where i have been.

family love.
jimmy, stacy, bella wish & baby in belly.

mccabe, jess & stacy at moonlight beach.

rock painting.
painting rocks by the sea.

gathering of souls.
me, stacy, jess, jenica & mccabe, taken by jenica's man.

stacy & me
schmoopy & me.

my painted hand & dreads, taken by stacy

jess braids
jessamyn, gentle spirit braided goddess, canon 50d

jess wall.
jess at ocean beach.

jess sunflare
jess & the sun.

jess & cedar
cedar & jess...seeing one another.

Over the last 7 days I have...

Discovered a silver lake in the middle of a city.
Felt a baby girl's toes dancing through the belly of her mama.
Chatted with a stranger in a gorgeous cafe about my son's funny toes.
Slept under star lights.
Felt my tongue burst with the flavors of lamb and fruit infused with friendship.
Witnessed my son hold drumsticks and emulate the rhythm of a heartful drummer.
Sighed at the vision of a curly headed beauty twirl her mama's hair for comfort.
Gathered with women carrying hearts as large as the ocean in their bosoms.
Painted rocks by the sea and broke bread in what felt like Italy with these women.
Curled up on the couch with a soulful mirror.
Dug deep and peeled and felt soothed all at once.
Allowed an untying of knotted up fear that was so tightly wound in my belly.
Walked in the moonlight, near crashing waves, spilling love of photography.
Laughed when we wanted to cry.
Cried when we wanted to laugh.
Laughed and cried simultaneously.
Giggled at my son licking sand off of his hands. Over and over.
Marveled at 3 dread goddesses/gods playing guitar on the sidewalk with flowers in their hair.
Observed my son feeling as safe as I did with this gentle soul.
Felt so grateful that my husband knew what my friend needed.
Ate a lot of avocados.
Collaborated on a creative-heart-soul-purposeful vision with a kindred sister in Ireland.

Ohhhh...I feel so alive and true and in touch and closer to me.

Dear Janssen's...






bella & sara

sara & her bebe lucy, scooping up curry goodness in our kitchen

cedar, sara & bella inside their RV

inside of RV
inside of RV, serious faces discussing traffic we're about to face on highway. ; )

Being with Sara and her family tonight was so serendipitous. So wonderful to rest into their way of wholesome living when coming off of a cleanse. She is rich with wisdom on being mindful of all that goes into her body and extends that wisdom into being gentle with precious Mother Earth.

I am excited to drool over her food blog. So totally inspired by her conscious choices with food and presentation and love infused wholesomeness for her fam.

Being with them brings a whole new perspective on living wildly. So intriguing how they live in their gorgeous RV that runs on veggie oil, tour around the country, connecting with like minded spirits and communing with nature. Their 5 year old daughter Bella gave us a quick tour of their home and oh my...Sara has done wonders with making it funky and full of character. They are all about possibility and thinking outside of the box. It feels so contagious. It just shifts things. Opens you up. You want to ride on the energy of their positive force.

Of course my gypsy spirit is so tempted. Lets do it honey. Lets just sell our house and buy a Boho RV and make it into a home and travel the world. Seriously! I am in and I feel so honored and blessed that if we did choose to take this leap, we have such special people in our lives to help guide us.

Dear Janssen' ROCK our worlds. Thank you for being the change our world needs...and thank you for not minding when Cedar kept petting Bebe Lucy like she was a kitty. ; )

A few photos taken by Sara & Matt...

pola magic.

cedar & me1
cedar & me2
pure joy

As promised, here are the Polaroids that Susannah took of us while she was here visiting. This meant so very much to us since the last photo session we did as a family was when Cedar was 3 weeks old...with the amazing Tara.

I may have mentioned already that Cedar took us by surprise a bit by his modeling skills once Susannah started clicking. He would be in full throttle laughter and as soon as he saw the camera pointed at him, he would look into her lens and give her this "camera face" you see above. Where did he learn how to flirt with the camera so intensely? We were cracking up.

