Facing Impermanence

The sun came out in a profound way, the last day of April rivaling the best of summer. My mother-in-law arrived on a jetplane to meet her nine week-old granddaughter. James came home for lunch and early for dinner. Giovanna had her Grandma. None of us could keep our lips off of our squishy gorgeous baby.

Love was in the balmy breezy sweet clean air.

They were making dinner together; my husband and his mother and my daughter; while I cared for Skyla. For once I didn’t have to multitask. Two of my three major evening responsibilities (Giovanna and dinner) were out of my hands.

So what did I do?

I took a walk.

I slipped Skyla into my trusty front pack and I walked through the city in the heat I love so desperately, the heat I’d been craving since it sidled away eight months earlier. The sky shone robin egg’s blue and flowers popped out of the ground at every opportunity and the trees loomed like giants. Bicyclists whizzed by and people walked their dogs and children drew on the sidewalks. The lake brought certain peace while the volcanic mountain, so big it looked like a painting in the sky, humbled us mere mortals.

We are at the mercy of the earth.

And on this day, Mother Nature graced the Pacific Northwest with a lush and lustrous aura. The juicy green and glassy blue landscape like a highly addictive drug, the ether charged with something golden and Good.

I was getting exercise while connecting with nature, roaming my patch of the planet both paved and wild. My husband was at home. My daughter was happy. My baby was strapped to my heart, a smiling cooing suckling sleeping angel, the light of heaven pouring out of her in the form of pure unadulterated love.

I became rigid with contentment which isn’t as lovely as it sounds. While climbing a long set of stairs, I had to stop. My heart cramped.

I was afraid.

How could life get better than this? How long could I hold onto these riches? How could I possibly feel this happy when so many people are starving and sick and depressed? I was standing at the top and looking over the edge.

Anxiety wanted to ruin my moment. If everything Good is ruined by worries, what’s left? Why is it so hard to let ourselves feel mind-numbingly happy?

My theory? Because we grow attached to the current picture of our life. And we know deep down we can’t take it with us. Everything exists only in fleeting passages.

My baby will soon be grown.

The weather will soon turn.

Everyone dies.

We intuit these truths of impermanence and we fret that everything will change before we are ready. Before we have really gotten to know someone or told them how we feel or followed a dream or appreciated the perfume of prolific oxygen.

I stood there for a moment, deciding that I deserved to feel Good without guilt or anxiety. I’d hit some lows the week before and I’d learned some lessons. I’d waited long and patiently for this baby and for the spring.

So I gathered presence around me and I breathed it in and I knew it: the best is yet to come. I could learn how to move comfortably within my natural state of joy. Instead of aching along with society, I could take my birth right and use it to weave light into the dark places.

My joints loosened and I noticed the moss on the edges of the stairs like a decorative trim. I took the next step and emerged out of the shade. Sun flooded my eyeballs as if to say, yes.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

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We Are All Babies

We think we’re so grown up, don’t we?

We understand so very little about the vastness of the universe, about the force that makes the sun shine and the flowers grow and the rain fall and our hearts beat. It’s not our fault. We are only human. We can only see ahead of us so far as the earth curves. Just like our babies can only focus on objects 8-15 inches in front of their eyes.

And yet we think we know what’s best for us. We think we know what makes us happy. We think we know what’s important. We think we know how to live.

Because how else could we function if we didn’t pretend to know what we’re doing and where we’re headed?

(Fake it ’til you make it.)

Like my 7 year-old stepson, Emile, says: “I know all the facts about life.” If we listen to children and consider deeply their feelings and motivations and opinions, we can learn quite a lot from them. How often do we think we know “all the facts” about something, only to find out (seconds or days or years later) that we were missing vital pieces of information? How often do we think to ourselves, if only I knew then what I know now?

(Hindsight is 20/20.)

We have ideas about death but really we have no idea what happens to us after the life-force that lives behind our eyes goes away forever. Does forever exist or is time cyclical like the days and the seasons and the years? Whose to say we know any more about living than we do about dying?

And whose to say adults know any more about life than seven year-olds? In the grand scheme of creation, aren’t we all babies?

I look at my baby and I can see that she is perfect.

