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Small Business Saturday: Shining Year Meditation and International Women’s Day

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Our collaborative business planning and progress is so intimately tied to our work with Leonie Dawson’s annual workbooks, that when I saw the theme of this year’s workbook—Create Your Shining Year—the wheels starting turning about how to communicate that in a pendant format. A friend then made the suggesting of making a Shining Year pendant with a sun at her center, so I found a sun stamp and set out to create some Shining Year goddesses. I also wanted to make a connection to the sun symbols used in Womanrunes, which are about laughter, healing, and letting go—all messages I need to receive into my own life this year!

Shining Year Goddess meditation

Take a minute to put down anything else you are carrying, doing, or thinking about. Let your shoulders relax and release. Let the breath move easy down into your belly. Then smile. Smile from your roots up through your branches. Feel joy suffuse you, filling you, bathing you, and laugh. Laugh from your belly. Laugh from your heart. Laugh with the wild abandon of freedom and release.

Let go. Feel the release and freedom that comes with unclenching your life. Remember to trust yourself and what makes you smile. Are you afraid to laugh? Are you scared to let go? Do you fear the loss of control that comes with hilarity? It is time to shake that off. Don’t be afraid. Laugh, sister, laugh. It is time to have some fun!

Know that you are as free as you allow yourself to be.

il_570xN.737953003_2586Why the twisty legs?

Recently the same friend who suggested the sun image, asked me why some of my pendant sculpts have twisty legs and I realized that sometimes the why I’m trying to communicate through my work isn’t always immediately interpretable! To me, the spiral leg form represents the energy of rising. I think of these goddesses as joyfully dancing, twirling, expressing themselves actively and energetically in the world. Indeed, the sensation of moving energy is so palpable through this design, that as a high-energy person, I have to be careful how and where I wear them, because the sense of being activated is so strong with them, that it can be too much for me! However, if you feel in need of activation and mobilization, however, then these dancing, moving, energetic goddess pendants are the designs for you! Any of my pendants with dancing legs represent Shakti rising in an energetic dance of creativity, freedom, and personal power. She is unapologetically fully inhabiting her own personal power and her being is enlivened by an exuberant flow of passionate, inspired energy.

Other new designs

As you may glimpse in the opening image, we’ve also created two new miscarriage mama goddess pendants, a new dancing moon goddess, and a mastectomy goddess pendant.

il_570xN.737956923_5ikiWe’re excited to have donated several pieces of our work to a Red Tent fundraiser project in the UK. Please check out all the details about the Community Red Tent and join supporters from around the world for the online auction taking place via Facebook on the spring equinox: Community Red Tent Auction & Raffle

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re also offering a 10% discount code on any of the items in our shop through March! Use SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

Adventures in Placenta Craft

IMG_0482For the past several weeks, we’ve been trying to make a placenta jewel using some of the leftover encapsulated placenta from Tanner’s birth. Why, you may ask? Three possible explanations come to mind:

1. Why not?
2. Freaking awesomeness
3. Awesome freakishness

As my oldest son said when he saw it, “yeah, that’s totally normal.”

It took several attempts before we got a result we were happy with. First, we used our regular clear casting resin and it turned out extremely bubbly:

IMG_0497Mark also poured some into one of our pendant molds and made a little placenta scrap-goddess:

IMG_0483The dehydrated placenta “sunk” in the resin and concentrated at the bottom (front) of the mold. The bubbles of this initial attempt make it look “fizzy” and opaque rather than clear and jewelly. Mark hadn’t put the first attempt into the vacuum chamber he built (which reduces bubbles) and so the next attempt he did put in the chamber. Additionally, we added some russet pigment to it to see if that would look cool…

IMG_0494-0Not only did it not look cool, but it bubbled up in an extremely dramatic way that we’ve never seen resin do before and created a very weird mutated effect.

IMG_2431The back of the puffed-up jewels looked a little cool, but not cool enough.

IMG_0488We hypothesized that the weird bubbling must have been a reaction to having organic material in with the resin. We almost gave up, but I did a little research and decided to give jewelry resin a try instead of the casting resin we’d been using. It was expensive for only a small bottle of jewelry resin, but it gave us much better results!

IMG_0495There are still some fine bubbles, but it is much clearer and better looking. The scrap goddess turned out better too:

IMG_0499 Finally, we had a placenta jewel good enough to set!

IMG_0500Returning to the question of why do this, I come back to a quote I use at mother blessings:

The memory of [my child’s] birth has become a talisman that I hold in my heart as I journey deeper and deeper into motherhood. For these moments come again in every mother’s life—the times when we are asked to walk straight into our pain and fear, and in doing so, open up to a love that is greater than anything we ever could have imagined: all life’s beauty and wonder, as well as all the ways that things can break and go wrong…Again and again, motherhood demands that we break through our limitations, that we split our hearts open to make room for something that may be more than we thought we could bear. In that sense, the labor with which we give birth is simply a rehearsal for something we mothers must do over and over: turn ourselves inside out, and then let go…

via Blessingway Readings & Chants | Talk Birth.

