The Heroine’s Journey

The Wasteland burns us up and burns us out. Instead of following your own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy…living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and healthy.

[…]

The Heroine’s Journey for these times is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell: the story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it.

~Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted

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The Dream

There is a large hall full of people, but I initially chose the small side room. I was there by myself, surrounded by plates and plates of hors d’oeuvres. The restaurant servers kept delivering them to me. (My late mother–who was not present because, hello, deceased–had pre-ordered these hors d’oeuvres for everyone. Which if you knew my mom is so my mom.)

It got lonely in this little room. Plus, all this abundance to share. I could not consume it alone. 

I came into the great hall only to discover a series of long tables full of friends and family who had been waiting to see me.

At this point I tried on several different outfits until I found what is comfortable on my skin (ahh–to be comfortable in our own skin) and then I spent time catching up with everyone. So much time had already been lost! 

Dreams, ammiright?

 

How do you solve a problem like more loss? PART II of the healing journey! (With Sound of Music gifs!)

It is DAY TWO of the blogging series about my healing journey – can you handle the excitement?! Do you have your coffee ready?!

I will recap yesterday’s post. The start of the journey, if you will, in one long run-on sentence:

My mom dies in 2013, I am very very sad (as one would be), a year later I try to get pregnant but can’t, I go to the acupuncturist, the energy gates open and I grieve every loss I have ever had (a lot of loss), I am on a road to healing…and BUM BUM BUM.

(Oh, and there is a flow chart! And Sound of Music gifs! Really you should take a look!)

That takes us to part two: we pick up at the bum, bum bum!

We are still at the top of the flow chart (<–here in full). BUT now we are gonna move to that section labeled SUFFERING. Hold on to your hats folks.

It is January, precisely two years, four months after my mom died. I am still feeling a lot of grief but it is flowing through me. This is good. But also, my husband has been witnessing the grief flow through me for, oh, two and a half years. That is a hard thing to do, to witness our loved ones in pain. (Psst, this bit is some foreshadowing, wink wink.)

As you may recall I was seeing an acupuncturist in the hopes of getting pregnant. I was starting to see shifts in my body, and I was also taking Chinese herbs and such.

And then in mid-January, I noticed all the signs I had noticed when I was pregnant with my daughter. I took a pregnancy test and I was pregnant.

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Sing it Maria! Tumblr.

Everything about this pregnancy felt miraculous. It is hard to explain. It felt like it came out of nowhere. I didn’t think my body was fully ready for pregnancy so I was a bit stunned.

I did the online calculator of when I was due: It was the date my mother died, September 18th.

To the day.

Now, I know due dates are estimations, but I got goosebumps. I mean really, how does that happen?

This feeling of disbelief–but also of something not being right, of it all being too easy, and not quite real–was with me from the start.

Seven weeks into my pregnancy I had a dream. It was a beautiful dream of huge cranes flying away into the night. I can still close my eyes and feel its beauty. But I awoke with a huge amount of despair and grief. I could not figure it out. I honored the grief -I figured it was new grief surfacing about how my mom would never meet this child, or something like that. I was so very sad though. I remember taking a day off of work, that was how much I was grieving.

Two weeks later I sat in an ultrasound room and saw there was no heartbeat. I had started bleeding the day prior. I knew that I had lost the baby, but I was not really ready to face it until sitting in that room. My husband’s eyes welled with tears and I sat numb. I knew it already on some level. But I hadn’t been ready to really know it, you know?

It appeared the baby had stopped growing two weeks prior – the day of my dream, I am nearly certain. 

This loss, this loss of a child that was supposed to enter our world on the date I lost my mom, it was the icing on the cake of so. much. loss. It was the tipping point. I had suffered up until this point, yes, but I was able to see light at the end, to which I was headed.

This loss was different.

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Maria understands. source.

Are you still with me? I now it is so sad but I will promise you, this big story ends well. It ends with love and connection. I think we need a reminder from Maria that it is going to be ok in the end:

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From TUMBLR of course!

But yes, what came next was suffering.