According to certain spiritual teachings, this is how God sees us. We are perfect in all of perfection’s shades of gray. Imperfectly perfect. Perfectly imperfect. Sinners with full redemption.

My baby scratched herself on the nose recently. I was sad that she accidentally hurt herself with those flailing little arms. She didn’t mean to. But she’s okay. Wounds heal.

Isn’t it the same with us? God, the Universe, All That Is watches as we hurt ourselves. We undervalue, we doubt, we over promise ourselves. We flail about and we fall. God knows we don’t mean to do it, but we are confused, we are disorganized, we don’t always see what’s right in front of us.

My baby gets very upset in the car. We never go anywhere until she has nursed. If she’s fed and asleep, she usually wakes up when I strap her in. If she’s fed and awake, she will last for an average of 15-20 minutes before losing her cool. And if she’s fed and truly tired, she does not fall asleep peacefully in the carseat. Rather, she cries. If we’re going longer than 5 minutes, I pull over and nurse her, but this doesn’t usually help unless I can knock her out with milk while still strapped in her carseat, a feat of contortion and a test of patience and an investment of time, all of which are more often than not in short supply. She wails and she screams at the top of her lungs (have you ever heard the top of a newborn’s lungs?) and she grows sweaty and those arms wave in the air like she’s calling out to Jesus.

I hate it. Those cries scratch my heart like the keenest fingernails on the squeakiest chalkboard, like the anguish of the person you love most in the world. I want to save her. I want to wipe away her sadness. I don’t want to go anywhere in the car, and when Giovanna was a baby (who did the same thing) I often didn’t. But my life is a different life now. Mainly I have a 4 year-old who goes to preschool and likes to do things and if we stayed home all the time she and I might both go crazy. So I try to pretend it’s not happening. Sometimes I cry along with her. And when she cries for so long that her cries slow to intermittent wails and the sweat on her head leaves wet shadows on the carseat, I think I must be the worst mother ever to let my tiny child feel such desperation.

Alas I also know she’s okay. She may feel lonely or tired or bored, but she’s being cared for, even strapped inside that loathed seat. It will be over soon and I will take her in my arms and make everything better. I can do that for her.

Don’t you think it’s the same for God? God watches us as we go through things. We become strapped to our burdens and burdened by our minds. We have bad days and depressive periods and new lows. We call for help and when no one answers we call louder. We think that maybe no one’s listening, but really God is listening, waiting for the right moment. Waiting for us to arrive so we can be delivered from our pain. Because everything is temporary. And if we get out early, we won’t ever get to where we’re supposed to be going.

Have I told you that my baby is beautiful? I have never seen a human being more beautiful. She is beautiful because she is pure light. She shines with divinity. Her physical appearance does me in. The pocket of flesh beneath her chin and the rolls on her limbs and the rotundity of her belly. The dark brown in her eyes and the cradle cap in her eyebrows and the fuzzy hair on her ears that remind just how very new she is. The length and elegance of her fingers and the softness of her feet and the itsy bitsy milia on her face.

What if God see us the same way? Sweet and gentle creatures with cute noses and funny pimples and jiggly thighs and hair in weird places, every speck of us adorable and perfect. Could it be possible that there is nothing inherently wrong with any of us after all? Did God give us the gift of babies so we could know how much we are loved by source?

After all, we all come from God. Source. We are all God’s babies.

I like to think of us this way. Smart, sophisticated and savvy humans doing complex and important things to help this planet evolve, but underneath it all we’re just sweet little babes, looking for some love, wondering about this world and what’s going to happen next.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

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Skyla & Cruz, soul-cousins born 9 days apart

Being Mommy to a Baby

I think you know that I am smitten with motherhood. It’s not something I seek to underplay or overplay for the sake of this blog.

And though I wear many hats in the course of one day (writer, blogger, business owner, tea mixer, cook, maid, driver, punching bag, etc), motherhood is more than a hat because I cannot take it off. My children occupy a prime piece of real estate in my heart and my mind, and even temporarily my body.

They started out here, first inside of me and then attached to my breast and my lap and my side, so needy for me. For mommy. And though this is exhausting, I love it. I love my babies and I love being loved by my babies.

