How I Feel

More.

I woke up this morning and browsed some friends' social media pages. I was floored at the phantasmagorical expressions that pours out of some people I know. Something about these moved me deeply and I began to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for being alive and for being a witness to this beauty and display of individual perspectives and languages from the heart. So much so that I was brought to tears. We could not possibly be any more different from person to person yet we are all so human. I don't know why but lately I have been thinking a lot about the time in my twenties when I lived in New York City. I was single, childless, and completely clueless. It was a time in my life where I still felt things could go any way; that there were still surprises around the corner that could lead me to the next big thing. It was a very fun and interesting time.

My favorite thing about that time in New York was my Sundays when my roommates weren't home. I used to live in Yorkville, just a block away from The Vinegar Factory up there and in the late mornings/early afternoons I would wake up and walk over there and spend at least an hour taking everything in with my five senses- touching the fruit I was going to buy, smelling all the fresh produce, taking in all the colors of mother nature's bountiful offerings chosen for sale by this grocer, tasting anything and everything they were sampling that day, and hearing conversations and the hustle bustle of a typical New York Sunday afternoon. I would carefully pick a wine and ingredients for my lunch or dinner and then proudly walk back home with my full bags (and much lighter wallet). I'd wave hello to my doorman who- upon seeing my grocery bags- would flash me a big smile because he knew how happy I was at that very moment. I'd put my ingredients in the fridge for later and always remember the feeling of "everything is as it should be" and just pure satisfaction with life.

Once I was ready to start cooking, I would take out all the ingredients from the fridge open the sliding glass door and let all the breeze come in. I'd light some incense, pour myself a glass of wine, put on some instrumental or vocal jazz (more often than not it was Sarah Vaughan and Miles Davis) and get to chopping. What pleasure. Sometimes prepping would happen while the pinks and oranges would begin to disperse throughout the New York sky and I was suddenly in a Woody Allen movie. Those afternoons, I remember not needing anything or anyone but myself. I would eat in silence (except for the jazz and my thoughts) and enjoy every bite with so much delight. Sometimes after I cooked (if it was a lunch and early enough to still walk alone) I would walk the city alone, sometimes all the way down to Union Square, and take in all the interesting things that always abounded in that part of the city. Other times, I would walk the 72nd street path from East to West and back and sometimes get lost and find a coffee shop to sit in and be with myself for a while. I so thoroughly enjoyed that. One time as I walked that path, a solo saxophone coming from I don't know where began to play "Someone to Watch Over Me". The sun was low in the sky and I thought someone had just dropped me into a postcard. Or a Gaugin.

I was 28.

Since then, I have gotten somewhat caught up in the MORE game:

I need to have more.

I need to be more.

I need to do more.

I need to be more successful.

I need to make more.

I need to look younger (as in, I need to have more youth).

I need more wisdom.

I need more flexibility.

I need a more fit body.

I need more peace.

I need more time.

Many of us get caught up in this periodically, I'm fairly certain. I definitely do. And periodically, I press the reset button because I remember that's all nonsense.

Lately, I've been stressed at all the things I "need" because "I don't yet have them" and then I remembered New York in my late twenties. I didn't even have a sofa- three girls were so tightly packed in an apartment that there was no room for a sofa. All I had were the contents of my bedroom- a bed, a dresser, and some clothes. But I was having so much fun and felt so incredibly content and satisfied. I didn't even feel the need for a relationship. This time of abstinence (well, except for one great night with a friend/co-worker right before leaving town) and aloneness was so helpful to resolve that whole "a woman needs a man" thing for me. That changed from "need" to "it's so wonderful to have the absolute right one to accompany me". Once that shifted, I met my John.

And once I remember to shift the thoughts of needing more to "it's so wonderful to enjoy what I do have while still striving towards the things that are truly essential to my soul to have more of because it is perfectly okay to have dreams and desires," the world around me changes. I look around and see that there is so much. So many gifts, blessings, so much joy, so much to laugh about, so much to love, and so many to be loved by. So much art to appreciate, so much to be inspired by, so much time to create. Then my days become so full. They each become one long, remarkably delicious New York Sunday afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The end of the year.

I recently heard someone mention how sad it was that Beethoven couldn't hear his own masterpieces. Can you imagine creating the 7th Symphony and then not be able to hear it?!? Recent events in my life have made me very sympathetic to that- pain that comes from not ever being able to enjoy something you have created. I wonder then what exactly it was that made him mad. Was it the inability to hear the fruits of his talent? Was it that he was an artist to such a degree that he couldn't relate to the mundane?

At the end of every year, I get really introspective and pretty much shut down completely to the outside world. It's like I create my own winter inside so all that magic that is supposed to be born of its darkness and stillness can happen inside of me despite all the sameness of the external environment in which I live. "Endless Summer" is a term that only sounds sexy.

This winter of my personal discontent, I have shut down more than normal. So much so that lately I find myself constantly asking, "Am I doing this right? Am I playing well with others? Am living authentically to my purpose? What IS my purpose?" Questions I often ask myself so much more in the time right before the switch gets flipped into the new year, but ones that I check in with constantly between inhales and exhales on any given day.

Time and time again, I often feel like I belong on the moon. After all, she knows how to live cyclically; she understands the wholeness that is the combination of light and dark. She hangs alone in the sky. Nobody ever told her being alone was bad, unfortunate, or a consequence. Nobody ever told her she was bad, unfortunate, or a consequence.  Alone is good. She is good. As good as anything else is and yet completely incomparable.

I don't have any new year's resolutions. The only thing I know I want from the following year is for more words to flow and more music. Whether this is the year I start writing my book, or blog more, or journal more, or create more podcasts. Whether I join a band or jam or just sing along with my uke more. The truth has always been this: when I wake up I feel like a singer and writer. But a singer sings and a writer writes.I don't even care if I'm good at it or not. So, let me start again now. Who needs to wait two weeks? So, here's this blog post and later this week I'll jam with one of my girlfriends. Now, now, now, now, now, now, now. NOW.

2016... the year I learned to play the ukulele, the year my family first ate something we slaughtered ourselves, the year I turned my last 30, the year I lost a baby, the year of wearing my hair long, and the year I met more of myself than I ever have in all the years combined.

Happy New Year, everyone. 2017 may be "better" or not. But whatever it is, I promise it will be new.

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39.

This is so very me... The days before my birthday, I start to crawl into a cave (more than usual). I get very introspective (more so than usual) and sensitive (again, more... ah, you get it). Part of being a Scorpio? Perhaps. Probably just mostly part of being me.

