Dead Mom Walking

There is a death that occurred when I became a mother. It didn’t happen right away. In fact, like a successful Broadway show, I had a tremendous run, lasting about four good years. During my pregnancy, childbirth, and the early years, I was shielded from this recognition. I realize that it wasn’t physical death that I felt breathing into me, but rather the death of most all the other parts of me outside of being “mother.” It was my client who recently reminded me that I had once referred to the fours as, “The fucking fours.” Clearly my Broadway show was ending its run. I now realize that the wake-up call came around that time and I began to feel the ill effects of selflessness and endless devotion at the cost of my Self. I liken it to being given a Zen Koan which asks, “Who are you left with as she grows into herself?” This question revealed itself in many forms: illness, sleeplessness, depression, and as importantly, becoming a person my best friend and I promised we would never become: a mother who speaks only of her child. I was becomming dead mom walking.

I gave up many parts of myself in service to mothering (as many women do) in order for my child to thrive. Or so I thought. Being a parent takes considerable time, energy, and focus. A mother selflessly gives of her time and energy. Yet, even though a person engaged in mothering may work selflessly all day and night, she does not receive the same respect that is bestowed upon those who work outside the home. Even though I continued my psychotherapy practice throughout my daughter’s first few years, I never mentioned to anyone in my community that I was a therapist. And for those who know me, understand how truly impassioned I am by my work. The imbalance was staggering and came at quite a cost. Even worse, I was now becoming angry dead mom walking.

Around that time, I had a dream that I was at a meditation retreat and was greeted by a teacher, who reached out her arm to me and said, “So, you’re in the rage group. Now I have to be a lion tamer as well.” She sighed in the way someone who has just received an unpleasant assignment sighs. Coincidence? How did she know I was so angry? And how could I transform this death walk into a meditation walk?

I grew up in a home that was filled with people who were angry and people who were afraid of anger. I have heard the saying, “There are those who give nervous breakdowns and those who get them.” As if those are the only two options. But there is some wisdom in that adage. Expressing anger and fearing anger are just two sides of the same old coin. I can confidently admit that I have held both sides with equal fervor. Which side are you holding?

I spent decades trying to get rid of the root of my anger. And then I got married and had a child. I now see it’s just not going to happen. Perhaps anger is not something to be eradicated, but another gate to enlightenment, as are all things. Anger employed for the purpose of enlightenment? Why not? I used birthing pains as a path of profound letting go which led to ecstatic effect. Why not anger? I personally know of no human being who is free of anger so we may as well make friends with it and learn what it has to teach us. Anger is a natural resource, like some of our food scraps. We don’t necessarily want it in the living room but it makes great compost.

We will get angry at our children and our partners. We will get angry at our parents and siblings. And if you’re lucky enough to be truly intimate with a friend, eventually you will be angry with that person as well. You can count on that. And as in love with our kids as we are, sometimes we just want to drop them off somewhere safe and get on a flight to Bali. Knowing that, we need not add suffering to the pain of anger by berating ourselves for our angry feelings. We can make choices about what we’d like to do with that anger during the calm times. So here are a few thoughts I came up with. I call it a recipe for using anger as a gateway – a way to wake up.

Recipe for using anger as a gateway:

  • Know you’re angry. This step sounds easy but it’s not. Sometimes we project anger onto others and blame them for what we are feeling. Everything we feel is ours.
  • Don’t add anything to that ingredient. Shame and guilt make the recipe bitter.
  • Feel what anger feels like in your body. Let it dance freely without acting it out and see what it does.
  • After doing those three steps choose your course of action.

Cook and serve.

Some ideas for how to use the leftovers:

When we experience anger, even if we enter the gate and the anger dissolves, there can still be residue of anger in our bodies. These leftovers need strong physical release.  Some ways to prepare this leftover energy are:

  • Drum. The kids can join in. That way you will not only get the angry energy out of your body you will also teach the kids to do the same.
  • Scream into a pillow, shower, or while sitting in the car, alone. Alternately, you can beat the stuffing out of the pillow.
  • Walk fast. Throw the little ones in the baby carrier or stroller and the big ones on bikes or let them stay home. Walk quickly. Feel your body.
  • Dance to songs that have a strong staccato beat. Get yourself to a 5rhythms Dance class where you can visit each of your emotional states in all of its intimacy.

