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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

Talk Birth Wordwalls

In thePewter Birth Partners Sculpture Pendant (custom sculpture, hand cast, doula, midwife, birth art, birthing)
womb
we begin
enclosed
and safe
nurtured
by our
mother’s
body
soul
connected
to soul.

We are fed
and
encouraged
to
grow
to take
the
steps
to life
beyond
the womb.

–Linda Ervin quoted in To Make and Make Again: Feminist Ritual Thealogy by Charlotte Caron

A couple of days ago, my brother was home sick from work and sent me an email with two photos attached. He said he was sick and messing around with different things and made me two wordwalls using the most commonly used words on my blog. Not only that, but he made them into cool goddess shapes also! What fun. 🙂

goddess goddess1Aside from things like “posted” and “February,” I really got a kick out of seeing the words that were the biggest (meaning used most frequently in the last several weeks of my blog).

I am getting read for a new session of classes to begin as well as working feverishly on my own classwork. Today, I spent many hours working on my fourth paper for my Ritual Thealogy class. I realized I hadn’t made a post this week yet and it is already Wednesday and then as I closed To Make and Make Again, which was my text for this class, the little poem I opened with caught my eye in the Appendix of the book.

This past weekend I was in St. Louis where we had a booth for Brigid’s Grove at a women’s spirituality gathering. It was very successful! But, not a lot of time leftover for blogging!

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International Women’s Day: Body Prayer

I roam
sacred ground
my body is my altar
my temple.

I cast a circle
with my breath
I touch the earth
with my fingers
I answer
to the fire of my spirit.

My blood
pulses in time
with larger rhythms February 2014 040
past, present, future
connected
rooted
breathing.

The reach of my fingers
my ritual
the song of my blood
my blessing
my electric mind
my offering.

Breathing deep
stretching out
opening wide.

My body is my altar
my body is my temple
my living presence on this earth
my prayer.

Thank you.

I wrote this poem in the spring of last year and was very pleased when Trista Hendren, author of the children’s book The Girl God, wrote to ask permission to reprint it in her new book: Mother Earth. I received my copy of the book last month and wanted to offer a mini-review of it today, International Women’s Day, because as Trista says, it is “a beautiful tribute to the world’s first ‘woman.’” Mother Earth is theoretically a children’s book, but it offers an important message and call to action to all world citizens. Along the top of the pages is a story, written as a narrative experience between Trista and her daughter Helani, about the (human) mother’s need to rest. The story evolves into a message about the Earth and the care and rest she is crying out for. Each page features a large illustration and below the illustration is a relevant spiritual quote, poem, prayer, or message.

February 2014 038(I got a big kick out of seeing the company I keep on the back cover…Buddha, Hafiz, the Dalai Lama, Starhawk…Molly Remer?!)


I’m still wrapping up the school session as well as preparing for a big event next weekend. I feel taut, overcommitted, crabby, snappy, distracted, and out of time for writing even though I have a pile of ideas for things to write about (always!). Trying to remember that this is normal for me during the week of final paper grading and final exam giving and does not indicate a permanent state of imbalance requiring mass quitting of everything, but that is still how it feels in my (tired) body. It was nice to revisit this poem and take some quiet time to read the whole book.

I wrote a prayer for mothers last year on International Women’s Day:

See your worthIMG_8522
hear your value
sing your body’s power
and potency
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
so invisibly
and with such love.

Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother.

via International Women’s Day: Prayer for Mothers | Talk Birth.

It is also important to remember the sociopolitical purpose of this day:

International Women’s Day is not about Hallmark. It’s not about chocolate. (Thought I know many women who won’t turn those down.) It’s about politics, institutions, economics, racism….

As is the case with Mother’s Day and many other holidays, today we are presented with a sanitized, deodorized, nationalized, commoditized version of what were initially radical holidays to emphasize social justice.