Birth art and birth jewelry can be a tangible “talisman” of our birth journeys. We can draw upon past moments of strength for inspiration and encouragement and affirmation during current struggles. During the day, I am fond of carrying around the birth goddess sculpture that I held during my labor with Tanner and I usually set her by the bed at night. She reminds me of what I am capable of. A placenta jewel pendant offers the same affirmation and connection.

You know how it is said there is no medal for giving birth?

I disagree…

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*We’re not really planning to market these for sale, but are willing to consider special requests for friends or friends of friends. Due to the multi-step casting process involving multiple days of work, a pendant like this would be $45. 🙂

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Womb Labyrinth

10801641_1583381505207399_4451968254649696695_nBirth journey. Each of us walks our own path. In the center, a baby waits. And, so too, wait deep truths about ourselves. Our own courage, our own fears, our own strength, our own power. One foot in front of the other. That’s how the journey is made. You set out for the threshhold, unknowing. Maybe a little fearful. Maybe intrigued. Maybe anticipatory. Maybe excited. And you start to walk. One foot in front of the other. Sometimes our journeys drop us to our knees. Sometimes we feel around in the dark, searching for something to hold onto. Sometimes we skip and twirl along the path. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we pause and sit down and wait. Sometimes someone walks with us, holding our hand. Maybe even giving us a little push from behind. But, ultimately, it is our own private journey. When we get to the center, we will discover what it is that we know that no one else does.

il_570xN.703098950_l7x8The journey of postpartum is a labyrinth too. Carrying our babies in our arms, past sleepless nights, through endless days. Through worry and tears, through sharp, sweet, timeless moments of a joy so bone deep it knows no words and in a love so endless that it defies description. And, we walk. Sometimes we bounce. Sometimes we sway. Sometimes we sing a little tune. Sometimes we beg. Sometimes we scream. Sometimes we sit down and say we can’t keep going. Sometimes we skip through the sunshine and dance in the moonlight. Sometimes we can’t believe how much fun we are having and how wonderful this is. Sometimes we feel so alone, we think we might break. And, yet, we keep going, and we emerge, blinking at the newness of it all…

 Modified from a past post: Birth Labyrinth | Talk Birth.

Small Business Saturday: Womanrunes and Winterspirit

“…the business is just a vehicle for sending out my stuff into the world. the real thing, the real magic… is in the creating.”

–Leonie Dawson

“The only domain where the divine is visible is that of art, whatever name we choose to call it.”

–Andre Malreaux (quoted in The Art of Ritual)

IMG_1665We received the second printing of our Womanrunes book this week! They arrived a week ahead of schedule and look beautiful! I’m thrilled to move forward with promotion and distribution of the book. It was a true labor of love and it feels really powerful to share this work with others.

 

You still have time to get our free digital “Womanrunes Starter Kit” by signing up for our newsletter at Brigid’s Grove. (Scroll down a little and the subscribe box is on the right hand side after our etsy box.) We are also hard at work on a new freebie for our February newsletter, so make sure you’ve signed up and you will automatically get our free “How to Draw a Calamoondala” handout when the newsletter is finished.

It has been on my list for some time to create seasonal goddess sculptures. I felt a wild burst of inspiration at the beginning of the month and created a ton of new sculptures! Only two of them are for the seasonal idea and the others are larger versions of my classic designs. I like the size of my original sculptures, because they fit nicely in the hand or on a birth altar, but I get quite a few requests for larger altar centerpiece figures, so I’m working on fulfilling that request.

January 2015 092When I made these, I was feeling really ready to be done with holiday mode. After feeling excited and energetic about our many plans for 2015, I got up on New Year’s Day feeling crabby, depleted, unfocused, and somehow defeated. After trying to “force” more planning and more decluttering, instead I sat down with my clay and all these new prototypes came out! There is the bigger pregnant goddess people keep asking for, a pendant intended to hold a placenta stone (or regular gemstone), a repair to my cesarean birth goddess sculpt, a grinding-my-corn goddess, and a winterspirit/meditation goddess. After creating them, I felt so happy and excited and back to being recharged. The next day, I created larger versions of my mama goddess and seated mountain pose goddess, plus a brand new springtime water goddess sculpt.

January 2015 097The new seasonal sculpts are very tricky to mold correctly. We’ve only cast the “winterspirit” figure so far. And…she’s evolved again. When we finished her with my favorite red pigment, I decided she might not be Winter after all, but she might be a Red Tent goddess sculpture instead. The feeling she is intended to convey is appropriate for both the Red Tent and for Winter though—she is drawing inward and reflecting, but she is also open to receive or to share as well (with a built in offering bowl in her lap). We plan to have these available in February.