I'm sitting at my favorite coffee shop, reveling in the fact that I have time alone to myself. I'm enjoying my coffee by savoring every single delightful sip and eating my gluten-free pastry tiny bite by tiny bite. I haven't had a stretch of a few hours off in a very long time so I am going to stretch this one out. Right now I am writing and editing audio; when I'm done here I will take the trolley over to The Knitting Garden and swatch my new project.

Time alone is so precious to me. I don't have to live in that place where moms live- in that fight or flight hyperaware part of our over-utilized brain. I can just... aaaaaaaahhhhhHHHHHHH. When I get time alone, I almost always end up crying. Wherever I am. Seriously, WHEREVER. I sob and when I realize I'm out in public making people uncomfortable, I pack up and just go for a walk. I cry because I feel an overwhelming sense of "Ohhhhhh, THERE I AM" and I can't contain the excitement and sadness that feeling holds. So, when I look down and see my newly protruding belly bump holding baby number four, I can't help feel a bit of panic. I have basically spent my thirties mostly being pregnant, having children, nursing children, raising children, managing other's feelings/outbursts, soothing toddlers, bathing others, dressing others, brushing teeth (sometimes even my own!), and loving others. It's not to say I haven't felt loved. I'm also fairly coddled (my equally exhausted partner does what he can to remind me I matter, while I cry from invisibility some days).

Last night during my usual middle of the night pregnancy wake-up, I had the oddest vision. I saw myself up at bat in Wrigley Field, bat firmly gripped in my hands, focusing on the pitcher, trying to predict what pitch was coming my way. It was odd because in my real life, sports is really not a thing at all. I don't follow or watch it and I don't know or care what's going on in that world. All I knew from FB posts was that the Cubs won the World Series trying to break some long curse and something about a goat.

I knew a 100+ mph curve ball was coming for me. And as the vision unfolded, I couldn't help but keep thinking how peculiar this sports metaphor was for me. I knew it had to do with my 4th baby on his/her way and when I realized that, I let myself sit with the fear and enormity of it. Another few years inside the LABORinth. Funny thing is, I don't recall ever getting out. It has felt more like approaching the exit only to send myself right back to the beginning. Maybe some people think "well, who told her to keep having kids?" No one. No one did. And I'm not complaining about those beautiful little ones. But I certainly need to express the feelings I am having around starting over and delaying the "getting back to myself" for another few years.

Many people- mostly other moms- often ask me, "How do you do everything you do?" I assume that they are referring to my podcast, my blog, involvement in my daughter's Waldorf school, my serious knitting habit, mothering 3 children, having a successful partnership, a masters degree (which I have since put on hold due to this pregnancy),carve time out for myself whenever I can, and just general life. The truth is, without all these things I can sort of call my own I would go insane. If I didn't have anything other than my children, I think I would have evaporated into oblivion a long time ago. Since I had my first baby in my early thirties I have been on a fierce mission to keep some parts of myself alive so that when I have time to come back to myself, I haven't forgotten what my purpose on Earth is and who I am. I still know what makes me tick. I still know what seeds I want to leave planted deep in the Earth before I go.

With good fortune, I may even see them sprout and bloom <3

 

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Woman do you know...?

Woman do you know...

that it's perfectly okay to be angry and show it? to be insecure and vulnerable and show it? to look for a safe space for where to collapse because it's okay to collapse.

that it's okay to speak the truth even when no one around you wants to hear it. to fiercely stand in your truth and in your grace- unrelentingly so. to drop everything to follow only that with integrity and soul. to follow your bliss.

that it's okay to act like a man if and when you may want to. to feel larger than life and screech with joy about it- loud and clear. to own every bit of your space that you have carved out for yourself with every cell in your body. and that it's okay to love and celebrate your woman-ness.

that it's okay to want time alone. to not want to give. to say "I can't stand my kids." to feel, "I can't stand my partner." to want to runaway to a quiet space in nature where it's just you and the silence. to want to laugh, dance, sway, cry, shake, express your whole self in your aloneness in any way your moment moves you.

that it's okay to bleed. not just okay... it is a gift and a privilege. and a responsibility that calls us in to do the work every day. it's okay to call in sick, but the work is never done. it's okay to celebrate your blood for its magic. to be excited for your blood to come. to intimately connect with it in a way that fills you and reminds you of your priestess roots.

that it's okay to unearth taboos. to not continue to put them away in a forgotten corner of your life. to realize that to keep turning away from exploring them is to deny growth.

that it's okay to welcome the years, the wrinkles, the greys, and the scars with as much enthusiasm as you greet a sister.

Basically, it's okay to WHATEVER. YOU. WANT.

Because the rules you've been living by- the smallness you feel- are someone else's. NOT yours.

Check your baggage at the door and join the party. and remember who and what you are.

Allow full emergence. grace and grit. you will love what you find.

Pure magic.

<3

Sexy MF'er.

Back when I was freshly postpartum with my first baby, Faith Ploude's postpartum support group was THE place to go for help with all that came with new motherhood. So, I went. To this day, something she said at one meeting has stayed with me throughout all these years: "Ladies, date your husbands. DATE YOUR HUSBANDS! Because no matter how bald, fat, or ugly he is, there are always some sharks smelling blood and circling around."

It made me laugh so much. And although we had just had our first baby, and weren't really caught up in the grind yet, the words rang true. My bigger issue is, my husband is neither bald, fat, or ugly. He is scorching hot.

So, here we are. A few years and children later. And we are TIRED. But let me not speak for him... let me only speak for myself. I am ex.hausted. It's to the point that I almost feel androgenous. I do date my husband but I don't know what to do on dates anymore. Or maybe some part of me does know but I certainly feel awkward doing it. I feel like a person who's never driven a car and is given the keys to a Ferrari. What the heck do I do with this thing?!

I am cracking jokes but, sometimes, it's not funny. I think about the deeper meaning of these emotions and wonder how do I get back to feeling somewhat sexy again? How do I start the spark to burn with desire again? And not just here and there for fleeting moments. Like really, really BURN again. From head to toe as I once remember. My mind is definitely on it. I want to want to be sexy. When we were having dinner today, although we were having a sweet time, I was still thinking "ugh when did I lose my swag?" and wondering when I forgot how to smolder. Remember smoldering? I do. I remember I once knew how to look across the table/bed/room at a man and invite him with my eyes. i used to be damn good at it, actually. I felt so awkward and far away from smoldering that although I was thinking about it, I didn't even try. Then my mind went back to business as usual which is a constant loop of "Master's Degree. Boogers. Motherhood. Breastmilk. Mom jeans."

