Monday, November 16, 2015

Letter To a Hurting World

World, I’m sorry you’re hurting.

I’m sorry your babies are dying. I’m sorry you’re being torn apart by a few haters of you and your people and the love that makes you go ‘round and ‘round.

I don’t quite know what to do.

I don’t quite know how to feel or how to act or what to say when really horrific things happen to your people—my sisters, my brothers. I freeze.

Many are saying: “I’m not scared. We’re not scared. We can’t be scared.”

But I don’t believe them, World, because I’m scared.

I’m scared for your future and I’m scared for all of our futures and, most of all, I’m scared for the future of my little boy and all of the other little boys and girls who will inherit you and all of the mess that’s been created in you, in the name of I-don’t-know-what.

I don’t want to hate, World.

I don’t want to become one of the haters, but I’m finding it really hard to put on a brave “love wins” face right now.

I’m finding it really hard to let my broken heart shine bright, even though that’s what she does best, you know—this heart of mine, she’s a firefly.

But maybe, right now, it’s OK not to shine. Maybe it’s OK to just be scared. To just be scared and angry and really, really sad. To just sit on the couch, crying, for those who got dressed up on Friday night, in Paris, and headed to a famous concert hall, only to be gunned down a few hours later.

And for those who, days earlier, were on the streets of Beirut, perhaps shopping at the market with their children, when a bomb went off, leaving nothing but corpses and terror in its wake.

Crying, too, for the fact that I didn't even hear about the tragedy in Beirut, until the tragedy in Paris happened. (What does this say about you, World? About us? About the value we place on some lives and not on others?)

All of this breaks me, World.

It makes it hard for me to breathe. It makes it hard for me to trust in the innate kindness of your people. And it makes it hard for me to believe—really believe—that love wins.

But then, World, I do what I always do when I feel lost: I close my eyes.

I place my hand on my chest.

I breathe into my belly.

And even though it’s hard at first, it gets easier. The breaths get deeper and longer and, in time, I feel myself settle. Everything slows down: breath, hearbeat, racing brain.

Just like that, I’m in my safe space again—that space, inside, where I go to find comfort when you, World, become a bit too crazy for me.

It is here, in the hush, that I reconnect to the real Knowing so often buried underneath all of the false knowing. It is here, in the hollow, that I can see the Light so often obstructed by darkness . It is here, in the clearing, that Courage lives—the kind of courage that can never, ever be crushed by fear.

This is where God lives, too.

This is where Love lives.

(And, World, just so we’re clear: In my version of life and life-after-life, God and Love are the Yin and Yang aspects of the exact same thing.)

And even though I’m a bit too scared and angry and sad right now to feel the full force of that capital-L-Love, I still know it’s there.

With my eyes closed and my breath steady, I can feel it. It’s like a soft current gathering strength underneath rough waters, quietly but consistently pulsing, gently reminding me of its presence and its power.

And when I open my eyes, twenty minutes later, I realize that I feel just a little bit stronger than I did before, a little bit braver, and like I carry just a little bit more capital-K-Knowing in my body.

World, this is what I know for sure:

I know that Muslims are not to blame for the terror running rampant in this world and I know that there is confusion about this, but I know that I will keep standing up for my Muslim friends as they would stand up for me.

I know that there are more of us who are praying for peace and working for peace and singing for peace and fighting for peace than there are who are rejoicing in these senseless acts of violence.

I know that fighting for peace is an oxymoron—that dropping bombs over entire villages only adds to the brutality and does nothing to ease it (if it did, we would have seen some sort of progress by now, 14 long years after this "war on terror" was started). I know that war is terrorism with a bigger budget.

I know that there are many who disagree with me on this, and that that is their right. I honour their voices, too. 

I know that there are more of us who are opening doors for those who are running and who need a safe place to sleep tonight than there are who are locking doors and barring windows.

I know that there are more of us who are hurting right now than there are who are celebrating—and I know that this is a very good thing.    

Because we are hurting together, World.

We are your people and we love you and we love each other and we are hurting together.

We are your people and we are kind.

We are resilient.

We are very, very brave.

And maybe, today, we are just too scared and angry and sad to feel very, very brave.

Maybe, today, we are feeling pulled towards hate (because fear does this, you know) but maybe—if we close our eyes, if we find our breath, if we listen to our wise, wise hearts—we will all feel a little bit braver tomorrow. 

Brave enough to believe—really believe—that love wins.

We are your people, World, and we are trying.

We are imperfect and we make mistakes all the time, but we are trying. And we’ll keep trying, together. We’ll keep healing, together. We’ll keep lifting each other up and teaching each other how to love again.