(Which is something I must remember when I feel swarmed with children and I hear myself wishing or even asking for space.)

When I was five years old I used to play house with my best friend and her little sister. My best friend was the teacher and I was the mommy and her little sister was my daughter. I clearly remember instructing this two year-old to hug me as I talked to the teacher. She was supposed to be so glad to see me after school.

Motherhood is more than a hat, more than a job, more than a career, motherhood is a life’s work.

And yes, it is the hardest work out there, a lifestyle of selflessness and generosity and boundless patience.

I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of it.

Four years and 3 months into this thing and I’ve taken one trip sans children. It lasted exactly 48 hours including travel and though heavy with anxiety about being an airplane ride away from Giovanna, it was worth it for the time spent with James and a few special loved ones in the California sunshine. I love to travel, I love my husband, and like a migratory bird I love flying south in the winter.

But I didn’t try for it again. It was fun, but a tad excruciating. As much as I want to maintain my sense of self I have a hard time leaving my children voluntarily, and I find it nearly impossible to leave my little baby. Even for a yoga class or a hair cut. Yes, I feel a bit trapped by my own anxieties and expectations. Yes, they could survive without me. But I want to be there, I want to be here. For only a short time, I hung the moon. My body delivers unparalleled comfort and nourishment and home. Sometimes I can even heal with a hug.

And I guess I don’t want to miss a moment. Being a mommy to a baby is like nothing else. And though my love for my children is both infinite and always expanding, not unlike the universe, it is babyhood that I feel most adept at handling.

(Except for when my babies scream in their car seats, but that’s another post.)

It is babyhood that makes me feel like I was made for this. When I look into Skyla’s big black eyes and she looks back at me, I can hardly move. Everything else falls away. There’s a person behind those eyes. She’s here and she’s beautiful and she smells like heaven. I wrote this on Instagram last week, accompanied by the picture below:

When my tiny baby smiles at me like this, the joy becomes so thick it clouds my vision, and reality seems more like a dream. Hazy and magical.

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Literally. I meant literally my vision clouds over. This might sound dramatic but I’m going to trust that you know what I mean: it’s like entering another dimension, a golden world, where the density of this realm fades away and everything becomes as light and joyful as babies.

Babies.

Oh, babies. Their perfect innocence and helplessness let’s them do something else perfectly: love. And all you have to do to be loved by a baby is love them first.

People are so kind, they always want to know how I’m doing.

The answer?

Yes, I am tired. I am carrying around more flesh than I am used to. I can’t seem to find the time or energy to exercise. I crave dark chocolate like never before. I am a slave to her little rooting mouth. I am struggling with Giovanna who feels displaced. I am responsible for another person for 18 years. I am responsible for another person for the rest of my earthly life.

And I am blissful and I am happy and I am grateful and I am happy.

Because there’s nothing I ever loved more.

Than being mommy to a baby.

Mommy Stress (Why can’t I relax?)

There we were. It was a Friday evening. A beautiful bright Friday, somewhat rare in the bipolar month of March. In two days, my baby would be four weeks old and we were taking her with us out to dinner for the first time at one of those conveyor belt sushi places. 

I anticipated the sashimi after 9+ months of abstaining.

I should have been enjoying myself.

I wasn’t.

In the car, Skyla cried. We’d left the house to pick up James’ car from the mechanic but then we’d ventured further so I could get my new iPhone. And I felt guilty. I didn’t really need a new phone, I just wanted one. I didn’t really need to stay out and about, I just wanted to. As my tiny baby flailed her arms and screamed her little heart out, growing sweaty and crimson and all out of sorts, I knew it was my fault. No longer did I want a new phone, no longer did I want to get out of the house after nearly 4 weeks of holing up, I just wanted to hold her in my arms and soothe her frayed nerves.

Alas. We were already there. The parking meter wouldn’t work and James was parking his car on another street and my moby wrap touched the dirty sidewalk as I clumsily wrapped myself in it while my baby continued to believe she was being tortured. I felt like a drippy foolish mess.

