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"Don't let the turkeys get you down"

... And other helpful advice from my mother

"Your lack of planning is not my emergency" said: pretty much all the damn time.

"Let's make popcorn!" said: anytime it rained in my hometown of Phoenix, AZ

modeling a hat in a california army surplus store 

modeling a hat in a california army surplus store 

"Stop chewing your cud" said: when my gum chewing became unbearable.

"Let's add jalapeños to that" said: anytime she was cooking (jalapeños were my mom's spirit animal from approximately 1985 - 2002.  In '02 she switched to Thai chilis). 

"Past behavior is an indicator of future performance" said: in an effort to provide helpful clarity during "bang head against wall" moments with others.

"Soup is my favorite!" said: whenever you ask her what she's making for dinner.

"Get over it" said: about most things.

"Let me show you a trick I learned in the Army" said: when she could do something especially cool that none of us knew she knew how to do ... (it wasn't until I was a teenager that I put it together that she had ACTUALLY never been in the Army).

"But I like ice in my wine" said: anytime I suggest pre-chilling white wine so as to avoid this troublesome habit.

"I might need a bigger stockpot" said: the last time I prescribed a new broth recipe for her.

"What do we do now?" said: any time we argue and fight and get to the end of it and we both just want to hug each other and cry.

"I love you honey" said: too many times to count.

Mama Gail is a force - I guess it's in her name, after all.  I can certainly attribute a hefty portion of my tenaciousness to her.  Also, perhaps, my unconventional, whimsical, organic approach to cooking has lots to do with watching her walk through the world.  Specifically, the world of our kitchen where no dish was off-limits from the heat of chili peppers, recipes existed for reference purposes only, and butter was always in great abundance.

Today, as I prepared my pot of soon-to-be turkey bone broth with my Thanksgiving leftovers, I took time today to think about my mother.  About mothers.  About mothers and daughters and cooking.  Lessons learned.  Tastes savored.  Flavors explored.  Laughter had.  This is why I love the kitchen so much - it's where the action is.  It's one place left in the world where we can use our senses with reckless abandon and relish every drop of deliciousness.  It's often the zone of women.  It's a coordinated, beautiful dance - even when it's a chaotic shit-show.  The kitchen.  The women of the kitchen.  Mothers and daughters - yes!  And if I had a sister, she'd be there too.

Broth making is more about consideration and meditation for me on days like today. 

Less about procedure - more about what feels good.

 
 
beginnings of turkey bone broth

beginnings of turkey bone broth

Things to consider as you're working with your turkey leftovers:

  • Turkeys can be large.  If you had one of the big ones, you're going to want to halve the carcass so that you can either make two pots of broth, or one pot of Super Broth*.  Go to your local butcher and they can slice the whole thing in half, horizontally.  Or, do what I did and pick the bones clean and then find the thinnest part (kinda underneath the where the breast meat was) and make a wide cut, down, towards the floor, with a sharp knife (I like serrated for this).  Once you can grab a hold of both sides, you can just use the strength in your arms to break the rest of the carcass apart.  Good to go.  You should be able to fit these halves into a stock pot now.

  • If you did what I've taught you and stuffed your turkey with lovely things (apples, onions, whole heads of garlic, fragrant herbs, sliced citrus, olives, whatever), you're going to want to take this moment to remove them from the cavity.  These creatures are lovely during the initial cooking, but can make your broth bitter, bitter, bitter.  Remove them now.

  • Follow my basic broth protocol (in groups of three, because we're making magic here): onions, whole heads of garlic, celery stalks, carrots cut in half, celtic sea salt (3 Tablespoons in a standard large stock pot), black peppercorn (3 Tablespoons in a standard large stock pot), fresh herbs that you love.  (I used parsley, thyme and rosemary).  Fill the pot with your ingredients first - it should be brimming full.  If it's not, go find more raw material.  Once it's brimming, add water to just below the top (about an inch below the rim).  Cover.  Simmer.  Gentle bubble for at least eight hours, but for as long as 48 hours.  Just keep tasting to be sure you're not getting bitter.  If after the first day of cooking you notice some bitterness, remove the plant materials with a slotted spoon, and add fresh into the pot with the bones / carcass and broth that's already there.  Add a bit more water if you need to and continue with gentle bubbling.  (I call this Super Broth because it's extra flavorful and nutritive).  You can also add in fresh or dried chili peppers, celery root, fennel, medicinal plants / roots / mushrooms - basically anything that catches your fancy that isn't a member of the brassica family of vegetables.
  •  Stir with a wooden spoon.  Always use wood.  Wood receives your energy and transmits it into the food you stir with it.  Go ahead and invest in good, hand-made, wooden spoons.

  • Consider the temperament of a turkey when you think about dispensing this incredibly special broth.  Benjamin Franklin called turkeys "birds of courage" and was so impressed by them that he rallied for the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.  Turkeys are curious and resourceful.  Wild turkeys can fly up to fifty-five miles per hour and have excellent memories - storing the geography of a region up to one thousand acres large.  They have the unique ability to recognize each other by their voices and have at least twenty different documented vocalizations.

So, from an energetic perspective, turkey broth is perfect food for that friend who seems to struggle with finding their voice.  Perfect for individuals who tend to feel alone or shunned, uncertain and unstable.  Those who need the lift of upward mobility and lightness.  Share with people who seek to find more courage, fly faster and remember the essentials with more fluidity.  Share with those who feel stuck, in a rut, and unable to make progress - but who appreciate the level-headed-ness more intrinsic in a turkey, versus a chicken.

Finally, remember that this broth is (for many of us), the culmination of many hours (if not days) of care, thought, attention, work, joy and love.  Place one hand on the pot, and one hand on your belly and take some deep breaths.  Smile.  Think about all that had to come together for this pot of broth to be made. 

Be reverent.

*"Super Broth" is a creation of mine that is superior in flavor and nutritional content.  This result is achieved by removing all plant materials after one day of cooking, and adding in new plant materials to existing broth and bones and continuing to simmer for a second day.  This method of broth making is perfect for pregnant women and new mothers during the postpartum period, or anyone requiring supremely nourishing foods.  To learn more about my next level broth-making ideas, consider attending my virtual class on January 13, 2018!

 

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postpartum time

Quiet.  Tuned in.  Deliberate.  Overflowing.  Overwhelming.  Exquisitely beautiful.  Confusing.  Magical.  Isolating.  Distressing.  Exhausting.  Invigorating.  Blushing.  Blooming.  Wondrous.  Scary.  Other worldly.  Close.  Beloved.  Interdependent.  Magical.  Soul quenching.  So alone.  Wild.  Soft.  Tender.  Try not to worry.  Worry anyway.  Guilt.  Flow.  Milk.  Food.  Water.  Bread.  Eggs.  Butter.  Hot tea.  I never used to drink this much hot tea.  Awe.  Shock.  Endless laundry.  Boundless love.  Connection.  Grasping.  Silence.  Chatter.  Wide open.  Door closed.

Quiet.  Tuned in.  Deliberate.  Overflowing.  Overwhelming.  Exquisitely beautiful.  Confusing.  Magical.  Isolating.  Distressing.  Exhausting.  Invigorating.  Blushing.  Blooming.  Wondrous.  Scary.  Other worldly.  Close.  Beloved.  Interdependent.  Magical.  Soul quenching.  So alone.  Wild.  Soft.  Tender.  Try not to worry.  Worry anyway.  Guilt.  Flow.  Milk.  Food.  Water.  Bread.  Eggs.  Butter.  Hot tea.  I never used to drink this much hot tea.  Awe.  Shock.  Endless laundry.  Boundless love.  Connection.  Grasping.  Silence.  Chatter.  Wide open.  Door closed.

 

In my education as an elementary school teacher, I learned about a man (a very gifted teacher man) named Harry Wong.  He had a saying that every pre-service teacher in my program became intimately aware of:

If you do not have a plan, you are planning to fail.

