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Introducing…Papatoto!

Attached Father, Papatoto, daddy and baby art sculpture (dad, attachment parent, mother blessing, midwife, doula, childbirth, figurine)“When he becomes a father, a man leaves behind his life as a single individual and expands into a more inclusive role. He becomes a link in an unbroken chain. And in doing so, he himself undergoes a birth process–the birth of himself as a father.”

–John Franklin (FatherBirth)

Just in time for Father’s Day, we’ve finished our first ever father-baby sculpture. This seated father and child sculpture is 3 inches and colored with a beautifully swirly mica pigment. He is custom created in the color of your choice by request in your order (color choices: blue, turquoise, russet, lavender-gold, rose-gold, gold, bronze, copper, gold-bronze, purple, or green). He is a nurturing, loving figure! Papatoto means “fatherbaby” and represents the continued, symbiotic, connected relationship between parent and child that begins in the womb.

This fatherhood sculpture was created in collaboration with my husband to capture the father-child bond and how the baby learns to explore the world from the secure base of daddy’s lap. A new standing father with child on hip is coming next.

Birth affirmations for fathers coming up as our next newsletter freebie, so make sure you’ve subscribed!

“Nurturing is not a genetically feminine attribute. Tears and laughter are not the province of women only. The last time I looked, men had tear ducts. They had arms for holding babies. They cared about their children. And they cried at births…let the shared experience of childbirth reclaim the human soul.”

-Ariska Razak (midwife and healer)

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Sixmonthababy!

IMG_4367So…THIS BABY! Somehow, he is six months old already. Somehow, he acts more like a ten month old! One of the things that is different about being a fourth baby than a first baby, is that you accept being zoomed around on a tiny car as a normal part of your morning…

Speaking of mornings, I’d like to comment that whomever said, “the days are long, but the years are short,” was totally wrong. Both the days AND the years are short. So, so short. I mentioned before that I am definitely feeling maxed out in my caregiving powers in an average day (and, one can only reduce household tasks so far without becoming disgusting). It is unbelievable to me how many things I DON’T get to do in a day and that I have to release or let go of. At the same time it is amazing how many things I actually do, but the number of important things that slip through my fingers is feeling rough to accept lately. It feels like much of my relationship work is being sacrificed. Activism, local events, friendships, relationships in general, doing things with my other kids, going places, self-care basics—these are all getting pared away, reduced, or feel like they are suffering, untended, or neglected. As one small example, I didn’t read most of or reply to hardly any of the birthday greetings I had on Facebook last week, I can’t respond to simple midwifery activism action alerts, and so forth. What I have been having time for is time to work next to my sleeping baby, since I have to sit in a quiet room with him and actively keep him asleep for naps. This is handy for blog posts, newsletters, etsy work, class preparation, and writing projects!

Okay, enough whining, and back to this baby. He is mobile! Very mobile. He crawls—mostly army style, but also on knees and then launch forward and then knees again and launch forward (sort of inch-worm style). He pulls to standing on everything. He gets himself back to a seated position after being flat on his belly. He lets go while standing and holds on with only one hand. He does some transferring between surfaces, but not cruising yet…that is coming any day now I think. He practices getting down from bed and chair by sliding off the edge (with help) over and over again—slide down, reach to be lifted back up, slide down again. You can see the practiced concentration. He does things like get canned goods out of the cabinet while standing there holding on with one hand (that’s what I mean about feeling like I have a ten month old). He’s only six months old! By the same token I feel like he bonks his head or hurts himself more often than he should as only a six month old baby—he tries things that are just a little out of his actual capacity. (Such as holding on to the laundry basket with one hand and leaning over and swiping other hand toward the couch trying to transfer surfaces even though he isn’t quite close enough to reach.)