I got her in the wrap and hooked her up to my breast. James showed up and found a parking meter that would actually spit out the sticker. Gigi entertained herself in the AT&T store. I got my shiny and sharp gold iPhone. It was dinner time and we decided we might as well eat somewhere nearby. The rain had come before the sun and so the light reflected off of the slick streets, shrinking puddles of sunshine.

We were in a pedestrian-heavy neighborhood of Seattle and everyone around us seemed to be smiling. (The sun will do that to us Pacific-Northwesterners.)

I was not smiling. I clutched Giovanna’s hand, weary of the cars whizzing by, separated from my babies by just a curb. The world can be such a scary place when you have so many fingers and toes to lose. This was one of my first outings as a mother of two and I thought it to be pretty damn intimidating.

What if someone coughed on my baby? What if Giovanna caught salmonella from the sushi? (Not that she was eating the raw pieces.) What if she broke free and ran into the street? What if a car ran up onto the sidewalk? What if someone hit us on the way home? What if my baby cried again? Would there be sweat marks in the car seat? Would her brain be irrevocably damaged from the neglect? Did it count as neglect?

Why was I so stressed out? I felt jealous of everyone on the street who seemed relaxed, I felt jealous of my former childless self. So carefree and unencumbered. Never again will I be so free.

And this is what I love most about my life: my family. my children. So why can’t I take refuge in my blessings and relax into them?

A crux of parenting: either I’m not with my kids and I’m worrying about them, or I’m with them and able to focus on little else. Either way, they’re in the forefront of my mind. Unless they’re sleeping. Right now Skyla is snoozing and I can see her on the video monitor. Giovanna and Emile are with James in the hammock and though I can see them through my window, I don’t have to watch them.

Gigi has a baby doll and Emile is wearing sunglasses and I’m still worried that someone is going to fall out of the hammock and get hurt. But because they’re with their daddy, I know he will catch them.

I daresay I am semi-relaxed. I love this feeling. Like I’m dipping my toes in the ocean. I want to be here more often.

I don’t want to live my life in a state of anxiety. It’s exhausting and draining and soul-sucking. I want more trust and less fear. I want to enjoy things like a sushi dinner on a pretty Friday evening, the sunset tinging the edges of the sky orange. Not the orange that means CAUTION but the orange that means FUN.

How do parents learn to let go of their worries? Is it possible? I know there are many mothers out there who struggle with this. I feel them. We are desperate to protect our babies from hardship, disease, injury and heartbreak even while knowing that our control is not powerful but powerfully limited.

All we can do is pray. And worry.

What I don’t know is how many mothers out there have managed to siphon the stress away, channeling this nervous energy into something useful. Maybe even beautiful.

I would like to channel it into my stories, the fiction I write while everyone else is sleeping. My previous post here was part of a blog hop in which a group of writers made fun of our own paranoia by writing a story together through the eyes of an extremely anxious person. We had a grand ole time and we found some new friends in one another.

I’m tired. I want to relax. I want parenting to be lighter. Maybe it’s not meant to be light, but surely I can learn to manage the stress when it starts to impede on my mental health and therefore my disposition.

I am going to practice. Perhaps the more I focus on relaxing, the more relaxed I will become. Perhaps the more I find my happy place, drinking herbal teas and getting massages and reading books, the better acquainted I will become with that happy place and the easier it will be to find when I need it.

I want to focus on being rather than doing. (Which includes thinking.)

I want to enjoy this fleeting and fragile time in my life with greater ferocity.

I want to embody love rather than fear.

I just want to stress less. About everything, from the rampant messes to the safety of the playground (see picture below) to the circulating illnesses to the state of their hearts.

Say it with me: don’t worry, be happy.

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Loving the Challenges

Loving the Challenges

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After Giovanna was born I felt complete and content, ripe with milk and oxytocin, brimming with bliss and love. I don’t remember much about her infancy but I remember these feelings.

I’m back here. Skyla has brought me right up to this heaven-scented cloud.

Meanwhile Giovanna takes me to the edge of it. Every day. Again and again. We are so high and life feels so perfect and then BAM out of nowhere we’re hanging onto the edge and one another so that we don’t fall into the great abyss.