I am so impressed with her Polaroid magic. The first time I saw her in action with this type of camera was at Squam this year and she captured such moving imagery. Especially with portraits. When friends of mine have raw talent like this, I never take that for granted or assume they will bless me with any of it. So, when she expressed how deeply she wanted to capture us with her Pola, I was touched and well, I think it shows that I feel so very honored.

me & susannah
me & sus

It was healing. She helped me to feel so beautiful that day. I am going through this thing where I feel a bit frumpy and tired and new-mom-ish and Susannah danced through and brought some sexy into my life. She encouraged me to take down my vintage boots and wear tights on my legs and a dress that showed them and just like I felt transformed with lingerie a few weeks back, I felt transformed again. There was a moment when she was telling me to do this more often. To keep my boots down from the closet and make time to dress up and go out...even if alone. I got teary. Sitting there in a cafe, with her shooting me with her Pola at our table outside, I just realized how I feel I had perhaps lost that part of myself. That girl who dances in her boots.

I do love so much to put on my layers of organic cotton and play on the floor with my boy and get messy each mealtime as him and I help him to explore food. I do adore and marinate in all of those moments. I think what I realized is that with the messyness and play and hard work of a new mom, that it is so important to nurture the other parts of us. The parts that came before. When those neglected parts are nurtured, it helps me to be more present and have more reserves for my sweet family.

I am forever learning. Forever doing my inner work as a new mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, artist. It seems every day I learn something huge and even if its the same thing I may have forgotten the week before, it looks different today.

unravelling goddess.

susannah & her pola_1
susannah & her pola_2
susannah & her pola_3

This past weekend Susannah, creator of the abundantly inspiring Unravelling e-courses, was in our home. Her intention in coming out from the UK was to explore San Francisco...a city she has dreamed of visiting for 17 years. You can see some images of the city on her blog, where she has posted photos daily of her adventures.

We were honored she took out some time to come meet Cedar and snuggle on our couch and sit and watch Boho Baby entertain each of us. Its good for me to have my friends come enter into our bubble because we can so easily cocoon for days. Sus and I spent the day Saturday walking around Pacific Beach, which gave her the dose of Southern Cali that she needed (sans the rain). It was so fun observing her in her bliss...walking out to the water with her darling (aka Polaroid Camera). I just had to capture it (see images above).

Before she headed back to SF, she gave me a few lessons on her Pola and I found myself giddy like a little girl (okay, I admit...I jumped up and down a bit. So American of me!). She also took some lovely polas of our wee family that I cannot wait to share. We all learned that Cedar has a "camera face". He looks at the lens with pouty lips and a sexy stare. I am serious. We were stunned. He'd be giggling and as soon as she told him to look at the camera, he put the face on. Where the heck did he get that? wonders. ; )

Cedar wasn't quite himself while she was here. We could tell something was bothering him, whether it be his stomach or the teething. He seemed a bit more needy and whiny than we were used to. He's such an independent dude...loving his alone time and not needing me by his side on the floor at all times. But we found him needing that during her visit. I noticed I was trying to make excuses about it to Sus..."oh, he's never like this!", as if I was embarrassed. I think for the first time I got a taste of the future; him acting up around people and me fearing judgment. Even though I knew Sus wasn't at all thinking anything less and understanding the situation fully and being wonderful, I felt self conscious.

It was weighing on my mind the whole of yesterday. I sat with Boho Boy and talked it through with him. What concerned me the most is that in those moments, I seemed to worry more about what Sus thought of me as a mother, than what Cedar may have been trying to communicate to me. That broke my heart. Since Cedar has been such a peaced-out baby, I wasn't used to feeling this way and was caught off guard at how I felt and reacted.

I think so much of it came from my lack of confidence in feeling "prepared" for Toddlerhood. Cedar has suddenly, in just a few weeks went from baby to toddler and wow, this is when you have to have some strategy beyond the love and nurturing that is oh so natural! So last night Boho Boy and I discussed our feelings, fears, ideas on where to go from here. I opened up "Happiest Toddler on the Block" because so many of the other books I have been reading through apply to older children.

My hope is that if Cedar acts up around friends or family that I can let go of my ego and focus on my relationship with him and be more forgiving of him and of myself.

