My He(ART)-Full Life

Saturday, March 7, 2015

In Honor of Sister Audre...International Women's Day 2015

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." -Audre Lorde

 "The  fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken."- Audre Lorde , The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action
"I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We've been taught that silence would save us, but it won't." -Audre Lorde

 “The language by which we have been taught to dismiss ourselves and our feelings as suspect is the same language we use to dismiss and suspect each other.” -Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider
"You cannot, you cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.”-I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

 "For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us." -Audre Lorde

“The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself. And the best way I can do this is to be who I am and hope that he will learn from this not how to be me, which is not possible, but how to be himself. And this means how to move to that voice from within himself, rather than to those raucous, persuasive, or threatening voices from outside, pressuring him to be what the world wants him to be.” -Man Child: A Black Lesbian Feminist’s Response, -Audre Lorde

 “To search for power within myself means I must be willing to move through being afraid to whatever lies beyond.”-Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

 "I am my best work-a series of road maps, reports, doodles and prayers from the front lines."              -Audre Lorde

I remember the very first time I came across Audre Lorde's writings...I was 19 years old, sitting in my Women Studies class...when I first started reading her words. They saved my life!! Her writings literally saved my life!! There I was, a very broken girl pretending to be not broken. There I was floundering and very wounded and unsure of myself. There I emotional holocaust. I had survived my extremely abusive and toxic childhood and "family" of origin...and running survival programs that traumatized children have to. I ended up taking my first Women Studies class by accident...just because the Psychology class I really wanted to take was full and this just happened to fit into my schedule kind of thing. But it was her writings that gave me strength and!! I held on for dear life to her words because they were my lifeline to a different world...a world where I could be self determining, a world where my gender would not oppress me and stifle me and put me in a box so tight I couldn't breathe. A world where I was not defined by abuse and trauma. Because she defined herself from divergent perspectives ..."a black feminist lesbian mother poet" is how she described herself...she gave me a way to do that myself. My identity could encompass all of my experiences...I didn't have to be defined by what made others feels safe and comfortable...I could contain multitudes.  I could speak my truth even though I was deeply afraid. Her writings gave me wings and hope; a road map to my own innate power. Her work literally saved me, loved me, empowered me and lit a light within me. How I devoured her writings throughout my life from that day on...memorized parts of her books and tucked them away in my be used as a soothing balm...over and over and over again.
With honor and deepest respect...dear Sister Audre...thank you!  
 International Women's Day 2015...lets make it happen!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

dear Life...

Dear you continue to surprise me!! This past month you have been  full of unexpectedness, mayhem and lots of serious joy squished in. The year started off with various strains of flu bugs, a serious (but not life threatening) medical emergency with Tim and Tara turning 6. Dear Life, recently you have ushered in gifts of patience, fortitude and self care. Dear Life...As I sit here this sunny morning...I am ready to unwrap all you have to offer. I feel brave enough (even temporarily) to rise up and meet you.

Dear Life...I am so very grateful for Tim...the partnership we have...our friendship and leaning on each other in different ways. Marriage has been so good to me and for me. The growing up, the vulnerability, the trust and friendship we continue to build with each step. This deepening of our relationship has taken me by surprise; the ways we meet in love and familiarity. 

Dear Life...My girl turned 6 yesterday...and she is a complete joy. All of her spunk + sassiness, her sparkle + shine...she is growing in leaps and bounds and inspiring me to do the same. She is brimming with spirit! I remember the moment I first set eyes on her like it was yesterday...and all those countless moments after...when I simply couldn't believe that I get to be her mom. How really, she was the one who birthed me and not the other way around. How she makes me want to be a better, more authentic, more patient. She leads me, teaches me, inspires me. Grateful for this sweetness. 
Dear Life...I am so ready to break down the walls of silence that have kept me trapped all these many many years. I am so ready to leap into joy, truthtelling, courage and compassion. I am ready!!! xxx

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

around here lately...

 "There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again." -Rumi
Been trying to focus on the light these days...I have been making a conscious effort to be present to all the goodness while still making space for truth. Trying to make my way back self, to joy, to love, to light. Wishing you all a happy holiday season filled with everything that lights up your heart.



