Redwood Ecosystems and Life After Death

Remembering my beautiful mom
today. I continue to draw sustenance from her love.

In the redwood ecosystem, buds for future trees are contained in pods called burls, tough brown knobs that cling to the bark of the mother tree. When the mother tree is logged, blown over, or destroyed by fire –when, in other words, she dies – the trauma stimulates the burls growth hormones. The seeds release and trees sprout around her, creating the circle of daughters. The daughter trees grow by absorbing the sunlight their mother cedes to them when she dies. And they get the moisture and nutrients their need from their mother’s root system, which remains intact underground even after her leaves die. Although the daughters exist independently of their mother above ground, they continue to draw sustenance from her underneath.

-Hope Edelman, Motherless Daughters

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Take time to remember

End of the Beginning by James Northrup

Someone said we begin to die
the minute we’re born.
Death is a part of life.
Who knows why the Creator
thins the herd.
Another old saying says
we must all be prepared
to give up those we love
or die first.
Take time to mourn.
Take time to remember.
Everything happens in cycles.
The pain you feel was once
balanced by someone’s joy
when that baby was born.
The loss you feel today
will be replaced by good
long-lasting memories.
Is there a message here? Yea,
treat others like this
is your last day above ground.

James Northrup 1943-2016

(artwork my own- full image can be viewed here and was inspired by this post.)

I’ve officially tired of writing about grief. P.s. Caillou has FAILED me.

I was going to write about grief but even I am tired of writing about grief. I know, you probably didn’t think it was possible. I gotta say you all are pretty awesome for hanging with me. I often astound myself by how much I can write about it. (I mean hello it is why I started this blog so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but yet, I am surprised sometimes. I really am). Occasionally I think, what is wrong with me, and then I visit my “Dead Parent’s Club” facebook group (yes that’s the real name, and they are as awesome as they sound) and everyone else is struggling with an anniversary or milestone just like me and I go, okay. This is normal.

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And then I was going to write about meditation and how yesterday after just sitting with my emotions for ten minutes (using the Insight Timer which I highly recommend!), I was there, just sitting and giving presence to what is (why is that so hard? and yet we resist don’t we), and no joke, about ten minutes after meditating I suddenly just…cried. A release. It was good and needed. Sunday will be three years since my mom died. Oh, and was supposed to be the due-date of the pregnancy that I lost. I KNOW, YOU CANNOT MAKE THIS UP. Well I’d sensed my body had been holding in. (Ha! Imagine that.) And then, meditation and release. Huh. Amazing. Works so much better than endless scrolling on Facebook or eating my daughter’s extra-cheesy goldfish crackers. Which are delicious but should not be used for emotion-eating.  

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This is my “Seriously what gives?” face. Seriously you can’t watch Caillou for ten minutes? Actually yeah I get it. (Also this is #nobullshitmotherhood right here. Yeah that’s a makeup-free-haven’t-showered-yet selfie y’all. Boom. Keeping it real.

But I am not writing about that. am too tired. My child keeps waking up at 5am (FIVE FREAKING A.M.) and last night I went to bed too late which means I am running on way too little sleep. So here I am with my Cuban coffee (one perk of living in south Florida is the abudance of amazing cuban coffees….a perk…did you catch that–ha!) and my kid wants to PLAY instead of watch Calliou (as if!) (of course I don’t blame her, I can’t stand that little dude). And I’m a huge fan of play except when I’m not, which is right now because momma wants to write!  

So instead I won’t write. I will pickup the myriad of messes that my child created in less than ten minutes. The “caterpillar” which is twenty plates laid out in a line on the floor…the watercolors which I will say are a lovely mix of purples, blues and greens (she has an eye for color). And alllll the other messes. But don’t worry, I don’t plan to dust.

Life is good. Grief is okay. Meditating helps. Caillou however does not help.

Sending love to you all. 


Anyone else out there sometimes just think, really more grief? Really? REALLY? Just me? 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Mum

Hello friends,

I am so excited to share that I have a piece up on the website Keeping Mum! It is a new platform for mothers without mothers.

I would love for you to check out my story —and for those of you who are mothers who have lost a mom, you might want to check out Keeping Mum’s Facebook page, too. They are seeking to build their community of mothers who have experienced loss.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I appreciate you following my blog, sharing your own stories and experiences and sharing tips along the way. My healing journey would not have been the same without you.  I am so grateful for this community.  

Much Love,

Sarah

 

A failed game of pin the tail on the donkey

I am embarking on the third round of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays without my mom.

In the past two years it often felt like I was fumbling around in the dark with a scarf over my eyes, playing a twisted game of pin the tail on the donkey where I never even came close to the tail and I only ended up poking myself in the foot.