Literally. Some of the more intense feuds end in Gigi and I clutching one another, embracing in an attempt to both apologize and feel better about the rocks upon which we’ve found our relationship.

I posted this picture to Instagram with the following caption, written in the heat of an ugly moment after Gigi had announced she was going bye-bye.

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This is not a simple mother-daughter picture. What you can’t see is the 30 day old baby nursing at my breast. What you can’t see are the struggles and the tensions, the screams and the tears, the words and the kicks. She hates me and she wants me and she loves me and she hits me. When I meditate on it I know that she’s angry with me for having another baby. I also know that some day she will be deeply grateful for her sister if she’s not already. We will get through it and we will all be better and richer for it.

So that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone says it’s natural, it’s normal, this too shall pass. A sweet friend reminded me that Gigi knows she is loved so she feels safe expressing her emotions–which is better than keeping her frustrations inside. My lovely neighbor said something similar: her reaction right now only proves that she has been cared for and felt special.

This is all true and I am eternally grateful for these beautiful children my body has miraculously produced.

As much as I struggle in the heat of the moment, I do appreciate these challenges because they are opportunities to practice patience and grace. It’s like building a muscle. You must challenge the muscle to its breaking point, creating tiny tears that signal the muscle to repair, eventually becoming a better version of its former self. You’ve got to rip everything apart in order to get stronger.

Parenting is about taking the bad with the good. The sleepless nights (and days) along with the long naps. The cries and the kisses, the tantrums and the snuggles, the rejection and the unconditional love.

She’s testing me. I will pass. I pray that it’s with flying colors.

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

I wanted to believe that my pregnancy-induced sweet tooth would exit along with my sweet baby.

Alas, this did not happen.

I love nursing my daughter. I love the connection and the coziness and the fact that I can make perfect food for my little sweetheart.

But nursing makes me hungry, more hungry than pregnancy. Nursing makes me think about nuts and chocolate and butter all the time.

So when chocolate chip cookies with pecans and sea salt showed up on my Instagram feed, I took to the Lovely Lanvin blog for her recipe. (She had me at pecans, she sealed the deal with sea salt.)

When it comes to baking, I rarely follow a recipe. It’s just too fun to color outside the lines. Also, if I’m going to bake and I’m going to indulge, I do what I can to improve nutrition while not compromising taste.

These cookies were everything I’d hoped they would be.

I swapped out half the butter for coconut oil, halved the sugar and used coconut sugar instead of the white/brown blend (coconut sugar contains some important nutrients and doesn’t cause the same blood sugar fluctuations as other sugars). And I added more nuts, including walnuts, because why not?

Next time I’m going to try oats and ground flaxseed instead of whole wheat flour.

I bake one sheet at a time and freeze the rest of the dough for later at a half-hearted attempt at portion control. I’ve already gotten two dozen cookies out of this recipe and I still have more dough.

As cookies go, these were very easy (especially with a stand mixer) and very well received by the family.

Peace, love and chocolate, I say. Especially when you’ve got a baby to fatten up.

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies with Sea Salt & Coconut Sugar

Chocolate, Pecan & Walnut Cookies  (adapted from Lovely Lanvin)

1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup coconut palm sugar
2 extra large organic eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and oil until smooth. Gradually add the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently to make sure the butter and sugars are mixed well. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl with a whisk. Slowly add the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, making sure everything is mixed well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, making sure the chocolate and nuts are evenly mixed throughout the dough. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 9 – 10 minutes.

My Liberated Lines

My Liberated Lines

A few weeks ago I mentioned my participation in Liberated Lines Love, the Instagram-based four week writing course offering daily prompts that helped me to free my words and express the love that moves my heart and animates my spirit.

Today I will share the fruits of those four weeks, bits of cavernous emotion frozen into the compendium of my Instagram feed, because they mean something significant to me and because I want another record of #liberatedlineslove. If I ever get around to it I will turn these photos and their captions into a memory book. Something for the shelves.

I am desperate to remember this time in my life, February 3-28, 2014. Not only the last 20 days of my pregnancy with Skyla and the first five days of her life, but the act of liberating my lines. Softening, opening and allowing as life changed so quickly that I could see it happening. Like the time lapse of a flower blooming.