I mostly spend my time- when not studying- with other mothers and I've realized that a lot of us don't really spend time on our looks. Who has the time for that really? I think I used to a bit after my first, and then after my second I tried, but now I brush my teeth and consider that a huge accomplishment and basically my entire beauty regimen. And really, it's painfully clear that mothers are the bottom rung when it comes to society, in so many ways. It was deeply ingrained in me that my physical beauty has value that mostly hangs on the opinions of all other men so now that I don't give a damn about society and what it thinks of me, I have had to redefine what makes me a woman and what makes me feel I have true beauty. I'm still in the process of finding out what makes me attractive to me.

I have fallen deep into an abyss- a place that Aphrodite can't find on her Waze. It doesn't feel sensual, luscious, or juicy at this depth. It feels flat and not womanly. Womanliness- deep feminine goodness- to me feels curvy and interesting and mysterious; flirty and coy; pampered yet generous.

I don't want to "get my groove back". Or my "sexy back". Or any other cliche thing about bringing the fire back. I just want the old seductress-y me to seduce me back into her ways so I can start to feel the fire again so that it emanates heat out to all areas of my life. After all, I am the one that has always believed you can be a mother and a hot, sexy mother fucker at the same time.

That's right, I said that.

 

I hope he always loves me.

On the eve of our seventh anniversary, we found each other in a warm bath, with our third already doing acrobatic nursing at a mere nine months. Our eyes were tired; our souls were tired. He was looking handsome as ever though, tired as he was. I suddenly became aware of our other children arguing in their playroom. "We used to be people," I said, utterly defeated and exhausted down to my bones.

Lately, I have been very aware of the aging process in my body. New wrinkles in my skin, thinner lips, less hair. And yet my husband still looks youthful. I look at him and I still admire his simple but life-altering inner light and am even more grateful than when we first met about how he keeps me connected to the "otherness" of life.. to those things I know are true but cannot see. Because of him I always have one foot here and the other somewhere far, far away. He reminds me there is more to life than _______ (fill in the blank). That I am more than _______ (fill in the blank.)

I have been hearing about the seven year itch from people. Warnings and such. I understand what could happen to a seasoned relationship and don't believe in an "itch" at any one year. Life is an ebb and flow. It is concave and convex. Ever changing. Standing still for no one, so I don't consider us immune to anything. However, I love this man.

He texted me recently from Whole Foods that someone had followed him around the store because she thought he was Johnny Depp. I was with him another time when that happened at a movie theater. A young girl ran up and fanatically grabbed his arm and yelled, "Oh my GOD!" only to realize- finally up close- that he was just a doppelganger and then apologized profusely. His looks are not lost on me. I still fancy him very much and still think he is one of the most stunning things my eyes have ever seen. But it's more than how he looks that bubbles my insides with so much love for him.

Our relationship continues to surprise me because although time continues to go by, I peel more and more layers into an unknown I never expected. I guess I always had an expectation that normal relationships whither with time but here there is always expansion. This doesn't mean it's always easy but it hopefully means we will continue to journey together, in whatever way we can.

I have found myself often looking at him when he knows I'm not looking, especially lately. I wonder what he still sees in me, now that I often feel like an overtired, overwhelmed student/mother that barely looks up from her phone long enough to hold an intelligent conversation anymore. I think, "I used to be interesting and complex. How does he see me now?" And then, because he always helps me keeps things real, from there I go on to bigger questions about my inner life; the world; the universe; truth. I don't know the answers to any of those questions. I don't know who I'll be tomorrow. Or when I graduate. Or five years from now. Or when our children are bigger. Or when they're out of the house and onto their lives. But I hope I always love him and I hope he always loves me.

 

Dignity in childhood.

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The other day I was visiting my mom at the salon in which she rents her station when suddenly, the owner- who we don't know very well at all- suddenly walks up to my daughter from where he was sitting quite a ways away and says, "Hey, you talk too much." My daughter, who was sitting at the manicurist's chair and commenting TO ME on how beautiful the polish colors were, immediately lost her smile. Her body hunched over so subtly, but I- being her mother- caught it quite obviously. She stopped looking at the polish and stared down at the floor.

I was in shock. I was speechless. At the same time I wanted to sucker punch him, I sat there motionless in disbelief. When I snapped back to my senses, I went over to her, locked eyes with her and asked, "What were you saying, love, about the polish?" And made sure she knew I was paying attention and was not at ALL bothered by her talking. She began to say something else when the same man interrupted her with complete disregard again for her feelings and began to tell me his dog passed away. I put on my therapist hat and decided that this gentleman meant no harm even though he had caused my daughter emotional harm twice in the span of a mere minute. My knee-jerk reaction was to say something rude and stern back to him but I realized there was no benefit to this. He was clueless as to what he had done. Looking back now I wish I would have said SOMETHING to him though because maybe, in my daughter's eyes, I made it permissible to interrupt her and perhaps she would think my silence was saying her thoughts were not worthy of being heard. Upon further meditation, I realized that the reason I didn't say anything was some awful childhood programming of my own I have about never being rude or stern to an older person or calling an older person's attention.

Childhood can be very undignified. I see it everyday. EVERYDAY. Yesterday at an indoor playground, a mother pulled her kid out of the ballpit because he was throwing balls outside of the pit along with some other boys (mine included) none of whom were being punished for it. She dragged him out by the arm, violently smacked him, and yelled at him in front of everyone. Then she threw him back inside. At a local coffee shop, a father went about his business chatting with a friend and getting his coffee while his daughter tugged at his pants, trying desperately to get his attention the whole time they were there and he didn't once make eye contact with her or ask her what she wanted. I see children spoken down to, manhandled, bullied, manipulated, abused, lied to, and ignored by adults and older children who are at age where they [should] know better. It is infuriating. I get so angry when people treat children like second class citizens or like less than what they actually are- brilliant little balls of energy, asking to be loved, taught, and guided. Children depend on their parents and adults for so much- for real and true information about the world, for gentle guidance as opposed to forced or aggressive coercion, for understanding their place in the world, for help discovering and developing their imagination, for help developing to a stage where they can make sound choices for themselves, and on and on and on- if we are all not careful, we can seriously damage the course of their lives.

That people want to exert power over a child is mind boggling. How can it be that in a situation where someone has the upper hand (oftentimes only due to mere size) people will take their fullest advantage of it when a child is involved? I can't wrap my head around it. Take the man who told my daughter she talked too much. I know he didn't mean anything by it, but would he say that to one of his older patrons? Would he have gone up to the wealthy middle-aged lady who was under the hair dryer who WAS talking too much to say so? Of course not. THAT would be considered rude and uncouth. But to just walk up to a child so nonchalantly and say what he said, while smiling, is considered harmless.