It is this recipe mixed with a lot of loving kindness that I hope to pass on to my daughter.

By Carrie Dinow

All I Really Need to Know I learned in Mindfulness

A little late to the party, I am diving into the world of what I hope to be mindful marketing as well as recommitting to writing my blog. What I mean by the word mindful is that this cyber world, where we rarely meet face to face with another being, acts as a conversation among people who have accepted technology and its benefits, but who are also deeply concerned about the inner life. I now join in the world of virtual reality and search engine optimization in my spare moments. This is a new Universe opening up for me and I feel much like a young orphaned child on her 1st day of school. If only Robert Fulghum were right when he wrote, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

I recently read that Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn, liken parenting to an 18-year retreat. This idea contains and inspires me. I’m interested in any experience that bridges these worlds of mine so that my parenting is not something “other” from my work or Spiritual life. Now that summer is upon us, and I am with my young daughter so much of the time, mindful parenting seems to be what calls my attention. Tomorrow I will go to a day-long meditation. For today, though it seems, I am 6 years, 10 months into my retreat!

I have danced in and away from meditation again and again for the last 30 years. I first started practicing when I was 18 years old, having picked up a Buddhist bible in a hotel room in Hawaii, but it lasted only a brief time. My relationship to practice shifted when I was 30 years old and I became involved with a lovely man who headed a Tibetan temple and who has devoted his life to the Dharma. For the first time, I met people who were following an inner calling to seek something more than the psychology of their life.

My interest in meditation continued to grow once I found myself at my first retreat and, for the first time, felt a spaciousness so immense that I was hooked – at least for awhile. The retreat had a life altering effect. It gave me a direct experience which I yearned for rather than just reading about the possibilities and benefits of practice. For a while, meditation became a refuge from the dramatic and chaotic waters of my inner life. The teachings on the inevitability of suffering that I had continued to read about could finally be applied to my own circumstances.

The traditional teachings of meditation say much about suffering and how to work with it, but I find it still leaves a gap between my practice and daily life. How do we apply what we have learned in our practice to parenting? How does the solo adventure of sitting on a cushion and studying spiritual text translate into the endless activity of parenting? Meditation teaches us to watch our thoughts cross our minds, like clouds floating across a blue sky, without holding on. Much like the varied colors of expression in a child, I now see.

My daughter can be demanding and angry in the inhale of her breath and adoring and joyous by the exhale. She reminds me of the vibrant sun that remains steady, indifferent to the clouds drifting across the sky, as she is still living in the present with little or no residue from one moment to the next. I marvel at the intensity with which she can leap rapidly from discontent to jubilation. She is my little Spiritual teacher! How I want to let go with the ease and grace that she mirrors for me! She, too, is trying to understand her own 6 year-old version of the meaning of life.

I look at my daughter now with awe as her emotions flow through and leave just as quickly. My own personal guru right before me! She is complete in her expression and just as present in her letting go. My heart aches at the idea that this level of connection to her purist emotional states may be temporary. But, alas, impermanence! For now, she is fully expressive and can access the entire rainbow of her emotional life.

My work is to stand witness with her through it all, not abandoning her in her anger or curtailing her joy, but letting it all in. I can hear her now playing with her girlfriend, shapeshifting into her many imaginary worlds of family, trapeze artist, and rock star. I have been toying with the idea of her voice as my meditation bell, my call to practice. And as I write this, she calls out for me, interrupting me with her rigorous need that I enter into her virtual reality.  The bell’s reminder that I am well into my 18-year retreat.

By Carrie Dinow

The Yin and Yang of Solitude and Intimacy

Like the tides which ebb and flow on the shore, the cycles of intimacy and solitude drift in and out of my life. I have been living in the absence of intimacy since writing my last blog, The Love Doves. I can honestly say that I enjoy life so much more when the experience of intimacy is abundant. However, for intimacy to be sustaining, we need to look not only at the moments that interrupt it, but also at its mate – solitude. The subject of solitude is a personal favourite of mine. Could it be that solitude is the yin to intimacy’s yang?