Initially, International Women’s Day was called International Working Women’s Day. Yes, every woman is a working woman. Yes, there is no task harder perhaps than raising a child, for a father and a mother. But let us remember that the initial impetus of this International Working Women’s Day was to address the institutional, systematic, political, and economic obstacles that women faced in society.

via How we miss the point of International Women’s Day–and how to get it right. | What Would Muhammad Do?.

In years past, I also wrote about the connection to birth as a feminist issue:

“The minute my child was born, I was reborn as a feminist. It’s so incredible what women can do…Birthing naturally, as most women do around the globe, is a superhuman act. You leave behind the comforts of being human and plunge back into being an animal. My friend’s partner said, ‘Birth is like going for a swim in the ocean. Will there be a riptide? A big storm? Or will it just be a beautiful, sunny little dip?’ Its indeterminate length, the mystery of its process, is so much a part of the nature of birth. The regimentation of a hospital birth that wants to make it happen and use their gizmos to maximum effect is counter to birth in general.” –Ani DiFranco interviewed in Mothering magazine, May/June 2008

via International Women’s Day, Birth Activism, and Feminism | Talk Birth.

Happy International Women’s Day! May we all find the space in our day to take a deep breath and honor our bodies, our families, and women around the world who are working, working, working every day to make the world a gentler place to live. (Even if we sometimes get snappy while doing it…)

November 2013 061

Vacation Phase 4: Mamoorials

Today is my grandma’s birthday and so it seems fitting that I’ve coincidentally reached the point in my vacation recap of writing about her memorial services. We called my grandma Mamoo and so I refer to her committal and Celebration of Life events as her Mamoorials and these were the real reason we went to California in the first place. When I tell people that my grandma died, I’ve noticed two common responses: “How old was she?” and “Were you close?” It is as if people are evaluating how “sorry” to be or much condolences to offer, with the older the person, the more appropriate the loss, or something like that. Anyway, she would have been 84 today. She has a beautifully long and vibrant life that was full of activity and experiences right up until the end. However, I had great-grandmas of my own until my late teen years and I fully and completely expected my kids to have the same experience. I heard from my mom that my grandma’s life insurance company still had her life expectancy at 15 more years, so forget the “how old” question and believe me when I say that her death came as an unexpected shock, even if it was in the “right” generational order and even though she was “old enough” that it doesn’t count as tragic. Since we always lived far away from each other and thus often went six months without seeing her, it is easy to forget that she’s gone and not at her home in California volunteering at the zoo and working in her sewing room. There is a definite sense of her life being “cut short,” regardless of her actual age. When we were at the beach following her Mamoorials, Zander found a whole tiny crab. He saved it and took it back to the condo saying as we walked, “I’m saving this for Mamoo! She’s going to love it!” (She did the children’s program at the zoo and she often carted strange artifacts of the natural world back to California from her visits to Missouri, including a whole donkey skull, but also things like a turtle shell and a hummingbird’s nest, and a whole well-preserved stag beetle. My dad often saved weird, dead things for her and she was always happy to receive them and add to the zoo’s demo collection.)

When I left off my vacation recapping last we had finished a fab stint at Legoland and were still in Carlsbad, California, which is about a six hour drive from Fresno, where my grandma lived. We opted, perhaps bizarrely perhaps geniusly, to fly to Fresno from San Diego, rather than making a long car trip. Tickets were only $60 each between the two and it seemed worth it to us. However, in my frenzy before leaving, I neglected to notice the difference between AM and PM on the tickets and accidentally booked a 10:00 PM flight to Fresno. After some intense lamenting that actually involved flinging myself on the bed and sobbing hysterically and then yelling about my own stupidity and what kind of IDIOT does that?!?! Someone who is too busy and MUST QUIT EVERYTHING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, I decided to then, again perhaps bizarrely and perhaps geniusly, to buy new plane tickets for the correct AM flight, thus completely wasting $300, but restoring the “rightful” order of my plans. I tried to never think about it again, though as we enjoyed pizza with our extended family that evening in Fresno and rehearsed for the Mamoorial, I wondered if they were paging us for our PM flight back in San Diego…(why not switch tickets you ask, because there was a $200 penalty per ticket for doing so? I may not be a genius, but I can do enough math to realize that paying $200 to change a $60 ticket is not a realistic option).

