Questionable Carnivals

carnival

Motherhood

Today we went to one of those questionable carnivals…you know what I’m talking about, right? The ones you go to, pay for a wrist band so your kid can ride everything a zillion times, then you take a look at the rides and you question their safety? You constantly wonder if the screws holding the pieces that are holding you were tightened all the way? And if you’re going to enjoy the ride or plummet to your death? Yeah, one of those carnivals.

My son is a thrill seeker, he loves all the rides. The faster, the crazier, the better. Which is great because I (still, mostly) love roller coasters and thrill rides myself. But my husband, not so much. So this carnival was fun, I won’t lie. But as I’m getting older, and have become a mom myself…well, I kind of (sometimes) see things from a different perspective now. And since I still love rides, or rather I can still stomach them (and my husband cannot), I’m the lucky one who gets to join my son when we see that sign: “YOU MUST BE AT LEAST 48″ TALL OR BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADULT“. Because unfortunately right now, his stature doesn’t quite measure up to his daring.

So on days like these, when I get to share these moments with my son, I jump at the opportunity. Someday, he will be tall enough to go solo. Someday, he won’t want his mommy sitting next to him laughing her head off with him. Someday he will want his girlfriend sitting next to him, and I won’t even get invited to the carnival. So for today, spinning-metal-car-of-vomit-and-death it is.

The truth is, we were both truly laughing so hard the entire time we were on it, we both may have peed our pants just a little bit. And he’s five.  Right now he thinks me laughing out loud, especially when I’m pretending to be scared (I was NOT REALLY SCARED! Merely beginning to get just a little queasy…), is the funniest thing ever on the planet. So we spun, and laughed, and laughed, and gasped for breath, and spun some more…until the ride finally (safely) ended.

When we returned to where my husband was standing, gratefully, on solid non-spinning ground, he said, “I got a great picture of you guys” and showed me this shot. Immediately it reminded me of motherhood…what it feels like so many times….how as mothers we fluctuate constantly between being terrified and laughing our asses off, worrying if we’re totally screwing them up, or reveling in the fact that we are doing an amazing job of raising our tiny humans.  I especially love how happy and carefree my son looks in this moment. He looks like the wise sage who is wordlessly saying, “RELAX woman, and enjoy the ride! Can’t you see how easy that is?” I also realize and appreciate how, in a different situation (or in a different moment of the very same situation), our faces may just as easily have had the opposite expressions.

And that’s the beauty of raising a child. We learn as much from them as they do from us. If we allow ourselves to, that is.

Spin on, mamas, spin on.

Loss is Loss

Yesterday, we had a bit of a trying day with my family. Nothing major, just everyone being in a funk at the same time.

It seems the more people I talk to lately, it’s kind of like a cosmic epidemic of funkiness at the moment. Seems like realities are shifting, systems are getting upgraded, our world is changing and at times it feels like “forward progress is STOPPED” intermingled with “EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART” and a dash of “WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING”. I like to call these “growth periods” because truly that is what they are- an unraveling of the old, outdated systems that no longer serve us making way for a beautiful new, better reality. But the growing pains that come with them are no joke. So it’s safe to say due to this, as a highly sensitive person, my energy lately has been…..far from ideal. It’s kind of like a whirling dervish that just can’t settle down. I try really hard to use all the tools in my toolkit for keeping my own energy body protected, not allowing other energy that doesn’t belong to me negatively affect my own…..I always try. I don’t always succeed.

So back to yesterday. As we returned home from a quick dinner out, we noticed that a pair of turtledoves had built a nest right above our driveway/garage in the rain gutter, and a bunch of debris had fallen down onto the driveway (which is how we realized there was a nest). There was a mama bird proudly sitting on her nest, unfazed by our movement close to her as we made our way in the house. We were excitedly talking about the nest, wondering how many eggs were in it, when they would hatch, etc.  To me it’s a kind of blessing when an animal decides to set up birth shop in my vicinity, like it’s good mojo or something (that could be the doula in me, or the woman in me, or the mom in me….). Anyway it’s safe to say it was a much needed bright spot in my day.