Friday, December 12, 2014

"I can't breathe"

                                 (a watercolor portrait I painted of Tim a few years ago-a birthday gift)
 In light of the recent events right here in America-the no indictment rulings in both Ferguson + Staten Island as well as the state sanctioned murder of Tamir Rice -I am writing this post. I have no platitudes to offer, no wise and poetic quote or words strung together like so many empty promises. What I have is the crystallization of fury, heartbroken cries of pain...bitterness. I have fallen into an abyss of despair. "I can't breathe."
I have struggled these past many weeks to not allow hate + blind rage to conquer pieces of my heart...and I have failed as many times. The recent string of high profile killings of African American (mostly) males (too numerous to mention) has seemed to bring out the best + worst in us. There are people who think that talking about race equals racism, there are people who think that avoiding talking about these social (in)justice issues is the best way to navigate these dangerous waters...and there are those who think that none of this has anything at all to do with race. It makes people uncomfortable...all this talking about race. And sometimes...their discomfort turns to fear + anger. There has been so much victim blaming, vitriol...and sheer hate + has left me gasping for air. "I can't breathe."
 And so now...I am trying to piece together a way forward for my family. How do I raise my daughter to be a proud American while still educating her about the reality that her life simply is not worth the same in these here United States? How do I clap + cheer and have my heart bursting with pride as Tara recites the Pledge of Allegiance...while having another part of my heart completely shatter to pieces? How do I try to encourage my husband when he talks to me about how, all his life, he's played by the rules whilst knowing...that the rules don't apply to him? How to I still my fear that, at anytime we are out in public...he may be the target of unfounded fear + hate? Sure...he's a United States Marine, an Officer at that...but also... a large Black man. I don't have the privilege + luxury of allowing complacency + silence to seduce me. Sometimes...I wish I seems so much easier. it? There are so many great books + articles written on the systemic issues of racism, on the confluence of societal and personal beliefs and biases that is deeply rooted in America, on race as social construct...on and on. But can any one of those books explain why a police officer would gun down a 12 year old child and then refuse him first aid as he lays there dying? Can any book explain what Tamir Rice must have experienced as he lay there wounded....gasping for air? Are enough of us in this society okay with this to allow it to go as usual. "I can't breathe"
My sweet friend from across the pond sent me an e-mail the other day...and her deeply profound words of wisdom and heartfelt compassion + understanding gave me so much comfort. I want to share some of her message here
"...keep lighting the candles and making the art and telling the stories and showing Tara the truth that it is hard to be a loving, giving, heartfelt soul-true person in this messed up world, but we stay true to our dreams and do what we can, and allow ourselves time out from what we cannot do, but always leave a corner for hope and the universe to be bigger than us and humanity to have more answers than we can individually find, and to honor the answers we do find... and to make community whenever and wherever we can...
including across the sea, with friends we meet on wings ;)"
Thank you sweet lady Dee, and to all the other kindnesses + community I have received these past few weeks; it has made a profound difference. xxx

Monday, November 17, 2014

transformations + embracing our "beautiful mess" (notes from the journey)

 “As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.”
                                                                                                          - Joseph Campbell
 There have been transformations happening over here...budding changes that are happening in the tiniest of ways; and I am trusting my process wholeheartedly. With surrender + faith (my 2 words for the year, can you believe?). I used to be so frustrated and dejected that changes weren't happening faster...that I seemed to be doing everything I was "supposed" to do...but now I am stepping into my own rhythm of healing which occurs at our own pace. I have been writing pages + pages and pages...(amounting to books, really) and am really going way back deep into the recesses of my childhood. I am examining the lies upon lies upon lies...layers of deceit and transgressions and starting to truly bring them to the light. Questioning not only "Family of Origin" lies but cultural and multi-generational ones too. And it has been cathartic and exhausting and revealing ...and I've only just begun!!! It's a huge tangled mess that has depended on complacency, denial and feigned or real ignorance for it's very survival. And I am validating my experiences...the staggering damages that were incurred. I am examining my (false) survival programs/belief systems (otherwise known as fears, insecurities + shame) that I so desperately needed in childhood...but which now, no longer serve me in any way; they need to be brought to light also. I realize that I own my stories, my experiences, my journey...and I am going to claim it. Fully...wholeheartedly, with truth, compassion and self love. And what I am discovering is that each tiny act of courage leads to an expansion of self and acts of synchronicity that I am ever so grateful for.

I'm also beginning to realize that I don't have to "have everything together"...who does???:) But I am starting to truly "get this" on a deeper level. Not even striving for balance...but going with the flow. Not obsessing about whether things will be coherent ...but accepting that it's okay to be a "beautiful mess". In Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently talks embracing my "beautiful mess"...celebrating it!!! Deep breath to that empowering point of view:) *See what I mean about really small shifts in perspectives = ginormous transformations??? Now that I have stopped chasing "balance" I have more energy to be present. Now that have stopped seeking things externally ...I can make the inner journey. Huge, huge and huge...makes me feel so filled with joy, I can't stop smiling:)

 "Now I become myself. It's taken time, many years and places..."
                                                                                                   -May Sarton
 As much as I have been excavating truth ...I have also been practicing self care. So so important...focusing on things that strengthen me, fill me up with joy and connect me to my deeper self.  Long photo walks (by myself or with Tara), painting, doll-making, juicing, journaling, yoga, reading poetry, practicing...being-ness. And the best part about self-care...(besides the fact that it feels so good) is that not only do I reap the benefits but everyone in my life does too. And Tara is learning , by example, the importance of caring for the self. Win/win/win.


