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.

12.12.12

I may lose a few of you here, but I've always written for myself first. Gratefully, other mothers have expressed appreciation for my writing and have connected with me on many levels so it has fulfilled one of its major purposes besides being completely self-indulgent. Not everyone believes in the same things obviously (such a beautiful part of life, no?), but I write about what I believe and what I know so here goes... Yesterday was 12.12.12, a day that a few years ago held a lot of significance for me but had been put on the back-burner along with my spiritual practices, books, meditation, yoga, and other things very dear to my heart. I went about my day yesterday as if nothing huge was occurring subtly and globally. I didn't even realize it was 12.12.12 until late afternoon and things about my day started coming together in my mind.

For a few weeks now, everyone in my home has been ill in some form or another- sore throats, flus, stomach flus, headaches, etc. We've been taking turns and recycling them, it seems. While it's never fun to be sick, in my home we consider it a blessing in disguise. We believe our bodies are getting out the uglies and shifting things around for the better- physically and energetically. As of last night, three of us were in a deep, full-fledged, achey-body cold. And we rarely get sick. Especially my husband who has the immune system of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He hasn't had a cold in years. So, for the three of us to be sick at the same time and for so long made me take notice.

Yesterday was also a big day for both of us individually. We set some actions into motion to begin new phases of our lives. Some big deal stuff. So by the afternoon when I was taking stock of our day and everything else lately, I realized a "quickening" really was occurring in our little space in the world and in the universe at large, simultaneously. Mystics and yogis and many others of countless different faiths have been paying attention to the ascencion that has been occurring from 1.1.01 to 12.12.12. It's what we believe in my circle and it is important to us because of what it all means- we will all be tuning into a high frequency, a way of living guided by our hearts and some long overdue global changes for the betterment of humanity and life on earth. 12.12.12 was the last of the energy downloads blasted upon us and it's now time to release everything that keeps us vibrating at a lower frequency. Everything. It's time to soar.

When I realized everything that was occurring to us on this day and what day it was, I was completely awestruck. I was humbled into silence for a while. You can take the girl out of the cosmic karma, but you can't take the cosmic karma out of the girl! Everything I had let take a backseat to raising my children and indulging in the difficulties of being a mother called to me and demanded my attention again. I was grateful to still feel part of the mystery; to feel Spirit so close to our lives. I believe the upgrade is happening- to all of us- whether we want to acknowledge it or not. I believe we are stepping into the fifth dimension and into new ways to experience life... I had just forgotten it for a while.

This morning I woke up earlier than everyone else. My achey body walked over to the iPod docked on the speaker and I went to my goto mantras: RaMaDaSa for healing and the Gayatri for well- everything, pretty much. It felt nice to be in that still space again. I hadn't been there as fully and whole-heartedly as I had this morning in a very. long. time.

The Age of Aquarius is feeling good so far :)

Roles.

I've been thinking about gender roles a lot since a facebook discussion broke out regarding those sexy (I'd say almost pornographic) versions of what should be regular Halloween costumes. Admittedly, I've worn a few in my day, but I don't think I could put one of those on again with a straight face. Not to mention the fact that since then I've birthed two children. Things happen. And by "happen" I mean things in your body get er... softer. This video also got me thinking about gender roles...

 

In my mind, I already worry a little less about my son. It may be due to the fact that he is my second and am a more seasoned mother. But it may be due to some programming regarding gender. I worry about my daughter having to fight her way to be heard or equally paid or treated with full dignity and respect by everyone. But with my son, I feel he will automatically be respected simply because he was born with a penis.

Break in thoughts; uncomfortable pause...

So, I think I have some re-evaluating to do about what are my true beliefs around gender.

The truth is, I guess I'm not sure.

What makes a woman a woman? It's certainly not being born with a vagina because there are men who claim to be more woman than some actually biological females and whom I actually wouldn't refute. What makes a man a man? Again, not a penis. Look at Chaz Bono. He says he is a man and who is going to tell him otherwise? And what is each man and woman supposed to do in this world as themselves?

The more I ask these questions, the less I am sure of the answers.