Then this morning, as I walked outside to take my 5 year old to preschool after a not-so-smooth morning routine that left us both rattled and grumpy, I found this:

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My heart at that moment was a shattered as the egg. No mama or papa bird to be found anywhere. The nest had been abandoned. It was done. Over.

And for whatever reason, a deep sense of loss came over me. I felt it in my soul. As if I was connected to the bird, the egg, everyone on the planet at that moment that was hurting. I don’t know if my son saw it (actually I’m pretty sure he didn’t because he would have been in tears after realizing what had happened), but suddenly his mood shifted and he apologized for the crappy morning we’d had and his part of it, and asked if I was okay, if he could see my big smile. I was honest. I told him I couldn’t show him that smile at the moment, I wasn’t feeling it. But I would work on finding it. He responded “Okay mommy. Let me know when you’re ready and then you can show me”. Thank goodness.

I needed a moment to grieve, to explore what I was feeling, what it was bringing up in me. I didn’t want to fake a smile and pretend it was all fine. I also wanted to teach him that it’s okay to have bad/sad feelings and acknowledge them. And he got it, and accepted it, and let me have quiet time the whole ride to school.

That shattered egg  brought up all sorts of stuff. Of personal losses I had felt, big and small. Some that I have finally cleared and move on from, finally feeling healed and whole in that aspect (my mother’s death). Others that apparently I had not.

Such as my miscarriage 6 years ago. It  was my first pregnancy ever, and brought my husband and I so much joy initially. It was unexpected, but more than welcome. I had always wanted a large family……but since life loves to throw us curveballs and provides plenty of opportunities for growth & patience & accepting that things don’t always go as we might want them to, I got started late in the baby-making game. I was “almost 40” when we got pregnant that first time. We had imagined so many possibilities with that baby, so many hopes and dreams and visions. But that egg, just like this egg, shattered early on as well. I had an early miscarriage at about 8 weeks. My world was rocked. Our world was rocked. I allowed myself time to grieve, and processed somewhat. Hearing how “common” it was for women, how “nature has a way of weeding out what isn’t developing correctly”, of how the statistics say that 1 in every 4 pregnancies results in miscarriage did nothing to comfort me. I do truly believe everything happens for a reason in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t make going through the process any less painful at the moment.

I have learned that loss is loss, no matter how big or how small. That what may cause insurmountable grief for me might cause you nothing but a brief sad thought. That doesn’t make my grief any less valid, nor make you a monster for not feeling it the same way. Because loss represents a dream we had that will no longer be allowed to live. We have to accept that particular dream is not possible, and somehow be okay and be able to move on from there. Even beyond that, to understand that we are not in control, and that ultimately life unfolds itself just as it should, whether we like it or not.

So I understand and accept that need to grieve, to honor that feeling of loss.  To look at it head on, in the eyes, and feel it and move through it even though our society tends to belittle certain losses and make them seem common place and therefore lesser deserving of grief.

But loss is loss. And it hurts. And it’s okay to accept and feel it. It’s more than okay, it is necessary in the healing process to do whatever you have to do to feel it and get past it.  The key is not to stay in that dark place for too long, otherwise it becomes harder and harder to climb back out to the other side of happiness, acceptance, joy and inner peace.

Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

 

 

 

Follow the GPS in your Heart

Corn maze 2012

Corn maze 2012

A few weeks ago I had an amazing experience that seems to keep nagging at me, reminding me to put it down in writing and put it out there….so here I go.

I had been invited by a dear friend to go to a women’s circle gathering, and even though it was a crazy busy time for me, and it was located over an hour away from me, in Miami, and I’d have to travel through multiple  highways during morning rush hour traffic…….every fiber in my being said “GO!”. For some reason I knew I just had to go, my soul needed it.

Now, I was born and raised in Miami although I have lived “much further north” now in Broward County for about 20 years. Times have changed, roads have changed, highways have changed…..so I did what every respectable smart phone owner traveling that far would do. I used my GPS.

-HOWEVER-

The trick here is when you sort of know where you’re going…..and you think you might know be the best way to get there…..you sort of remember the area and how to maneuver……you tend to start doubting the GPS. It gets tricky.

Isn’t that always our problem? We always want to think we know best, we are in control, we have all the answers, and be we I mean our minds. We resist, tooth and nail, the surrender.  We want to surrender, we really do, but there is always that last little bit of “yes, but just this one thing, I know it will be better if I do it this way/make this turn/change one more thing”.

But when we really let go…….just completely surrender, no matter how scary it feels at first, how almost counterintuitive at times……it’s blissful. I literally just “let it go” that day and followed the GPS. Even though I thought I knew the best way. In reality, I didn’t. It took me down different highways, express lanes, roads, etc. that I NEVER would have taken had I “been in charge”. And you know the beauty of it was it was literally magical. I was whizzing peacefully next to lanes that were stuck in traffic, great song after great song magically playing on the satellite radio, red lights turning into green lights at just the right moment.  I got to my event not only on time, but early, even though I had just traveled through morning rush hour traffic in Miami. It was insane. And then I had the most amazing time sharing stories, support and love with other amazing Warrior Goddess Mamas.

You see, I learned, REALLY learned in my heart the beginnings of a very valuable lesson that day, a lesson that has kept repeating a few times since then. No matter which roads you take in life, eventually you will get there. All roads lead to “there”. Some are more direct, some more fun, some may be painful, some seem like slow going, long and winding, some  seem like a super-duper fast highway and you arrive in the blink of an eye. But you will arrive, eventually. And the more you “let go” and tune into “divine intervention/providence/source”  as your GPS, the more enjoyable the experience will be.  It all boils down to the same thing. Faith! Trust the process! Trust in yourself, in your inner guidance, that it truly knows what is best. YOU KNOW WHAT IS BEST. You have to have faith in yourself first, take that leap, then the universe will support you in ways you never even imagined possible. Better than what you could have hoped for. But that’s the scary part as well……jumping in without seeing the bottom, working without a net……or so it seems.

The net is there. We just can’t “see” it. But it’s there, not only catching us, but rather rebounding us and propelling us into even greater heights.

So do yourself a favor, the next time you have the opportunity to make a choice…..choose with your heart GPS. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

“Set It, and Forget It!”

I know that sounds very much like a line from an infomercial. In fact, I’m pretty sure it probably is. But there is also a lesson hidden there.

The lesson for this week (for me) it seems, is to set an intention, put it out there, and let it go. So often I feel like I have to try “really hard” and “work really hard” to make something happen. When I take this approach, I end up feeling like I am walking uphill both ways trying to get something done or get something to happen. I end up exhausted, super frustrated, often physically ill, and depressed. So as I am in the home stretch of my teaching career, with 3 weeks left to go, I find myself mentally over-exerting myself because I am soooooooo excited about my new business and the direction my life is taking. Yet I am still working full-time, trying to administer final exams to seniors while simultaneously keeping the rest of the class “enriched and engaged and quiet” with only 2.5 weeks left and they could care less about school at this point, still “mommying” full-time, still trying to be a wife/homemaker as best as I can, still taking care of my “special” dog and keep up with his meds and vet visits….all the while trying to lay the groundwork for my new business.

I have been “trying too hard” to find a way to book a class I need for my certification, to network with people in the birthwork industry to no avail, to work on my blog, to continue my meditation practice and classes, to eat healthy (the term “healthy” at this point in my vocabulary has basically been demoted to “anything other than Taco Bell”). I am “trying so hard” in trying to move forward into my new career that my head is spinning and I’m getting nowhere. Or getting somewhere but REALLY SLOWLY and painfully.

