self love

touch*

Taken and processed with Cameramatic app.

I've been reveling in touch lately.

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

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

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

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

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

two passages that help me feel clearer*

clearer, self portrait

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

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

poem by Rumi

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

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

But now I have Rumi to remind me.

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

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

And she sent me this passage...

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

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

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

The Secret Life of Darkness*

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

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.

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

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

There you can be sure you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb tonight.

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

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

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

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

anything or anyone that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

~ David Whyte ~ (House of Belonging)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***********

all images by rain

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

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

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

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

All. Gift.

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

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

The truth is, all life begins in the dark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything you want

is on the other side of fear.

George Addair

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

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

But before we can find them, we must listen.

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

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

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

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

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

from Anthem, by Shawnacy Kiker

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

Honey, can you hold on?

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

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.

asking for what we need*

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

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

fear and gentleness*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

glimpse*

Sometimes I look across the room and get a glimpse of what may come in the future and I linger and watch this other worldly space he allows himself to surrender to. He doesn't know I am witnessing or that would bring him to the present.

Like this moment, when he grabbed his guitar shortly after a sensory overwhelm melt down. He sat quietly, closing his eyes, picking at the guitar, rocking his body, then moved to face the window, knowing what he needed to connect to for solace.

What I want most for him is to be deeply in tune with what he needs in this life. So, these moments he tunes in, without any guidance from me, brings a deep sigh from within. Mmmmmm.

i did it!

From this...{taken two days ago} To this...{taken a few minutes ago}

Yesterday, I had my hair chopped.

A few nights ago, I flipped through a Free People magazine with my friend and pointed at a few long hair styles I was thinking of. This would be the first time I am getting my hair cut since combing out my dreadlocks. I wasn't quite sure what I needed or wanted and was torn between long and layered and short and light. She helped me figure out a few things...that I wanted to be able to wear braids and ponies and messy buns. So I had the picture ready and what I wanted to say to this new stylist all down.

And then I sat in her chair and found myself sharing with her my dread journey.

And after a long pause of staring at my hair in the mirror and taking a deep breath and listening to what my soul needed, I heard the words come out..."just chop it."

The whisper that came to me was that I needed to release some energy left over from my dreads. Not a bad energy. Just energy that needs to take flight, as I spread my own wings and allow this transformation to softness, lightness and ease into my world.

It just seems the journey of my hair most always parallels what I am moving through in my life. Just as getting dreadlocks AND combing my dreadlocks out was a practice in letting go of attachments, so is cutting it short.

Lately I felt myself more annoyed with my hair than it being an expression of who I am. My scalp is still sensitive from the pulling of a few years of heavy dreads. So the many times my long hair got caught under my pillow or arm while I was sleeping or my son or husband's body and pulled, oh my, my once tough scalp was hurting badly at the tug. I am paying attention to those tugs. Not only physically, but emotionally and what feels peaceful in my life and what just plain doesn't.

And that is what I felt in my gut when I sat down in the stylist's chair. I need peace in my locks. Lightness and peace.

A friend of mine asked if there was lots of swishing of my hair yesterday and yah, you could say I swished my hair around quite a lot and this morning I woke up like an annoyingly happy mama baking bread and singing while doing so. I would have never thought that would be me. : ) Baking? Singing? In the morning? I suppose that means I made the right choice.

Sponsor GIVEaway & Guest Post*

Greetings lovelies...

I am so grateful to Denise for allowing me to share here and have this GiveAway...

I've created an online sanctuary for women to gather as we journey inward, nourishing our spiritual roots. We will integrate concepts from various nature-based and philosophical perspectives, within the context of a Metaphysical paradigm, and bridge our understandings of Self with that of our Family, Local and World Communities.

Intuitive Heart Sanctuary is an online retreat for enhancing Self-Awareness within Community and Nature... This is an eCourse and Social Gathering all-in-one!

The Intuitive Heart Sanctuary is designed to nurture and awaken your spirit with teachings and prompts that guide you into heightened awareness and deep appreciation of all that surrounds you, including signs and symbols in nature and all the beings and events that show up on your life's path.

It’s a venue to witness what shows up as the flame brightens between us... Featuring weekly videos, podcasts, a photo gallery, engaging activities, forum discussions, complimentary and inspirational music, and lots of resources to support you as you raise your consciousness and awaken to possibility.

This space is private and password protected, and once you register you are able to set up a personal profile within the group so we all get to know each other better. Everyone is encouraged to share thoughts and photos, and highlight their own offerings and services to the group in subtle ways that make it a sustainable network for branching out and supporting one another.

The Intuitive Heart Sanctuary will begin on June 25 - August 19, 2012 for Summer Session.

Get the details and read more about my intention for this offering here at Intuitive Heart Sanctuary.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

One of you will be invited to join Intuitive Heart Sanctuary for free!

To Enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post sharing one thing that has inspired you lately.
  • One comment per person, please
  • Comments will be open until Monday, June 4th at 10pm PST
  • Winner will be announced Tuesday, June 5th

Thank YOU! _______________________________________________________

Lauren Luquin is an Artist and Ordained Minister/Practitioner of Metaphysics living in Southern, CA with her husband, 2 children, and their dog. They enjoy unschooling, urban- farming, and natural living. She shares her poetry, stories, and art on her blog at www.laurenluquin.com. You can also connect with her through Facebook or Twitter. Join Intuitive Heart Sanctuary for Summer Session at www.intuitiveheartsanctuary.com .

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}

warm wind*

Have you ever been standing there in the cold and the clouds begin to part a bit, letting a few sun rays stretch down and all of a sudden a warm wind swooshes in and around you? This happened to me the moment I shot the photo above. I put my phone down and took a deep breath and gazed around at the trees breathing it in, leaning into its warmth, its gentleness. I saw Cedar stand up from his squat over a pile of mud and look down towards the water. The dancing ripples always awe him. We both stood there until it passed through us. I've always believed moments like that are so deeply connected to the Divine. There are messages in those winds for each of us at just the right time and if we remain aware and open to them, we can hear, feel, touch and taste them.

The last few weeks have been full of the kind of depth and beauty and divinity that those rare warm winds bring.

I have been blessed with moments curled up with visiting friends and friends I visited, sharing our hearts, our dreams, our hurts, our process, our rising up out of the ashes and spreading of wings. And with it all there was a moment when I became more aware that I had flown to the other side of it all. Oh, that moment! I remember sitting there feeling a calm, a peace, as I allowed myself to be fully present with my friends, listening to their stories of truly coming into themselves and their art and unearthing online businesses. I didn't feel an urge to be where they were. I didn't feel less than or not enough because I am choosing this year as self care, pulling away from giving of myself in many different areas so my family and I can heal. I felt whole. I felt able to be there for them...fully. It felt easy to support and celebrate without attaching my own story. It felt inspiring to offer wisdom and insight and just a listening ear.  There was this moment when one of them joked with me because I didn't know much of what they were talking about in regards to this famous photographer or that artist or this website and said "You really are living in the woods!" and I laughed and said "Yes, I really am!" and I thought to myself...yes, that is exactly what I wanted for so long. What I am needing. This time of cocooning.  Yet I am also loving how I am able to let that world beyond the woods enter in now and then and not be shaken by it. That is when I know I am in a good, good place. I am where I should be. When I can feel a peace to not be anywhere, anyone or anything else but me...here.  right. now. And that is enough.

Its such a perspective shift. Just like this past weekend while in Vancouver with a few dear soul sisters, we heard someone say "live close to tears" and we all looked at one another with a knowing. Each of us deeply empathic and sensitive people and often misunderstood for such things, yet we always knew those ways of feeling and being were our strength. We knew THAT is what we do:  Live close to tears.   And suddenly it all made sense.