I cuddled him deep last night...apologizing for not being fully present with him. I could have sworn when he grabbed my face and smooshed his mouth all over my cheeks, he was telling me that it was okay and that he loves when mommy has friends over and takes care of her other needs and that he gets it and that he just had a massive poopie that went up to his back. ; )

{the winner of the gorgeous Kerin Rose Peace Necklace was Christine-RHP. congrats Christine! please send Kerin an email with your mailing address. thank you to all who entered and shared your hearts. we were touched and kept emailing back and forth about your amazing souls}

quiet sense of self respect.

"Your Child's Self Esteem" by Dorothy Corkille Briggs

My dear friend Karen handed me this book while I was sitting at her dinner table one evening. I'll never forget that evening. I was trying to hold it together as someone who was just about to become a mother. I was someone who was just about to become a mother to what may have been a preemie. I was someone who was keeping her phone close because that call might come and I'd fly out to Oregon from wherever I was and, with my husband, help our birth mom bring our child into this world. Something we had never done before. Something we weren't trained for.

My mind was buzzing that day when I pulled up to her Zen retreat of a house. She was the most perfect soul to be with. It felt like she had gently enveloped me into her arms just by her reassuring whisper at the table that night. In her presence I just knew everything would be alright. I felt a quiet strength from her that I needed.

In her book {Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path to Motherhood} she talks very honestly about her experience as the new mother of a precious preemie. A book that has guided many mothers from all walks of life and from all experiences through a time where we are all feeling so raw and vulnerable and perhaps misunderstood. I was honored to be sitting at her table that night...eating her healing soup and soaking in every confidence she had in me as a mother to be.

Her and I giggled at the cover of this book (above) that she lent to me. A sweet retro image of a naked baby in the bushes, holding a flower and totally in bliss. This so reached out to the hippie in me. ; )

I just recently started to read it. It has been nestled in my book shelf since. I knew there would be a time when I would need to and I didn't rush. In fact, I stayed away from many books in the beginning so that I could learn how to listen to my own intuition.

Now that Cedar is crawling and exploring and indeed developing his own person, I have felt that need to open up my arms for help. But gentle help and how gentle does this cover feel?

So I opened it up and is wonderful.

There was this one quote I wanted to share with you. Mainly because it applies to anyone, wherever they are in their life and to me, it provided comfort.

"High self esteem is not a noisy conceit. It is a quiet sense of self-respect, a feeling of self-worth. When you have it deep inside, you're glad you're you. Conceit is but whitewash to cover low self-esteem. With high self-esteem you don't waste time and energy impressing others, you already know you have value."

Learning to parent a child is also like therapy for self. I feel like I have always had a quiet sense of self-respect. In an online world where I am encouraged to market myself and talk more about how fabulous business is going, it has felt a bit outside of my comfort zone. I have questioned if I am cut out for this because I have never needed that attention to fill me up. This quote helped remind me that how I am is okay and that perhaps my business will continue to grow because of my heart and who I am rather than me trying to impress the masses. There is a place for me in this online world of business and I will figure it out as I go. I want to learn how to grow my business through my story and not my ego.

starving artist ink.

boho dread goddesss
"boho dread goddess" ~ by erin darcy

mama boho
"boho mama" ~ by erin darcy

I wanted to share with you these two beautiful pieces of art that Erin Darcy at Starving Artist Ink was inspired to create illustrating two very poignant pieces of my life; my journey to Cedar and my journey towards dreads.

Oh how her liquid-like, stunning art melts me so. Oh how she can somehow create with simplicity and flow, yet include those still small details (I just love how she gave my dreadie girl fuzz on the top).

Erin and I connected a while back through our blogs in the midst of our fertility journeys. Now our journeys have shifted, yet we still walk side by side. It is beautiful to me that she offers such selfless support and comic relief to me as a mother...even as she still longs for her babe. I know so so tenderly and closely what it is to be where she is as a few of my journey sisters became pregnant or adopted while I was still yearning. It is a place my empathy takes me back to quite often and I will never forget, nor take for granted how huge it is that she remains so present in my life.

I remember quite clearly the day that Boho Boy handed me the package from Ireland that Erin so tenderly put together for me. It was an emotional day for me as a new mother, feeling so very vulnerable and uncertain. Then I opened up the image she painted of me holding Cedar and how perfectly he fit into my arms and how naked and centered and beautiful she saw me. I am not sure if she knew how perfectly timed this was and how I often glance at it to remind me of my strength and belonging.

