Search Results for: introvert

Introverted Mama

This post is excerpted from one written in response to the current Patheos Book Club exploration of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I previously wrote a post for my blog about Quiet and then built on that post for my book club post. The previous post is here and my new additions are below…

I really enjoy being around people and I’m friendly and social, but on the flip side I feel very drained after people contact and need time alone to recharge. I find I am restored by being alone and drained by being with others (even though I like them!), hence I would self-label as an “extroverted-introvert,” “ambivert,” or social introvert. By definition it isn’t that extroverts “like people” and introverts don’t like people, it is a difference between whether they are fueled or drained by people contact. However, I’ve observed that people seem to make an assumption that being introverted means someone is “shy” or “doesn’t like people,” so that’s why I would choose extroverted-introvert for myself. I recently took a week-long retreat from Facebook, email, social media, and reading articles online. I did this primarily to silence the digital noise in my life (see some good explorations of why you, too, may be an introvert in this article: “Noise” Got You Down? Maybe You’re an Introvert).

Once I starting thinking about this book, Quiet, I was amazed at the connections I uncovered with how my introverted personality is expressed during pregnancy, labor, and birth. This was actually the very first time I’ve made the connection between my own birthing preferences and my introvert nature, that finds such renewal in solitude and craves silence.

Labyrinth of pregnancy pre-birth sculpture.

Pregnancy—towards the end of pregnancy I feel an inward call. I start wanting to quit things, to be alone, to “nest,” to create art, to journal, and to sink into myself. Nothing sounds better to me in late pregnancy than sitting in the sunlight with my hands on my belly, breathing, and being alone with my baby and my thoughts.

Labor—during my first pregnancy, the very first thing on my birth plan was “no extraneous noise.” It was really essential to me to labor without beeping, chattering, or questions. This birth room silence, in fact, was SO essential that it was one of my only requests for my second labor—no unnecessary talking. I can talk during labor, I talk a lot in fact, but I don’t want people around me talking. I want silence. My epiphany as I thought about the Quiet book was that this is why. I’m an Introverted Mama. I know many women are very nourished by the presence of supportive and loving family members and friends during their labors. They express wanting to be encircled by support and companionship. For me, I like to cut my birth attendants down to only the very most essential companions (and they’d better be quiet!). And, this leads me to…

Birth—after my first birth, in which I’d had the loving and supportive accompaniment of my husband, my mother, my best friend, my doula, a midwife, and a doctor, one of my most potent longings for my second birth was as few people present as possible. And, indeed, for this second labor I had my husband alone present for the first hour of a train ride of a two-hour labor, my mother and toddler son present for about 30 minutes and my midwife who walked in as my son’s head was crowning. For my last birth, I wanted even fewer companions, spending the bulk of the labor alone with my husband and later calling in my mother. When my daughter was actually born, I was the sole witness to her emergence as she slid forth into my grateful hands in one swift spontaneous birth reflex just as my mother stepped into another room and my husband was moving from behind me around to the front of my body. Shortly after her birth, my doula arrived to provide amazing postpartum care and my midwife came shortly after that to assess blood loss and to help with the placenta. This was the perfect companionship arrangement for an Introverted Mama. My older children were pretty disappointed not to be present, but I need solitude in birth and I heeded that call.


Postpartum—I am firmly convinced of the critical importance of planning for a postpartum “nesting” time or babymoon, in which parents can cocoon privately with their new baby in the solitude of their own home. I only now came to realize that perhaps this is Introverted Mama talking! I’ve spoken to other women who say that getting out and seeing people was really important during their own postpartum time. I’ve maintained for ages that this is probably culture talking (“get back to ‘normal,’ prove how capable of a mother you are,” etc.), and not what the tender new motherbaby most needs, but perhaps my preference is largely a function of personality. There is nothing better for me than spending at least four weeks nested at home with my new baby and my immediate family, no long-time visitors, no phone calls, little email, and no travel, visiting, or responsibilities. Ahhhh….babymoon bliss.

Breastfeeding—in the early days, weeks, and months of breastfeeding the symbiosis of the nursing relationship is so complete that the baby becomes a part of me. A newborn does not “disturb my peace” the way toddlers are wont to do. I especially feel this interdependent connection during nighttime nursings, in which the harmony with the baby feels complete and total and a peace like little else.

Toddlerhood and Beyond—Oh dear, now is when “no time to think” starts to wear on Introverted Mama’s nerves and stamina. I’ve met some awesome mothers of large families who comment on how they, “love the chaos” of home with lots of children. “Our house is wild and crazy and full of noise and I love it,” they may be known to say. Thinking of how desperately I crave silence and solitude, sometimes with an almost physical pain and longing, I feel inadequate in comparison to these declarations. Is this too simply a function of personality? Can these chaos-thriving mamas be extroverts who gain energy from interaction with others? I find that my own dear children, my own flesh and blood and bone and sweat and tears, still feel very much like “company” in terms of the drain on my energy that I experience. Whether it is socializing with a group or friends or spending the day with my energetic, loveable, highly talkative children, I crave time alone to recollect myself and to become whole once more. I once commented to my husband that I feel most like a “real person” when I’m alone. That means that the intensiveness and unyielding commitment of parenting can be really, really hard on me emotionally. Maybe it is okay to “own” that need for quiet, even as a mother, rather than to consider it some type of failure or an indication of not being truly cut out for this motherhood gig. (See more in a past, lengthy, navel-gazing post on why I need my “two hours”.)

How do you experience (and honor) introversion in your life as a parent? Sometimes I feel like being an introvert and being a mother are not very compatible, but as I learn to respect my own needs, to speak up for myself, and to heed that call for silence and solitude, I realize it is compatible after all. My children have two introverted parents and will hopefully grow up feeling confident in the knowing that there is profound power in being quiet, in taking time to think deeply, and to respond to the call of solitude if it comes knocking at the door of their hearts.

It is only when we silence the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of the truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.

~ K.T. Jong (via Kingfish Komment)

Thursday Tidbits: The Flow of Life

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This watery blue birthing mama sculpture is making her way to Alaska right now.

I recently got a copy of a new book, The Other Side of the River, to review. Written by Eila Carrico and published by the wonderful Womancraft Publishing, it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that I’m going to like the book. Plus, that cover! Amirite?

January 2016 026A blog post Eila recently wrote about flow and yoga (and chaos) spoke to me this afternoon:

I learned how to let go of perfection and control by watching the traffic patterns of this small town in Tamil Nadu. There were no signs and rules about where and how to walk, drive, or ride through the streets. There was just an invisible feeling of one’s way and a trust that we will look out for one another. I walked at first, hesitant to enter into the hectic currents of auto rickshaws, massive lorries, herds of uniformed schoolchildren, bikers, bone-thin stray dogs, and shirtless, turbaned old men with ox drawn carts. They all co-existed in this little dirt road, with their diverse speeds, agility, and force. Somehow, they were all given space and flowed together to get where they were going.

Source: Chaos: The Cure for the Common Practice — Annapurna Living

I then enjoyed this blog post about the flow of a Red Tent:

…We might sing a chant like ‘A River is Flowing’, or ‘Mother I feel you under my feet’. There is a time of breathing out before we look forward to the new moon, and write down our positive intentions, changes we plan to make for the month ahead. We share these with the group, which again leads to open discussion. A lot of the themes are about self development, and giving ourselves the time to look at how we are, and how we move forward with renewed strength and courage. The evening flows on, and we end with a song like ‘Evening Breeze, Spirit Song’

Source: [guest post] My Red Tent – Moon Times Moon Blog

Speaking of Red Tents, I recently wrote a FAQ post about the differences between Red Tents and Women’s Circles (and my own two programs about the same): What is the difference between a Red Tent and a Women’s Circle?

This article looks at the increase in Red Tents around the world and the role they play as a safe container for women’s multifaceted experiences:

But while these huts may have been used to restrict, control and keep tabs on women, the modern-day equivalent is an altogether more empowering experience. Like the women in Diamant’s mythical Red Tent, members of modern groups are finding support, sanctity and solace in sisterhood. And because women aren’t all menstruating at the same time anymore, Red Tents are usually held around the New Moon so there is a regularity to the meetings and every woman is welcome.

Source: Why women are gathering in ‘Red Tents’ across the UK

As a homebody introvert type of person, I’ve still been feeling a call for “adventure” lately. My life seems drawn in and “small” somehow lately and I want to go somewhere different and do something different. We are going on a special trip to the ocean this month and I’m really excited about it. I also am reasonably confident that I have the gene for “bloom where you’re planted” rather than the gene for frequent travel: The Genetic Reason Why Some People Are Born To Travel All Over The World – Living Outdoor

I’m not really known for my “flowing” personality, but I have maintained a dedicated daily yoga practice since 2000. I recently laughed until I cried while trying to do a Brigid’s Cross yoga pose suggested by one of my Womanrunes Immersion students:

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So comfy! So flowing! So serene!

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This is the picture I laughed hysterically over. My “perfect” alignment. My serene atmosphere. It’s a thing of beauty!

I wrote about the messiness of living a creative life with children in a post at SageWoman: Claypriestess

And, about the everyday underworld descents of parenting (featuring fondant pandas) at Brigid’s Grove: Everyday Inanna – Brigid’s Grove

And, I returned to an older post about listening to the soul of art:

“I will be gentle with myself.
I will be tender with my heart.
I will hold my heart like a newborn baby child.”

