victoria, bc*

{on the ferry to victoria.  he got his blue moon wish for a ferry boat ride!  here he was chatting with passersby, whether they wanted him to or not!  he told many imaginary stories, which is how he communicates with people.  one patient grandma stood and listened to him for 10 minutes.}

{seeking an adventure.  ended up going on a ferry taxi tour. that is the Empress Hotel in the background.  breathtaking.}

{that bus in the background was our tour bus!  i've always wanted to do the afternoon tea at the Empress.  someday...}

{coolest public toilet ever.  good thing no one was in there while cedar was saying "helloooooo?"}

{on the bus, we had the whole downstairs to ourselves because cedar didn't want to be on the top. he felt safer down below. i learned so much about the history of the city on this tour!}

{solstic cafe...our favorite place to get yerba mate lattes.  they gave cedar a straw dipped in honey.  what a sweet treat.  their dark hot chocolate with honey was a favorite of his too.}

{a park at beacon hill.  here cedar had a bit of a break through playing with others with the help of a boy with a kindred spirit.  at first he said "there are too many kids here!"  but then this sweet quirky little boy that didn't want to talk to cedar just sat or stood near him.  and he let cedar chatter on and he listened and somehow, that gave cedar courage to feel safer in this environment.}

{listening intently to the captain on the ferry taxi tour.  we saw the most adorable house boats!  we are tempted to retire on a house boat someday.}

{fan tan alley. one of my favorite places to browse. so teeny tiny and full of hippy earthy shops.}

{cedar picked this fan out in china town over a toy.}

{my boys outside the museum, pretending to be totem poles}

{at an exhibit at the Royal BC Museum}

{us on the double decker bus tour}

{resting on daddy after a long day of adventures}

Victoria is a place we have visited each year since our honeymoon. Sometimes twice a year and now that we are a bit closer, perhaps it will be more. We are so drawn to this gorgeous city!

The last few times we brought Cedar, I noticed there was an underlying sense of being a bit bummed that we couldn't do all we used to do BC (Before Cedar): Sit at an Irish pub, drink Ciders and listen to stories from tourists or locals, filling our bellies with yummy spicy Ceasars and watching hockey, walking around the city at night after romantic dates at a new restaurant, long drives for hours exploring the island. Don't get me wrong, we so enjoyed our time there with him but I also found ourselves stuck in the muck of old expectations and spending energy trying to release them.  We weren't really wanting to admit it to one another but it was just an energy that was there.

This time around, I wanted to be more present and aware of our reality. The reality that vacations with toddlers aren't always relaxing and full of sleeping in and doing things on a whim. Especially when Cedar is more comfy knowing what's happening next and also repeating things that bring him a sense of joy...over and over!!  Going into this trip with the intention that it will be all about toddler-ness, completely shifted the energy for us. We still did many of the same things we did the last few times we were there with Cedar but this time, that sense of longing to do or be somewhere else on the island wasn't there. We were right there with Cedar, seeing it through his eyes, following his rhythms and it felt gooooood to our souls.

I left remembering how important it is to be present in the moment and to let go of expectations and go with the flow of now whether on vacation or at home or anywhere, really. Its a simple concept but it takes practice.  Daily.

i heart portland*

This was a unique birthday for me in that I spent it choice. Much of my life I have been a person that balances being social with also being alone. Some people are filled up in crowds of people. I am a person that gets filled up with quiet time. I recall a dear friend of mine once saying about herself "I enjoy my own company!" and I thought that was brilliant and brave and beautiful and so so secure. And I get it. I enjoy my own company too. I now know as a 40 year old woman (weeeee!) that allowing for alone time is crucial for my empathic, introverted self. What I realized as my birthday approached was that now that I have a child and a husband that works from home, I am rarely and I mean very rarely alone. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, all I could think about was sleeping in without interruption, long walks, sitting at a cafe with a book and window shopping...alone. Oh, and throw in getting my dreads tightly locked by my soul twin Stephanie for a few hours and I am GOLDEN.

I didn't take for granted one solitary moment. I woke up at 4am and while my boys slept, I sipped my warm yerba mate while getting ready for my airport taxi to arrive. I stepped out into the still dark sky and chilled morning, took a deep breath and I don't think I stopped smiling for two days. Of course I missed my boys and reached out to my family and my soul sisters. There were moments when I wondered if I should have planned a gathering or allowed others to plan one for me but then I always came back around to knowing I needed to feel filled up and rested and when I get together with my gals, sleep is never on my mind. I am learning...learning to take better care of myself and a sweet little gnome named Cedar has something to do with that. Okay, a lot to do with it.

Portland is a charming city. Simultaneously smooth and vibrant. Definitely one of my favorite places on earth and each time I have been there, have felt so at home. So many kindred spirits walking the streets.

