Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

2014 was an incredible year for me. Without a doubt, the biggest one of my life. There were some that came close, but bringing a piece of my heart in to existence as another human being tops them by far.

My one little word was "Brave" and I feel like I very much embodied it.

Not only did I give birth to my son the way I wanted to, I did so without fear or worry. Even when it would creep up, I was able to bat it away without terribly too much trouble. Something I'm not usually very good at, being a born worrier.

The aforementioned Fear and the easier thing to do were put on a shelf and I said "yes" to meeting new people and doing new things outside of my comfort zone. Again, something that I'm not typically very good at doing - I found myself fighting the urge to cancel at the last minute and turn around and go home even as I was walking up to the cafe door. I'm incredibly grateful that I didn't, because it led to finding the beginnings of a local spiritual tribe and new friends - things I've been longing for for a few years.

I bravely took a raw, unbiased look at myself, owned my mental health issues and decided to take the steps necessary to heal by seeking counseling. A very very big step for me as I don't easily open up to or trust people, especially with deep dark things. For the first time in a very long time, I feel hopeful that I will overcome my emotional difficulties, pick up the wreckage, learn to be positive and give my poor self a break from my own mental bullying. I'm well beyond being my own worst critic and for a few shining moments this year I didn't feel like that. I felt powerful, beautiful, intuitive and most importantly, worthy. Just as I am. And I want to feel that way regularly - fuck this self loathing, low self esteem, negativity business.

The status quo is currently being evicted, I'm kicking out my own ideals of myself that no longer serve me, letting go of labels, admitting what I want and am finally willing to change and work and burn things to the ground to get there.

It's been hard as fuck and equally incredible.

Here's a wrap up video I made to farewell the year rather than posting 60+ photos. I had a hard time picking just a few shining moments - there were so very many! If for soem reason the video doesn't load, you can view it by clicking this link: http://flipagram.com/f/OV38SlIzoJ



My one little word for 2015 is Peace. Within and without.

This wasn't my intended word for the year. I had tossed around "trust", "happiness" and decided upon "simplify" but it didn't feel entirely right -I was still mulling other words over in my head. Peace tip toed in to my head while I lay curled up beside Orion, in the mystic place between waking and sleep. In a not so peaceful manner, I jumped out of bed and wrote it in my journal.

Peace
pēs/
noun
noun: peace; noun: the peace
  1. 1.
    freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.

  2. 2freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
  3. 3. inner contentment, serenity.


Peace. Because, after the fire comes the cooling rain, and from the ashes rises the Phoenix with song and new life. I plan to learn, laugh, love and live fearlessly, be more present and put the damn phone down.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gratitude*Sunday

I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots and several other lovely bloggers in honoring the things for which we've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook.

If you would like to join us, just click the image in my sidebar.


This Week I am Grateful For:

* For a Yule celebration split between friends and home. I didn't do what I normally do, which was good because I didn't have the energy for a big cooking session or staying up in to the wee hours. It was exactly what I needed.
* A kind, considerate and supportive husband who doesn't take it to heart or personally when his extreme introvert wife gets overwhelmed by her house being full of his (extremely talkative) family for 10 days. Who nudges me off to the bedroom or my studio to take a bath, read or just hide out and let the buzzing of my overwhelmed brain quiet back down before it all becomes far too much for me to handle.
* Getting my studio put back together a bit more. It's been in chaos and disarray since Chico passed away in early November. He destroyed the carpet in there due to organ failure and we had to take everything out, tear up the floors and start over and between sadness, holiday madness, depression and a young infant it kept getting shoved to the bottom of the to-do list. I spent 3 hours in there after Orion went to sleep the other night to be alone and made some great progress. It's starting to feel better in there again, which is making my Muse peek her nose out from under her blankets in interest.


* Incredibly thoughtful gifts under the Yulemas tree.
* Laughter. I don't recall what we were talking about or what happened now, but earlier this week something happened to Joe, he said something sarcastic about it and I laughed so hard and so long I was crying. I can't remember the last time I laughed until my sides hurt.