And now she does the dread girl and captures a whole other part of my world where there can be days of insecurity or uncertainty but also days of YES and sexy. She just gets it and sees it and embodies it in her art. This beautiful, kind, funny, creative, present, fabulous girl from Oklahoma living in Ireland.

Don't you want to know her more now? She is here, her art is here and her photography here. Pure deliciousness.

our sacred dock
thea on our dock at squam, 2009, canon 50d

for those of you that haven't met her or been to her site yet, i wanted to introduce you to one of my besties, thea coughlin. i met thea years ago via blog land and together we traveled our fertility journeys, side by side. we went through so much together at super speed and now i can't remember a time when she wasn't in my life.

today she posted her very first vlog and when she wrote to tell me, expressed her bundle of nerves over it all. i SO get this! it takes time to feel comfy in your skin while looking at the camera, knowing hundreds, if not thousands will eventually watch it. i am just now finally getting really comfy with the idea and my imagination takes me to a place of cozying up on my couch with all of you near, simply just having a chat.

so, if you at all feel inspired, do leave her some soul droplets so that she can gather up her bravery to share more with us. she is SUCH a pleasure to watch and has so much wisdom to share.

she has taught me so much in my life and many times, picked me up out of darkness and helped me rediscover my voice, my passions, my "self" again. i love you, girl...toe to toe.

thea's vlog.

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.

I felt enough.

sabrina's "make believe" photo card set

Yesterday I received one of Sabrina's card's from a dear friend of mine in the mail. It was the one pictured above on the bottom left. The front of the card reads...

"You are allowed to slow down.
You are allowed to turn off your phone.
You are allowed to lie the sun."

Saying no has at times been a challenge for me. More in my adulthood than when I was a child and teen. I have often worried about hurting feelings or sometimes concerned that unless I did this and was involved in that and participated in this and spearheaded that, then...and only then would I be enough, have given enough, lived enough within this precious life I have been given.

Having a child has shifted this for me. Where as before, I could devote my heart and soul to a multitude of spaces in my world, now it is so important to me to be fully present and in the moment with my son and my family.

To continue on feeling healthy and strong and resilient and creative within my home, I have needed to let go of some things. I have had to say no to some people. I have needed to take good and gentle care of my reserves and give them to the few people (and not the masses) that need me most.

In this continually shifting process for me, I've wondered if I might lose some loved ones in my life. If the idea that I cannot pick up the phone as much or fly to be with them when they're in need or participate in gatherings or be able to commit to beautiful projects would not be enough to maintain these precious friendships that I have built over the years.

Then I received this card last night and on the inside it said this;

"Just a note to tell you I love witnessing all the steps you take towards your that space of love and light that holds you and your family safely and peacefully. I am in awe of you my friend. I love you."

And tears rolled down my cheeks...and I took a deep breath and I felt so understood...

...and I felt, well, enough.

jonatha brooke1
my beautiful friend jonatha, canon 50d

Today I was moving around slower than usual, feeling a bit in a funk, restless with what to do next, comfortable to just sit on the couch and stare at a wall. But I can't do that sitting and staring anymore. I now have a sweet gnome boy looking up at me with bright eyes and a slight smile, encouraging me to get into something that will make him laugh or perhaps even just make his grin a bit wider.

So, I swooped him up and brought him up to the loft. I sat him down near me and put on some music. Music that provokes movement of any kind. I needed to move my body. So I did and he not only smiled wider but he giggled and clapped his hands clumsily and so I did it again and faster and with more drama to make him laugh harder. I started to feel a wee better. A bit of an energy surge encouraging me to take him out and run some errands that earlier I so wanted to put off.

Yes, being with him and that desire to show him how to live more juicy helps me to feel more alive within myself. Him and I have a partnership where the giving goes both ways.

{speaking of delicious music, have you heard jonatha's voice lately? pure magic.}

wrapped in love.

jb, thea, jen, canon 50d

jb, jen, me, taken by thea

This is how I feel right now.
Circled, wrapped, cushioned with love.
I'm not quite sure how I got so blessed with such warmth in my life.
Thank all of you. You know who you are.
My anchors helping to ground me.
My wings helping me to fly.
My sweet angels reminding me of my strength.