When I landed and walked out of the airport to find a taxi, a kind looking man approached me. He had soft eyes. My heart told me to go with him in his taxi. On the way to the salon , he told me about how his family came from Ethiopia and how he loves Jesus. He even invited me to church with his family. It was the sweetest conversation and he was so open to my thoughts on religion and spirituality. We decided that he would be my driver from the hotel and back to the airport. It felt like a gift. Each time I saw him, I soaked in the stories about his country and the food. Oh the food. I must try it!

Being with Stephanie was like warm butter on freshly baked bread. Oh I have missed her and our spirits feel so twin that I find myself nodding as she somehow is able to express so much that I can't. This time for us was about big intensity but also big laughter. She is medicine. And man, nobody loves on my locks like her. I just let her do her groove thing and she works her magic.

She had to tame my wild head but I know it will unravel soon. We both agreed we are in love with cavewoman-esque hair. ; )

One of the first places I went after my dread appointment was me and my husband's favorite tea shop: Tea Chai Te with their cushy velvet chairs and couches, a variety of mates and chai's and a smell that I want to bottle and take home with me.

Sinking my body into the blue velvet chair, I felt so inspired. I felt so closer to the me that has so much to say and so many ways to express it creatively. I wish I had remembered to take my journal with me but instead, I just let myself feel it and move through me. The last time I was there was right before adopting Cedar. And there I was a tired, worn totally in love mama to a toddler aching to be alone for a day. I would have never imagined!

My husband set me up in the funkiest hotel a few blocks away from 23rd street (my favorite). The Inn @ Northrup Station. So fun and colorful. Especially their salt water taffy center pieces in the lounge area. ; )

Most of my time was spent drifting in and out of shops, people watching and taking deep breaths. As the night fell, I ordered a gluten free pizza and a chick flick. Mmmmmm. I found myself emotional about being away from Cedar in the night. We had a teary Skype. Boho Boy is so brilliant at diverting Cedar's sadness into laughter. I didn't expect to feel that deep pang of missing over just one night away especially when so many nights I ache for space to sleep uninterrupted and into the late morning. We are a co-sleeping family but it still surprised me that I slept better at home than in the hotel room alone. It was nourishing for me regardless but also so good to be reminded that I am also nourished by the closeness and connection I share with my boys.

40 was just awesome in so many ways. Especially awesome because I went into a Free People store for the first time and left with their ADORABLE cloth bags that held my new bday sweater. That store is just eye candy-liciousness. The owner of the store was giggling behind the counter at how I needed to touch everything and how I drooled over the design on the walls and the tree branches hung from the ceiling draped in ribbons, yarn and sparkly trinkets. I want to hang branches from my ceiling, yes!

Just walking down the street and seeing this adorable double decker bus filled with vintage yummies on the side of the road speaks volumes about Portland's groove...

I heart Portland.

And I heart my parents who will be pulling into our driveway this afternoon after taking their first roadtrip to Washington!

froggie pack*

loving his new froggie pack
cedar and his new froggie pack from auntie dd,  taken with palm pre phone (august break #23)

daddy & cedar at the airport
meeting daddy at our home airport, taken with palm pre phone

My sister got a pass to help me through security at the airport today. I need help because Cedar has suddenly become SO active and isn't a fan of sitting still in wide open spaces. : ) So holding onto him while taking off my shoes, his shoes, my backpack, his backpack and pulling out all the liquids is so totally impossible when he wants to run off. This is why we use the monkey backpack leash. I know people have opinions about it and I can have compassion for their aversion to it but oh my gosh, what would I do without it? He would run off in an instant and I would lose him and be a total mommy wreck. Besides, the idea of a monkey hugging him brings him massive amounts of delight. At this stage, it has saved our lives and sanity, since I travel alone with him a lot. I do wonder if those people that have opinions about these leash backpacks have had a very active toddler that won't let you carry them in slings or packs, hold them, hold your hand or sit in a stroller while in crowded spaces. Bless the hearts of anyone that can handle it better than I can.

So, after Darlene and I got through all the liquid testing and padding down of security, we saw these adorable stuffed animal fuzzy backpack rolly thingies in the window of one of the airport shops. So, of course Auntie DD had to go check them out and Cedar immediately started pulling one of them around the shop. He's all about pulling wagons with stuffed animals inside, so a stuffed animal he can pull was absolute bliss.

He proudly walked around the airport with his new froggie pack and monkey on his back. Everyone laughed and smiled and while getting on the airplane, Cedar kept stopping and pointing to his new froggie pack, showing all the folks in the aisle seats. It was awesome.  Thank you, Auntie DD...score!!!

The moment he saw daddy coming towards him when we arrived at our home airport, rather than hug him, he pointed to his new froggie pack to show it off.  It was hilarious and so fun to see Boho Boy totally get the excitement about it.

