The Purpose of Privilege

In what ways are you privileged?

We are all privileged.*

What does the universe want from you?

The universe wants something from you.

Do you know what your purpose is?

We all have purpose.

What makes a life worth living?

This man says “flow” is the secret to happiness.

So when do you lose yourself?

When you “lose yourself,” you can become a vessel.

What is the self anyways?

It seems we love to define the self, our selves.

How do we transcend the self?

We need to get out of our own way.

What would you do if you could do anything?

We could start today.

Where do we start?

Perhaps our various privileges serve as guideposts.

No matter what we’re doing, whether it’s staying at home with kids or wandering the world with nothing, may we let the ways we are privileged reveal our purpose.

Let us notice how the universe nurtures us. Let us take it in and love it, then let us lose the self for a moment, let us get into the flow and release all that goodness back into the ether. Let our privilege become someone else’s privilege.

This is vague, so I will offer a few examples. It could be music. Maybe you have a pretty voice or mad piano skills. Have you thought about sharing your music? You could go into a classroom and play a few tunes, you could join the music ministry in a spiritual community, you could write music and play it for friends, you could post videos to YouTube, you could go after a talent agent. Really, there’s no limit, great or small.

It could be organizing messes or organizing communities. It could be counseling others or taking photos. It could be crafting or welding. It could be a job or it could be volunteering or it could be neither. It could be the main focus of your days or it could be a couple hours on the weekend.

The bottom line? If we feel good about our privilege rather than guilty about it, we know we are using privilege for the Greater Good. It’s that simple.

May our privilege not be in vain.

Where does your privilege point?

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

*Inspired by Roxane Gay’s essay entitled Peculiar Benefits. (more…)

Read My Fiction Now!

Taryn started twirling because she had nothing better to do. Twirling made her hair stick out straight like she’d plunged her finger into the socket and stolen the electricity meant to keep the universe on its toes. She twirled until her legs got mixed up and she fell to the ground in a tangled mess, the earth spinning around her head. For a moment she became the axis around which it revolved.

This is the first paragraph from my short story published in the current issue of MUSED, the BellaOnline literary magazine. The review called it “an emotionally gripping story of a young girl striving to make sense of her tangle of a world.” Read it here.

I also had the honor as the Featured Fiction Writer to share about my writing process. Find that essay here.

Thank you, as always, for your love and support.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Becoming a San Franciscan

I’m obsessed with people’s stories. It’s why I love novels and Instagram. Long stories. Short stories. Everything in between.

I enjoy living in a dense city because of the human energy. I loved it when I studied in Rome in 2005 and I love it living in San Francisco in 2015. I’ll gladly take the downside, the overwhelming swirl of it all, to get the upside, the imagination awakened. Every where I go, the people are fascinating. If only they knew how I notice all of them. Their wrinkled knees and red-rimmed eyes and aching smiles.

There’s a lot going on. Time occasionally slips into a vortex. Hours whoosh by, leaving my hair messy and my clothing soiled. I shrink literally and figuratively from the demands of motherhood, even as it fuels me with the deepest well of purpose, reasons why I must be strong, why I must sleep and eat and take care of my self every time I get the chance. My husband’s job, bless it, takes him away from us more than we like. But the job is also the reason we are in San Francisco and I wouldn’t change any of it.

I am head over heels for San Francisco. The city by the bay. Paris of the West. The Golden city. Fog city. Rainbow land. Call it what you may, this place is magical. Today I drove west and found myself suddenly under the fog and it was so fresh and cool that the mist felt like something out of a storybook. Lord of the Rings mist. Hogwarts mist.

I drove home the long way, along Ocean Avenue and I didn’t pull over to get a good picture, but I did taste the Pacific air and gaze oceanward at the stoplights. The fading sun slashed a few white clouds the color of a peach. It was only the hint of a sunset, but it was enough.

My heart often catches on these slices of heaven. The severity of life’s beauty. The heartbreak of it. Because nothing lasts. On a cellular level, I will be a different person in seven years. I will look similar to the current me, but if the next seven years are anything like the previous seven, I will feel oceans away from this current iteration. I often notice that I am mourning the fleeting smallness of my babies, but it is not just them changing. It’s me, too. It’s everything. Never before has transience been more apparent.