The San Diego flight was awesome and easy and we got to Fresno right at 11:00 (a.m. 😉 ) and my dad picked us up at the airport in my grandma’s car. I knew as we started to descend into the Fresno airport and saw those so familiar flat, flat, flat squares of irrigated desert farmland, but without my grandma waiting there to meet us for the first time in my entire life, that I had significantly underestimated how difficult this was going to be. Getting into her familiar boat of a car that smelled like her and that had her sunglasses under the seat and her water bottle in the console with her name tidily written on it with Sharpie was hideous. Pulling into her little condo was even worse, but going inside was the worsest. My aunt and mom and sister were already there and had been there since the night before and they had a sort of rhythm and plan going on with sorting through my grandma’s things. The “bandaid had already been ripped off” in their case, as my aunt put it. I, however, was a complete mess. I could NOT believe how awful it was to be there and see her home without her in it. Again, there was that sense of her life cut short—her mousepad by the computer, her zoo jacket hanging on the door, her calendar on the wall with her writing on it, her exercise video in the VCR. So familiar and so over. I cried and cried and felt sort of stupid and also “drama queenish,” because everyone else was so busy and methodical and I felt like I was all like, “but look at me, I’m totally sad!” My aunt sat with me and then suggested I go ahead and keep ripping the bandaid by advance-watching the memorial slideshow for the Celebration of Life luncheon the next day. This was a spectacularly good idea and really helped. Her house was so full of things familiar to me from my childhood and it was also remarkably and beautifully full of us, pictures of my kids all over, things I made for her on walls and shelves. It was a mirror experience of what I already observed at my own home on the day that she died:

…it is amazing to think about all the ways her presence is woven through my days even though she lives 2000 miles away–the sweater I put on every morning is one she knit for me, her quilts are on my kids’ bedroom walls and on all our beds, magazine subscriptions she gifts us with are in the car and bathroom…we’re connected in many ways and I don’t know what life will look like without her in it.

Ipad July 2013 008

Dinner with cousins/siblings.

via Goodbye | Talk Birth.

After losing it with all the pictures and memories, I then sort of helped my mom, sister, aunt, and sister-in-law go through my grandma’s things. Later we checked into our hotel and Mark took the kids down to the pool while I rehearsed for my Mamoorial speeches/service. I cried and cried as I practiced my speech until my eyes were horribly puffy and I looked awful. “At least I’m getting this out before tomorrow!” I thought optimistically. I texted my mom that my plan for the next day was “teary-eyed and with a tasteful catch in my voice” rather than the wreck I was today. We had a family dinner that night at a cousin’s house and while there, I enlisted my cousins in a plan for a grandchild responsive reading of a version of “Song of the Open Road” at the first Mamoorial. We actually had a really fun time laughing and rehearsing our poem.

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At least the kids hitched a ride on a luggage cart.

We stayed a horrible hotel with the worst breakfast in the history of hotel breakfasts. We so missed our beloved Drury Inns on this trip!

We headed over to the Chapel of the Light where Mamoo’s ashes were to be placed in the above-ground chamber in which my grandpa is interred. I was asked to officiate at a brief committal service before we placed the ashes and this ceremony was attended by only close relatives. After my grandpa died in 1989, my grandma remarried so my step-grandfather and most of his children and their children were there. Mamoo always kept our families kind of separate, even though she was married for more than 20 years to this “new” husband. It was easy for me to forget that she had another life with a whole set of other local grandchildren that I didn’t have a lot of contact with, but for whom she was the only grandmother, the only Mamoo, they’d ever known too. I quickly enlisted the aid of these grandchildren as well for my Song of the Open Road plan. The service I planned went well, but the grandchildren piece was the highlight, in my opinion. I’m not sure if other people specifically liked it, but it was so important to me that each grandchild’s voice be represented during the ceremony. While I don’t know that she liked Walt Whitman at all, my grandma was a traveler and so this poem felt absolutely perfect to me. My grandpa loved his boat and they used to go on boat trips together as well and so the section about taking to the seas, to me, felt like this perfect tie-in to our return of the remains of her body to his:

Song of the Open Road (responsive)

(modified from Walt Whitman)

img497

Riding an elephant in Africa

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before me.