When I mentioned it to my mom later that day, she jumped to point out, "Oh, I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it." And when I mentioned the injustices children have to endure, she stopped listening to me and began another conversation with my father mid-sentence. I understand that generation isn't looking at the things we are (and by "we" I mean, Gen X, Y, Z, Millennials, Next and hybrids thereof). We dissect and examine. We revolt and uproot. They like to keep quiet and keep the status quo. I get all that. So, I understand but I certainly don't stand by these actions that suck the dignity out of childhood- such a creative, fecund, and sweet time of life.

I urge everyone reading this to examine the way they treat children- whether theirs or others. Sometimes all it takes is one word from one person- one- to slice through a kid's confidence and self-esteem. We can drag down or give wings to the up and coming generations. I choose goodness and to remind these little angels of their wings with which they can fly.

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Makes me wonder.

I have a girlfriend who spends her time traveling all over the world and doing things that interest her. She doesn't have a job. She enjoys her life. She never bought into societal rules- at least not as long as I have known her. She is one of the sweetest people I know and I admire her immensely. She calls the most unique and incredible people across the world her friends. She is smart, emotionally intelligent, beautiful, kind, fun as hell, and extremely interesting. I remember one time while visiting Miami (her family lives here so she lands here often), she told me about a great book she read where the people of San Francisco got fed up with how things were going on Earth that they took to the streets with pickaxes and went at the cement roads. After some time, everything turned green and life started going back to the way nature would have intended if not for us. I think about that conversation we had often because whenever I get fed up with the way things are, I'd like to go outside with a pickaxe and have at the streets of Coral Gables (not so much city beautiful but city where you are FORBIDDEN to garden on your front lawn or paint the inside of your house without a permit). I often wonder... does anyone else feel this way? And if some do, are we all just so socially conditioned that we all remain paralyzed and sit (somewhat) idly by while the well being of this world and its inhabitants continues to decline at a staggering rate?

I appreciate that most people I know work for their own brand of change. Some people work to improve themselves, some work for the hungry of the world, some work for water conservation, some work to stop fracking, some work to preserve the last pair of a rare kind of rhinoceros, and on and on and on. But is this enough?? I believe despite hard work  against the powers and status quos that be, something still has a hold on us. Some unspoken fear that keeps us from revolt in the face of so many absolute injustices. I include myself in this because as much as I would love to paint a peace sign on my face and run naked through the streets chanting "only love is real!", I don't.

It's difficult to live in this world when you have experienced the other side. To know it used to be okay to bask in the sun all day because the foods we ate were so pure and biodynamic that they were a natural sunscreen makes me question how we live today. To know we were so connected to the land that we would know what plants to eat or not, or at least have the guidance of a plant shaman to tell us which to eat, makes me question how we live today. To not be able to breastfeed my children without getting shameful looks makes me question. To be called a "nutbag" because I chose to birth my children at home away from unnecessary interventions makes me question. To be in a world of 7 billion people and feel lonely- along with so many others- makes me question. To consider the educational system of standardized tests and thoughtless content makes me wonder. To know that companies that poison us like Coca Cola and McDonalds have fat pockets yet socially responsible companies can't make a name for themselves because they lack "market appeal" makes me wonder.  To know that we as a people are so numbed we've stopped asking simple questions such as "where does the money go?" or "what are our true origins?" makes me wonder.

The truth is, most of this modern life makes me wonder.

And yet, I still haven't picked up my pickaxe. Just a bag of organic, gluten-free animal crackers.

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Soft.

With the exception of labor (so far), everything about having babies is soft to me. My body feels so soft, newly spongey and pudgy in certain places and not at all tight and toned like I felt right before my pregnancy. I feel soft all over. As my external body feels soft, so does everything inside. I can imagine my soft little squishy one dancing around in her amniotic fluid, softly hovering over my softening cervix. My thoughts have softened into new places like dreamy journeys with my baby and meditative encounters with a familiar, warm light and soft, otherworldly sounds.

Everything feels soft... including my heart.

My tears flow freely, as I have felt my heart opening like never before. I have suspected heart-openings in many previous life experiences and have actually felt them during my previous pregnancies, but now this softness feels enormous and so, so, so much bigger than me.

While the vulnerability itself is scary, what I am most afraid of is if the opening were to stop. Somewhere between sleepless nights and balancing life, my beloved, children, and school, will things begin to harden again? Like a mantra, the thought of staying soft keeps repeating in my mind. Not only for a more peaceful birth but for a more peaceful life. As I soften, I believe- more and more everyday- that everything begins inside oneself. I want to offer my light and a soft heart to myself and to the world.

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Baby Talk.

For me, the words "baby talk" have always meant something so different than high-pitched words from mothers and cooing and babbling from tiny babies. Baby talk reminds me of 4am... wide awake... communicating with my babies. During each pregnancy, my babies have liked to often wake me up at 4am to be with them.

Sitting here in the stillness of the amrit vela, I can't help but love it. The blurred lines between worlds makes this such a magical time. So for a while, I lay in bed, took a few deep breaths and connected with my baby and with my higher self. I feel I don't get to say "hi" to her as often as I'd like even though I know all day I am in constant contact with her (both my baby and my higher self).

I put a question out to my guides and all the light beings and ascended masters: many times this pregnancy, my daughter and I have found feathers in our path- something that is new in my experience walking on this big green and blue ball. I know shamans have feathers in their toolbox and it is a significant symbol for many different things in ancient cultures but I've never really had an experience that drew me to feathers. So I asked, "What is it about feathers that people love?"

A gentle response: "You're asking the wrong question."

I thought about that for a while. I closed my eyes again and tried to still my mind- a herculean feat, it seems, these days.

Images began to flash in my mind and then I realized the question wasn't why feathers draw people in but why they were drawing me in at the moment. I tend to always overthink about others- their actions, their reactions, what they're thinking, and why.... why? why? why? Thought patterns that were set as part of my upbringing, I think. And when I asked the question again, this time asking what it meant for me, all I saw in my mind's eye was an eagle and a condor, flying side by side, high above.

What I want more than anything now is to be like a bird. To not swoop down into the depths of valleys or feel high at mountain peaks. I just want to soar above all of it, in peace with my surroundings- whatever and whoever is there- and watch with stillness of mind and heart, wisdom, and clarity.

Thank you to the great unseen shaman who keeps putting feathers in my path. <3

Happy Chives.

Our friends are truly the best.

So our awesome friend Gebi has come to stay with us for a while. He's an all around phenomenal being- health mentor, devotee of Sai Baba, former Olympic athlete and water sports coach. He is very motivating on many levels and always comes with so much to offer us.