* New crystal acquisitions! I picked up a few tumbled stones to wrap and a raw flourite and amethyst for my altar and the girl at the gem store gifted me with 5 amethyst points just because! She had no idea that amethyst is my favorite stone or how badly I need it's energy. I love those magical moments! While I was sorting the tumbled stones, one of them was giving off such high vibrations the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end - a highly holographic bloodstone. It refused to be put away, zinging me if I tried to do so, and so it joined the others on my altar.
* Orion woke up a little after I had put him to bed the other night and Joe went in to soothe him. When I went in a few minutes later to check on them Orion reached out for me and Joe told me he'd been babbling "momomomomomomom" while he was fussing. He stopped as soon as I walked in. *heart, melted*

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yule, Santa and a Peek at Our Tree


Before I shift gears and share a little bit of what's going on here for the holidays, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my last post, emailed, texted, called or drove to my house and lifted me up and shared their own stories. It's a lot less dark when you realize how not alone you really are. So, thank you all. I had my first therapy session last week and not only am I comfortable with the therapist (I dig her non fluff attitude) but she has given me hope that I will be feeling better sooner than I anticipated and that, if once we've overcome this hurdle I'd like to stay on and do some of the fucking deep healing - she's on board for that too. It just feels good to know that the very hard first step was worth it - I feel like I'm exactly where I need to be and am doing what I need to be doing. The work will be rough and I can't go as often as I'd like to due to budget constraints, but all in due time, right?


With that out of the way, I hope everyone had a magical Solstice and New Moon! How was THAT for a double whammy of releasing and inviting in new beginnings? We went to meet up with my sisters of the new moon to share a meal and sit around the fire for a bit before Orion decided it was time to go home and to bed. I think we may have a sensitive old soul on our hands here - he likes new people, is calm when they hold him and takes in his surroundings with very serious intent but once his cup is full he is quick to let me know he wants to be alone, or sleep or go someplace quiet. And we oblige, because this time of baby hood is so very short. Once we got home and I had him settled, Joe built a fire and I worked a little bit of magic at the kitchen table with some Earth medicine and my oracle cards. It's funny, before I had Orion all of my big work was done outside or at the altar in my bedroom. Now that he bunks in there, I'll make sacred space wherever I can carve it out, including on top of a ridiculous snowman tablecloth in the kitchen. Ah, lessons. After I was done, I left my pulled cards and the citrine stone that my Work was focused on in the grounded jaws of badger in my South facing window to absorb the magic of the newly rebirthed Sun. I need this immense fire energy right now, but it needs to be harnessed lest it burn me beyond the point of rebirth. I'm tempering the Phoenix medicine that's been appearing so frequently around me (oh, do I know there are big scary changes in store when Phoenix comes and shines her hot light in to my heart) with my belovedly stodgy Badger.

There's deep work, an inferno of release and a rebirth from the ashes ahead. I'm sort of terrified of burning up who I truly am with all of the refuse, but the deep rooted knowing of my soul says that my true self can never be consumed if I don't allow it to be. This winding path is scary sometimes, but I'm placing my faith in the bright light of hope.


We also made time to see the big man himself!




In more mundane magical happenings, we've finished decorating the house and getting our gifts together and are ready for Joe's parents to join us through the New Year. I'll be taking plenty of breaks with my kiddo in the quiet bedroom to nurse and get some introvert time in so I don't become overwhelmed. The holidays are always pretty taxing on me and with a house full for over a week, if I'm not careful I'll be ragged and edgy by Saturday. I'm ridiculously pleased with what I managed to pull together in the gift department without stressing myself out. Thank the Gods for nap times, the internet, thrift stores and a future sister in law who let me borrow her sewing machine at the last minute.