Here is a video of Cedar pretending to talk on the phone on our iPod Touch, while mid-flight home:


cedar eating celery.
cedar eating celery at our friend's house in santa barbara

Today was spent settling back in after being gone for a long weekend in Santa Barbara. It was really dreamy being there. So many wonderful memories. Not only the place where I met my darling husband but also the place where I came to heal, driving down from Berkeley, without much of a plan. I was 30 years old and ready to spread my wings and start a new chapter in my life. Our time there was spent reveling in many heart soaked, late night talks and also drinking a mouth watering smoothie called Betterfinger at Blenders in the Grass. Its like a liquid Butterfinger but healthy...sort of. Fresh squeezed carrot juice, peanut butter and frozen soy blend. Who would have thought?

I am going to do a vlog for you hopefully tomorrow. I want to connect with you in that way. It feels more intimate and raw.

I would also love to hear from you. Even if it is just a simple hello. Say hi and where you are from or tell me something yummy about your day. I love to bridge that gap between writer and readers from all over the globe. I am equally inspired by the way you all seem to come here and spread your gentle wisdom and comfort and love. Do say hello in the comment section. Let me see you! Even you shy beans!

p.s. don't you just LOVE the door in this photo? it is at our friend's house in SB. its also rounded at the top. so so so dreamy.

where we fell in love.

younger years
me & boho boy in our younger years. i look so smitten.

We are off for the weekend, to the place where Boho Boy and I met and fell in love. We'll be pointing out to Cedar all the places where his mom and dad made out. ; ) And where daddy rescued mommy's purse that was lost in the sand one late night. Once we got back to my place and realized I had left it on the beach, he insisted we go back and he was my hero, digging in the sand, by moonlight, past midnight. So sexy.

Our first date was awesome. Toes in the sand and spilling our hearts. Spontaneously wine tasting and purchasing a bottle of chocolate wine. Eating sushi and everyone staring at us. We think they thought he was Robert Downey Jr.

Ohhh...the memories will all flood back.

Will be back on Monday...xoxox

our time with marybeth.

marybeth, canon 50d

marybeth & me
marybeth & me, village books, bellingham - taken by boho boy

reading time.
mia, boho boy & marybeth reading to sula

echo & marybeth
marybeth reading to echo, village books in bellingham



sula, echo & mia
the girlies in their home (love boho boy in the mirror making them smile)

dinner at marybeth's
breaking bread together {william, marybeth, boho boy & cedar}

cedar walking
cedar walking to william & boho boy (longest steps yet)

cedar & marybeth
cedar falling into marybeth's arms

cedar & mia smiles
cedar & mia smiles

mia guiding cedar
mia guiding cedar as he walks

tumble down hugs.
tumble down hugs

echo on marybeth's red couch

Months ago I was guided to an amazing circle of women. Women that have old souls and feel as though they have traveled together many lifetimes. Some I knew and some I didn't but was given links to their online journals. I spent some time there and felt honored to the core to even be considered a kindred. Their thoughts, their stories ran so deep and raw and truthful, so close to our Mother Earth and so intertwined with all things goddess. I felt empowered just learning more of them.

I remember soon after writing to Marybeth..."I want to be you when I grow up."
She then responded..."I want to be YOU when I grow up."

And so it begins...a mutual admiration and crush and a lifetime of learning and growing from one another.

I encourage you to spend some time in her space. Her words will rip at the core of you. The parts we keep hidden and unrealized begin to reveal themselves when you get lost in her heart, her mind and her soul. Her ways of pure non-judgment allow me permission to be and feel and celebrate and embrace stories of my past or present that I attached shame to. She has a gift and it both gently kicks my ass and surrounds me with the cushioniest of cushions.

Marybeth and I have connected deeply via email...for months now. So, this trip to what could be our future home in Bellingham, was exciting for two reasons: being there and meeting her in person. Her and I were supposed to have some alone time that first night. To curl up near a fire with tea and be fully present with one another. To process the transition from screen to flesh. This never happened. After our flight and drive, we were exhausted and we would have to wait to meet until we were all together as families.

This threw me off a bit. For me, I still struggle with not being able to be fully present with my girlfriends when I am caring for Cedar and they their babes. It is something that is so foreign to me being a first time mom at 37. I know that being with others that fully understand where your attention needs to be is so very helpful but I still am conscious of it and a bit awkward with it. Especially with a new friend.

Because Marybeth is who she is, I felt comfortable being honest with her. After first meeting her with all of our kids creating life and laughter and sillyness around us, I didn't feel I connected with HER the way I so needed and longed to face to face. Our focus was on our children and their energies, which of course was beautiful to observe. The following day, when we got back to the hotel, I wrote her an email. Even though we were just a few blocks away, I went to a place I felt safe...a place where her and I can wait until all are in bed and fully be present with our exchanges. I wrote her this...

i felt on the verge of tears all day yesterday. especially being with you. i wanted so badly to curl up with you and just spill but i find that so hard to do as a first time mother, keeping my attention on cedar as well as making sure my husband is comfortable in a new environment. balancing those attentions doesn't come natural to me. i am a one on one person so so much.

