Assorted Saturdays: Honouring the Blood

7 08 2010

We bleed.  Womyn, that is.  Every month, our beautiful genitals issue forth blood from a life that never became manifest.

(Photo credit: http://creative.ly/item/163223/2XtqM)

When expressed that way, I understand why there is so much fear around menstruating.

In our society where death is terrifying, definitely NOT acceptable, the monthly cycle of little death can conjure up some pretty intense reactions in people.

I remember when I got it my mother said something like “welcome to womanhood and the Curse.”  yup, the Curse.

Because womyn, in traditional Christian mythologies have done something horribly wrong and so they must bleed every month.

I believed that, for about 10 years of my bleeding life.  I had cysts on my ovaries, big balls of pain that rose and fell with my cycle, and so my first moon was in a hospital.  The following cycles were equally traumatic, though not with hospital visits, as I knew that the incredible pain was from inside my body and would not be going away.  The pain was monitored with slimy ultrasound sticks over bloated bladder and kept in check, at age 14, by the birth control pill.

Because I really didn’t receive much education about my body as a child, like most of my generation, and those previous, I figured that all of this was just good and normal and that I would be condemned to suffer, excruciatingly, every month, at the hands of my procreative system.  My mother and I coalesced into an ooze of sympathy for each other’s plight, as womyn, and that was it.

When I was 22, I was off the birth control pill for a couple years, based on discovering that it was actually a horrible thing to do to one’s body for prolonged periods of time.  I had been experiencing pain so intense, every month, that I was drugging myself with codeine just so I could function, even nominally.

That was around the time I met Elsa.  She was an empowered woman, studying Women’s Studies in University and was a wellspring of feminine empowerment.  She asked me if I would let her throw me a menarche party.

“A menarche party?” I asked.

And she went on to explain to me that in many cultures, a female bleeding was celebrated.  It meant fertility for the tribe, another person able to carry on the traditions and customs through childbirth.  It meant fertility for the land, as the blood would nourish the Earth and help the crops grow.  It meant, in some cultures, gained wisdom and insight.  A menarche party, then, was a celebration of all things bloody and menstrual, feminine and powerful.

My mind, as they say, was blown.

(not so much a mind being blown, but isn’t this a cute photo?  photo credit: http://livinglaboratory.blogspot.com/2007/03/period-period-period-you-are-ellipsis.html)

So, at age 22, I attended my menarche party.  We wore red, ate red food, talked about blood and bleeding while sitting inside a glorious womb that Elsa had create from deep red fabrics in her attic.

My perspective, thereafter, surrounding my body’s necessary expulsion of uterine lining every month shifted.  I remembered to celebrate my body, instead of curse it.  I remembered to focus on what this blood gave me, and my life, instead of what it took away.

Since then, I have come a long way. I still have cramps, but they aren’t nearly as bad; they haven’t been since that party.  I still get grumpy and tired and all the other things, but now I recognize it as part of a miraculous cycle. I still get anti-social and “bitchy”, but realize this is the urge to go inwards and learn from the little death that comes every month.

I love bleeding now. I am grateful every month that my moon blood greets me.  I gather it in my diva cup and feed it to my plants.  I sleep with a moon blanket to gather my blood off my bed.  I eat delicious chocolates and make love to myself to thank myself for the wonders of what my body does.

My friend Sarah says “Thank you.” every time she knows a womyn is bleeding.  Why? Because she knows that we all go, for those few days, to a place of darkness, where death is ever-present.  She knows that we walk, with our blood, through intense lessons, to bring them back an offer them to those willing to hear.  Because we offer our blood to the Earth.  Because we are moving through cycles so that human life can continue.

So, to all womyn, I say “thank you” for your blood.  May you all find ways that allow you to honour it, as the glorious gift it is.

Blessings.





So close – lessons from my move

3 05 2010

The old house is locked, keys handed over and a new chapter begins.

However, the real part doesn’t begin for another couple of days.  Right now, I’m settling into a “limbo” state for a couple of days while I hang out in Chris’ apartment so the floors can get replaced in my new place.

Which feels really strange.