I love you.
Boho Boy loves you.
Cedar loves you.
My family loves you.

May we all close our eyes and think about those special beings in our lives.
The ones who get us, embrace us, love us even though...
The ones who wrap us in love.

squam has open arms...

peace out
peace to you, canon 50d {gloves knitted for me by jonatha}

There is a very tender, vulnerable part of me that feels conscious of how the gushing and mushy posts about Squam may bring up tender emotions in those that didn't attend this Fall. I know what it is to be on the other side, wishing you were there and feeling sad that you didn't experience the connections, the classes, the woods that we are all spilling about in our posts or Facebook pages. Not necessarily about Squam for me because I have gone to both Fall sessions (but missed the Summer) but more so about other types of blog gatherings/retreats.

The beautiful nugget about Squam that keeps me sharing is that Squam is truly open to anyone who wants to go. That what I am sharing about, you can be a part of...even if it might take a few years to save money or to organize baby sitters or preserve vacation days from work, etc. It is possible for anyone to attend and I truly revel in the open arms vibe that Elizabeth created in regards to this retreat.

Its hard for me to be part of anything that surfaces hurtful emotions in anyone that comes to this space because I am a sensitive soul that wants everyone to feel loved and desired and important and relevant. So, my hope in sharing my stories in regards to these types of events or gatherings is to provide hope to each of you and the possibility that you can create this in your own life. Even if on a smaller scale (hooking up with bloggers close by, etc.).

What I have found in my years of blogging and meeting those I have connected with online, in person, is that the transition is quite seamless in most relationships. I believe that is because blog communities that are attracted to one another tend to be like minded spirits, "kindreds" so to speak that are interested in the same heartful things and we all end up having quite a bit in common.

So please know that when I post about my soulful times away with other bloggers, be it a retreat or just an intimate gathering of friends, know that there is a tender spot along with it for me. Feeling tender knowing that some of you may ache for these connections on a very deep level and that it might trigger certain emotions. I have been there before but it was when that light bulb came on that I can create it too and opened up my heart to it, that the magic started trickling in...bit by bit.

That might sound cliche, so let me explain. So much of that for me in the beginning was letting go of the trying to connect and just focusing on my own growth, my own journey (which at the time was fertility related) and it was then that the friends that came into my life were the ones that were either in a similar space or had been there before. I suppose in a nutshell, we attract what we are needing if we recognize what it is we need. I was needing women in my life that had gone through their own fertility journeys and those are the blogs I was reading and those were the women I firstly connected with. Then it just grew from friends of friends of those bloggers that weren't going through (in)fertility but were going through some type of grief and so much of it felt the same. Then it grew from there to women that were going through a healing, resurfacing or reclaiming of self and embracing the artist within and so on. Some of us have stayed connected through all the many layers and ever evolving paths.

All this to say that what I love about Squam is that it welcomes all of it. All journeys. All paths. All spirits...wherever you are. Even if you're in a space where you don't feel creative or artistic (someone asked me if Squam was just for seasoned artists, which it isn't...its for all levels). It's for you too. Its for all of us.

So, it feels good to be associated with something that holds a place for everyone and where all can feel a part of something so extraordinary and life altering.

And on a totally different note. I took this shot of Cedar yesterday and had to share it because it is the first shot I got of his two bottom teeth!

10 months
laughing with daddy, canon 50d

blue poppy...a drowsy fabulist.

elizabeth maccrellish
elizabeth maccrellish {blue poppy}, canon 50d

"What we see isn't in things, but in our souls."
~ Salvador Dali

Elizabeth is the brainchild behind Squam Art Workshops, she is the creator of all things Squamesque. She had a vision, she followed the dream, she gathered like minded spirits to make it happen and last year was the first try. Now it is a revolution drawing kindred spirits from all around the world. It is a dazzling woodsy art gathering of all things creative and soulful. She took the leap and now because of her bravery, we have all been inspired to spread our wings.

Most Squamettes see her gracefully running around all week, checking in with students and teachers and camp staff to make sure all is well and flowing as it should be. Because she is the director so to speak, she doesn't have the luxury of gazing at stars on the dock or resting on a hill overlooking the lake or breaking bread with those she's been longing to connect with. Of course she is okay with this. She is one of the most selfless souls I know. Stepping back and observing all that is transpiring and seeing the beauty of what lies in front of her is what fills her soul during those five days. I liken it to the conductor of an orchestra. She gently guides, yet encourages each of us to play our instrument and create gorgeous harmonies together.