An older woman once said to me when I was in my second trimester, "Oh, you think you're having a boy? GREAT! Boys look after their parents in their old age and will be very successful." Never mind my daughter who was playing just a few feet away from her. What of her care for us and what of her success? I was kind of outraged and called my husband immediately to complain about people's ignorance. And now I'm facing mine.

I put my little girl in pink and purple (the color of the Bic pens "for her") and I like how she looks in dresses so she wears them often. I like frilly foof for her sometimes. I do. Am I doing something wrong? I don't think so... not in my book. Who else's book matters? No one's, really. But there are books out there that will coincide with my daughter's book and will treat her like less if she wears heels or a short skirt or red lipstick. (I like red lipstick. A lot.)

I often wonder- being a stay at home mom for three years now- "What would I DO without my husband?" Automatically, I see a picture of me in my parent's house struggling while my husband is off somewhere with a new, younger, perkier-in-all-ways wife. The other day I caught myself in that daydream and thought, "Wait a minute. This is not mine. I will be fine. And where the hell did that come from?!?"

From movies, from tv shows, from magazines, from people who have decided to settle for less, from society's standards, from unwritten and unspoken rules we sometimes unwittingly follow. From some of our parents, from advertising, from places we surely don't even realize.

The facebook discussion began because someone mentioned the racy Halloween costumes. While I do think them to be a tad bit much now too, I admitted to having dressed up once like sexy Little Bo Peep for a college boyfriend. Most of college for me was about feeling I that I HAD to look a certain way because I was part of a sorority and I was dating the most popular greek (social affiliation not ethnicity) who was the president of his fraternity and loved by everyone in school. Feeling I needed to look good back then felt harmless to my true womanhood and power until I look back and realize it was what drove me to get plastic surgery. A move I still wonder about to this day. How did I get there? Remnants of that bruised self-esteem remain I suppose because today at the Whole Foods, I ran into one of said college boyfriend's fraternity brothers and being that I was leaking milk through my bra onto my shirt, in comfy homey clothes and my unbrushed hair tucked in a slouchy, I ran the other way. I don't want my daugther to have these or any semblance or remnants of these hang ups.

And why haven't I mentioned my son when talking about my hangups? Because men are "supposed" to not care about the way they look. If they do they're "effeminate" or "metro" or "a homo" or "soft" or "pussies". And it's "okay for a man to smell" and certainly alright for him to have hair anywhere (except his back, right my former sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma?). If I ran into an old boyfriend and he was sweaty and was wearing frumpy clothing with his hair all a mess I wouldn't think anything of it. I would think he just came from the gym or from shooting hoops with his macho friends. I wouldn't conclude that he was going through something and I wouldn't necessarily say he looked awful and was a hot mess which is what I thought said ex-boyfriend's fraternity brother might think about me. So I ran and hid behind the sushi maki section where I was sure he couldn't see me. And now I must run farther to where the shame won't follow me. Why in the heck did I care what some random fellow thought? What standards am I holding myself to? My own present ones? Past ones? Someone else's? I'll tell you what though... I did care what he thought. Otherwise, I would have gone to say hello and ask him how he was doing.

It's all so confusing.

We have some friends that let their little boy wear whatever he wants. Anything. Girl's panties. Dresses. Princess outfits with crowns and all. When they talk about it they say, "We don't want to give him any hang ups." And I so understand it. But letting my son wear a dress is beyond my level of comfort. Is anyone right or wrong here? I don't think so. It just comes down to differences, I guess.

What makes a man? What makes a woman? What is RuPaul, in that case?

I say in the end, none of the prescribed roles matter. After we figure that out, then we go from there on our own.

3 things I can’t stop thinking about tonight...

3 things I can’t stop thinking about tonight... 1. The really sad scene in “You’ve Got Mail” when Meg Ryan’s character walks out of the bookstore her and her mother before her owned for many years for the last time and looks back into the empty space that used to house many children’s books and imagines she sees her mother and her twirling as they often had when she was younger.

2. Some lyrics to John Mayer’s “Stop This Train”:

“Don't know how else to say it, don't want to see my parents go One generation's length away From fighting life out on my own...

So scared of getting older I'm only good at being young So I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun Had a talk with my old man Said help me understand He said turn 68, you'll renegotiate Don't stop this train Don't for a minute change the place you're in Don't think I couldn't ever understand I tried my hand John, honestly we'll never stop this train.”