Let me begin by admitting that solitude has saved my life! If I were given a choice between an eternity in which no solitude was possible, and an eternity in which only solitude was available, I would most definitely choose the latter. Solitude offers a connection with the energy of my body, my soul, and with Spirit. It provides the opportunity for renewal; the chance to check out what I am feeling and thinking; to cease being attentive to the needs of others; to drift and dream. It is in these moments of deep soul connection where I feel most restored. But solitude without its beautiful counterpart – intimacy, feels unbalanced. They seem to mirror one another. Can we live in one successfully without living in the other?

How we experience our own sense of self just may reflect the way we experience other people (as trusting, lovable, knowable, real or unreal, equal or less than, a source of anxiety or a source of pleasure). Intimacy and solitude may move in different directions, but like two sides of a coin, they remain side by side.

This past weekend, as I walked into a family gathering, ancient feelings of loneliness and separateness paid me a visit. As I explored them, I realized this is the “hook” that interferes with any possibility of real connection. In loneliness we are painfully aware of what we do not have. For me, it is the longing for a tribe of friends who all know one another, a community of shared experiences, and a desire for deeper joy and intimacy with others.

Loneliness is one of the great dreads for many people. Most of us have experienced it in our own lives, and many fear it. Deep loneliness can come out of missing an actual person, or from the feeling of wanting a kind of contact, a level of connection, which is not or perhaps never has been available. That feeling of loneliness ignites the fantasy of, “I will not be lonely when… or I would not be lonely if…” However, loneliness just may be part of the human condition. It is how we meet ourselves in this state that makes a difference.

The experience of loneliness may just be the sign that we are disconnected from our source, or that something has transpired in relationship that needs attending and repair. My daughter came home yesterday complaining of a stomachache. This morning she did not want to go to school, which is unusual for her. I knew intuitively that something had happened yesterday. After much prodding, she revealed that her friends had teased her after school on the way to go ice-skating. At the rink, she skated alone. She was unable to open her heart once her feelings were hurt and this prevented her from enjoying her tribe. She decided to write a story this morning about her broken heart. The solitude she needed to write her story gave her courage to tell her friends that her feelings were hurt. What if we all could have such courage in the face of our fear?

Intimacy can be a beautiful and exhilarating exchange. It involves sharing the truth of our thoughts and feelings openly with others, even when it’s difficult to do so. In the many moments I am connected to my source and therefore my self, I am able to share this rich experience with others. And whether you’re six or forty six, when your heart is closed, intimacy with other is not yet available.

To make any relationship successful with another human being, we need closeness and acceptance and also separateness and space. We need to be reasonably aware of our feelings, for instance how the loneliness can interrupt the flow. Like the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon; like the daily ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides, these twin desires for intimacy and solitude might be the yin to the yang.

By Carrie Dinow

The Love Doves

The love doves are gracing us with their presence this week. Droves of them leap in and out of our precious oak, forming the largest bird community to take residence here. I’m attempting to write about intimacy – on the laurels of Valentines Day, where so much emphasis rests on the myth of romantic love. And yet I can’t quite find my groove. These love doves have hypnotized me with their grace and splendor requesting that the muse be found in their beauty. Doves have been known in oracles to be the carriers of special powers of telling the future or revealing the will of the gods. What messages of love and connection do they bring to us? I imagine they know a thing or two about Intimacy.

Connecting deeply is no picnic in the park. For most of us, it can require that we face so much of our human existence – our family history; our survival defences, how we handle our feelings, how we communicate effectively, how to let love flow through us, how to choose love when we don’t actually feel love, how to be committed, how to let go and surrender. As importantly, it demands that we learn how to be present. What does it mean to be present with another when habitual thoughts of past or future and the business of life’s moments attempt to take center stage? Perhaps the meaning is in the offerings it reveals – sparkling gems of patience, kindness, generosity, and bravery can go a long way toward creating more desirable connections.

If intimacy is difficult, that is because being human is difficult. There is no manual for how to love another, how to parent, or how to connect to the meaning of our lives. But this is what intimacy entails; that we know how to have deep communion with “other” – whether it be a person or animal, the earth or Spirit. The question of how to have intimacy may be no other than the same question of how to live our lives in the present moment, and with an open heart.