Along with this mobility comes some struggling with our nursing relationship. He clearly feels “bored” or held down by needing to stop for “nonnies.” Some day, despite lots of offering and two minute long nursing sessions, it feels like he is only really, truly nursing at naptimes and then all night long (to make up for the busyness during the day). I pretty much have to shut myself up in the bedroom with him to nurse him very well at all. Along with this, he is eating a ton of solid food. Way more than any of my kids have ever done at the same age and he started doing so with no real fanfare or lead-in or episodes of gagging over textures and spitting things out. He grabs, he chomps, he gobbles, he has a specific “desperate” (horrible!) sound he makes when he wants a snack or something from our meals. Despite having a pile of other kids, until this month with Tanner, I have been pretty judgey towards other parents about their solid food choices with their babies. Since my other three were only passingly interested at this age and would gag and spit out almost everything, I assumed other parents who said their six month old loved to eat, were exaggerating or almost “forcing” the babies to have solids when they weren’t really ready. Apparently, no matter how many years you parent, there is always room to be humbled yet again!

He still weighs about 18 pounds (maybe 19. We get varying results.) The other thing he does that is different than my other kids is suddenly degenerate into extreme crying fits when it is time to go to sleep, usually when we’re changing his clothes/diaper and I’m brushing my teeth to get in bed. It is an abrupt shift into crying hard and he shrieks in a desperate, agitated, really over-the-top manner. He also continues with the car crying horror to the extent that we only actually leave the house once or twice a week! Oh, that said though, he as started to make some visits over to my parents’ house when the other kids go to visit during the day. The first time he left with them, I cried three times! Now, I’m seeing the advantage. Mark and I really benefit from focused time to work together instead of shouting to each other over the tops of people’s heads (not ideal for running a collaborative business). I’ve also left Tanner with Mark twice while I teach, instead of dragging them with me to sit in the hall. I’m almost to another session break and I also got it arranged to do my next two classes partially online, meaning I won’t be gone for the entire time and can get home to my baby in a timely fashion, instead of having to bring him + Mark along with me. While I do enjoy “grinding my corn” with my baby and having him close by while I teach, I do have to admit that I do a better job and feel much more satisfied when I am on my own at class and not worrying about them out in the hallway waiting for me!

He also got to visit with his great grandma last month!

April 2015 015Something Tanner does do that all of our co-sleeping babies have done is touch our faces in the night to ID who he’s got—since Mark has a beard, when he reaches up and feels Mark’s scratchy face, he knows to roll away and back towards me! In the night, I’ll feel a little hand patting at my cheek…checking in…right person? And, then snuggling up to nurse. He still sleeps on my arm all night long, but he rolls to face different directions while still being on my arm.

Despite the maxing and the chaos and the juggling and the paring away, I literally cannot believe I ever worried about not loving him. He is the baby I didn’t know I needed. The member of the family that was missing. He totally belongs and is so much a part of me and our lives that I can barely remember him not being here and can certainly not imagine that we might never have had him!

April 2015 153

Grinding My Corn Sculpture

IMG_3729It has been almost four years since I wrote my post about “grinding my corn.” In that time, I’ve added another baby, another degree, a book, and a business to my life (as well as lots of other projects!). I’ve also made necessary subtractions and deletions, some painful, some a relief. And, guess what, I still want to grind my corn! My husband works from home with me now and he, too, grinds his corn while parenting and personing. This is what I wrote in my original post:

This is what I’m talking about. There needs to be a third, realistic option (and not just for women. For men too. For families!). I have often expressed the desire to find a balance between mothering and “personing.” I’m seeking a seamless integration of work and family life for both Mark and myself. An integration that makes true co-parenting possible, while still meeting the potent biological need of a baby for her mother and a mother’s biological compulsion to be present with her baby. Why is the work world designed to ignore the existence of families?

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

It felt like it was definitely time for a new grinding my corn sculpture! It took quite some time between my original sculpt and making the new figurines a reality, but she’s here!