Our shattered hearts will keep shining, World. Don’t you worry. They will.

Our hearts will continue to light up the night.

We are your people, World.

Your army of fireflies.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I Honour the Women

(Originally published, with different edits, on elephant journal on October 26, 2015)

Photo by (the incredibly talented) Camilla Albano

I honour the women.

I honour the women who howl at the moon and the women who bow their heads in silent reverence, instead.

I honour the women who are loud with their words and the women who don’t feel they need to be loud in order to be heardthe ones who know that the wisest ones speak softly or do not speak at all.

I honour the women who call themselves fearless and the women who are full of fear but also full of courage; the ones who rise above fear; the ones who speak the truth even when their voice shakes.

I honour the women who understand that feminism is about choice—about choosing to be a mother or not to be a mother, to be a CEO or not to be a CEO, to have many lovers or one lover-for-life or no lover at all.

I honour the women who respect that there is nothing wrong with a white picket fence if that is what a woman chooses; the women who don’t consider other women to be inferior (less fun, less free, less fierce) simply because they have made different choices.

I honour the women who hold others accountable for their mistakes, but also hold themselves accountable when they are at fault; the women who understand that accountability is important, but that forgiveness (of self and of others) is infinitely more important.

I honour the women who realize that it’s not all about them; that the world is built on interconnection; that every action creates ripples in the fabric of life itself.

I honour the women who respect their perfect, precious vaginas (and treat them like the lifegivers they are) and I honour the women who don’t because they have been told, their entire lives, that being a woman means being second best and that to "play like a girl" is to play weak.

I honour the women who have explored their sexuality and accept themselves as glorious sexual beings and I honour the women who haven’t explored their sexuality because it has never been safe for them to do so.

I honour the women who value their own worth and those who aren’t sure they have any worth at all.

I honour the black women, the Muslim women, the indigenous women, the trans women, the poor women, the homeless women, the abused women, the women who have a voice but whose voice has been muffled for decades upon decades upon decades; the ones who are rarely represented in media and government; the ones who must ceaselessly fight against the marginalization imposed upon them.

I honour the women who don’t give up.

I honour the women who do give up; the ones whose spirits have been crushed; the ones who have been beaten down one time too many.

I honour the women who work tirelessly to protect Earth and her earthlings and those who don’t because they are too busy working two jobs to put enough food on the table to feed their families.

I honour the privileged women who not only acknowledge their privilege, but push back against the system that fosters it.

I honour the women who vote with their dollars; the women who know that change happens from the ground up and so who get down on their knees and dig in the mud; the ones who put their actions where their words are; the ones who understand that we are all doing the best we can with what we know and what we have and that that is enough.

I honour the women who don’t vote with their dollars because they simply can’t afford it.

I honour the women who, through their thoughts and words and deeds, revere the children (who will inherit the world) and the elders (upon whose shoulders they stand).

I honour the women who create—the ones who write and sing and dance and paint and knit and garden and mother—in brave and inspired ways.

I honour the women who recognize that it is their duty to give a fuck, that it is necessary to give a fuck, that there are too many people in this world who don’t give a fuck because they are too caught up in romanticizing the moment, the individual experience, and the ego.

I honour the women who understand that in order to create a better world—one where there is justice, equality, and freedom for all—we must exist in the present, but expand our awareness beyond the present (we must think of tomorrow); beyond the individual experience (we must consider others); beyond the ego (we must restore the heart to its rightful place as chief commander).

I honour the women who try to be perfect because they have never been taught that they are fabulous just as they are and the women who don’t try to be perfect, but aim to be purposeful.

I honour the women who build bridges between the gaps that separate women from women and women from men; the ones who know that, despite our vast differences, we belong to one another.

I honour the women who are real, who are raw, who are able to walk in the world with a heart full of scars that declares:

Here I am. I am a bit tender, a bit scared, a bit unsure. But here I am, taking another breath, greeting another morning, walking another step in the direction of wholeness, of healing, and of love.

I honour the women who love; the ones who keep on loving this broken world and its broken people because love is the force that fuels action.

I honour the women who, in time, learn to shamelessly own their stories and the women who never do because shame is so deeply embedded in their bones.

I honour the women who sacrifice, the women who give, the women who grieve.

I honour the women who stand tall and proud and those who keep crawling forward on their bruised and bloodied knees.

I honour the women.


(Note: In August 2014, a piece was published on elephant journal entitled, This Is For the Women Who Don't Give a Fuck. That piecewhich both excited and angered me, at the exact same timewas the spark that inspired this piece and, for that, I am grateful.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Good Fire

Photo: Pinterest

The fire swells. Its initial spark, fuelled by dry bark and a strong gust of wind, becomes a flash, a flame, an inferno. It paints the world yellow and makes my baby boy’s big blue eyes grow even bigger.