And while I've been able to apply this wisdom to pretty much every other area of my life with no issue, when it came time to plan about the birth and postpartum time of my second child, it somehow didn't seem applicable.  An intensely beautiful and fluid waterbirth at home was the outcome of my first birth experience - it would be like that.  I wanted things to behave organically.  I wanted not to overthink it.  I wanted to be able to work from a place of deep, instinctive knowing ... none of this planning malarkey.

And yet ...

Only one of my two amazing midwives attended the actual birth.

I felt like I (and my labor) wasn't being taken seriously.

I found myself texting with my midwives while my body was actively pushing, trying to ask for what I needed, but not able to make it happen.

The friend I had designated as my doula couldn't be there.

My partner and I didn't have a communication loop that felt very fluid - I was embarrassed.

My elder son wasn't woken up in time to actually SEE the baby being born, as was our intention.

I was hollering logistical instructions to my mom while the baby was crowning.

I had to very quickly school myself on all the benefits and possible complications involved in receiving the Rhogam shot - something I thought I had already made up my mind about, should the baby's blood type be positive - different from mine.  (For those of you unfamiliar, this is largely a conversation about whether or not you plan to have any more children - and in the wee small hours postpartum, I found myself having HUGE life conversations and going to google university when I really wanted to be sleeping and cuddling and drinking warm drinks.)

No one signed up for the meal train.

 

Now, before my gloom and doom freight car pulls out of the station, I want to say that the birth of my second child, was an amazing, gorgeous success in so many ways and I recognize that.  

Carried baby to term.  Check.  (and Deep Gratitude)

Head down.  Check.  Hallelujah.

Got into the tub in order to enjoy the water for about an hour.  Check.

Successful homebirth.  Check.

Amazing, skilled, and compassionate care providers.  Check.

Healthy mama.  Check.

Beautiful healthy baby.  Check.

Rad-Ass, Super Human Man Partner, whose first quiet words to me after I birthed our son were: "Thank You".  Check.

Seamless transition from birth environment into bedroom nest environment.  Check.

Totally in love with new human.  Check.

BOTH Mothers-in-Law readily available and on-hand for ALL of the assistance.  Check.

Many sweet humans brought food (and delicious cupcakes), spent time, cooked food, took my eldest out for fun adventures, walked the dog, helped with breastfeeding, swapped the laundry, listened.  Check.

 

I don't want to appear ungrateful.  I am steeped in gratitude for the birth experiences that have been possible for me.  

But this idea that is perpetuated by our culture that a woman's experience of the birth (and I mean all kinds of birth: c-section, vaginal delivery, water, land, early, late, home or hospital) and the postpartum time is largely unimportant - AS LONG AS YOU HAVE A HEALTHY BABY - is a story we tell ourselves that simply isn't true.  Our feelings matter.  How well we are nurtured and tended to matters.  Our preferences and intuitive impulses matter.  Our being listened to and held in the birthing room matters. 

containers for sacred space MATTER.

The more I learn about our nervous system, the more critical it seems to tend carefully and lovingly to a mother during her birth rite - no matter how her experience plays out.  

Birth is a rite of passage.  Becoming a mother (even for the second time) is a rite of passage.  These experiences are doorways to the sacred.  Opportunities for biggering our capacity - human, psychic, sensual, emotional, sensational ... a woman who is respected and nurtured through her brith experience will be a mother who nurtures and respects.  (Better for humanity - FYI).

I've been thinking a lot about these elements as I'm launching yoni steaming circles and adding healing vaginal steaming packages to my repertoire.  I've been thinking a lot, not just processing my own birth and postpartum experience, but about you: you pregnant ladies, soon to be mamas, women recovering from traumatic births, women celebrating ecstatic and orgasmic births, mamas struggling to integrate after having a baby ... in short all the mamas in all of the ways.

 

and so dear ones, here's where we plan so as not to royally fuck ourselves:

Get more support .

Whatever level of support you're currently thinking sounds good, double it.  No, triple it, then figure in a fuck-ton more support.  All kinds.  All kinds.  

 

Plan for it.  Be verbal.  Write it down.

Maybe you're thinking the people, your people, will just magically show up and know what you need and materialize it?  No.  Wrong.  You have to ask.  You have to be specific.  You have to talk dates and time windows.  Do it now, to minimize the disruption to your postpartum cocoon time.  The very people you are 100% certain will support you postpartum might end up MIA for a year - you just don't know unless you plan for it.  With both births, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of support that showed up from unexpected places, but had I to do it over again, I would be more explicit.  

 

Doulas are worth their weight in gold.

Get a Birth Doula - make sure you enjoy her and that she listens to you.  It should feel like deep sisterhood, like hugging the solid trunk of the biggest and most expansive tree with the deepest roots, like the most impermeable boundary of love with a touch of flexibility.  (Shout out to my dear sweet Amy, mother of three and doula for me during my first birth).   Also, get a Postpartum Doula - make sure you are comfortable with who she is, her energy and how she speaks to you and responds to you.  It should feel effortless and like family, but without any of the drama.  If you're in Asheville, I personally recommend Womb Song Postpartum Care and this amazing woman.  She's the bees knees.  

 

Schedule people to come and talk with you.

You don't need them to do housework.  You don't need them to change diapers.  You need them to listen to you and physically be there.  You need holders of space, receptacles for your expression.  People you trust.  People you love.  People who don't judge and who are great listeners.  Get their asses to commit to dates and times.  Make it as big a window of time as you can - 2-3 hours is great because once a baby's on board, things always take longer, and you have lots to share.  Feelings of isolation are really real and can pop up uninvited during your postpartum period.  Make sure that there are listening ears surrounding you - ears and hearts of people that you adore who can come and sit in that chair over there near your bed and listen.  Extra points if they bring yummy snacks and hydrating beverages.  Get it on a MF calendar and get people to commit.  This is the mental health step that is absolutely non-negotiable in my opinion.  

 

Be gentle with yourself.

We can be so hard on ourselves.  Quick reality check - your body just built, animated and birthed an entire human (maybe two!).  It is good.  It works.  Don't push.  Don't criticize.  Don't be mean to you.  Put moisturizer on when you can - do things that feel comforting and pleasurable.  Try to let a lot of the shit go.  Now isn't the time.  If you want to pack it into a box and save it for later, do that.  But even that feels kinda yucky.  Try to be good to you.  Be gentle with you.  This is a big time and you've done a lot of really good work.  Remember that.

 

And to the women who are already in their postpartum period ...

Guess what?  Samey same.  You need all that shit up above too.

I would add, you also need to go for walks in nature as often as feels good and you need to get steaming (vaginal steaming). 

Go here for more information about that.

But in the end, a woman must rest now, rock now, regain her focus. She must become younger, recover her energy. She thinks she cannot, but she can, for the circle of women, be they mothers, students, artists, or activists, always closes to fill in for those who go on a rest leave.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes from Women Who Run With the Wolves

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releasing expectations

Laying my cheek up against the wet, cool wall of the shower, here came the feeling - an overwhelming physical sensation.  

"It must be indigestion" I thought in the moment.

Actually, it was labor.  

It was early labor, and I was breathing my way through contractions - thinking and deeply feeling.

Earlier that day, I had read a phrase in one of my pregnancy affirmation flip-books that made me pause.  One of the small, spiral bound books made of heavy-duty cardstock had told me the following:

I release all expectation

And something about that time spent in the shower, warm water running over my head, sitting on my butt with my face up against the concrete wall made me remember that phrase.  When I saw it in the book, I didn't really fully understand what it meant.  I didn't get it.  What does that even mean?  But as I sat there, seeking the coolness of the shower wall and the solitude of the bathroom, it all began to come together. 

If I was going to do this - this birth thing - really do it - the way I wanted to, I had to let go of my every plan, my every idea, my every well-intentioned wish.  