Yesterday as he and my husband were outside playing in our backyard, he spotted some wild edibles. We've been here for a month and totally missed it but he caught it right away. He went and grabbed his pocket knife and before we knew it we had bunches and bunches of wild delicious chives!

He handed me one and I ate it right out of the ground. It was sweet and delicious. I took a moment because my heart swelled with gratitude. The fact that food grows out of the ground... FOOD... as in gracious nutrition for the beings on this planet that grows free and abundantly... just blows my mind. It is nothing short of miraculous.

Unfortunately, not many see it this way anymore. I thought about that for a while yesterday as I watched my little ones play among the weeds and the chives and apparently a bunch of other produce that will bud in the spring according to Gebi. We have lost the reverence to the earth and its sacred processes. Why? I suppose because we no longer see it. Not many of us grow our own food anymore or even know someone who does. So, we miss out on the opportunity to see a seed being planted, being nurtured by the planter, by water, by the sun, sprouting to life and proceeding through the growth process.

This  has many implications. Since we don't have an appreciation of where our food comes from, we usually don't care what it is we're eating. It also means we allow things like frankenfoods- GMO's, pesiticide-laden foods, chemicals, manufactured "foods"- into our beautiful bodies. This not only disconnects us from our food but from ourselves. If we all remembered we are spirits inhabiting a sacred temple, we would not allow any disconnection from ourselves or from the things we take in through our senses. All it takes is a little bit of awareness.

I can't fully tell you how I feel right now knowing there is food growing in my backyard. Having had a delicious organic baked potato last night full of chives from the land on which I live has made me feel so humble and grateful. It has opened up pathways in my mind connected to creativity, creation and oneness. I feel like tiny explosions are going off in my mind and heart. Since last night I have been in awe of the fact that we take and exhaust and discard yet we continue to be supported and gifted by the Earth in countless ways. Every day the sun rises. Every day there is oxygen to breathe. Every day living water gushes out of springs to sustain life.

If we are to heal the world, let's begin by healing ourselves. Let's till the soil of our soul because it's the only one we truly have any reign over. When it is healthy and whole then so will our external soil be. Then we can grow and create whatever we want and enjoy bounty beyond our imaginations!

To our health and the health of our planet <3

Mountain. Music.

I had always hoped to have the chops to leave Miami when my soul felt it was time to go. We visited NC and upon landing both my husband and I felt the slow and steady soulful pulse of that city and both felt it was definitely time.

So, here we are!

The first week was grueling. Crappy landlord stuff. Emotional baggage surfaced and reared its ugly head. Boxes everywhere and not enough room for our STUFF. And then something in me just let go and said "fuck it" and threw away that which was just STUFF. We fit nicely in this cozy house and although it will probably not be our permanent home here, we have made it ours for the time we are here. And once we step out of the house, the magic is everywhere.

Starting with our neighbors...

Being that in Miami I don't think I've ever said more than hello to a neighbor, we have won the neighbor lottery! No awkward avoidance of eye contact and mumbled half ass hello's here. We befriended our sweet neighbors before we even moved in, corresponding via e-mail about the city and the neighborhood. To our very pleasant surprise, they live close to the earth like we do- probably more so- and have so much wisdom to share. They also have an awesome little one year old who was born the day after our son and not only are they on the same nap schedule but they play very well together. Our neighbors are always warm and friendly and always have a smile to offer.

This city has a farmer's market every day somewhere in town which is just GRAVY because their markets are full of local goodness that is fresh, delicious and when made into a meal by my wizard husband tastes UNREAL.

All these things are really soothing my soul while I transition out of being a 35 year Miamian. It's been hard and I miss my family and friends. My kids miss their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends but thankfully technology has curbed that hurdle.

This morning I really dropped into the waves of gratitude and out of the vibrations of lack and negativity from feelings of mourning or loss. The first thing I did was drink from our stash of spring water we collected yesterday and felt massively grateful. We went to a farmer's market downtown that had some ridiculously good live African music. We were dancing while we ate a scrumptious gluten free pastry (gluten free options are everywhere here) and the kids were dancing and playing with other kids. I just snapped out of my pain body and began to enjoy the present. I felt so grateful for everything and everyone that had gotten me here- I even blessed the experiences that seemed hard because for one reason or another they led us here. I realized that in less than a week, my kids had already gotten more experiences of music than I could remember back home in the last year (not counting their music together class)! This city has so much of what we were always scared to ask for and then when we realized our souls were starving for it, it materialized as this charming place.

Another wonderful aspect about this city (is there a BEST part?!?... I don't know!) is that we already have two close tribespeeps- a beautiful couple we love to spend time with who are soon to be parents. They helped us get here to Asheville- he LITERALLY moved us here because besides all the awesome things his cool business does, they're also movers. They opened their home to us to come visit, to find a place to live and then to welcome us here the first night of our lives here while we waited for our house to be ready to move into. They embody all the warmth, simplicity and giving nature of this wonderful city and of pure love. I am so excited to be on this leg of my journey with them.

I have chosen to accept the mountain medicine that is permeating my space right now. Ocean medicine has been with me for the last 35 years... in Miami, New York and San Diego. Ebb and flow. Searching my depth. Now the mountain calls me to rise above, reach for the sky and clouds, strive for massive greatness and foster stability and fortitude. Mountains remind me of pyramids and they make me think of that part in a Tom Robbins book I adore, "Pyramids are pedestals, babe. A pyramid is merely a base for something else to stand on. Souls. Souls like you and me. And we have to stand on them now. The pyramid is the bottom and the top is us. The top is all of us. All of us who're crazy enough and brave enough and in love enough. The pyramids were built as pedestals that the souls of the truly alive and the truly in love could stand upon and bark at the moon. And I believe that our souls, yours and mine, will stand together atop the pyramids forever." (This is for you, John. I love you more than words can say.) Man, that guy can write.

One thing I have to add, though- sitting on the toilet in the morning is no. fun. at. all.

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Sweet.

Last night I took a walk under the light of the incredibly bright Supermoon with my hunny and one of my little ones. At the end of my walk, I wanted to take a bit more of the moon's energy in so as my hunny and sleeping little one went upstairs, I lingered behind. I caught a clear glimpse through the beautiful tall tree in front of my building and closed my eyes and opened my palms to the moon. I asked it to give me a clear message- whatever it needed to communicate to me. I stood in silence for a moment and then went upstairs and put my little one to bed. My message came at 4am (oh, those ambrosial hours are so rich with wisdom). I opened my eyes and was suddenly wide awake. I read a little bit and then lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Then my message came...

I had been struggling with a major sweet tooth lately. I think a balanced amount of sweets and treats are great and good for the soul but lately I was just crazy with eating sweets. I had been trying to get a handle on it and every time I got it in check, it would last a day or so and then I would binge on sweets the very next day.