This song by Karen Drucker replayed in my mind as I sculpted. The baby woke, the watermelon got dragged along the floor collecting dust, and it was time for our collaborative dinner, so I had to put her away unfinished. When we got back to our own home, I was compelled to finish her, working feverishly as the baby pulled on my legs and I said, “just a few more minutes!” to the older kids who were trying to play with him to let me work. Again and again I re-rolled the clay baby’s head, trying to make it “perfect,” and worked to lay down the strands of her hair, against of the backdrop of this often-chaotic, noisy, home-based life we’ve consciously and intentionally created together. She was created to represent holding my own center in the midst of motherhood. I will be tender with my heart. I don’t create sculptures like this because I AM so “zen” and have life all figured out, I make them to remind me what is possible if I listen to my soul.

Source: Listening to the Soul of Art – Brigid’s Grove

If you’re looking for pockets of joyous creation on your life, you might enjoy this Creative Joy playbook from the beautiful Jen Louden: CreativeJoyPDF.pdf

In other tiny, creative tidbits from life, Mark originally drew this mandala for one of our free goddess greeting cards bundle for the holidays. We then started using it as the logo for the Creative Spirit Circle and for our new Womanspirit Initiation program. I decided to get a print of it made to hang in my tiny temple (kids’ clubhouse turned personal work space) and I’m so very pleased with how it turned out!

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Tuesday Tidbits: “Bad” Homeschooler’s Lament…

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Draco, Freddy and Bonnie from Five Nights at Freddy’s, plus “Nursing Mama Witch.”

Sort of a mish-mash round-up of posts for this week! Homeschooling has been on my mind a lot since this summer, when several of my friends decided to send their kids to school. Recently, we toyed with idea of sending Alaina to preschool, but after an impassioned discussion during our nightly walk on the veranda, we decided against it. As I’ve learned over and over again, usually our family is pretty happy until I get a bee in my bonnet to start monkeying with our “school” routine and issuing sweeping decrees about what must be done to whip us into shape into More Awesome Homeschooling People. Then…we’re all miserable, including me, even though we’re doing more of the “right” things. What happened this time is that I found this cool-sounding, do-it-yourself, homeschool journal workbook, and decided it would be perfect for my kids (I still think it could be!) to liven up our very stale homeschool routine, which has been pared away to virtually nothing after a busy summer and now a busy fall (it is really easy to keep coming up with endless excuses about why we can’t do school today…or today…or today). Anyway, short story is: tears for all.

A few nights ago, I was making rice crispie treats for the kids and Mark was doggedly laboring over phenomenal homemade costumes for the boys. I was holding the baby, a home-raised-by-us chicken was in the roaster for dinner, Alaina was painting Christmas decoration presents at the table, and the boys were advising Mark on costume fabrication. I noticed that I had a “tape” playing in my head about what a “bad mom” I was and, yes, what “bad parents” we both are. I was feeling bad because I keep not having time (that is also grabbing-baby-hands-free) to sew Alaina a neat felt goddess that she’s been wanting me to sew for her for at least three weeks. This was rolling around as well as homeschooling woes, some snappy moments, and listening/empathetic failures, and a few other miscellaneous woes over the last week. I suddenly thought: hold on. Where are these “bad parents,” of whom I think? I see a mom making rice crispie treats and a dad making costumes. Why am I doing this to myself?!

Anyway, I suspect I am possibly doing the same thing with New Homeschool Plan of Awesomeness. Last week, we took the kids to Magic House in St. Louis (while I was having a mini-mother blessing for a friend who lives there. The Magic House tickets were prizes they earned from the summer reading program at the library). We spent ages on Halloween party prep and enjoyed a fabulous Halloween party extravaganza at my parents’ house. We had some best friends visit from out-of-town and stay overnight, during which we had a cookout on the veranda and brainstormed collaborative business adventures. The boys spent tons of time on the trampoline and also playing computer games. They also read every single day and drew every single day as well as helped me with cooking projects (we’re digging roasted vegetables lately and also Chocolate Covered Katie’s almond butter brownies, except we use peanut butter in them. And, speaking of “digging,” the boys also helped Mark dig up a bunch of potatoes that we grew in our garden!). We finished watching the second Hobbit movie and moved on to enjoying the Worst Cooks in America. Perhaps we’re doing all right after all…

So, all that said, I read this article about what schools are like in Finland:

Once Morning Circle—a communal time of songs and chants—wrapped up, the children disbanded and flocked to the station of their choice: There was one involving fort-making with bed sheets, one for arts and crafts, and one where kids could run a pretend ice-cream shop. “I’ll take two scoops of pear and two scoops of strawberry—in a waffle cone,” I told the two kindergarten girls who had positioned themselves at the ice-cream table; I had a (fake) 10€ bill to spend, courtesy of one of the teachers. As one of the girls served me—using blue tack to stick laminated cutouts of scoops together—I handed the money to her classmate.

Source: The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

I thought about how people devalue caregivers of all kinds:

What’s really going on here is we are discriminating against people who have to care for others, which is a role that society needs people to play. Right now we’re focusing on the problem that, if you’re at the top and take time out to take care of others, you’re knocked off your leadership track. But much more important is that, if you are a woman in the middle class or a low-income woman and you take even a day or two off to care for others, you could lose your job. You get docked pay. You don’t have access to affordable day care.

Source: Nurses, fathers, teachers, mothers. Why do we devalue someone the minute they care for others? – The Washington Post

I laughed about how we’ve been having babies for “too long”:

The maternity clothes you wore during your first pregnancy resemble the ones your mother wore much more closely than they resemble the ones you wore during your most recent pregnancy.

Source: 17 Signs You’ve Been Having Babies For Too Long – So-So Mom

(I didn’t actually identify with that many of these signs, but they were funny! I do identify with having spread out my parenting years quite a bit longer than many people I know!)

I thought about being an extroverted-introvert and how this is a challenging personality type to pair with the relentless “on-ness” of parenting, the constantness of a homeschooling family + home-based business.

4. You find it easy to connect with others and exhibit both introvert and extrovert qualities. You love meeting and interacting with other people and at times can be the life of the party but eventually, you have to go home and recharge.

Source: 13 Signs You’re A Classic INFJ | Thought Catalog

And, I mused about being a mother of sons and how that relates to “funny,” memes of the “hands off my daughter” variety:

The idea of threatening young women to keep their hands off young men is ludicrous, yet when roles are reversed it’s completely accepted and even encouraged. Why? In order to raise a generation of kind and respectful men we have to stop telling our boys they’re inherently bad (but it’s not their fault because hormones.) In order to create a culture of strong and competent women who can save themselves, we must first stop teaching girls that they need to be saved.

Source: Please Don’t Threaten My Son For Dating Your Daughter | Kasey Ferris

And when one family’s offhand joke becomes a viral reinforcement of the old message that a girls’ sexuality is somehow a negotiation between her father and her boyfriend, it’s just not so funny any more.

Source: Stop cheering for the old “Hands off my daughter!” shtick –

My new school session began this Monday and runs until almost Christmas. My uncle is visiting from California starting tomorrow, we’ve got our playgroup Halloween party, then Tanner’s first birthday followed by Halloween, my aunt comes to visit from California, and we’re hosting Minecraft Club and then a Pink Tent event (for mothers and daughters) next week. I’d better stop blogging, we’ve got a lot more bad-parenting to pack in before the end of the year!

Look at this “bad mom” (gasp!) having FUN with her kid…

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Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Privacy

IMG_5598 I’ve been trying to post about this article for a couple of weeks now! It is an interesting look at the biological need for privacy at the end of pregnancy and during birth.

…This ‘time’ at the end of pregnancy was described in a lovely article (The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between- The Mothering website) as Zwischen, a German word for between. At the end of pregnancy the mothering hormones start to cause emotions to run high as the cervix starts to soften, efface and women generally crave the quiet and private places they need to emotionally and mentally travel inwards.

In many traditional cultures around the world, women are known to actively leave their tribes for birthing huts (Inuit Tribe a group of indigenous people residing in the Arctic regions, Kwaio a tribe who live in an Island off the Pacific and many more). The Eipos people in Papa New Guinea are documented (Schnietenhovel) to go into the Wilderness of the Bush shortly before the onset of labour. The tribes above are also protected by various women they already have a relationship with throughout their pregnancy and birth journeys. Midwives and female relatives provide the support to enable confidence in the birthing process and some of the women will go off and give birth alone.

via The biological need for privacy at the end of pregnancy | Calm Yorkshire Birth.

She also writes about how the pervasiveness of social media might impact this need for privacy:

…Don’t be fooled by the facelessness of facebook and other social media. Just because you cannot be physically seen, it doesn’t mean you have privacy. I often hear so much unnecessary stress from women who feel observed on groups within the social media communities. Smart phones leave us open to be contacted by anyone day or night at a time when we just don’t want to be in touch with anyone at all. I wonder what effect social media has on the orchestration of birthing hormones that play such a vital part in undisturbed childbirth.

via The biological need for privacy at the end of pregnancy | Calm Yorkshire Birth.

I felt a strong call to retreat and pull in during all of my pregnancies, maybe because of my introverted personality and craving for solitude, but maybe because of biology too…

Pregnancy—towards the end of pregnancy I feel an inward call. I start wanting to quit things, to be alone, to “nest,” to create art, to journal, and to sink into myself. Nothing sounds better to me in late pregnancy than sitting in the sunlight with my hands on my belly, breathing, and being alone with my baby and my thoughts.

via Introverted Mama | Talk Birth.

For me, this preference for solitude is reflected in my preferred birth environment which involves no talking/noise and as few other people present as possible.