Henceforth, I ask not good fortune—
I myself am good-forturne
Strong and content
I travel the open road.

I inhale great draughts of space;
the east and the west are mine,
and the north and the south are mine.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women,
You have done such good to me,
I would do the same to you.

Lyla

Ready to hit the road!

Whoever you are, come travel with me!
However sweet these laid-up stores—
however convenient this dwelling,
we cannot remain here;

However sheltered this port,
And however calm these waters,
We must not anchor here;

Together! The inducements shall be greater;
We will sail pathless and wild seas;

We will go where winds blow,
Waves dash, and the Yankee clipper
Speeds by under full sail.

Forward! After the great companions!
And to belong to them!
They too are on the road!

Onward! To that which is endless,
As it was beginningless,
To undergo much, journeys of days,
Rests of nights,

To look up or down no road

As I made Mamoo's name, I thought about how I hadn't had any "signs" from her. Then, in the middle of that thought, I looked down and right by the "M" in her name was this rock. I held it all through the memorial service I did at the internment of her ashes and all through my speech at her Celebration of Life luncheon.

I held this stone all through the memorial service I did at the internment of her ashes and all through my speech at her Celebration of Life luncheon.

But it stretches and waits for you—

To know the universe itself as a road—
As many roads—
As roads for traveling souls…

It was a lot of pressure to be responsible for this ceremony. I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted it to be what she deserved. I wanted it to “speak” to every person there. I wanted it to be worthy of her. I hope it was enough.

Before she died, Mamoo got some details l all planned out with my aunt. She wanted a specific banquet center for a celebration of life lunch with chicken salad, no traditional funeral. She wanted the theme music from Out of Africa played and she wanted chocolate chip ice cream bon bons (which was the only thing that couldn’t be worked out–we had chocolate chip cookies instead and the rest was just like she asked for). After the committal service, we went to Tornino’s banquet center for the Celebration of Life. People came and came and came. We exceeded the capacity of the banquet room and emergency additional food had to be prepared. She didn’t want a “funeral service” type of feeling and it wasn’t. The slideshow played, the theme music from Out of Africa played, we ate chicken salad and visited with distant relatives and friends. My aunt spoke briefly and explained the planning of the event. She did a beautiful job honoring my grandma’s wishes and planning an special, lovely lunch in her honor. My grandma’s stepson read a poem written by my step-grandpa about “My Lyla, My Lyla.” It was heart-rending and I suddenly realized I might have made a huge mistake in saying I’d be the last speaker. My grandma’s stepdaughter spoke. My uncle spoke. And, then it was my turn. I was speaking on behalf of all the grandkids, each had sent me a favorite Mamoo memory to share. Remember my plan for the tasteful, teary-eyes? Yeah, that. Instead, I failed to even see the handy Kleenex on the podium and instead wiped my nose with my hand while I was talking. There were 260 people there, which is a much larger group than I’ve spoken before in the past. I didn’t feel nervous really, but I did feel sad and I cried much more than I’d wanted to or expected to. People afterward told me they’d never experienced anything like what I’d said at a memorial before and they hoped someone would do the same for them someday. I apparently talked really fast, but that is not a big surprise. It was hard, but I did it.

For the story from my boys for the speech, they had this to say: Mamoo was really epic.

And, she was.