Little A says she misses her old home.  She says she doesn’t like this home.  She says it’s an “old home” not a new one.  I think this is because none of the boxes are unpacked yet and nothing seems familiar.  I wish I could give her more familiarity, but for now, all I have is our bed in a living room in the house of her father.  Which she’s sleeping peacefully in.

I feel so close.  Yet, two or three days (depending on when they are done) feels like forever.  It feels like a world away, as I wait in this energy that is not mine.  As I watch Chris put his life together around the boxes of my stuff.

This move has taught me so much.  I went through some very difficult body experiences, feeling sciatica back in my body, vomiting and generally not being able to sleep very well. My body was so communicative to me.  It let me know when enough was enough.  It let me know that it wasn’t stressing itself out anymore for Chris.  It let me slow down and make Chris take responsibility for his part of the move.  Though incredibly uncomfortable, my body taught me much.

This move has taught me more about gratitude than I can imagine.  I am so grateful for the support and Love and kindness I have received through this move.  More people than I ever expected came out to help.  It made the moving process so smooth, easy and as de-stressed as possible.  Friends helped take little A so I could pack.  Friends came to clean.  Friends helped pack.  Friends hauled all my stuff around while I sat with little A resting my back.  And they did it all with such grace and Love.  It brought gratitude from the very depths of my soul to overpour out into the world.

This move taught me humility.  Again. How I had to ask for, and receive, fully, the help that I needed.  How I had to swallow my “pride” and allow people to see me in a very vulnerable state.  To get the help I needed I had to drop any pretense of “having it together” or any sort of societal norm of what success looks like.  Truly humbling.

Humility is such an amazing thing to experience.  Humility brings us to a place of being completely in awe of existence, completely vulnerable, completely surrendered to what is and not what we project on the world.  It is a place where, from every direction, we can learn and we can receive and we can give.  So beautiful, and yet, so challenging to maintain in this world of materialism.

This move taught me how to hold space and receive little A more fully.  She moved (and is moving) through some really intense emotions around the move, Chris and my separation and the general change in her life that is happening because of this.  Almost every day, for the last week, especially, she has broken down, at least once, sometimes more, per day into a huge screaming explosion.

At first, I was trying to redirect, allow her to focus on something else or, when she screamed at me to go away, I would.  And then, I read an article about parenting through connection.  It talked about staying with your children while they’re screaming, not disciplining them, not leaving, not distracting.  Just being present and receiving the fullness of their emotions.

So, I tried it.  And little A went from having 50 tiny freakouts/day to 1-3 massive freakouts/day.  A huge difference.  She was much calmer, less needy and more fun to be with.

But BOY! did it hurt.  It is so hard to receive those feelings of “I don’t want you”, “go away mama, you’re too heavy, you have too much stuff”, “I don’t like your decisions”, “I don’t like you mama” for a half hour straight.  To just say “I know. I hear you”.  To just offer compassion.  To just offer space for those emotions to be held so that they can pass.  I felt so humbled.  I felt so sad.

But I know now that I can really receive her.  And that feels wonderful.  It has really strengthened our bond together.

Now, I’m going to go to bed, wake up in the morning and do some gardening in my new garden beds.  I am so excited to be living in this budding urban ecovillage!

(pictures will come soon.  I have to find the camera. LOL!)





they don’t make shirts for saggy breasts

22 04 2010

In North America, the land of eternal youth (HA!) we really try to hide all parts of “real” life.   We use all sorts of items, creams, clothing, dyes and make-ups, sold to us of course, to make ourselves look the idea of youth.  We are afraid of the Crone and Sage with their wrinkled skin, grey hair and sagging breasts and skin.

North America has glorified young as being the only way to be attractive.   Old ladies certainly don’t have sex anymore.

I remember seeing some wonderful pictures of old tribal women in Africa.  They were naked and decorated with beautiful beads and their breasts were hanging down to nearly their belly buttons: testament to a full life as maiden, mother and crone.

I remember thinking that it’s about time breastfeeding was sexy, sagging, empty breasts were hot and children got the nourishment they were created to receive from our bodies.  I remember thinking that I was going to glory in my saggy, empty breasts after I was done breastfeeding, letting them hang and sag as far as they needed to go, without primping them up in a perky bra.  No, I was going to be the woman who changed the perception of post-baby breasts.