It moves, tripping and twirling, seizing the breeze. It shape-shifts into memories, pirouettes into possibilities. I will take your most secret dream and set it alight, it says. 

It sings, whistling and crackling and hissing and hush. Its song is far removed from the racket of the city. There is no traffic here - no honking cars or screeching brakes, no streetcar bells or wailing sirens. Instead, there is deep silence interspersed with crooning crickets, lapping waves, and the sizzling orange light.

We are people connected by this growing, moving, singing fire. It has been burning, summer after summer, for a thousand years. The houses have changed and the scenery too. Parents have aged and children have grown. But around these flames, it's always home.

We sit in a circle of no beginning nor end, sharing stories and laughter and remember whensWe look up at the moon, admire the stars, and feel the knots in our muscles unravel.

We haven’t seen each other in months and our phone conversations have been brief.  We are busy, all of us. Busy with work, school, life.

Busy forgetting the simplicity of things. Like the joy that comes from waking up at 5am to the call of the loon on the lake. 

This fire brings us back. Back to the easy, uncomplicated way of life. Back to early morning swims and afternoon bike rides down long and winding roads. Back to afternoon naps under storytelling clouds. Back to roasting marshmallows for dessert and enjoying the sticky sweet mess of it all.   

It brings us back to the love that warms our insides and our outsides and lifts us up and out of the darkness we sometimes stumble into. The love that threads our individual stories into a tattered but spectacular rag quilt called "family." 

Every summer, the fire burns, the crickets croon, the shooting stars rouse our wildest wishes, and our hearts are set ablaze.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Answering the Call to Newness: Words Inspired by the New Moon/Supermoon, Solar Eclipse & Spring Equinox of March 20th, 2015

(Originally published, with a slightly different title, on elephant journal on March 20, 2015)

Image: tumblr

Today is a day for slowing down, way, way down. For taking deep breaths and deeper breaths still. For going outside and looking up at the sky. (Hello, sky.)

Today is a day for feeling your skin and how it wakes up when caressed by wind. For feeling your heart and how it wakes up when acknowledged, and accepted. (Hello, heart. I love you, all of you, always.)

Today is a day for repeating the words I am alive, I am alive, I am alive 108 times.

Today is a day for reflection and ever-so-gentle redirection. For asking the question, “How am I doing, really?” and being brave enough to answer honestly, even if the answer hurts, even if the answer is, “I have no idea, really.”

Today is a day for feeling connected to all that ever was, is, will be. 

The Universe lovingly cradles you in the nook of her left arm, while painting a new supermoon with her right hand, exhaling a solar eclipse, and dancing away the dark. 

You are a celestial event in human form. (Can you feel it? Today is a day for feeling it.) 

Today is a day for giving yourself a hug (because, friend, you deserve a hug), for giving yourself a high five (because, friend, you deserve a high five), for looking in a mirror and greeting your glowing eyes. (Hello, eyes. Oh, how you glow.)

Today is a day for trusting in the process of transition and transformation, for answering the call to newness with a resounding "yes."

Today is a day for rising from your six-month slumber, stretching your aching knees, and standing in your power, your truth, your renewed sense of purpose.

Today is a day for shedding your dry, dull, winter armour and revealing your shimmer. (Shimmer, friend, shimmer.)

Spring is here, and so are you.

Hello, light.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

This Is What I Pray For You, Sweet Baby of Mine

(Originally published on Sacred Pregnancy on January 29, 2015)

Photo: Lakeside Baby Bump at 12 Weeks by Papa Yves
For all of the babies: May you be loved.
I pray that with your very first cry (that mighty hellooooo world that will shift atoms and alter planet Earth forever), you feel my arms around you, holding you close to my beating heart, and learn that you can cry in this world, that you are safe in this world, that my arms and my heart were built to hold you.
I pray that with your very first feeding, nestled against the warmth of my chest, you learn what it is to be nourished by your mama (me) and by your Mama (Earth) and that you grasp, deep inside your brand-new-ancient mind, that you belong here, that you were called here, that you are worthy of receiving the sustenance you need to thrive amongst the big and small creatures of this difficult world.
I pray that with your very first pee and your very first poo, you learn to enjoy the crucial act of letting go, of releasing what no longer serves you, of making space inside and out for the continually unfurling possibilities of life.
I pray that with your very first laugh, you learn to embrace the pleasure of pleasure, to find the funny in a sound, a thought, a sensation, and to let the ease of the moment fill you up and burst out of you like speckles of starlight. Never be scared of the silly, baby. The silly will keep you strong.
I pray that with your very first awareness of your thumb, your hand, your toes, you learn that to inhabit a body is a miraculous thing. That with your very first crawl, you learn to be excited by moving in this world, by touching, and climbing, and chasing the wind, and feeling it all. That with your very first tooth, you learn that pain happens, that it cuts and pierces and burns, but that it also passes, leaving precious gifts in its wake.
I pray that with your very first sleep through the night, you learn not to fear the darkness but to find solace in the Moon’s glow, to fall easily into that limp and heavy state where the active mind surrenders to the mystical truth buried in dreams. Listen to your dreams, baby. They will connect you to the angels.
I pray that with your very first word, you learn that words are power and I hope that you unflinchingly say no when you mean no, and yes when you mean yes, and courageously walk away when others don’t respect the sanctity of your words.
I pray that with your very first prayer, you learn to trust in the unseen forces of this world, to listen to the guidance of the Great Spirit who speaks to us in birdsong and sunbeams, and to find the answers you seek in the divine knowing of your own perfect heart.
I pray that with your very first ache for the pain of another, you learn not to dread the ache but to welcome the ache, for this is compassion gently knocking at your door. Let it in, little one. Let the ache travel deep inside and crack you open so that all the goodness you hold can rush out of you and into this beautiful, broken world.
I pray that with your very first brush against warm fur, you learn to cherish animals as the blessed beings they are, that you allow them into your space, and invite their soft bodies to curl up against yours. Become friends with the animals, baby. They will grow your heart, if you let them.
I pray all of this for you, sweet baby of mine, knowing all too well that you will struggle as we all do, and hurt as we all do, and feel very alone and very confused and very lost, as we all do.
But I pray that when you feel lost, you know to look up at the sky, the clouds, the stars, my eyes and remember who you are, remember where you come from, remember that I am your mother and that, for a short time, your tiny heart beat inside of my body, filling me up with the most radiant light, and we were magic together.
I pray–and I pray this most of all–that with your very first breath, and with every breath that follows, you feel the sacredness of my love and know that it will never falter or fade. It is a love that lasts forever and it is the fiercest force in the world.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you, baby.
Listen to the musn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ~ Shel Silverstein 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ten Things I Learned (or, Remembered) From My Month Off Facebook

1.  It is a wonderful thing to wake up in the morning and not check your phone right away. The day glides onto you like silk – and it feels divine.

2.  Time not spent on FB can be spent reading, writing, making French toast (and other delicious food), cleaning bathroom cabinets, walking the dog, snuggling the cats, watching great movies, purging purging purging, having kitchen dance parties with your husband to Taylor Swift’s new CD (EVERYDAY), expanding your business (stay tuned for more on this), meditating (oh yes oh yes oh yes), taking pre-natal yoga classes, having brunch with friends, getting wrinkly in lukewarm bathwater, exfoliating your feet, budgeting for the new year, renewing your passport, putting together a crib, and rediscovering your love of mangoes.

3.  The beautiful moments that make up a full life happen even when they aren’t photographed, Instagrammed, or otherwise shared. They are still real – maybe even more real – because there is presence, without distraction, and there is appreciation. 

4.  It is really, really fun to bump into people you haven’t seen in awhile and ask, “What have you been up to?” without already knowing the answer. 

5.  Friends who want to keep in touch with you, keep in touch with you. There are ways.

6.  FB is not “good” or “bad” – it is neutral. The “good” or “bad” part of it comes from how and why it is used. (So ask yourself: How and why am I using this?)

7.  Social media does not give hugs. (Cats, dogs, and Moms, however, do.) Also, hashtags are #weird.

8.  Your FB world is a reflection of your real world so it is important to maintain a FB life that lifts you up, informs and inspires you, and makes you feel good. Delete/block those who suck your energy. De-clutter your page. Let FB be your ally in the creation of a better you and a better Earth.

9.  Disconnecting – completely disconnecting, for a week, a month, a year – is OK. It is better than OK. For the sensitive ones (like me), it is necessary.

10.  You will return to FB, not because you need it or even because you miss it that much, but because you choose it – mindfully and responsibly – as a tool for communication, outreach, and spreading goodness in this world. You will return to FB, but promise to (always always always) listen to your heartvoice and trust it when it says, “OK. Time to retreat now. Time to log off. Time to take a break from social media and go hunting for the best organic mangoes in town.” You will trust the truest part of you and you will disconnect from the machine (and reconnect to yourself) all over again (and again and again and again). Doing so, as often and for as long as you need to, will replenish your resources, honour your introverted spirit, and keep you well.