I'll be doing the "One Little Word" instead of a resolution again, as I have the past few years, but I'll have more on that as well as my usual photo whore wrap up of 2014 a bit closer to the New Year. I just wanted to check in amongst the holiday madness and let you all know I'm OK. I have a direction, I see Hope, I have helpers, support and so much love around me and I'm going to get better. And, I've been enjoying the holidays, even if quietly. While sipping eggnog on the couch watching my favorite Christmas movies with my favorite fella while our Yulemas tree twinkles.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Wanna Get Better

There are things people don't like to talk about, especially in relation to things that are supposed to be joyous. There's a fear of being perceived as incapable, less than or bad in some way. I know this, because I've felt it too. Not at any time more so than I have since I had to admit to myself after months of telling myself "it's just hormones" or "the baby blues" that there was something more going on. Even after I checked off several boxes on the PPD check list.

Motherhood is one of those things that is held in such sacred and high regard that to speak ill of it, to let anyone know that you've found anything other than joy in it, causes you shame. I've been feeling so very ashamed, so very heavy and alone, only willing to admit my feelings to Joe. I felt myself withdrawing, I felt myself cracking under the weight of my own unmet and wholly unrealistic expectations of what motherhood would look like for me.

I've found myself beating the shit out of myself for not being this perfect, beautiful, serene zen hippie mama that I expected and wanted to be. I've railed against my body - this miraculous and strong vessel that grew and bore this baby- for it's faults and weaknesses, because I can't wear my child the way I had envisioned and longed to. Because I have 2 left hands and 10 thumbs and can't get the whole wrapping thing down (goodbye dreams of beautiful, heavily filtered photos of my baby curled up and snoozing in hand woven fabric) and then because my back will spasm with angry ropes of fiery sciatica if I carry or wear him in the strappy buckle carriers I CAN use for too long. (so long dreams of painting while I wear my soothed, snoozing infant). I curse it because the same happens when I sway my hips and rock him to sooth him when he's sick or uncomfortable. I've been cursing it and wishing for a new one because neither one of us particularly likes it when I have to soothe him laying or sitting down. We both crave motion, a calming rhythmic motion, when we're uncomfortable. He is so much my son.

And I've been cursing myself and this brain of mine, so filled with emotions, for being anything but happy and delighted by this child I wasn't even sure I could have. For daring to be annoyed with him, for feeling my blood pressure rise when the cries of an overtired child can't be soothed away easily or sometimes at all. I've hated myself for whispering to the night to please shut him up so we could sleep and loathed myself for putting him down to cry and walk away to go get my head on straight again and calm back down when I feel myself becoming agitated. How could I?

I've felt like a monster; who gets mad at a baby? Who asks a baby to kindly shut the fuck up - even in gentle whispered sing song tones?

Apparently, every one. But I've been incapable of giving myself the grace needed to accept that and to accept that in that aspect anyway, I'm perfectly normal. And that lack of acceptance and grace coupled with the unmet expectations I had for myself, sent me down a spiral. The waves of sadness, darkness and less than have dragged me under and left me gasping in heaving breaths for air. They've tossed me on to my knees, a tear stained crying mess of a woman who can barely breath or find a kindness to give herself. And they've left me on the shores of endless doubt and hopeless dark skies, wondering aloud if my boys wouldn't be better off with another woman to care for them.

One who isn't a giant fuck up. One who doesn't constantly worry. One who doesn't cry and feel so very emotional. One with a strong body and mind.

And the light broke in, through those clouds for one shining moment. The full moon's kiss on my tear stained raw face, and I knew that these are all lies. All a pack of motherfucking evil, hateful lies. That it isn't my fault, that I don't deserve these feelings, that there is nothing to be ashamed of or scared of. That I'm worthy of love and motherhood and most importantly, of healing.

And I reached out. In one big afternoon of emailing and calling, I reached out. To my sisters far and near and I was lifted up and held. And I was gifted with their stories, so many so similar to my own. So many that I had never known or would have guessed had done this dark dance as well. So many women suffer this in silence. So many women never reach out. So many of my beloved sisters were too ashamed to tell anyone, some were scared of themselves but were too afraid of what others thought to reach out. And that is why I'm sharing. That is why I'm placing this darkness, raw and unedited, in to the glaring light of day.

