Henrique Cantigas Photography

I woke up today completely relieved and relaxed after light and easy dreaming and that’s when the contrast whispered to me, “Whoa! I still have some anxiety…wait do I? What is this light feeling? And what was that heavy feeling?”  Today I sensed relief of a weight that had been there moving in my chest during the days prior.  Due to drastic improvement in the amount of kindness I offer myself in tough spaces, I mistakenly thought my anxiety had completely disappeared. And in a way the suffering around it has.  Confusing right?  I find in life when I am in the middle of a both/and situation things can feel a bit muddled at first. Let’s see if I can break this down a bit for both of us.

Throughout almost exactly half of my life I had an anxiety disorder.  I was diagnosed and treated medically in my early 20s as panic attacks began to make it impossible for me to function fully.  During medical school I was able to safely come off my medication which was shocking to many folks because normally med school would be considered a time of great stress.  Not in my life.  My tumultuous life became markedly less chaotic during my medical training and has continued to improve year by year since then. In my ability to finally support myself independently through student loans, I brought an end to the financial manipulation that had previously been exerted on me. I believe that the root sensations of anxiety are not disease.  I believe that it is the body responding to real threats in the present and the past all at once.  These threats may have been difficult for an outsider to see because by the time I was 20, the greatest threat was myself.  My mind had learned perfectly how to mimic the deep self hatred and abuse that I had been raised in.  I hit my 20s with absolutely no idea how to be kind to myself in tough spaces. I recognized the repetition patterns in abusive relationships and knew I needed help.  

Rewiring an operating system of self hatred is not an easy task.  I’ve been at it consciously for over 20 years now.  Most recently it looked like removing a long time abusive nuclear family member from my life and meeting fully the intense grief associated with this decision. Standing for myself in this powerful decision had my body really believing that I am here for her in a big and lasting way. I am returning to self trust utilizing my original instincts of self care and self preservation.  As the closest witness to the abuse of my mother, I inherited an operating system that’s primary functional pathway was toughness rather than tenderness.  Tough is how we survived the abuse together. This discovery of the root language of my operating system was a keystone to unraveling my anxiety disorder.  Even writing about this here on the blog feels like a betrayal to my mother’s secrecy and I now know that particular feeling of betrayal is deadly to us both.

My experience of what happened/what is happening is valid. 

Knowing this one line holds a huge key to soothing the waves of my anxiety.

Life will always present difficulties. That is never going to change.  What has changed is how I show up for MYSELF when life does get hard.  When it becomes hard for me to get a deep breath I stop and start looking for ways to support myself in the space.  I allow myself to back off, to sit one out, to rest, to ask for support etc.  I no longer think things such as: What the F is wrong with me?  That line is the perfect recipe for more anxiety. Or my other survival trick was to simply speed up and do more meeting the activation of my nervous system with more activation utilizing adrenaline to survive as my body was accustomed to. Reading this I am certain you can see the problems this could cause my physical and mental health.

The truth is and ALWAYS has been there is nothing wrong with me.  My body is responding how it needs to be responding to whatever the situation is.  And YASSSSS my trauma informs how I respond to tough situations in the present and I hold rich tenderness and kindness around that knowledge as well.  Sounds so simple and yet this practice continues at a very conscious level in me today.  So yeah I could definitely still be seen as anxious from the outside.  Sensations are my teachers.  Each sensation is another indicator light on the dashboard of the vehicle I have learned to love and care for.  So when it flashes red, you better believe I am pulling right over and providing myself all the care/breath/attention I need.  After much dismantling, I have rebuilt an operating system based on trusting myself, my body, my instincts over the past 20 YEARS and I truly believe this is why I do not experience disordered anxiety any longer.  

I trust my sensations and I know that they move and change.  And by God if I get stuck, I know where to go for help. I have a team of treasured therapists, coaches, loved ones that know how to be with me when I need them.  I practice SLOWING down and listening to my body through dance and meditation study.  All of this supports me when the sensations get intense. My body knew life threatening fear during the formative years of my life.  This of course affects how scary is processed in me.  As an adult, I hold awareness and a whole lot of tenderness around this fact. The result of living in this clarity is quite different than the years I spent telling myself how other people had it much worse.