This is not how all women feel, my own mother has expressed that she enjoyed and wanted quite a few people around her while she was giving birth—the help, support, companionship, and affirmation from other women was important to her births. The women giving birth on The Farm, of Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery fame, also seemed to be very social birthers. I remember looking at the pictures in the book and feel a little horrified by the huge gatherings of people present for births! Speaking of The Farm, I enjoyed reading this interview about the birth culture created by the midwives there:

“This is how I had my own babies,” she said. “I knew that if I could do it, pretty much anyone who was healthy and well could do it. So I wanted to help women. Of course, I never thought I’d be in the type of job where I was working mostly with delivering babies, but in the process of helping women, I fell in love with women. Women are brave. We’re absolutely beautiful creatures.”

via “The Farm” in Tennessee is the country’s oldest intentional community. But the real story is how they deliver babies.

I was also reminded of this past post about Birth Witnesses. This remains one of my very favorite guest posts that I’ve hosted here and it gives me food for thought every time I re-read it:

The only way to understand birth is to experience it yourself. The ONLY way? That comment stayed with me, haunted me. I became a doula after my daughter’s birth because I wanted to be able to provide women with support and knowledge that could give them a different experience, a better memory than what I had. I just couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a way to understand birth at all except to experience it firsthand. Certainly there wasn’t always this fear and unknown around birth that we each face today. Not always. I began studying that idea. What about other cultures? What about our culture, historically? What about The Farm? There wasn’t always this myth and mystery about birth! I realized there was a time (and in places, there still is) when women banded together for births. Mothers, sisters, cousins, daughters, aunts, friends. They came together and comforted, guided, soothed, coached, and held the space for one another during birth. These women didn’t go in it alone – they were surrounded by women who had birthed before them. Women who knew what looked and felt right, and what didn’t. Women who could empathize with them and empower them. In addition to that, girls and women were raised in a culture of attending births. Daughters watched mothers, sisters and aunts labor their babies into this world. They saw, heard, and supported these women for the long hours of labor, so when they became mothers themselves, the experience was a new, but very familiar one for them. Birth wasn’t a secretive ritual practiced behind the cold, business-like doors of a hospital. It was a time for bonding, learning, sharing and sisterhood. Girls learned how women become mothers, and mothers helped their sisters bring forth life.

via Birth Witnesses | Talk Birth.

We can’t overemphasize the importance of who is present in the birth space and their influence on how a birth unfolds. Other people’s presence can have a powerful impact, whether positive or negative. One important area is with regard to freedom of choice and self-direction:

…Women can find themselves feeling bullied or coerced into agreeing to procedures they wish to avoid, such as induction or continuous fetal monitoring. They may be told if they don’t follow their doctor’s suggestion their baby’s life will be in danger. Consent is most often given, but it is not informed consent. Many parents in this vulnerable position either don’t know how to advocate for themselves or are under prepared to – practically, emotionally and psychologically.

via When Doctors Don’t Listen: Informed Consent and Birth | BellyBelly.

Choice-based narratives figure heavily into both “alternative” and “mainstream” dialogues about birth. I am emphatic that the companion to informed consent must be informed refusal. Very often, there is no option to refuse, and in this situation, there is no real choice involved at all…

…Women’s lives and their choices are deeply embedded in a complex, multifaceted, practically infinite web of social, political, cultural, socioeconomic, religious, historical, and environmental relationships.

And, I maintain that a choice is not a choice if it is made in a context of fear.

via The Illusion of Choice | Talk Birth.

On a related note, what about pain and birth? Do we accurately remember what birth feels like? I feel as if I do remember, though it is often said that you “forget” as soon as the baby is born. I find instead that it is more of the “halo effect” described here:

The ‘halo effect’ is the term given to describe the positive emotions experienced by the new mother when the baby is placed in her arms for the first time. In that moment, amidst a rush of oxytocin and happiness, the mother is likely to have a more positive view of the birth experience than she did ten minutes earlier. Simply put, the happiness of holding her baby for the first time overpowers any pain or negativity from the birth.

It makes sense that this effect could influence how the pain of birth was remembered. The pain of birth may be remembered as less severe simply because the benefits of having a healthy baby are felt to outweigh the discomfort caused by childbirth.

Women who experience traumatic births and who are unable to hold their babies immediately after the birth may miss out on this ‘halo effect’. Though they will still experience the rush of love and hormones upon holding their baby for the first time, the delay can reduce the impact this has on their overall feelings about and memory of labour and birth.

via Do Women Forget The Pain Of Giving Birth? | BellyBelly.

When you feel amazing about yourself and deeply in love with your baby, the memory of exact sensation fades to the background and the exhilaration and triumph and love moves to the forefront. However, there is also simply the physical component (kind of like when you have the flu, it dominates your mental landscape and you forget ever feeling healthy. Then, you get better and the flu-self becomes distant). I marvel at how women shift through these physical stages. When I am Pregnant Woman, it is totally real and becomes normal. After I give birth and become Nursing Mother again, that is what is vibrant and real and Pregnant Woman, and the thoroughly embodied experience of pregnancy, becomes fainter and more dreamlike. Interesting that I use the word dreamlike, because I also find that it is in dreams that the physical experience returns with crystal clarity. I sometimes dream about being pregnant or giving birth and in those dreams I am 100% confident that I have not forgotten at all what it feels like, my body holds a deeply invested physical memory and “imprint” of my babies and births, it is just hard to call it back as vividly while going about every day life tasks at the same time.

Anyway, once we’ve experience the power of birth, we may become evangelists for birth, at least for a time. I really enjoyed my memories of the enthusiasm and energy I felt as a new birthworker reflected in this post from ProDoula:

It’s magical. It’s moving. It’s more than you ever imagined it would be. And you love it!

You never want it to end. You want to feel the power of these women and you want to talk about birth, ALL DAY LONG! In fact, you never want to talk about anything else again!

At the end of the last day, you “friend” each of these women and you expect to stay in contact with them forever. You are sad that it’s over, but you are a new woman because it happened.

You are replenished. You are fulfilled. You are wiser and you are stronger.

And then, you go home…

via Don’t Puke Birth on the Ones You Love | ProDoula.

What I discovered with time though is that I feel the power of women and this replenishment and strength in other forms besides the birth world. I find it in my priestess work, in my women’s circle, and at the Red Tent too.


We had a run on twin mama goddess sculptures this week after a happy customer shared a picture of hers with her friends! 🙂




Moods of Motherhood: Co-Creating at Home

Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing).

Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming

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I work at home in two capacities: I teach online as a faculty member for a college and I co-create Brigid’s Grove with my husband. I also teach outside of the home once a week at a branch of the same college that is located on a military base about 40 minutes away from our house. All my preparation, grading, students emails, etc. for the in-seat class also take place at home. Beginning in July 2013, my husband took a significant leap into being a “free-range human” and now works at home with me. This was a leap because my teaching is on a contract basis and I make 1/3 of the money that he made when he was working full-time, but, I only have to leave the house for seven hours a week, leaving two parents home full-time the rest of the week with our homeschooled kids.

Shortly before Tanner was born, I posted the following on Facebook:

I heard back from the [campus] yesterday and they approved my proposal to teach my January class as a modified hybrid, which means I’ll be able to leave at 8:00 and get out the back gate (saves me 30 minutes drive time!) to get back home to my baby, rather than having to drag him + caregiver to class with me til 10:00 the way I did with Alaina!

(Of course, it also means I’ll have hours of extra online posts/grading about controversial  topics, but I can nurse a baby and diplomatically moderate discussions simultaneously…)

I’d also like to take a minute to be grateful that, even though we’re a bit on the edge financially over the next couple of months, that we have the opportunity and ability to *do this*–have two parents home full-time, except for that one night to the [campus] for me each week! Lucky! (And, with some hearty dashes of good planning and creative other multiple streams of income.)

New Etsy Pictures 217I got a comment that gave me some pause for consideration: “living the dream. We’d love to be able to do what you are doing.” While I want to be thankful that we are in a position to make this choice, I also want to acknowledge that it isn’t always “shiny” or dreamlike! Nor did it come from only “luck,” since I want to be clear that our current household financial structure would be unlikely to work if we lived in a more expensive geographic region OR if we had household debt (Something we avoided, yes, luckily, in thanks to my grandma for a debt-free college and graduate school education, but also thanks to our own financial management and good savings habits that allowed us to pay cash for our land and to build our own home using only money we saved from Mark’s work as a computer programmer, rather than having a loan.)

So…when Lucy Pearce asked for contributions for a blog carnival celebrating the release of her second edition of the book Moods of Motherhood, I knew that I wanted to write about the moods of self-employment and co-creating a business with my husband

The in-the-flow mood: August 2014 025

We light our intention candles (yes, really!) and set up a mini-altar on the floor with items of significance to us. Cups of tea or hot cider are in our hands. Our kids are at my parents’ house, leaving us to have two hours on our own to talk shop and brainstorm ideas. We lay out our Amazing Year planner and many colored markers and review our biz goals for the month, goal-set for the following month, and the ideas start to flow. We feel in perfect synchronicity. Our collective creative energy is humming, our ideas are bubbling forth effortlessly, we are literally on the “same page.” One idea bounces off another, notes fly fast and furiously in our “book of amazing possibilities” (again, yes, really, this is written on the top of the first page of the notebook in which we brainstorm our ideas), and it feels like something alive, this process of co-creation. It feels vibrant. It feels limitless. It feels sacred.