For my own memory contribution I shared that I picture her in a little jacket and jaunty scarf and zoo necklace and her ball ring, with slightly bent knees and open arms ready for a hug of greeting and she’d smile in that welcoming way. We got too big to be greeted in that way, but I saw her do it again with my own kids. And, I shared what I wrote in my last card to her:

I’ve always been proud of you—your smart, creative, adeventuresome self. Best. Grandma. Ever. You’ve been a beautiful example to us of how to live, both in the practical sense in terms of being frugal and in the more esoteric sense of how to be of service to the community, to take risks, to be productive, and to age gracefully and with a neverending zest for new experiences. We’re grateful to you also for her generosity over the years, particularly for the gift of my college education and the debt-free legacy that left for us and our children. I don’t know that I can ever explain in full what a potent gift that was—one that lasts our lifetime.


I closed with a slightly edited version of a poem I originally shared here:

Last Words

We learned from you
we loved with you
we heard you
we saw you
we hugged you
and held you
we mourned with you July 2013 035
we mourned for you
we have been dazzled by your radiance
inspired by your adventures
and touched by your generosity.

Three generations of people
sat in your lap as children
were covered by your quilts
and zipped into your sweaters
you carried each of us on your hip
and held us each in your heart

We respect you
we cherish you
we appreciate you
we’ve learned so much from you
we’ve laughed with you
and lived with you
and traveled with you

and now
we open up our hands
we open up our hearts July 2013 036
and we let you go.
Be free.
Continue your travels
on the currents of time and space…

Go in peace
go in love
and go knowing that you have left behind
something beautiful
something marvelous
something that matters
The fabric of a life well-lived
the hearth of a family well-tended
the heart of a community strengthened
and a never-ending chain of generations
unbroken.

You’re our Mamoo

June 3, 1979

You’re our grandmother
and we say goodbye
and thank you.

Sink deeply
and gently
into the arms and lap
of time
the great mother of us all

She holds you now.
We let go

Then, we left the Mamoorial and headed out for the beach, a little over three-hour drive. We drove her car…

June 2013 002

When we got home from California, the Mamoorial blue hydrangea we’d planted was blooming beautifully!

One of my earliest memories of Mamoo is of sitting on her lap and playing with a gold ball ring on her finger. I don’t know the story behind that ring, I feel as if I should, but from the time I was a tiny girl she always wore it when she visited her grandchildren and we all liked to play with it. I imagine it was a coincidence that she wore it around a grandchild in the first place, but then it became a thing that she did and that all of us associated with her. When my aunt and mom were going through her jewelry they asked if there was something I wanted and I asked for the ring. Later, my two sisters both mentioned it as well and I feel guilty or selfish for being the one to get it. At this point, I can’t wear it. It makes me feel awful to see it on my own hand. Its hers. It belongs on her hand. The whole reason I wanted it was because it was something that reminds me very concretely of her, but that is the exact same reason that I can’t wear it right now. I hope my own grandchildren will play with it though when I wear it to meet them. It fits on the same finger on my hand that it fit on hers.

June 2013 007

They also gave me her Hitty doll. Hitty: Her First Hundred Years is a classic children’s novel by Rachel Field. It was published in 1929 and wasJune 2013 005 one of my grandma’s favorite books. Hitty is a small ashwood doll who travels the world. In 1997, my grandma bought her own Hitty replica and did, in fact, take Hitty with her on some travels as her travel doll. My dad made replicas of Hitty’s key furniture pieces for my grandma and they were all set up as a display in her house, along with a tiny wooden peg person Hitty I’d made for my grandma, but completely forgotten about. I sat the ball ring on a Hitty’s lap for a while and then ended up putting it into a little shadow box with her on the replica of Hitty’s bench that my dad made for my grandma and a set of my grandma’s Dionne Quintuplet dolls. Those who know me in real life may puzzle somewhat over my extensive and non-frugal American Girl doll collection, but I come by this doll thing genetically, I swear. It is in my blood! I remember the Dionne Quintuplet dolls from when I was a little girl. They were my grandma’s when she was a girl herself and she was fascinated by the story of the Quints.