3. And these Sting lyrics from his amazing “Ghost Story”:

“The moon's a fingernail and slowly sinking Another day begins and now I'm thinking That this indifference was my invention When everything I did sought your attention

You were my compass star You were my measure You were a pirate's map A buried treasure

If this was all correct The last thing I'd expect The prosecution rests It's time that I confess: I must have loved you”

So, why all of this?

I am in deep thought about my mother tonight.  She who I have always judge so harshly and have always felt so different than and distanced from in so many ways.  She feels deeply sad and defeated.  She has had to close her business which she has successfully run for over four decades.  I will not speak of the people or the events which harshly led her to this inevitable reality because there is nothing nice to say about either and it’s her story- not mine- to share if she wishes anyway.  But I will say that I feel very sad for her and defeated as well.

It’s difficult to see my mom down because she is a very strong woman and because despite what I consider is a sometimes too-rough exterior, she seems soft in a vulnerable way that I am not used to or comfortable with.  Also, to know that a business that was so successful for such a long time no longer exists shakes me and my beliefs about the world- that honest, hard work always pays off, that good business sense always has great returns, etcetcetc.

Deeper than all of that, I am surprised at how inconsolable I feel.  Today when I walked in to her place on what was her last hour of work there, I felt a huge emptiness so I can only begin to guess how she feels.  A part of her life and people in her life that have been with her for so many years- people that saw me grow up- will no longer be a part of her daily experience.  The empty space filled with boxes and empty walls felt so cold and ugly.  I couldn’t be there long.  My mom, who I am always so hard on, suddenly felt older to me.  No longer invincible.   But also, no longer so far away from me.  The things that connect us felt alive and VERY real and since I tend to often forget they’re there, it has felt like a very emotional situation for me as well.  I remember being small and thinking my mom was a hero for working so hard and so well and for being so well-liked and making things happen financially and otherwise for so many in her family and close circles.  I thought of my little one looking at me like a hero and also thought of the day when she realizes- like we all do- that I am simply a person who she calls “Mom.”  No one will ever love her more, but I am just a person- not a superhero.

I passed by her place a few times to provide some moral support.  I was happy to see people had brought her flowers and food.  I was happy to see my aunt there, holding her sister’s hand through the beginning of a difficult transition.  As crazy as I think my family is, when push comes to shove there is support and love there (even if it doesn’t come in the package I would like it to come in).

I feel like a small child tonight.  Like I want to curl up with my mom under a blanket.  And I sense that she may be feeling that way too.  It’s all too sad and so much to bear so I’m going to bed and cuddle snuggly with my little one.  Tomorrow will feel better.

Revolution.

Tonight, taking some very wise words to heart, I went to a long overdue New Moon women's circle.  The last time I went to one I was about as pregnant as I am now but with my first little one which I thought was SO great.  And it was again led by Gina the divine powerhouse.  Gina and the circle both helped me remember that the simplest things create revolution.  I always think I am lacking in this respect and feel that I have to DO something or BE someone that is more present, more outspoken, more vocal, more this or that or whatever.  When really, when it comes down to it, I realize my life is revolutionary in and of itself.  No bullhorns, no banners, just the things I do while I breathe in and out all day are a catalyst for change.

How so?

I don't accept anything just because it's "how things are done."  I constantly ask questions.  I make my own rules based on my intuition and what I feel is my inner wisdom.  I think for myself.  And while I may feel fear about doing things differently, I don't remain afraid and I push through the chasm of the unknown.

Revolution is important to me because I believe MORE than change is needed.  I think we need more unknown and more out of the box-ness.  Actually, there is no effing box.  So... I do what I do.

