Sacred Sundays: let’s talk about death baby, let’s talk about you and me!

8 08 2010

“Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about death!”

So, maybe Salt n Peppa didn’t ever think that their lyrics would be changed to talk about the exact opposite of their song “let’s talk about sex”.  However, I find it appropriate as the reason they wrote their song was to get something that no one talked about into the limelight.  The song was saying “HEY! this is something that everyone does and no one ever talks about it, let’s change that.”

I feel the same way about death.  It’s something that EVERYONE (and I mean everyone) does, and no one wants to talk about ever.

I like talking about death.  I like telling my daughter that her food came from the dying of plants and animals.  I like when we find road kill in the city and look at it.  I like explaining to little A about why the cats at grandpa’s house aren’t there anymore.

Is that weird? Unhealthy?

For me, talking about it all the time, integrating it into my everyday life, helps me cope with the inevitability of it.  It helps me process it so that when death of a loved one happens, I’m not so traumatized.  It helps me understand that this is not something that spontaneously happens in a sudden surprise, but is, in fact, happening all around us all the time.

(photo is copyright Neil Gaiman from his Sandman series)

I listened to an interview on CBC the other day, with someone from a village in some impoverished area of the world (missed the beginning on the radio).  It was heart-wrenching to me, but the woman was not traumatized.  She was, in fact, seemingly, happy.  One thing she said about all the death, when asked, was that she was surrounded by death everyday, it was nothing new.  For the interviewer, this was a horrible tragedy.  For me, however, I wondered at the mental health benefits of actually being surrounded by death everyday.

We are, of course, already surrounded by death.  We can’t escape death.  It is inevitable.  However, in our North American culture, people are put into hospitals and nursing homes to die, alone, without family.  Our meat is slaughtered away from us, in large factories, and packaged into nice little bundles that look nothing like the death that brought it to us.  Wars are fought far away, where our leaders can convince us that nothing but heroes and help is being administered by those benevolent soldiers carrying automatic weapons.

We do a very effective job of pretending it doesn’t exist, and then, when it suddenly happens near us, we are surprised, traumatized and unable to deal with it.

We are told to do all we can to avoid death. To live our lives carefully and without risk.  We sanitize and isolate our children from anything that might hurt them.  Often, we spend the end of our days sitting and watching life pass by so that we don’t fall over and die faster. With our fear of death, we can take the joy out of Life.  And then, what are we living for?

I intend that my daughter is raised understanding the cycles that we live in on Earth.  I want her to understand about death and rebirth.  I want her to understand that death an ending, but also a beginning.  That taking life gives life. And, ultimately, I want her to understand that it’s going to happen and we don’t have to be afraid of it, because we have our entire lives to come to terms with it.

How do you live with death?



on tiredness

2 06 2010

I read a book recently called “momma zen” which talked about the challenge of being tired, as a mother.  I would say that I have never been so tired in my life, as when I was mothering an infant.  Though it has gotten better, now, after almost two and a half years, I still get very, very tired.

Little A has never been a “sleeper”.  Some babies, in mythical lands, I hear, sleep more than two hours at a time, even with cosleeping and breastfeeding.  Little A slept about two hours maximum, at a time, every night, more often than not waking once every 20 minutes or so.  So, I got to experience tired.

I would say that being tired has been the greatest challenge of motherhood.  All the other things, I am able to deal with, if only I have some sleep under my belt.  With little sleep, for years on end, it can become quite a challenge to find the patience and problem solving skills necessary to parent.

In the book “Momma Zen” the zen approach to tiredness is discussed.  And this is what it says (paraphrased of course) “if you are tired, be tired.”  Don’t try to be awake, don’t try to be anything other than really tired, defenses down and surrendering to the world around you much more than if you were fully rested.

So, now, I am, again, tired.  And I am learning how to just be tired.  Not to try to do more than I really need to.  I am learning to accept that, when I am tired, drinking coffee is not the best solution to find more patience and problem solving skills. In fact, it gives me less patience.  It just makes me feel like I should be “getting more done”.  I am learning to lie down in the afternoons, instead of staying awake being mindlessly unproductive, because I am too tired to do anything but feel like I should be doing something.

It is very freeing.  And difficult.

We live in a society that says that our worth is dictated by how much we do/make/create/perform etc.  There is very little respect for the process of Being, especially centered around mothering.  So, to say to someone “yup, I lay down all afternoon so that I could find more patience and compassion with which to raise my child,” can be much harder than “I organized my desktop and did a few dishes.”   (which, is about all I can get up to when I am tired anyways).

Allowing myself to “be tired” also provides a good example to little A.  It shows her that, when she feels tired, it is OK to rest.  She doesn’t have to keep playing until she screams herself into a frenzy.  She can just take a rest.  Like mama does.

It shows her that she, too, can be in balance with her physical and mental needs.

Tonight, I am going to allow myself to be tired and go to bed now, at 8:30.

Good night!

always ask and other lessons from stinging nettle

17 05 2010

Today, little A and I went down to the river (to pray) to gather nettles.  We were excited to see how much they had grown in the last couple of weeks.

When we got to the nettle patch, I was surprised at the size of the nettles.  Two weeks ago, these little creatures were not more than 6 inches high.  Today, many of them were three times that.

Now, it is my humble opinion that if you are going to decapitate anything you should always ask, nettles being no exception.  Most plants are actually quite gracious that way, and freely offer their tasty leaves to eager hands and mouths. Nettles, especially, like to be asked.

So, walking into the nettle patch, giving thanks for their generosity in helping me build my body, I started to pick. And every time I asked consciously, the nettles didn’t sting me.  And every time I asked, didn’t listen to the answer and picked anyways (usually through distraction) I got stung.  Needless to say, nettles are a fantastic journey in mindfulness.

As an aside, I must say that before I entered the “forest” I gave an offering to it of sacred herbs.  Some place offerings at the specific sites, to specific plants.  Most of the time, I feel drawn towards offering to the larger area, as it is just as important as that one patch.

Picking stinging nettles with a two and half year old, super curious being is a very interesting game.  In one way, I certainly did not want little A to get stung.  I don’t enjoy it too much and I thought it might be an overwhelming sensation for her. On the other hand, this is how children learn and a nettle sting isn’t going to hurt her in the long term.  The former belief seemed stronger as my mother is visiting tomorrow and I could just hear her saying “and you let her pick nettles with you?!”  ;P

However, little A was more curious in the wild raspberry canes growing around the nettles than the nettles themselves, though she did touch a few just to prove to be that they didn’t want to sting her.  Thanks nettles for teaching me faith. 🙂

One of the patches that I go to is being overgrown by garlic mustard, which is a pretty invasive species, though quite delicious.  The nettles were telling me that they wanted a little space from the mustard so I went to pulling out some garlic mustard.  There was quite a lot of it there, as garlic mustard is a pretty efficient reproducer and grower, much like dandelions.  As I pulled I asked the garlic mustard to come out of the ground and leave some room for its friend nettle.  It was quite cooperative and after pulling about 50 plants, I got distracted and starting pulling without asking.  So, what happens?  I step, with my bare feet, on a nettle plant!

Now, this may seem inevitable to be stung on the feet when going bare foot in a nettle patch, but it’s never happened to me before.

I stopped pulling out garlic mustard and left the rest of the patch alone.  I felt a little embarrassed.  :blush

When we finished picking nettles from a couple other spots on the trail, we turned back towards the baby car (read: stroller) to head home.  The nettles were in a plastic bag and little A was very adamant about carrying them.  Once we got to the baby car she wanted to cuddle with them and “keep them safe on her lap”.

She discovered a hole in the bag and decided to pet the nettles that she loves so much.  Coming again to the place of indecision, I told little A that nettles could sting her so she might not want to touch them.  “No, mama,” she said, “nettles no sting me.” And she continued petting them inside the bag.  And she was right; she didn’t get stung.

Another lesson of nettles: children are very good at bending the laws of time and space.

As I’m pushing little A home she finishes cuddling the nettles and starts to “play a game with them”.  She’s kicking them and laughing and telling me that nettles are funny and playful and they like to play with her.  She says she’s made a new friend and they make her laugh.

Next lesson from nettles: everything is alive and interacting in glorious ways with us always.  Children are so wise and perceptive to pick up on it. As I age, I am glad to have little A and nettles to remind me of the magic in all things, especially the wild.

Tomorrow morning we will eat nettles for breakfast!  Delicious!  And I will hold inside of my body, to create my cells out of, all the lessons that I received today.


the Heart of Business?

11 05 2010

I recently found this site: the Heart Of Business.  I perused it and, at first, found it to be just another new-agey, give me money for an ebook kinda scam.  However, some of the stuff I read immediately caught my heart.  So, I signed up for the e-newsletter, read the blog, read a bunch of articles and downloaded some of his free information.

And, I must say, it has really been eye-opening.  I no longer think that he’s just a new agey flake trying to sell me the same knowledge that should be free anyways, that everyone else is selling (namely, the whole “law of attraction” stuffs).

I’m going into business now.  I have officially moved, officially have to pay rent, and officially have to support myself financially.  The blatant evidence-based reality of it all is a little overwhelming.  I must have an income.

This is something that I have not done in quite a number of years.

I have been going about my days not really paying too much attention to money, choosing the don’t-think-about-it-and-it-won’t-stress-you-out approach, which is fine, as I have not been stressing out about it.  However, I have also not had an income.  So, it was mostly not stressing out about spending Chris’ money, which was also quite easy.

Now, I have to think about it, because I’m the one making the money (or going to be making the money).  I have to look money in the eye and say “hey, let’s get along and spend lots of time together.” which is something that definitely has made me quite uncomfortable in the past.

There was always the idea of not having enough.  Or needing more.  Or going without because I was worried that when the time came to pay rent or hydro or whatever, there wouldn’t be enough.

There was always the idea of poverty, having not grown up with much money, poverty was something that has been conditioned into me.  Though I am very grateful to have been raised simply, due to lack of money to do otherwise, I also got into the idea that I couldn’t have money.

There’s the idea that having money is somehow dirty or oppressive.  I thought that having money somehow made me an evil, corporate whore of sorts.

There’s the idea that wanting to have money is somehow greedy, materialistic, egotistical or selfish.  That having money would mean that I was not living up to my spiritual ideals.

There’s the idea that I should still be able to get everything I need without money, which I proved by living without money for a couple of years.  (This line of thinking has since been disbanded as I am not really able/willing to squat with a small child, dumpster with a small child or go to drop-ins with a small child.)

All of these things have kept me from having money.

However, in the last year or so, I’ve been coming closer and closer to an understanding with money.

I now know why I want money.  Which seems obvious, but really wasn’t to me.  I have defined it now: I want money to support farmers and artists and to give myself a healthy, safe and loving space to live in.  That’s it.  With that in mind, I am better able to choose my purchases, to feel comfortable using my money on art, and to take care of myself.  Great!

However, I didn’t really know about how to get money, without feeling somehow dirty, or like I was taking something from someone that they would need for other things, besides what I have to offer.

Hanging out on the Heart of Business website has given me a lot of good perspective as to how to do it.

The answer: connect with my Heart.

I love this site, because it is all about how you can connect to your heart in all your money/business decisions.  It’s about being present with where you are at, in terms of ability to offer service. It is about remembering that the Heart connection to the Divine comes before any money, and all money decisions need to be made in service to the Divine, in total Love.

It reminds me that it is important for people doing heart-centered work to succeed financially so that the face of our business world shifts to something more heart-centered.  We need people centered in Love and Kindness to be running businesses, and being really successful at it, so that the money movers and shakers have Love in mind, instead of greed.

So, with this in mind, I come to today.  Today, like tomorrow and all the days following it, is a day that I must focus on my business, starting it up, organizing marketing, income goals, supplies etc. So, today, I created a budget, presented it to a funder (aka, a close friend of mine) and organized as many supplies as I could.

And then, with total knowledge that this was exactly what I needed to be doing to make money, I sewed all afternoon.  I sewed a receiving blanket for a new baby and a skirt for a good friend of mine in BC.  I realized that, ultimately, I want to be sewing more than anything else (well, maybe embroidering too!), right now.  That this is the way I want to be in service to the Earth (by using scrap/recycled materials) and to people (by offering creative and lovely costume).  So, I need to practice.  A lot!

I feel good about what I am doing.  I feel good about starting a business.  I feel, for the first time, like I could actually make enough  money while still maintaining a healthy relationship with money.

So, thanks to Mark, who runs the Heart of Business site.  And thanks to whatever random link-through got me to the site.

The Wind and The Rain

8 05 2010

(this post turned into a rainy afternoon musing, so I hope you enjoy it with that in mind)

I love the rain.  I am so glad that it is here now.  Pouring down on the Earth, gifting the soils with the abundance of Life.

I love the cleansing nature of rain.  I love feeling the rain streaming down my face, clearing any tears, emotions or thoughts that might need a good washing off.  I have been finding that this particular rainstorm is so cleansing, with its incredibly powerful winds.  Blowing all the old out, washing all the old away.  Bringing in the new over and over again.

I feel this in my emotions too.  As I am now in my new house, away from Chris, I have a lot to shed.  Layers and layers of emotions, thoughts, patterns and conditionings that have piled up over the last three years.  I let the wind blow them away; I let the rain wash them off.

One thing that has been coming up, that I offer to the rain, is judgment.  I have a lot of judgment towards Chris and the way that he lives, and specifically, the way he interacts with little A.  Of course, I want the absolute best for little A, and have a pretty good idea of what that is.  And it’s not necessarily what Chris offers.