I had to release my need to control anything, utterly.  I had to bypass my thinking brain and sink deeply into my instinctive self.  I had to locate my pith and swan dive into it.  That part of me that had no preconceived notions of what should happen during birth - what it should look like, sound like, be like ...  well hello friend I never knew I had.  And so began my turning away from all of the cultural programming, all of the fear of the unknown, from the worry that I might not be able to do it.  Dropping these expectations meant opening myself fully to the experience that was literally flowing out of me.

And I was able to do it.  

I surrendered.  Probably for the first time in my life, I fully surrendered without hesitation or resentment.  

My son was born about six hours later.  

Since that moment in the shower, I have often told this story and thought about the implications of "releasing expectation" as a lifestyle practice.  What happened during my son's birth gave way to a mega-ton of personal power - so fierce, so inescapable, so profound.  So profound that, had anyone tried to tell me about it, I would have been skeptical.  But in life, there are moments like birth, where vulnerability and porousness are beyond your control - all you can do is hang on.  All you can do is breathe and put one metaphorical foot in front of the other.  

Give in if you can.  These are the moments that literally set you free. 

#HomeBirth #WaterBirth #ReleasingExpectation #BirthMantras #MajesticUnicorn #LaborAndDelivery #Surrender #Birth #Freedom #PersonalPower #MamaBear #ThePocketMidwife #SusanFekety #EcstaticBirth

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tenderizing the heart

Empathy is one of those tricky emotions.  

We want more of it.  We want to get better at it.  We want to model it for our children.  

Empathy takes different shapes and it can be elusive.  Sometimes it looks like honoring the needs of that human who has a really different way than you.  It can mean seeking to understand situations and experiences that come at us from nowhere and seem to be beyond our control.  It might just mean going out of one's way to help.  Often, I find it takes the form of excellent, attentive listening.

Empathy is tough though, because for many of us, especially the women, and especially because of cultural conditioning, we can go straight for empathy when what we really need is to feel a precursor emotion (like rage or fear or embarrassment, for example).  

Click to Tweet: Sometimes we bypass all the difficult feelings and shoot straight to Empathy Town because we feel like it's the most evolved choice.

Sometimes we go straight to empathy when what we really want is to massively assert our boundaries.  

For example, before we can feel empathy, we might need to forgive and might not be ready.  We might need to grieve a loss and maybe we can't find our way there yet.

Artwork: Hanne Lore Koehler

Artwork: Hanne Lore Koehler

Empathy can be a really challenging practice.  It can also (for some) be as simple as tying shoelaces.  It's really personal, so wherever you find yourself along the continuum, know that your position is perfect.

But really, why bother with feeling and expressing empathy?

 

Empathy is a tonic.  

It soothes the soul in a way that other approaches to digesting human events can't.

 

Empathy can provide context.  

We never really know what another person's internal landscape is like, but exercising your empathy muscles can get you into a healthy place of curiosity and wonder about that very thing.  

 

Empathy can clarify.  

It can help to bring much needed focused attention to something that feels profoundly confusing.

 

Empathy can bring an opening quality to the foreground. 

It might prompt a conversation that wouldn't be had otherwise.

Artwork: ARTesstR

Artwork: ARTesstR

So how do we do it?  How do we "get better" at empathy?

I find a little ritual, a little intentional food or drink, and some focused attention can bring great clarity.  So I created an empathy tonic recipe that feels like an invitation to soften.  And, as with all things ritual, practicing within a sacred container is very life affirming.  Creating a space of reverence (psychically, emotionally and physically) for re-connecting with self helps to get us back in alignment with our greatest truths - our purpose.  It creates a sense of connection and safety.

 

Empathy Tonic Recipe

This #EmpathyTonic is refreshing, cooling to the system, lightening, a little earthy and calls forth plant qualities that are at once refreshing and tender.  Why call forth #tenderness?  

Well, as much as my wide open heart has the potential to be hurt, stagnation just isn't on the menu today.*  For me, part of practicing the full range of emotion is leaning in to the extremely vulnerable parts.  I think that's where empathy lies quietly, waiting to be invited out.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of Chinese pearl barley (also known as Job's tears)
  • several stalks of sweet basil
  • 3 Tablespoons dried rose petals
  • 1-3 pandan leaves (optional)

You will need:

A cooking pot, glass or earthenware is ideal, but metal is fine too.  A 1/2 gallon glass jar with lid.

Directions:

  1. Rinse the Chinese pearl barley and add to a saucepan/pot.  
  2. Add the cold water to the saucepan/pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Once at a rolling boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 45-60 minutes, stirring every so often.
  4. This barley water is ready once the barley is soft on the outside but slightly chewy on the inside, resembling of popcorn or rice.  The liquid will turn slightly cloudy and greyish pink.   
  5. If you are using pandan leaves, add this and simmer for around 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pandan leaves at the end as overcooking will give the water a slightly bitter taste.
  6. Strain barley from liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  7. Once cooled to room temperature, add in your basil stalks and rose petals.
  8. Bless them.  Ask for softness, insight, cooling of an issue that feels really inflammatory, a more tender heart if you wish.
  9. Refrigerate immediately for at least four hours.
  10. The best way to enjoy this tonic is gently warmed in a bowl or mug.  
  11. Drink throughout the day, as feels good.  Share with a friend or lover if you desire.  Keeps in the refrigerator for about three days, so drink up.

 

Ritual

Gather a journal and a pen (if you feel called to write), your warmed tonic, and find a safe and quiet space for contemplation.

Find a comfortable seat. 

Light a candle or some incense if you feel called to do so.  If placing a special stone in front of you feels good, do that.

Breathe in the fragrance of the mixture.  Notice.

Consider the word "empathy."  You can mentally meditate on it, or free form write about whatever pops up for you surrounding the term.  

Notice how your body feels during this time.  Tight?  Loose?  Comfortable?  Tense?  Soft?  Open?  Afraid?  Write down (or mentally contemplate) whatever pops up.

Consider empathy towards yourself.  How's that going?

This is a simple practice of inviting in a specific quality.  

Drink your tonic.  Invite in the wisdom.

Blessings to you.

 

*This doesn't translate to - one should be without boundaries - because that's not my point either.  Boundaries = yes.  You can have empathy working within your boundaries too - they are not mutually exclusive.

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Dear Grown-Ass Men of the World,

I am not your protector.

I have lived most of my life worried that I might offend you, take up too much of your space, accidentally breathe your air, or somehow disappoint you. 

I have fiercely protected your inadequacies.

I have paid dearly for your insecurities.

It is time that you join the human race as an equal.  Because you are.  

You are a lover, a shepherd, and a gentle son.  Today is the day when you lay down your iron facade of perceived and real influence.  Today is the day when you exhale all of the secret code you unintentionally breathed in as a child.  Every moment your tears were stuffed.  Every time you were told to "buck up."  Every opportunity when someone quickly skipped over an emotional topic with you.  

This is the day.  This is the moment.  Today you can be free.  

We are not your protectors.

We are your allies.  We work together.

We are the fluidity and grace next to your solid generosity.

We see you.

We know you.

And we've missed you.

Thank you for finally dropping your rhetoric.  Thank you for inviting in the vulnerability.  Thank you for swinging the pendulum back in the direction of reality.  We needed that.

We need you.  All of you.

We need you embodied.  

We need you standing.  

We need you doing the emotional labor, right alongside us.  

We need to see you, you men, and know without question that you are good and trustworthy.  That you are FOR us - all of us.  That you have ceased to be a victim of circumstance.  That you are responsible for, capable of, and passionate in your stance:

More wisdom.

More gentility.

More tears.

More spaciousness.

More awe-inspired participation.

More loving, unsolicited support.

We had all grown weary with sadness and doubt, uncertain that you could handle this birthright.  But we see now that you can.  

I can see it in your eyes and in your toes and fingers.  I hear the electricity in tips of your hair.  I feel it as you step forward.  Ready.  Helping.  Fearless and vulnerable.  Fierce warrior kindness.  

Shift it.  Change it.  This power dynamic isn't serving anyone, least of all you.

We are seeking your embrace.  

Your warm, strong embrace.  