We have all suffered so what I will share I am sure you can relate to: I felt like I was being punished. (“Why me?”) I felt as though maybe it was true that bad things happen to bad people. (A favorite ethos of our culture. Not true however!) I felt isolated and alone in my grief, that there was NO way ANYONE could EVER relate to MY PAIN because it was SO UNIQUE. (Also not true.) I felt bitter and angry.

Remember my husband? Well, we both took it hard. And I wanted someone to blame and while it makes zero sense, I remember constantly being upset with him because he just couldn’t understand, he wasn’t being patient in my healing…and later, in therapy, I realized that really I just wanted HIM to make it better. Somehow. I didn’t realize it at the time but suffering does weird things to us doesn’t it?

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More gifs from here.

So, not only was I suffering from the miscarriage, I was feeling angry and bitter in my marriage…a bit of projection, if you will. Well that just creates more stress. A sh*tstorm of stress, really.

And then it all shifted.

If you were to ask me the turning point in my healing, if I could identify one moment in time, I can tell you. It was early March. I was talking to my sister on the phone. I can even picture the corner of my couch I was sitting on when I spoke to her.

My sister is often able to connect spiritually with my mother in intense ways that I am not able to. You know what she told me as we spoke on the phone that day in March? She said mom saw my intense suffering. And she said, “Mom wants you to be happy…to be able to enjoy your husband and daughter. She doesn’t want you to suffer any more.”

That, my friends, was the turning point.

I felt those words in my heart. I felt my mother with me, and I felt her pain at seeing me in pain.

It was like a light bulb went off. I thought, I do not have to choose suffering. Yes, I didn’t ask be dealt these cards. But I can choose how I respond. 

I surrendered to the pain. I didn’t blame, I didn’t fight, I simply saw that it was part of my story at this point, and that I could choose to embrace this or I could angrily fight against it. The fighting-against-it-trope was not going well for me, my husband or my family.

If you want the truth, it was my mother’s love that made me see. My mother continues to mother me from beyond the veil. Is that not incredible? 

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Hooray for a mother’s love! From source.

I TOLD YOU IT WOULD END WELL! But there is more…

TOMORROW – PART 3: How I chose love and connection over fear, anger, and suffering. (PLUS more gifs!)


Do your life also correspond nicely with Sound of Music animated GIFS? Then I invite you to join me on Twitter or Facebook!

Therapy for you! Therapy for you! Therapy for everryyyyonnnne!

Top of the morning! This post is going to be a practice in flash blogging. (Is that a thing? Like #flashfiction only blogging. I will make it a thing.) The reason? Today I see my theraaaaaaapisttttt! (That’s me saying it in my inner Oprah-voice.) And therapy day is a great and wonderful day, but it means a hastier morning routine…hence #flashblogging. Seriously I’m gonna make that a thing.

In the midst of writing this, my wonderful therapist called me. She had a logistical snafu come up and needs to delay our appointment until later. As she said, ‘Shit happens!’

Oh boy doesn’t it.

Sometimes I am amazed at how much I can process simply by sitting and unloading for an hour. (Us people who see therapists, we like to use words like “process.”) Why, just by holding space for me to speak and speak and speak and be heard I can discover so much about myself and my situation. It’s hard to do this with our loved ones. They are too wrapped up in our outcomes. Oh they are so eager to see us just be OK AND WELL! But our therapist can just chillax and let it be.

Huh. Let it be. Hold space. Interesting because now that I think about it that is what I have been struggling with lately. Perhaps this is a better way for me to think about the perceived “inaction” in my life: maybe the universe is building in a pause period for me to figure some more stuff out. To untangle the Christmas lights a little more so the lights can shine through clearer.

This sh*t right here y’all, this is why I love writing. And therapy! This is why I love therapy!  These periods of pause might be challenging for me, but maybe I just needed a new perspective. The quiet pause might be viewed as an extension of what I experience in therapy: moments of being that will help me bring further clarity before taking action. (Or maybe it is simply a pregnant pause (ha! Pun intended) to savor the gifts in my life before I build another robot.)

Huh. That makes a lot of sense. This is what we call in therapy lingo, an “a-ha!” moment.

Because shit happens but then we talk about it for fifty minutes and we figure stuff out. We hold space to be so we may see.

Hallelujah, how I love therapy day.

(And seriously, may we all have someone to do this with! If I was Oprah, I’d totally make that happen…”A therapist for you! A therapist for you! Therapists for EVERYONNNNE!!!!”)


Channel your inner Oprah with me. Follow the blog on Twitter or FacebookOr  follow on WordPress for you fellow WordPress-y folks.

 

 

 

You can’t manifest a robot in only one month.

Good morning my loves! Sarah here, with coffee and writing. (No cheese today. Just a medley of Life cereal mixed with Cheerios courtesy of the child. Mmm. A little sweet, a little oat.)

Mooooo. (c)mourning dove motherhood

I am proud to announce that last night, while watching Veep and eating my popcorn, I was so tempted to zone out to Selena Miller interspersed with Facebook scrolling. But then I was like, oh sh*t, I just told the dozens of lovelies who read my blog that I was going to do art at night time. This is good, you are holding me accountable. So I did some sketching…of COWS! Cows with cattle egrets. I am noodling around with the idea of a children’s book involving a cow and an egret who are friends. As part of my Wikipedia browsing  important literary research I discovered that cattle egrets are fierce little dudes. They apparently sometimes eat OTHER BIRDS. They think they are owls or something. Anyway, more to come on the cow and the egret.

What’s on my mind today is MANIFESTATION. I am talking about seeing something in your mind’s eye and making it a reality. I have always been pretty good at manifesting. I’m not a wizard* or anything. But I take leaps and follow my heart and probably most importantly, listen to my intuition. Now don’t get me wrong this quality in me isn’t always pretty. I once followed my intuition and dated a guy…who braided his beard. (And yes he worked at a food co-op. You guys, I can’t make this stuff up.)

So I have this manifestation thing down but what I struggle with is simply BEING. For a long time I thought the opposite of manifesting something was inaction. I am slowly realizing that no, it is important sometimes to simply be. I have had all sorts of random assorted messages that have made me aware that I am starting to tap into feminine energies more.  Feminine energy holds space for something and masculine energy is action. But that both are needed to manifest something. Or so I have deduced from others who are wiser about this stuff than I am.

Right now my heart (and a snail) are telling me that the flow for me right now is being. It isn’t time for action yet. This IS SO HARD FOR ME Y’ALL. I want action! Boom shacka lacka I want to get stuff done. I get antsy when I feel like I am not doing doing enough even when my heart tells me, slow down, poco a poco, you will get there.

Yesterday I was talking to my sister. I was lamenting about how hard it was for me to be patient in certain matters which I want to see results now damn it! I was talking about one personal thing that I will speak in code about. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Be patient with yourself. Think of all your body has been through over the last three years, and especially in the last several months. I have no doubt you will be holding a robot in your arms soon.

Me: I know. I want to build a robot now but I just need to be patient.

Her: You know, there are doctors that help people build robots. And sometimes medicines.

Me: Yes, I know, but I haven’t taken that step yet. I mean it is has only been one month since I started trying to build a robot again.

Her: *silence followed by laughter.* HOLD THE FRONT DOOR. You have only been trying to build a robot for one month?!

Me: Huh, now that I say that out loud, that is absurd that I am fretting about building a robot when I literally have only tried for ONE MONTH TO BUILD A ROBOT.

Yes, that is me in a nutshell. I decide I am ready to build robots and then see it in my mind’s eye and I am like, ok let’s do this. Let’s manifest some robots. And then when they don’t manifest in a month I am like, why is the universe broken??

Holding space. Simply being. All robots will be built in due time.  You know, perhaps in longer than one month. 

 

*Speaking of wizards, yesterday I saw a man in a long black cloak walking a dog. My first thought was, wow is that Professor Snape? Then I noticed the white collar. He was a priest. You can tell you have pretty much shaken your Catholic roots when your mind immediately goes to Harry Potter before thinking man of the cloth.

Do you want to be the first to hear when Sarah has built a robot? Follow the blog on Twitter or FacebookOr  follow on WordPress for you fellow nerdy wordpress-y folks. 

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. 

 

 

Yellow Butterflies

Where do I start?

Do I start with the yellow butterflies that appeared before my mom’s death and have visited me ever since? Always yellow, popping up and following me on walks, outside windows and even on highways as I speed by.

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Image source. Creative Commons license.

Do I start with the visit to the stinking, rotting beach where I realized I needed to write in order to heal?

Or do I start in a traditional place—therapy—which gave me space to talk and grieve.

Or the acupuncture that released the months, years, decades of grief, slowly returning life force to my fingers and toes?

I know where one chapter of this healing ends. It ends with surrender to pain (always through writing) and a mother who continues to parent from beyond the veil.

All along, a sister. How do I explain her role in all of this? This story is as much hers as mine.  

 

The (Birth)day Lessons

Today my daughter turns three!  I have to admit, I’ve been a bit nostalgic.

Yesterday I wrote about how pregnancy taught me skills that have served me as a parent. Today I thought I’d write the same about my daughter’s birth.

Not the BIRTH STORY story. That would take a novel. My daughter’s birth was the equivalent of baptism by fire. A big ol’ metaphor for the wild ride to come. At times unexpected and intense, always driven by a curious and determined child, and scattered with tiny miracles.

For now I thought I’d share a few take-aways* that three years later still stand out.

Birth Lesson One: Listen to Your Gut

At 8pm on the night before my daughter was born I could be found dashing around a nearly-empty Target store in Des Moines, Iowa. I was like a mad woman, determined to pick up the final remaining odds and ends on my baby list. Loaded with infant nail trimmers, newborn diapers, a thermometer, and who knows what else, I then headed to the airport to pick up my husband, who was flying back from a job interview.  We went home and headed straight to bed.

At 4am I woke up, waddled to the bathroom and realized water was seeping out of me. But I wasn’t peeing. It was one of those moments when you think, THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING. 

Oh it was happening. My water had most certainly broken, there was no doubt about that.

I was 35 weeks, 6 days pregnant.

The next hour was like something out of a cheesy sitcom: my husband and I were running around the house, throwing things into a duffle bag willy nilly.

I remember early in my pregnancy when I asked my higher self, what will my birth look like? The answer I got was “comical.”

I wasn’t laughing. I was, however, glad that I listened to my gut and made that final run to Target.

Birth Lesson Two: Trust Thyself

I come from a long line of women who have a high tolerance for pain. (Is that a good trait? I don’t know.) My mother would famously tell the story about how when she was in labor with me, she asked for an epidural and the nurse turned to her and said, “Honey, it’s too late! You are about to push out this baby!”

Like mother, like daughter, it turns out.

About seven hours into my labor I was DONE. I could not stand one more minute of it. I cornered my midwife and pleaded with her, please, just look and see how far dilated I am.  Because if I have a long road ahead of me I NEED AN EPIDURAL.

This entire time nobody had examined me to see how far dilated I was. The midwife didn’t want to risk infection since I hadn’t yet been screened for Group B strep (and they had to proceed on the assumption that I had it). Since I was a first time mom, and since apparently anyone who isn’t wailing and gnashing teeth is assumed to only be dilated to 3cm, the scene was very laid bad. Everyone was all, “Well, let’s wait on the tub, you don’t need it just yet!” and “Hey can I put an IV in your arm while you are in the middle of a contraction?”

When the midwife finally examined me, the look on her face said it all.

I was 9 cm. I was almost ready to push.

Turns out this rookie mom wasn’t taking her sweet ol’ time. Funny thing was, I knew my body and I suspected that I was progressing faster than expected. I had a feeling that everyone—the nurse, my midwife, even my doula— were all misreading my cues. Birth may have been new for me, but my body wasn’t.

Trust thyself.

*To be continued – I will follow my own advice and trust myself to know that I need to sleep off a particularly nasty cold I caught from said three-year-old. More to come once I’m feeling better!