I love how being fully honest in a gentle way opens up flood gates within friendships. She then felt safe to share her own feelings and reservations and dreams of what she needed as a first meeting and the next time we were together in person, it all just felt like home. Those expectations of what was supposed to be seemed to melt away and it was easier to let it be, knowing that if we don't have today, we will have another time and there is always our safe, quiet, sacred space of email. She was very gentle and affirming about this new territory for me of balancing motherhood and relationships and that like anything else, it takes time and practice, as it did with her and many new mothers in her life.

She's an awesome person to practice with! I am so thrilled to share my life in Bellingham with her and her magical faerie family. I am craving a community of like-minded spirits and families to gather and connect and share and learn from. I know she craves this too. And together we'll help one another create this life.


cute street
downtown fairhaven, bellingham

We were driving on the freeway along a plethora of tall majestic trees. Rain was lightly pattering on the windshield. Cedar was in the back seat squealing because he was eating an apple. Apples make him happy. I mean REALLY happy because its small and round and red and something he can grasp with both chubby hands and it makes sounds when he bites down. Its a beautiful thing for a mom and dad to see their child so gleeful about fruit.

Then we saw the freeway sign. The mileage from here to Vancouver and Bellingham. The idea that we are that close to Canada, my husband's country, felt surreal. We have been waiting for this trip for months. A visit to a place we had never been but had already began to feel like home: Bellingham, Washington.

Months ago, I wrote a Facebook note about what a dream home meant to me. I spoke of oceans, forests, cool weather, my own vegetable garden and fruit trees, clothes on the line that were homemade by me, like minded souls surrounding us, lots of windows with a large porch and a swing, affordable housing, outdoor education, restaurants that cater to our diets. A sweet spirit wrote me a private message. "I live in such a place. You should come visit. Its Bellingham, Washington." I had heard of this place long ago when my friend Letha wanted her and I to go to college there. She knew it was an artsy town surrounded by lush green. It just wasn't the right time for me to go.

So, my husband and I did a lot of research and we kept shaking our heads at how perfect it sounded for us. We are deeply in love with British Columbia and had playfully dreamed of moving to Victoria but what held us back was that it would be stressful for my family to travel there by plane and ferry boat. Everything was perfect except for that...and that was a big thing. So the idea that Bellingham was so so close to both Vancouver and Victoria had such a pull on our hearts. We were quiet about it with the family because we couldn't explain why we felt such a pull when we had never even been to this place. It wouldn't make sense...and it needed to make sense to us too. So we tried to be more practical (which isn't typical for our gypsy souls) and just considered this a "vacation"...a chance to visit B.C. and a cool city.

As we drove into Bellingham, we immediately ended up in downtown Fairhaven. This is where our hotel was. It also happened to be just a few blocks away from my dear friend's house. None of this was planned. It just all fell into place. Fairhaven was where she had said a while ago would be perfect for us. But I had forgotten that.

I took a photo of it with my phone and immediately sent it to my family. My niece Angela wrote back "It is so storybook!" and she is so right. This is how I describe it to people now. Its so darling, so storybook...a bit surreal and too good to be true but it is...true.

Here are some images of downtown fairhaven:

toy garden

downtown fairhaven

village bookstore

downtown fairhaven2

fairhaven village

downtown fairhaven3

My husband and I have this long list of what we would love our dream town to have and it just seemed the whole time we were there, we were mentally checking off that list. Ocean - check, Forest - check, Charming homes we can afford - check, Good education - check, Clean city - check, Awesome organic produce - check, Gluten free foods available in stores and restaurants - check, Earthy crunchy vibe with a balance of urban coolness - check, Close to Canada - check...check...check. Even down to the wee detail of cafes that serve rice milk (because Boho Boy can't have dairy and soy makes him feel crappy too). Even yerba mate lattes? Are you serious?

the woods cafe
the woods coffee coffee and gluten free english muffins! ~ boulevard park, bellingham

Then we saw this young woman, walking near the co-op with her guitar, singing her heart out...oh how my heart swelled with a knowing:

free to be.

I was immediately sold. Although I know part of that is just my gypsy heart that has been yearning for a move for years now. Living where we are now has been the longest I have ever stayed in one place. I love to experience new places and cultures and am not at all afraid of change. I crave it. So, at this point, I could be like..."cute city? lets move!" and not pay attention to all the other things on our list. But now that we have a child and that this move would mean Boho Boy would be quitting his day job and earning income solely from his database business, we have to be logical and practical and clear. I could tell he loved Bellingham but it wasn't until the fourth day that he looked at me and said..."okay, i love it...lets move here!" with a huge smile and sparkly eyes. He said this after we had spent some time at the local Food Co-op, trailing up and down the aisles and squealing at all the delish foods. We then noticed the store had a little room off to the side with a rocking chair and stacks of toys and a shelf full of children's books with a mini table and chairs. It was a room for mother's to feed their babes and children to play. Cedar crawled into the space and started playing with the toys. These two children, about 9 and 10 years old sat down and started talking with us. Their language was so mature and articulate. They spoke of music and their studies and that they were home schooled. I imagined Cedar having friends like this. Growing up around kids that were in love with nature and chilled out and well spoken and kind. It seemed everyone we met that lived there had rosy cheeks and a kindness that was so very genuine. Many walked by with sincere smiles and one woman yelled across the street..."you're such a beautiful family!", which made us giggle. But really? Who does that? I was just enamored with the local folk.

a lot of flowers
downtown fairhaven

harvest moon cafe
harvest moon bakery, maple falls...close to bellingham in the mountains

harvest moon cafe
cedar & boho boy playing with a darling family of three boys and a mom from canada, visiting. we exchanged emails. they were awesome.