In the pause between note taking and idea flowing, we hold hands and just sit there for a moment enjoying each other’s company. And, at that very moment, our eyes meet in the thrill of hearing the etsy app make its cha-chiiiing sound notifying us of a sale in a way that feels just like the universe is acknowledging and blessing the success of our work together…

The real-life-sucks-sometimes mood:

We accidentally sleep until 9:30. The kids eat Hot Pockets for breakfast. We argue over who gets to take a shower first. I feel dragged down in molasses by the vastly different energy levels we possess—I’m a morning person who immediately wants to hop up and get moving. Mark and our kids are not. Mark claims to be getting ready to pack orders and yet he is really looking at Imgur or sorting through Magic cards. I claim to be starting my grades for the week, but instead I fiddle around on Facebook and then speak snappily with a light dash of martyrdom. I slip into “lecture mode” about what a better job we could be doing with our house, our lives, our parenting. The kids whine and bicker. I suddenly decide that they should do excellent homeschooling work immediately, even though we’d all rather be doing something else. I try to submit my grades for the week, while also having eight other windows and/or documents open on my computer for things I’d also like to work on, while simultaneously attempting to answer questions about their worksheets. The kids bounce from parent-to-parent with their questions while Mark tries to pack up the night’s orders for mailing and Alaina sits on the floor saying, “why is nobody playing with me?” in a plaintive tone.

In my multi-tasking frenzy, I suddenly decide to add our online banking to the open windows on my computer and see, unfortunately, that we are behind $500 in our bank account and I won’t get paid for another three weeks…

Here are some things that make working together from home difficult:

Score-keeping. I was terrible at this when Mark worked full-time and I am still pretty terrible at it. By this I mean mentally keeping track of who has spent more hours doing what, who has had more time alone, who has come up with more ideas for dinner, and who has done more of what with the kids.

Different styles/types/routines/schedules/patterns. Part of this comes from personality, part comes from how we each spent the prior ten years working. I spent the ten years prior to 2013 as the primary at-home parent, with the scattered focus, multitasking, and “mother-sized jobs” that that role requires. I became very used to having to snatch at free moments to work frenziedly, accomplishing a great many tasks in a small window of time, because I don’t know when my next chance is coming.  Mark spent those ten years (as well as many before that in other workplaces and in the public school system) with a structured existence in which starting and ending times for work activities were clearly defined and the impetus for tasks/goal-setting comes from external forces rather than being self-directed by the individual. We continue to approach our days at home together with similar, somewhat discordant, habits.

IMG_9941Different energy levels. Being the “driver.” Related to the above, I have spent my entire life being essentially self-directed and self-motivated. I’m not sure how much of this is personality, birth-order, or environment (me: type-A-ish, oldest child, homeschooled. Mark = laidback, youngest child, public schooled). I have tons of energy pretty much all of the time. I am constantly popping with ideas and bubbling with “steam” for projects. I rarely settle down and relax. Productivity is my middle name and my default mode. I never drink anything caffeinated, I always get at least eight hours of sleep, and I’m always buzzing around doing stuff. I wake up in the morning with one million ideas of things I’d like to do that day and I want to start immediately, if not sooner. I think I exhaust people and I can be wearing and controlling. Mark works in focused spurts of concentration. He is slow to start in the morning and I rarely, if ever, have seen him “buzz” about anything. He takes his time. He stops to rest. He is stable and calm and methodical. He lets ideas percolate and form. He doesn’t need to talk about everything. He watches videos to learn things and after he has let information soak in, he tackles new and complicated tasks with complete focus and usually total success. He is patient and if something fails, he will learn more about it and try again. He is rarely, if ever, critical of himself or of me (I am self-critical enough for both of us, plus). He is also very used to working in environments where he does not have to be particularly self-motivated and, again, whether it be personality-based or environmental/socialization, this often puts me in the position of family “driver.” Sometimes this feels fine, sometimes I am completely sick of the role of household manager and motivator.

Never being “off.” Still related to both of the preceding two points, as someone who is used to working from home around and between my small children, I never feel like I’m off. There is always something more to do. Mark works until he is finished and then stops, even if there is something else that could be done. At home, together, all the time, neither one of us truly ever gets to be off. Kids keep needing things, dinner needs to be fixed, and I keep coming up with one more thing to “finish” before bedtime. When your life and work are entwined so deeply, there is no clear distinction between “work time” and “home time” (or family time). This is something we want to work on differentiating more firmly in the coming year.

Haphazardness. We do not have a clearly structured daily schedule which leads to a feeling of haphazard effort and randomness through the day. (Also on list for coming year.)

Introverted personalities. We are both introverts. When Mark was at work all day, he worked on his own much of the time. When I was at home with kids, I still had two hours a day on my own each day while my kids visit their grandparents. Now, neither one of us actually ever has time alone. I wrote about this in a past post:

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the household navigation of being an introvert mama with now having my also-introvert husband home full-time. Turns out that both parents home doesn’t magically extend the hours in a day actually seems to shorten them and it means both parents end up feeling pretty maxed out by kids and in need of somewhere quiet to recharge! I love having a “free-range” husband and I’m blown away by our joint creativity, which is an energy we’ve never experienced before at this level in our 19 year relationship because he was always at work all week and we had to squeeze everything else in around the edges. I also notice these interesting facts about having us both home all of the time: the house is way messier, we consistently stay up “too late” and sleep “too late,” it seems harder than ever to cook/figure out meals, we have less time to spend on homeschooling !!, we still don’t feel like we have enough time to talk to each other, I seem to have less time to write and focus on writing, I feel like I give my kids less attention than I did when I was the only at-home parent because I now have Mark to pay attention to too and I really like him, it is perhaps harder than ever to get the TWO HOURS I desperately need, I feel as if I have less time to focus on my teaching work, we argue more over household and parental responsibilities, we laugh way more and have more fun with each other and with our kids and we do more spontaneous, relaxed and fun stuff with our kids. It has been an interesting experience!

via Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Art, Retreat, and Free-Range Husbands | Talk Birth.

IMG_0076Homeschooling. Neither one of us really thrives in the role of homeschooling parent. We homeschool because we can’t really envision another alternative that is good for our kids, not because we uber-love homeschooling and are amazing at it. It often feels like a bit of a competition for who can not be the one to do the homeschooling with the kids that day. I have never felt like I thrived in the role and so sometimes it feels good—or like, “I told you so”—to now share the responsibility (and the failures). It is hard to work with multiple ages of kids at the same time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to do stuff that is boring because we feel like we should maintain a minimum standard of official “schoolwork” each week. Our kids can be very frustrating, obtuse (perhaps deliberately), and are often extremely distracted and appear to be purposely driving us crazy. Homeschooling also means that working from home must always be done around the edges of family, again making there be no distinction between home time and work time. We often feel only partially present and often feel preoccupied and distracted, since there is never a break! We are also in near constant contact with all members of our family all day every day and this can wear. The total immersion the lives of our kids can be exhausting, diminishes the “cherishment factor,” and leads to a sensation of oversaturation with our kids (and them with us!). Somehow we still never feel like we have enough time with each other though, again because, like our business, our relationship has to fit in the edges around very energetic and noisy children.

Here are some things that make working together from home work:

Goal-setting and regular review. We have a biz meeting a minimum of once a month. This is incredibly important in helping us stay on track and focused.

Looking outward together in same direction. Our motto from the time I was 16 and he was 18. This has been a guidepost in our marriage, lives, and now our business.

August 2014 092Capitalizing on each other’s strengths/having complementary strengths. In addition to the differences I’ve referenced in the list above, we have complementary strengths that make us work extremely well together and in a way that often feels effortless. I am good at communicating with others, with writing, and with keeping up with tasks. I write all of our etsy listings, I answer all emails/messages from customers, and I do all social media work, as well as lots of other tasks. This does not feel like a chore for me, it does not feel “unfair” (nor do I scorekeep over it). Mark does all order fulfillment, packaging, and shipping as well as the hand-finishing of everything we make. He also is the one who learns the new skills we need to move forward—I may make the original sculptures, but they wouldn’t go anywhere without his willingness to handle hot metal, study how to make molds and then go for it, and learn the chemistry of resin-casting. When we wrote our Womanrunes book, I joked that if Mark was in charge of it, it would have had an excellent cover and great images, but no text. If I was in charge of it, it would have been a Word document with good text, but nothing else.

Appreciating one another and enjoying each other’s company. Not much else to say about this one. We like each other a lot. We have been together for 19 years. We have a symbiosis and a relationship that works and works well. 

Shared focus/mutual benefit. In the years that Mark worked outside of the home, there was often a sensation of competing for “free time.” When we are working on projects together, there is no sense of “competition” when project is a shared one. When he goes to pour new goddesses, it feels like working together. When I make new sculptures, it feels like working together.

Self-direction/self-motivation. As referenced, a lot of this still feels like it comes from me, but it does really help our business and our lives move forward.

Financial management skills and mutually compatible simple living goals and strategies. We decided a long time ago (way pre-kids) what is important to us and we naturally and easily continue to make good financial decisions that are in harmony with one another. We drive crappy used cars, have only used furniture, don’t have credit card or other debt, etc. This only works when both people are completely on board with the goals and purposes of living consciously within a fairly frugal simple living framework and spending accordingly.

Grandparents!!!!! A factor beyond personal control, having my generous, loving, connected, supportive parents one mile away cannot be undervalued. Our kids go to visit them for two hours (or a little more) every day except for Thursday. How much of a gift is this? Invaluable. And, lucky. August 2014 071

Kids that like each other. Also a factor beyond personal control, having sons that are best friends with each other and who therefore get to play together all day long and enjoy each other’s company is invaluable in creating a home atmosphere that is conducive to a rewarding, home-based life.

We’ve still got a lot to work on! We also have a lot of amazing goals for 2015 and look forward to carrying them out together.