San Francisco is a city of transplants. People come and they go. Sometimes they come back again. It is a city of International residents. I hear accents everywhere. Australian, South African, British. German, Chinese, Spanish. I try eavesdropping on French conversations at the gym and I am disappointed by how quickly they speak. I feel myself craving France, but that’s another post.

Here, the architecture is quaint and the art is unexpected and the people are lovely. I am enchanted by the hills and besotted by the vistas and reverent to the ocean. I have been here five months and I’ve barely taken my first chip at the tip of the iceberg so I’m still unwrapping the reasons why I love it, and the ways it’s loving me back.

Now, I am anticipating the storied cold of the coming San Francisco summer. I feel that perhaps anything is possible under the blanket of fog freshly churned by the vast Pacific. It contains a purity I want for my life. A clarity of thought, word and deed. A washing away. An emerging of new.

It must be spring.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The Beauty in Falling

I meant to click on the Safari browser but I clicked on the Freedom button instead. The box popped up on my screen. If I pressed “okay” I would get 60 minutes of freedom from the internet. I hesitated, even when I knew the errant click had been a generous gesture from the universe. I had opened my computer to write, and I needed Freedom to focus on it.

Isn’t it true that our favorite things can also be our worst enemies? Booze, sugar, caffeine, the internet. You know what I’m talking about. Even a beautiful romance can be ruined by codependency.

Life is a delicate balance. I’m guessing that most of us struggle with balance in one or more areas of our life. Learning balance, like most things, often involves failing. Falling and regrouping from the bathroom floor. At least that’s where I landed recently. I knew I needed to get up but it felt so good for the moment while it lasted. I belonged there. I had the stomach flu and the virus was taking my digestion system through the ringer.

The toughest balance for me these days is Mommy versus Self. I love my kids with every piece of me, it is easy to want to give them all of me, all of the time. Alas, this is not healthy. Every mom needs to be a person apart from her kids. Many moms, if they do not ask for and take their own time, don’t get it. For you maybe it’s balance between discipline and indulgence, work and family, work and play, friendship and partnership, adventure and rootedness.

It wasn’t just my stomach that made me lose my balance. It was my husband traveling, the sleepless nights on my own, the puddles of puke to clean up, the piles of laundry to sort and put away, the diarrhea in the bathtub, the unexpected temper tantrums, the absence of writing time, the shortage of alone time, the never ending to do list, the feeling that this cannot go on much longer–or can it?

But there’s a flip side to everything. Depending on when you ask, I am also thriving. I’ve started to find my groove at the gym. A literary magazine picked up a short story I wrote. Said literary magazine liked this story so much they asked me to be the featured fiction author for the issue and write yet another piece for them. My artist moms group, Maker Mamas, is in the midst of creating something special. (More on that, later.) I am making connections and enjoying meaningful conversations. I am praying. I am supported and loved and known.

Best of all, I am filled with awe. Awe for my children. Their beauty and sweet spirits. The shape of their eyes and the pitch of their laughter. The purity of their needs. The lessons they impart if I pay attention. Awe for this city. A city of transplants and foreigners and art and technology. For the friendly people who comfort me when my daughter pitches a fit and the open people who share their stories so willingly. Awe for my privilege. That I live here in this year in this place with these people. That I get to write words people read. That my family is healthy. That I have good food available whenever I want it. That I get to sit in a steam room every now and then. Awe for my relationships. For the love that bounces among us.

The understanding seems to be slow in coming, but it’s coming. There is a richness to the chaos. There is a purpose to the falling. There is a method to the madness, so to speak. There are people who can help you, if you ask. There is a divine intelligence at work, but it cannot be directed, it can only provide direction.

Some days are nuts. Some days we are in it. This is good. This is where we are supposed to be. Even if it’s the bathroom floor.

“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to still be in the midst of those things & be calm in your heart” – Unknown

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The Moody Mommy

Confession: I can be a slave to my moods.

I am not even-keeled, I am erratic. I don’t think I used to be like this. It might be a product of motherhood. Hyper vigilance and sleep deprivation and all around lack of down time and intellectual stimulation.