I was thinking about all of this when it became so clear suddenly- with all the changes and struggles lately, I was trying to get the sweetness of life through my food! I've faced a lot of challenges lately in every aspect of life and I've been trying to move through them while still trying to extract sweetness from anywhere. Once I knew this, my out of control sweet tooth was back in check.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend while our kids played at the park together Saturday. We chatted about how a lot of things- specifically diseases- come from emotions. She recalled the year she was diagnosed with cancer was a very difficult year when things she had not yet dealt with emotionally reared their ugly heads. This reaffirms my belief that there is a reason for everything and that our bodies are always talking to us via physical manifestations and emotions. Emotions have a lot of wisdom to impart and if we tune in to them and pay attention, can reveal some things about our life that aren't always so apparent to us.

Airguitarasana

I am what some people in my circles will call a "recovering yogi". Which means a few things... I'm no longer tied to some crazy diet, I no longer idolize my yoga instructors and I don't have- nor am in search for- an external guru. I understand deeply that these things are important to some people. At one point they were extremely important to me. They just happen not to be anymore. About seven years ago, I moved to New York City for the second time in my life (the first time was a comical and epic fail). I was very excited to do so because I was moving in with two roommates- one whom I had known and trusted since I was  7 years old and a friend of hers who were both attending optometry school in SUNY. They were great roommates and I appreciate them so much now that I look back on our time there (hindsight, hey?). I appreciate them the most for leaving to NY when they did because they offered me the opportunity to move back and have the all the incredible experiences that came from living there. And, shortly after I moved to NY, I met my guru.

I've always been a seeker but at the time I moved to NYC, I was an experience-seeking missile. So, I said no to nothing. So when a friend from Miami told me about her Tibetan Buddhist sangha in NYC, I jumped on the train. Literally. To White Plains to go meet everyone. It was great because I didn't know anyone in New York besides my roommates and they were moving up 2 months after I did so I was literally all alone in the big city. She sent a friend of hers from the sangha to accompany me to White Plains one day and spend an afternoon with everyone. Everyone was in a buzz because the guru was coming to visit in a couple of weeks. Her friend was one of the most gentle and giving persons I have met to this day. I didn't really jive very well with anyone else in the sangha but they were all nice enough people.

So, the guru (H.E. Namka Drimed Rinpoche) came to visit. I was waiting for the clouds to part and for angels to break out into song once he walked in. But... nothing. Not so much as a puff of smoke in the joint when he walked in. He was a regular person. Looking back, I don't know why I expected more. But he was a kind and gentle soul... that I felt immediately. I requested an audience with his assistant for the next time he was to be in town. She said he had granted a private audience with me at his daughter's house for his next visit and that he would initiate me into the Tibetan Buddhist faith. As she put it, I had "come back home."

In the meantime, I was getting to know my sangha. I didn't feel a connection to anyone but Akili and so he was pretty much who I spent most of my time with. But even he seemed to be in a race to do the most prostrations (ngondro) in the quickest amount of time. And they all seemed to be in some kind of peculiar competition to be closest to the guru. They all tried to prove to him and to each other of their depth and spirituality. All those histrionics just weren't for me. However, when the guru came to visit again, I took the train ride out to White Plains to have my private audience with him. When he sat down in front of me he said in Tibetan "Hello, again!"- even though we had never met- and laughed his funny little laugh. I asked him questions about life, about what made a "good Buddhist" and some things about my life specifically. His answers were all insightful but nothing I had not come upon already in my journey through yoga and meditation and nothing I would not have come upon soon enough in the near future. He then initiated me into the Tibetan Buddhist faith and gave me a name- Pema Lhamo. It means Lotus Goddess. His translator relayed the translation: "You are a very strong woman. You are a true goddess. And you resemble a lotus flower because like the lotus, you have the ability to grow beautifully even among the sludge of life." That did touch my heart greatly and so I changed my name. I am Pema to this day.

I gave the sangha a real shot. I tried really getting into the prostrations and the chanting and the group gatherings. I tried seeing more in the guru but I honestly didn't. I even pretended to sometimes. It was kind of like faking an orgasm- very awkward for me but no one else seemed to notice and were satisfied with the response. So, although I kept that one close initial friendship, I walked away from all that stuff that I thought was superfluous to my particular beingness. I understand all paths lead to Truth so I acknowledge and respect what others do but I knew through and through that that was not my path.

Fast forward to last night when my husband and I watched the documentary "Kumare".

Oh, man.

I can't tell you how excited I am that someone did this. The jist of the documentary is that a filmmaker from New Jersey named Vikram Ghandi who is of Indian descent tells his story of meeting gurus, saddhus, and saints all over the U.S. and India and not finding any real truth for himself. So, he makes up a guru called Kumare, creates a fake entourage of two followers, leaves to Arizona where no one knows him and starts setting up shop at yoga studios to create a following. His intention was to unveil himself at the end of the film and to drive the point home that the guru is really within. The film is touching and funny and infuriating and so many other things. And I highly recommend it. Kudos to Mr. Ghandi because I think what he did was absolutely brilliant and much needed.

The beautiful thing about the documentary is the simplicity of it. He wanted to share a message: the Truth is inside all of us and we don't have to go outside to find it. How it evolved, though, was really interesting. I think he started with a light heart and with maybe a sarcasm to it- he would make up chants and make people say ridiculous things like "be all that you can be" (as in the United States Army slogan) and other nonsensical things and he made up crazy yoga poses. My favorite was one where you held one arm out and flung the other around it in a big circle which I called "airguitarasana" because well, that is essentially what it was- playing air guitar. It was all pretty hilarious.

That portion of the film reminded me of my life as a yogi. People idolizing, idealizing, worshipping- and sleeping with- their yoga teachers and their yoga teachers loving every minute of it. It highlighted the odd mentality of the yoga lifestyle- the lingo ("I am so in alignment right now"), the diets, the behavior, and the emotions that go with "being a yogi." I faked a couple of yogasms in my time, too. I can totally admit it and laugh at myself that I fell into yoga herd mentality. I became vegetarian,vegan, and raw vegan because I thought I SHOULD; I did crazy detoxes, I may have chanted a few things that I had no idea what they meant and I may have thought at one point that "the whole world needs to do yoga". I felt bad for people who didn't know anything about the chakras or those who couldn't touch their toes. I eventually (and gratefully) moved on. I still do yoga and I still teach but life has carved out a more honest space from whence I practice. The thing is, a lot of people in that community have remained disempowered and continue to have someone laughing all the way to the bank (financially and emotionally) at their expense due to this disempowerment. But again, all paths lead to Truth so it's all good. Like Ram Dass said, "We're all just walking each other home." (Uh, oh... did I just quote Ram Dass. lol.)