I didn't birth in a hospital.  I have tattoos.  I pierced my nose. I appreciate my period and don't plug it with a tampon.  I changed my name for no overwhelming reason.  I've been vegan and vegetarian and raw and I even broke with that unconvention and went back to being an omnivore.  A socially conscious omnivore.  THAT is a revolution-  the movement in a circular course... back to the beginning but wiser for the journey.  I unschool my kid.  I didn't need a paper or a church to call my soul mate my husband.  Instead we live happy and free as we see fit and write our own rules every day.  Oh yeah and we actually like and respect each other.  I don't own a microwave.  I don't wear makeup.  We don't drink alcohol.  I only drink out of glass bottles.  I only turn on my A/C at night.  We own one TV that we rarely turn on.  I don't watch the news.  I don't believe there is a difference between Republicrats and Demicans so I don't bother with politics.  I don't frequent malls.  I broke with all organized religion.  I don't have casual sex.  My friends all embrace their quirk and love themselves.  My soul is greatly fed by being in nature.  I speak my truth always.  I do yoga.  I follow the seasons.  I follow the moon.  I don't bombard my body with acceptable chemical mixtures also known as "beauty products" and some "food".  I don't see an allopathic doctor.  I don't want to "keep up with the Kardashians."  I love to read.  I am not in relationships with friends or otherwise that I "have to make work".  I do things that feel good and make sense.  I don't take aspirin or ibuprofen for headaches.  I use herbs.  I don't wear high heels every day because I like my back.

I'm not saying anyone has to do what I do like I do it.  I do it all because it's important to ME.  All of this makes me feel happy and free.  And I hope you're doing what makes you feel happy and free too.  In the end, that simple thing IS WHAT IS revolutionary.

On conversations, womanhood, and some other things.

This morning my dear friend Jodi and I talked (over two delicious bottles of Jugo Fresh) about the importance of initiating and engaging in certain conversations.  The one we were having had nothing to do with this but I'm mentioning it because more conversations about this need to be initiated. On the way to meet Jodi, I was listening to NPR and happened to catch a show discussing the media's bashing of Ashely Judd.  The media has recently been on her case about a picture that came out where her face was very puffy, calling her "old, fat and mangled by plastic surgery" but also more recently on her case about the op-ed piece she wrote in response to the wave of criticism.  That I heard, there was one pro-Ashely voice who was sounding off in the same vein Ashely did and one con saying some pretty silly things like "She is a celebrity.  Her body is the public's.  She put herself in that position so why is she complaining? blablabla...."

I am not here to say women have it so hard and men don't because... or women deserve this and that more than men because... or anything like that.  But I deeply appreciate what Ashely did.  First of all, it stripped her of her celebrity status and proved she is just a person whose body and life is her own.  It proved she does have the right to complain because even though she sought fame and fortune through acting, she did not forgo the right to an opinion or to elucidate grievances.  And most of all I just love that she spoke up for the inane ways people incorrectly judge others and spew vitriol without having any idea about a person's real thoughts, words, intentions or emotions.  Women have to deal with that a great deal- from themselves, from other women and from men because of the deeply rooted misogyny we have all come to live in and accept.  I want no part of it.  I have heard women actually say this: "I wish I could leave the house without a drop of makeup on."  To which I have replied, "So, do it."  Their response (every time):  something to the effect of, "NO, NO.  I couldn't possibly do that!!! Oh, nooooo" followed by a nervous laugh.  Women WISH they could leave the house without make up on but they don't because they fear the judgment and scrutiny of others.  I don't know about you but I find that very, very sad.

During the show, the pro-Ashley woman talked about how important it was to break the cycle and not only learn to love ourselves completely, however and whoever we are, but to teach our children to do the same.  She went on to say that it has taken a great deal of effort to stop staring at herself at bath time in front of the mirror and say things like, "My God, I look terrible today," or "I am so ooooooold," or "I wish I was 21 again" and I think she is absolutely right to do so.  Even simple things like that start to plant seeds of self-doubt in the smallest of children.  It is this unrelenting patriarchal society that has brought us to low points such as the tv show "The Swan", "Girls Gone Wild 1 - 500", female infanticide and mutilation and the turning down of a size 12 plus sized model because she is "too fat."