We’re also still working on this…

I envision a life of seamless integration, where there need not even be a notion of “life/work” balance, because it is all just life and living. A life in which children are welcome in workplaces and in which work can be accomplished while in childspaces. A life in which I can grind my corn with my children nearby and not feel I need apologize for doing so or explain myself to anyone.

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.

Somewhat related past posts:

Releasing Our Butterflies

Homeschooling Today Part 2 of 2

Imaginary Future Children

Tuesday Tidbits: Blogging, Busyness, and Life Part 2

Happy Father’s Day!

I just want to grind my corn!

New Etsy Pictures 474

Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Art, Retreat, and Free-Range Husbands

Photo: “Let us initiate our daughters into the beauty and mystery of being strong and confident women who claim their right to give birth and raise their children with dignity, power, love, and joy.” –Barbara Harper (New post about local activism:

“Let us initiate our daughters into the beauty and mystery of being strong and confident women who claim their right to give birth and raise their children with dignity, power, love, and joy.” –Barbara Harper

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to make more birthing mama sculptures, so I spent some time on Sunday sculpting up a new crew of them!

Photo: It took me a little longer than I thought and my poor mamas look chilly out there in the snow, but I finished taking pictures of my recent sculptures and they are all available on etsy now! :)

You know how they say that birth art is as real, messy, raw and spontaneous as birth itself? Well, this birth artist doesn’t always gallivant around in the snow with tiny, empowered art pieces. Instead, sometimes I post things like this on Facebook: my toddler has been screaming because she wants to, “make a blue doddess RIGHT NOW” and when the sole cheerful sibling in the house attempted to make one for her she said, “it ball of poop” and squished it in the pasta roller. Ahhh. This is the life…

“Rigid plans work best if you’re building a skyscraper; with something as mysteriously human as giving birth, it’s best, both literally and figuratively, to keep your knees bent.” –Mark Sloan, MD (Birth Day)

via Brought to our knees | Talk Birth.

I recently read an article about spirituality and birth that is going in my dissertation work file:

“She remembers one devout Catholic who birthed holding rosary beads. Propped up on the bed, this mom-to-be rocked and hummed softly during contractions. During her home birth—which lasted only a few hours—she gazed at the three-foot-tall statue of the Virgin Mary in her room. “I felt I was in the palm of the Virgin Mary,” the mother explained to Vincent afterward. “She was protecting me.”

It is not a particular religious denomination that helps women have enjoyable, vaginal, and medication-free childbirths. Rather it is the belief that their bodies are doing what they’ve been made to do and that they are connected to something higher—be that God, the spirit, the universe, or even an awareness of women in the past who have given birth before them…”

Special Delivery | Spirituality & Health Magazine | Page 1.

My first ever miscarriage sculpture when up on etsy this week too. While, I made one like this for myself last year, I’ve never made one for sale until this week. This past week actually marked the fourth anniversary of my second miscarriage. When I took my photo of the new sculpture out in the snow, I reflected that this is how I felt after my second miscarriage–cold and alone. Trying to stand steady and find my ground, even though I felt as if my legs had been kicked out from under me…

Photo: My first ever miscarriage sculpture is also up on etsy today. I made one like this for myself, but I've never made for sale until this week.  This week marks the fourth anniversary of my second miscarriage. I took this photo of the new sculpture out in the snow and reflected that this is also how I felt after my second miscarriage--cold and alone. Trying to stand steady and find my ground, even though I felt as if my legs had been kicked out from under me...

This is part of what I originally wrote about that experience:

I just want to say two things again:

I do NOT want people to feel sorry again for me so soon.

I feel DUMB

I do not feel like I am handling this well or with strength. I just feel numb and dumb and done and done for. I am bottoming out right now. Bottom. Pit. Despair.

It is hard for me to read this again, to type it out, and to remember these feelings. It still feels strange or confusing to me about how Noah’s birth was “easier” for me to cope with emotionally—even as it was the most fundamental and profound grief I’ve ever experienced, it was clean. It felt meaningful. It also had a distinct physical, embodied connection via having given birth to him. The second miscarriage felt like being kicked while I was down and being erased.

via The Amethyst Network February Blog Circle ~ Sharing Our Stories: A Confusing Early Miscarriage Story | Talk Birth.

This time of year, the first week of February, is when I have a personal tradition of taking a week-long computer off retreat. Even though I felt the same call to retreat this year, I didn’t do it. I’m not ruling out the possibility of still getting to do so because February isn’t over yet, but I reached the point where I realized it was stressing me out more to feel like I “should” be planning a retreat than it was not to do it. Since we planned our business launch to start on February 1st, it also just didn’t make practical sense to suddenly disconnect at exactly the same time! What I did do was a family ritual on February 1st and also I did a single-day “email off retreat” that was really amazing. I would like to make that a regular part of my week, perhaps every Wednesday or something.

The merry-go-round of work never stops. There will always be more work than we can handle, more emails than we can ever manage, more projects to juggle. It’s up to us to heed our inner calling, whether that voice is saying, “You’re starving creatively … you can’t keep pushing, your body can’t do this anymore … if you look at one more email, your mind will explode … or, you have got to slow down and rest,” and take action.

via Why I’m taking a sabbatical – Renee Trudeau & Associates.

This reminded me of two past posts about the classic memoir, Gift from the Sea:

“With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women. I am convinced it has nothing inherently to do, as I once supposed, with chastity or children. It has to do primarily with distractions. The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls–woman’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life. The problem is not merely one of Woman and Career, Woman and the Home, Woman and Independence. It is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

via The Revolving Wheel (Gift from the Sea) | Talk Birth.

Even though she wrote the book in the 50’s, the sense of fragmentation and balancing that many mothers today experience was her experience as well…

For life today in America is based on the premise of ever-widening circles of contact and communication. It involves not only family demands, but community demands, national demands, international demands on the good citizen, through social and cultural pressures, through newspapers, magazines, radio programs, political drives, charitable appeals, and so on. My mind reels in it, What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives. It puts the trapeze artist to shame. Look at us. We run a tight rope daily, balancing a pile of books on the head. Baby-carriage, parasol, kitchen chair, still under control. Steady now!

This is not the life of simplicity but the life of multiplicity that the wise men warn us of. It leads not to unification but to fragmentation. It does not bring grace, it destroys the soul. And this is not only true of my life. I am forced to conclude, it is the life of millions of women in America. I stress America, because today, the American woman more than any other has the privilege of choosing such a life. ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh

via Tuesday Tidbits: Gift from the Sea (Communication Overwhelm) | Talk Birth.

February 2014 012

Check out the stack of orders he’s taking to the mailbox! Also, note PJ pants still on at noon, no breakfast (for him, I fixed my own), no shower, but also no need to drive through the current snow and ice to get to work…

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the household navigation of being an introvert mama with now having my also-introvert husband home full-time. Turns out that both parents home doesn’t magically extend the hours in a day (actually seems to shorten them) and it means both parents end up feeling pretty maxed out by kids and in need of somewhere quiet to recharge! 😉 I love having a “free-range” husband and I’m blown away by our joint creativity, which is an energy we’ve never experienced before at this level in our 19 year relationship because he was always at work all week and we had to squeeze everything else in around the edges. I also notice these interesting facts about having us both home all of the time: the house is way messier, we consistently stay up “too late” and sleep “too late,” it seems harder than ever to cook/figure out meals, we have less time to spend on homeschooling (!!), we still don’t feel like we have enough time to talk to each other, I seem to have less time to write and focus on writing, I feel like I give my kids less attention than I did when I was the only at-home parent (because I now have Mark to pay attention to too and I really like him), it is perhaps harder than ever to get the TWO HOURS I desperately need, I feel as if I have less time to focus on my teaching work, we argue more over household and parental responsibilities, we laugh way more and have more fun with each other and with our kids and we do more spontaneous, relaxed and fun stuff with our kids. It has been an interesting experience!

Related reads on introvert parenting:

I hate that as a mother, I felt like I had to choose between caring for my child and caring for myself. Because really, I can choose both. I can teach my kids—by example, which is perhaps the most potent way of teaching—that they are worthy of listening to their own needs. To the quiet, sure voice that might tell them they need a break. To lie on a yoga mat and sink deep into their own body and breath. To wander through a cemetery, alone, slowly enough to read the names on the gravestones. To sit down and write about how they’re feeling, or to surrender to sweet sleep for an hour.

via High Needs Mother | Brain, Child Magazine

So, sometimes when I start feeling ragged and can’t put my finger on exactly why, it comes to me: “I WANT MY TWO HOURS!”

via The Ragged Self | Talk Birth and Taking it to the body… Part 2: Embodied mindfulness, introversion, and two hours! | Talk Birth

February 2014 005

More time for spontaneous fun: she set this up yesterday and called me to come, “have ceremony!” and so we did. And, we drummed and sang too. She has a made up song she sings lately: “Oh, I’m her little daughter! Oh, I’m her little daughter!”

Toddlerhood and Beyond—Oh dear, now is when “no time to think” starts to wear on Introverted Mama’s nerves and stamina. I’ve met some awesome mothers of large families who comment on how they, “love the chaos” of home with lots of children. “Our house is wild and crazy and full of noise and I love it,” they may be known to say. Thinking of how desperately I crave silence and solitude, sometimes with an almost physical pain and longing, I feel inadequate in comparison to these declarations. Is this too simply a function of personality? Can these chaos-thriving mamas be extroverts who gain energy from interaction with others? I find that my own dear children, my own flesh and blood and bone and sweat and tears, still feel very much like “company” in terms of the drain on my energy that I experience. Whether it is socializing with a group or friends or spending the day with my energetic, loveable, highly talkative children, I crave time alone to recollect myself and to become whole once more. I once commented to my husband that I feel most like a “real person” when I’m alone. That means that the intensiveness and unyielding commitment of parenting can be really, really hard on me emotionally. Maybe it is okay to “own” that need for quiet, even as a mother, rather than to consider it some type of failure or an indication of not being truly cut out for this motherhood gig. (See more in a past, lengthy, navel-gazing post on why I need my “two hours”.)

