It’s a common refrain that 2017 sucked.
The darkness that we have been stuck within for way too long now has finally come into the light.
It’s an ugly and dangerous time. And, yet, it always has been. It’s just that, especially with the advent of our
social media, we are now seeing it fully.
But the only way to the other side of all of this is through it.
Over the past year, I discovered myself rooting deeper into my own sense of Self and Source.
Was it a challenging year for my family and myself, as well? Yeah, it was.
Among other things, in 2017, I struggled through a difficult, early pregnancy which resulted in another miscarriage;
at the same time, things were strained with my partner and I as our income took a huge hit and he gave voice to feelings of resentment over being the main provider in our family; and, then, our 3-year old son’s behavior became more rage-filled and aggressive. Dude! 🙁
All I could do was to keep discovering the brightness of my own light by acknowledging our difficulties
and committing to being with the discomfort of all of them. This is what I wish for our collective “We.”
As it is how I am finding my way to the other side.
When December rolled in, I made an internal decision to have a great holiday season. Miraculously, we did!
The holidays are, usually, a time filled with angst, however.
Growing up, there were hundreds of ornaments to decorate a tree with. However, there was a “right” way of decorating the tree (as well as wrapping the gifts) which, mainly, only my mother knew how to do. Sometimes, those ornaments would sit on the dining room table for months into the new year, because there was a “right” way for putting them away, as well. This kinda sucked the joy right outta the season.
Still, like a puppy awaiting it’s master’s return, I looked forward to Santa’s visit to our suburban, two-story home.
Every Christmas morning, I awoke to stockings bulging with gifts as well as the space beneath our Christmas tree loaded with new toys & clothes for my siblings and myself. You see, my mother is someone who finds comfort in retail therapy, as buying things helped to assuage her deep feelings of shame and guilt – about how her own unchecked rage and aggression wreaked the havoc of the cycles of emotional and physical abuse on her family.
I vividly recall one Christmas season when I awoke early and took the initiative, as a developing girl child, to start cleaning the pile of dishes sitting beside the sink. Alas, when my mother got up, she berated me for not doing the job correctly – because she then had to do it all over. You can imagine how this response wiped away any desire to try to be of service to my family any longer. (I cried copious tears years later when I was told that I had to take over the dish washing chore from my sister who was soon leaving for college.)
Today, I aim to encourage my son’s initiative and help, even when it means that I have to slow down and re-do a task. All of this has also meant that redefining the holiday season has been necessary, yet difficult. How do I create meaningful rituals and re-write the script of all of this, especially in the face of a culturally approved message that Christmas is about consumption? I don’t know “how” but I do know how to keep aiming for my own, unique sense of ‘True North” – which is for experiences that are filled with connection and community.
Thus, our December looked like numerous adventures in an old RV, driving my son and myself along with other Mamas & their babes to cultural events across San Diego. It looked like pulling our children in carts to enjoy local parades as well as the abundance of ‘Festivus’ lights found across the city. It looked like celebrating with food and communion with our numerous Soul families, a few of whom provided our son with gifts that met his personal desires. It also looked like heading up to the mountains to breathe in and enjoy living trees and forests. We climbed peaks and rode bikes. I spent quality time in the kitchen and the garden and we enjoyed yummy food. It was awesome!
There was one major thing that was missing from our holiday season, however. And, that was SERVICE.
In 2017, the blatant division that has plagued our nation as well as our global sisterhood (and brotherhood) has been heartbreakingly evident.
Personally, I have been caught up within my own healing as well as self-absorbed bubble that I haven’t been of greater service to our whole. Some might accuse me of being complicit within the injustices inherent in our system, as a result. I will do my best to make amends in this new year and beyond.
All I can hope is that we are each doing our best to extricate ourselves from what doesn’t work so that we can be present to co-creating systems that are regenerative and sustainable. As we move into 2018, it is my hope that we locate our collective power of FORGIVENESS for all that has been so that we can truly harness the power of this now in order to manifest what is to come next.
Thus, 2018 is going to be a “FU$K YEAH” year.
As the darkness seemingly continues to envelop us and as I peer more and more into my own shadow behaviors, I will continue to integrate how to be with all of it – even in the face of my high discomfort. I commit to you, and US, in this new year.
2018 is the year to shine bright so that others may also live brightly.
Women, children, people of color, the underserved and the most vulnerable of our society need us now. It is time to expand beyond what we thought was possible for ourselves and our families and into what we know is possible for our communities as well as our planet.