The one that smells like the earth ... like rocks and salt.  Solid things.  Certain things.

Please and thank you.

 

 

A special P.S. to all of the grown-ass men out there who are already doing this work:

THANK YOU.

We all see you and feel you and love you and want you to keep on sharing and spreading the really real truth about what it looks like, feels like and sounds like to be an embodied man.

THANK YOU.

 

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Tipping Point

You know those moments in life ... the ones that you think will kill you?

... Those times when you have to do the hard work of allowing an expectation or a belief or even a close relationship die?  

It's super uncomfortable to let something you've loved and trusted fall into ashes.  

It's really gut wrenching.

And when you encounter it on your path, it's natural to want to hang on - with your nails and your teeth.  

Recently, my mom asked me if I had ever loved my ex-husband.  I told her the truth, which is "absolutely."  We chatted some more about those sweet, early times, and then I realized that while I couldn't put my finger on the exact moment I fell in love with him, I could unquestioningly pinpoint the moment I stopped loving him.

I remember the hot, sticky Tennessee day, chasing this uniformed man down my driveway and out to his truck. 

My then two-year-old was napping inside.

I thought if I could just get to that man in the uniform...

If I could see his face and tell him...

Maybe I could convince him...

I remember him handing me a piece of paper.

And I remember not giving two shits about what the paper said.

He turned his truck around and the gravel made that sound that gravel makes under turning tires.  The one that sounds like crunching and squashing, but it's really just pressure and movement and more pressure and things shifting under the weight of it all.

He proceeded out and down the ambling, grey rock, summer sun, driveway; ages old apple branches whacking the top and sides of his truck.  Black walnut shells crunched and exploded on the ground beneath his tires.

I don't know if I paused to think.  (That's the thing about traumatic moments in life, you can't always remember all of the logistics.  Instead, it's a smell, the way the light was, or a very distinct feeling.  That's how this day was.)

The house was so quiet ... the hum of all things electric had disappeared.  (You don't really ever consciously hear the hum of electric things until they are without electricity ....).

I remember searching for my checkbook, and hoping my wits and strength could be found nearby too.

I remember having no idea.  And also a very solid knowing: Not today.  Not in my house.  Not to me.

Driving in my car, with my baby, along the winding country road.  

Down, down, down to the very, very square, very, very brick building where the electrical company offices were.

Some well-meaning woman offered my son a lollipop when we entered the building - I remember that.  I didn't want him to have it, but it was a distraction.  Maybe he wouldn't hear the words I had to say and the wavering quality of my voice if he was in a sugar coma.  

I found myself grateful for the small, lollipop gesture - so generous on a day when it seemed generosity was otherwise engaged.

Like a zombie at the window, I wrote a check - a big rubber check with absolutely NO money behind it.  I got through that moment without crying.  I was wearing my big girl pants.  Those pants that you put on when you realize that your mate doesn't respect you.  Those pants that you put on when you realize that this person you share a life with won't show up for the living of the life part of life.  The pants you put on when you realize that if anything is ever going to change, it is going to be YOU, not him.  Not anyone else.  Just you.  

Oh, but his potential.  You fell in love with the potential.  Well, sweet love, Fuck his potential.  His potential isn't helping you right now and neither is he.

And so I walked out of the very, very square, very, very brick building.  It was also, very, very hot still.  I put my baby in his car seat and as I closed the door to walk around to my side, I had my 0.07 seconds of hot, wet, messy, furious tears.  Angry, livid, "How the fuck did my life end up like this?" tears.  I had my millisecond.

Then I got into the car (because I had those big girl pants on), and I turned on the air conditioning.  That was something special, "Thank you car."  I reached back and held onto the foot of my beautiful child.  And I tried to breathe.  He ate his corn-syrup laden lollipop and I practiced my breathing.

It was shallow, but I was trying.  The air conditioning helped.

Tears came again.  

I made a promise to myself that I was finished living life like this.  That I would never do it again.  This part was decidedly over.  

That still lingering ember, the one I had been endlessly fanning and fawning over ... the one that I was certain had to stay lit in order for me to survive ... you know the one.  I finally stepped back and allowed it to extinguish.  Not my responsibility anymore.  Not my work.  Not mine.  

This is how I was re-born.  This is how I can keep living through a thousand painful deaths.  This is how I rise.

I let hope die.  And it saved my life.

 

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Playthings

for every hand extended
another lies in wait
keep your eye on that one
anticipate”
— ani difranco, "anticipate"

 

Recently, a man tied a woman to a tree along a local hiking trail and left her there.

 

A MAN TIED A WOMAN TO A TREE AND LEFT HER THERE.

 

This happened.  This is the state of things.

This got me to thinking about unwanted male attention.  

This got me to thinking about how I spend many moments of my day ... every goddamn day ... deflecting - like a fucking superhero, like that's the usual - like that's the burden I get to bear as a woman, alive, in this time and place.  

This got me to thinking about how I recently asked for advocacy in the form of communication from my employer and received quite the opposite.  

This got me to thinking about all of the times I've heard from men that we women are bossy, bitchy, and demanding.  

This got me to thinking about a very particular moment in my life as a young girl when my boundaries were violated in the most personal way.  

This got me to thinking about my own mother's response to that story when I told her several years later.  Inconsequential.  Sad, but the rage was absent.  The rage I would have expressed as a mother was missing from the conversation.

This got me to thinking about the transgender community and the level of personal violation they must be feeling as they rage and rally and work to change the legislation of hate that's happened here in North Carolina.  

This got me to thinking about my friend who recently gave birth to a beautiful child in her home.  This got me to recalling the growling and howling and screaming and chanting that happened as she worked through the activity of birth - as she felt, processed and expressed her feminine power in an extremely vulnerable and personal way.  

This got me to thinking about how us women have precious few moment in life when we're even "allowed" to make those kinds of sounds ... Many women don't even get to experience it during birth.  Instead, we've even been placated, fear-mongered, medicated and talked out of that profoundly powerful experience of coming into motherhood.  Coming into this new identity with all of our flags and shit flying.  

We've been placated, medicated, violated, talked-out-of, belittled, undervalued, treated as playthings - many of us - our entire lives...

And the rage bubbles up.

And the memories of all of the rage, un-felt, bubble up.

And the tears.  And the fury.  And the desire to growl at someone comes fast and strong.  Along with the feeling of gurgling in my belly and a desire to punch something.  It is too much.  It is not okay.  

And the Ani DiFranco gets louder:

 

We would play 'hide and go seek'
Territory would be the whole block
Sometimes the older boys when they'd find you
They wouldn't want to tag you, they'd just want to talk

They'd say "What would you do for a quarter?
Come on, we don't have that much time

And I'd think a minute and I'd say
"Ok, give me the quarter first, fine"

This time you win
Here we go again!
And I would feel dirty and I would feel ashamed
But I wouldn't let it stop my game

I remember my first trip alone on the Greyhound bus
A man who put his hands on me as soon as night fell
And I remember when I was leavin' how excited I was
And I remember when I arrived, I didn't feel so well

I remember the teacher at school got me so sick and scared
I went into the bathroom and threw up in my hair
And I could go on, but you know, it just gets worse
And I could probably stop there

Girl, next time he wants to know
What your problem is
Girl, next time he wants to know
Where the anger comes from
Just tell him this time the problem's his
Tell him the anger just comes
It just comes.

 

Systematic, persistent, divisive, penetrating, calculated oppression is alive and thriving.  FUCK.  And FUCK all of that.  

It's a power dynamic.

My comfort lies in the power of my CHOICES.

The power of my voice, my response, my breath, my relentless pursuit of Love.  

Love, who doesn't always look pretty.  Love, who doesn't always say "yes."  

Love: teeth bared, raging, growling, protective, angry as fuck, intensely powerful, radiant heat, hot breath, fierce.

Love as an advocate ... as THE advocate ... the FIERCE advocate.

Love that encircles all of the tender parts and guards them ferociously.  