Then we finally were able to gather with my friend and her rad husband and three gorgeous girls. Being in their creative home and sitting down and eating and sharing stories and laughing at our children tumbling down to the floor hugging one another already felt like we lived there. That we weren't on vacation but just rather popping over for an evening to break bread with good friends. They helped us feel so at home. I had never seen my husband so engaged with another man. It almost made me cry. The thought that he would finally connect with like minded souls and have friends to hang with blew me away. He hasn't connected closely to anyone in a long while and I know he needs this, especially now. I too was giddy that I'd have a mama friend to play with during the day. To walk down to one another's houses and gather for hikes and exploration of sea creatures on the rocky beaches.

dinner at marybeth's
marybeth, william, mia, sula and echo...with cedar & boho boy

village bookstore2
village books, downtown fairhaven

It's just a dreamy place...and I'll probably tell more stories in posts to come.

On our last morning together, we reveled in what became a morning ritual. Our hotel room had a gorgeous window seat big enough for the three of us overlooking Bellingham Bay. We would take the comforter off of the bed and throw it on the window seat, along with the pillows and snuggle up there with a bottle and our teas and talk and dream about what life would be like there. This last morning we went over a list of all of the "why's" we should move here and it was a long beautiful list...

our window seat in the the chrysalis hotel & spa

What I loved most was that from day one until we left, Cedar had the most adorable rosy cheeks. He looked healthier. He seemed happier. He started standing and walking firmer. That was enough for me to feel deeply connected to this place.

bellingham trail
the trail near our hotel to downtown fairhaven

cedar scarf
cedar on our window seat, wearing a scarf knitted for him by auntie pammie

bellingham, smoothies & american idol.

green smoothie.
green smoothie, canon 50d

I know I've been a bit quiet this week. With Cedar being a bit more mobile, its been really fun exploring our days together. I am soaking in the wisdom of many mothers before me and am truly embracing each moment with him. Even the moments when we are laughing at flax seeds in his diaper from the flax seed toast he ate the day before. ; )

Our minds have also been occupied on our upcoming trip to Bellingham, Washington for Spring Break (we might also spend a few days in Victoria, B.C...depending on the flow of our days). Bellingham sounds like a slice of Utopia. Years ago when in high school, my friend Letha had a dream that her and I would study art at WWU in Bellingham. The way she described it then sounded dreamy but I wasn't yet ready to venture out at that time in my life. My dear friend Marybeth lives there now and I can't wait to snuggle up and watch our children play. So looking forward to how Cedar is with three gorgeous, creative, soulful and spirited girls, all older than him. So far with the few friends (his age) that he has played with at the park, I see a gentle, chill, forgiving spirit about him. I will not at all have this expectation that this will always be his way. In fact, I have no expectations at all...but it is so heart filling to see him being kind to others when he hasn't had any experience with siblings or other little ones.

I also wanted to share with you something that Cedar and I try to do together each day; drink a green smoothie. I have tried many varieties and my most favorite is my friend Sara's tropical blend. You can find the recipe on her foodie site here (scroll down for the video). She inspired me to drink it out of a mason jar. Everything tastes and looks better with a mason jar!

green smoothie time.
cedar & moi, drinking our afternoon nectar

p.s. i am watching american idol this season and i just need to give a shout out to Crystal Bowersox. i love her ways. i love that she may shift things for this show in the future. encourage others to listen to indie artists. and i love that she brought a comfy carpet with her on stage because she felt it was too cold and sat down on the carpet with ryan seacrest. she's such a kindred spirit. love her dreadlocks. love the ribbons in her hair. love her arm jewelry. she just rocks.

another p.s. check out this delish giveaway over at gypsy yum's blog.

our dreadie love fest in portland.

dreadie love fest
jess, sara, me & stephanie (the dread goddess) at akemi salon in portland

steph & jess
steph & jess...these women teach me so much

cousin mary
cousin mary on akemi's couch

steph studying sara's dreads
steph studying sara's dreads

stephanie & sara janssen
steph crocheting sara's beauties

janssen family
the janssen family on tour

me & the dread goddess
steph crocheting my hair

jess, me & dread kitty
jess & me snuggling on steph's couch with the dread kitty (at her home)

home of the dread goddess
the hauntingly romantic and gorgeous home of the dread goddess

jess & steph
jess & steph at a bakery/cafe

mississippi station
clockwise bottom left: jess, steph, cousin mary & megan at mississipi station
for lunch post dread appt.

and here is my result...
amy seeley & me
amy seeley & me at The Farm Cafe for dinner post dread appt.