 

Strength be with Mark! When I make something new, I want the mold ready like, NOW, and I can  get really pushy and irritating about it.

We are working through our new Shining Year in Life and Biz workbook from Leonie Dawson. I meant to do a year-end business reflections post, but haven’t had time for it yet and the moment may simply be passing, but I want to share that one of the most powerful (and humbling) things we learned from 2014 was that the idea is only 1% of the process, 99% is in the work and commitment that follows the idea. Many people never make it past the idea phase and as we closed out 2014 we took some time to celebrate and acknowledge the rest of the 99% of doing it, instead of just thinking about or talking about it. Here are some pictures from our epic planning day shortly after Christmas. The far away picture of the table shows what happened when we really got going! The candles are our new intention candles for 2015. We had fun making them!

And, speaking of Shining Years, I’ve been meaning to post about keeping your pewter jewelry shiny. Mark hand finishes and polishes each of our pewter pendants by hand. After wearing for a while, especially if they are immersed in water (like being showered in), the pewter tends to become duller and darker. This is easily solved by just rubbing the pendant with a soft cloth or even just the hem of the shirt you are wearing! They brighten right up with just that simple buffing.

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In other bizbits…

We’re happy to be a Gold sponsor of the StoneCrest Dance Center competition team.

IMG_1574And, we’re clearancing out our large triskele design. Only $10!

Large Pewter Triskele Pendant  (celtic, triple spiral, Brigid, druid)We’ve also got a few more of our teeny tiny, super cheap scrap goddesses, including one spiral goddess! These are fun for your own projects, tiny altars, or affordable doula gifts. They go fast. 🙂

TINY Nursing mama goddess birth art sculpture (birth altar, mother blessing, doula, midwife, childbirth educator)

And, finally in the work-at-home life, check out who kept me company this afternoon while I was taking new pictures for our shop listings…

IMG_1636He started to play a little nursing game and after having laughed for the first time on January 2nd (seems quite early for laughing!), he was actually cracking up today pulling away while I dipped him down and said, “moved your head!” I couldn’t get a picture or a video of it, but trust me, it was completely adorable.

Embrace Possibility…

embracepossibilitypendantUsually when I create a new design for a pendant or figurine, I know who I’m making when I begin. Last spring, I  created a new design who emerged as a mystery. When she was finished, I loved her. But, I didn’t know her name or what she represented. I asked on my facebook page for input and I got some suggestions…

Druid priestess. Seraphine. High Priestess. Tri-Goddess. Mother. Celtic goddess.

I took her to the woods and held her in my hand and spoke in a little sing-song of emergence…

She who unites body, mind and spirit. She who calls upon earth, sky, and river.  She who speaks to oaks and mountains. She who sings with the ocean.  She who opens arms to the sky and feels raindrops bless her brow. She who circles in the moonlight. She  who gathers with her sisters. She who hears the drumbeat of the earth. She who tunes her heartbeat to this call.  She who steps in time with the wind.

Of this earth, for this earth, on this earth.

She holds the vision. She holds the space. She holds an ancient wisdom.

Encoded in her cells, written on her bones…

The mantle settles around her shoulders.

Sinking into belly, bones, and blood,
until she knows,
without a doubt,
that this is who,
she really is.

The next afternoon, a friend who had a prototype version of the new pendant sent me a message suggesting a title: Embrace Possibility. I thought about what I’d written in the woods. I thought about how different women saw different names for her and I knew that THIS was it. Embrace Possibility. What message does she hold for you?

This experience returns to me as we greet a new year with all its potential. After the reflective mood of fall and the celebratory spirit of the holiday, I find that January has entered my life with a frosty attitude. When I was preparing to give birth to my new baby in October, I’d mentally prepared to be “off” until January, which felt far away at the time. Now that it actually is January, I recognize a tautness in my chest and mind at the return to “real life.” My body feels tight and constricted and I am increasingly irritable and frustrated, like an animal emerging from hibernation.  At the same time, I have a lot of plans, visions, and ideas for the new year. I feel a brightness and aliveness and a deep excitement about the birth of a new year, but I notice myself struggling with a sensation of needing or wanting all of these things to be done right now, at this very moment. Hurry up! I suspect this is because at another level, I still actually want to hibernate in my rocking chair with my baby. The call of the hermit self remains strong, the call of the outside world is clamoring with increasing intensity for my attention, and the buzzing sparks of energy and vision in my mind say, set us free. Let us ignite! Can I allow myself to continue to sit for just a while longer, embracing possibility?