Like those moments when the warm wind blows and your mind goes quiet and you just know. Yes, just like that.

nurturing my tangible world*

taproot magazine

I received a copy of Taproot from my friend Amanda (editor of magazine) in the mail the other day and it couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time. I cherish those serendipitous moments when a loved one in your life connects to you in a cosmic way without conscious intention. Like this morning when I was looking out my upstairs bedroom window, watching the ripples of the water in the bay and imagining they were reaching my friend Jessamyn whom I miss achy so. And in that moment I heard my phone buzz with the words "Just have you on my mind..." and it was her.  Sweet Synchronicity.

Taproot magazine embodies the intention I am putting towards my life right now: "Living Fully, Digging Deeper".  Let me share an excerpt from the publisher Jason Miller that says so much of what I am wanting to cultivate in my life:

"People are taking stock of what's really important in life.  They're reviving skills of their grandparents like gardening and canning, sewing and knitting.  They're meeting neighbors and creating community.  These are real skills, both personal and interpersonal and they happen offline, in the tangible world.  They happen in a place.  People are saying the time for rootlessness is over; I'm ready to plant myself here, come what may."

Oh yes, that is it.  "Tangible World".  That is where I have been.  Reconnecting with a tangible world or moreso, retraining my brain and heart to pour my focus into what surrounds me with less time online.  I have no idea how to garden or can or knit but I am opening up space and time in my life to begin learning.  And when I put that intention out there, I was blessed with the possibility.  My dear friend Julia, who was my next door neighbor when we first moved here, is a farmer and I have asked her if she could come over and teach me how to plant vegetables this Spring.  My other friend Annie, who also used to be my next door neighbor, has asked me to come and knit with her on Wednesdays.  I have only picked up knitting needles once in my life 15 years ago and I gave up after a few tries.  I am more patient in my life now.  And I have more of a yearning.  And I am creating time to be more still.  I am ready.

I am drinking in this magazine like a thirsty woman needing to hydrate.  It feels like every page, every article, photo, quote, recipe...just the whole of it speaks to what I am wanting to create in my life.

Kale has been a huge part of our diet lately and I love it raw but I know not everyone does.  There is an article by Cynthia Lair about massaging kale with sea salt to help take the bitterness out.  I had not yet heard of this trick!  So for 2 minutes I massaged my freshly chopped curly kale with some sea salt and it worked.  My kale salad was AMAZING.

{chopped and massaged kale, diced honey crisp apples, diced red cabbage, roasted pumpkin & sunflower seeds, dried cranberries tossed with a small dollop of poppy seed dressing}

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to participate in this amazing ecourse with a tribe of SOUL~full, POWER~full women.  It was going to be a big commitment and I knew it was going to require much of my energy and time.  It spoke to so many parts of me.  Especially the need to share my gifts with the world and to touch people's lives in a healing way.  It spoke to the Creatrix in me.  It spoke to the power I know I have within me to launch something extraordinary and life altering.  But there was this deep resistance that had nothing to do whether or not I believed I was capable of this.  I knew I  was.  We all are.  But it was more about timing and the simplicity I have been craving.  It was about my family that needed me to be more present.  It was about me knowing I am changing and still in the process of relearning who I am and what I am passionate about now.

Most importantly it was about my health and the health of my boys.  Since living with toxicity in our walls in Southern California, our immune systems have been a bit off.  This winter we have been sick with flu's and colds non-stop as one person gets it, heals and gives it to another and the cycle continues.  At first it was disheartening because I feel I feed my family well and we live in a seaside village with fresh air to fill our lungs.  I had a week or so of feeling depressed about it.  We had come from a home that contributed to illness and I wondered if we had entered into another one.  I really took it on and felt I wasn't doing enough.  When the opportunity to do this ecourse came into my life and I needed to decide where my energy would go, it was then that it became clear to me.  If I have the power to create a legacy with my passions and creativity, then I have the power to help heal my family and in order to fully dive into all the parts of me that make me ME, I need to be well and so do my boys.  The shift from feeling dis-empowered to empowered felt invigorating!