Elizabeth and I set aside some time together for a photo session away from Squam. She drove me to her breathtaking home in the woods, at the end of a woodsy road, overlooking Squam Lake. "This is me...this is who I am...I am a drowsy fabulist, you know..." she said to me with her arms wide open as to show me the view around her home. It is a side of her that most do not see and I felt honored, so honored to witness her melt into her couch out on her porch and snuggle her puppies and take deep long breaths and close her eyes. No one was calling her name. No one was needing her direction or her positive peace-keeping energy. It was just her and me and the breeze and silence. She let me lay her down in quiet and stroke her forehead so that she would release. She let me twirl her hair with my fingertips and place the curls where they were prettiest. "Yes, this is who you are, Elizabeth...a serene, soft, beautiful, peaceful, soulful, changer of hearts and souls...".

Even writing about it, I have tears. Those few hours were a precious gift to me. I needed some time away from the overwhelming outpouring of love that is Squam. I needed a safe place to digest it all. I needed to be reminded of why I do what I do. Why this is my gift...seeing people and allowing them to feel seen and understood and with it all...feel truly magnificently beautiful in front of my lens.

When we were finished with the session, we sat in her kitchen drinking spicy hot cocoa and sharing what the last few days had made surface in our hearts. We talked about our dreams we are now inspired to manifest. I remember how she was sitting there on the kitchen stool with a glow around her...she was almost whispering to me. It made me realize how very much she gave to all of us at Squam when her natural way of being is in such quiet, such meditation in her home. At times our eyes would well up with tears in those moments we felt safe to tell one another what we loved about each other. There is something about the magic of the woods that lets these thoughts spill. Thoughts you may otherwise keep to yourself. But in these woods, in the walls of her bright windowed home, it seems senseless to not share such things.

On the last morning at breakfast, she came up to the table where I was eating. She kneeled down on the ground and while looking up at me with her crystal blue eyes said; "You opened me up..." and she had tears. Then I had tears and we hugged and that is all that needed to be said.

On the plane ride home, I kept thinking to myself..."I wish others at Squam could see this side of her...the drowsy fabulist that she knows herself to be."

Then, a few days later, I saw this photo when I uploaded it to my computer and I put my hand on my heart and took a deep breath and called my husband over and said..."This is her...this is Elizabeth."


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.

blog friendship box*

friendship box1

my contribution {"tribe" written over stripes}...

friendship box2

I was asked by the inspiring Erin of the blog "My Bohemia" to participate in the coolest creation dreamed up by Teeni. The details, instructions and participants are all here.

I am really honored to be part of this collaboration. Its another confirmation that blogs have truly brought communities together from all around the world and I love the idea of something tangible emulating this.

My contribution is a bit wonky. I am not at all a crafty bird...but what's cool is, there was no pressure to be. I just did what came to mind and what that was is the powerful word "tribe" and how often these are built from this medium and how we are all so very colorful and unique. Its a symbol of how we stand together to celebrate that uniqueness.

I passed the blog friendship box onto Jessamyn...a kindred spirit in so many ways. A woman that inspires me to be more mindful in all things and more gentle in all ways. A new friendship I am exploring and reveling in.

I am off to Squam. I am so in need of being in the woods, surrounded by magical beings and warmth and acceptance and inspiration. Last year was so wonderful but I felt consumed with the upcoming adoption, which happened a few months after. I also got the call at Squam last year that Cedar was a boy and not a girl. Not sure if I ever told that story. ; ) We had thought he was a girl for quite a while. It was a beautiful that transpired circled by my lovelies near a roaring fire. So much support and help through that transition.

This year I feel more open and free. More light and alive. More chill and with no expectations. More in love and more loved. I look forward to marinating in every morsel of it.