Also it is important to realize that for some of us the ability to get out and away from the scary has not yet arrived.  This is an excruciating place.  I hold so much compassion for those trapped by abusers.  If by some chance these words find you in that painful space, please know I see you.  I honor your journey exactly as you need it to be. May profound and deep care find you.    

And if the greatest abuser in your life is you, well there is great hope for you! It was me too!!!!!! The Clarity of Boundaries course gave me the missing tools I needed to really get deep into my operating systems and tune it up to exactly what I needed to thrive. Care, clarity, relief from blame/shame and guilt and so much more.

May my suffering serve the greatest good. May all of us know greater peace in our lifetimes.

Why Bother with Embodiment

Photo credit Dougal Waters

Today’s dance was another of those deep lessons of why I bother with embodiment.  It is absolutely possible to live our entire lives at the command and attention of our minds, our body a mere automobile for the boss that shouts from the top of our shoulders.   I know survival with this mind-driven strategy is factually possible because it is exactly how I lived out the first 40 years of my life.  The mind is great at survival.  My brain got me into and through medical school and eventually into an amazing relationship.  I thought my way into many great decisions and at the end of the day I was unable to sense and feel the joy and satisfaction of all the wonderful things that were happening in my life despite all my great thinking.  I had a million reasons to celebrate and I simply couldn’t feel them.  In all honesty, I couldn’t feel much below my neck as even my feelings remained lodged in my head.  

Interestingly in a brain-driven existence the louder and ungrounded emotions feel even bigger.  The stressful emotional pathways without a body to sense and feel and release instead run amok.  I ended up with feelings that ran circles within my mind, making it nearly impossible to sense and feel anything to completion.  I was literally carrying the feelings, the stories, the trauma of a lifetime inside me at all times and it was exhausting.  Landing in our bodies is required for an emotion to be fully expressed and released.  Otherwise feelings remain like undigested fragments stirring themselves into a confusing mess as they make gremlins with unhelpful thought processes.  Again, the mind is incredible at survival.  She isn’t the best at thriving.  As anyone that has asked hard questions knows, these two things are the results of very different choices surviving vs. thriving.  The latter often being the result of the harder choices.  The mind dislikes discomfort.  This is simply who she is and how she was made.  It is part of her being.  If we live only within our minds we learn nothing of the actual value of the discomfort of being human.  And, the discomfort is a critical piece of thriving in this complicated world.

So today just a simple embodiment offering.  As you move today, occasionally sense the soles of your feet wherever they are touching the ground beneath you.  And, when you get home tonight and slip out of your shoes, just pause for a moment to sense that release for a couple of seconds, and the floor of your home touching your feet and notice sensation.  Embodiment doesn’t need to be a big drawn out deal.  It can be this simple.  The soles of the feet are a magical gateway for sure though as they draw energy down and away from the Thinker.  Just play in the safety of your own home and see what happens…

The Worst Respiratory Season Ever

This fall is set to be one of the worst respiratory seasons in history.  One of the ways we predict flu season in the US is we look to Australia who precedes us with their winter.  This past flu season was the worst they’ve seen in 5 years.  This makes sense to me as children have returned to school unmasked and are spreading disease into gigantic reservoirs.  Viral reservoirs are large groups of hosts that lack immunity.  Most children of the pandemic lack basic pediatric immunity to rhino, entero, coxsackie, RSV, adeno, paraflu and most definitely this group of kids lacks any knowledge of influenza.  Think about the current pre K 3 and 4 classrooms.  These are the babies of the pandemic.  The world was masked up and influenza all about disappeared.  Unless vaccinated these children have zero immunity to influenza.  Once flu starts with any sort of force, disease will spread like wildfire through these age groups and then they will deposit the flu in their homes across the country.  So what do you do?

