I’m coming out of my shell! (And it’s a little scary)

The other night I read my daughter a book that mentioned how lobsters hide under rocks while molting a new shell.

First of all: lobsters molt?! I I’m am showing my ignorance of the crustacean family here but I had no idea. Also, gross.

Maine-ly I wanted an excuse to use this adorable Lobstah gif

Second: friends, I think I might be a LOBSTER!

Let’s review the facts, shall we?

  1. Sarah has been on a long-ass journey of releasing, healing, transmuting, discarding . . .one could say that she has molted more than a few shells.
  2. She kept herself under a rock while molting because nobody wants to see a naked lobster!
  3. She discovered one day that it seemed like there was nothing left to molt. Yep, done molting.
  4. She realized that if she was done molting, maybe this meant she could come out from under the rock!
  5. She then cried in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store when she realized that it is VERY SCARY TO SCURRY OUT FROM UNDER YOUR ROCK WITH A STILL-SOMEWHAT-SQUISHY SHELL. (Long story. Everything is ok. Sometimes you just gotta cry it out on the grocery run.)

I was going to draw a picture of myself as a lobster because everyone loves a visual, but I realized that I don’t have time to do that. But I DO have a lovely drawing of a ghost crab. I met him last summer in Cocoa Beach. Isn’t he just the cutest?

My little ghost crabs. They look a little freaked out don’t they! I drew these last summer. 😀

So, for the purposes of this blog post, I am metaphorically speaking a lobster GHOST CRAB. (Which I googled – and they do molt – so it works.)
HERE I GO! It’s a little scary. My shell is still a little squishy. But no more hiding under a rock!! It’s time!

P.S. Do you think crabs are cute or totally gross? I vote cute! Cuter than lobsters for sure. By the way, do NOT google “lobsters molting” unless you want nightmares.

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Poking my head out to say hello!

It seems I’ve been HIDING IN MY SHELL. For like, a while. Months and months! It was necessary, this journey inward and focused on dealing with some life situations, but time to renter the world already!

So here I am, poking my head out, tentatively at first but pretty soon I’ll be back in the swing of things just like old times, me and WordPress doing our thing. For now, imagine me waving hello! What you been up to? Ready to take on March? Stick your head out of your shell too? I think good things are in store!

Adorable turtle model is courtesy of The Everglades Wonder Gardens @theevergladeswondergardens where your’s truly took the photo. This little dude’s probably more of a metaphor for someone trying to bust loose from fences (internal? External?) but he’s just so gosh darn cute I had to include him.

Bye for now! But see ya soon! (PROMISE!) .


(Pssttt! Do you like following things more on Instagram than on wordpress? Keep up with my posts in Instagram at @followthejoy!) #justfollowthejoy

Courage, dear heart

I feel like a butterfly that is figuring out how the heck to get untangled from its cocoon. It’s been such a long journey to get here. It can’t be rushed and yet I have an urgency or is it impatience? Or fear that maybe it won’t really happen? Regardless, I needed to create bravery where none existed.

I needed Courage, dear heart.

Art my own; joyfulhummingbirdart.etsy.com

Sending virtual courage to anyone who needs it right now. We got this!

What Four Looks Like

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Four is learning to whistle along with Peppa Pig.

Four is puppet shows and pirouettes.

Four is nonsensical knock-knock jokes and pretending to read clocks.

Four is eating pb&j, cheese sticks and cereal–all before 9AM.

Four is finding loopholes in bedtime rules.

Four is big feelings, and even bigger hugs.

Four is winning at Memory and mastering big-kid puzzles.

Four is I got it!, I know!, I can do it!, and I love you you, mama.

Four is holding on tight to fleeting 6am snuggles.

Happy birthday today to my little girl (who does not seem so little anymore). I looked at what I wrote last year and I can’t believe how much my daughter has grown. I can only begin to imagine what she will be like when I write this next year. Oh, how the time flies.

And because I’m ridiculously sentimental, thinking a lot about the birth memories I shared in The Birth(day) lessons. That nesting-pregnant-woman seems like a child compared to what I have grown into during these last four years. It is truly a joy to watch how much we grow, too, hand-in-hand with our child.

Stitching it back together with love

I am sitting here in my favorite oversized sweater that smells a little bit like beagles, but maybe that makes me love it more. I wore this sweater while studying for exams in law school. I wore this sweater in the drafty farm house in Iowa as my belly grew larger and larger when pregnant with my daughter.

I don’t get to wear this sweater as often anymore in Florida, but I woke up chilly and even the dogs are snuggled together in a puppy pile. It is a brisk 58 degrees (seriously I am not trying to rub this in–I know that everyone else in the US is dealing with arctic temps) and my first thought was, at long last I can put on my favorite sweater. And more importantly, at long last I can write.