I’m trying to hold onto time though it won’t last. Like drinking water from your hands. Though you can’t see the cracks, water slips through them faster than you can drink. No matter how tightly I grip time, time escapes me. I cannot hold onto time, I can only let it go.

Writing in the throes of transformation, writing to understand and learn from and celebrate the unfamiliar, this keeps me grounded. But I lose sight of my way when I spend too much time looking back over my shoulder, clinging to memories, closing my fist around time only to find my hands are empty and they will always stay that way. When we leave, we will bring nothing with us.

So I am not going to re-read every post I wrote, I am not going to edit. I copied and I pasted and in a moment I will hit publish. I will let time carry me far away and in that far away place I will build upon this foundation. The best is yet to come.

Below you will find all of my Instagram photos I tagged with #liberatedlineslove and their associated captions directly below.

I hope you enjoy reading these little love letters as much as I enjoyed writing them.

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We do not have perfection we have one another. Peace comes and goes like new souls through my body. Emotions take us inward, dreams take us forward. Hold me by the hand and I’ll hold you by the other hand and we will draw one another outward. Towards expression of truth and the freedom of expansion. We can fly, buttressed by love. I believe that. #liberatedlineslove #bump #love #believe#amwriting (This is a #latergram from my maternity shoot–I got the photos last night so I’m still high on them and wanting to share, hope it’s okay to break the rules on the first day of the course!)

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My sister made this cowl with her own two hands. She knit this cowl like I knit the bones of my daughter. Flesh and blood and yarn. The embrace of the womb like the warmth of the wool. Protected from the elements and bound by love. #liberatedlineslove #pregnancy #sisters

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This little lady. When she says “mommy” my world rearranges. #liberatedlineslove #pingandswell

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I woke to an alien glow on the other side of the curtain. It was Her. And She peeked into my dining room as they sat eating oatmeal. Stillness. I savored it, and I took a picture to save Her reflection for later.#liberatedlineslove #sunshine

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The space where I plan to birth my daughter, where she will emerge from deep within me, towards the light of the sun. An ordinary room waiting patiently for the extraordinary, humbled by natural wonders.#liberatedlineslove #homebirth #waterbirth#pregnancy #crunchymama

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I waited and searched and prayed for the fun today, entertaining slivers of doubt that I’d ever find fun again. Until I saw this tiny lady tromping around the house in plastic high heels and a cocktail dress from my college days. This must be the new brand of fun.#liberatedlineslove #fun

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I have not seen my child’s face and yet I know it. I have not held her in my arms but I have held her in my womb. The weight of her body fills me with longing and purpose. For I am a vessel. She is here, a feather floating in our midst, resting so quietly that we have moments of forgetting. My baby and I, we coexist peacefully, easily, one breath and two bodies. No empty spaces between us. We whisper secrets without making a sound. We will spend years pushing and pulling and sustaining one another. But for now this is a gestating love. #liberatedlineslove#pregnantlife #pregnancy #38weeks #motherhood#mamalove (photo credit: 7 year old Emile)

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I let go. Muscle by muscle, bone by bone. Responsibility slid from my shoulders while steam ascended from the effervescence. Quiet cravings. I looked down at my swollen belly, I looked up out the window, and though I’d found stillness I wasn’t alone. #liberatedlineslove #pacificnorthwest #north #metime #spa #selflove #pregnancy #meditation

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Water + sky. City + snow. Crepes + tea. Sunday + morning. Tired + happy. It all adds up to love. #liberatedlineslove #snow #seattle #bellevue

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The snow melts. A steady drip in the background of our stay-home day, the change that never stops ticking. We have nothing to do but we find a lot to do. We tickle and we play hide and go seek and we read books. We break rules and we make messes and we scold and we clean. We chase and we cry and we think about nothing but today and one another. We want nothing but today and one another. #liberatedlineslove #family #home