At the “Christmas in the Park” event in Old Poway Park last Saturday, a warm breeze blew the wind through the trees, serenading the carolers with its own rhythm and melody as they sang to us the common jingles of holiday cheer. A Papa said to me that it was a strange evening – weather wise. “It’s apocalyptic,” I replied.
Last year, we here in southern California experienced two, full seasons of rain and moisture.
It was an usually wet, “El Nino” year.
This year, the land that had recently bloomed with so much new growth is now bone dry.
Santa Rosa burned in the early fall. (I once spent five years living in Rohnert Park.)
And, last week, Ventura and North San Diego were on fire.
Many of our friends needed to evacuate their homes. Many of our extended community lost homes in Ojai.
My brother is a fireman, as well. I was thinking about him, and all the others, hard at work.
Yet, in the face of all the burning, all I could do was to focus on the tasks that lay in my hands.
Namely, in addressing the rage and aggression that my 3-year old son had been demonstrating in some of his recent behaviors.
I came to see that his was – and is – just a mirror of our larger society and how there is a burning that is currently happening of male, public authority figures who have abused their power by assaulting women and just, generally, not respecting life.
Today, victims are rightfully angry. Thus, the passion of unvoiced rage finally rages.
AND I remembered what the saint Francis supposedly said when he was asked what he would do if he were to find out that the world was ending tomorrow.
“I’d keep hoeing,” he said.
IN the early fall, a new mama to our cooperative inquired about how I spend my time.
She was referring to the time I spend outside of running our home-based, “Mama & Papas” cooperative, as well as being a mom, of course.
Raising my son to be an emotionally and physically embodied man is my number one priority; it’s why I do so much of what I do.
I am committed to raising someone in the full light of all the values I hold.
One of which is wanting to raise my son outside and in the garden.
I was eager to join our brand new, Encinitas community garden when they first opened. Our son was just one- years old and, at the time, we were living in a 2-bedroom apartment. I would push him in a stroller down to our plot, and along the way also stop at our local gardening store where my son and I would enjoy time looking at goats, chickens, koi, and a tortoise named “Bubba.”
I was first introduced to perma-cultural farming when I was traveling the globe as a wide-eyed, 24 year-old. In New Zealand, I befriended two Austrian “Woof’ers,” (woof’ing is an organization that helps travelers live and learn on organic farms around the world) – a couple who would regal me with stories of cherry picking and learning about cultivating the land in a regenerative way.
Later that year, I visited their heirloom, 600-year old, family chalet in the foothills of Austria, and helped them to build a spiral, herb garden.
Almost a decade later, my serving Roots San Diego Sustainable Food Project as an executive member was a natural progression of my desire for intimately knowing our Earth. There, I was exposed to the wider organic farming community, through the annual conference Eco-Farm, as I also expanded my skills in public speaking and education.
So, I’ve been tending to our backyard here in Cardiff for about 18-months now, and I am so freakin’ pumped that I am (finally) finding my groove in creating a permaculture garden for our cooperative.
Which, I am ecstatic to announce, has become the home base of our “Little Sprouts Learning Garden.”
Most days, I pad around barefooted, watering plants with some grey-water collected from inside of the house.
Most recently, I could be found breaking up the compost (aka shit!) into smaller pieces with a shovel.
On this day, I was channeling my anger about how my partner racked up over 25 overdraft, bank fees. ;(
These days, I know how to prioritize my work.
When I have my young child with me we do all of these things together.
Lately, I have been having him help me more often. He helped plant seeds – peas, broccoli, spinach, kale, beets & onions – at the community garden yesterday. I notice how his helping me, and others, helps him to feel useful, wanted and at ease.
Then, when I have help tending to him, I tend to my other work – like here on the computer.
Old Poway Park is home to Midland Railroad’s cable car or speeder.
Complete with a freight car on the property grounds, a small train station for buying your ticket to ride the speeder, two model railroads and real engines stored in a barn, it’s a magical place for a precocious boy-child like mine.
On Saturday night, I teared up watching Santa arrive on the cable car. He was surrounded by a throng of camera-wielding others, as I balanced my boy on my hip and felt joy bubbling up.
How to create meaning around Old Man Winter that isn’t steeped in consumerism, exploitation or disconnection?
Personally, my experience growing up was all about getting things, and had very little to do with actual meaning and a Spirit of Humanity.
However, I’ve also learned that my protesting in the “Buy Nothing” picket line hasn’t rendered me a lot of sustainability – either of relationships, or materials.