We all surfaced from this weekend with hearts that shifted, expanding wider and deeper and softer. I was exhausted on the plane ride home. But a good exhausted. The kind when you're replaying over and over scenes from the last few days in your head and there is too much excitement to sleep. Even though my head was pounding, I had a smile on my face as I gazed out the window at the rainy clouds beneath the wing. The belly of my heart felt full of all of the soulfood that these women fed me and I was in something that felt like a soulfood coma. You know what I mean?

Perhaps it is a blessing that the dear ones in my life do not live near me. Blessing in a sense that when I do gather with them, my senses are heightened and I soak in every word droplet and story and heart spilling and I hold their hands and walk arm in arm and snuggle them close and don't take a single second for granted. Perhaps if I saw them every day, I wouldn't notice all the teeny tiny beautiful details as I do when we have these gatherings (or perhaps I would). I suppose I am going there in my head because most of the time I feel sad living away from my buds but if I shift my perspective to the blessings of those small but amazingly precious moments, then I'll feel more grateful than sad.

Over the course of a few days, so much of what happened during the dreadie love fest was not in the original plan but it ended up unfolding so beautifully. We were all in such an open and relaxed head space that whatever came our way just made sense, because we allowed the moment to teach us.

Jessamyn was the one that found us a place to stay. It would be at her cousin Mary's grandmother's home (who was on vacation). When I arrived, I met Cousin Mary (this is what I named her) at the airport for the first time and when I first laid eyes on her, she felt so familiar. She came over and hugged me good and I was immediately charmed. Within a few minutes, we were snuggling around granny's kitchen table, followed by a few hours of tears, talking through some hard things, trying to find our center...together...three women living different lives, with similar values and helping one another to stand in our integrity.

The same circle of love followed us into the salon the next morning. We walked in to find Stephanie (the dread goddess) lighting incense for us, with her wide gorgeous eyes, squealing "do you know how long I've been looking forward to this?? I hope you guys don't mind that you're stuck with me all day when the appointments are done!" I loved that she planned her day with us. Again...there were hugs and hearts spilled on her vintage couch and tears and wisdom shared.

Do you know that feeling of walking around with an expanded heart? A feeling of calm and openeness? But also a buzz of excitement and connection and like something bigger is happening here? Like...we were all brought together to learn something, to walk away from this weekend changed? This is how it felt. That buzz. Each of us felt it and acknowledged it.

Then in walks Sara Janssen...a dear blog friend, whom I've connected with via email and also am collaborating on something with. We were not sure if she was going to make it, as her family is on tour. She immediately felt like a kindred to each of us (while we ran our fingers through her delicious dreads within minutes of her arriving).

Then close to the end, in walks Megan, Cousin Mary's roommate from college...and we all hopped in our cars and gathered at Stephanie's house, which was surreal in and of itself. Such an ethereal haven of magic and mystery in every room. We then ventured out and walked through puddles and in the rain to lunch, where as you see in the second to last photo above, there was some much needed laughter and release.

Later that night we met with my dear yummy friend Amy Seeley...whose music has torn apart and put together our hearts. This new gathering of souls felt harmonious with what the hours prior had already cultivated. We first sat near a fire place to have some pretty drinks before dinner and immediately cut to the chase about where our hearts were.

Each one of these women are hardly into surface talk and perhaps that is why the gatherings felt so deep and intense but marvelous and soul shifting.

Definitely a Ya Ya essence and it is why I can wait. I can wait and weather the long periods of time I don't spend with my girlfriends because it truly only takes a few minutes to get right into the good stuff and reconnect and refuel and create memories that linger with me during those lonely moments away from them.

I am learning to trust the unfolding of these gatherings. Trust that when all is aligned there will be a balance of intensity and lightness, the Yin & Yang of personalities that as women in friendships, we all crave the balance of.

I think why I am reflecting and reveling so much in this is that this past year, I have really come to a place of not having expectations when gathering with women and friends. I know each of us as women (and men) crave deep and easy connections but sometimes, when we force these, it can be hard and hurtful or dissapointing. I felt aware of this revelation while at Squam this year; that when I let go of trying, connections happened more naturally and with ease. I observed this in my own life and also became aware by observing others going through it as well. Now I wonder if because I am letting go of expectations surrounding this, that I am attracting what I need within my life surrounding friendships.

10 months today.

cedar & me today

I know this photo is completely out of focus and the Buddha art on our wall is hanging crooked (which is awesome...just keeping it real) but I just had to post it because of Cedar's expression as soon as he saw the red timer light on the camera. He is SUCH a little ham when we start clicking. Perhaps because he's had this huge black lens shoved in his face since the moment he was born.