Sitting here thinking about all the beliefs and judgments I have had to let go of throughout the course of my life, I feel somewhat angry but mostly relieved to not feel that kind of anxiety towards certain things anymore.  I look back and am just wide-eyed with awe at some of the things I picked up along the way through friends, adults, teachers, parents, etc etc, whom I all trusted as ever-wiser than me without any real merit of said trust sometimes.  I always thought I could only go so far because I was a Latin girl.  I always wanted boys so that they could take care of me in my old age.  I didn't typically outwardly express any desires to be anything too lofty because since I was a girl it would "sound silly."  I never tried out for sports although they looked fun to me because I "wasn't good at them" (not that I ever really tried one).  I was sure every Indian person in the world smelled funny.  I thought all black people were to be pitied because they ALL were dirt poor, came from the projects, and subsisted on welfare.  I thought all Jews were wiping their bums with Ben Franklin.  I thought all Mexicans were alcoholics.  I believed I was to never be wealthy. I was certain all men were strong enough to lift a car over their head.  And since all women were to be buxom, bum-some and beautiful, I always felt inappropriate in my thin, non-curvy body.  Even now when I leave the house with unkempt hair and not makeup and I see a tall, designer-clad, completely made-up "beauty", I sometimes have this knee-jerk reaction: "Geez, I could have spent a little more time on myself before I left the house, huh?"  I laugh now, but WOW at all the things I accepted as truth just because something or someone else told me it was.

What am I trying to say with all of this?  Just that women are sacred as all of life is sacred.  It's time we start treating every aspect of it as such.

A good cry.

A few years ago I was home alone with an unwillingness to do anything so I turned the tv on and caught the second half of an "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode.  That show is usually too predictable and boring in my humble opinion(although I do think the Deborah/Marie dynamic is hilarious) and I usually skip it over but this one was so funny.   In it, Ray thought there was something wrong with Deborah when he came home unexpectedly early from something one day and caught a glimpse of Deborah on the living room sofa sobbing while listening to the theme of Ice Castles.  So, he went about this huge production of trying to help her feel better while trying not to be too obvious about it.  Deborah realized something was up so she asked Ray what was going on and he fessed up. Ray: "I saw you crying the other day when you were home by yourself while listening to the theme to Ice Castles!"

And she goes on to explain that nothing was the matter.  That sometimes women just need a good cry.  Which he of course didn't get.

There has never been a time that I have understood that more than after I became a mother.  I have always believed crying periodically cathartic but now it's pretty much absolutely necessary.  In the times when I don't understand what is going on inside me or around me, I just put on a good song and cry.  There is so much we can do as mothers yet so much out of our grasp and still more we shouldn't do.  So, what then?  A tearful release always helps me.

Except for me, it's Joni Mitchell's Circle Game.  Or a Cat Stevens song.

I cant tell you how many times my husband has come home from work to find me in tears.  When he asks me what is wrong, the only explanation I have is, "I don't know."  After the heavy feelings and after all the crying, I usually feel great and usually have a hearty happy laugh about my blubbering self.

At the end of that episide, Ray tries to cry while home alone one day to try to understand Deborah.  So he plays the theme from Ice Castles and pushes out a funny forced cry.  Then he gives up and puts on Lady Marmalade and starts dancing around the living room.  Ah, men.  :)

Changes.

Earlier today I was at my mom and dad's house looking at family pictures all over the wall in their den.  I was tiny in some of them; my brother and sister were toddlers in others.  We are now all well over thirty.  The thing that jumped out at me was the thread that connected all the pictures to each other- enormous, inevitable change. Change is just that- change.  The meaning we give it at any given moment is what colors it all.

I've been thinking a lot about it lately.  The other day on a walk home I correlated my unwillingness to wear makeup to my unwillingness to help change along.  Change is a constant visitor.  It rings our doorbells anytime it wants.  It does what it wants.  I feel like I want to do nothing to cause change- not even simple things like the way my natural face looks- and just let the waves come in as they will.  High or low.  Good or bad.

I don't want to wear makeup.  I don't want to get angry about something I cannot change.  I don't want to fight anyone or anything.  I don't want to use anti-aging face cream.  I don't want a butt lift.

I want to fully feel.  I want to feel my skin.  I want to feel my heart beating in my chest.  I want to watch my child grow.  I want to watch the sun rise.  I want to live my days.

Is change scary?  I suppose it is sometimes.  The uncertainty of what whatever change is coming around the corner brings is almost too much if you think about it for too long- whether that incites excited anticipation or fear.  I think about my grandfather in a hospital in what could very possibly be his deathbed and although we were never close at all, I wonder what changes are upon him.  A life began one day long ago and it is now ending.  How many changes were squeezed in between that bat of an eyelash?