How do you experience (and honor) introversion in your life as a parent? Sometimes I feel like being an introvert and being a mother are not very compatible, but as I learn to respect my own needs, to speak up for myself, and to heed that call for silence and solitude, I realize it is compatible after all. My children have two introverted parents and will hopefully grow up feeling confident in the knowing that there is profound power in being quiet, in taking time to think deeply, and to respond to the call of solitude if it comes knocking at the door of their hearts.

via Introverted Mama | Talk Birth.

I was looking through a new women’s circle curriculum I bought a couple of months ago that is about “becoming women of wisdom.” It is for older women and it takes your through a journey from your teens through your 60’s and beyond. Each “lesson” is illustrated with a drawing for that life stage. This is the illustration for “Remembering Our Thirties”:

February 2014 068It is so spot-on that it really made me laugh! I was encouraged to see the one that followed for your forties. She looks both chill and sizzling with her own power:

February 2014 069Finally, cycling back around to birth art, next up on our month-long launch-month giveaway agenda is one of our brand new womb labyrinth pendants! To enter, just click on the labyrinth picture below to go to the Facebook contest. As a special bonus, I’m holding a “secret” companion giveaway via this blog! For an entry to win one of our tree of life pendants, go like our new Brigid’s Grove Facebook page and then leave a comment here letting me know you did so. Double chance to win a prize from us this week! 🙂

Also, there is still time to get our free Ritual Recipe Kit! (just sign up for our newsletter).

2013 Book Year in Review

It is time for my annual book list! (last year’s list is here) I keep track of my annual reads using Goodreads. As soon as I finish a book, I add it to my appropriate bookshelf and then at the end of the year I can easily look back at it and see what I’ve read! In addition to the 68 books below via Goodreads, I also read 8 others that did not have a Goodreads listing (otherwise, easy peasy to use Goodreads to track books—that is, if tracking books holds any interest for you!)

If I did a review of the title, it is linked to in my comments. I’d also love to know what were your favorite reads of 2013? 🙂

Also, remember that my organized, birth-specific, ongoing book recommendations/reviews are here: Talk Books

title author rating date added Down_arrow
Open Mind: Women's Daily Inspiration for Becoming Mindful
read this all year (it is daily meditation book) and I loved it!
5 stars
Dec 30, 2013
Journey of the Priestess
4 stars
Dec 30, 2013
Cooking Like a Goddess: Bringing Seasonal Magic Into the Kitchen
4 stars
Dec 26, 2013
Birthrites: Rituals and Celebrations for the Child-Bearing Years
Post series about this book here
4 stars
Dec 25, 2013
Meet Marie-Grace (American Girls: Marie-Grace and Cécile, #1)
I got this doll for Christmas. No, I did not need another American Girl doll, BUT she was on sale via a steals site of some kind and I could NOT resist her.
3 stars
Dec 24, 2013
V is for Vengeance (Kinsey Millhone #22)
3 stars
Dec 13, 2013
When God Was a Woman
This was one of my first readings in feminist thealogy. I had to re-read it for one of my D.Min classes.
4 stars
Dec 05, 2013
Cut, Stapled, and Mended: When One Woman Reclaimed Her Body and Gave Birth on Her Own Terms After Cesarean
Loved this! Review here.
5 stars
Dec 01, 2013
My Kitchen Cure: How I Cooked My Way Out of Chronic Autoimmune Disease with Whole Foods and Healing Recipes
Surprisingly good and fun! Review here.
4 stars
Nov 23, 2013
The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood
Affirming and important. Post for the associated blog carnival is here.
5 stars
Nov 23, 2013
Blessed by Less: A Spiritual Approach to Clearing Your Life of Clutter
Read for Patheos book club. Review here.
4 stars
Nov 22, 2013
The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom
4 stars
Oct 08, 2013
West Country Wicca: A Journal of the Old Religion
I don’t consider myself wiccan and parts of this book were hokeylicious, but parts were very interesting.
3 stars
Sep 29, 2013
Priestess of Avalon Priestess of the Goddess: A Renewed Spiritual Path for the 21st Century : A Journey of Transformation within the Sacred Landscape of Glastonbury and the Isle of Avalon
One of my favorite priestess reads of the year! Highly recommended!
5 stars
Aug 28, 2013
The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
This was another second reading for my D.Min coursework.
4 stars
Aug 25, 2013
From Pain to Parenthood: A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption
Used quotes from this book in this post.
3 stars
Aug 11, 2013
Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
I read this book for a year-long course in compassion for my D.Min program. I keep meaning to do a post series about it, but have not yet done so.
3 stars
Aug 10, 2013
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness, #3)
My all-time favorite books from childhood. Being interviewed by First the Egg about childhood favorites inspired me to start reading them aloud to my kids.  They love them too! (I do edit very slightly for minimal sex content) And, no fewer than two of my own children’s names were inspired by these books–the same character, no less! 😉
5 stars
Aug 09, 2013
Keep Simple Ceremonies: The Feminist Spiritual Community of Portland, Maine
Cool format, interesting ideas.
4 stars
Aug 04, 2013
The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth
Read for another D. Min course.
4 stars
Aug 01, 2013
Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood, and the Irrepressible
Surprising commentary on birth and breastfeeding (including nursing twins into toddlerhood!)
3 stars
Jul 25, 2013
Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings
New edition of textbook for one of the classes I teach. Yes, I did actually read the entire thing.
4 stars
Jul 21, 2013
Virgin Mother Crone: Myths and Mysteries of the Triple Goddess
4 stars
Jul 18, 2013
Thealogy and Embodiment: The Post-Patriarchal Reconstruction of Female Sacrality
dense and academic and GOOD.
5 stars
Jul 14, 2013
The Magical Household: Spells & Rituals for the Home
1 star
Jul 08, 2013
Lady of the Northern Light: A Feminist Guide to the Runes
2 stars
Jul 04, 2013
A Woman's Way To Wisdom
2 stars
Jul 01, 2013
Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World
available to read online here.
3 stars
Jun 30, 2013
Seeking the Mystery: An Introduction to Pagan Theologies
4 stars
Jun 30, 2013
The Wander Year: One Couple's Journey Around the World
4 stars
Jun 27, 2013
Honoring Menstruation: A Time of Self-Renewal
5 stars
Jun 21, 2013
Reaching for the Moon
 4 stars
Jun 10, 2013
Bridging the Gap
 5 stars
Jun 07, 2013
Priestesses Pythonesses Sibyls - The Sacred Voices of Women Who Speak with and for the Gods
 3 stars
May 17, 2013
Calling the Circle: The First and Future Culture
 3 stars
May 13, 2013
Midwifing Death: Returning to the Arms of the Ancient Mother
 4 stars
May 09, 2013
Moon Mysteries
 4 stars
May 04, 2013
Woman Prayer, Woman Song: Resources for Ritual
 3 stars
May 02, 2013
Thea Gallas Always Gets Her Man
Fun and sassy mystery novel about an IBCLC. Review here.
 4 stars
Apr 26, 2013
Journey to the Dark Goddess: How to Return to Your Soul
 4 stars
Apr 21, 2013
More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity
 3 stars
Apr 19, 2013
What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom For The End Of Life
Read right before my grandma died. Post here.
 4 stars
Apr 18, 2013
Eve Hallows and the Book of Shadows (The Nightmare Series, #2)
Read aloud to boys and they chose rating.
 5 stars
Apr 14, 2013
The Art of being a Healing Presence
Read during my grandma’s illness. Commentary here.
 4 stars
Apr 09, 2013
The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change
Some quotes and thoughts in this post.
 4 stars
Apr 08, 2013
She Is Everywhere! Volume 3: An Anthology of Writings in Womanist/Feminist Spirituality
Have this as a digital copy that I somehow managed to lose and cannot find! So frustrating!
 4 stars
Apr 07, 2013
The Art of Family: Rituals, Imagination, and Everyday Spirituality
Talk Books post here.
 3 stars
Mar 30, 2013
The Alternative Medicine Cabinet
 3 stars
Mar 25, 2013
The Midwife's Tale
Author interview and brief review here.
 4 stars
Mar 24, 2013
Gift from the Sea
Quotes and connections here.
 5 stars
Mar 16, 2013
The Great Convergence (The Book of Deacon, #2)
 3 stars
Mar 11, 2013
Foundations of Social Policy: Social Justice in Human Perspective (Brooks/Cole Empowerment Series)
Now I remember why I didn’t get as many books finished in 2013. Switched to a different, much shorter, textbook for the 2014 session of this course!
 3 stars
Feb 24, 2013
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Written about here and referenced in this post about being an introverted mama.
 4 stars
Feb 24, 2013
Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery
Read for Patheos book club and written about on that platform. Eventually will post here also!
 3 stars
Feb 17, 2013
The Earth Speaks: An Acclimatization Journal
 5 stars
Feb 02, 2013
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
Listened to complete book on CD with kids.
 5 stars
Jan 31, 2013
Moods of Motherhood
Very much enjoyed! Referenced in this post and this one too.
 5 stars
Jan 30, 2013
The Magickal Retreat: Making Time for Solitude, Intention & Rejuvenation
 4 stars
Jan 20, 2013
Child of the Mist (These Highland Hills, #1)
 2 stars
Jan 16, 2013
Red Moon
 4 stars
Jan 13, 2013
Gathering for Goddes, a Complete Manual for Priestessing Women's Circles
 4 stars
Jan 07, 2013
Jump Up:  Good Times Throughout the Seasons with Celebrations from Around the World
 2 stars
Jan 07, 2013
Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World
Touched upon in this post.
 5 stars
Jan 06, 2013
Pagan Every Day: Finding the Extraordinary in Our Ordinary Lives
 2 stars
Jan 06, 2013