As he continued making his documentary, Vikram started really getting into the persona he had created and he got serious with his teachings. While I was watching the progression of the film, I kept thinking how great it was that what he was going to show his "disciples" in the end at the unveiling was something of seriously lasting value: that we are all connected and that people don't have to be a studied and enlightened guru for your to connect instantly and feel love for. It can happen with a regular old Joe- or a Vikram, in this case- from New Jersey. And to experience first hand- and in the way they were going to at the end of that journey- that the guru is truly within is priceless. You can see the Vikram really wanted people to believe in themselves. The beauty of it is that he empowered himself through the process. He took his first steps as Kumare with the intention of being fake and had one two-dimensional purpose. But along the way he found his authenticity, his own empowerment, and a purpose that far surpassed his expected outcome. Such is life.

I am so thrilled that someone was moved enough to by their own lack of belief in what was out there to do something inspired and different and in the process help people find themselves. It was extremely inspiring. And I like that he didn't spend too much time on debunking the gurus because I think that they do fulfill some purpose for those they intend to serve. In the past, I had been disappointed by the behavior of Miami's "spiritual elite." I've seen some yoga teachers who are gurus to some be messy and rude while piss drunk and others treat a waitress so bad she burst into tears. And I've heard plenty of rumors about others treating their partners violently and stealing from their students. And it's still all good. Their actions off the mat are as much teachings as the ones on the mat. And we all make mistakes. Maybe different ones, but mistakes nonetheless.

 

 

Paradise.

Today a woman asked us this question at her community momma circle: What is true for you today?

Having just gotten a text message that interrupted my day and my relaxation amidst a beautiful circle of mommas, I said, "Change."

Right now, change is so prevalent everywhere that it feels like the only truth in the universe. I try to flow with it all and I try to accept that there is nothing we can really hold on to. My toddler seems to grow inches every day and she seems to awaken to something new everyday. My little baby is now sitting up and getting stronger with each passing day. I continue to fluctuate up and down and all around within my period of "momma molting"- my hair falling out, skinny as hell from nursing even though I eat all day, my hormones still all over the place. Every day of the last two months has been out of my routine. And coincidentally people seem to be throwing that Bob Dylan quote around for some reason lately. Yes, the times they certainly are a-changin'. In the micro and macro-ness of it all.

Deanna (Magical Heart Doula) said, "You seem well. You seem to be handling it," as she offered her warm and lovely smile. I really felt that to be true. I honestly felt free of any real attachments to any results and to the emotions attached to whatever comes up. I thought about this on my drive home.

The drive home from the momma groups is a delicious breezy drive over a bridge across the ocean. it was a beautiful and warm day and I drove with all my windows down. I felt so free and light. Feeling the wind helped me feel like I was soaring. My hair was blowing all over the place and my loose shirt was flapping in the wind. I felt like I was flying. At a red light, a bird was soaring over my car and I closed my eyes for a few seconds and felt myself flying with him. It was a blissful moment that brought tears to my eyes. I thought about all the mommas I just left. I thought about all the stages we were all in and how they all morph into each other as we birth, raise our little ones, feel free again, birth again, and again and discover our divine feminine within all of these passages and hold each others' hands through all of it. I thought of that red thread that binds us all together. It felt so good to be a woman at that moment, flying with that bird. Flying above all of it but still feeling everything.

I pressed play on my iPod and "Paradise" began to play. So fitting. I let my hair, my clothes, and my body dance with the wind as I freely sang...

Life goes on It gets so heavy The wheel breaks the butterfly Every tear, a waterfall In the night, the stormy night She closed her eyes In the night, the stormy night Away she'd fly... And dreamed of paradise

Resurrection.

It's been many years since I have paid any attention to Easter. Being a recovering Catholic, I released all the excess baggage I found unnecessary in that and every religion. I'm very down with love and with Jesus and all the masters- in my perspective, they are all the same one after all- but I myself have no need for external rituals, guilt, or outdated beliefs of any kind. Plus, Easter has been bastardized with awkward levity and sugar along with so many other things in life. Buuuuuut...

Today I had the opportunity to spend the morning alone with my baby. I rarely get to do this because my toddler is always with me and she's at that age where everything is gogogo. Very few moments of silence or stillness- I have to be on all day, basically. So, we cuddled so deliciously and I nursed him for a bit in bed before we got up for the day. We played for a little bit outside on the balcony and enjoyed the cool morning air. Then I put him in his bouncer for a bit to have breakfast and check email.

In my inbox was three days worth of email to skim through. The only thing I really took the time to read was the Easter meditations from Imagine Self. I sat and read them through tears because they touched me in the deepest places within. The meditations urged one to parallel the weekend with that of the events around Easter. Holy Saturday was about entombment. It asked "How do you inwardly bury yourself or parts of yourself?" I was challenged to treat even the most shunned and dastardly parts of myself with reverence and respect. To inwardly anoint them with oils and wrap them in love because they are as precious a part of me as every other part. I have such a hard time with this. Always have been so hard on myself and, consequently, on others. I'm only now starting to clearly see this and understand.

After reading today's meditation about resurrection, I felt inspired. I closed my laptop, took my little one out of his bouncer and we went out for a walk. It's a beautiful Easter Sunday outside... the sun is shining and there is a breeze full of fresh new things blowing. I walked and thought in silence. I thought a lot about resurrection. The meditation asked, "Would we need to tell the story of the Resurrection year after year if we had the inner dead alive in our thoughts, feelings and will?" I believe the answer to that is a big NO. The meditation closed with this thought:

At some time in the future, one by one we will each crystallize these mysteries in our souls and know in every cell, every breath, every waking moment the power of our own resurrection. We will no longer find a sting in death. And the greatest story ever told will no longer need to be spoken because it will live in each of us and we will recognize it in everyone.

This really reminded me of one big truth I have always strongly believed but have fallen to my knees in desperation because of: EVERYTHING STARTS WITH YOU. Jesus just did what he did. And he probably did it with no thoughts of remorse, regret, retribution, or recompense. I have so much of all of these. And, sure, it didn't turn out so great for him but he still carried on because he always knew even in the doubtful moments and the darkest hours that everything would be well. I don't always know that. And so, I fear and retreat. But I want to know it. So much.

I stopped, took a deep breath and listened...

Bring forth all that is YOU. Every nook and cranny of the soul that is you. Don't fear. Don't be stingy with your light. Remember that love is the highest vibration in the world and in its cradle, all fear disintegrates. In the absence of fear you will remember that it never existed and that we are one note vibrating in all its different variations in a magically complex and beautifully written song. Rise up to meet your highest self. Higher and higher every day. It is possible. You are love so everything is possible in you.