November 2014 362

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 Aloud.net

Moods of Motherhood_cover_front_300
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

Ceremonial Bath and Sealing Ceremony

IMG_9629At three days postpartum, my mom and my doula, Summer, came over to do a sealing ceremony for me based on what I’d learned during my Sacred Pregnancy and Sacred Postpartum certification trainings. A sealing ceremony is based on the idea of “closing” the birth process. Pregnancy and birth are all about opening. We open up our bodies, minds, spirits, and hearts for our new babies. After birth, the body remains “open” and the idea with sealing the birth experience is to psychologically and physically “close” the body and help the mother integrate her birth experience into the wholeness of who she is. It is part of her “return” to the non-pregnant state and it is transition commonly overlooked by modern culture and sometimes by women themselves. We chose three days postpartum because that is a classic day for the “baby blues” to hit and it seemed like an important day to acknowledge, but it can be done at any point, preferably within the first 40 days. We started with the ceremonial bath. I had a very powerful experience with pre-birth ceremonial bath I did and this postpartum bath experience was very profound as well. My doula ran the bath and added milk and honey and I set up a small altar by the tub. I chose items for the altar that I felt had a connection to the birth altar I set up before birth, but that were now connected to postpartum and mothering another baby. So, I used things that were mother-baby centered primarily, but of course also included the birth goddess sculpture that I held all through my labor as well. Continuity.

IMG_9477IMG_9482 Summer brought me a small glass of strawberry wine and then Mark came in with some rose petals and scattered them in and then left me to rest in my bath. I started my Sacred Pregnancy playlist and the first song to play was the Standing at the Edge song that I’d hummed during labor. Continuity.

IMG_9478It took me a little while to settle into it, but then I did. I reviewed his birth in my mind and sipped my wine. After I finished the wine, I used the glass to pour water over each part of my body as I spoke a blessing of gratitude for each part and what it did for us. I cried a little bit over some parts. I spoke aloud some words of closure about my births and my childbearing years. I felt grateful. I also felt a sense of being restored to wholeness, complete unto myself. As I finally stood to leave the tub…the Standing at the Edge song began to play again.

I’ve written before that I use jewelry to tell my story or to communicate or share something. I wore one of our baby spiral pendants through most of my pregnancy because it helped me feel connected to the baby. I wore it all through labor and birth too. The baby spiral pendant was one of the things I put on the little altar by the tub as a point of continuity between his birth and now. When I got out of the bath, I was going to put the spiral back on, but suddenly it didn’t feel like the one I wanted to wear anymore. I went to my room and there it was–my nursing mama goddess pendant. Putting down the baby spiral and putting on the nursing mama felt like a powerful symbolic indicator of my transition between states.
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I put on the same purple tank top I’d worn in my pregnancy pictures and nursed Tanner. I had a sarong nearby for the “tuck in” part of the ceremony and I put it over my shoulder and asked my mom to take a picture. After we took the pictures, I realized the sarong was also the same one I wore in my pregnancy pictures. Continuity, again!

IMG_9515With Mark then holding the baby, Summer and my mom “tucked” me in using heated up flax seed pillows and some large scarves/sarongs. This tucking in symbolically pulls your body back together after the birth (sometimes called “closing the bones”) and also re-warms the body, which according to Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic understanding, is left in a “cold” state following the birth. I felt a little strange and “shroud-ish” while being tucked up and then especially when they put my mother blessing sheet on top of me and left the room.

IMG_9516 IMG_9519As I laid there though, I reflected that the shroud feeling was not so creepy after all. In fact, it was pretty symbolic itself—the ending of something and the emergence of something, someone, new. I felt a sense of wholeness and integration and coming back into myself. I had a sensation of unity and, yes, of my body coming back together into one piece.

When I felt done, I called them to come back in and Summer put a “belly firming paste” of turmeric, ginger, and coconut oil that I’d made in my class on my belly and then she and my mom wrapped me up in the belly bind I’d bought for this purpose. I don’t have time to write a lot about bellybinding right now, but you can read more about it here. It is anatomically functional, not just symbolic or pretty. When I first learned about it, I was sold on the concept, distinctly remember how weak and hunched over I felt after previous births.

I am again reminded of a quote from Sheila Kitzinger that I use when talking about postpartum: “In any society, the way a woman gives birth and the kind of care given to her and the baby points as sharply as an arrowhead to the key values of the culture.” Another quote I use is an Asian proverb paraphrased in the book Fathers at Birth: “The way a woman cares for herself postpartum determines how long she will live.” Every mother deserves excellent care postpartum, however, the “arrowhead” of American postpartum care does not show us a culture that values mothers, babies, or life transitions. I am fortunate to have had the kind of excellent care that every woman deserves and that few women receive. Part of this was because I actively and consciously worked towards building the kind of care I wanted following birth, but part of it is because I am lucky enough to belong to a “tribe” that does value pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and mothering.

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