Well, now I am that post-breastfed woman.  My full, lush breasts have shrunk back down towards their original size (which was about as small as breasts get) and have, of course, sagged.

It is really obvious to me when I wear the shirt I am currently wearing.  It’s a nice fitted number that has seams around where the bottom of your breasts are supposed to be, to accentuate your perky, youthful ladies. Mine hang a good 2 inches below that line.  And, honestly, it looks awkward.  It looks like I should be wearing a bra, confining my little saggy ladies to a life of perky conformity and hiding the badge of honour I wear as a mother who breastfed for over 2 years.

I like the look of my breasts now.  I remember all the wonderful things that these saggy breasts have given.  They have built the body of my child for the first six months of her life, exclusively.  They have given her immune system an amazing start by pumping her full of all the anti-bodies that I have created in my life.  They have given her brain a wonderful boost with essential omega fats.  They have provided her with emotional support and spiritual support through learning how to be a little human.  They continue to offer her comfort, grounding and bliss, as she still rubs and spends time with them everyday.

(this is a great picture of me all dressed to the nines and nursing in a little goddess space.  I think little A is about 4 months here.)

I look at how much little A worships my breasts.  She rubs, nuzzles, kisses, fluffles, hugs, cuddles and snuggles my breasts.  She says she heals them (she does!).   She loves them so much.  She recognizes the amazing gift that they are, which is such a great reminder to me, to honour them in the same way.

I firmly believe that the reason that breastfeeding mothers have less of a risk of breast cancer is because, when you breastfeed, your breasts get SOOO much love and worship.  How could a cancer possibly live in that environment of love and worship?

And wearing bras, not only feels really uncomfortable to me (I barely wore one in high school, and stopped as soon as I was out of high school) but I just feel like the confining nature of it can’t be good for these do-gooders.  Some information is out there, but it is not sufficiently scientifically back up (check out this book if you want a little scare about the whole thing) to prove it.  However, my gut feeling is that we evolved without bras, we probably are better off without them. 🙂

So, I wear an awkward looking shirt.  My breasts don’t look perky and probably will never look much more perky than right now.  I’m OK with that.  In fact, I think it’s hot, sexy and wonderful.  I hope that more people come to that realization and that women can start to feel comfortable with our saggy ladies, celebrating how far down they sag instead of how perky they are.  Remembering that the farther they sag down our bodies, the more we have provided to the future of our Earth, to our children.

If you are looking for for information and/or about the amazing wonders of breastfeeding please check out:

La Leche League

Kelly Mom

Nursing Mother’s Council





Burdock is so gentle

15 04 2010

This morning little A and I went on a nice walk down the river as part of my commitment to getting into more wild places within the City.  I find it rather strange, city living.  It’s not what I was raised in, and definitely not something that I find easy to balance, at this point.

I thoroughly enjoy running into people, meeting new friends, going to nice little cafes and all the wonderful activities that go on in the City.  However, I miss the silence, the darkness and the stillness of the forest.  Even walking today, in a “wild” place, there was the sound of big trucks going up and down the main drag not too far away.

But, I am going to take what I can get, and hopefully be led to more, wilder and quieter places in the City.

This morning, we took what we could get: a nice path along the river about a 10 minute walk from our current house, about 5 minutes from our new house.  There is so much I don’t know about in the forest.  I can’t name all the plants, and certainly not all the trees.

However, we did spy some nettles coming out, and a few really good patches of motherwort (which I am still very grateful for) and a couple little patches of maple sprouts.  🙂

On Monday I will go foraging with women much wiser about these plants than I.  I am so excited to bring little A with me to learn about what we can eat (and not eat) in the forest.  I wish it would rain, and then we could have a mushroom feastival as well. YUM!

While we were in the forest, we passed a bunch of old burdock.  Little A was very interested in the spiky little leftovers from the past winter.  I asked her to not go near them, as they were pokey and might prick her fingers.  She was very intent on figuring this out for herself and walked up to them and pet one.  I asked her if it was pokey and she replied “no mama, burdock is so gentle with me.  Burdock no pokey me.”