So, I am re-writing the script of my life.
And I am redesigning the world into the image I want it to be.
Slowly but surely, I find my way.
Blessings to you on yours.
I stopped tending to my garden in July.
We’ve kept a 10’x10′ garden plot at our local community garden, since it opened two years ago.
After working with the soil and the plants for a good, 18 months or so, our garden finally experienced its first bloom.
Our artichoke plant, the one we bought as a starter and that initially struggled after its first planting, was moved to the part of our garden box where I had buried a piece of my placenta. It was left over from my son’s labor and delivery, in the fall of 2014.
This past summer it finally blossomed, producing about two dozen artichoke buds.
I even left a few of the stalks to bloom, so that we could have a bouquet of the purple thistle flowers in our backyard at home.
The corn seeds went in late in the season.
It was a sweet, red corn that the ants devoured as soon it began to mature. So, I let it go and left the stalks to wither and dry in the bed. I stopped showing up to our garden after that.
I let it go fallow.
In October, as I was physically struggling through our third pregnancy, my partner was living within an acute state of fear (about money). Garden membership dues were also expected that month, but I feared making the investment (of $120, a whole $10/year!). I actually thought that I could just let our garden plot go.
After months of not visiting, I finally drove by it this past week and acted on my inspiration to return. Channeling all of my fear that I have been experiencing this week – with the return of my Moon cycle, it was my first Moon cycle, post-miscarriage,#2, as well as the ongoing challenge of raising our three year-old, I cleared the plot. In two hours, I churned and tilled all of the soil – my body moving as one with the tools as well as a newfound mastery. I left a singular strawberry plant as I hauled in more bricks, in order to create a central, spiraling design.
However, I also felt bereft – how could I think of giving up on this little piece of my heart & a space where I have been lovingly cultivating life for two years now?
Life is an ongoing dance. It always changes.
Beyond being caught up in the spin-cycles of transformation,
I can harness my energies and apply these in molding the Earth.
Returning to the canvas of my life, I can re-sculpt and redesign it –
at any time.
After drying, withering, dying and even be cast out,
we can grow again.
Sometimes, it is in this liminal, fallow space –
between what which has come before and that which is to come –
when we are the most fertile and rich.
A peculiar thing has been happening lately.
People, either in person or via private message, have been reaching out to hug me and to say,
“I’m so sorry [for your loss].”
It’s true that when I am confronted with images of other people’s brand new babies or talk of another person’s pregnancy, I still harbor a desire to give birth to a girl child but, mainly, I feel like I have gained a lot from my most recent miscarriage experience.
Perhaps, it was because of how fully I documented and engaged with my process that I now feel full and, definitely, not empty.
(Although I did experience my womb space has immediately barren in the days following our bloody ordeal.)
After gratefully receiving these condolences from others, I have shared with a few about how I feel I have gained so much – even in the face of my loss.
One Mama Sister Friend asked me how and what I have gained, so I thought I would share more here.
Death is its Own Medicine.
With my three year old son in tow, I bow before it and thank it for sparing other parts of my life – some of which I can not bare the thought of losing.
“Thank you, Teacher.”
Standing in my backyard, I gaze down, and see a purple rock – the word Lila emblazoned in white upon it – as it sits in
our Garden of Loss. I painted that rock to commemorate the 7 week-old energy that, I believe, sacrificed Her body so that I could harness the urgency of this Now.
The start of my last pregnancy, which began in September, had me waking at 3 and 4am. It was an immediate, internal alarm clock going off – just once and without any resistance from me. So, up I would go – padding around our fall yard, readying the space for birthday celebrations and our home-based cooperative.
Even as I began to surrender to how crummy I also felt – a deep hacking cough emanating from my lower, right lung – I still rose before the sun and wandered out under the stars to identify familiar constellations and to witness a setting Moon.
When we gathered in Sisterhood for my “Ceremony of Release & Renewal,” a Priestess (the same mama sister friend who helped to call in my son’s Soul when he reached day #120 in my womb) shared that the bright, light energy of the recently past embryo was still surrounding me and that I needed to fully release it. Immediately, I felt sad as well as scared that I wouldn’t be able to integrate the life lessons that this life force energy brought with it.
Instead, in a moment of clarity and power, I chose to commit to myself.
“I can do this,” I thought.
“I can wake before the rising sun,
so that I can sing my unique, morning song.