Because fuck being afraid. Fuck the shame. Fuck people who think depression is fake or all in our heads. Fuck those who think we're weak. And fuck the unrealistic standards that women are saddled with - by themselves and by others.

I've reached out. I'm starting therapy tonight, despite the fear I feel at opening up to a stranger face to face and despite it not being in my budget, because this isn't my fault. And I deserve to get better.

And, so does every other person out there who needs it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Moonday Musings: Thanksgiving Weekend


Orion snuggling with daddy while the sun comes up and the turkey cooks on the smoker.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'd say probably the best one we've had in a few years. We stayed home and invited a few friends over. Joe woke up at 5am to start cooking the big things - ham and turkey- Orion and I woke up a bit later and watched the parade on TV (well, I watched while I played with him) before I worked on my offerings of raspberry chocolate pound cake and fresh cranberry sauce. Our friends brought the rest of the sides as well as 4 (yes - 4) pies!

Everything was delicious and we all had very full bellies. After we ate, we spent the remained of the afternoon, evening and early part of the night talking and playing games. Orion slept soundly despite our loud laughter. Everyone went home around 11 pm, and Joe and I went to bed tired but happy. It's been a long time since we had a house full of people having fun and to be honest, it's been a bit lonely. While I'm a bit of a loner, I'm also someone who lives entertaining people. As ever, I'm an anomaly.

We spent my least favorite day of the year, Black Friday aka The ShitShow of Greed and Commercialism, snuggled in bed until late. Then getting up to eat breakfast, pack away the Autumn decor and start lugging the Christmas stuff out of the attic. We also spent a good amount of time trying to get Orion to nap, as he's entered the dreaded 4 month sleep regression and seems to have gone back to his newborn days of fighting naps to the point of exhaustion. Having tried every trick in my arsenal to get him to sleep on his own, I threw in the towel and strapped him to my chest in the Babyhawk while we decorated the front yard. As Joe hung up the lights on the house and I decorated the tree out front, Orion drifted off to sleep. Success!

We did venture out in the early evening, once all the traffic and madness had died back, to visit our favorite local brewery for their "Black Stout Friday" event. 9 delicious stouts on tap and a string band on a chilly night cannot be beat!

Saturday and Sunday found us out and about. We browsed tool stores, picked up a few items we needed from the store and looked for our annual Yulemas tree. We visited the lot we've gone to each Christmas since we bought the house, a little family run affair that brings their trees in from their family farm in North Carolina. Orion got to touch his very first fir trees as we looked around and Joe and I had small heart attacks over how much the price of trees has increased since last year. With only one income this year, a $70 tree that was already cut and not in a pot to be replanted was not in our budget. We snapped some photos while we were there, as I do every year, but we ended up buying a much more budget friendly tree elsewhere.




Today the nap fighting continues, Orion's longest snooze being about 35 minutes. I managed to get in the shower and am writing this up on my phone as he dozes off beside me in the bed; he seems to sleep longer with me beside him right now and I'm willing to do whatever it takes at the moment to help him get the rest he very much needs. I hate typing on my phone, but I forgot to grab a book or my journal and when I go to roll away his eyes pop open. Ah well.

Plans for the afternoon include a stroll around the block since it's fairly warm, repainting an old window frame to use in my holiday mantle display, dusting the altar and swapping Autumn things for Winter ones and, if I'm really lucky, organizing the freezers.

The excitement never ceases!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Musings on a Tuesday: The Contradictory Season



In this season of my personal Winter and the beginning of Nature's great Winter, I find myself drawn inward. Craving only the company of a hot cup of coffee or a steamy pot of tea, my fibers, threads and fabrics and perhaps some music. It's a season of introspection, of slowing down and of sitting with my soul. I do the deep work at this time of the year, as I stitch, crochet or recently, spin. My mind wanders, fingers trailing the lengths of fiber like Theseus' trail inside the Minotaur's maze, and I go to the dark places. Dredge up the things that the Summer sun beats in to submission, to sit with them and determine what needs changing, healing or burning off.