Burdock is a wonderful cleanser.  It cleanses the blood and is a diuretic, allowing toxins to be removed through the kidneys.  It acts gently with the body to increase perspiration and allow toxins to be released through the skin, as well.

Most of today was spent in the sun, enjoying the balmy 26C April weather.  I was able to get lots of embroidery done, as little A wanted to spend a lot of time in front of our house (we have no backyard) pushing her new baby-car (aka stroller) and riding her trike.  The piece that I am making for little A’s meditation cushion is actually starting to look like something now that I’ve finished all the green and have started into the flowers.  It’s so wonderful to see it unfolding, as in the beginning it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere.

I started losing the faith in embroidery for a moment, or rather, losing the patience.  Which is hilarious, because I took up embroidery partially as a spiritual practice of patience.  After having a good laugh at myself, which is the best medicine of all, I started back into the piece with a new fervor.

I still have more to add to the leaves, as I want to “whip” some of the stem stitches in the outline to make them stand out a little more.  Here is its current state of being:

It’s almost the end of the week and I’m not near completed what I wanted.  Of course I also have not completed nearly any packing.  Which should be more of a priority than embroidery.  However, packing is not nearly as fun!  I’ll get to that soon enough.  For now, off to hot yoga and then a good night’s sleep. AHHHHHHH!





Everything is OK as long as the two slinkies aren’t in the same dog poo bag

13 04 2010

That just about sums up my day today.

Sometimes I find myself saying things that I never thought would come out of anyone’s mouth, much less my own, on a semi-regular basis.

Other great ones from today include “please don’t put the almond skins in the bathtub” (the reply to this one was “just a couple mama.”) and “please don’t use the pipe cleaners as a muzzle for the dog” (the reply to this one was “but it’s funny!” which is true, but still….).

This post, today, was going to be about so may things: sex, menstruation, underwear, embroidery (of course), but it seems to have come to a place where none of these things are pertinent in the face of the great experience of mothering.

I’m going to try to get to all of it though:

Last night I had some time to myself in my bedroom, as when I got home from a glorious yoga session, little A was asleep with her daddy.  I thought this was wonderful as I had been looking forward to time to self-cultivate (for those of you who are not in the know, that means masturbation).  Now, this may be a subject that we like to avoid, that is not talked about, especially not on a blog post about mothering, but I feel strongly that it deserves attention.

Sexual self expression is a very healthy and necessary part of Life.  Here in the West, we like to pretend that none of us have sex, or self-pleasure.  It’s taboo to talk about.  It doesn’t make it into main stream media.  No, we prefer gory wars and excessive violence to the beauty and Love of sex.

While I was breastfeeding I, like many other women, completely lost my sex drive.  Now that I’ve weaned, it’s coming back and it’s wonderful to be able to have the time to explore it myself.  Self-pleasure, especially, is important, as it allows us the independence, confidence and self-reliance necessary for a healthy relationship with another person.

So, last night, I took the opportunity to cultivate the sexual heart energy and to be joyously with myself.  Details aside, I was in the throes of bliss when little A woke up, requested me, and was promptly deposited on my bed.

Huh.

While I know this is all part of motherhood, it is such a strange state to be in: switching so quickly from one vibration (total abandon to physical pleasure) to another (total calm, nurturing offer of myself without much regard for my physical comfort).

How does one find the balance?  The time?  What is OK to expose your child to?  All these things are not written about in parenting books, not talked about at playgroups or the park and definitely not explained by the old generation, who mostly like to pretend that we were all immaculate conceptions.  It’s like the whole reason of how children exist (through sex) is conveniently slipped under the rug of the whole parenting experience.

I feel that one of my missions on in the Here and Now is to be able to empower people to realize the necessity of healthy, happy, sacred sexual relations.   I question how I can bring that knowledge to others, however, when I struggle to even find the time to give to myself.

So, sex down. Next: menstruation.

(watercolour “Flow with Me” by Kat Grandy)

I awake this morning feeling a) sexually frustrated and b) incredibly pre-menstrual, which isn’t that surprising as I am on a new moon cycle and the new moon is tomorrow.