Happy Easter, everyone. <3

Happy chickens.

A friend of ours sent us to her friend's house. She just had a hunch we would absolutely love them. We almost didn't go because we've been so beat up by the last few weeks and needed a rest. And also, little one #1 decided- after getting dressed and putting her shoes on- that she wasn't going anywhere. All the coaxing in the world wasn't going to get her out of the house. Any mom of a toddler knows to start getting ready about an hour before you actually have to leave the house to account for the "I'm not going" negotiations. Problem was, we were already running a bit late as lunch took a while to cook. Stressed out already, a drive to Homestead would be more taxing than relaxing... so we thought.

The moment we walked in, Mary and Benoit welcomed us into their lovely and so peaceful home with warm smiles. We chatted for a bit in the living room about our current transitions and feeling out the changes. They were so incredible and gave us some great financial wisdom. We talked about green and healthy living for a bit and then they took us out for a tour of their land.

It was so lovely when they took us out to show us their land. They worked very symbiotically with all their fruit and vegetable gardens and with their happy chicken coops and not once gave the impression of ownership over any of it. They talked about working WITH the land and with the plants and animals on it. They knew all their trees. Although they had a lot on their land, they knew where everything was. Black zapote trees, mamey trees, papaya trees, avocado trees, nispero trees, stevia leaf, mulberrry bushes... I was like a kid in a candy store. In awe of everything and so happy to see people actually living a life I dream of and doing it so easily and simply. They picked some eggs from the coop as well as some radishes, green beans and beets to give to us to take home. What gifts!

I asked them where I could get a green juice nearby and she mentioned any place would probably be closed already. But she said she would be happy to bring their juicer out and go pick some greens with me. My husband and her husband went into the house with the kids while we walked on to pick some delicious, crisp, fresh organic arugula, collards, cilantro, kale, red leaf lettuce and fennel. We also picked a carambola to mix in there too. When we came back into the house there was delicious homemade kombucha (which my toddler was happily drinking her second cup of) and ears of organic yellow corn boiling in a big pot with celtic sea salt and raw butter waiting on the table for them to be ready. We talked and laughed and felt so fulfilled and at peace as the late afternoon sun warmed us through the large windows. My daughter happily munched on her corn and thought it so awesome and novel to stick those spikey corn holders on each end. She threw back some major amounts of kombucha (and she took home a piece of their scoby). I took all my greens to the juicer and the juice tasted delicious mixed with a little of that kombucha. So much homemade love and goodness. Our hearts were bursting.

Thank Goddess for friends like this.

Simple. Loving Kindness. Integrity. Pure wonderfulness.

Forgiveness, compassion, and shadow work.

This morning in a conversation, the shooting in Connecticut came up. I hadn't really talked about how I felt until today. As I tuned in to the sorrow, the words just poured out. I was expressing how important I thought it was for every one of us to feel responsible for what happened over there. No, we didn't do it, but we are all responsible for this society we live in and this society is the one that allows people like this young adult to slip through the cracks. Being a mother of two, I cannot help but think of the words of my surrogate father-in-law, "Your children did not ask to come here. You chose to have them and are responsible for their care and wellness." This individual that everyone is demonizing was once an innocent young child. Obviously, throughout the course of his life, he was not filled with love, empathy, and compassion enough to keep him from committing such a heinous act. His immediate family, for one reason or another, left him lacking as did his community and anyone else who could have been a cause for change. However, this person was born innocent and pure as we all are. He was born a human being and still is one. Unfortunately, he went astray and became a person who then killed innocence, as it was killed in him. This whole situation reeks of what is wrong with the world.

Later on in the day, a friend sent me a blog post that had this written in it:

"Do Shadow work. Any pain or ugliness that exists within our own individual Shadow adds to the collective Shadow of mankind. Rather than pointing a finger of blame at the deep Shadow wounds of others, we must take responsibility for our own unconscious wounds and bring them to light through daily reflection and intention. When we heal ourselves we heal our society as well and it is imperative that we begin now to practice compassion, forgiveness, and surrender."

In this situation, I have discovered the importance of compassion for everyone. EVERYONE. Not just for the children, for the parents of the children and for the people adversely affected by the shooter, but for the shooter as well. To what depths of despair do you have to be in to see the world in such a way where shooting children is a solution? With love, affection, and emotional and physical sustenance withheld, ANY ONE OF US could have been that shooter. Yes, me. Yes, you.

If you ask me, it's not enough to just pray that that never happens to us. Or to be grateful that it wasn't us. Or to hug our children extra tight for a few days while the shock wears off. We must all work on ourselves. Lift ourselves up so we can lift others if need be. Even if we're not all well-adjusted and perfect, we have to try. I don't have it all figured out, but I do strive for this and have evolution and the elevation of my consciousness at the forefront of my mind and in my heart at all times. I have people in my life that tell me when they feel I have made a mistake, whether it be a mistake with my children, with my spouse, or with myself. These things are all necessary for every person to be able to function properly. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

Consider this:

Within the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large CIRCLE around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, about all the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his or her lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any and every detail and accuracy is recounted.  All his POSITIVE attributes, good deeds, strengths and kindness are recited carefully and at length.  This often will last for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

I had a really hard day today. It's been a loooong month. I have felt quite heavy for several days now. As much as I try to be the best mom I possibly can to my children, some days I am not all there. On those days I flounce between two settings: "checked out" and "really angry". My toddler was being very difficult earlier and I yelled at her with a very deep growl. I even scared myself a little bit. She cried. I hugged her tightly and apologized and explained to her that I needed her to listen to me when I was asking her to do what she needed to do. When we got home- with no tribe to welcome us home or to put me in the middle of a circle- she went to watch Sesame Street and I went to the bathroom for a few moments to cry. I felt awful and guilty. I wondered, "If I know I'm going to feel bad afterwards, why do I do that?" I racked my brain trying to come up with an answer, but nothing satisfied me. Why do I do something that I know is wrong? I just had to surrender to the situation. I am going to be a parent for a long time and moments like this will happen. My hope is to always act in the highest possible manner for my sake and for the sake of my children and to always try to put myself in their shoes so that I can know what is best for them and feel empathy. If that doesn't always happen, well then there is always forgiveness.

For God's sake, let us all dig deep and find forgiveness in our hearts. And then let's find some more. I'm not saying it's not hard. For most of us, it is. Let's forgive ourselves for that, too. And remember that we all act according to what we were given. So let's give more. And then let's give some more.