IMG_3526I love her and she sits by my computer while I write, on my desk while I teach, and on my bedside table at night. She reminds me of my own capacity—to grow, to adapt, to change, to balance, to hold, to care, to live.

Adding another baby to our family has really pushed us to our coping edge in many ways, sometimes it feels like we’ve tipped past the edge–piled dishes, piled laundry, piled recycling, undone requests, unresponded to messages, other kids wanting books read and projects done. We’re pretty maxed. Our house feels at maximum capacity. Our lives feel at maximum capacity. And, yet, I still reach for the and. Somehow, even when here at the edge, or over it, we do make room…

At one point when my first son was a baby, I was trying to explain my “trapped” or bound feelings to my mother and she said something like, “well what would you rather be doing instead?” And, that was exactly it. I DIDN’T want to be doing something instead, I wanted to be doing something AND. I wanted to grind my corn with my baby. Before he was born I had work that I loved very much and that, to me, felt deeply important to the world. Motherhood required a radically re-defining of my sense of my self, my purpose on earth, and my reason for being. While I had been told I could bring my baby with me while continuing to teach volunteer trainings, I quickly found that it was incompatible for me—I felt like I was doing neither job well while bringing my baby with me and I had to “vote” for my baby and quit my work. While I felt like this was the right choice for my family, it felt like a tremendous personal sacrifice and I felt very restricted and “denied” in having to make it. With my first baby, I had to give up just about everything of my “old life” and it was a difficult and painful transition. When my second baby was born, it was much easier because I was already in “kid mode.” I’d already re-defined my identity to include motherhood and while I still chafed sometimes at the bonds of being bonded, they were now familiar to me…

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

My new sculpture incorporates a small “offering” bowl (as her lap) that to me is symbolic of the fact that though her hands are full, she is still open to possibilities and offerings and can “hold” more, when needed.

IMG_3702Having another baby has really made me pare away a lot in my life, including very basic self-care things like regular showers! I’ve done it before, so I know it isn’t permanent, but it is still hard to feel like I’m trimming away so much that matters to me, while also having so much I want to offer, and constantly having to prioritize and choose. I’ve been looking at it as a sort of “sabbatical.” While I might not be able to do as much face to face projects as I envision and dream of, I can lay the groundwork, I can write, I can prepare and outline and imagine, while also sitting in my bed holding my sleeping baby. Maybe I won’t get outside every day and maybe I have to choose between the shower or yoga, since doing both in one day seems like too much to ask sometimes, but I can use this baby time to incubate new visions and grow while appearing stationary.

Here is a gallery of how I’ve been grinding my corn with my baby this month (click for captions)…

Tanner was my baby-helper at last night’s Red Tent Circle at WomanSpace. It is hard to balance baby-care with circle facilitation (because baby helpers do things like bang the rattle on the floor instead of “passing the rattle”), but I’m still really glad I decided to offer these circles this year. It has been a rich experience so far.

IMG_4269I 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 Corn grinding mama goddess birth art sculpture by BrigidsGrove.

During the Inner Mentor visualization we did last night at our circle, we traveled in time to meet ourselves twenty years from now. The first thing she/I told me is that my baby is now twenty. It felt like a shock to consider that, since right now is so real

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(Side note: this is my 1000th [published] blog post at Talk Birth! It is true that regular blogging eventually produces a significant body of work!)

 

Tuesday Tidbits: Women’s Work

“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.

February 2015 020It is Women’s History Month and we just passed International Women’s Day this Sunday, so today I have a collection of posts either about International Women’s Day or the theme of women’s work in general.

The first is this article about the basics of natural birth intended for the “non-hippy” reader:

“But is that really it? Is birth so simple as that? Is it really so simple as just having faith in your body and protecting and working with your natural hormonal flow?

Well mostly – yes!

It is that simple. Natural birth occurs when women feel safe, feel loved, feel listened to, are surrounded by calm loving people, and go with their natural birth flow. In all its intensity – your body was designed to handle it. Even if you don’t know it yet.