Will be back on Monday. xoxox

a lazy summer picnic.


marianne & cedar
marianne & cedar

marianne & cedar

schmoopy, bella & cedar
stacy anne, bella & cedar

cupcakes! clockwise from left: melissa, marianne, bella, swirly, stacy, cedar

miss swirly
miss swirly

lazy summer picnic

Oh how I have longed for a lazy summer picnic. I spent the weekend at Miss Swirly's and caught up and cuddled with some girlies that I have missed so, so much.

I woke up in a haze on Sunday morning after a long night of Cedar not surrendering to sleep in a foreign bed. The girls climbed onto my bed and offered to take care of him so I could get some sleep. I lay my head down on my pillow with tears, feeling so grateful for these selfless women in my life. They hadn't even had their coffee/tea yet and they knew what I needed. That extra hour of sleep made all the difference. I went downstairs to find them loving on him, surrounded by his toys in a blanket on the grass. All totally chilled out and comfy with one another. Ahhhhh...

Then Stacy brings cupcakes to our picnic. Even gluten free ones. I usually cannot partake in post meal baked yummies. It has been this way all of my life as a gluten free girl since I was in diapers. Its just something I got used to. But Stacy goes out of her way to find the best gluten free cupcakes in LA, so I could feel part of the ritual of sweetness. And oh did I partake. Mmmmm...

I truly felt wrapped in the arms of such generous, thoughtful, heart soaked women. I drove home last night as the sun went down and my baby napping in his carseat with a full, refreshed spirit (and a new craving for cupcakes).

a swirly story.

cedar & swirly
cedar & swirly, canon 50d

Cedar is 9 months old today. Rather than write about him and the new and adorable animated facial expressions he is making, I thought I'd show you.

My friend Christine (Swirly Girl) spent the day with us a few weeks ago. It was a treasured day I will not forget. She was the first friend to see me post Portland trip with new dreads and stories about Cedar meeting his birth parents. We curled up on the couch and spilled while Cedar was napping. I hadn't realized how much I needed to spill and her true girly fashion.

But then Cedar woke up and she offered to watch him while I go upstairs to do a bit of work. Time allowed for this has been tight lately and she was sensitive enough to notice. So, I reluctantly went upstairs because it is hard for me to accept help at times. I was trying to focus on my work while feeling grateful and humbled and I heard her reading him a story with a variety of voices. It cracked me up. I know Swirly is a major goofball but I had yet to hear her do this. I grabbed my camera and ran downstairs and captured the whole scene. What I love most about how the photos turned out is that Cedar's personality shines through...much better than words could ever express.

It was a darling and bonding exchange between them...this you will see::

Swirly Story
*put speakers on

She always does her best to take care of those she is connected to. Now Cedar feels it too. *sigh*

cedar necklace.

accidental self portrait
accidental self portrait, canon 50d

I've been wanting to write about my Cedar necklace since returning from Portland. My dear friend Stacy made it for me and mailed it so that I could wear it during my dread day. I have hardly taken it off since (I took it off the first time washing my hair for fear it would get tangled but that's about it). So many of you wrote to me asking where I got the necklace I wore during the dread slide show. This is the story.

The last time Stacy came to spend the night she had one on with her daughters name. I let out a deep sigh when I saw it and it nearly brought me to my knees. Stacy too endured a long, very very long and hard journey to her daughter and it was surreal and so confirming to see that name adorning her neck (Isabella...mmmmm). I noticed she would rub it while she talked. Not sure if she did this consciously but I observed the intimacy she felt with this gem and all of the myriad of emotions that came with it.

Then she went home and did her magic thing that she does and makes one for me without me knowing and sends it off like an angel of healing.

hand stamped heart shaped pendant
bella wish pendant hanging on framed photo taken by my dear friend tara

So, now my son's strong and beautiful name adorns my neck. And I too rub it and Cedar strokes it while looking up at me and its our shared talisman.

The first photo above was taken by accident. I had just photographed the necklace hanging on one of my favorite framed photos of our family and I set the camera on my husbands djembe drum and I heard a click. I like how it turned out. How it focused on some of my dreads and that the necklace is beaming bright in the background. I could literally see the source of heavenly energy this necklace brings to my body and soul.

If you'd like to have a Hand Stamped Heart Pendant made for yourself (or as a gift) with a name of someone you love or just a word affirmation, Stacy would be delighted to spread her magic to you. Contact her at bellawish (at) me (dot) com.