But I also have great moods, and great days. Like the other day, which included exercising and creating, fresh air and real conversation.

I felt great, until the witching hour. Usually I throw myself into housework and dinner when it comes. But when everything was on the table and the chicken wasn’t ready, I realized I still had time to kill before the sprint that is dinner-clean up-bath-bed.

I moved the kids to the living room. I put on the music. Not kid music. Hip hop. I turned up the volume. I danced.

I realized that if I stood in front of the window, the people in traffic would be able to see me dancing. Only at rush hour, which coincides with the witching hour, do the cars stop in front of my home for a moment. Maybe I could make them laugh. Maybe I could bring them back into their bodies for a moment. Maybe I could brighten one moment of the monotonous commute. Maybe I could connect with San Francisco in a new way.

When I started dancing, Giovanna ran towards me, squealing. She got down with it. At the sight of her big sister’s moves, Skyla also squealed in delight. She rose up on her little chubby knees and found the beat. It was. So. Cute. I squealed as well.

I didn’t dance in front of the window that night. But I did beat the mood and proceed to have a lovely evening in which Giovanna snuggled Skyla to sleep in her crib. When I looked at the video monitor and saw my big girl comforting my baby girl, the two clutching onto one another, one year-old head resting on five year-old shoulder, my heart exploded.

The next day at the gym childcare, Skyla was only happy if Gigi held her on her lap. Which was bittersweet. But God how I am grateful that these girls have one another, and that I get to be their mother.

I’ll be dancing again tonight, trying to beat the mood.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Happy First Birthday, Skyla + Date Carrot Cake Recipe

My baby is one. She taught me how to love all over again. She completes me in ways I didn’t know I was incomplete. She inspires me every day to be better than before.

Read the story of Skyla’s home water birth here, see the photos here.

I didn’t quite have the time to bake a healthy cake from scratch for Skyla, but since I did this for Giovanna’s first birthday and similar iterations (albeit with more sugar) for all of her subsequent birthdays, I scraped together stolen minutes and made something wholesome. Which meant the cupcakes were not even close to being in the oven when our first party guest arrived. Alas, the creation was worthy of the chaos. Even if she did smear and smash it more than she ate it.

Here is my recipe, inspired from a few different sources.

Date & Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake:

1 cup whole wheat white pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of nutmeg & ginger)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
coconut sugar (I just sprinkled this in, probably 1/4 cup, but 1/2 cup may have been better)
3 eggs
1 stick melted butter
zest of one orange (I probably zested less than half of the orange because I was short on time!)

Pulse in food processor–
approx 3/4 cup pitted dates
3 chopped carrots

Combine all ingredients, spoon into 12 muffin tins and bake 20-25 minutes at 350.

For frosting:

8 oz cream cheese
1 stick of butter
maple syrup to taste

Combine in mixer and use a frosting spatula to frost cooled cupcakes. For best results, add sprinkles.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Tell me what life is about

Lately she’s been saying things like, tell me what life is about. Her voice dreamy and her eyes wistful. She wants to know. She senses that oceans and galaxies lie beyond her grasp. After all, her world only recently turned itself upside down when we moved from our hometown of Seattle. She seems to recognize that life is fragile, that small moments can change everything, that big feelings are fleeting, that nothing lasts forever, and ultimately we will all die.

Her daddy & I try to answer her questions.

I said, love. Life is about loving other people.

He said, but people forget a lot. They think it’s about themselves.

She said, I think it’s about peace. And harmony.

There have been other questions, too.

I told her that I’m not really sure what happens when we die. That nobody really knows. That it’s the greatest mystery of life. Death.

She worries about us dying, about her grandparents dying.

I told her that we will never be separated because we live in one another, we are one another. We are not the same, but we are also not completely separate. We are oneness, embodied.

When I see her smile, I smile.

When I see her hurt, I hurt.

When I see her learn, I learn.

I told her, I think life is about doing what you love. Someday soon, I’ll teach her what it means when something moves you. I want her to recognize what moves her, so she can know her purpose. I want her to know that the universe will guide her by speaking to her heart.

She knows how to ask. My next job is to teach her how to listen.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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