We are all being called to carry a particular strand of heart consciousness. I have often referred to this calling as to discovering the meaning of one’s life. In the sacred circle that I am part of, it has become clear that the strand I carry is as a guardian of intimacy. This means that I carry the thread of restoring emotional awareness and empathy with a many as I can, including myself. This calling does not have anything to do with whether intimacy comes easily for me. In certain moments when I feel more connected to myself, the flow of love and openness moves through me. In other times, when Self neglect is more present, I find it very challenging. Nevertheless, I do feel called to this task of helping each one of us to find the strands of deeper meaning for which restoring humanity can be re-established.

What strand do you carry?

I have the great fortune of working with so many extraordinary people within my psychotherapy practice. Many come to me with questions concerning how to have deeper and more meaningful connections – with partners and family members, to the ancestors and Spirit, to one’s Self and to the dreams that are coming through. These people are wanting to reunite and claim lost parts of themselves in addition to having more intimate relationships. But I have found that when people are seeking instant answers before they have fully engaged with their questions, they are usually not ready to make new changes. I have also noticed that if I offer people solutions before they have this readiness, the changes are limited. That is why the “how to” books, coaching, and seminars – whether they be parenting, relationship, Spiritual, etc., are often ineffective. That is, of course, unless these sources help a person to develop a readiness and willingness to change.

We read these books and attend these workshops, and perhaps try out the subscribed theory or techniques for a little while, and soon we forget. And then another important book or seminar comes along and we jump on the band-wagon of that truth. It’s not to say that these sources don’t offer us insight and wisdom. I am a junkie for a great insightful book (I saw God when I read Tao of Parenting). I do question, however whether techniques rarely have any real impact when they are used as short-cuts, to bypass letting a difficulty affect us, and work and move through us to finding our own genuine response to it. Intimacy demands that we develop our deepest inner resources, which grow out of the challenges along the way. With the clients that find their way to me, genuine healing occurs from the intimacy that we share.

For our relationship with intimacy to thrive, we need to go beyond mere symptom relief. Perhaps the difficulties are not something just to be solved, but rather a calling in this moment to bring the light of awareness to the dark unconscious parts of ourselves. Perhaps the wisdom is in the breakdown; an offering that comes from our wounds. By recognizing intimacy as a doorway, we can develop greater awareness and compassion for ourselves as well as to all other living beings. As we come up against difficult places in ourselves and with others, our heart has an opportunity to open and expand in new ways. In this way, the challenges of intimacy provide a rare and special opportunity – to move beyond our limitations and claim the larger power and wisdom that is our human birthright.

the RIGHT to SPEECH

I recently attended a fabulous day of meditation led by Noah Levine, founder of Dharma Punx www.dharmapunx.com.  He came to discuss a subject called Right Speech, one that I, personally find challenging to honor.  As what often occurs in a retreat, the teachings come in a timely manner.  I have made numerous attempts over the years to commit to Right Speech, and like a game of ping pong, some seemingly harmless conversation about another person rallies me back to paddle the ball.  Sitting there in lotus, I was flooded with the many ways in which I participate in what I will call ‘not so right’ speech.

Let me first say that my understanding of Right Speech is as follows:

1.       Abstain from false speech; do not tell lies or deceive.

2.       Do not speak of others with the intent of causing disharmony.

3.       Abstain from rude, impolite or abusive language.

4.       Do not indulge in idle talk or gossip.

In positive terms, Right Speech means speaking in ways that are trustworthy, harmonious, and comforting.  It means to speak from the heart, and avoid gossip both negative and positive.  Unless the intention is for healing, this means not talking about people or talking behind their backs, but speaking directly to them.  If you are irritated or having a problem with someone or even when you have something positive to express, the practice is to speak directly with the person involved, not to someone else.  You might ask, “What for?” or  “What might there be left to talk about?”  When my husband hears people (mostly me) gossiping, he has been known to recite an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  That is certainly one way of nipping it in the bud.

I am blessed to be a part of an extraordinary community of people who have committed their lives to working on behalf of healing – both individually and as a planet.  This includes all of the beings.  Through Council, and other indigenous ways, these gatherings invite and welcome all the members of the community – including the ancestors and the Spirit world, the trees and animals, the stones and elementals.  We come together with the soul purpose of healing.  Right Speech is at the heart of this sacred family.