“The higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.” ~ Nietszche
  More soon! xxx

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

notes from the journey...2

 "All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you sit still it will find you. It has been waiting for you for a long time." -Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes (WWRWTW)
My healing journey has been unfolding at it's own pace...often taking me to places I prefer not to go...but desperately need to. Where are these places? These places are dark and shrouded in childhood, my past, mySELF. It's taking me to seeing (really seeing) things as they truly are...not as I would have liked them to be, not as I was told they were...but truth...raw and real has left me wanting to crawl back into the darkness. But the funny thing is...once you initiate the journey to can't turn back; you can't "un-see" what you see or "un-know" what you know. And another "funny" thing is...they are things you have always deep down known...but decided to hide from yourSELF. Either because you had to in order to physically and psychologically survive your environment...or because it was simply too painful to bring out into the light. But we know...we deep down know. Our body knows, our intuition knows...our very being simply knows. And trusting ourSELVES with what we know is often a first step in healing and empowerment. Deeply listening, honoring and giving voice to our experiences can be the first step to healing.

 “We are not what happened to us,
we are what we wish to become.”-
C.G. Jung

  And so, right now, my healing journey has taken me to confronting my shadow. It's difficult and...I don't want to do it. terrifies me. Which is why I know...this is exactly what I need to be doing. I came across this fearlessly authentic book where Alyce Barry talks (with so much detailed honesty) about her own journey...and it has given me courage to do this work also. It's difficult...and I want to give up every step of the way. Which is exactly why, I deep down know... I must not.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."
                                                                                                                    -Walt Whitman

 "I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. 
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing, 
as though I had wings."
                                                    Mary Oliver
 And the very best reasons that keep me moving forward, inward and toward the light? Right here, right here...right here. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

around here lately...

This is my latest Painted Paper Doll in the making and you guys, I simply can't explain how absolutely wonderful this class is...not only for my creativity and painting...but for my soul. I can just see myself making so many of these beautiful dolls because each one has her very own personality...her very own story to share. And I have no idea how they are going to turn out...only that each one is just so special. This lady right here is coming together in the most delightful way...swoon. I can't thank the wonderful Danielle Daniel enough for sharing her gifts with us in this class.

And we've been making time for play, self care and reflection over here. Reading, journaling, photowalks, tea drinking and practicing mindfulness are priorities. That and exercise, drinking water + going to bed early:) I find that when I fit in 15-20 mins. throughout the day for self care...everything just goes more smoothly. And the best part??? I don't feel guilty for taking some time for myself anymore!

I love to cook! I adore cookbooks, shopping for exotic spices and international cuisine. Just the thought of saffron, cardamom and smoked serrano chilli power make me a little giddy with joy. But after becoming a mom...I just didn't have as much time to devote to cooking . But now that Tara is in school...I prepare the difficult stuff and then get her to help me with the easier parts when she gets home. Not only does she love being my little kitchen helper...but she's also more likely to want to eat the food she cooks!!! Win/win. And I recently read up on everyday gourmet...where just a few unexpected items (lime, Saigon cinnamon or a splash of vanilla) can turn ordinary into...zing! Everyday gourmet is really a mindset...where even the most simple dish can be turned into something fab. Loving this concept!

The outdoors is simply spectacular this time of year over here...the trees are ablaze in washes of orange, reds and golds. The mountains stand guard around us lofty...and grand. And the skies are ever moody in dark grays and smoky blues. Colorado in the fall is gorgeous  and reminds me so much of Alberta...especially Banff. 
This is Tara's reading nook...and if I could fit in this cozy space...I would pretty much live here!! She loves perusing through her books or writing me or Tim love notes...swoon. A lot of big girl changes to her bedroom...gone are the days when I could decorate to my heart's content. She has very definite ideas of the way she wants things. All part of her growing up, gaining some independence and wanting to make her space her own. So proud of my girl.  

Tim and I have been making time for date nights once or twice a week. Just some time when we can get out of mommy/daddy mode and connect about our days and dreams. Where we can chat and laugh and have a glass of wine. So look forward to these evenings.

Tara loves these Feelings Flashcards by Todd Parr right here. There are so many new (and often overwhelming) experiences for her since starting school...and these cards are so helpful in getting her to open up about her emotional world. We love the simple, delightful and colorful illustrations; they have made such a huge difference! Can't recommend them enough.

And this is my sweet girl the other day...early in the morning right before going off to school. She is full of sass and pizazz and giggles. She loves to do math, tell stories and oh!...simply be adorable:)  I can't believe that she will turn 6 in a few months...savoring these moments. All of them. And that's some of our life around here lately. xxx