Any asthmatic child needs to be vaccinated for influenza this year to prevent death.  I have already seen one asthmatic with flu A that was doing very badly with this year’s strain and it is only September.  Based upon how severe her symptoms were, she looked like she had H1N1 and did test positive for Flu A.  Children without respiratory issues at baseline will likely survive flu; however it is five days of relentless high fevers, utter misery and often causes secondary ear infections and sometimes even pneumonia.  I want folks to have informed consent as to what you are signing up for.  For kiddos that have had true influenza in the past they should have some remaining immunity and thus far the strains appear to be the ones we are familiar with.  Understand that if influenza becomes widespread it could shift/drift like COV has shown us and cause even a bigger mess with a true novel variant.  The only folks that have any native immunity are the ones old enough to have had flu prior to the Covid Pandemic.  Know this:  even us with native immunity may be in trouble.  This is because normally each year we are naturally boosted by others with true flu around us.  We may not get terribly sick ever again because we have natural boosters.  Understand that in the face of the past 3 years of this pandemic, none of us had the exposures to influenza that we needed to naturally boost our immune systems.  Even those of us lucky enough to get an occasional 99F version of the flu may be destined for something much more inflammatory because the usual little gremlins didn’t give us our boosters nor challenge our immunity the way it needs to stay strong. 

I understand that my family is likely going to get the flu this year.  Both my kiddo and I have had multiple strains of true influenza in the past thanks to my urgent care job.  Our bodies will have some memory but not a ton.  

So here’s my current plan:

Elderberry syrup has proven effective against influenza and can shorten the course of disease.  We will be taking this daily as preventative.  We are also taking our winter regimen of vitamin C, D and zinc on the daily.  I have also added olive leaf extract to my daily regimen to scavenge free radicals and a high quality fish oil.  I highly recommend at least cotton masking simply to reduce the viral load that your child ends up.  My child wears a cotton mask to school despite the mandates being lifted.  Yes virion can penetrate this but not nearly as many as if he was unmasked completely.  

Please don’t hesitate to respond with questions.  This is going to be a tough one.  We will get through it together.  Also know the Farm Connection here in San Antonio makes delicious homemade elderberry syrup and does deliver.

Discerning an Embodied Roar from Rage (part two)

The practice of discernment between rage and my healthy roar is a deep learning for my body.  I am a survivor of multiple generations of rage that resulted directly in verbal and physical abuse.  Rage is defined as uncontrollable anger and is a part of our humanity.  Rage herself is not a demon; she is a powerful change bringer.  She has her place in our world and she can be the critical precursor to the healthy space clearing required for deep collective grief that brings lasting progress. Collective rage can act as the equivalent of a forest fire burning down all in its path and creating the opportunity for new growth, a new beginning. As powerful as rage is, she deserves a safe and supported space to be held.  At this point I’d argue that our rage deserves the support of professionals/communities that know how to hold this sacred space of transformation.  Rage represents the final boundary crossed.  The final shove at our spirit’s chest that sends us into full blown kill or be killed neurobiology.  This is a different sort of roar yet she shares space in our bodies with anger and can create confusion in communication with our children and loved ones when our embodied need to protect/defend is activated.

My personal rage reminds me of a flame thrower.  Put simply, I don’t want my child on the wrong end of my being when its throwing flames.  Step one for me is knowing and owning as a human being I am capable of rage. And here’s the tough part, I get to own my rage without an ounce of shame nor guilt… Shame can act like gasoline on the flames of rage.  This is such a tough place on its own and has taken me years to work through.  Can I simply and cleanly say, I am capable of rage?  Can I clean up the places in the past where my rage has burned down loved ones without whipping myself with the guilt stick?  Again, this is not an easy task.  And, this is the very necessary precursor work to regaining my healthy embodied roar.  

The second step has been learning the signals of my body.  Rage in my body feels like: a rush of actual fire down my arms, extremely hard to get a deep breath, my heart pounds, my hearing and sight are both altered as the strongest dose of adrenaline my body can create moves through me, again kill or be killed type of activation.  Because of the survival mode I lived in throughout childhood, rage was initially a well-oiled pathway in my neurology to simply survive.  It’s changing now as I have learned to stand for myself and remove the active abuse from my life.

When I sense this internal fire, my first step is move physically away from anyone that I do not want to get flames on. Sometimes I will even speak out loud, “I am not neuro-regulating!” This helps others know that my asking for space is for their protection because I am on actual neurological fire.  These steps are where mindfulness practices come in.  To be able to witness myself from the high watch and make intelligent choices despite my mind/body being on fire is the result of years of embodiment work.  It didn’t just happen by magic or because I said I wanted it to happen.  I have rolled up my sleeves, dug in and been practicing awareness and particularly I’ve been practicing sensing my body through a committed conscious dance practice.  In the presence of huge emotions like rage, the work pays off.  I know my body and I love her.  I know these sensations that indicate rage potentials are a LOUD call for me to come home to myself, and only myself.  I cannot hold anybody else in this space.  And yes, wouldn’t it be lovely if I never felt this way, if my childhood had been different, if life just wasn’t so fuggin hard, yes all true AND this is my real life.  The good news is this, it gets easier with practice.  And beautifully, rage visits less often once she’s been heard and held. It was in the space where rage had become less common, I was safely able to transition into the exploration of embodied anger.  

A different kind of roar! More to come soon on embodied anger….

How I got my Embodied Roar Back (part one)

So I’ve gotten my authentic roar back.  Spirit/genius woke me up super early to share about the bumpy growth ride to get here and she wants to make certain that I can still write. 

This summer I’ve been a loud tigress a couple of times as an embodied choice.  I even scared myself it was so LOUD in my own head and being!  Now my Peaceful Parents in the crowd may cringe and worry about my ability to regulate but let me assure, I am actually functioning in a far more instinctual and embodied way.  I woke up this morning because I read something yesterday on a Peaceful Parenting post that made me restless.  It was about how kids raised in kindness without discipline show up bad.  The comment was made by a nanny who had a horrific time taking the kids she cared for out into the world.  There were all kinds of helpful comments about strategies and understanding that a child raised with peaceful internal strategies may show up badly to more authoritative onlookers as they are figuring things out and this takes more time than simply obeying out of fear.  Absolutely true said my internal voice and then the nanny said one child is aggressive and attacks other kids and the mother told her this is how he is working up and out his big feelings.  

All the Peaceful Parents in the room are now thinking uh oh… that’s not it and that certainly isn’t what I am doing…

In full truth, my own child was allowed to treat me badly occasionally for almost 2 solid years.  I thought I was showing him boundaries and clear communication through kind understanding as he was figuring out how to treat me, trying on ugly behaviors, discerning from an internal place how to treat those he loves. YES, AND I was also unconsciously allowing and processing the repetition of my own abuse trauma. As a younger one he was sweet and this never came to the surface.  I never allowed him to hit me or others but he would hurt his father physically.  Confusing for me was this type of roughhousing as I had no father play in my own life, I couldn’t help guide my spouse.  My child sometimes left marks on my husband’s body. The abuse recipient repetition was there for my partner too. Despite the many neuroregulatory benefits of rough play, trauma from his abusive past was echoing through as well. 

My kiddo wasn’t beating up strangers in the park.  These were nuanced leaks of the transgenerational trauma. Attacking outside of our family would have been obvious for us.  Instead, he was beating on us. I don’t share this to shame either myself, my partner nor my kiddo as we are so clearly a learning/healing/growing family.  No one has done any permanent damage and we get to clean up from where we slipped off track.  

I am motivated to share this growing awareness because it can help each of us who are dis-integrating cycles of abuse move more lovingly and with more freedom as we choose to parent differently.  If someone would have told me this stealthy part of my trauma was showing up a few years ago, I would have defended my child’s behavior and my chosen kindness parenting strategy to the death.  And I have defended a few of his behaviors over the past couple of years that were absolutely disrespectful.  I have developed the protect part of motherhood beautifully over the years, dis-integrating the lack of my own protection as a child…and now it follows, that I get to extend this protection towards myself.

These leaks of the past I am describing came to a head this spring while home hiking with a friend. She noticed the way my child was talking to me and reflected it back for me.  She leaned in with utter CARE and asked, “Is he ok? I’ve noticed a real change in him toward you.”  The way she loves me and the way I trust her as a mother had me listening and observing.  It was true.  I’m tired.  I’ve been alone so much. There were so many reasons that I had not reeled him in this year.  Devastatingly, the instinctual part of me that had once existed to protect myself was misfiring. In addition, for my partner the instinctual stand for the protection of mother was dangerous territory in his own home growing up and was certainly not modeled.  Trauma blocked him from the assist I needed.  It’s in these wobbly places where our painfully paired traumas with our partners line up that rough waters form.  Thanks to a year separated from our village combined with homeschooling, this year’s isolation has surfaced the leaks to where we could get ahold of them and begin to ask questions and then take them to a professionals for help. Without the support of our village, we could see ourselves more clearly through the unmistakable change in our child’s behaviors.

This necessary function of self protection was literally beaten from my body as a little child.  The compiling power of neglect from being partnered with someone in surgical training for so long had seduced me back into an older historical version of myself that relished the painful familiarity of neglect, the repetition of someone who should love me making no time for me.  Three fathers taught me that I was not worth their time.  The decade of neglect in my marriage had refreshed these ugly stories of my worthlessness. Without my friends and village to turn to, my marriage was also on full display this year.

Ya’ll I thought I had beaten these dragons already!  I bet by now you are seeing how difficult it could be to peacefully parent from this place missing this integrity inside myself.  And yet, I recognized the pattern and I am doing something differently!!!!!!

This is turning into a book. I am going to stop here so now that means you get to stay tuned for part two of: How I got my Roar Back…..

Wonder and Grief

Ben Jackson Sheep in Heart Formation: Tribute to his Aunt Debby

My child is one of my most gifted teachers.  Not because he’s extraordinary, rather his gifts lay in his relationship to the ordinary.  My child is young enough to still have wonder informing his everyday world.  Over the past week I have been consciously witnessing his relationship to grief and how this relates to his sense of wonder.  They are so clearly interrelated in him.

This wasn’t a random choice to watch both of these parts of his childhood.  I’ve been studying/practicing grief for three years as a conscious reclaiming of this portion of my being human that was demonized in a combined effort by my protestant family, my own midwestern culture where I grew up and also by phony modern spiritualism.  I live in a culture that has no room for grief.  Grief requires a slowing that the machines of capitalism haven’t the time to afford.  Grief requires community and the more isolated we become in modern culture, the more difficult the high watch, a sacred beholder is to find.  Deep grief is not a job to take on alone.  Now you may ask why practice grief?  That sounds like a miserable way to start the day.  Lets focus instead on our high vibration emotions!!!!  I dare you to find grief on the emotional vibrancy charts. I am going to say this flat out: emotional vibration charts are actual fake bullsh*t AND they do damage to the practice of being human by assigning native emotions comparative values and then ranking them. This is utterly absurd. If you need more help understanding this please read Rumi, The Guest House.  

Grief is one of the most holy things we get to feel and experience as human beings.  As Martín Prechtal says, “Grief is praise.”  When we grieve the ones that are no longer here, we are praising the life and love they gave us, the places they touched our lives.  When we stop and allow the grief of war or environmental damage to touch us, we begin to mobilize for change.  If we stuff it down with dopamine distractions (scrolling, alcohol, more work), we miss the opportunity to live fully.   Grief makes room in our bodies for both wonder and for creative action.  And yes there is discomfort to grief.  As Shanti Zimmerman teaches without discomfort and a solid relationship to it, we will find ourselves stuck in adolescence just scrambling from one high vibe feeling to the next never finding actual maturity despite our aging.  A true elder and any child knows this is not the way to live a fully rich and informed life.  Malidoma Somé teaches that the Dagara keep the young children and the elders closely together in community in the village.  He talks of barely speaking with his father during early childhood because what would be the point?  A grown man, working, in the prime of his life is simply too busy to understand a child the way a patient and listening elder could.  It was his grandfather that was his closest ally.  The two ends of the most spiritually aware spectrum, those that have just entered from the spirit realm to those about to make their way out to spirit really get each other. Both have potential to fully understand the value of grief and wonder in our world.

I am grateful at 45 I have had this year to slow down and witness my child.  It is through my child that I realized that his ability to sense and move with grief is part of what is informing his sense of wonder.  New Mexico is a beautiful place to live and there is intense poverty, crime and complications from the ready distribution of methamphetamines. My child notices every, single human being in desolation.  He takes them in.  Sometimes he cries.  He reminds me to feel this.  He reminds me to feel the disparity in our world.  We were recently in Española and a young tattered man asked us for a brownie.  He didn’t ask for cash.  He simply said, “I am so hungry. Will you buy me a brownie?” J looked at me with total clarity that said we are going into Starbucks where he was standing and buying him one.  I talked with my child for a bit about the situation as tears quietly streamed down his face.  Oh how I wanted to take that pain away. Not only for J’s sakes but because for me as an adult the wave of the world’s disparity came crashing down on me in beholding this one hungry human being and my child’s attentive grief. We try to stop our children’s grief because we are uncomfortable with our own.  The deep well of grief from living 45 years in a world that gives no sh*ts about the poor and homeless hit me hard.  I do not cry and take in every single homeless person I encounter.  I do not always let the sadness touch me nor inform me.  I feel discomfort, yes but I do not always let that discomfort move as grief nor do I always move to action.  I spend much of my life grief constipated. The story I tell myself is, how would I get through my day crying all the time?  I am barely surviving all the things I must do.  This is classical German farmer mentality and serves capitalism beautifully.  This exact same dangerous thought moves through me and prevents me from sensing and meeting my grief at many other personal levels as well.  

There is an open-heartedness to wonder.  Without allowing my heart to open to grief, I am closing myself to wonder.  Anything I am avoiding feeling is simply dragging behind me in my day to day life and siphoning my creative energy.   

Today I am pausing to notice.  Today am I am choosing to practice grief and wonder.  A beautiful friend has a simple daily practice in which she names two things worthy of grief and blesses them with a few drops of salt water.  I am joining with her in solidarity today. 

Today I grieve for the homeless in my town. 
Today I grieve for the disrespect for the Earth. 

May my heart stay open even when I face the uncomfortable truths of my existence so that through my willingness to grieve my sense of wonder and praise is able to continue inform my life.

Proud Bunny

art credit Fiona Gill

Within patriarchy, I am vulnerable.  I live in an assigned female at birth body and I cis identify as a woman.  My pronouns are she and her.  I absolutely hate that these simple facts make me vulnerable.  I have attempted over the years to pretend I was not prey.  In my 20s, I liked to imagine that I was in fact a powerful wolf on the hunt myself (likely after reading Women who Run with the Wolves the first time and not really understanding any of it).  I taught myself how to grab predators by the throat and rip out their jugulars.  And for some reason after these fights, I always felt more bloodied and utterly devastated myself.  This result was because in reality I was a bunny attacking wolves!  A ferocious little beautiful bunny, yet I was still a bunny and I am lucky that I only ended up being raped and not killed by the US Marines that discovered me traveling alone in this mindset.  I could have easily been left for dead on a highway in Baja and no one would have known for a long time.  This was never a fair fight because I went into this interaction with these two highly trained men naively thinking we were on equal footing.  I was not thinking like a little bunny because I completely refused to believe I was one.  I saw wolves, two wolves, and no kidding, I thought in my naïve bunny head, I got this.  Run away didn’t even occur to me until it was very much too late.  

Now bunnies have excellent sensory function and fast legs for a reason.  They are prey animals.  Within patriarchy, women are prey.  And, in my youth refusing to own the totality of my vulnerability cost me dearly.  I thought if I simply refused to believe myself prey, I no longer would be. How I wish simply believing ourselves safe could be the solution to the hostility and murder of women worldwide. Now in my 40s I despise the fact that I am still culturally prey 20 years later. And that over the past 20 years, another generation of women younger than me are now forced to reckon with this same gross reality.  Though much wiser than I once was, I awoke today prey in the current state of patriarchal affairs and it drives me nuts.  What do I do with this knowledge?

I am certain other feminists would vomit in their mouths if asked to think of themselves as bunnies.  The word bunny applied to a woman immediately conjures up the Playboy mansion and its years of condoned abuse.  There are good reasons it is extremely uncomfortable to think of ourselves as prey.  Why it is important to teach our daughters, sons and inter children this patriarchal story of prey and predator is because only in recognizing and admitting that this horrendous tale continues today is there any hope of changing the story and the outcomes.

So as much as I really don’t love it:  Today, I am standing fully in loving awareness and proud of my bunny wisdom.  I am a listening long-eared soft and tender critter who was given these articulate senses for a reason.  Yes, I have teeth and I have fast legs that are always going to be wayyyyyy more likely to keep me alive spiritually, physically, mentally than my teeth.  I give myself full permission to move away from ANYTHING that feels unsafe to me.  This is my elder bunny wisdom.  I don’t love being prey and yet I get to know and own the vulnerability that I am.

AND, I’m going to keep fighting for the possibility of moving beyond being prey in my lifetime for myself, for you and for your children. I would love the opportunity to get to playfully and safely be any assortment of selves.

Today my prayer is specifically this:  May all women be free.  May all women know peace in our bodies.  May all women move in complete physical, mental and emotional safety in my lifetime.  

The Mirror

Copyright SNL

I was recently asked by someone I trust to gaze into a mirror and sense what I see there and to create, write, draw from the experience. I have done versions of this exercise over the years with different groups and each time I immediately start laughing as my mind heads straight to the safety of an old Stuart Smalley Saturday Night Live skit where he sits poised in front of the mirror affirming, “I’m good enough.  I’m smart enough and doggone it, people like me.”  It still makes me laugh because like all good humor it helps me safely traverse into a core space where I am not fully comfortable.  Humor can be a safe and excellent vehicle to ride into bumpy unconscious territory.  However, the place of growth and the deeper work of comedy requires that we stay for a moment in the place where the laugh touches us.  

Historically, my reflection has taken me for such unpleasant rides that the new house in ABQ simply doesn’t have a full length mirror.  So when I was invited to this exercise I immediately felt great relief because guess who’s 1950s medicine cabinet mirror stops at her neck?  Thus far my hair and my face/neck have been a relatively safe place to see.  I will occasionally stop and ponder the gray hairs and the newly forming desert wrinkles but then somehow I can just laugh and say,”This is what a desert witch looks like!”  And that’s enough to stop the meanness in its tracks.  South of my neck things get a lot harder and the stories get nastier.  I know in my heart that not one of these narratives I am utilizing to hurt myself is mine.  No child is born thinking this way.  I have been programmed.  I am immersed in that programming of self hatred on the daily. Patriarchy and capitalism both depend greatly upon women hating themselves.  This way we are easier to control and to sell unnecessary treatments, products, clothing, diets etc.  If you doubt me read the following from Research and Markets:

The global market for weight loss products and services should grow from $254.9 billion in 2021 to reach $377.3 billion by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% during the forecast period of 2021-2026.

As an investor this may help you know where to put some of your money over the next few years.  As a woman, this fact ought to open your eyes up to what is happening and why it is so hard to look at ourselves naked.  Our culture perpetuates self hatred as a commodity.   If you think weight loss products are about health, reach out to me so we can discuss that lie.  They’re not.  Awareness, intuition, clarity, self loving are the products/sources of actual health and it is a precious few folks who will sell you the treasure maps to get to these sacred places because each of these makes you less vulnerable to outside control.

In continuation of my work on the Norse Goddesses, this moon I am currently studying the goddess/valkyrie Eir and it is within her battlefield surgical clarity that I choose to bravely meet my reflection, below my neck.  I recognize today the complex social war on my ability to love my body and myself fully.  I am more fired up than ever to reclaim my birthright, my body EXACTLY as she is this day.  

I am beautiful.  I’m good enough.  And doggone it, people like me.  I choose me. 

(my secret hope is that you choose you too)

Happy Valentine’s. Show YOUR body some LOVE today. Tell her the truth. I’m going start doing the same.

Navigating the Edges of Intuitive Eating

Stock photo Dreamstime

I woke this morning with this curiosity around the edges of my child’s eating.  Like many of you we use an intuitive model of feeding and eating ourselves.  We follow our child’s lead and expand what works and are thoughtful about what we bring into the house and work to set an example through our own food relationships.  Children’s texture tolerances typically grow developmentally with age and in alignment with their temperament.  Trying new food is a risk and some kids are simply going to be those adults who look at food risk and think nope.  They will have a smaller array of palate and there is nothing wrong with this when it is balanced with nutritional awareness.  So understand when I say navigating the edge, I don’t mean pushing a kid towards a culturally or familial idealized variety of eating.  I mean exactly this, staying curious.

What I noticed and why I am writing today is this:  I had retreated from the edge of my child’s eating.  As the head chef in our home, I had pulled back from the edges of variety because it was safe and I simply lacked energy to face the apprehensive, “Mom what is this?”  Any chef will tell you, seeing someone joyfully ravishing your food is worth all the gold in the world.  And when someone, even your own child acts like what you’ve cooked is poison, as a food artist this hurts at a level.  

So what I am wondering is this:  What if I can pull up and out of my need to please and occasionally (likely not every night or there will be a riot), offer something he’s never seen? What if in choosing to make this a conscious and mindful choice for us both we could have an entirely different result than the past? And letting my child know this risk I am asking of him is actually MY need as an artist, not that there is something inherently wrong with his eating.  Any food artist knows that cooking the same menu all the time gets BORING and a burnout can happen. 

So today I stand in this current truth:  As a mother, I have as much responsibility at my child’s edges as I do at his comfort level.    Rich and complex human interrelating requires knowledge of both these territories and the wobbly spaces in between.  I can tell you in even considering this experiment, there is a growing excitement in me as to what foods/dishes will represent this edge.

Readiness on the Pelvic Floor Journey

I am writing today from a camp chair at a folding table in my New Mexico kitchen.  My life has become nomadic and deliciously lighter in many ways.  However, this new material lightness doesn’t always lend itself to the cozy writing spots I was once used to, nor the lovely gaps of alone time where I could gather my thoughts  The homeschooling child sleeps and so I have cultivated this sweet, quiet space for you and I… 

Know it is warm in my kitchen today despite the snow falling outside and I have poured us a cup of tea.  As you imagine sitting here with me today may the tenderness surrounding us touch you.  I woke up early because I want to open up into the honesty of the timing of my choice to begin pelvic floor physical work.  This was not an easy choice for my body. In simply making the appointment to work with my own pelvic floor with a physical therapist so much energy in the form of memory began to move in my body.  And in that movement of memory/grief/fear it became quickly clear to me why I have chosen to wait for this exact moment to enter this form of healing work.  This choice has been years in the making and preparations, nearly a decade to be exact.

The timing of entering pelvic floor work matters.  Adding another human being to the mix on this journey is a HUGE step especially for survivors. As much as I would have loved for my healing to move much faster, deep, lasting healing cannot be rushed.  The body unfolds from trauma in its own time and as a human with this one life to live, healing time can feel extremely slow and the subtle changes invisible to my hurried eye.  I trust though, my body knows exactly what she is doing and over the past decade, I can see the shifts and sense her healing from the inside out.  

When one is contemplating pelvic floor work there are some important considerations.  May this short list help you decide on your timing or help you in the creation of your own readiness tool.  Each body is so unique.  Know that your readiness may require different pillars of support. It is in the recognizing of what I need, the magic happens.  Dr. Julie Von has a wonderful exercise she utilizes in helping folks find what they need as their foundation of wellness.  As women living within patriarchy sometimes the hardest question we can ask ourselves is, “What do I need?” These pillars once identified consciously are more able to help hold and support us as we facilitate our own healing.  I am applying the what are my pillars tool here in discovering what I need to move forward with this next step in my healing journey.   

  1. space, time and financial resources
  2. trusted/vetted facilitator be that a Pelvic floor PT, osteopath, Cranial Sacral/Myofascial, Priestess, sex therapist etc. 
  3. community/professional/partner support
  4. nervous system readiness

As an osteopathic physician that works with women at this stage of pelvic floor healing, I am now even more aware of the healing value of readiness that this journey requires.  I am so lucky today to be able to see the sacred timing.  Wherever you are on your healing journey, know I believe in you and your body.  This work matters.  And, the timing is all yours.

Recommended movement music to for this writing:

You Can’t Rush Healing by Trevor Hall