Love that invites us to treat each other as Holy.  Love that invites us to treat each other as Sacred.

NOT as Playthings.

 

 

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Superfood Hot Chocolate

SuperFood Masquerading as Hot Chocolate Recipe:

SuperFood Hot Chocolate for (1):

- 1 packet Raw Cacao Bliss*

- 1 Tablespoon Raw Honey (to taste)

- 4-8 oz. Whole Milk (or milk of your choice, I like grass-fed whole cow's milk, raw, if I can get it)

- Pinch of Cayenne (for adventurous grownups :)

- Dollop of Organic Heavy Cream

- Sprinkles of Raw Cacao Nibs

If you're using the Cacao Bliss individual packets, massage the packet with your fingers for about 1-2 minutes before opening it up.  This warms and combines the butters a little bit.  (They can be lumpy and not well combined if you just open them up).

Find your favorite mug, one that feels really good in your hands.  Boil some water and fill up your mug with the hot water to pre-warm it as you prepare the other ingredients.

If you're adding freshly whipped cream to the top of your beverage, prepare the cream now.  Pour about 1/4 of a cup of heavy whipping cream into an ample bowl.  Add a splash of your beautiful 100% real vanilla extract, I like Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla from Nielsen-Massey.  Get your whisk and roll up your sleeves.  With quick, purposeful circles, whip the liquid until it thickens.  It will take 3-5 minutes.  Try to refrain from using your electric mixer if you have one.  The act of personally whipping your cream adds a bit of your personal life-force to it, your love. :)  Once the cream is to your liking, set aside.  (Resist the temptation to over-whip, the cream should be supple, not rigid).

Gently heat your milk.  I go really slowly with this and use a whisk and just stand there and stir.  The goal is gentle heat.  You want it warm enough to combine beautifully with the other ingredients, but not so hot that it is scalded and scalding :)

Once your milk is heated to a temperature of your liking, pull it off the heat and reserve it.

Empty your chosen mug of the hot water.  Squeeze your Cacao Bliss packet into the mug, followed by a generous scoop or pour of your favorite Raw Honey (and a pinch of cayenne if you're using it).  Pour your milk on top of these and stir it all to combine.  If you have a fun affirmation to make the whole process of stirring and combining a little more magical, go ahead and say it - out loud.  Something as simple as "Let me be lively" works beautifully.  Let it be organic, but bless your cup if you can.

Once thoroughly stirred, take a dollop of your cream and pop it on top.  (Be sure to lick the spoon).

Sprinkle with Raw Cacao Nibs and bow your head to the magic of SuperFood Hot Chocolate.

Enjoy with someone you love!

 

 

*(This is a product name. The individual packets make this recipe super easy and insure that none of the super expensive raw butters in this recipe go bad while you wait to use the rest. The product is made by Artisana Organics, but is basically 1/2 organic cacao butter & 1/2 organic coconut butter)

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On Wealth

from the cover of the book Unbinding the Heart, by Agapi Stassinopoulos

from the cover of the book Unbinding the Heart, by Agapi Stassinopoulos

Recently, I was swimming in my bathtub, reading a book called Unbinding the Heart by Agapi Stassinopoulous.  She recounts a conversation she had with her mother about wealth and richness and the difference between the two concepts.  It seems of particular interest as we navigate this season of gifts and celebration, and as we think about the many, many, many ways that many, many, many of us have so, so, so, so much to be grateful for.

So I thought I'd share:

"'Mummy,' I asked her, 'are we rich?'

In a matter-of-fact tone that I can still hear, confident in her knowledge, she said, 'We are very, very wealthy.'  And then she gave me the Talk - not the sex talk but the wealth talk.

'Being rich means you have a lot of money.  Being wealthy means you value the gifts you have and you develop them.  Wealth means that you have everything you need, and that you share it, too.  It means being generous with what you have, not living in fear of losing what you have, and not comparing it to what anyone else has.'

Her passion was palpable as she spoke about these ideas.

'Having intelligence is wealth.  Being curious about life is wealth.  Ethics is wealth - it is the integrity you have in all your relationships.  Having friends who care for you and love you, and whom you care for and love, that is wealth.  Taking care of yourself and being healthy is wealth, and so is having respect for yourself and your fellow human beings.  Being educated, having a thirst for learning, being able to go to good schools with inspiring teachers who will help cultivate your talents, is wealth too - the most important kind, because without that, it really doesn't matter what else you have.'  She went on: 'The arts and culture are wealth.  The artists of the world are all wealthy.  They have gifts that money can never buy.  And if you know how wealthy you are, then you can go make money - but only if you want to.'

In her enthusiasm, she started writing things down for me on a piece of paper.  She wrote the words Values and Ethics and Responsibility and Inquiring Mind.  I was nine, but that didn't stop her.  She was letting me know that I need never feel intimidated or make myself less because other people had bigger bank accounts or cars or houses.  She was infusing me with her wisdom, raising me to stand tall in myself and meet life with confidence and a generous spirit.  She knew that then I would feel no sense of lack, but be enriched by all the people and experiences that came my way."

This got me to thinking about how wealthy we really are and how I have defined wealth in the past, and I decided to re-work that definition.  I created one more personal for me, and definitely more in line with my values.

My old definition of wealth:

Wealth is when you have such an abundance of physical money that you can focus on helping all of creation, not just yourself.

My revised definition of wealth:

Warm in the winter, cool in the summer.  Being held, receiving comfort.  Holding others, providing comfort.  Taking joy in learning and making it a priority.  Community - creating it, participating in it, celebrating it.  Being unafraid when I'm sharing my gifts, sharing joyfully and without hesitation.  Hugging.  Kissing.  Dancing.

 

Would love to hear what you think!

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Broken Things

This was my hallway last Wednesday.  

Broken.  Sharp.  Treacherous.

This was my hallway.  

It was my son who did this.

Sometimes, often really, things break - irreparably.  And it takes your breath away ... straight away.  

It took my breath away when my son stormed into the bathroom, frustrated, angry, fed-up for his very own, very significant to him, reasons.  And when he chose to SLAM the bathroom door, causing the heavy mirror mounted to the front to slip out of the hardware holding it in place and crash onto the floor - a million, BROKEN pieces were left reflecting the afternoon light. 

I was quiet.  I surveyed the damage and took a deep breath.  Put the dog outside so he wouldn't cut his feet, put the cat in the basement for the same reason.  

I walked into the backyard and felt the hot tears streaming down my face.  It's amazing how alone you can feel as a single parent in moments like these.  I realized how scared and disappointed I felt.  Did this really just happen?  Yes.  This was real.

And as I stood and considered whether or not this was an indication of his developing character, I heard his tears through the window above me, coming from inside the bathroom.  

His soul hurt.  This was not what he expected either.  Hello, Anger - I don't remember inviting you into my house.

Scary.

Terrified.

Ashamed.

Worried.

Scared.

Deep breath, #MamaWarrior.  Deep breath.  That small, fragile soul needs you right now.  He needs your very best.  Your biggest compassion.  Your most gentle and firm mama love and reassurance.  More deep breaths.  Go Mama.

Go.  Go now.  Go open the front door, tiptoe through the broken glass, hear him hearing you coming, watch the bathroom door crack open, see the face you love most in the world red with worry and wet with tears, his voice is suddenly so small: "Mama, I'll never do it again, I am SO sorry."  More tears.  More weeping.  Such uncertainty on his sweet face.

Go Mama.  Get him.  Go now.  Scoop him into your lap.  Yup, you're crying too.  Damn this was big.  Hold him tight.  Watch how he curls into a ball in your arms so quickly.  See how eager he is to be loved by you.  To be reassured by you.  See how small he still is.  See how fragile that spirit is.

I love you.

You are safe.

I am right here.

The worst part is over now.

I've got you.

I'm here.

I love you.

Go Mama.  Tell him about Anger.  Tell him now.  Anger is a really powerful feeling.  You have a right to your Anger.  Anger burns hot.  It can purify.  It can also destroy.  He nods.  He feels it.  He's met Anger now. 

There's a better way to show your big feelings.  

We'll work on it together .... tomorrow.

I'm here to help you.  

You are safe.

You are never alone in your anger.

You are never alone in your fears.

I'm here.  We're here together.

Now we will clean together.

And we cleaned up the broken pieces.  We swept and we vacuumed.  It was quiet work.  It was careful work.  It was thoughtful work.

Sometimes things break.  Sometimes we break them.  It's not the breaking that matters, the how or why.  What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness.  Does it kill us?  Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment?  

OR

Does it help us remember how to love deepest?  Does it push us towards compassion and over the hurdle of "rightness" and "wrongness" into LOVENESS?

Yes.  LOVENESS.

Go Mama.  Go now.  Get that baby of yours.  Teach that.  Show that.  Live that.  It's called LOVENESS.  Go.  Now.

 

 

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Love Notes

In my quest to make #ReadingFun, I'm starting a new initiative in my house.  I'm taping up #LoveNotes as happy reminders.   

What would you like to see taped up on your mirror tomorrow morning?

Leave a comment :)

 

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In breath, out breath

And so, all those times when we think:

"Sweet baby Jesus on a bicycle, how am I ever going to get through this parenting thing?"

Watch them sleep. Remember just how small they are, just how much MORE compassion they might need in that moment. Watch them sleep. Watch them breathe. Let it comfort you.

‪#‎GoodMorningSunshine‬

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Because you deserve it. You do. You just do.

I have a sweet friend who once left a salt lamp on my front stoop for no apparent reason.  There was a note on the box and it said: 

"Because you deserve it.  You do.  You just do."

And it was a salt lamp.  It's on every day and most nights.  I love it.  It makes sense.  I do deserve it.

Tonight I'm crying a lot about things that I've had to say goodbye to.  My father, my dog, people I've loved ... my pride.  Blowing kisses in the direction of my pride and my past loves.  Big, generous, vulnerable kisses.  I love you.  I just do.

I've decided that the trend of knowing what the FUCK you're talking about in your blog is bull shit.  I don't have to make a point.  I don't have to know the solution to any array of various human problems.  I don't have to know anything.  Instead, I can comment on my own very human condition.  And that's it if I want.

I deserve it.  I'm human.  I showed up.  I continue to show up.

Right now all I want to do is share a song that feels like poetry to me.  Because I deserve it.  Because I have a right to my big feelings and to my sense of personal expression.  Personal expression - I deserve it.  I just do. 

If you enjoy it, please leave a comment and let me know :) 

xoxo

"Beautiful Dawn"
 

Take me to the breaking of a beautiful dawn
Take me to the place where we came from
Take me to the end so I can see the start
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I don't feel so small
Take me where I don't need to stand so tall
Take me to the edge so I can fall apart
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where love isn't up for sale
Take me where our hearts are not so frail
Take me where the fire still owns its spark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Teach me how to see when I close my eyes
Teach me to forgive and to apologize
Show me how to love in the darkest dark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where the angels are close on hand
Take me where the ocean meets the sky and the land
Show me to the wisdom of the evening star
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I feel no shame
Take me where the courage doesn't need a name
Learning how to cry is the hardest part
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

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Killer Smoothies 101

I can remember walking into the Smoothie Shack in Phoenix, AZ as a 15 year old kid.  I wanted a job.  I had just had a "come to Jesus" with my mom about the realities of the world where she laid it out for me pretty frankly:

"If you want to have money to spend, you need a job."

There it was.  

Into the Smoothie Shack I went.  

Yes, I can get a food handler's card.  Yes, I have permission to work in this country.  Yes, my parents will vouch for me.  Yup, I'll have a car soon too - that's why I need the job - to put gas and insurance into my car.  My car that gives me freedom.  I'm ready to work.  Bring it.

This was the perfect introductory job for me.  It was the mid-90's and juicing fresh veggies and making smoothies of every variety was THE thing to be doing.  I've since talked a lot about how this experience, combined with two years at Starbucks and a lot of bartending, means that - in life - I've got beverages pretty much covered.

So without further ado, and in honor of summer - the biggest mistakes folks make when doing home smoothies.

 

NO:

  • Adding ice in an attempt to thicken.  This doesn't work.  Don't do it.  Ice gives you a temporary result that creates slush melt in a matter of minutes.  Ice does not equal thickness.  Stop now.
  • Not using enough liquid.  For a 16 - 20 oz. smoothie, you need about 6-8 oz. of juice.  You're not going to have a medium to blend within if you don't give your blender enough liquid to work with.  Love your blender - give it enough liquid.
  • Wheatgrass NEVER goes near your smoothie.  Often people wander into a health-kick moment and think, I'll just add that jazz to my smoothie and then I don't have to really taste the wheatgrass, 'cause it's blended up in all that other fruit and stuff.  No.  Stop it.  This doesn't work.  What you end up with is 20 oz. of wheatgrass to enjoy instead of the 1 - 2 oz. that you were trying not to taste.
  • Brewer's Yeast - it works the same way as wheatgrass flavor wise.  Calcium mellows flavor, Vitamin C creates a slight tang, lecithin granules never really fully blend.  Think before you try it, and I'd say always keep your probiotics sacred and separate.  Supplements are great in smoothies if you wanna blend them in, just know you're infusing the flavor of that supplement into the smoothie.  You're expanding your supplement, tasting it a lot, giving it more surface area - you know what I mean. :)

 

YES:

  • 6-10 oz. of liquid.  General rule of thumb is you want complimentary, yet contrasting flavors.  We used a ton of Cranberry juice as a base in our smoothies at the Smoothie Shack.  It adds sweetness and tang at the same time.  Currently, I opt for Pomegranate juice in my fruit smoothies most of the time.  It's my go-to.  I  also enjoy the Pure Cranberry, and the straight-up Unsweetened Black Cherry juice.  Apple always works well too, and you can usually find it, organic, and in glass, which makes me super happy.
  • Frozen fruits over fresh fruits for your standard smoothie.  This is how you get that frozen texture that everyone's after.  Toss in a small handful of frozen strawberries and a frozen banana and start there.  Depending on how thick you like your smoothies, you can use between 1 and 2 cups of frozen fruit.  I never use ice anymore, and prefer the thickening power of the frozen banana.  To freeze your bananas, get a piece of parchment paper, peel your bananas fully, and pop them in the freezer on top of the parchment.  In a day you'll have lovely frozen bananas that you break into pieces with your hand and throw in on top of the other ingredients.
  • Layer your smoothie in your blender like this (bottom to top): liquid, a little fresh or frozen yogurt / or fruit sorbet (if you are using this - you certainly don't have to), frozen fruit, your frozen banana, and if you must, some ice chips.  I think cubes are a big no, no.  You're layering to promote the smooth blend.  You don't want to create a big fight with your blender.
  • Try NEW stuff!  Add some nut butter, or if you're on the "green smoothie" kick, substitute fruit juice for coconut water and add some fresh kale or spinach along with some other fresh, green items (my favorite recipe for green smoothies is below).  Just be prepared for a slightly different texture and lots more liquid when you're working with fresh items.
  • Man-handle your blender.  You're never going to get the thing to blend it all properly if you just sit there and stare at it.  Grasp the lid to the bowl of the blender (while it's on) and shake that thing around.  Make sure you have a good grip on it, but shake it up.  (Disregard this memo if you are one of the lucky ones with a Vitamix or a Blendtec.  You can do whatever the hell you want with those things - watch some "Will it Blend?" and laugh your face off).
  • You must ALWAYS commit to at least rinsing all blender equipment off with hot water immediately after use.  Otherwise, you'll hate making smoothies because there is nothing worse than trying to clean up a skanky-ass blender 8 hours after you've "smoothied."  Just rinse.  Do it.  At the very least.  Just rinse.

A few of my current favorites:

 

Jackson's Smoothie

  • 6 - 8 oz. pomegranate juice
  • small handful of frozen strawberries
  • an even smaller handful of frozen mangos
  • 1 frozen banana broken into pieces

Blend and enjoy!

 

Go-to Green Smoothie

  • 6 -8 oz. coconut water
  • fistfull of fresh spinach or kale (torn up)
  • half of a fresh, ripe avocado (if you can spoon it in, to help break it up a bit that helps your blender)
  • half of a fresh green apple (cut up into chunks for ease of blending)
  • Tablespoon of raw cacao nibs
  • Sprinkle of Stevia
  • Sprinkle of ground Cinnamon

Blend and sweeten to taste.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Milkshake

  • 6 - 8 oz. whole, non-homogenized milk (that's my preference, but do what makes you feel good)
  • 2 frozen bananas, broken into pieces
  • Optional: squirt of chocolate syrup if you're the kind of parent who has this stuff on-hand :)

Blend and enjoy!

 

My FAVE from the days at the Smoothie Shack, it was the No. 8

  • 6 - 8 oz. fresh orange juice if you can do it.  Not fresh is fine too, but the fresh is super yum.
  • 1 small-ish scoop of pineapple sorbet
  • 1 handful of frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana, broken into chunks
  • 1 generous squirt / Tablespoon full of your favorite honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of dried coconut

Blend, make adjustments for thickness / sweetness and enjoy!

 

 

Smoothies are such a great option when you're hot, thirsty, hungry and tired.  (Hello, Summer!)  You can pretty much whiz up anything that sounds good and end up with a cool, friendly refresher. 

Try adding your favorite nut-butter, fresh or flaked coconut, honey ... Whatever suits you.  Give it a whirl.  Enjoy summer!

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Boys Allowed

My mom, Gail, is lovely enough to proof-read most of the writing that I send out into the world.  She's a superb editor of commas, reminds me about tenses, knows grammar like the back of her hand.  

When I emailed her the copy for my just launched "desire for dudes" sales page, there was radio silence for a hot minute.  This was followed up with a phone call:

"Honey, it sounds like you're trolling for men.  Is that your intention here?"

I had to laugh.  No mom.  I'm not trolling for men ... You know, my style is a little more forward than yours.  I want the copy to be a little pushy - a little risque', but no, this is not a personal ad.  It's an invitation.

Here's the deal.  I think the guys are often left out of all of the "feeling" work.  I think there are many, many men who are genuinely interested in learning about their feelings.  I think it's unfair to continue to expect our men and boys to function at a high emotional vibration, when we often exclude them from the conversation.  Yes, including men among a women's gathering absolutely changes the dynamic of the group - for both sexes.  But as a culture, we tend NOT to circle back and create that learning opportunity for the men and boys, saying that they simply wouldn't be interested in all of that "girly stuff."

As the mother of a young boy, I consciously work at including emotional literacy in our daily lives.  I am striving to raise a viable man here.  A man who will thrive in emotionally complex situations.  A man who will ask to have his needs met - graciously.  A man who will listen fully to women (and other men) when they speak to him.  A man who values and honors his feelings (and the feelings of others).  A man who is utterly connected to his deepest, truest, core desired feelings, who can use his wise guidance system with no sense of shame or embarassment.  

Recently, I considered attending an herbal conference.  It was a weekend event where women gathered, camped, shared stories and herbal mysteries with each other.  I was reading all about it and came across a series of expectations / rules for the event.  The page stated that female children of all ages were welcome to accompany their mothers at the festival.  However, if you had the circumstance of having given birth to a male child, and he happened to be over the age of six, he was not allowed to accompany you during the weekend.  My jaw dropped.  Really?  Is this really where we find ourselves?

It got me to thinking about what happens to a boy when he turns six that disqualifies him from attending events with his mother?  It got me to thinking deeply about the perceptions that we have as a culture that keep us firmly rooted in cycles of violence, misunderstanding and conflict between the sexes.  

How can we expect our young, impressionable boys to have deep compassion, understanding and appreciation for women when they aren't even invited to witness the inner circle?  How can a fully grown man ever truly appreciate the beauty, synchronicity and wisdom that women emanate if he's never allowed to see it first hand?  And what safer and more appropriate opportunity to see women in their power than an educational herbal weekend campout in nature with a bunch of strong and smart women?

Not to mention the insane multitudinous benefits that come from young girls, seeing young boys, witnessing powerful women together ... Hello!!  The circle of respect and adoration becomes fluid in environments of shared autonomy like that.

I think there's a place for all of it.  But, I must report that as the mother of a young boy, growing up NOW, in this world, right now, I feel deep sadness sometimes.  I watch the culture of exclusion that exists around young boys, discouraged to participate in women's rituals in appropriate ways.  I watch the distance between the sexes expand in a way that seems fully avoidable, and quite frankly, totally lame.

I've learned that in life, it's really important to me to be invited to things.  I may not always be able to attend, but the being invited really, really matters.  It's that feeling that Amy Sedaris jokes about in her cookbook, I Like You, and it is absolutely real.  What you're saying when you invite someone to dinner is "I like you," and most of us spend quite a bit of energy checking in to see how that offer has been received by our guest.  The gesture of being invited is inclusive.  There's an opportunity there.

We need to be practicing this sense of inclusion with our young boys - heck - with grown men too.  The act of inviting them to participate in "our" world (in this case, I'm talking about the world of the sacred and divine feminine), lets them hang out in a space of capability.  We are essentially saying, "I believe you're capable of understanding, empathizing and learning something here" when we include and invite our men into the conversation.  When we exclude by default, we are continuing the cycle of fear.  We are bowing down to the same paradigm that churns out grown men who demonstrate varying degrees of violence towards women, (and yes, I list issues like disrespect and unequal pay as forms of violence).

My solution is to invite our men and boys, inclusively, into the conversation.  Let's include them in the exploration of feelings.  Let's share the information we're gathering together as women with them, so they can do better too.

This is the spirit of my Desire For Dudes workshop.  I'm interested in keeping a fresh sense of play, a certain energy of fun for sure.  But at the heart of it is inclusion.  An invitation to meet us where we are, in an environment that safeguards, protects, and uplifts both of the sexes.

Join me. 



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French Kiss Life

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."

- Ingrid Bergman
 

Ah Kissing.  What a lovely thing.  How juicy.  How delightful.  How perfectly human.

FrenchKissLife is one of hundreds of Truthbombs from the Danielle LaPorte Truthbomb collection, which Danielle shares daily on her site - they’re short, inspiring messages to prompt meaningful reflection and spiritual power-charging.  

When I discovered that the crew at Danielle LaPorte was launching a beautiful new collection of necklaces inspired by her Truthbomb series (#Truthbomb collection from Danielle LaPorte + Dogeared) I was soooo excited.  These babies are sleek and stylish, handcrafted in the USA, and also carry your most soulful wishes and intentions.... My favorite, a simple heart with the message FrenchKissLife.  How sexy is that?

Well, they become available today! So we decided it would be fun to create a kissing inspired contest and give one away!

Here's the deal: 

To see the full line of necklaces, click HERE.

 And click below to watch the behind-the-scenes video Dogeared made HERE


 Happy kissing!

 Love (and #UnicornKisses!),

Kathleen

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Why I Named my Bathtub

First confession of the day:  I've also named my dishwasher.  His name is Kevin.  He's amazing.  He almost never lets me down.  We cheer for each other.  He cheers for me to get the dishes all in, and I cheer for him to chug on through the night washing, rinsing, sanitizing and drying.  We have a good thing, Kevin and I.  

I think there's power in naming things.  I believe it draws gentle, honoring attention to how grateful we are.  In my case, for the modern day miracle called a dishwasher.  The naming of things validates their existence.  I mean, we can't show anything or anyone proper respect until it has a name.

I was staring at my bathtub a few days ago, thinking about how amazing she was (yes, she's a she).  How every night, I can count on her to fill up with lovely warm water and abundant bubbles on demand.  How she's pretty much indestructible - she's been through it all.  My cat tromps around in her (my cat loves water).  My son eats snacks and has grand imaginary adventures in her lap.  I sit nearby and read him stories.  She's made it through negative temperatures and stressful school nights.  I decided to name her Grace.  It's totally emblematic of the way I feel about her.  She is Grace.  