Books not able to be entered via Goodreads:

Runes of the Goddess by PMH Atwater (5/22/13)Menarche–a journey into womanhood by Racheal Hertogs (6/29/13)

Prosperous Priestess Handbook by Lisa Michaels (7/4/13)

Surviving online group work (7/11/13. Booklet, basically)

Inner Goddess Revolution (7/14/13. Cheap)

Father’s Seed, Mother’s Sorrow (reproduction theory. Extremely interesting. More about this one later. 12/3/2013)

Earthdance, Birthdance (Nane Jordan MA thesis. Very  good! 12/4/2013)

Love and the Goddess (free Kindle book, 12/6/2013)

Of Coconut Oil and Maternal Shame

“It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.” ~ Byron Katie

I planned to write this post on Thursday and I was going to open my imaginary post with: today has been one of those days. I didn’t manage to post, so I was going to post on Friday and say, yesterday was one of those days. Well, guess what, Friday turned on to be one of those days too and now it is two o’clock in the morning on Saturday…and no post yet! I’ve been hitting some parenting roadblocks lately and having some unpleasant moments with my kids. Moments that I’m not proud of and that feature me crying on the floor in the pile of broken glass (and broken dreams?!) as well as saying harsh things I later regret. Alaina isn’t sleeping well at night and I’m at that point in toddler nursing where I spend more time feeling assaulted than I do feeling warmly bonded. On Thursday, she kept me up until 4:00 a.m. and I felt trapped in a “hell dimension.” However, as is often true of mothering, sweet moments alternate with hell dimensions. That morning as I was trying to finally sneak away from her, she flopped toward me and mumbled in her sleep: babies love em mamas. Yep, they sure do! Earlier this month, she charmed my heart by commenting: “Me love mine daddy Mark.” Taking a couple of steps back shows me that being literally exhausted does not contribute to my parenting reserves and does not, actually, mean I’m a bad parent after all. I’ve been known to tell students in my Child Welfare class that worrying about being a “bad mother” usually means you aren’t one. I need to take my own advice.

So, I identified with this article about the whole notion of “mommy guilt” and how the phrase may actually be a cover for a more insidious and culturally-induced mommy shame:

Just one problem: “mommy guilt” isn’t really guilt at all, but rather shame. And shame, unlike guilt which is a useful and sometimes appropriate emotion, shame is just harmful. Guilt is “I made a bad choice”, while shame is “I am bad”. Guilt is something that helps us to notice when we’ve made an error that we need to correct. Shame makes us feel as though there is nothing we can do to make it better other than change who we are. Of course, changing behaviors is one thing; changing who you are as a person is another (impossible) thing entirely.

via “Mommy Guilt” is a Misnomer – Mothering Community.

I think a lot depends on personality. I know a lot of mothers who do not seem to take things that happen with their kids as personally as I do. Just yesterday, we had an incident during which my boys experienced a catastrophic brain failure and had a mayonnaise fight on the porch front of the house while I was trying to get ready for company. I ended up crying and ranting to myself about my pathetic talents as a parent (because I said something pretty mean to them about their lack of brain-powers). Another friend commented, “let me get this straight: your kids throw mayonnaise around and you’re the one who cries and thinks you did something wrong?” Um, yes, that’s me. I also explain to my students that it is really painful to know better and to watch yourself do it anyway. It stinks. Knowing a lot about the right way to do something, for me, gives me a lot more options of things to feel guilty or bad about! Isn’t that FUN?! As I previously wrote:

Being a mindful mama can be painful.

I am acutely aware of how often I fail, mess up, and let myself down in this work of conscious mothering. When I decide to go through a drive-through after a long day in town, I am very aware of each preservative laden, saturated fat heavy, factory-farmed, non-fair trade bite that crosses our lips. When I’m tired and have low energy for responsive parenting and I say “yes” my boys can watch a DVD, I know I am using it as a “babysitter” and as a “plug-in drug.” I cringe to hear myself say at times, “you guys are driving me crazy!” It is painful to know better and to watch myself do it anyway.

Instead of an inner guide, I too often listen to my inner critic. My judge. The perfect mama that sits on my shoulder and lets me know how often I screw it all up. I laugh sometimes as I reference the invisible panel of “good parents” that sits in my head judging me and finding me lacking.

For me, being a mindful mama is bound up in complicated ways with being a perfect mama; a “good mother.” In this way, it is NOT true mindfulness—I respond to my children based on how I think I should respond, how a “good mindful mama” would respond, not necessarily based on what is actually happening. Too often, I respond as I believe Dr. Sears, Jon Kabat-Zinn, or Marie Winn (The Plug in Drug) thinks I should respond, not based on reality or how we feel in the moment. This is the antithesis of true mindfulness. Mindfulness means an awareness of what is, it does not mean a constant monitoring of how I have failed. If I cannot be flexible and compassionate with myself, how do I expect to be a flexible and compassionate mother?

via Mindful Mama: Presence and Perfectionism in Parenting | Talk Birth.

Though I wrote this essay something like four years ago, I’ve not yet corrected this tendency and my desire to be able to do so, guess what, gives me something else to beat myself up over! I call this, “berating self for self-beratement” and then I berate self for berating self for self-beratement. Repeat. I am an introvert and I do enjoy my own company very much, but sometimes it is mean and mind-twisting company that I keep.

This post initially began because after the previously referenced night trapped in a non-sleeping hell dimension, an entire brand-new jar of organic coconut oil got smashed all over the kitchen floor by Alaina, because I foolishly dared to dash quickly to the bathroom while cooking. While cleaning it up, my other children did not grasp that asking me to tie their bathing suits at the moment was NOT A GOOD IDEA. Enter the mother-crying-on-the-floor-in-pile-of-broken-glass-coconut-oil-and-broken-dreams scenario previously alluded to. The whole experience stemmed from not listening to my own need to go to the freaking bathroom before fixing lunch. Duh. How basic. I just wrote about that this same week. I ran through the shoulding, the scolding, the self-beratement, the catastrophizing, a touch of martyrdom (everything I do is about trying to help my kids and now look!), a touch of guilt-tripping and blame (couldn’t you have noticed and stopped her?!), some yelling, some I can’t believe its, some semi-screaming about how is going to the BATHROOM REALLY SO MUCH TO ASK, some ranting about how coconut oil costs $9 a jar and why don’t I just throw dollars all over the floor and then sweep them into the trash, and then culminating in a hysterical diatribe about “what am I teaching my kids about handling simple little no-big-deal mistake by acting like it is the end of the world? THIS is how you’re going to grow up and think you should handle things.” SOB!!!!!!!!!!!

I read this on Facebook and said oh yeah:

One zen student said, “My teacher is the best. He can go days without eating.”
The second said, “My teacher has so much self-control, he can go days without sleep.”
The third said, “My teacher is so wise that he eats when he’s hungry and sleeps when he’s tired.”

And, I read this too:

If you ever see me out and about with my kids, you might be surprised at some of the interactions you might witness. For example, If you and I were in the same store today, you might have overheard my comment to my son that went something like this: “NO! You can’t!”

It didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; there was context. But that was about the extent of it. There was no empathy, no connection, no acknowledgement of what he wished he could do, no communication of understanding, no “I can tell that you reeeaallly wish you could take that toy home; We’re not getting it, and it’s OK to be sad about that.” Just a snappy, rude no.

If you saw me then and didn’t know me, it might surprise you to learn that I write and teach classes on positive parent-child relations. And if you do know me and saw that little outburst, it might surprise you to see me communicate to my child in this manner. And no matter what you might think of me based on this interaction you may have witnessed today, I won’t be offended. Because…

I know my son.
I know myself.
I know positive parenting.

I know that was not an example of positive parenting.

I know positive parenting is not based on one interaction.
I know my son will be OK.
I know we’ve had plenty of awesome parent-child moments before this one.
I know there will be plenty more.

I know our relationship will be OK.

I know other moms have moments just like this everyday.
I know they’re good moms.
I know I’m a good mom.

I know that in every situation, context matters, judgement never helps, and those moments are just small parts of a larger whole. Fortunately, parenting looks different for everyone and perfect for no one.

Kelly Bartlett

I was heard to lament on Friday afternoon that I worry that I’m a better writer than I am a person. I get complimented on my “lovely words” and “beautiful poems” and I think, how come I can write lovely words and then still yell at my kids? I’m horrible! (The maternal shame card is strong with this one.) And, I reminded myself of something I already wrote:

Womenergy moved humanity across continents, birthed civilization, invented agriculture, conceived of art and writing, pottery, sculpture, and drumming, painted cave walls, raised sacred stones and built Goddess temples. It rises anew during ritual, sacred song, and drumming together. It says She Is Here. I Am Here. You Are Here and We Can Do This. It speaks through women’s hands, bodies, and heartsongs. Felt in hope, in tears, in blood, and in triumph.

via Womenergy (Womanergy) | Talk Birth.