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There was a girl. Free as a bird. The abundance of the earth ran through her veins. She traveled and lived and worked in exotic places. Her worldly possessions fit into a backpack. On this particular night she mixed drinks in styrofoam bowls. She balanced the bowl on her head and posed against the backdrop of a brilliant Thai beach alongside her cousin and roommate and best friend. She got high on the sunset, intoxicated by the drink, hypnotized by the scalloped sea. The girl is me and not me. The me before marriage and motherhood and responsibility. I will never be her again and yet she exists as a layer of who I am today, a woman with a heart divided, a woman with more than 10 fingers to lose. A woman who does not drink more than one nor kiss strangers nor ride without a helmet. I miss her though. I loved her life and its infinite possibility. #liberatedlineslove #thailand #travel

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I made a memory box once upon a time. I filled it with relics of my earliest years, reminders of my purpose, my child self intuiting the nuances of my future needs. The paper journal I sealed with a metal lock. Poems about the inside of me and the color purple. The proclamation that I would grow up to write books. The long-winded handwritten notes to and from my best friend. The twists and turns since then have both held back my hair and left it tangled. The wind carried me away and I carried me home. Back to my journals and books and the written word. Where passion nourishes as it consumes. Like falling in love every day. #liberatedlineslove #amwriting #childhood #writerslife

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This is a story of fear. In my heart, fear is sitting very close to love. Fear does not waken me at night, but when I awaken, fear keeps me here. Alone, hungry. The time has come to unwrap the fear. Name the fear. Hold the fear. Listen to the fear, to the beat and the center and the source of it. It is a fear of the pop. My bag of waters breaking. Fear of the tightening. My uterus contracting. Fear of the pain. My body squeezing. Fear of the space. The bones of my pelvis widening. Fear of the power. The life force siphoned into my core, the force of a life coming through me. (To read the rest please visit my blog, link in profile.) #liberatedlineslove #love #fear #childbirth #naturalbirth #homebirth #motherhood

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These evenings at my desk feed the hungry parts of my mind. I become free from external demands, free from monotony, free to get lyrical with letters. Whether I write one paragraph or one thousand words, I get somewhere. I feel something. Soon I will have a babe in arms and everything will change as it always does. And though I will miss my quiet evenings, I will savor the transience of motherhood. My stories will wait while babyhood waits for no one. Here’s to the ebb and flow, the flame that flickers and grows, the expansion of existence. #liberatedlineslove #amwriting #pregnancy #pregnantlife

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Is it cold and dreary or light and happy? Are we tired or are we awake? Are we lazy or are we relaxing? Are we surviving or are we thriving? The answers may be irrelevant so long as we open our arms to the sky and drink the wild air. #liberatedlineslove #duality #seattle #pacificnorthwest

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This little girl is her mama’s first baby and as she anticipates mama’s second baby (and daddy’s third baby), she is missing her own babyhood. She begged me to strap her into the infant seat. She wants to nurse again. She wants to be carried. She wants to be a big girl but she also wants to be a baby. I want her to know there’s no one like her, no one who can take her place, no one who can pull us apart. I want her to know she will forever be my baby. #liberatedlineslove #duality

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Open up, let it out. Beauty starts in the center, flowing outwardly, sliding down your petals, landing on fingertips and the edge of my heart, coloring dreams outside the lines. #liberatedlineslove

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Good night blue sky with your swaths of gauzy white and burning ball of energy. You make me want to be great like you. #liberatedlineslove

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Bits of color on this gray-soaked day. My interior self reflected in the flat sky and bare trees outside my window, every moment and every branch saturated with an aura of anticipation. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #39weeks #spring

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Motherhood is belonging so completely to another person that you don’t mind their helplessness, their neediness, their naïveté. You ache to be a servant to them. Helping, caring, teaching, holding. Whether or not the child came through your body or to you through other means, it is this giving of self that makes a mother. Every day I dream of being a better one. More selfless, patient and kind. I know my second daughter will change me, perhaps as much as my daughter and my stepson did before her. I can’t wait. But I will have to. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #39weeks #maternity photo credit @hellojessicaho