So, I dedicated this year to the year of WELLNESS for my family.  Sort of a continuation of the path I have already set before me but just more of a confirmation that I am going in the right direction.  Just the idea that I am able to focus on nothing else but wellness, released a weight on my shoulders of trying to be ALL things.  I can fill my days with self care and care for my boys and that is enough right now.  And when my body feels healed and my energy returns ten fold, I know opportunities will open up for me, as so will more energy.

Self care to me right now is being really mindful while preparing and eating nourishing foods.  Making time to move my body more (yoga, long walks, dancing).  Creating a beautiful, simple and stress free environment in my home.  Learning to garden both veggies and flowers.  Meditation and prayer.  Setting aside time to connect with souls that see me and nourish my spirit.  Being present for my boys and my family.  Opening myself up to my tangible community.  My energy needs to be nowhere else for now and the permission I gave myself to do this allowed me to feel UNSTUCK from any pressure to do more.  My ecourse, my book and all else that is on the horizon for me is not going away and doing those things, while feeling WELLNESS in my bones will help me to stay more in an authentic space surrounding it all.

Its not easy to go back to the ways of living more simply and quietly when most of the people in my life are rocking their creative passions and building inspiring businesses online (and offline).  The urge to compare can at times bring on not enoughness or loneliness or even a sense of being forgotten.  But those are the moments I have to breathe and remember what is in front of me, what is tangible and what is in alignment with what I am needing right now in my life.  I can honor, celebrate and support my friends but I don't have to be doing what they are doing to be fulfilled.  I have always needed and wanted to follow my own heart and stay authentic to who I am and what I need.

And I am hoping this guy will learn from all of this the importance of listening to your heart and carving out your own path regardless of what is going on around you...

joy that dwells far within slow time*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{thank you, kirsten. i love you.}

sponsor GIVEaway ~ squam gratitude journal*

"gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunitites into blessings."

~william arthur ward

This gratitude journal is designed to last throughout the year. Each day there is a place to write five things you are grateful for.

Professionally printed on 60lb cream paper, the gratitude journal is 5"w x 8"h. It is a soft-bound book that feels much like a paperback novel. The inside page features the above quote from William Arthur Ward. There are three options for you to choose from, each features an original photograph by Amy Gretchen on the cover. You can choose between the beach fence, the mushrooms, and the spider web. Or, perhaps you will want one of each as they are beautiful gifts. Also, these are timeless as they do not have the year imprinted on them; the days of each month are simply numbered.  You can find these beautiful journals in the Squam online store.

The Squam staff put together a sweet little video to show you what a beautiful practice the keeping of a gratitude journal can be...(this is my dear friend Elizabeth in the video.  Creator/Director of Squam).

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Shipping and handling: Journals are made to order, and will begin to arrive in mid-February.
  • Orders must be received on or before January 31, 2012.
  • We are HAPPY to ship internationally, please contact Michelle directly for details & rates: michelle@squamartworkshops.com
  • These journals are exclusive to squam, which makes them one-of-a-kind collectibles, but this also means that they will not be available again.

GIVEaway Rules:

  • Includes one gratitude journal for one of my readers (whichever cover they prefer)
  • To enter leave a comment (one comment per person, please)
  • In the comment, please tell us one thing you are grateful for so far in 2012
  • Winner will be chosen at random
  • Comments will be closed at 10pm PST Sunday, January 22nd
  • Winner announced Monday, January 23rd

 

guest post by stephanie ~ winners announced*

I’m back!

Wow, just wow. I’ve enjoyed every moment reading through each comment on my giveaway and visiting your beautiful sites and blogs. I related so deeply with the comments, as if I wrote the some of the words myself. I look forward to nourishing these new connections.

I am humbled by the outpouring of honesty. You are an amazing tribe and I am so grateful to be a small part of it. I truly felt the common thread running through the responses...desires to find oneself, find your balance, get healthy, extend the love you have inside outward, slow down. Its possible to get there...sometimes just putting it out there for all to view helps you see your own truth. Your desires become real. I encourage you not to stop here.

