types of food I should be eating and how much stretching and body movement I need but its the time that isn't there for me to do these things.  Its my energy that feels non-existent at the end of the day.  So, I told my dear friend the other day that I suppose I am in survival mode.  I am navigating what is in front of me.  What I can touch and feel and hold and let go of.

Our lives will be so renewed in June.  And when I say that, I don't have a lot of expectations.  The most simple changes will feel so abundant.  One being that we will live in a house with a yard on a street, with neighbors and children near us.  Right now we live on the 3rd floor in a building surrounded by college students or single seniors that are not super fond of children pounding on a wooden drum in a room full of thin walls.   Just that one shift in our living situation will be so, so massive in our hearts and for our nature-loving well beings.  Any blessings that come into our lives after that will be BONUS.

I already feel braver to share some big things moving around in my heart...just because I have written down here where I am at.  So, you'll probably see me around more.  I just needed to stretch my limbs a bit and take some deep breaths.  I needed to give myself permission to be in a space of thinner skin than usual and embrace my more fragile self gently.

So rather than run and hide, which is what would be so easy to do, I come here as I am.  Tough and Tender.  Firm and Fragile.

brave moment*

self portrait
self portrait, canon 50d ~ august break #27

Today I was reminded of a brave moment in my life.

In my mid-twenties, a girlfriend of mine took me to Napa for my birthday. As we were sitting on a blanket in the grass, sipping wine and eating cheese, we noticed a wooden stage in the middle of wide open space of the grass. People were laying and sitting around it, doing much of what her and I were doing. She giggled a bit into her wine glass and wore a mischievous grin. "I dare you to get up on that stage and recite a poem."  I sat and thought for a moment.  Then, to her surprise, I got up and walked over to the stage, hearing her "oh. my. gosh." behind me.

I stood up on that stage and took a deep breath and shouted "Sonnet 24 by William Shakespeare!!" It got most everyone's attention and the words started pouring out of me...with my arms throwing about and a deeper tone to my voice:

Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
And perspective it is the painter's art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictured lies;
Which in my bosom's shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art;
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

I know...I know...a wee bit mad, right?  I'll never forget that moment.  I bowed to the enthusiastic claps, high fives and whispers and I believe I said something along the lines of "Happy Birthday Me!" while stepping off the stage  ; )  It made my friends day.  In a way, it made my life.  Liquid courage, I suppose.

I would love to hear about one of your brave moments...doing something you never thought you would or always wanted and did.