I don’t even know where to begin with what has unraveled these last few weeks. Unraveled has a negative connotation but I mean it as a neutral term. Merriam Webster defines unravel as to disengage or separate the threads of :  disentangle b :  to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of; to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of :  clear up <unravel a mystery>.

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That has been my last few weeks. Resolving the intricacy and complexity of challenges and clearing up mysteries. It involved a coming apart in the sense that it is no longer longer knotted up.  It has been untangled and laid bare so I can see it for what it is and begin to slowly and lovingly stitch it back together. It turns out that my healing and my daughter’s growing pains seem as intertwined as the DNA that we share.

The way I write makes it sound so dramatic. It isn’t. Nothing large or scary happened. It all felt large in the way that things often do when we are triggered or afraid. And the stitching back together felt large, but it too was not. It involved daily acts of love (which makes it sound easy but it was anything but easy), done in minutes and hours and days.

Those small things done with love are the hardest parts of parenting. It is a slow slog that surrenders to trust in the process. Trust that many small steps will add up and make a difference. They do and it is beautiful.

I will write more about the untangling and the stitching back together. But for now I will wear my oversized sweater and drink hot coffee on the lanai. I will prepare to go Christmas shopping with my husband, and then later I will listen to my daughter sing Christmas songs at preschool. My heart is full.

The Final Push (This Might Hurt)

I’ve had a huge amount of crap healing work surface this past week. The kind of stuff that a year from now I will look back on and muse, that was so powerful and worth every painful moment. But when you are living it? Total and utter bologna.

In fact, I have decided 2016 has largely been a very difficult year and I’m quite ready to ring in 2017 thankyouverymuch.

Let me list the reasons why 2016 royally sucked:

  • Miscarriage (for a pregnancy due on the day my mom died….ouch.)
  • Continued grief for loss of my mother and ripple effects from that loss
  • Gawker went under (this was a big one)
  • Trump was elected president
  • and, saving the best for last, a ton of unexpected childhood trauma healing work.  (Ok, maybe not totally unexpected. I decided to break my silence and share my story publicly for the first time, which meant that ten people who read my blog saw it, but trust me even that was a huge huge deal for me. So let’s just say the gates had cracked open a bit.)

Now, since I’m an optimist and someone who makes an effort to choose hope, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that I could easily list all the beautiful transformations that occurred this past year. A list that is longer than that craptastic list. But for today, I want to wallow a little.

So wallow I will. Stomp my foot and raise a fist to injustices. Grrrr!!

Oh, but the point of this post (other than a little bit of poor me) was to tell you about my dreams I had this past week. They are little sign posts keeping me going. 

The first dream was about a week ago. In the dream I was giving birth and up until this point in the dream the whole process had been so effortless–dare I say easy and painless? (clearly this is a dream)–but suddenly in the dream I felt stalled, and I knew that I was going to have to make one final push, and endure some pain, to give birth.

WELL I’M PUSHING NOW AND IT DEFINITELY HURTS.

And then last night, a dream where I am in a high school type of science classroom. We were all at seats with a microscope. Our instructions were to inject ourselves with some type of shot and then we were to examine the wound under the microscope.

I was reluctant to do the shot to the arm because I was afraid it would hurt, but it didn’t! And then I examined the wound up close. It was fascinating.

So hear we are. Enduring some pain, examining old wounds. Fun times.

But boy, (metaphorical) birth is close, I can feel it.

A year later: broken open but not broken

I started this blog a little more than a year ago and so much has changed in that time.

I thought about this earlier this week as I rolled a pie crust, dancing to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, belting out old standards that my mom loved. I felt so much joy. This was possibly the first holiday that wasn’t overshadowed by grief. Yes, my mom popped in my head often but it was met more often with smiles than tears. I know she would love my crooning to Lush Life, the same song she belted out when playing the Linda Ronstadt record. And certainly, there were moments of sadness and longing this holiday (this is inevitable, you can’t ignore the empty chair at the table) but overall I felt more peace this year.

And it’s fair to say I feel more rooted than in November 2015. A few days ago I walked the dogs in nearby pine brush woods, collecting tropical flowers, palm fronds and scarlet berries to make a homemade flower bouquet. This act now feels normal. Routine. Familiar even. This landscape of my life–both literal and figurative–that shifted so dramatically beneath my feet three years ago now feels like home. 

I recently heard a moving interview with the poet/philosopher/spiritual writer Mark Nepo and he talked about how humans are unique animals because we can experience multiple metamorphoses. Periods of darkness that take us into a cocoon, often several times in the span of a liftime, and if we choose to we can emerge from these periods anew–with new wings, new eyes, new colors and stripes. 