I would love to know if anything has changed for you since posting. Have you acted any differently, noticed a subtle awareness, experienced any synchronicity? Let’s keep this conversation flowing. You can email me at wellnessbydesignsp@gmail.com as comments are down for a bit on my blog.

Congratulations to Joanna and Karis! Please send me your emails so that we can set our little date up! XO {note from boho girl: stephanie became my holistic health coach a few months ago. i also consider her my heart and soul coach. the reason why i wanted to share her with you is because she is THAT fabulous and THAT real and THAT inspiring and THAT yummy. she's been so patient with me and compassionate and one of the things i love most about her is she truly LISTENS without projecting. she allows you to be you. my favorite trait in a person.}

holiday nourishment GIVEaway*

Oh hello there*. I’m Stephanie. A mama of two boys. Artist. Holistic health coach. Sometimes overwhelmed. Sometimes reaching for a little sweet when stressed. Recovered {mostly} emotional eater. Constantly rediscovering how real food makes me feel alive, fog lifted. Lover of twinkle lights, painting, the smell of beeswax, secret gardens, sea glass & driftwood, horses with curly manes, candlelit conversations, skirts & boots, wool anything, woodland walks with her boys and a bit of mercury glass. Major passion for working with other creative women. Seeker of deep connections. So honored to meet you*.

I work with women. Mama or not, single or together. Those who are a bit lost, at the end of their rope. Done with diets. Struggling with something but can’t quite put their finger on it. Knowing there must be something better. I’m here to say that if you choose to walk a different path I can walk with you. Support you and hold space for you. Together we can create something sacred.

I am beyond excited to extend my gratitude to the Universe and all it has given me. My greatest wish is to give back in some way, so today I am offering up an opportunity for a free “Holiday Nourishment” session to two special readers of Denise’s poetry.

Gently guiding you toward simple, less stress and a bit of magic. I’m here to help you get your twinkle back.

This is your chance to really make the holidays what YOU want them to be. It’s an opportunity to go from wishing to doing. 50 minutes of one on one time carved out and customized just for you.

First, we will set a time to have a chat. Don’t forget your cup of tea and a cozy blanket. We will talk, ask questions and connect. After our session you will have some new goals and a deeper sense of what you need to do for yourself to make some magic happen. Then, I’ll follow up with you with some recipes and tips that will help support your and your new intentions.

GIVEaway: For a chance to be entered into the drawing, please leave a comment on this post (one comment per person, please) and share your biggest, deepest or secret holiday wish! The two winners will be announced in 5 days when the giveaway ends.

{To get in touch with Stephanie, you can find her on Facebook or stop by and visit her new blog.}

baptism*

I remember in the dark of the night, walking up to a friend's cabin at Squam a few years back. She and a few others were huddled in front, bundled in sweaters and scarves but their hair was soaked. Each of their faces were filled with a rosy-cheeked glow. I knew something went down and when I asked, they excitedly told me how they just returned from skinny dipping by moonlight in the lake. I remember feeling my heart take flight for each of them and at the same time, it ached to feel that free in my body and comfortable in my skin.

I've attracted quite a few free spirited friends in my life. I lived vicariously through their stories of running naked with people in a field or soaking nude in a hot springs. I've often wondered what it would feel like to be so uninhibited that way. I wondered if I was capable of not being self conscious. I grew up in a very modest household. We didn't walk around naked like some of my friend's families. We always dressed or went to the bathroom in private. I honor this way of being too. I am grateful that I considered my body, my temple sacred when in romantic relationships at such a young age. All of that served me so well then.