It IS hard work. It IS intense. It does help if you’re a bit bendy. It does help if you are active throughout pregnancy and vaguely fit. But no yoga required if that doesn’t float your boat. All the drugs and pain relief you need are right inside you. All the strength you need is right inside you. If you can find birth attendants who will mirror that belief back at you in their eyes, in their hearts, in their hands, in their attitude and manner, and in their language to you – in effect, saying ‘I believe in you’, you are one step closer to discovering the greatest, and the most ordinary and yet extraordinary power known to woman – natural birth…”

go-with-the-flow » Natural homebirth – not just for hippies!

This post made me think of one of my own on the “rest and be thankful stage” that has been linked to a lot over the last few days:

I always make sure to tell my birth class clients about the possibility of experiencing a lull like this, because it is during this resting phase that labor is sometimes described as having “stalled” or as requiring Pitocin to “kick it off again” or as requiring directed or coached pushing. Also, think of the frequency of remarks from mothers such as, “I just never felt the urge to push.” When exploring further, it is often revealed that what the mother actually experienced was no immediate pushing urge instantly following assessment of full dilation. Depending on the baby’s position, this can be extremely normal. The way I explain it to my clients is that the lull represents the conclusion of the physiological shift happening in the uterus—the transition between contractions that open the cervix and the contractions that push the baby down and out.

via The Rest and Be Thankful Stage | Talk Birth.

I came across the not-just-for-hippies post when the author shared the link with me in the self-publishing class we are both enrolled in. (The current class is already in progress, but you can get information about the fall session here: Be Your Own Publisher – the self-publishing e-course.) This course was developed by Lucy Pearce (author of The Rainbow Way and The Moods of Motherhood), who recently wrote a post that really spoke to me about the “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” we may find ourselves in when pursuing creative work (or any work we feel “called” to do):

Many of us live in a “labyrinth of self-imposed limitations” (thanks to one of my self-publishing students, Linda English, for that phrase).

Especially when it comes to our creativity.

And double-especially when it comes to owning ourselves as writers, or artists, or whatever creative pursuit or ambition we’re holding off on…

via I Will Be a Writer When… – Dreaming Aloud.

I also read this interesting post on the Fortune magazine site about mothering and working and thriving…

I wish I had known five years ago, as a young, childless manager, that mothers are the people you need on your team. There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now.

via Female Company President: “I’m sorry to all the mothers I worked with” – Fortune.

And, I thought about my past Women’s Day posts, the first about a body prayer that I wrote, but that also quoted some information about the original intention of the 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…”

International Women’s Day: Body Prayer | Talk Birth

The second offering a prayer for mothers:

…hear your value March 2013 057
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…”

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

I re-visited a past post in honor of Women’s (Birth) History Month:

“…we need to grasp an honest understanding of birthing history – one that tells HERstory not HIStory. Because birth is about Women. It is a woman’s story. And we need to also understand why and how this herstory compels women to make the choices they make surrounding birth in the present day.
People become the product of the culture that feeds them…”

Women’s (Birth) History Month | Talk Birth.

And, I did my own work creating our March newsletter covering Women’s Day, Shining Years, Red Tent Fundraiser, and More: Happy International Women’s Day! I’ve also made a lot of changes and additions to our website recently including a Womanrunes 101 page and other pages explaining more about our jewelry and and sculpture work.

I have so many ideas for what I’d like to do and create this year (we also have what feels like a lot of kids, including the babiest of adorable babies who is getting so big, so fast!) and I am trying to hard to do what makes sense and to choose wisely. It is hard to tease out the difference between self-limiting (or self-sabotaging) thought patterns and being sensible/practical/realistic for this stage in my life. I made a huge mind map today to try to help me clear some of this stuff out of my brain and I was going to share a picture of it, because it is freaking intense, but it also made me feel (or look) a little crazy, so I decided not to share it after all!

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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.