July 2013 030

Last month, I took the ring to the woods and wrote a sort of “poem” about it, excerpted below. After doing so, I became obsessed with finding a picture of her wearing the ring, because suddenly I worried that I’d imagined or exaggerated that she always wore it to see us. Indeed, I don’t know if she ever wore at other times, but around the grandchildren, it was a fixture. And, I did readily locate pictures from her eightieth birthday party in which you can see the ring on her hand where it belongs and pictures from when I was younger and pictures from when she came to meet Alaina.

…Ball ring
has been a lot of places
told a lot of stories
seen a lot of things
and it is still here
a reminder
of what has gone before.

Thank you.

(6/6/13)

Bill's Beach Pix 03620130715-140057.jpgSANYO DIGITAL CAMERAI had to include this picture even though I, personally, look like a mutant, because Mamoo is so cute in it!

0070She passed along her smile to my whole family! 🙂

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Baby

This is the kind of picture that really twists my heart, because she looks like Alaina in it and the world spins so fast…

Happy birthday, Mamoo! My mom sent me a text to tell me that your birthday club friends went out to lunch for your birthday. They’ve been going out to lunch on birthdays for 50 years.

And, today the investment statements came from the college funds you set up for my kids. Thank you.

Womenergy (Womanergy)

The day before my grandma died, my dad came over and said he’d coined a new word and that I could have it: Womenergy. He said he’d googled it and didn’t come up with anything. I googled it later though and there are a couple of people who have used it before, so I think my dad actually said Womanergy instead, which is still available. So, womanergy has been coined now too! 🙂 I dozed off during Alaina’s nap today and when I woke up the word was in my head and so were a bunch of other words. I channeled a bit of my inner Alice Walker and wrote:

Womenergy (Womanergy):

Feeling fierce at 37 weeks last year.

Feeling fierce at 37 weeks in 2011.

Often felt when giving birth. Also felt at blessingways and circling with women in ceremony and rituals. Involved in the fabric of creation and breath of life. Drawn upon when nursing babies and toting toddlers. Known also as womanpower, closely related to womanspirit and the hearing of one’s “sacred roar.” That which is wild, fierce. Embedded and embodied, it may also be that which has been denied and suppressed and yet waits below her surface, its hot, holy breath igniting her. Experienced as the “invisible nets of love” that surround us, womanergy makes meals for postpartum women, hugs you when you cry, smiles in solidarity at melting down toddlers. It is the force that rises in the night to take care of sick children, that which holds hands with the dying, and stretches out arms to the grieving. It sits with laboring women, nurses the sick, heals the wounded, and nurtures the young. It dances in the moonlight. Womenergy is that which holds the space, that which bears witness, that which hears and sees one another into speech, into being, into personal power. Called upon when digging deep, trying again, and rising up. That which cannot be silenced. The heart and soul of connection. The small voice within that says, “maybe I can, I think I can, I know I can. I AM doing it. Look what I did!” Creates art, weaves words, births babies, gathers people. Thinks in circles, webs, and patterns rather than in lines and angles. Felt as action, resistance, creation, struggle, power, and inherent wisdom.

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.

Womenergy is the chain of the generations, the “red thread” that binds us womb to womb across time and space to the women who have come before and those who will come after. Spinning stories, memories, and bodies, it is that force which unfolds the body of humanity from single cells, to spiraled souls, and pushes them forth into the waiting world.

Used in a sentence:

“I’m headed to the women’s circle tonight. I could really use the womenergy.” February 2013 196

“I felt like I couldn’t keep going, but then my womanergy rose up and I did it anyway.”

“Feel the womenergy in this room!”

“She said she didn’t think she could give birth after all, but then she tapped into her womanergy and kept going.”

“I hope my friends have a blessingway for me, I need to be reminded of the womenergy that surrounds me as I get ready to have this baby.”

Feel it…

Listen to it…

Know it…

In the air, in her touch, in your soul.

Rising
Potent
Embodied
Yours…

“For months I just looked at you
I wondered about all the mothers before me
if they looked at their babies the way I looked at you.
In an instant I knew what moved humankind
from continent to continent
Against all odds.”