But now, especially lately, I ache for a freedom and acceptance and celebration of my body. Perhaps its turning 40. Perhaps its me wanting to release the wounds left from (in)fertility and the doubts that crept in about me being fully woman. Perhaps its me being more open to the call of sisters long before me that danced under the moon with their skin glowing and curves swaying up on a mountaintop where shame didn't exist. Perhaps me pulling the layers of clothing off would feel symbolic to me of renewal and rebirth and transformation in this new world I am living in. Whatever it is and I know I don't really need to know what it is exactly yet...but this ache led me to something so beautiful that happened yesterday.

A new organic farmer friend of mine invited me over to this glorious house where she is house sitting up on a hill over looking the bay. In my mind, I imagined us snuggling up on the couch with tea and soaking in this very first time her and I had alone. Any other time we were together with both of my boys. Her and I have been longing for girl time. When I arrived, the sun came out and warmed our skin after a spell of such chilled weather, so we decided to say out on the deck. She had told me she put the hot tub on and that she wanted to go in nude. I sat with her on the deck, as we both were petting a cat and I felt my heart pounding in my chest. She held me gently with her gaze, and I felt the tears come and I shared with her how healing this will be for me and that I have never been fully nude out in the open with a friend. I knew this was the time. The time to shed the temptation to hide, to shed shame and to accept I am fully woman, along side this other woman...fully woman. She was moved that this was new and tender and that she was the one to honor it all with me.

I found myself wanting to savor the moment. I shed my clothing one by one, slowly. We then soaked our bodies and it was the most natural feeling. Mmmmm...water on skin, sun on face, crisp breeze on shoulders, the sounds of nature echoing around us. I wondered why it took me so long to be in this space but at the same time, I also honored the perfect timing of it all. And now I get it. I get the healing power of being fully nude in mother nature alone or among people you feel safe with. Like a friend said to me yesterday, it felt like a baptism and a coming home to an ancient part of me that wants to be heard and felt and seen and loved and held divine like a newborn is fresh from the womb and into our arms.

This photo was taken shortly after our time together in the tub. Her and I were on our knees, looking out the window, reading from a book of Buddhist quotes. My skin still moist, my dreads still dripping, the peace radiating from my heart. I wanted to take this photo to remember the complete surrender I felt in this moment. The connection to God and Goddess and all things living and breathing. One love surrounding me, within me.

When I looked at this image, I cried. Yes. THAT is how it felt. There it is. Baptism captured.

i heart portland*

This was a unique birthday for me in that I spent it alone...by 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!

glorious 40~ness*

Tomorrow I turn 40. I feel just as much excitement and anticipation as when I turned 30. I've never been one to freak out about age, really...to me it is just a number. I remember someone telling me that your 30's are all about discovering who you really are and your 40's are the beginning of being comfortable with who you are the rest of your life. This may not be true for everyone but reflecting back, it feels true for me. I think this is why these milestone ages didn't frighten me. I have always so longed to be comfortable in my skin.

Boho Boy had a discussion with his acupuncturist the other day about how our American culture views age and how different it is to how it is viewed in the Asian culture. You often hear in our culture "I feel old" or "I can't do that or wear that because I am too old!". There is such a negative connotation on the idea of aging in those statements. So much of how we view ourselves is how we will end up feeling and being. What if getting old, being old, was a celebration? What if we all looked forward to it? What if it was an AWESOME thing to be old? Then on the days we are feeling good and sassy and deliciously comfy in our skin, we would say..."I am SO old! Yay!!" ; ) In the Asian culture and perhaps others I am unaware of, it seems age is less limiting and just more of an opportunity to create and embrace the abundance in your life.

I want to embrace this concept. As I see the gray hairs peeking through in this photo above, what if rather than wince and cover up, I celebrate them as silver ribbons in my hair? I see long gray dreads in my future.

Tomorrow morning I get on a plane for a wee one night groovy getaway.  I plan on doing a lot of reading, window shopping, drinking a cocktail or two, getting a bit pampered and SLEEPING.  All stuff I can't quite do right now as a mama without interruption.

Here's to glorious gray hairs and uninterrupted fun!  Getting older rocks.

xo