Today he is 10 months old and I just feel the need to share about him. Over the last few days since I arrived home from Squam, we've been a bit attached to the hip. I had never been apart from him since birth (with the exception of errands and a few 2 hour dates with the hubs). We went from always being together to five days not together and it was tough on our hearts. Although being surrounded by artists and girlfriends in the woods was so healing and needed for mommy to rejuvenate, at night when all was quiet, I was deeply missing my boy and silently shed some tears in my pillow. We have a deep bond, him and I...and it goes beyond the mother/son relationship of fulfilling basic needs. He has this old soul spirit about him and being in his presence is so healing (and addicting). Its the spirit I was always connected to long before he came into my life but now he's just in the flesh. My family jokes around about calling him "baby Jesus" because he just seems to heal those he comes in contact with...both strangers and loved ones.

He did wonderful with daddy and Omi while mommy was away. So wonderful that a vulnerable part of me wondered if I was imagining this close connection him and I shared. I was happy that all was going well and that he was taking long naps and smiling, laughing and living brightly during those days without me but the selfish, irrational part of me wanted to be missed. I didn't know what to expect when seeing him at the airport. Would he just glance away? Would he ignore me? Be resentful that I left? Indifferent? These were fears I shared with a few cabinmates while snuggled up on our beds eating chips, hummus, cheese and grapes. Tears were shed as I shared how important it is I feel connected to him as a mother, especially being that I didn't carry or birth him. When these emotions surfaced, they surprised me but they needed to spill and they were received with such gentle open arms in the four walls of my cabin room.

So, the day I arrived home I was hanging out at baggage claim and I felt a poke in my back and I turned around to see my gorgeous tall husband standing there holding Cedar. Cedar was in an adorable pageboy hat with his big soulful eyes and he smiled big and said "mum!" with his hand stretched towards me. I melted...totally utterly melted. I grabbed him, kissed my husband romantically good and then didn't let go of Cedar the rest of the night. Boho Boy and I were cracking up at how joyful he was that I was home. He even squealed when I'd look over at him on the drive home from the airport. Okay,, we do have a deep connection and I was just being silly. Note to self: trust your heart.

Saying "mum" so clearly was a wee milestone for Cedar. He hasn't said words yet. He does the typical..."babababa" or "mumumumum" or other similar sounds. So, it was a delicious moment. A woman standing near us at baggage claim leaned towards us and said "that was priceless...all is better now." She saw me tearing up as I held him.

Another thing I wanted to share about Cedar that I find adorably cute is that he is a scooter. He refuses to crawl and all he wants to do is scoot, scoot, scoot on his bubble butt all around our hardwood floors. Its hilarious to watch. Must get it on video for you folks.

And lastly...he has the best chunker legs ever. He fits into 12 months pants and that rocks my world. So much to snuggle and squeeze and nibble.

Today I took him to Whole Foods and this dude covered in tattoos head to toe (and all around his face) approached us. He placed his head down close to Cedar's and said "you're the most adorable guy I've ever seen" and where I think most babies (and mommies) might have pulled back because lets be honest, this man looked a bit scary, Cedar put his hands up to his face to stroke his cheek. The dude got all misty and it made me misty. Jesus, right? ; )

Happy 10 months truly are the brightest beacon in our lives.


the woodsy magic

squam kiss
kiss sent to my family via my phone on second day of squam

Many people coming back from Squam (both Summer & Fall sessions) speak of a magic that dazzles the woods. For those that have not been there yet, I can imagine they wonder what that really means. Last year at Squam, my heart and soul were consumed with wondering if I would get a phone call that our birth mother was in labor (she was predicted to have a preemie but ended up not). It was difficult for me to stay present. I felt the magic, the heart swooning, the connections, the beauty...but I am not quite sure if I listened to all that surrounded me intently enough. I am not sure I felt it as deeply as it danced around me.

This year was different. I walked on the gravelly dirt paths surrounded by trees, leaves and bark with a more peaceful, quiet spirit. I found myself just be-ing moment to moment. I heard the wind harmony of song through the leaves. I allowed for complete quiet at night, tucked in bed without needing to fill it with noise. I observed connections happening around me without feeling the need to be part of it. It was just beautiful to observe. If I did happen to be part of a deep soul friendship connection, I marinated in it without allowing the huge crowds to distract me. This way of being is home to me and it feels like years since I have come to this space of comfort within.

I remember my dear friend Jen coming up to me after a few days in the woods..."you seem so good...just coasting, just okay with everything." I knew what she meant. She observed me walking softly after years of observing me wanting to walk softly but being unable to. Others that have been part of my journey noticed too and rather than pull me aside and ask me a plethora of questions as to how or why I am in this space...they just let me be.

There were women from last year that from afar I knew were kindred spirits. Last year I was afraid to nurture those connections because they were mothers. It was hard to sit in the spaces of mothers sharing stories about their children. I protected my heart so much from anything that would surface icky hurty stuff when I yearned to not go there because I knew the well of sorrow would not stop pouring. Last year I wasn't in a space to let that well flow.

Again...this year was different. I sat snuggled onto beds or couches listening to mothers talk of their children with tears welling because they missed them. I listened to birth stories without feeling like I have missed out on something sacred. I shared my own birth I cradled our birth mother while she bravely brought our son into the world. Our stories were all unique and I was now part of a tribe of women that supported one another gently. Ever so gently.

I sat with women I admire. Women that have discovered their true passion and dreams and have created a life for themselves that is so utterly extraordinary and inspiring. I listened, absorbed the stories of how they gathered all of their bravery to do so and the tools that helped them get there. And when it began to feel overwhelming because I tend to move slower with such things, I left the room and sat on my bed and closed my eyes and centered myself, feeling okay that I do things differently.

It was just five days of feeling safe in my skin and safe with others. Five days of walking down path after path and smelling the scents of nature and listening to the music it plays. Five days of giggling with my girls as they danced on the beds at night and let go of their inhibitions. Five days of stepping out and saying hello to those women I always wanted to say hello to (and snuggle with in front of a fire). Five days of somehow, somehow...not allowing my ego to take control but rather letting my ego go completely. Five days of feeling like a woodsy hobbit faerie nymph in my dreadlocks. Five days of loving without fear. Five days of feeling so fully inspired by over one hundred unique, beautiful, soulful, thriving, cracked open artists of all types, from all around the world.

More feelings to share soon.
More images too.

out of hiding and dressing up.

polaroid by deb

I have been a little fireball of energy today. It feels so good. Not the energy that would make me want to run tons of miles (i wish i loved to run. at one time I convinced myself i loved it when i lived in Berkeley and was in awesome yoga shape but in reality, i couldn't do it without music blaring to distract me from not liking it very much). The energy I feel today is more from joy and acceptance and a feeling of freedom within my body.

I am packing for my trip right now. We leave tomorrow morning. I heard that it is extremely hot there and to wear nothing but barely nothing. Since I posted my vlog the other day, the one where I am being extremely vulnerable and brave...sitting there on my floor showing all of you one of the most insecure parts of me; my arms. I have felt empowered and a bit more daring with the part of my wardrobe that I have hidden in the back (strappy light cotton summer dresses...smushed far far behind layers and layers of clothing).

I know we all have those parts of us that we are critical about. We all try to overcome them and see ourselves as our loved ones see us. One of those parts of me is my arms. I have never had thin arms. Well, I take that back. I did for a few months in my life...and that was after my boyfriend of five years and I broke up and I moved to Berkeley and couldn't bring myself to eat out of shock and I went from a size 6/8 to a size 2. I never noticed how thin I got because I was stumbling in a transition that was unexpected and trying to find my footing and I didn't have time to look at myself. It wasn't until my best childhood friend Amy came over and gasped and made me a huge plate of scrambled eggs and forced me to eat it (with gourmet love) and after a few bites, I realized I was STARVING and remembered I love food and I haven't stopped eating since. ; ) All the way up to a size 10/12. Woo hoo I love food!

Anyways, I digress. So, I have been hiding my arms a bit. Well, A LOT. So, today, while listening to Kate Havnevick on Pandora and Cedar was soundly sleeping down below, I pulled every. single. strappy. dress. out. And you know what? I had a blast!! I had forgotten how many unique and lovely dresses I have collected over the years with hopes that I would someday be brave enough to wear them.

So here I was, trying on dress after dress and viewing my whole curvy body in the one and only full length mirror we have that we cart around our house and lay against the wall wherever we are. I actually twirled and danced and said out loud...I LOVE YOU MY FORSAKEN ARMS!

Its happening folks. I am letting go. Letting go of needing to be a certain way in order to feel good in my skin. I am going to choose to be that full figured petite woman that shows her skin and embraces the goddess bits. And if through this new way of eating and taking care of myself, I lose weight, then I will love myself just the same and know my intentions are pure. Because I want to put my energy towards it not being about weight or size but about FEELING good and sexy and wanton and...well, like me. I just need to make that choice. For me. For my son. For my husband. For those that love me and have been longing for me to be more gentle and forgiving and embracing of my new fuller self.

So, I have packed only strappy dresses and nothing else. A few light and airy cover-ups if needed...but this is so exciting! Dear world...I have fuller arms and fuller bosoms and that is brilliant.

Some of you that are new to this space might be thinking how trivial this is or perhaps how vain. That there are so many more things I could put my energy into or how could I think about my arms when there are people struggling with so much worse across our precious globe. These thoughts enter my mind as well. Daily...perhaps throughout the day. And I remind myself that this isn't an issue of beauty but an issue of me overcoming those messy and hard parts that came from my (in)fertility journey. Parts that I am working on releasing and transforming into a grand purpose in my life and the life of others that have gone through what we have. That purpose is becoming more clear and this is a piece of that puzzle for me.

We are off tomorrow and I promise to document some of my appointment. My husband and I are so giddy about my dreads! I have never been so thrilled about a new hair-do. Perhaps because it represents so much more than a new, fresh style. More on that as it unfolds...