I also came upon a very old partial essay that I wrote when my second son was about two in which I tried to convey the every day, sometimes simultaneous and paradoxical dualism of parenting:

Every day I succeed. Every day I fail.
Every day I listen. And I say, “I can’t listen to you right now” or “PLEASE stop talking.”
Every day I am patient and impatient.
Every day I savor and cherish. And every day I am resentful and frustrated.
Every day I am focused and attentive and also distracted.
Every day I play and every day I say, “I can’t play right now.”
Every day I say yes. And no. Every day I say, “sure, why not?” and also, “now is NOT the time.”
Every day I hug and snuggle. Every day I say, “please stop hanging on me.”
Every day I please and disappoint.
Every day I center and pause appreciatively in the moment. And, every day I rush and hurry.
Every day I watch and notice and every day I say, “not now, I’m busy.”
Every day I am responsive and every day I am frazzled and DONE.
Every day I rise and fall.
Every day I hope and despair.
Every day I am captivated and captive.
Every day I offer guidance and a bad example.
Every day I am consistent and inconsistent.
Every day I make myself proud and I let myself down.
Every day I embrace and pull away.
Every day I am clear and confused.
Every day I am decisive and indecisive.
Every day I am empathetic and “I don’t have time for this!”
Every day I am encouraging and discouraging.
Every day I feel bonded and bound.
Every day I support myself and make myself crazy!
Every day I give and every day I feel completely done giving.
Every day I permit and deny.
Every day I feel a sense of promise and a sense of being denied.
Every day I am calm and exasperated.
Every day I am gentle and harsh.

Every day I hold and tend and nurture and protect.

Every day I am a good mother and every day I am a “bad” mother.

There are no absolutes.

On that coconut oil bad day, I then packed up the kids and went to the river, where they walked adorably in the water together:

June 2013 011Caught crawdads:

June 2013 015

And helped each other in ways that warmed my weary and critical heart:

June 2013 018

June 2013 020


The forced perspective in this one makes me laugh as well as the fact that it kind of looks like she’s carrying two tiny brothers!

But, lest this be a too-tidy wrap-up of my post, while at the river, bugs crawled on our legs, the kids whined a lot, people sat on the cracker sandwiches I was making, the cheese I brought was actually rotten, and we forgot our crawdad catchers and I once again expressed non-positive-parenting sentiments about children’s brain-powers since I had reminded them to get the damn crawdad catchers like 8 billion times. The dualism again.

We got home and got ready for Lann’s tae kwon do class in the whirlwind and as I was about to leave, I saw THIS:

20130627-225411.jpgWhat’s this you say? Here is another look…

20130627-225405.jpgYes, that would be some kind of Ben 10 action figure stuck to my wall with playdoh. WTH?!?!?!?! This is the very same playdoh that I complained about earlier in the day when finding the container empty—“hey guys, where did the playdoh go? Hey guys, can you find that green playdoh, I don’t want it to get stepped on somewhere.” When I saw this, I could only laugh.

And, then we went to watch Lann take his test for a yellow belt. We were adorable as we watched:

20130627-225437.jpgLann did a good job overall…

20130627-225649.jpgWe went to get ice cream and I was charmed again by the adorableness of my offspring and their friend hanging out:

20130627-225448.jpgThere are no absolutes 

just life as it unfolds

and I watch

and tell about it.

Tuesday Tidbits: Parenting and Forgiveness


Via Art Therapy Without Borders

I’ve written before about being an introverted mama and how that introversion connects to my experiences of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. The challenge to my personality type was most intense with the birth of my first child and I sure wish I’d had access to an article like this one when I was in the early months of motherhood: A Guide to New Motherhood — as an Introvert – The HerStories Project

“…At the end of the day I can be emotionally and physically depleted. I’m simply done. I am often exhausted by the pace of my son’s constant chatter and need for constant verbal and physical engagement. I need to be alone — sometimes for hours — to recharge my emotional batteries. And then I’m back to normal self…”

Yep. And, that alone time is really, really hard to come by as a new mother and also as kids grow!

I also enjoyed an article about praise. Praise has taken its share of knocks from the alternative parenting community and I enjoyed how this article differentiates between casual praise and genuine praise and does advocate for plenty of genuine praise:

“…People in the big wide world can often be pretty short on praise. People in the natural parenting world can get their knickers in a tremendous knot about it. I know how it makes me feel. And sure I should be a big enough person, and it shouldn’t matter, I should just instinctively know how great I am. But truth is I don’t. And it does matter hugely. To me and most people I know. To be honest I don’t enjoy spending time round people who are totally convinced of their own awesomeness with no room for a compliment top-up…”

Good Job… In Praise of Praise!

If you don’t praise kids enough they may never forgive you…just kidding…but, I’m trying to segue into my next topic which is about forgiveness. After my grandma’s memorial services and our time spent with extended family over the last couple of weeks, a couple of articles caught my eye, the first with regard to choosing not to take offense:


And, as always, I have more books I want to read than there are hours in a year. (photo credit not known)

I have been doing much pondering on this subject since. There are so many examples in our community of individuals and groups being offended and shutting down the ability for divinity to be a guiding force in our communications. Individuals see their relationships as in service to self rather than as in service to others. Over time I have witnessed multiple examples of people expressing that it is a positive thing to let go of relationships that no longer “serve them”.

What my recent experience has reinforced in my life is that taking offence in conversations is an expression of personable ego. Those with whom I disagree are valued partners in my journey; that my relationships and friendships are about my service to my friends, associates and community, not their service to me…

via Pagan In Paradise: The Courage To Not Be Offended, Powerful Magic.

And the next, the radical notion that perhaps there is nothing to forgive:

3. Consider that there’s nothing to forgive.

Over the years I’ve thought about the shift that happens when we go from feeling angry and hurt to loving and peaceful.

Are we learning forgiveness or do we simply reach a point where we now see there was nothing to forgive in the first place?

Is forgiveness so tricky because the real “cotton dress running through the fields” feeling we’re after only comes once we realize there’s nothing to forgive??

To help me wrap my head around this I find it helpful to consider the larger picture. As in, outer space large:

I imagine a kinder, wiser and more compassionate version of myself sitting on the moon, perhaps kicking back on a deck chair drinking a margarita with Alice Kramden, looking down and watching, as the earthly me muddles my way through life…

Watching myself hold onto dodgy beliefs and making some epic mistakes.

Watching children around me born into challenging times and how this affects their sense of self-worth and how easily this passes on to others.

Watching us all learning to love ourselves unconditionally—trying, failing, and even succeeding, as we do.

And I figure this wise margarita-drinking self would conclude that everyone in their own unique way was doing their best.

And when you think about it, if everyone’s doing their best, what’s to forgive—doing your best?

Toss around the idea: “Forgiveness is understanding there’s nothing to forgive.” It’s big, but when it sinks in, it really helps.

via 3 Unconventional Tips for Forgiving and Letting Go.

Being a parent has given me compassion for most parents, past, present, and future, and how they are trying their best and that they are just people, no more, no less. We may have experienced our parents as something more powerful and dramatic, but really, they were just like us. Are we perfect? No. That means that it is okay that they weren’t either. Nothing to forgive. Ditto with friendships—if we ourselves are not a perfect friend, and I guarantee we’re not, it is impossible, unrealistic, and even cruel to expect that our friends will never do anything “wrong” and never, ever hurt our feelings. Nothing to forgive.

Annual retreat

January 2013 028I held a blue flower in my hand, probably a wild aster, wondering what its name was, and then thought that human names for natural things are superfluous. Nature herself does not name them. The important thing is to know this flower, look at its colors until the blueness becomes as real as a keynote of music. Look at the exquisite yellow flowerettes in the center, become very small with them. Be the flower, be the trees, the blowing grasses. Fly with the birds, jump with the squirrel! –Sally Carrighar in The Earth Speaks

It is that time of year again…time for a retreat! I recognize a pattern in my own life that I’ve been conscious of since my first miscarriage, the deep call to retreat beginning in November of each year and finally having a chance to be held in February. I’ve been feeling it coming. I started hearing the call in late October/early November and I was like, oh yeah, THIS. This call for silence, for mindfulness, for taking heed, for regrouping, for calling my spirit back, for resting. I set aside the first week of February each year to take a “computer-off retreat,” in which I unplug Facebook and take a break from blogging. Since the rest of my life doesn’t necessarily recognize this rhythm, I can’t take a completely computer-off retreat this year (having the computer off isn’t really compatible with teaching online, especially during midterm week!), but I can take a Facebook retreat and a retreat from feeling compelled to write/blog and to stay “caught up” with a variety of miscellaneous time-eating, online-based activities (like clicking on interesting articles or updating my ScoopIt page). I will also try really, really hard to check email only once a day. I’d like to actually deactivate my FB account, but that will take away my pages too (from what I understand) and I don’t want to do that—if I’m wrong, tell me please! (and, I’ll see your message when I check my email once a day ;)) And, guess what?! This year, I’m not making a to-do list. I know what I want and need and it isn’t a list.

I went out to the woods to think about this and this is what I said:

Keep vigil
bear witness
hold space

open heart
open hands
open mind

share stories
share healing
share laughter

Keep vigil
hold space
circle round

Amazon affiliate link included.

This is mainly a noise-silencing thing for me. I’ve been looking forward to it since November. I’ve been feeling it coming. I need it badly!

My favorite retreat resource is Woman’s Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering and Reawakening Your True Self –In a Moment, An Hour, Or a Weekend by Jen Louden. I also treated myself to a Breathe Peace online class (ah, the irony, since I’m having a computer off retreat! Luckily, the online class lasts throughout the month of February, so I can take my break and still come back to it!)

"Turtle" rock in the woods :)

“Turtle” rock in the woods 🙂