Wednesday Tidbits: Mothers Writing

…we write
to connect ourselves
to this circle
these circles
of women writing
each time we pose
pen or pencil
to paper.

–Wendy Judith Cutler

via Circles Writing | Talk Birth.

IMG_2864Writing our Womanrunes book feels like it unlocked something and I’ve got about eight other books in me now that want to be born! The challenge is organizing and focusing my time and energy in order to work on them (particularly since I’m on baby time now!). I also can’t forget that I’m also trying to write a dissertation this year. When I get frustrated by my pace, I try to keep in mind that the notes I jot down and the ideas I have and quotes I share and books I read and blog posts I write can all be, in their own ways, pieces of these evolving projects and are sort of like writing all the time. I’m looking forward to settling down with a free interview series about self-publishing, Be Your Own Publisher, from Lucy Pearce and her team at Womancraft Publishing. The speaker on the agenda for today addresses writing and motherhood. Last night, I also decided to sign up for the full course!

I wrote about mothering and writing in a past post for a the Rainbow Way blog carnival:

As I’ve been reading Lucy’s book The Rainbow Way, reflecting on my own work, and looking around my home, I’ve had a realization: While I have struggled and cried and planned, while I have given up, and begun again, and surrendered, and refused to quit; While I have been present and been distracted, created and been “denied” the opportunity to create, while I have nursed babies and “written” in my head the whole time; While I have been filled with joy and filled with despair and while I have given myself permission and berated myself and then berated myself for self-beratement, my husband and I have created a home and family life together that is full of creativity.

via Releasing Our Butterflies | Talk Birth.

This week I read some powerful articles from other mothers writing. This piece from the author of After Birth is about the loneliness of new motherhood:

“To Marianne, Ari’s feminism doesn’t make sense. Reclaiming the singular power of the female body is too radical or too way-way old fashioned or some weird combination therein. That’s stale thinking on Marianne’s part, and a pretty major failure of imagination. Problem is, a feminism that “liberates” women from biology turns out to not actually behoove anyone. Women still aren’t equal, and if we buy into that old feminism, now we’ve also divorced ourselves from something primal and arguably vital, and signed ourselves up for some pretty extreme new forms of violence in the process—forceps, shaving, enemas, episiotomy, the lithotomy position, induction, surgery.

Unmediated physical connection to childbirth and nursing is wildly magical. You see a lot of backlash to that idea, like, I don’t buy the magical birth/nursing bullshit, and you can’t make me, to which, you know, OK, to each her own, and Godspeed. But Ari wants to get back that essential connection to the body…”

via After Birth: An interview about motherhood, feminism, and loneliness with novelist Elisa Albert.

And, this piece about the ordinary but powerful realities of mothering

…But in each of those moments, the ones that are heavy and the ones that are hard, here’s the thing that I have settled on: We keep mothering…

When You Just Want to Quit Being a Mom | Sarah Sandifer.

I also enjoyed this post about Facebook reality vs. real reality. I keep meaning to write a similar post. I like her example of too much FB being like too much sugar…

But plenty of research has surfaced over the last few years indicating the psychological effects of social media are rather costly. Too much time on Facebook has been likened to eating too much sugar. It’s easily digested with little to no intrinsic value, and it weighs in heavily on users self-confidence, stress levels, comparison and overall satisfaction with their lives.

via Don’t Judge a Life by Its Facebook | Fort Worth Moms Blog.

IMG_2947Past Talk Birth posts about writing:

I’ve spent a lifetime writing various essays in my head, nearly every day, but those words always “died” in me before they ever got out onto paper. After spending a full three years letting other women’s voices reach me through books and essays, and then six more years birthing the mother-writer within, I continue to feel an almost physical sense of relief and release whenever I sit down to write and to let my own voice be heard….

Birthing the Mother-Writer (or: Playing My Music, or: Postpartum Feelings, Part 1) | Talk Birth.

…The body of a writer

is a political action

with each swing of a letter

each truth written

the world is broken open…

–Sarah Jones

via A Writer’s Prayer | Talk Birth.

“As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

via I am a Story Woman | Talk Birth.

“I know that for me, writing has something in common with nursing the baby. I can’t do it if I don’t do it all the time. Put it aside to build up strength, the flow will dwindle and finally disappear. When the baby was at my breast ten times a day, I had a rare secret feeling that we were violating a law of nature, defying a form of entropy…One cannot hoard some things. The more I gave the baby, the more I had to give her, and had I tried to conserve myself, I would have found that I conserved nothing.” –Rosellen Brown

via Writing and Nursing | Talk Birth.IMG_2855

 

 

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

Twomonthababy!

 

December 2014 032

Babies. I highly recommend them.

My little Tan Tan is two months old today. As I snuggle him, two quotes often flit through my mind. The first when I nuzzle his head: “…his softly furred scalp.” The second when I experience those moments of amazement and delight in him and the desire to carefully preserve exactly what this sweetness is like in this very moment: “…the last baby trails his sweet scent like a soft flag of surrender.”

Today, I looked them up so I could use them in this post and behold they both come from the same author and the exact same passage of The Poisonwood Bible.

“A mother’s body remembers her babies–the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against December 2014 055her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It’s the last one, though, that overtakes you. I can’t dare say I loved the others less, but my first three were all babies at once, and motherhood dismayed me entirely. . . . That’s how it is with the firstborn, no matter what kind of mother you are–rich, poor, frazzled half to death or sweetly content. A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world.

But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’s love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she’s gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She’s the one you can’t put down.”

― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

I know I already used them in a past post about Alaina (don’t judge!).

I guess another bonus of a bonus baby is that you get to have the sweetness of a “last baby” twice! I remember writing after I had Alaina that I finally felt about her the way I always imagined feeling about motherhood. It isn’t that I didn’t feel the deep love and attachment with my older boys, I definitely did. And, I had lots of moments of delight and cherishment with them as well, but I just don’t remember consciously enjoying their babyness so very much. I really very much enjoy the babyness of this new last baby.

December 2014 213We haven’t weighed him since seven weeks and he was a little over 12lbs then. Is certifiably adorbs. Is first baby to have smiled at me while nursing and awake at this young. Seems extra smiley in general for a baby this age, actually. And, has been successfully peeing in potty when I remember to take him. I haven’t exactly been taking off with EC this time around, but suddenly decided it was time to try. Here is a video of his heart-melting goos.

Showing off my Dragonfire trifle on Hobbit Day!

Showing off my Dragonfire trifle on Hobbit Day!

He seems even more mama-focused than my other babies. I pretty much still hold him 22 hours a day. He likes to smile at and look at other people and can sometimes be held by them while sleeping, but his limit on being carried around by most others is about five minutes. Sometimes with my mom he lasts longer than that if she can get him out of the kid-chaos-zone and into a quiet room and lay him down to talk with him one-on-one. I keep exclaiming about this to Mark, as in—“couldn’t you hold our other kids longer than five minutes at a time?”—when I remember that Tanner is the only baby for whom Mark has been home. I guess I didn’t notice how mama-fied the other babies was, because I was the only adult home with them during the days of their babyhoods. I did envision that with two parents home all the time, baby-care would be distributed more between us than with prior babies, but so far it isn’t working out that way. Its okay though, because…softly furred scalp.

Also, and perhaps this plays a part in the delight in the babyness of the baby, when you have multiple kids, sitting down and snuggling the baby feels like a break. It feels like delicious respite. It feels like vacation. When you have one baby and you hold it all the time and are on so constantly, sitting down with the baby feels like that is “all” you do. I remember wishing to be free to be a complete human again. Now, with three other complete-human kids needing things, sitting down with the baby does not feel like the ongoing work that it once may have felt.

He does like to sit on a knee and pump his legs with enthusiasm!