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There’s no better way to spend an afternoon than spinning conversations around dreams; falling in lust with the future and in love with possibility; pointing our hearts in the right direction and praying our minds and our feet will follow, up and over the hills, down and through the valleys. Flanked by patience and perseverance, supported by the ones who love us, our built-in fans. Sometimes we forget how to dream, a loss of faith that numbs the soul and tangles provenance, a loss the entire universe must bear. For there is no one else with the same gifts to bestow upon humanity, no one who can dream your dreams for you. As for me. The beauty I love is writing and mothering and healing. I dream of publishing my novels, stories that engage the intellect and spark greater awareness. I dream of healing with tea, herbal tonics to enhance the human experience. I dream of raising happy children; and tonight I dream of holding in my arms the one inside of me. #liberatedlineslove #dream #pregnantlife #pregnancy #motherhood #writerslife #amwriting #fiction #truth #herbs #tea

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I have no shortage of desires, no absence of dreams, no limits to stand behind. Sometimes I wonder if I want too much. And yet all of it blurs into the background when she needs me. She comes first. She holds my heart. My dreams, perhaps they exist only in the context of my love. #liberatedlineslove #dream #family #love #motherhood

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No better way to spend my due date than reveling in my beautiful soul sister and her brand new baby boy. This is what bliss looks like. This is where I’m headed. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #40weeks #baby #newborn #love #friendship @christianaspeed

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My new mug says to live in the moment and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. Currently I am sipping on herbal tea I mixed myself for expecting mothers like myself. Red raspberry leaf and nettles and peppermint among others, herbs filling each cell with Mother Nature’s balancing life force. I am riding wave after wave of practice contractions, not true labor but rather a tightening of my center, a gripping in my body, a sign of what’s to come. A babe in my eager arms. And though my body does not let me forget she is coming soon, I cannot know how soon. But I can make the wait into something beautiful, something worth remembering, these last moments before my world changes forever. #liberatedlineslove #pregnantlife #pregnancy #40weeks #amreading #herbs #herbaltea #tea

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She looks just like her big sister here. Life is a series of miracles with love as the source. I am wading through the thick of it. #liberatedlineslove #newborn #baby #love

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Day 3 of bliss. This tiny lady lived inside of my skin. I’m not sure we can comprehend the miracle that keeps our planet spinning on its axis, the intelligence that weaves love into life. #liberatedlineslove #baby #love #newborn #motherhood

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New mother veteran mother postpartum haze. Dark circles pale lips old clothes. Failed naps tiny cries sleepy smiles. Sore nipples cramping uterus more blood. Jealous sister proud sister proud father. Up all night awake all day still going. Shocked awed blissed out. Beautiful baby gorgeous baby pretty baby. Unreal too real perfectly real. Kiss kiss kiss snuggle worry. Eat in bed write in bed read in bed. Gray sunshine rain. Pray comfort nurse. Overwhelmed by sweetness by harmonious exhaustion. Heaven on earth heaven sent blessed. Love that passes understanding. #liberatedlineslove #love #motherhood #newborn #baby

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My life revolves around this signal, this wide open mouth, this quiet quest for nourishment. A reflex honed by years of evolution into something we consider normal, something we don’t stop to ponder or question because the answer comes to us upon an instinct. Extraordinary intelligence deemed ordinary. #liberatedlineslove #baby #newborn #motherhood #ordinary #love #breastfeeding #nursing

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Reflections on water, shadows on glass. Streaks of light, patches of snow. Naked branches, blur of trees. Yellow bleeding into gray into blue. Earth interrupted by steel and concrete. Sharp edges of rock meeting sky. This is where I am. This is what I see. The same landscape punctuated by different colors every day, every moment. An ordinary sight made extraordinary just by noticing. #liberatedlineslove #ordinary #seattle #bellevue #pacificnorthwest #nofilter

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It all comes down to this: they teach me how to love myself. In their innate perfection, I can see reflections of my own. For I am also someone’s beloved daughter and I, too, started out this way. Tiny and pure, round cheeked and curious, the world offering itself at my feet. Maybe I walked away from it, maybe I ran in circles, maybe I stopped hearing the whispers from my heart. But no matter where I’ve been or where I go, I will always return to my roots, the place where possibility reveals itself as infinite. Where my authentic, perfect self resides. The girl who loves thick books and writing words, old trees and the sky on a sunny day. #liberatedlineslove #daughters #sisters #motherhood #love #selflove