In the center of this community is Deena Metzger, a wise elder, and teacher to many.  She once said to me when I was leaving our first meeting, “Good, today I have done no harm.”  I fell head over heels in love with her right there on the spot.  I began to look at every encounter – whether it be sitting with a client, being with a family member, friend, or someone I’ve just met, with that same question.  Have I participated in this exchange without doing harm?  Recently during Council she mentioned it is not enough to live by the code of doing no harm.  That we must live according to what she calls, “The code of Benefits.”  With regards to right action, she says, “the way to measure whether it is beneficial: if no clear benefit is visible, don’t do it!”  Right Speech is paramount to this practice.  I do aspire to live by the code of Benefits.

What codes do you aspire to live by?

Last year I watched the movie Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep.  A question posed itself from the film.  What would your life look like, if for one year, you committed daily to something meaningful?  I was so aroused by this question, wondering who might I become in the face a commitment like that?   Like an excited puppy dog, I began talking about this with my people.  What could I commit to for one year – wag, wag?  First I thought, I’ll commit to not getting angry.  Impossible, laughable!  Then, I thought, I’ll commit to hiking in the mountains and meditating each day.  Weather not permitting, family life, and my inner sloth interfered just seven weeks into it.  Then I settled with, if I hike two days a week in the mountains, it would be beneficial.  I decided that the emerging question would make itself visible when the time was right.  There on the cushion that question paid me a visit.

Could I possibly commit to practicing Right Speech every day for one year? Since then, I have entered into an inner dialogue…

Q.  What happens when I participate in wrong speech?

A. Well like the teachings of meditation, I could compassionately bring my attention to the present moment, pay attention, and begin again.

Q. How do I prepare for this commitment to Right Speech with something more than good intentions?

A. Knowing intimately the habitual ways I participate in wrong speech seems to be a beginning.  Being tired, under the weather, impatient, ungrounded, disconnected, and mad are a few of the hooks (see my last blog – How do you unhook?) that call me in to wrong speech.  For example, disconnection from my own source has a tendency to lend itself to talking about others in order to feel connection.  When I do fall off the wagon, see it as an opportunity to bring mindfulness to the moment and see the underlying cause – the need for deeper connection.

Q. How do I practice Right Speech and stay connected to others when gossip or any other ‘not so right speech’ is the common song?

A. Let those around me know of my commitment – say, for example, in a blog??? For those who don’t know of my commitment, mention it at that moment.

I am reminded over and over again that our speech is not just ours alone.  Communication is something that happens between people.  You might think of speech as something we give to others, like a gift or a dagger of poison, and if we think of it that way, what is the quality of that encounter?  Mindfulness includes a moment to moment awareness of what’s going on inside ourselves.  If we aren’t paying attention to our own emotions and taking care of ourselves, tension and suffering build up.  And like a rebel, wrong speech can override even the best of intentions.

What does this Dharma Punk know about living mindfully?  It seems a lot!  He posed the question to the group, “What do you know?”  What I do know is that the importance of speech in the context of our lives is apparent: words can break your heart or save your life, make an enemy or a friend, start war or create peace.  I bare witness to many people who suffer from something unkind a loved one, co –worker, or even a stranger on the street has said to them.  But equally important, I can think of many times where someone’s words offered comfort and healing.  I know that even if you can’t feel it at the time, engaging in wrong speech creates further suffering.  I know that Right Speech includes much more than the words we use – facial expressions, tones, and body posture can make or break a deal.  That the animals and the plants speak directly to one another and we could learn a lot by following in their examples.  If only we could all be more conscious of our speech what might our world look like?  If only…

So how about it? Are you willing to pay close attention to what you say — and to why you say it?  Are you willing to join me by committing to one day without talking about another person?  To speaking from your heart?  If that proves successful, why not try committing to two days, or a week?  Who knows, maybe together, we can discover the ripple effect of freedom and fertility that Right Speech brings to our lives.

How do you unhook?