Grace is a mechanism for transmitting the most visceral kind of love.  She warms to your touch, she holds space for you.  She envelops you in just the right kind of heat - heat that you're in charge of.  She follows your lead.  She can be sacred or ordinary, functional or decadent.  She is a contradiction.  She is delightful.  She is solid and dependable.

It's gotten me to thinking about baths.  I don't hardly take them anymore.  Transporting myself back to the first house I owned in my early 20's, and the bathtub in that sweet little "jack and jill" bathroom....  I would soak in that tub for hours!  My now deceased Golden Retriever, Django, would check in with me by sticking his nose under the water line and blowing bubbles.  He'd run out of the room with a massive smile.  What did I do then that I'm not doing now to fully enjoy this magical creation of mine - my bathtub?

I came up with the following solution: 10 steps to having a magical bath

1.  Remove everything from the tub / shower area - everything.  

Move it either out of the room or to a sweet little corner ('cause you know you're going to put it all back) - but clear the space.  The edges of the tub and all around it should be free of clutter to begin with.  Wipe that jazz with a warm washcloth and make it all sparkly so that you feel really invited to be there.  Rinse the whole tub out with warm water too.

2. Get cozy with your space heater.

Now that spring is officially here you might opt out of the space heater but they're nice to have around.  You want the room buzzing with warmth - you don't want to feel chilled at all.

3. Re-fill the empty space around the tub with intentional items that you want with you during your re-lax.  

There's nothing worse than staring at a shampoo bottle for an hour, so find either special objects that are water-safe, candles, fresh flowers, maybe a piece of jewelry that has been passed down to you and you like to think about what that means...  Whatever, just make it beautiful.  My favorite thing to do is get a ton of the religious themed candles and fill the space with them - I mean fill it.  (see photo).

4. Bless your water.  Help it to serve you.  Ask it for what you want. 

I like to run my hand under the water with a generous scoop of epsom salts.  Feeling the water rush, feeling the salts flow away from me, I ask for what I want.  "Please surround me with your healing, soothing power."  Or something like that.  Sometimes I'll put a few drops of essential oils in - for whatever I'm trying to manifest.  Sometimes I get nuts with the bubbles.  Whatever your intention is, just take a moment to draw awareness to it, and then ask for it.

5. Gather the items of distraction, should you need them.  

I enjoy having a big stack of books to choose from and also some yummy music to listen to while I'm in the tub.  There are times when I opt for zero distraction and I just soak in the quiet with my eyes closed.  But, forever a Girl Scout, I like to be prepared, so I get my stack of books and my laptop with a good playlist queued up.  

6. Beverage of choice.  

I've taken plenty of tubs with a glass of chilled white wine, which can be lovely.  Lately I'm into hot herbal tea and chilled sparkling water.  No matter, gather a beverage choice that feels good to you and get it ready.

7. Facial Masques.

These are really lovely to have on hand as well, should you decide to make it a productive bath.  I find that during my bath, I figuratively wander around in between blissed out silence and stillness and "doing stuff" like putting a facial masque on.  My favorite choices of late are pictured below.  I enjoy these products because you get your scrub on and then there's a super decadent moisturizing masque that goes with it.  For more information about these products, click here (dead sea facial scrub & coconut honey mask).  Make sure you gather a few washcloths of your choice if you intend to do any facial masques.  It's just easier. :)

8. Dry brushing.

This is a technique I found out about from  Kris Carr's book, Crazy Sexy Diet, but it's ages old.  You get a special kind of a brush that won't tear at your skin (here are some choices), and THIS is the kind I have.  Your body is dry.  You start at your feet and brush your way, gently, up towards the heart.  You brush everything.  You're increasing circulation, aiding in detoxification, and sloughing off dead skin.  It's an amazing technique that once you start, you won't want to stop.

9. Lights out!

You should have enough candles lit (and this means a truckload) that you can see to read if you'd like, but the overhead bathroom lights should be switched OFF.  This is relaxation time.  Hard to do it with lights humming at you. 

10. Towels not dangerously near the space heater.

There's nothing quite as comforting as wrapping yourself in a warm towel.  My strategy is to place the towels I intent to use nearby, but not on top of, my space heater.  They're never 100% warm all over, but it's still nice.

GET IN :)

And Enjoy.  

 

 

What home appliance are you most grateful for as you read this?  How about honoring it with a name?  Share below!!  xoxo

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Your Body is a Temple

Do you have a tattoo? Permanent? Henna? Or the temporary kind? Or have you never dabbled in any kind of ink at all? 

If you already have a tattoo, does it reflect the deepest desires of your heart? Or your aspirations for your future? The truth of your soul? If not, or if you’ve never inked yourself up, keep reading…

Danielle LaPorte has just released her first-ever Tattoo Collection. These are temporary tats of over a dozen of the most common Core Desired Feelings plus the ultra-hot metallic gold Sacred Geometry collection, too. (Made in the USA and 100% FDA-approved.) Here are a few pics:

Adorn your body with words and symbols that speak to the heart of your secret wishes and intentions. Or just glance at them on your arm (or on your belly or another secret place) and think: “Yep, that’s what I am.” These tats would also make great gifts. 

More tattoos HERE.

Have some fun. Wear inspiring and soulful art on your body - because that’s what you are, and that’s what you deserve. 

All my inked-up love,

Kathleen

 




 


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Walk this way ...

Calling all sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and dear ones.  We’ve settled on a location for our upcoming beautiful bad-ass Desire Map Workshop.  

We’ve rented an entire b & b in a sweet little urban neighborhood in West Asheville.  I like to call the house “Zen Station” because even though it’s properly centrally located with easy parking, it’s set waaaay back from the street, and surrounded by mature trees and some springing natural beauty.  The interior of the space is sweet, a little artsy, open concept and cozy.  When Emily and I saw it we both felt the good vibes and easy serenity of the space.

Our weekend will begin with a special bonus event Friday night - a small ritual blessing and purification ceremony with a delightful special guest.  The official Desire Map Workshop portion begins Saturday, April 11th and flows through Sunday, April 12th.  This is not an overnight retreat - it’s a day-light-hours kinda jam session.  

Included in your registration fee is attendance at all weekend events, The official Desire Map Workbook, gorgeous and nourishing catered organic lunches on Saturday and Sunday, as well as coffee, tea and a variety of snacks and beverages during the weekend.  We’re going to sprinkle our time together with special guest visits from our favorite local massage therapist and gifted divination workers from a variety of modalities.  We’re excited to introduce you to our tribe of majestic unicorns and explore the territory of feelings together.

Our primary intention is to create a safe space for exploration for you as we set about uncovering our Core Desired Feelings and working through the Desire Map Curriculum.

The timing looks like this:

  • Friday, April 10th: 6:30pm - 8:00pm - ritual ceremony
  • Saturday, April 11th: 11am - 5pm - Desire Map Workshop
  • Sunday, April 12th: 11am - 5pm - Desire Map Workshop

Please email me with any questions!

And if you'd like to visit our "space" on the official Danielle LaPorte website (for books, truthbomb decks and other cool stuff), click here!

xoxo

 

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The House that Desire Built

I think it was Danielle LaPorte who said that one of the biggest mistakes women entrepreneurs make is not sharing the extent of their vision with their community.  Friends, family, the universe really, WILL help you achieve your vision, if only you have courage enough to share it.

It is in that spirit that I'm hosting a Cocktail and Tea Party to celebrate the launch of my very first Desire Map Workshop.  Please come celebrate, get your questions answered and enjoy a low-key party at my house.

To boot, my gifted friend Monica Bethelwood, who is a musician, educator, tea maker and tarot goddess is going to create a custom Majestic Unicorn tea blend to help consecrate the event.

Check it out here.

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