–Michelle Singer (in We’Moon 2011 datebook)

“I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we’re weak and sing with us when we’re strong.” –SARK, Succulent Wild Woman

There is a wild tiger in every woman’s heart. Its hot and holy breath quietly, relentlessly feeding her.” – Chameli Ardagh

Circles of women (and art)...

Community Organizing

Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.molly37weeks 071

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.

A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

–Marge Piercy (in Life Prayers, p. 143)

I’m teaching community organizing again this session and the above is a poem I saved to share with my class when we talk about community organizing, creating change, and mobilizing power. I love it, because it starts small, which is where we all have to start. And, of course, it makes me think of birth change efforts as well. In a previous post about creating birth change, I used my community organizing class to explain the difference between education and action…

Additionally, with regard to education as a strategy for change, I’m brought back to a point I raise in my community organizing class: People often suggest “education” as a change strategy with the assumption that education is all that is needed. But, truly, do we want people to know more or do we want them to act differently? There is a LOT of education available to women about birth choices and healthy birth options. What we really want is not actually more education, we want them to act, or to choose, differently. Education in and of itself is not sufficient, it must be complemented by other methods that motivate people to act. As the textbook I use in class states, “a simple lack of information is rarely the major stumbling block.” You have to show them why it matters and the steps they can take to get there…

via Women and Knowing

International Women’s Day: Prayer for Mothers

nursingmamas

This week marked my eighth anniversary as a breastfeeding counselor.  When I began, I didn’t how long I’d keep doing it and I’ve had a lot of discouraging rough patches with dwindling group membership in which I felt like giving up, but now I suspect I might end up as a “lifer.” When I started this work I had one little 18 month old boy. Now, that little boy is closing in on TEN this year! I’ve logged over 1200 contacts since my accreditation. I’ve learned so much from the mothers I’ve worked with and I continue learning new things all the time.

This month as I sat in the circle at our mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group meeting, I looked around at all the beautiful mothers in that room. I reflected on each of their journeys and how much each one has been through in her life, to come to this time and this place, and tears filled my eyes. They are all so amazing. And, my simple, fervent prayer for them in that moment was that they could know that. Know that on a deep, incontrovertible level. I tried to tell them then, in that moment. How much they mean to me, how incredible they are, how I see them. How I hope they will celebrate their own capacities and marvel at their own skills. How I see their countless, beautiful, unrecognized, invisible motherful actions. How when I see them struggling in the door with toddlers and diaper bags and organic produce that they’re sharing with each other, I see heroines. They may look and feel “mundane” from the outside, but from where I’m sitting, they shine with a power and potency that takes my breath away. Moderating toddler disputes over swordplay, wiping noses, changing diapers, soothing tears, murmuring words, moving baby from breast to shoulder to floor and back to breast without even seeming consciously aware of how gorgeously they are both parenting and personing in that very moment, speaking their truths, offering what they have to give, reaching out to one another, and nursing, nursing, nursing. Giving their bodies over to their babies again and again in a tender, invisible majesty. In this room is a symphony of sustenance. An embodied maternal dance of being.

So, today on International Women’s Day, when I visited the woods behind my house, I offered up this…

Prayer for Mothers: March 2013 057

I offer a prayer for all mothers
may you breathe deep down into your belly
may you tip your face to the sky
let your shoulders soften
your forehead smooth
your eyes close gently
your lips part

And may you take a deep cleansing breath
from your feet on the earth
all the way up through your legs
hips
belly
chest
shoulders
and throat

And with this breath
honor your own capacities
marvel at your own resources
notice your strengths
celebrate your successes
listen to your own wisdom
recognize your own heart.

Take a moment to see
really see
how often you act with great courage
how often you act with deep love
and how much of your life’s energy
spirals and spins around your children.

See your worth
hear your value
sing your body’s power
and potency
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
so invisibly
and with such love.

Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother.