A Perfect Storm (Mama Musings approaching the close of Year 1)

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The weather in my city has been really intense and stormy lately, and in perfect form, so has my life in some ways.  But in a different way because I am enjoying so much joy and light and love as I culminate my FIRST. YEAR. OF. MOTHERHOOD.  Wow!  To say that motherhood is hard work is insufficient.  For me it has been an intense, demanding, and worthwhile decision to prioritize in and sacrifice for the wellbeing of my child- without limit.  So we are having fun and I am exhausted as shit, most of the time.  I get frustrated, lonely, irritable and all of that but everyday I am inspired and impressed with my son and myself.  Interestingly, life keeps happening so I have all kinds of new milestones in my personal and professional life and new challenges and difficulties to learn and grow through.  So recently, when things got deep for our family, I wrote a poem about it.  It is right on time as I chart the open territory before for me as a new mother, improve my self-care practice, live more fully in my gifts and create a life that I love for me and for our family.  Here it goes:

 

It’s like I’m in this perfect storm…

And I like storms

Love comes softly like the rain yet floods the river

And my life is perfect right now

And at once stormy and unpredictable

And I don’t know how to manage it

All my dreams are coming though

Love is all around me and oh so much goodness

And so is the pain… I can’t evade the darkness even when I try to pull away

This is the work

I don’t like it, but I’m really good at it

I am here to love and to care for others

But I need this care and love too

I must have it, no question at all

Even if I have to take it for myself

Give it to myself

Give to myself first…I guess this is the only way to survive

The best way to thrive

The hurt is not my own

I feel the hurt of my brother, my sister, my children, and my nation

Far too deeply

So deeply that I don’t want to feel anything at all anymore

And I push it down, down, down until it’s bubbling up and overflowing

Then I remember to let it out, let it breathe

And it’s always better, then

How to navigate a storm

I know how to do this; perhaps it’s a gift

Even though it doesn’t feel that way.

For now just enjoying the calm, actively, intently and fully present

The storm will come again, and again and again…

And it will pass away, again and again and again.

Washing us clean and ushering a fresh new start each time

So I will rest in the calm, frolic and play… but I will also dance in the rain and receive the intense power of the storm.

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blue in the face

It hurts when there is not a peep nor a whisper when queer people of color are killed in a massacre like Pulse (Orlando) or black women are just slaughtered and abused senselessly- from the very places that were on outrage about more sensationalized, mainstream instances of state violence against black people (read: heterosexual male victims). And I wonder why only my women, queer, feminist friends have something to say about it all. I wonder why these examples of systemic violence don’t hurt your soul like they hurt mine or like other deaths hurt you. Why do some deaths make you stop and feel more outrage than when black women and lgbt folk are victimized?
I am so glad that I am in love with my beautiful black, queer, woman self. So glad that I am raising a son and get to raise him differently… So glad I am not holding my breath and waiting on this world to love me, because clearly I’d be sitting somewhere waiting til I became blue in the face.

 

Birthing Life ( I trust God)

  

 Very soon I will be having a baby!  On this journey of birthing life I have ALREADY learned so much and I know that I haven’t even scratched the surface of biological motherhood and what it means to give birth.  But there is one profound truth that is SO clear to me about birthing life, literally and figuratively.  That truth is that I TRUST GOD.  

I am a woman in my late 30s, black, lesbian, and unpartnered.  I after years of visioning, researching,  and planning I am having a son and blessed that my dear friend agreed to help me as a known donor and loving figure in our lives.  I am grateful that my baby has been healthy and active throughout my pregnancy.  I am grateful for the beauty of creating life and living life in all of its complexities.  I TRUST GOD.

  

Since the time that I started trying to conceive (TTC), so many difficult things have happened in my personal and professional life, within my family, and in the world at large.  And so much joy and goodness has unfolded as well!  I have experienced the rising from the ashes, the coming together of all the things we tend to worry about, and the desires of my heart coming into reality.  I TRUST GOD.

I trust God because I understand now how the bitter and the sweet both have their importance and how much we can learn in the ebb and flow of life.  I see the divine order that is operating in my life, particularly as I enter a stage of my life where i will have far less control over what happens.  In motherhood it is SO important that I TRUST GOD.

My pregnancy has been surrounded by SO much love and light.  The excitement, prayers, support, and rallying of my loved ones to celebrate this moment really overwhelms me at times.  This goodness can outweigh the trials that are sure to come and already have since I opened the door to birthing life.  Indeed, I TRUST GOD and I am awed at the way that life is unfolding for me lately.

So far, the biggest, most beautiful part of birthing life is all of the love, joy, and warmth that baby and I share with the people around us.  I can’t wait to share more about birthing the life of my sweet little BabyCakes! Right now I am full of gratitude for the magnanimous spirit of love that I am enjoying.  I TRUST GOD, knowing that God’s good is enormous and that this goodness tempers all that life may bring my way.  

Crashing Waves

Like many other beach lovers, I realize that the ocean is home for me. So now I make sure that I get to the ocean as often as possible. I’ve traveled to many beaches at different times of the year and have begun to learn the many nuances of the sea. In early spring the water is brisk and refreshing, while in summertime the ocean is cool and fairly calm and the waves bounce around playfully. In September, everyone rushes to the beach for Labor Day weekend to say the final goodbyes to summer. The water is very warm and inviting, but waves are crashing high in anticipation of the imminent winds of the autumn season.

This weekend the waves were especially tall and intense, coming in fast and cresting over into foamy bubbles at the shore. And like any homecoming visit, I couldn’t wait to get out there and frolic around with my “friends.” So I played with the waves, crashing and splashing and jumping around. I probably looked about five, rather than thirty-five years old! It was so exhilarating that I briefly pondered becoming a surfer to become more at one with the waves and stand straight on top of them. So there I was jumping and floating like those around me, some with boogie boards, and one or two kids with actual surf boards. These waves were really extraordinary, some one or two feet above my head. It was just amazing. I swallowed more than a little bit of salt water and got knocked down a few times. One wipeout flipped me complete upside down under the water and it was just wonderful! When I first entered the water I had on a pair of hoops that are usually secure in the water and beach friendly during other times in the year; but not this time. After the first two or three waves with I came up one earring missing, so I gave the other one up and counted the gold-colored circles as an offering to Yemoja, goddess of the sea.

Unlike past beach visits, I was experiencing a spiritual block so my first day at the beach didn’t yield much inspiration or deep reflection. I tried to focus but came up with nothing. I didn’t have any rituals to do, things I wanted to cleanse, or divine aspirations and dreams to affirm. I was experiencing soul congestion I guess. At present I am grappling with and needing to heal some upheavals that occurred in my professional life and with my mental health, both of which began about a year and a half ago. Though some time has passed, those two areas are sites of recurring issues and difficulties that seem to keep coming up in my life.

I was reading a novel and got the idea to think of these pains as storms that continually wear away at a lighthouse. The author implied that storms would keep coming across the seasons and that after so many storms lighthouse might need to be rebuilt a time or two after sustaining significant damage. Acceptance. Restoration. I like this metaphor; I like storms… and I like thinking of myself as lighthouse (guess myself esteem is still intact). But the waves that came crashing my way ever 20 to 30 seconds today, made so much more sense. They occurred because they were supposed to; they were fast and full of power and force. But they were so much fun if you weren’t afraid and dared to enjoy them. The ocean water wasn’t deep at all, the sun was shining and there were lots of people around. Like in life, you didn’t know when the next wave was coming or how soon it would crest or how high it would be. You didn’t know if they next one coming might knock you on your ass, but if it did you enjoyed it, got up and got ready to see what the next wave would be like. Some of the waves weren’t as forceful, but their height seemed scary until you realized you could float right on top of it. These high and crashing waves don’t trouble the sea all the time, just in certain seasons. You don’t have to be an expert swimmer, or really know how to swim at all. You just need to be able to jump as high as you can and be able to float a little bit.

If you’ve never been wave jumping then none of this will make sense. But I left the beach today with some peace about the rapid rearrangements that seem to be occurring everyday when I go to work, the disappointment of dreams deferred, and the ebbing highs and lows of my mental health and wellness. What if, as I did in the ocean, I had fun as these forceful waves seemingly slapped me around and tossed me about? What if I realized that the general conditions of my surroundings hadn’t changed or become life threatening and instead decided to jump and play in the ups and downs? That seems pretty unconventional to me, but I think I’ll try it. Summer is over, the fall winds are approaching and eventually winter will follow. I’m deciding that winter blues can’t be my story this year so I will need to try new things. This time I’m gonna try splashing around in the waves, floating and squealing and having fun even if I’m feeling knocked around a bit. At the end of this life I want my story to be that I loved well, gave freely, and enjoyed myself. The first two I do alright right with, but its time that I practice pleasure as a principle. It’s time that I commit to living and having fun along the way.
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Slow Down for What?

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At the ripe old age of 35 I am, thankfully, not inclined toward hook-ups, one-night stands or friends-with-benefits.  I don’t have as much trouble waiting or delaying physical intimacy when dating or meeting someone new.  But admittedly, when I attempt to “take things slow” on the emotional side, “going slow” really just means not as fast as the last time.   When I like someone and there is an attraction, I am excited and enjoying myself and moving slow doesn’t occur naturally for me.   I could easily spend hours on the phone or let a coffee date linger on for the entire afternoon.   And if there is “chemistry” it is easy for me to hang out or visit with my new interest for several days a week, back-to-back.   So, while I’m not likely to jump in the sheets with someone I just met, it wouldn’t be honest to say that I take things slowly.   It would be more accurate to simply say that I am going “slower” (i.e. slower than the last time, slower than the next person, slower than I really want to, etc).  At this stage in my life, I won’t commit or profess my undying love prematurely.  I won’t commit to a relationship before I am ready and confident that we have a good foundation.  I WILL go to bed on time (in my own bed, lol), continue to enjoy my friends and family, and spend some regular time alone, enjoying my own company.   This is a good space for me, but I still have to catch myself because there is an internal culprit that always betrays me and thwarts any effort to relax and take my time in love… her name is Oxytocin.

We often associate the release of oxytocin with childbirth and sexual orgasm, but we actually experience chemical bonding in a wide range of interactions (a hug, a handshake, playing with your pet, etc.).   Some suggest that women release and experience higher levels of oxytocin and bonding chemistry than men.  Suffice it to say, as a lesbian that would mean that I am doomed- or at least unable to slow things down easily.  Two women dating would seemingly lead to a whole bunch of this “chemistry” stuff floating around.  Maybe so- but the bottom line is that very early in the dating stage, and even in the absence of sexual intimacy, many of us (regardless of gender or sexual orientation) experience lots of bonding and connecting that may feel scary and premature.  Recently I read an article that had some great tips for taking your time when you meet someone new. It was really funny, thoughtful,and accurate… but alas, useless for me once “the bonding hormone” helped me to feel drawn to and enamored with new possibility.

Some may question, if things are feeling good, and I am having a good time- why slow things down?  Well, here’s why:  because I deserve it; because we each deserve it.  In a fast-paced world of doing and more doing, we deserve the space to take our time and do things slowly.  I have found that fast is fun, but slow is sweet.  When I move slowly, I notice details and appreciate nuances.  I am more certain in my actions and I can tune in t what feels right, spiritually.   When I slow down, I notice things I missed and overlooked.  Not in a guilty way, but in a healthy self-aware way.  In self-awareness I can make better choices that I feel good about.    When I slow down, I can be accepting and peaceful rather than controlling.  As far as romance, I’m glad that I am able to move more slowly than the last time.  I’m not striving for perfection nor looking for perfection in my partner.  Rather, I am sharpening my understanding of myself  (and my lover, as well).  When I move more slowly, I am allowing rather than forcing and practicing rather than projecting.  At this juncture in my life, I feel good about dating now and it doesn’t feel so scary.  I’m not attached to the destination… I believe I will get there (wherever that is).  I am looking for pleasure, good feelings, peacefulness, and shared work for a healthy relationship.   In a word, I am maturing.   I want soul stirring and spirit-filled love.  I am willing to slow down for that.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!

The Moonflower

I titled this blog after the moonflower when I discovered the amazing wonder of this night-blooming beauty.  There are several species of night-blooming flowers and this got me to thinking about my relationship to nighttime and darkness.

I used to be a night owl.  I love the quiet and the stillness.  The day is over and my worries of the day have passed into thin air.  I can create, cleanse, dance, dream, and any number of things.  In the late hours past midnight I have heard God most clearly.  No distractions, no buffers.

In life’s turn of events, I no longer stay up late into the night as much.  Now I rise before the sun does and that has been really uncomfortable.  There is a vulnerability in the quiet morning darkness that I never noticed when I stayed up late into the night.  In the absence of the sun, I have to create my own light and my own energy to get started, energized, and excited about the day.  Sometimes this goes well and I have a really powerful morning.  Sometimes it’s too scary, too naked, too bare.  But there is a magic and a science to it all;  and many of us inhabit this space of miraculous growth in the apparent absence of light.

 I shared my thoughts with a friend, just an ol’ country boy,  who is also an early riser and wakes each morning as early as 3am.  He remarked to me with great empathy: It is in the darkness, that we can truly see who we are.

ungrateful

Lately, I have had some days in which I’ve felt a painful inability to feel grateful.  DEPRESSION.  Such a shameful feeling for someone like me, whose spirituality centers on gratitude and recognizing all the things for which I am thankful.  And yet somehow a dark curtain had fallen and I felt totally paralyzed.  Emotional and mental paralysis.  Yes, I felt ashamed and out of sync as my mind drew a blank. I was resentful.  If I can be totally honest, my usual blessings seemed uninspiring- not because I am truly ungrateful, but because I seemed to be having a temporary crisis of hope.  I was tired and sleep deprived, exhausted after work, anxious about money, and overwhelmed with lots of “to-do”’s. I had gone without some basic self-care, which I now realize is no longer optional.

Each day in this spell of depression I became increasingly fragile.  Crying in the morning and throughout the day; sleeping less and less. Dragging myself through work.  Eating unconsciously and unhealthily while on the go, questioning God about the meaning of life, the value of my own life, and if I even wanted to live at all.  My rut was exacerbated by a keen awareness that I was doing the “wrong” things, being ungrateful, self-absorbed, and out of sync with my spiritual teachings.  So of course I felt guilty, guilty, guilty.  I beat myself up, judged it, embodied the shame of my unbelievable gall to not “feel good.”

And as one could imagine the cycle continued and spiraled out of control.  For me this looked like physical illness- always the same miserable ailments, but thankfully nothing life-threatening.  I was sneezy, and stuffy and snotty, and achy from head to toe.  My inside and my outside were now aligned and I got mad.  Feeling bad emotionally and feeling bad physically makes for a miserable combination.  My physical ailments distracted me from my emotions for a moment. I resented not being healthy enough to have fun and enjoy myself because I had to recuperate in bed. But I hadn’t been having fun anyway, nor had I been resting – which illness always forces us to do.

My mental health swung back and forth.  The depression became anxiety as I realized that I was “creating” my illness (more guilit!) and I worried that things were too confusing to untangle easily.  I believe in the mind-body-spirit connection, but this is slippery territory with mental health.  Depression is formidable, intimidating and can seem insurmountable when you are in it.  Anxiety and panic are maddening and swift… worries can mount faster than you can blink or take a deep breath.  Finding a door or a way out requires total surrender- a complete stop- a ceasing of all movement that feels unreasonable or unlikely in the daily treadmill of life.

The phenomenal thing is that my body helped me, as it always does, getting my attention and demanding rest.  Resting opened the door for drinking more water and eating simpler food.  Resting in bed required me to find help and seek healthier people to assist me. While resting I remembered to get a little exercise to boost my immune system.  I tried to hop back into action after a day or so.  My illness worsened- I felt depressed (only mildly) and had a strong spell of anxiety.  I went back to sleep.  About a week after this cold/allergy/flu thing and maybe three weeks after my bout of depression picked up, I realized that the other issue I needed to address was talking to myself kindly.  I pulled out all my self-help books, mental health guides, and inspirational writings. I mostly just looked at them in a pile and carried them around with me.  Then I realized I needed to write the affirmations, post them, and speak them aloud in order to untangle the neglect, self-judgment, guilt, shame, and resentment that had initiated and fueled my experience of depression and ingratitude.

I also considered my surroundings, enjoying sunny days more fully and having plans in place for the cloudy, winter grey skies as well.  I tried choosing positive company or solitude rebuilding a spirit of enthusiasm and hope.   I began caring for my home a bit, making it a warm, loving, and peaceful space that made me feel good.  This bout of depressed peeked in and out every other day rather than persisting without interruption.  However, becoming ill reminded me of the necessity of:

  • rest
  • exercise
  • healthy diet
  • self-care
  • home care, and
  • positive affirmation and self-talk.

At first, I integrated one or two of these items a day, at best.  Now I am at a solid three a day and have added some fun and play time into the mix ( a movie, a game of jenga, etc).

I am building myself up now, should depression visit me again soon.  I am on vacation from work and have ample time to practice and think about how to meaningfully adjust my work-life routine so that I don’t continue to produce the conditions for illness, depression and anxiety.  I want to practice awareness and loving way of life so that low, heavy, and unhappy days are extremely infrequent.  I envision transforming my coping strategies with a mindful way of living that will increase the quality and pleasure in my life in a consistent and permanent way.  I will start today… in this moment, as I head to the kitchen to prepare a healthy meal to start my day.

Posts that helped this week:

10 Simple, Science-Backed Ways to Be Happier

5 Reasons Why Your Life is Awesome