December 2014 154Some things also haven’t changed. As I posted to Facebook recently, this week I was on the elliptical while Tanner slept. I started talking about how I was looking forward to my oatmeal for breakfast and how I was fantasizing about eating it. Then I started laughing and telling the kids about how when Lann was a baby I used to wait all morning to eat my oatmeal, until he went down for his morning nap. I would walk around getting weaker and headachy and sort of depressed and imagining my bowl and how good it would be. “How sad is that?!”

Then, the realization: Oops! I guess nothing has really changed in 11 years!

(Except my oatmeal has lots more chocolate chips now…)

Here is a picture of Tanner “opening” his first gift on the Winter Solstice:

December 2014 049
And, here is a picture of how I got my paper grading work done this session:

December 2014 022I knocked them out too! I really wanted to be drinking Nutella cocoa, making Christmas decorations, and brainstorming awesome biz plans for 2015 and not doing any grading at all, but I also tried to hold appreciation and gratitude for this work that I can do from my kitchen table with my baby listening to my heartbeat at the very same time.

(You might not be able to tell in the pic, but I also had an earbud in one ear because I was listening to Red Tent facilitator training recordings at the same time too! That’s how I roll. Later, I listened to audiobooks at 1.5 speed while grading. There may be nothing better than being able to read a book AND do something else at the same time. Dream come true!)

I also asked Mark to take a picture of some of my favorite accomplishments of 2014. Baby, M.Div degree, and finishing the facilitation of a year-long Rise Up curriculum with my women’s circle:

December 2014 207And, here are a couple of more pix from Christmas, including my cute new doll (Alaina got one too) in her crocheted boho vest made by my talented mom as well as lovely new handmade wine goblets. Also, the boys in their made-by-my-mom beard hats and Alaina in her princess hat and my brother in his Cthulu hat (which was too awesome not to include!):

We also got to experience more cousin power on Christmas!

December 2014 070

 

Small Business Saturday: Birth Altars, Birth Jewelry, and Babywearing.

As thank you to our Brigid’s Grove customers, we’re offering free shipping for United States customers in our etsy shop on almost everything in our shop through December 1st. For our international customers, we have a thank you discount code for 10% off: SMALLBIZSATURDAY.

We made our first ever Etsy treasuries this week! The first is about birth altars:

Setting up a birth altar in preparation for labor can be very meaningful. Creating your own art to add to the altar is very special, but so is finding handmade items on Etsy that speak powerfully to the birth experience or to your plans for your birth!

via Birth Altar Art by Molly and Mark on Etsy.

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The second is about birth jewelry!

Many women choose a special pendant or charm to use as a focal point during labor. A birth pendant serves as a special touchstone/talisman during pregnancy and through birthing as well. It can be a powerful point of connection, strength, & inspiration!

via Birth Jewelry by Molly and Mark on Etsy.

IMG_8810Our babywearing mama sculpture was featured in a blog post about gift ideas for babywearers too:

No worries, I’ve got you covered with this great list of 13 Gifts Under $39 from Etsy – gifts that would appeal to any babywearer. That’s right – go ahead and check that babywearer off your gift list because you’ve nailed it. You are the best gift giver ever. And don’t worry, I’ll totally let you take the credit.

via 13 Gifts Under $39 for Babywearers | tea for three.

IMG_9350And, I enjoyed this treasury of Alternative Holiday Ideas from The Girl God on Facebook!IMG_0576

We finished a couple of new sculptures this week as well (we’ve been very productive considering we also have a four-week old baby!). We have some of our miscarriage mama goddesses finished and some of our Embrace Possibilities design in sculpture form as well. These are a little taller than our usual figures, about four inches instead of three.

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I also revised and digitally published my Earthprayer, Birthprayer, Lifeprayer, Womanprayer book of earth-based poetry.

earthprayer cover

And, now I’m going back to taking some time off to babymoon and snuggle!