It is my humble opinion that moon lodges, red tents and other retreat concepts during menstruation are very necessary.  I wish that there was the community/tribal support available to retreat from life for five days around bleeding.  Two days before and the three first days of bleeding are so intense for me.  I feel like all the veils come down.  I feel like there is no more pretending.  All pretenses and facades drop and become impossible for me to maintain.  I come to a place of honesty with my state of being.  I cannot bring myself to the “happy spot” all the time, nor do I want to.  It is a time for me to be exploring the “darker” places, emotions, thoughts and experiences.

Those places, however, are not really generally accepted as OK places to reside in for several days on end.  In our society, women, instead of being honoured for their journey to those darker places, are called “bitchy”, “hormonal”, or classified in some other, usually derogatory, term.

A dear friend told me that the reason why women aren’t sent away anymore is because we’ve become way too domestic about the whole thing.  We wear tampons, take Midol and go about our business with the best smile we can muster.  If women acted the way they really felt, brought their blood out to the surface, let it drip down their legs, and channeled more openly the darker places they were going to, then we would be sent away, because everyone would understand that we needed to be sent away.

After birthing, I understand menstruation more.  I understand why women feel drawn towards those darker places.  We are encountering little deaths.  Every menstrual cycle we have, we have because we did not create Life.  We are expelling what could’ve been a child.  We are experiencing a little death, complete with the blood and gore of it all, coming out of our beautiful genitals that also spring forth Life.  That death energy is so close when women menstruate.

Some native tribes honoured women by allowing them to go to moon lodges.  They understood that women were going to find the wisdom of the Underworld and that this journey to the Underworld would not be good if the whole tribe experienced it.  I often think of this when preparing to bleed.

Also, right before my moon cycle starts I find the system that we live in particularly unbearable.  On most days, I find it inconceivable, but I allow it to be what it is, love it and go on with living with as much Love as possible in order to bring about the new world.  Menstruating gives me an intolerance for this North American state of living that is pretty fierce.

Mothering while menstruating is one of the most challenging things that I do.  My patience is short, my need for solitude great and little A, sensing this, is, of course, very needy.  She is also, however, a very understanding little being and I know does her best within the given circumstances.  Bless her little soul

Menstruation down.  Next: underwear and embroidery.  Still with me?

I thought that a perfect thing for menstruation would be a nice pair of new, homemade underwear.  So I set about doing that.  I got as far as making the pattern for non-stretchy material, until I realised that a) I only had stretchy material and b) if I used a non-stretchy material pattern I would have to give the underwear away to another larger woman.

At this point, little A had also taken out all the fabric I have and arranged it all over the living room floor.  She had also taken out all the embroidery floss and unraveled much of it.  She had also emptied most of her toys on the living room floor.  At this point, my living room floor was more like a sea of stuff than a floor.

I decided it was time to stop.  Maybe I’ll embroider, I thought.  One stitch in and little A had somehow found the box of pins and spread them nicely on the floor.  “It’s OK mama,” she says “me clean all the needles up meself.”

Breathe.

She’s asleep now.  Dreaming about dogs and pigs and sewing underwear with mama, I’m sure.

Days like this I come back to myself and think “well, I did my best.”  And that’s all I can ask of myself.  I really did my best.  Could I have yelled less?  Could I have kept calmer?  The could’ve lists are endless.  In the end, I couldn’t have, because I didn’t.  In the end, she still spent more of the day laughing than crying.  In the end, a mess is just a mess.  In the end, sleep comes, the day dies and another is born with the sun.

And, everything is OK as long as the two slinkies aren’t in the same dog poo bags.  Which they aren’t.  They are, happily, in two separate dog poo bags, enjoying their lives as springs and the joy of my daughter’s life.





10 reasons why yoga rocks my world

2 04 2010

Before I birthed, I was doing yoga nearly everyday.  I did my own practice and meditation, led by myself.  I went, occasionally, to group classes, but rarely found a teacher I resonated with.  I would take occasional private lessons to find the proper alignment of the postures I was interested in.

After I birthed, I rarely had an opportunity to do yoga at home or away.  Try as I might, I just couldn’t force myself up at 5 am every morning after a totally broken sleep, nor could I motivate myself to do yoga at 9 or 10 at night, after little A had gone to sleep.