I love making mistakes. It is how I learn! Well, that is what I tell my three-year-old, although I have a hunch I say it out loud as much for her ears as my own.

What have I learned from my many grief journey mistakes, you ask?

I have learned that on the anniversary of a loved one’s death, planning a long contemplative walk on the sandy beaches of Sanibel Island—especially after a storm washes up loads of mussels and seaweed to bake in the ninety-degree heat thereby attracting thousands of small biting gnats—is not ideal. It is not even close to ideal.

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A photo from that day. It looks prettier than it smelled. (photo my own.)

I’ve learned that making ALL the special recipes that remind me of my mom on the Big Holidays is bonkers crazy majorly unrealistic. Not good. 

I’ve learned that self-care is paramount. That instead of eating food for comfort (the ultimate comfort, really), instead I can opt for restorative yoga. Or a cup of tea. Or some time alone to draw or paint.

I’ve learned that there is no gold star for grieving correctly. You do the best you can with what you’ve got.

I continue to learn to be compassionate with myself.

Yes, I have learned over and over that grief often sneaks up, surprises, but it can dissipate surprisingly quickly too.

Lastly, I have learned that love heals. If you close your eyes after blowing out the candles on your late mother’s birthday cake and focus on your heart center, you can connect with her. She will be there beaming and she will say, l love you. 


Have any lessons to share? We can learn from each other. xoxox. Sarah

 

 

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?

“[A]n emotion that rises from the soul.” Part IV of my healing journey.

Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated… It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.
– Francis Weller

Last week I began writing about my healing journey since losing my mom, then a pregnancy.

I am discovering it was easier to share with you the experience of the pain rather than the beauty of grief.

I want to tell you about the gifts that come from the wild, untamed, soul force of grief. But it feels wrong. It feels sacreligous.

I am re-learning how there are two sides to all experiences. Behind the dark is light. And even behind light is dark.

It still feels wrong to speak of beauty in grief. To exclaim the wondrous joys and gifts that blossom from healing. I want to say, but I would trade any of it to have my mom back or my pregnancy back. (And I would.)

And yet I can’t get them back. Instead I am left to make sense of a journey that twisted and turned through through dark corners and expansive fields with sunshine. 

I am still walking the journey and the parts with light are very recent memories on this journey. I am not prepared to draw full conclusions or to tell you even where this road will lead.

But I can share this: that beautiful and incredible things happened when I faced my deepest pain and my most vulnerable self.

When my small ego mind admitted it could not do it all, that it was not capable of finding the path out of pain, nor solving the problems of grief (as though there is a solution!), that it was, dare I say, FAILING in its job to fix, to be a hero, to stand alone like a mountain—that was the turning point.

I found out that none of us are alone in our suffering.  That instead of being pinpointed, picked up and punished by the universe, we are simply experiencing the very human pain of being alive on earth.

I found that healing can happen unexpectedly and rapidly when there is community and connection. That by standing in a sacred place among community transformed me. That the simple act of singing with a group of fifty, sixty, seventy and yes, eighty-year-olds, and looking out week after week and always seeing yellow butterflies, that this too healed me.

How long-buried gifts of writing, art, and music were not forever condemned to the attic of my life. That they were not merely childish passions that led down short stumpy paths only to be long forgotten. No, they were secret lockets waiting to be opened. 

I have opened them and I have delighted in them.

I cannot wait to decipher the many mysteries that remain. I have no idea where my creative urges will lead me but I know I will continue to be humbled by what can happen when you surrender to your heart.

Thank you also to you, dear readers, for supporting and encouraging me. You are part of the community and connection that has brought me to where I am now, and for that I am forever grateful.

Grief undermines the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and the sanctioned behaviours of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life force… It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated… It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.
– Francis Weller

 

a bit of housekeeping. And: I want *your* instagram links please!

Hello – some updates!

insta
copyright of Instagram. 

1.I am now on instagram! Well, I have been for a while. But I kinda forgot about it. But then I remembered. And now I shall be an instagrammer galore. Let the fun begin!

And with that in mind…a request! Please leave your instagram handle/name/link/whatever-it-is-called in the comments. I would love to follow all of you lovelies!

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copyright Keeping Mum.

2. I am going to have an original piece posted on a new blog called Keeping Mum. The site is a place to share stories from motherhood for “mums without mums” – said in a British accent because the founder is British. Check out the site, and stay tuned…I’m excited to share more details soon.

3. My daughter put little nail polishes in my shoes and I found them this morning. So sweet and funny. (And, practicing using instagram so yay.)

that is all for now. Don’t forget: leave your social media links so I can follow the heck out of you crazy kids!

~Sarah