Twice I have entered this cocoon. The first in my early twenties. My second unfolding occurred with your help, dear readers.

I started this blog steeped in grief, and along the way suffered an additional loss–a miscarriage–that came close to breaking me. Instead, it broke me open. What a gift. I am grateful for it all, the darkness of the cocoon and the light that shines on newly spread wings. Many blessings to you and your family this holiday. I’m certain the best is yet to come.

 

 

Embracing Brokenness

I love Parker Palmer’s writings so much. I had to share this quote I stumbled upon. 

P.s. May all stay safe in the face of storms–internal or external. (We were spared from Matthew and feeling so very grateful. Prayers to anyone impacted.)

As you integrate ignorance and failure into your knowledge and success, do the same with all the alien parts of yourself. 

Take everything that’s bright and beautiful in you and introduce it to the shadow side of yourself. 

Let your altruism meet your egotism, let your generosity meet your greed, let your joy meet your grief. 

Everyone has a shadow… But when you are able to say, “I am all of the above, my shadow as well as my light,” the shadow’s power is put in service of the good. 

Wholeness is the goal, but wholeness does not mean perfection, it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of your life.

And Then…Growth.

A few months ago my friend gave me a plumeria cutting. Even if you have never heard of Plumeria I guarantee you have seen their blossoms: they produce the beautiful flowers that are used in making Hawaiian leis.

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Source wikipedia.

When my friend offered me a Plumeria tree cutting I jumped at the chance to grow one. Until I saw what I had to work with:

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image source

That photo isn’t of my actual stick but I can promise you it looked just like that photo. I didn’t think to take a picture of it, likely because I did not think it would grow. I mean it is a stick. A stick that is supposed to grow into an exotic tropical flower plant.  I have never grown a plant from cutting, let alone a fancy pants tropical tree.

Well, I love a good challenge. I decided what the heck, I would try to grow it. I bought root hormone (who knew such a thing existed), followed some youtube videos on the topic, placed it in a semi-sunny and not too wet region of my lanai, and I left it alone. This is very important according to the horticulturist from Hawaii who is on YouTube. He grows hundreds of these sticks cuttings.  Leave it alone! he told me. Do not pull or tug or mess with it! (How did he know that is exactly what I would have done??) The fragile roots need lots of time to grow and grow and grow.

I left it alone. It was so hard but I did not poke or tug or anything.

About a month or two later a leaf appeared. I went bananas bonkers. Oh my goodness it was growing!!

Again, I didn’t take any photos because I think I was still in disbelief, but it looked basically just like this:

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Photo source.. Not my stick with a tiny leaf but it looked just like this.

Now, several months after that first sign of growth, I am very excited to share a photo of what it looks like today:

Wow right? Look at all those huge tropically leaves! It is amazing. 

Keep the faith. So often when we feed a garden, whether inner or outer, it can feel like nothing is happening. And then, boom, growth

I hope that the next post I show are of blossoms.  (Inner and outer both.)

(And just as beautiful: my husband can no longer joke about my black thumb. Yeah that’s right hubs, you are looking at a wife who grew a plant from a literal stick placed into soil*. Bow down sir. Bow down.)

*I just accidentally typed “placed into soul” instead of “soul” – revealing no?

Feeding the Feminine

It might be that I simply dreamed about an almost-dead cat. But I’d like to think it was something more: A sign that I am starting to feed the feminine, magical side of my psyche.

Two nights ago I had a dream that I came home to discover a long-forgotten cat. I found her lying on the floor and I was aghast. Yes, that’s right, I did have a cat didn’t I. I had left for a while but I was back, and I was scared she was dead.

She slowly stirred. She’d survived without food or water for some time. She was barely holding on—but she was alive.

I began to pour food kibbles onto her, literally blanketing her with food (definitely more than she needed). Slowly she began to eat. I knew she would be OK.

Whoa, right?! 

Sure, it could be I had too many nachos the night before. (Actually, I definitely had too many nachos.)

OR it could be that my psyche is telling me something.

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Bastet. Image Source.

Google informs me that the feline has long been revered as a symbol of the feminine, of mystery and magic. The Egyptian Goddess Bastet took the form of a cat. Cats often symbolize the ability to see in the dark, and the parts of our nature that are curious and independent.

This would not be the first time I’d had a deeply symbolic dream. And heck, I’d been deep in the muck the last six months, but I’d begun to emerge from it all and writing has been a big part of that shift.

Could it be that this dream was reminding me how I’d nearly forgotten to feed the feminine, magical mystical side of myself? That it was without food or water for some time?

But wow, am I feeding her now.