When Chris and I broke up earlier this year, I had my first, full “day off”.  Sitting in a local cafe, I wondered what to do with my day, other than drinking tea, journalling and generally just basking in silence.  I started going through all the things that I used to do on a regular basis before I birthed: dancing, meditation, yoga.

I quickly searched the local yoga studios and found that the only ones that offered daily classes were hot yoga studios: Moksha and Bikram.  Bikram’s has never appealed to me, as the founder attempted to patent the sequence of postures.  Patenting a universal healing technique and lifestyle never seemed to resonate with me.  So, it was off to Moksha Yoga.

After my first class I couldn’t understand how I had gone without doing yoga everyday.  So, today, I offer you just ten, of the many reasons that yoga rocks my world.

1.  Yoga provides an great opportunity to be present.  When I am on the mat, doing yoga, there is nothing else I have to be doing or thinking about.  It allows me to be fully present with what is happening in my mind, body, emotions and energy.

2.  Yoga allows me to connect with my breath for a set period of time.  While I do have “mindfulness reminders” in my life to remind me to stop and breathe (a sign at the top of my stairs, when cell phones ring in public), yoga gives me an opportunity to just be with my breath for a prolonged period of time.  Breathing helps me stay calm, grounded and present to my life.

3.  Yoga reminds me to maintain good posture.  Modeling good posture to little A is so important to me.  I want her to be able to see what good posture looks like so that she can experience the ease of good posture from a young age.

4.  Through yoga, I actually learned how to stand up properly.  Now, this may seem like a no brainer, but I honestly didn’t know until about a month ago.  In case you were like me, the way you stand up “properly”, ie: holding your own weight up easily, is by pulling your belly button into your spine and pulling up on your PC muscles.  By doing this, your shoulders instantly come back, and down, your pelvis tucks under and your spine straightens.  I always knew that strong core muscles were key to standing up straight, but I did understand how to use them.

5.  Yoga builds my upper body strength and keeps my breastfeeding breasts nice and supple.  Yup, I really liked having big breasts while breastfeeding.  Before I was pregnant, my breasts were so small that no matter how much I squished, cleavage was impossible to achieve.  Now that we are weaned, my breasts have shrunk significantly, but are getting new shape through building up of my pectoral muscles.  I love having a really beautiful, curvy, fit body.  It makes me feel sexy, confident and healthy!  Delicious!

6.  Yoga gives me a chance to experience my emotions.  While on the mat, I really make it my space.  There is nothing that I prevent myself from doing.  If I need to just be in Shavasana the entire time, then I do.  If I need to spend half the time crying, then I do.  It gives me the opportunity to experience my emotions, release them and move on, which is such a blessing while going through a break-up and life transition.

7.  Yoga increases my flexibility.  This makes my body feel wonderful!

8.  Yoga helps me stay physically fit.  I love this feeling.  It is so important to care for the body temple, to treat it like the sacred vessel it is.  Yoga really brings that into light, by increasing muscle strength, cardiovascular strength and flexibility.

9.  Yoga makes me a better mother.  It allows me some time to ground, thereby making me more present, more compassionate, more able to receive the beautiful gift of my daugher.

10.  Yoga is Love.  It brings me to a wonderful place of openness, vulnerability and expansiveness where I am more able to experience Love.





body wise

31 03 2010

So, my body is telling me to slow down: nausea, muscle aches, sinus congestion…

Our bodies are so wise.  Sometimes I have to remember to step back and allow its perfection to exude.

It’s amazing that my mind will sometimes try to force my body to be a certain way.  I think that’s how I got into this current situation.  I kept telling my body to keep going, keeping moving, don’t stop and pay attention to how you actually feel.

Now, I can’t ignore it.  So I must sit with the sensations and allow my body to come back into balance.  Again, the forest is a perfect place for this.

Little A seems pretty understanding.  She was vomiting this morning as well, so she’s into the laid back pace that I’m going at.  We’ve been drinking chamomile tea all day and cuddling.  It’s very nourishing.  Yet, there is still a part of me that wants to keep going: “Go to your mother’s, finish your laundry.”

However, I’ve started listening.  Breathing more.  Being still.  Being grateful for my body, even as it aches.  Being present in my experience.

So, today, short post.  Tomorrow, another day.