But that is a judgment on him, and on his actions.  By all measures, little A is perfectly happy with Chris and thrives in his care.  She gets experiences with him that she just wouldn’t get with me, because they are not what I would do with a child.  However, she thrives on these experiences, and finds much comfort and silliness in her daddy.

She still gets tons of Love.  She still gets good food.  She still gets a lot of space to explore, discover and create.

So, I release with this wind the judgment and allow Chris to be the shining father that he is, even if sometimes he does things that I would consider “not ideal”.

It is so clearing to just allow others to be.  It gives people space to exist and express themselves in ways that could otherwise be squashed in the face of judgment.  It breeds flexibility, as we move to allow others to exist and they move to allow us to do the same.

Trees in the wind are such a great reminder of flexibility.  To remember to move with the winds, instead of fighting against them, allows us to continue moving forward.  When we lose our flexibility, we lose our ability to change, and so, we break.

My dear friend Bloodbeard has a great email signature.  It says “sometimes change seems impossible, but it’s actually not. change is inevitable.”  So, if we forget that change is, in fact, inevitable, then we can become rigid.  I see this so much in Life.  They are so convinced that circumstances can’t change that they are almost holding the circumstances stable with their rigidity.

I’ve done this a bunch myself.

But, luckily for me (and us all) there is wind and rain to remind me of letting go, allowing, bending, moving and clearing with a good dose of abundance and nourishment.

The Gift of Motherhood

6 05 2010

What a gift it is.

The last week or so, though it has been one of the most challenging times, has been such a lesson and reminder of the Gift of Motherhood.  This path, that I’ve consciously chosen to walk, has brought me on such a journey.

Children are our spiritual masters.  Some people look for the guru, the right spiritual teaching that will bring us to new heights of spiritual awareness.  I find that children, these little, fresh-from-source creatures are the best teachers that I have found. And my own child, she is the best teacher for me.

One of the amazing gifts of motherhood is the ability to heal the family line.  I feel like the past few generations, seeing the introduction of many unhealthy parenting dynamics, is finally able to get healed by this new generation.  I feel like so much of what my mother healed, I have, and now can heal even further.

For example: cosleeping.  It has come to my attention that cosleeping is one of the single most important things to do with a baby/toddler.  Though my mother didn’t sleep with me, she slept in the same bedroom as me, which was closer than she was to her mother before her.  There are so many things about my personal psyche that I’ve tried to “work out” in my life and could never figure out where they came from: my totally irrational need to be accepted by my mother in all that I do (though I am completely OK with anyone else not accepting pretty much anything I do), being the first one that comes to mind.

I could never understand it, until I read about the psychological impacts of cosleeping.  Now, I am blessed with the ability to heal that wound and sleep with my child, giving her a sense of security and acceptance.

Another gift of motherhood is creating the future.  It is so amazingly exciting to shape the future of existence through mindful, and unconditionally loving, child rearing.

I feel sometimes like we forget about the responsibility we have, as parents, for the future.  We have children, not to better the future but to just have children.  Maybe I’m wrong about that.  I think that the realm of human development is something that ALL humans need to know, as it helps us make informed decisions about how to raise our children.  We’ve gone so far, it seems, from the intuitive nature of child-rearing that a good blast of knowledge seems to be the only thing leading us back.

The last gift that I am thinking about tonight (before my box-chair gives in, as i’m writing this, still in the middle of unpacking) is the gift of self-reflection.  Little A is such a blessing.  She takes life and reflects it back to me in such a way that I am SO able to learn from, as I see the issues I face playing out so overtly, yet subtly, in her.

This whole thing we’ve been experiencing, of little A getting super upset at me, has been such an amazing tool for me.  It has allowed me to reflect on my own “HUGE emotions”, how space is held for them and how I express them.  And it isn’t nearly as much as it needs to be.  I hide my emotions quite well and only allow huge freakouts to happen alone or with really, really trusted friends.  In the last week, I’ve been allowing myself to cry when I feel like it, as long as I feel like it, no matter where I am or what I am doing.

It is such a freeing process.

Allowing our emotions out, when they need to come, is so beautiful.  It keeps me much more relaxed and functional.  I am less irritable and more patient. Especially with little A.

I thank her so much for this gift she has given me, by choosing me as her mother in this incarnation.

My heart bursts with the love I feel for her, every moment more and more.  It seems impossible to love someone so much.

(I guess my last secret gift is the gift of learning how to Love more and more and more)

So grateful and so humbled.

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!)