Tonight life feels BIG.  It feels fast.  It feels like I can't wrap my head around it or get a handle on it.  Thankfully, tomorrow comes with change and a shift in emotions.

Adulthood.

I guess I didn't realize until today that I measured adulthood by one very simple thing:  owning a juicer. As of today, I own a juicer and I feel I have finally crossed over.

I know it may sound silly but here's why...

Long gone are the college days of juicing a lemon with a spoon to get some juice for drinks.  "I don't need a juicer- this spoon works perfectly fine! Cheeeeers!"

Into my late twenties and early thirties, squeezing the halves with my hands was more than enough.

But now, my daughter loves orange juice and I want to fresh squeeze some for her every day or at least every few days.  One of the fondest memories I have of my mom and dad is getting to the breakfast table every morning before school to a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice and some breakfast.  That means so much to me now.

So, as I reached for the shiny new juicer at Triple B I felt the torch had been passed.  I took a gaze at my hand and noticed some creases and veins that I hadn't noticed before.  I guess some years had creeped in a while ago when I wasn't paying attention.  But adulthood.... I fully welcomed it today.  It doesn't mean I don't get to stay a child.  That will never go away.

Hug Time.

I've been so emotional lately.  So, today when I was in line at the local Barnes and Noble waiting to pay for some books and I came upon this gem, I was crying in line.  I hope you love every second of it, as I did. "Hug Time" by Patrick McDonnell

There once was a kitten so filled with love.  He wanted to give the whole world a hug.

"Hug the whole world, will that make it better?" as Jules nodded yes, Doozy helped with his sweater.

There was no one this kitten wanted to miss, ao he made (and checked twice) a Hug To-Do List.

He hugged his best friends, Mooch, Noodles, and Earl,

A butterfly, buttercups, a little gray squirrel.

He hugged all the birds he could find in the park.  So many to hug before it got dark!

Jules jumped on a boat and set out to sail

And soon he spotted a big blue tail...

attached to a huggable BIG blue whale.

The boat docked in Africa and Jules kissed the ground- the earth so prcious, so fragile, so round.

He hugged an elephant,

and a chimpanzee...

a giraffe,

a hippo,

and a baobab tree

Exploring the rain forest by foot and canoe,

Jules discovered a species brand-new.

Kneeling he whispered, "We welcome you."

Traveling on, he hugged a gnu,

a panda,

a peacock,

a petite pudu.

A wallaby, wombat,

and a humuhumu fish (number three hundred six on his Hug To-Do List.

But at the North Pole Jules sadly found

what it would be like with no one around.

So Jules was surprised when his tail got a tug

and a polar bear asked "Woud YOU like a hug?"

The world is so big

And yet so small

It's time that we embrace it all.

That's something that we can all do.

Start with the one who's closest to you.

:)

Wisdom from Shel Silverstein (part 3).

Here is the last of the Shel Silverstein poems I want to share.  It was brought to my attention by my friend Laura who was listening to some of my what ifs one night... WHATIF

Last night, while I lay thinking here,

Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

And pranced and partied all night long

And sang their same old Whatif song:

Whatif I'm dumb in school?

Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?

Whatif I get beat up?

Whatif there's poison in my cup?

Whatif I start to cry?

Whatif I get sick and die?

Whatif I flunk that test?

Whatif green hair  grows on my chest?

Whatif nobody likes me?

Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?

Whatif I don't grow taller?

Whatif my head starts getting smaller?

Whatif the fish won't bite?

Whatif the wind tears up my kite?

What if they start a war?

Whatif my parents get divorced?

Whatif the bus is late?

Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?

Whatif I tear my pants?

Whatif I never learn to dance?

Everything seems swell, and then

The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

 

Some wisdom form Shel Silverstein (part 2).

ATIONS

If we meet and I say, "Hi,"

That's a salutation.

If you ask me how I feel,

That's consideration.

If we stop and talk awhile,

That's a conversation.

If we understand each other,

That's communication.

If we argue, scream and fight,

That's an altercation.

If later we apologize,

That's reconciliation.

If we help each other home,

That's cooperation.

And all these ations added up

Make civilization.

 

(And if I say this is a wonderful poem,

Is that exaggeration?)