And so that I can gather precious energy from time spent in solitude and darkness,
while sowing my own form of meditative seeds – by gently stretching or dancing, quietly singing, writing or doing work that I simply can not accomplish when my 3-year old son is around.”
With this thought, I then released “Lila” as I imagined her running, hand in hand, with her big sister Esperanza, a 7-week old embryo that I miscarried in 2016.
Lila, a precious reminder of the playfulness of creation and the child-like urgency in only having this time now, on Earth, to create with.
So, what do I do?
How do I use my two hands while I am here?
I use them for creating and sharing my Sacred Work in our world.
What are your hands here for?
Do you harness innocence and urgency, and use it as a fuel to propel you in your life?
If so, how?
And, Life moves on.
Thus, my tale of loss comes to an end.
Because I have to start again,
This last pregnancy – my third in four years – was both
challenging, and invigorating.
This brief energy that visited my womb brought with it the urgency
of awaking before dawn every morning so that this morning bird,
& the someone whom I have always been, can sing.
My morning song greets a setting moon;
the bright stars, Sirius and Aldebaron, twinkling in Canis Major
and Taurus the Bull; as well as a rising sun.
Padding out into our yard, my feet sink into the moment.
Sometimes, I pull up a chair and take a seat.
and my eyes feast.
I remember that I am Alive.
And that I am Here to Create.
With ample time for solitude and my own mix of morning meditation,
I write and I work, I sing and sometimes I dance or stretch.
I unfold in the quiet of a day’s coming to.
Sharing the many steps and processes of my journey with a wider community, via
social media, has been healing in and of itself.
And, one of the greatest healing supports that I have received, since miscarrying on November 3rd, is when women have reached out to me to say #metoo, and then shared parts or all of their own stories with pregnancy loss.
Truly, we are not alone.
So, perhaps, my story ends, where yours begins.
What’s your pregnancy loss tale?
Let us unite through the pain and power of our losses,
as we simultaneously normalize death as well as other natural processes.
like old age,
hidden from us.
A cemetery plot
on the way out of town.
a marble shrine in a resource rich community.
Like our elders,
/removed/ from public
If we can’t see it,
we can avoid it.
The specter of pregnancy loss,
our illusions of control.
I can’t outrun
for all of us.
No one is in charge
There is no ‘free will’
for changing the dial on our own expiration date.
We are beholden,
to something grander,
But what is beyond it?
We do not know.
So, today, I turn my head
and avert my gaze,
away from the violence for laughs
and the news for fear,
towards the reality of
the bitter in the sweet,
the agony in the ecstasy,
and all of the loss in life.
I tend to my Garden of Loss
like I tend to my crops.
Sheltering it from a hot sun, pruning it back,
giving it water, and encouraging
After my first miscarriage, I intuitively guided my partner and I,
along with our 2-year old, in our own private ceremony of Release.
We gathered a green, Maple leaf from a tree in the backyard,
as well as a few feathers & some dried rose leaves from around the house.
We placed them together in our palm, and grieved for our loss as a family.
Burton dug the hole in the ground and remembered to grab his camera.
I offered the Sacred Bundle back to the Earth, our son at my side.
Together, we covered the hole with fresh soil.
Ashes to ashes,
Dust to Dust.
(We all fall down.)
Back then, I shared our pregnancy loss journey in images and words in an FB photo album.
I knew my Sisters were called for.
Jenn was first to speak it out loud.
Then, Gina dreamt it.
Together, we co-created it.
Almost a week after our bloody ordeal, I summoned their presences.
prepared to offer
another fresh hole in the ground
rose petal leaves and a peacock feather
and their tears of sorrow for our collective loss.
Again, I poured Sacred Sacrament – this time floating in a small Mason jar – into the Earth.
And I wept.
They knelt beside me; honoring Death it’s rightful due.
Welcome, to our “Garden of Loss.”
All are welcome here.
We have fish to the right and the left,
as well as a sweet field mouse that ran across our path while fleeing its fast approaching demise.
Minutes after catching the tiny animal in my hand,
I laid it down for its final rest on a living room pillow.
It took its last breaths with us.
This gentle creature, a gift ~ a reminder of how essential the fine, minute details in life are.
I have long been the girl who gathered loved ones in the yard for a “final farewell,”
to Cool dog “Cool” and our golden cat, “Carat.”
Now, I am a Medicine Woman who gathers Women
(and their children)
in a Red Tent
for acute, hands-on healing as well intentional ceremony.
It’s just, sometimes, I have to model the way.