It's a time to inventory my thoughts, to stitch up the tears in the fabric of my mind and to recharge. Time to do the work that is best done alone, where the opinions and emotions of others cannot affect it in any way.

However, it is also the season of gathering and giving thanks. It is a time to be flung in to the mix of our communities and tribes, to laugh and reminisce and step in to the light of gratitude and joy. The joy of having these communities; be they blood family, chosen family or friends. Gratitude for the things that sustain us. And so, in the season of my introspective Winter, there is a tug to be social and to spend time with cherished ones. There is a giddyness that overtakes me and makes me agree to doing more than my inner self probably appreciates me taking on, like hostessing a Yuletide party where everything needs to be just so, or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for friends who don't have nearby family, or picking a half dozen names off of every wish tree I come across though my funds are tight or nonexistent.

It's a contradictory season for me, this desire to be social and to love on my friends and family battling with my need to be alone and do some soul work. Some years I'm frantically sprinting around the house with my blood pressure soaring and cursing myself as I try to get everything ready and other years I manage to keep this balance with barely a sweat breaking out.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the latter happens when I've been working fibers regularly. My fingers work a trail for me to follow through the labyrinth and the fibers themselves ground me. The work is humbling, it is simple and it keeps me in the moment. I truly believe it is the reason that I, for the most part, leave the vibrant colors of paint and pastel behind when Winter comes. Because in a contradictory season, especially one with so much baggage and expectation behind it, I need something to keep me connected to the simple and to myself.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Honoring My Seasons

There's an undeniable ebb and flow to the seasons of Nature, which we accept and do what we must to get through, because we know we have no other choice. Similarly, I've noticed that we all have our own seasons of sorts, cycles that we go through of ups and downs that can last hours, days, weeks or months. If we keep track of them, we may notice they follow a specific rhythm or pattern - a wheel of sorts. Unlike the ones in Nature, however, we rally and try to fight these cycles... at least, I know that I do.

For years, I've fought against my own personal Winter. Without fail, at this time of year my energy levels drop, I become a bit of a shut in, I have no desire to pick up a brush, a pastel or a pencil and create art. And despite knowing this will happen and knowing that in years past the fight with myself has led to depression, I've continued to do so. I rail against the lack of energy, trying to force myself to get all manner of things done and I beat myself up over the lack of art making; demanding to know what sort of artist doesn't paint for months at a time.

Until this year. This year, I'm done fighting. I'm done railing and belittling and putting so fucking much emphasis on what I'm not doing, rather than what I need. I'm done sending myself down the deep corridors of the Black Wolf's domain over something that, much like Nature's Winter, I cannot stop. So what if I don't paint? So what if I want to hang out in bed in my pajamas drinking hot tea until a decadently late hour of the afternoon? What is it going to hurt to give in and honor my seasons?

What will change if I go with my own flow, just like I go with the flow of Nature, that wonderful teacher?

Perhaps nothing. Perhaps I'll still face darkness during the longest nights of the year. Perhaps I'll still feel stressed about not making art or the house being untidy. Perhaps I'll feel guilt for my self perceived laziness.

But perhaps not.

Perhaps I'll find that the darkest nights aren't cold black, but a warmer shade. Perhaps I'll find contentment in wool and yarn as I sit in bed crocheting after Orion has fallen asleep, or twirl the drop spindle where he can watch it. Perhaps the occasional day under warm covers with hot tea and the bodies of my family cozied up next to mine is more important and nourishing than a scratch cooked meal or the most tidy of homes.

I'm betting that there is. That there is magic hidden in our personal cycles, our small medicine wheels if you will, just as there is in the large one that spins the World. An overlooked magic that we've forgotten in our quest to do more, be more, have more and fit in to tidy labeled boxes like so many office files.

Perhaps it's time to let go of more and reclaim our magic.