Beginning the challenges: Self Evidence + Authenticity and 21.5.800

•June 8, 2010 • 9 Comments

Wow. Wow. Day 1 of Bindu Wiles’ 21.5.800 challenge and I already feel like I’m failing. It’s 10:50pm, I’m exhausted and I’ve done neither my Savasana nor my 800 words for the day. My cat is digging his nails in to my arm and leg, yowling for attention, my husband is going to bed, my stomach is turning from my pregnancy hunger binge and I can’t decide if I want to cry or scream.

So I breathe. And I turn to Compassion. A topic for  Authentic Realities’ Self Evidence + Authenticiy challenge that I agreed to sometime last week – perhaps the first of the month – and have yet to write a word for. I’ve done lots of writing in my head over the past few days. I’ve started some wonderful, thoughtful blog posts as I made my daughter lunch, painted rocks and her daddy’s birthday presents with her, watched Sesame Street playlists and chased her down the street with our dog. But none of those posts, not a sentence, not a word, has gotten past my thoughts.

I did manage to read a couple of other 21.5.800 challenge entries today in stolen moments (before my 21st century daughter wanted to trade my laptop for hers – the one that takes 5 minutes to load a page because it’s so old). I’ve also read several of the posts that have been written for Dian’s challenge. I find myself feeling jealous of the time people have to write. Jealous of the ability to sit down, uninterrupted first thing in the morning, or in the middle of the afternoon, or even right after dinner. I know everyone is busy. People have careers, families, friends, pets. I’m certainly not the only stay-at-home/work-from-home mom who is aching for a little time and space for me, to get my voice warmed up and my words onto the page. The loudspeaker in my head blares an ear-splitting “FAILURE!”. If I really wanted to, I’d make the time. If I really wanted to…

I DO really want to. Right now, I don’t know HOW to. I’ve made the choice to be the most involved parent I can be. My daughter doesn’t go to daycare and isn’t going to preschool because it’s the right choice for her, for us. She’s starting to do more things on her own (her little voice echoed down the hall today as she giggled and played after sending me out of the room with a “Leave me alone mama”) but at not-quite-three, I get maybe 5 minutes at a time.  Not enough for 800 words, never mind Savasana. I’d do yoga with her if my stomach didn’t heave at the thought of downward facing dog.

In the midst of my feelings, my struggle, my jealousy, I somehow remember to turn to Compassion. I find it easy to feel compassionately toward others, even those who commit horrific acts of ignorance and violence. I imagine the incredible pain they must be in, in order to do such things and there, standing just behind anger, shock and sadness is compassion. When it comes to myself, I am the queen of self-inflicted wounds and hurtful comparisons. Why can’t I just pull it together? Why can’t I find more time in the day – I’m sure I waste more than enough of it? Why can’t I get more sleep? Take better care of myself? Write every day? Get up at 5am and get my meditation in before daughter wakes at 5:45 or 6? Why am I not some fabulously well-known and accomplished author/dancer/psychologist/anything yet? Compassion reminds me…

Because I’ve made many choices that have taken me away from a career path and into myself.

Because I believe that being present for my daughter as much as possible in her early life will set the stage for a healthy adult.

Because I’m pregnant and exhausted and “efficiency” has never been one of my strongest qualities.

Because everything is perfect and I am exactly where I need to be to learn the lessons I need to learn.

Because every person’s journey has it’s own path and this is mine.

Because I’ve never been driven by money and only now am coming fully into contact with the passions that I lost somewhere in childhood.

Because.

Because I am embracing my ordinariness so I can begin to celebrate my uniqueness.

Because I see parenting as a journey toward wholeness not just something to be done before and after work.

Because in a few years time, my life will look completely different than it does now.

Because, as my calendar says, “imperfection is an illusion”.

Because.

Breathe in deeply. Breathe out. Repeat.

I’m just a few words shy of 800, and in honor of treating myself compassionately, that’s okay. Now off to Savasana and sleep.

Facing Fear

•May 27, 2010 • 17 Comments

My fear has been showing up in amazing and powerful ways lately.  Ways that have forced me to stop playing with the same deck of cards, the same habits, mental tapes and conditioned responses. I feel as though I’m being tested – handed the biggest lessons to see if I can finally break through to the next level of being.