You have just disappointed someone you love.  You are feeling rushed for work, school, an appointment, or meeting a friend.  You can’t get your work done with your children around.  A car cuts you off on the road.  Someone looks at you wrong, or has a tone.  Your child’s behavior embarrasses you in front of another person. You feel unwell in your body, again.  These are just a few of the countless ways that might call it in, but once you begin to take notice, you may realize this experience is very familiar.

In essence, you are hooked.  It begins with a tightening.  It could be anywhere – in your jaw, in your throat.  Then it moves into withdrawal and shutting down.  Or it can shift in another direction altogether – an outright explosion of anger.  That clenched feeling has the power to hook us into self-attack, blame of other, anger, or jealousy.  These emotions can easily lead to words and actions that end up hurting us, as well as others.

In the Tibetan language it is called Shenpa.  Shenpa, in its simplest form, shows up as attachment, and with the attachment comes discomfort – which causes suffering.  Though it’s more than this.  It’s the urge to take away the discomfort the attachment brings.  The story’s content is irrelevant.  What matters most is how we begin to relate to these uncomfortable feelings within ourselves.  Whether you are noticing them or not, each moment is being recorded as good, bad, or neutral.  That is not the inherent problem.  Many of these moments, however, bring a sense of attachment to them and this is where it gets tricky.  The good news is we will have many opportunities each day to work with this discomfort.

Over the holiday, I attended a silent retreat in a desolate landscape just outside Joshua Tree.  The retreat was very challenging, though not in the areas that I might have imagined.  Being given the wrong directions and ending up lost in the desert was a moment that hooked me, if only a little.  Upon arrival, I was told the woman leading the retreat was unwell and therefore not able to give the teachings – another hook, a little stronger this time.  Being told to put out an incense that I had lit in the room, mild annoyance.  Rats scurrying all around me in the walls and ceiling of my room, while I gazed transfixed at the opening under the doorway, waiting for their arrival – really challenging.  I was undone!  But I was there to meditate and that’s what I did.  I just tried to watch it all without reacting.  What became clear is my deep attachment to comfort and what happens to my equanimity when it is taken away.

Since I’ve been home, I am observing the moments where I get hooked.  If I don’t get enough time for Self or time to call in Spirit, I can become impatient (hooked).  My dogs peeing on the carpet, I can get mad (hooked).  If my house is out of order, I am uneasy (hooked).  When my daughter continues to interrupt me when I am on the phone, frustrated (hooked).  When everyone else’s needs surpass my own, I am done (hooked).  No matter what words we use to describe the sensations, it simply comes back to Shenpa.

What hooks you?

We all want some kind of relief from the discomfort, so we turn to the places that offer us a reprieve from the feelings  – whether it be shopping or food, alcohol or drugs, work, sex, gambling, TV, anything that takes the temporary unease away.  I’m even going to go out on a limb and say that many have an addiction to “processing” their feelings, and to perfection.  In moderation, all of these are pleasant and not a problem.  But when we empower it with the idea that it will bring us comfort, that it will remove our angst, well therein lays the rub.

Sometimes being hooked is so fierce that we say things to others that couldn’t possibly have come from our own mouths.  The momentum behind the urge to say something hurtful to another can be very powerful – like moving mountains.  You might find yourself saying harsh things to another – even if its just in your own head, knowing that you can’t stop yourself, or approaching everyone and everything with a critical mind.  However it shows up, it gives us a satisfaction and a feeling of control that provides short-term relief from our uneasiness.  The reaction to another becomes a distraction from our self.

As we say hello to the New Year, lets see if we can begin welcoming in the tender moments of discomfort.  This is no small task, but working with these moments softens the edges around our reactions and our heart.  Learning to recognize where we are attached and learning strategies for how to unhook from these attachments is the beginning.  The trick is to be willing to see the suffering as our own without feeling entitled to blame another for causing it.  To do just that bit would change our inner landscape from immovable boulders to rivers.  Just knowing that our habitual pattern is to get hooked, can help relieve the tug.  It takes loving-kindness to recognize; it takes a willingness to notice the repetitive places that grab you.  It takes thought out strategies and a lot of run throughs to refrain from reacting; it takes a determination to keep practicing this way.  Be patient.  The joy that comes from unhooking is a Spiritual practice that can truly offer you the fertility of freedom.


What have YOU forgotten?

David Whyte, one of my most beloved poets, says, “The motivational speakers and self-help books are all wrong: there is no way of creating a life where we are full participants one hundred percent of the time.  There is no way of being fully human without at times being fully stuck or even completely absent; we are simply not made that way.  There is no possibility of pursuing something without coming to terms with all the ways it is impossible to do it.”  It seems to me David has a point.

As I see it, most of life’s ventures – whether it be discovering your work, getting married, conceiving a child, birthing a baby, rediscovering your partner, developing compassion, feeling well in your body, connecting to your Self and to Spirit – enter into the cycles of visitation and absence.  Though it’s tough to be out of alignment with your own inspiration and creativity, it is part of the ebb and flow of relationship.

I recently went to a Waldorf lecture with a brilliant and dynamic teacher named Eugene Schwartz.  He said that at Waldorf, they believe when a child is first learning something new, that it is just as important to forget what has been learned.  At other schools in the early years, the walls are covered with letters and numbers to help stimulate memorization.  This way of learning fosters a disconnect because it strengthens the muscle of rote memory.  But it is in the forgetting that our innate wisdom is contacted and where our true learning occurs.

I forget all the time.  This past year has been an odyssey in remembering how to be a balanced human being.  After having a child and giving the majority of my chi to mothering, I plum forgot what it means to be feeding all the other parts of my life that bring fulfilment.  I am also discovering that I forgot what it is to be in an intimate partnership with my husband eleven years into our relationship.  This newest language of intimacy that aligns with the maturity of a seasoned marriage is what we are in the process of creating.

Perhaps you can’t remember what it is to be intimate with your partner or you’re trying desperately to find value in your work.  Or maybe you don’t feel at all connected to the meaning of your life.  Feeling far away from what we want, tells us one of two things about ourselves: that we are longing for something more or that we’ve lost our way.  Forgetting and disconnecting are places where many of us visit and some even reside.  And though it is painful to live in the desolation and dryness of feeling astray, it serves an important function.  It is the place of forgetting that can take us into the darkest, most difficult shadows of our psyches.  And it is here, where we can develop a relationship to our deepest reservoir, our muse, our inspiration.

Is it possible that for most of us balance itself is only a beautiful untenable myth?  The question is not how do we stay motivated or inspired.  It is how do we begin to trust that the forgetting of who we are, and the loss of meaning in our lives, is in itself, the rich soil of discovery.  It is this terrifying yet sacred ground that invites us in to rediscover our vision.  The emptiness is the gate that opens us into the lush forest of our fertility.  However, not without meeting our shadow.  The immobility and the feelings of,  “I don’t know how to do this”, or “there must be something more” is a necessary part of the journey.  Next time you feel lost, take a moment, breathe it in, and trust that even in the abyss, just maybe you are exactly where you’re meant to be.

Who Says I’m too Old?

I was asked to write a guest blog for my friend and soul sister Sheryl at http://conscious-transitions.com/.  I’ve decided to post it here as well.

As a psychotherapist and a specialist in the field of mind-body fertility, I have counseled many women who have put off having children until they felt the time was right for them.  They postponed marriage until they achieved financial security and found a partner they loved.  They delayed pregnancy until they felt mature enough to forge an emotionally satisfying relationship that could provide them and their children with a nurturing atmosphere.  I, personally think this is admirable.  But the media and the medical establishment’s inclination to depict women over thirty-five who want babies as caught up in a “biological-clock panic” and having “wombs that are too old  to work” undermines the confidence and emotional health of so many women concerning their fertility.  These messages instill so much fear onto women in their 20’s and 30’s to have families when they are not ready to do so.  By the time they are in their 40”s, understandably, many women come to me feeling devastated at being told that they or their eggs are too old or that there is a problem if they are not pregnant within the accepted “six – twelve month” period.  My concern is that if women are convinced that they are too-old or that there is a problem, and that there is ‘little hope’, if any, this belief will be reflected negatively in their bodies.

Contrary to popular belief within the medical world, fertility is not solely determined by one’s age or the number and quality of one’s eggs alone.  Stress can indeed play a big part in infertility.  Deeply ingrained in all of us are powerful family beliefs, rules, messages, attitudes and patterns of behavior that influence our life and affect our relationships and ultimately our reproductive system.  Fertility is a lifelong relationship with oneself regardless of age or whether or not one has a biological child.  Feeling open and receptive to the reproductive process has more to do with how we see ourselves as creative, fertile, and sensual women.  And how we feel about ourselves has everything to do with unexpressed (often unconscious) thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and behaviours often based on unfinished business from our childhood.

I have witnessed countless people that validate the mind/body interconnection and interdependence.  Whether or not our conscious mind is aware of what we are feeling, our bodies register and records every moment of our lives.  This includes every moment from our past and our present.  The mind is an amazing recorder of events and feelings.  There is a constant dialogue between our thoughts, images, beliefs, and feelings that can throw off our delicately balanced hormonal system.

The healing journey to become pregnant, carry to term, and birth a baby is an opportunity to identify and release repressed emotions that may be inhibiting your ability to conceive.  When my clients make the connection between what they are feeling, what is gong on in their lives, the emotional messages they are often unknowingly ‘sending’ to their bodies, and the symptoms they are experiencing, profound levels of healing take place.  As these conception-blocking feelings are confronted, you can create an emotional base from which to move toward the life you desire and deserve, and toward the life you will be creating.

Are you a fruit-bearing tree?

Are you a fruit-bearing tree?

I am excited to begin writing this blog.  I start by talking about one of my passions.  Fertility.  For those of you who know me, I have worked with women for many years who are struggling with conceiving a baby.  I write, not only from a professional place, but also from a very personal place, for I tried to get pregnant for a very long time.  This struggle is such a deep and painful road for many people.  It can also be a profoundly transformative experience as well.

Over the many years, I have come to believe that one’s fertility is synonymous with one’s life force.  We think of fertility when thinking about women becoming pregnant.  But in actuality, fertility lives in us long before and after the baby producing years.

Fertility is the life force, the green lush rain forest that lives within us.  It is our creativity, and the expression of our birthright.  Women come to me with different stories, whether it involves believing that they are no longer fertile, that their FSH levels are too high, or that their infertility is unexplainable. I say to these women, where is the fertility in your life?  Where is the fertility living in your body?  Is the relationship between you and your partner luscious?  Are you living your life’s dream?  What are you deeply passionate about?

I recognize that there truly are conditions that live in the body and in the environment that affect one’s fertility.  But for the most part, I find that the vast amount of reproductive difficulties respond to this work I call mind-body fertility awareness.  This involves shedding light on all the ways in which your body-mind shuts down, stops growing, and in all the ways that the juicy aliveness drains from your life.

I look out of my window at the rich powerful oak tree that stands proudly as a guardian to our property.  I am having a love affair with this tree.  This tree is vibrant, luscious and green.  It is powerful in all of its parts: its’ roots, trunk, branches, and leaves.  The roots do not apologize to the trunk.  The trunk does not stop supporting the branches.  This tree connects effortlessly to all of its parts so that it lives in unison with itself and with nature.  It is a great symbol of fertility, bearing the seeds of acorns throughout the year.

This tree is like the language of your fertility.  Your tree consists of the thoughts, words, imaginings, mental pictures, and emotions that stimulate wellness, illness, and infertility.  Your grief, sadness, anger, disappointments, and any other negative states of being, show up as symptoms and ailments in your body tree. This may show up in the way you feel about your husband, your mother, your work, your body, your lack of joy, your life’s circumstance, etc.  Because your body is constantly influenced by your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, which manifest themselves physically, your life story becomes your biology.  Only you know inside of yourself what that talk sounds like.  And only you can translate this to allow your body- mind talk to flow harmoniously, like a powerful tree.

After translating these messages behind your experiences, the great challenge is then to change your life’s situations (as well as your response to them) to which your mind-body is responding negatively.  Healing childhood wounds is not only a way to reclaim your reproductive rights, which is vital for women seeking to become pregnant and to hold a baby to term, but is also a way to heal other aspects of your life so that you can live the experience you are meant to live.  You might ask your self as you read this, is your life juicy or is it dry?  Are you living the life you are meant to live?  If not, what mind-body talks interferes with you living in the centre of your fertility tree?