So finally, after it hit me from all directions (divine intervention, friends, articles that pop up in my news feed). I get it. Stop trying so hard. Set the intention and LET IT GO ( why does that damn song keep haunting me!). As my very wise friend Viknes said to me this morning “Set the intention and trust it will happen…..allow it rather than try to control it…..and listen”.

Bam. Like a giant cartoon hammer over the head.

That’s a HUGE part of finding peace right there. Set it up, then let it go and TRUST it will happen when it’s meant to. And beyond that, find moments to be still and quiet and LISTEN to the clues that are there to help you move forward. The synchronicities that appear are there to show you that you’re on the right path at the right time. You’re in the flow. The numbers you keep seeing pop up over and over, the songs with just the right lyrics on the radio, the quote on the t-shirt someone is wearing that walks right across your path…..they are all signs. And they are easy to miss if you are not paying attention, awakened, aware.

I know, I fluctuate between being in the flow…..and not. But definitely more flow than not lately. I’m making progress. After years, no, decades of work on this thing we call inner peace, I still struggle between listening to my “ego voice “and my “higher self “voice. But hey, at least I am hearing (voices) both and paying attention.

It’s not to say we won’t accomplish our goals the hard way, but who wants to struggle and fight for something when you can get it with ease and amusement? In our culture and country, we (most of us) are taught at a very young age that we must always WORK HARD, always be busy “pursuing and chasing our dreams”…….Who wants to pursue and chase? That doesn’t sound fun, it sounds hard. We are taught at a young age the “dreamers” are wasting their time…..but what if they are not? What if they are on to something?

As always, it’s all about finding balance between the two dualities.

Follow your dreams, do the work, but don’t kill yourself and your soul in the process.

Trust-the-Process1

East-over at the Temple of Juniper

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I am spiritual,  not religious. I find myself saying that more and more often these days, as it really does best describe my position. It came out of my mouth out loud for the first time as my 4-year-old, always questioning, got upset the other day because he said he had “no religion” and was angry and crying about it. I guess it was being discussed at school with the upcoming holiday, and he has heard references in the past of his Daddy being “Jewish” (not practicing, only kind of sort of) and me being “Buddhist” (I take a lot from Buddhism but wouldn’t consider that a religion). I tried to explain it was something personal, that he would learn about all religions and philosophies in his life.  It is something he could decide later when he was older if he wished. He wasn’t happy with that answer. The explanation that worked for him, for now, was “In our family we are spiritual not religious. We are good people, we try to do the best we can, and we take care of each other, the people, the planet”. Which leads to our “holy” trip.
We had the chance to spend the Easter/Passover (= East-over) long weekend camping at Juniper Springs, FL, which is inside Ocala National Forest.  Being there in nature made me feel more connected to Source/Nature/God than any church, or temple, or any other building ever did. The luxury of having nowhere to be, surrounded by trees, nature, and the natural pure springs solidifies for me that life is too short. We are only on this Earth, in these bodies, for such a limited time. I want more time to spend with my family, enjoying nature. As much time as possible. I’m done with the hamster wheel of work work work, hurry hurry hurry, wash, rinse repeat. I want more nature and simplicity in my daily life.  Less alarm clocks,  less complications….more time paddling a kayak surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature, jumping off ledges into a pristine watering hole,  dancing around the fire pit with my family, sharing wine with new friends with kids just the perfect age to play with my son while we all got some “grown-up time”…just a plain, over-all slower life.
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Life certainly doesn’t have to be “painful” or “hard” or “fast-paced”, although sometimes it seems like that. Nope. Not my world. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect in any way. But we forget moment by moment that we have choices. Choices on how we perceive things, how we handle things. For example, the last day of our camping trip, right before evening and after supper, a big thunderstorm rained out our last campfire play date. We had to retreat into our tent and throw as much as possible back into the car to keep dry as quickly as possible. And we sat together in the tent and waited. And waited.  And read books. And played games. And dealt with the many, many leaks from the roof of our not-so-water-proof-it-seems tent (who knew you had to seal the seams?). It could have turned into a big, frustrating downer. But we chose not to let it. We made the best of it. Eventually, when the rain turned into a drizzle, we put on our rain gear and took a family night hike with our flashlights, exploring the wet forest which looks completely transformed by the rain. Washed clean. We jumped through puddles, searched for fireflies, attempted (and succeeded, yay, Daddy!) to make our final fire, our blaze of glory with the rest of the firewood.
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So I am grateful we got to spend this particular, significant weekend at our own spiritual place.  That in a sense, we were baptized by the clear waters of Juniper Springs. The possibility of our souls being reborn into a different reality of our choosing had begun.
Happiness.
Peace.
Love.
And although I felt a twinge of all too familiar heaviness as we returned driving back to the big city, I hope we can all maintain some of the clarity of the water to help us stay clear in our vision.
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A Page in Herstory

They gathered under a full moon. It was 3 a.m., but no one seemed to care. There was a buzz of nervous energy in the air. They all breathed a collective breath, ready to tackle the enormous task at hand, whatever it may bring. The 3 women traveled slowly, but with a purpose. Each would rely and lean upon the other at various times throughout this journey, starting now.
It is a journey that is always transformational, not just for the mother to be, but for all involved. To even be a witness to this event is to see the face of God in its many shapes and forms.
As they made their way to the next destination, which was far from the ideal location, but nevertheless would serve it’s purpose, the 3 women barely spoke. There was no need to. Each already understood what the other was feeling, saying without words.
When they arrived, ready to dig in to the task at hand, they were told there was no room for them. How ironic, they chuckled. No matter, we will find a way, they thought. We have since the beginning of time.
The tribe was separated for a brief time, and the earth tilted a little off its axis temporarily. But the women held strong to their vision, to the desired outcome, and overcame the obstacles that temporarily seemed to stop their progress together.   As soon as they were together again, the earth righted once again, and the magic returned. The dance began.
The lights were dim, the sounds were hushed, the people around them who became unknowing spectators to this great journey stared in awe and wonder at the power of the 3. The power ebbed and flowed, waxed and waned, transferred from one woman to the other, electrical and powerful and full of collective strength and wisdom. When one faltered, the others rose up to remind her “You are strong, you are powerful, you are loved, you are surrounded by everything you need “.
The one with child came in and out of her power. This was a most difficult journey for her in so many ways. This was not exactly the way she had hoped her daughter would enter this realm. She had hoped to be at home, surrounded by her familiar space, familiar sights, smells, sounds. This was far from that.

But in birth, as in death, one doesn’t always get to choose these details.
She rocks her hips back and forth, slowly in circles. This dance, which creates its own choreography, never has to be taught. It just is. It emanates from her inner Goddess wisdom. It is accompanied by sounds, low and deep. Resonating with Mother Earth herself, connecting her to her source. The transformation was happening, and it wasn’t easy. It would shake her to her core. It would drive her to the brink of madness and then return her back…But upon return, she was always greeted by her fellow sisters with a smile, a wipe of the brow, a reminder that this too shall pass and that the miracle of life was waiting to be born, struggling as hard as she was, waiting for her chance to come earthbound meet her tribe.
Time sped up, stood still, went backwards, and then stopped.
It was time.
The tribe slowly, wearily but steadfastly traveled the last leg of their journey. They arrived at their final destination and set themselves up for the final feat. They were ready, the time was here. They all took a collective deep breath. They connected to each other, to each one’s inner wisdom and collective strength, to the collective strength of the earth, of the cosmos, of all that is. And then the mother began the last part of the job of bringing forth the baby earth side.
It would not be easy.
It would not be painless.
But it would happen, as it always had.
And then suddenly, finally, the three women became four.
And the air was thick with the presence of a myriad of women…..the ones who had come before them…..those who had given birth or supported in the birth. Those who had raised children, those who had lost children, those who had loved children, who had taught children. They were all there, smiling, arms around each other, watching this newest miracle unfold in all its glory.
Watching the journey complete itself once again, as it always had, and as it always will.
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