After my January miscarriage, I got pregnant again at the beginning of March. One of the ways I got through the loss in January was “knowing” that the next pregnancy would be just fine. After all, I told myself, that’s how it was the first time around. Then at 6 weeks I saw blood again. Over the next four weeks I rode a rollercoaster of not knowing. Ultrasounds saying all was well, then more blood, then another ultrasound, then even more blood, then the heartbeat was down to 89 beats per minute (which is considered not-viable).

The doctor looked at me and said something that woke me out of my fear-induced stupor. “It’s rare for heartbeats to go back up but it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen”. Somehow those words penetrated. I realized I had spent the previous night awake, “accepting” another miscarriage and I suddenly wondered if the baby felt me giving up. Deep in my soul, I felt a shift. I vowed in that moment to use every spiritual lesson I had ever learned to keep my baby alive. I enlisted my husband. A friend poured her beautiful Reiki-light into my body and spirit. I knew there was no guarantee that any of it would work, but I wanted to be able to say I’d done everything in my power to stay pregnant.

The ultrasound technician had two of her students in the room for my next appointment, five days later. One of them was working the machine. Torturing me, they looked at a number of things before they got to the heartbeat. The technician’s jaw dropped. She looked again. Her jaw dropped. She looked at me and said “You have angels watching over you. Baby’s heartbeat is 179bpm!” I can’t tell you what that felt like. I got the miracle I’d been working for.

As the bleeding slowed then stopped over the next weeks, I started to let go of my spiritual work a little. Fear reared its head every time I felt a pang, or went to the bathroom but I started to relax, wondering if I was tempting fate.

Then two weeks ago I was in Berkeley with my family. We were there to witness and celebrate my brother and his wife receiving their PhD’s. Had I not miscarried, my sister-in-law and I would have had due dates a day apart. As it is, they will be about three months, which is the age difference between our first children. I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (ah, the joys of pregnancy!) and again, fear presented itself. In my mind I saw an image of more blood, shook the image away and left the light off, just to prove to myself all was well. Unfortunately all was not well. Over the next few hours I lost so much blood I decided to go the ER. Fear coursed through my body even as I told myself everything would be fine, that I’d gotten through the bleeding once and could do it again. My husband, who was working elsewhere, was concerned about me but believed in his heart that the baby was fine. I was grateful for his confidence.

The ER at AltaBates Hospital is actually very nice. Everyone was friendly and they saw me quickly. The doctor had some trouble with the ultrasound. Finally she smiled. “You have a VERY active baby”. Tears. Relief. Gratitude. A more detailed ultrasound later it was determined that I had a bleed between the placenta and uterine wall. Not that uncommon. The doctor had experienced one herself. The prescription was to rest and not lift anything heavy (including my daughter) for a while. Deep breaths. Gratitude. A decision to return daily to my spiritual work.

The above journey has taken me away from other parts of my life and fear has reared its head here too. Rest became more important than ever, so I blogged less, tweeted less, felt the online relationships I was enjoying drift away. I find myself wondering if it will be like grade school all over again. I’ll show up excited and ready to reconnect and everyone will have decided in my absence that it would be fun to never speak to me again. Invisible. Again. That pain is still fresh even though it’s been almost 30 years. My adult brain knows that returning to my blog, to Twitter and Facebook will be a completely different experience than showing up to 3rd grade after a week of strep throat. Still…the fear lives on.

So that’s my challenge now, to let go of the fear. At times it doesn’t even feel like mine. I’ve learned it from my family, my friends, newspapers, television, the internet. I know there are big hurdles ahead. It’s easy to slip into old habits and patterns. Fear is a great teacher, it just never wants you to graduate. This time though I’m putting on the cap and gown and walking across the stage. There is no going back. There is only now and freedom awaits.

And you? How is your fear showing up? What does freedom look like?

Connecting the Dots

•May 23, 2010 • 9 Comments

Here are a few things I’ve really wanted to say yes to recently:

Danielle LaPorte’s FireStarter Sessions ebook.

Mark at Heart of Business’s Heart of Money Transformational Journey.

Pace and Kyeli’s World Changing Writing Workshop

The Jen Louden/Patti Digh/Susan Piver Walking into Fire retreat.

Jennifer Hoffman’s Inspired Organizing program.

The Rethinking Everything conference.

In the past I would have jumped on at least three of these right away. I would have gotten really excited, started off with a bang and petered quickly into a whimper. I would have gotten overwhelmed and given up, beating myself up in the process – for wasting money, for not following through, for giving up on my dreams (and anything else the voices of fear and judgment could have come up with).

Some of these I will have to say no to. Some I can put on my “not now but soon” list and some will no longer be relevant by the time I can get to them because I will have moved through my need for them and into something else.

But I still really want to say yes. They all look transformative. They all have the feel of being exactly what I need right now. This is by no means a definitive list. The more I look into what the amazing people I’ve met through Twitter and the blogosphere are doing, the more classes, books and retreats beckon.

I am saying no (or not-right-now) to these because I’ve also said yes.

I’ve said yes to having another baby and it’s been one heckuva rollercoaster ride these last three months. I’ve said yes to making time with my daughter my priority at this point in my life. I’ve said yes to bringing a vision to life no matter how slowly the process might unfold (so okay, the FireStarter Sessions are coming into my life soon). Most importantly, I’ve said yes to learning how to take care of myself. I’ve been forced into this by the little life that is growing inside me and at 38, it’s probably time I figured it out. As a good friend of mine put it, I’m connecting the dots. The ones I’ve ignored for a long time – or left half-connected –  that can turn my house of cards into a solid home. The ones I was born knowing how to connect but forgot about over the years. Passion. Belief. Health. Who I Really Am.

I am done with allowing fear to run my life, with almost losing another baby because of the constant stress my body lives with. To quote Rhonda Britten (who I’ve been introduced to because I said yes to working with the fabulous Mynde Mayfield) I am ready to step off my Wheel of Fear and onto my Wheel of Freedom – and power.

I am powerful. We all are. Why are those dots so hard for some of us to see? And where did I get the notion that taking care of myself made me weak? Unlovable?

I am learning to accept that I might not blog, or read my favorite blogs, or see my friends as often as I would like for the next few weeks months years. I am learning to trust that I have angels watching over me and everything is going to be okay. I am learning to believe that my needs are worth meeting. In doing so I hope to be a better mother, a more whole person. I also hope to model self-care for my daughter in a way that makes the dots easier for her to connect.

And you? What dots have you connected recently? What dots do you need to connect? What do you need to give up – at least for a while – to do that? If you’d like to share how you take care of  yourself, I’d love to hear that too.

Circles and Spirals

•May 7, 2010 • 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking lately about circles and spirals, about perfection and revisiting lessons to learn them in new ways. I’ve been wondering what deal my soul struck before it chose to be reborn, what I’m here for this time around. I’ve been wishing, hoping, dreaming, fearing, loving, learning, healing. Soon I will return to writing.

Circles

The moon is most happy

When it is full.

And the sun always looks

Like a perfectly minted gold coin

That was just Polished

And placed in flight

By God’s playful Kiss.

And so many varieties of fruit

Hang plump and round

From branches that seem like a Sculptor’s hands.

I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly

Shaped by a soul within,

And the Earth itself,

And the planets and the Spheres –

I have gotten the hint:

There is something about circles

The Beloved likes.

Hafiz,

Within the Circle of a Perfect One

There is an Infinite Community

Of Light.

– Hafiz (Daniel Ladinsky)

Wishes

•April 26, 2010 • 4 Comments

Ada: Is it my birthday soon?

Me: Well let’s see. It’s the end of April so May, June, July, August. Your birthday is in three and a half months.

Ada: No!

Me: Would you like to have a party? (We’ve been to a number of 3rd birthday parties lately so I’m assuming this is what the conversation is about).

Ada: No. A house.

Me: A house?

Ada: A big house. This is a little house.

Me: You want to leave “new home” and move to a bigger house?

Ada: Yes.

Me: What would you like in our new house?

Ada: Dolphins.

flickr/lukesaagi/CC license

Angels and Miracles

•April 25, 2010 • 3 Comments

I love it when someone walks into my life and within moments, we are connected at the heart. Whether it lasts as long as dinner, or a lifetime, those connections make life worth living.

My husband, daughter and I had dinner – two nights in a row – with a colleague of his whose name he knew but had never met. The first night we were in a large group and this woman, we’ll call her Anne, was lovely with Ada (who was beyond exhausted and at a table with 10 adults) and showed us pictures of her handsome teenage son. The next night it was just us, my little family and Anne, and she shared the story of her other children – the two that died before they were born.

Having just had my second miscarriage in January, this topic has been top of mind. I wrote about it and then Bruce at Privilege of Parenting had this loveliness to say on the subject. As Anne told us her story we laughed and cried. Her journey through grief has been a long one – her second baby died 9 years ago – but she now spends much of her time showing other grieving parents that there’s a light at the end of that tunnel of pain. Her other goal is to raise awareness and banish taboos; to stop people from saying inane things like “You’re young, you’ll have another”, or ignoring the subject altogether.

Anne’s first baby, her son, was a little over 2 years old when she got pregnant again. She thought the timing was perfect. Anne was one of eight children and the only advice her mother gave her was to leave three years between kids instead of two, so she could enjoy her babies. She was in her mid-thirties at the time and after much discussion with her husband, they decided to have an amniocentesis to determine whether or not the baby had Down’s Syndrome or any of the other trisomy abnormalities. A week after her amnio, her baby was dead. She was suddenly a statistic, that 1 in 200 whose pregnancy is ended by the procedure. In shock, she was induced, not fully understanding what was happening, and 10 hours later, met her second son. Her instincts were strong and she held him, named him, cried over him, loved him as only a mother can. Then she let him go.

Two years later she became pregnant again. She was over the moon with joy. Then came the heart wrenching decision – should she have another amnio or not? They decided that despite everything, their reasons hadn’t changed and so they went in again. This time they didn’t even get to the procedure. There was no heartbeat. Their baby girl was gone.

Anne considers herself a mother of three, one living child, and two angels. Her son, when asked, will say he has a brother and sister but that they died. Some people might choose differently, but Anne’s heart is huge and her love for all of her children is palpable. She managed to track down her son’s ashes and has them now – they will be buried with her mother when she dies.

Every birth is a miracle. Every spirit has a lesson to teach. Every woman who becomes pregnant is a mother – for a moment at least – whether she holds her child or not. Every miscarriage, at 5 weeks or 5 months, is a wound that must be allowed to heal. Our cultural norm is to not share the news of a pregnancy until it has survived the first trimester. We like to hide that grief – keep it quiet – as though it has no validity, as though there is no reason to mourn. Second trimester losses are even greater, more rare, and as Anne found out, no one knows what to say.

Every story of loss and healing is different. We all have our own ways of coping. For those of us who have had more than one, the emotional impact of each loss is different. I wear a tiny gold band next to my wedding ring, closest to my heart. I bought that ring after my first pregnancy. I wanted something tangible to hold on to, something that would forever tie me to the spirit of my child who came and left so quickly.

Every birth is a miracle. Every spirit has a lesson to teach.

I believe in miracles. I am one. So are you. That’s so easy to forget isn’t it? Hold it close today. Hold the knowledge in your heart.

You are a miracle.

Yes.

You.

Holy War

•April 5, 2010 • 5 Comments

I am in the midst of an epic battle. My rational mind is at war with my inner knowing. Fear is doing its best to not be drowned out by love and trust.

It’s ugly. I’m exhausted. But I think I’m winning.

Here’s what Hafiz* had to say to me tonight when I asked a question and opened to a page;

I wish I could show you,

When you are lonely or in darkness,

The Astonishing Light

Of your own Being!

and then…

We have all come to the right place.

We all sit in God’s classroom.

Now,

The only thing left for us to do, my dear,

Is to stop

Throwing spitballs for a while.

* From the book I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy, Renderings of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky.