I Will Not Over-Edit

We're only three minutes to midnight, midnight being doomsday, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, for reasons of "unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals." They say, "international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization." The way I see it, the human race drains the earth of her finite resources in an attempt to provide infinite stability and perpetual protection. The masculine tendency. Which is normal and necessary and effective when balanced with the feminine prerogative to nurture and give back to Mother Earth. Every mother knows she needs to care for herself first.

But we are off-balance. Because women, who hold the bulk of the nurturing feminine energies, have operated under varying forms of oppression for centuries.

Today I make a plea to the women. To balance the planet, we must own our power. We must live according to the truth of who we are, not who we've been taught to be.

I have a few ideas on how to get started, if you're interested. Treat these as mantras.

I do not over-edit myself or my work.

I do not diminish what I have to say.

I do not self-deprecate.

I do not apologize unless I've done something wrong.

I do not downplay my achievements.

I do not feel ashamed of my passions.

I do not measure my worth by my productivity.

I do not measure my life by my bank account.

I speak my mind.

I stand up for myself.

I nourish my interior self.

I listen to my intuition

I respect my feminine body. 

I feed my spirit.

I support other women.

I am worthy of recognition. 

I turn the other cheek to bullies and misogynists.

I assert my power.

We are this planet. We must fill our cups before we can fill others.

Go ahead, write your own mantras, empower yourself. Be unafraid of your power. Use it now. Nothing lasts forever.

This is day 20 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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Are Women Blocked?

At some point in history, women learned to feel shame for receiving. We were programmed to give, give, give. We deny compliments. We diminish our achievements. We downplay our strengths. We give everything away, most tragically, our power. Maybe you think you don't, maybe you know that you do. Regardless, you know a woman like this. A woman blocked from receiving. It happens on an individual level, passed between generations and families, until the program takes on a life of its own and woman everywhere are paid less than men for the same job. We repeat the pattern without realizing that it is not us.

But imbalances correct themselves, eventually. It's happening now. Women are beginning to find it in us to receive, to be the exception to the rules we've followed for so long. Women are opening. I know it's happening because I've seen it.

I saw it when my friend hesitated to accept a sizable donation for her start-up non-profit. Money she needed. Money she could use to do great things. She had good reason to hesitate as she had a strained and strange relationship with the benefactor, who is not wealthy, only generous. My friend didn't know how to accept this token of love and faith.

I saw it happen when she accepted the money as the natural flow of the universe.

I saw it when the floodgates opened and another large donation came in, and after that, a steady stream of opportunities.

I saw it when she said yes to the money, and yes to her work.

I saw it when she said yes to the money, and yes to her purpose.

I saw it when she said yes to the money, and yes to changing the world.

This is day 18 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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Why We Must Heed Our Hormones

Hormones control every human body. Hormones tell us when to eat and when to stop eating. Hormones tell us when to sleep and when to wake. Hormones tell us when to fight and when to flee and when to procreate. We are conscious beings with free will, but we are also animals at the mercy of our hormones. Through out every month, a women's hormonal constitution shifts. We experience distinct cycles. We are not meant to be even. We are jagged. We must forgive ourself for our sharp points.

Because of my body and because I breastfed around the clock, I went without my period until Skyla was 15 months old. As if nature wanted to compensate for the long nights and short tether. And so I was spared from the dramatic hormonal dips and spikes associated with ovulation. After two years of not ovulating, I have become extra sensitive to the shifts. Furthermore, my body has not found its rhythm and I cannot predict what "time of the month" it is.

Recently I had a bad week. I came loose at the seams. I despaired. I felt aggressive and angry. I had no idea how I could get through another week. I didn't have to. It was not all my fault nor was it my children's fault. It was my hormones. I had PMS. I had no way of knowing because my body felt fine otherwise. No cramps no headaches no cravings. The symptoms completely manifested in my mental and emotional health.

No matter how you experience your hormonal shifts, don't discount them, my fellow women. Just as the moon pulls on the ocean, your moon cycle pulls on the ocean inside of you. To ignore the tides is to throw yourself in the sea and swim against the tides.

It is our responsibility to keep track of our cycles, not only for the sake of family planning, but for sanity. Society teaches us to suck it up and pretend these shifts are not happening within us. But in reality, hiding our symptoms hides nothing. To track the cycle is to find the current and let it carry you home.

What if we took note of our sensitive times of the month and took extra time for ourselves? What if we soaked in the bathtub or got a massage? What if we got a babysitter? What if we forgave ourself quicker for crying? What if it was okay? What if we expected to feel this way? What if we were actually prepared?

At some point in history, women would go into the "red tent" when they were bleeding. We took care of one another. These days, no one will look after you if you don't look after yourself. We are grown-ups. We are women. We are complex. We are not even. We are not meant to be.

I am tired of stifling my feelings. I have high highs and low lows. I have feared myself. I have heard the clinical words. But deep down, I know there is nothing wrong with me. By my very nature, I experience life in cycles. I see and feel in vivid color. I will not dull my edges for the comfort of others. Just ask my neighbors.

This is day 16 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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What I Learned When I Stopped Wearing Makeup

"You Don't Have to Be Pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female.'"- Erin McKean (wrongly attributed to Diana Vreeland)

It happens to most women who become mothers. We forge a new relationship with our physicality. We don't apply makeup or style our hair or accessorize for at least for a few months, maybe a year, maybe longer, maybe forever.

I still wear makeup now and again. I still like how it makes my features pop. Makeup is art. But do we need makeup as much as we are conditioned to believe we need it?

The less I wear makeup, the less I wear makeup. The less I wear it, the more comfortable I feel without it. And most notably, the less I wear it, the less beautiful I feel when I do wear it.

I used to think I needed makeup to fix parts of me. In middle school, my best friend and I were quite concerned with being beautiful. We loved spending hours together getting ready for special events, from Bar Mitzvahs to birthday parties, doing and redoing our hair, doing and redoing our eyeliner until it was "perfect." When we had nothing left to do, we would ask one another, "what can I fix?"

We grew up watching movies like Clueless and Beauty and the Beast and television programs like Saved By The Bell and 90210, and reading books like the Sweet Valley High series. Stories in which the heroines were valued for their beauty and agreeable disposition. For many years, I believed I had to be pretty to be valuable and valued. Sometimes, I believed I could be pretty if I tried hard enough. Sometimes, I didn't.

Implicit in the application of make up is the belief that a woman's face is flawed and/or needs to be "flawless." When we wear makeup daily, we learn to see our made up face as the "right" face. We stop seeing the beauty in our natural features. We invest time, money and thought into fixing ourselves under the erroneous belief that beauty can be achieved by the right product and method.

I did not notice the shape of my eyes until I stopped masking them with eyeliner. I did not see clarity in my skin until I let it breathe. I did not know the perfection of my God-given colors until I stopped dying my hair blonde (it's true) and saturating every inch of my skin with self-tanner. And when I stopped wearing makeup, I started believing that I could be beautiful. Not conditionally beautiful, but unconditionally beautiful. 

I would like to encourage my fellow women to take a step back from the allure of cosmetics. I challenge you to run around a few blocks or pump some iron or take a dance class, and look in the mirror at your naked face. I would like you to see the real color in your cheeks, the unmasked sparkle in your eyes. I would like you to see all that goodness you stir up just by using your body. It's inside of you. It has been there all along.

We already know where real beauty comes from. Sometimes we have to turn inside out to find it, sometimes we have to become vulnerable to show it, but it's always in there. Because it cannot be bought, it cannot be stolen. And because it is limitless, it will not run out. Your beauty is real, and it is power, and it has nothing to do with being pretty.

This is day 15 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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I Am Not My Body

Women are trained to see their bodies with a critical eye. They see their friends and their mothers and their friends' mothers and even their grandmothers do it. They see it in the magazine headlines that promise "quick fixes" and a "better bootie" and "flatter abs" and "toned thighs." They see it in the reality television shows that push people to exercise until they vomit or the beauty pageants that parade women around in a bikini for a prize. In these instances, the body ceases to be a vehicle for living and experiencing and loving, but rather something that requires a full-time job to maintain. I have succumbed to the pressures. I have weighed and dieted and binged and ran and pinched and obsessed and hated my body. I have shed tears over stubborn flesh. Finally, I have come to realize that these nonsensical beauty standards do not serve me. The less I focus on my body's appearance, the more I love it.

In my twenties, I slowly learned how to take good care of my body. I was not always kind to it, but for the most part, I exercised in healthy amounts and I ate fresh vegetables and fruits and I allowed my body time to repair. I rooted into the earth in a profound way as I experienced the miracle of feeling a child grow inside of me. I released residual guilt for consuming animal products. Instead, I gave gratitude to the animals for their lives and their sacrifice so that I may be nourished with adequate levels of protein and iron, both of which I was deficient in while avoiding animal products.

And of course, I finally eschewed my old friend, the scale.

Now, at age 30, I have reached a new frontier with my body. Recently I saw a photo of myself, and my ego self, who would have once criticized the beautiful curve of my hip, fell into the shadow of my true self who saw a happy healthy woman, well-fed and strong, using her body to hike with her family and carry her children and commune with the California redwoods.

When I saw the picture and I heard the angel and the devil juxtaposed on my shoulders, I received a third distinct message: you are not your body. It was not a passing experimental thought, but a truth I knew in the center of my belly. Peace overcame me. For a brief moment, my own image became unfamiliar. If I am not my body, then what am I?

I am a being of light. I am vibrating matter. I am an expression of source. I am that which beats my heart and opens my eyes, but I am not my heart nor my eyes. I am not my body. I am the spirit that encompasses my body.

I will not attach my worth to its shape. I will not feel entitled to disparage it. I will not deprive it from what it wants. I will not stuff it nor poison it nor neglect it.

I am not my body, but my body is me. My body is here for me to live in and because I love to live, I love my body. So I will treat my body like I treat anything I love. With care, devotion and gratitude.

This is day 8 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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The Intersection of Art, Poetry and Motherhood

1505_May First Friday-rev(1) Life has a way of unfolding around us, in spite of us, for us. Do you agree?

I love writing poetry. I love making mixed media art. I love being a mother. And somehow in a whirl of synchronicity and serendipity, these passions that don't always complement one another, have joined forces and taken an unforeseeable direction.

In the month of May and mother's day and my birthday, we the three founding members of Maker Mamas will present "Maternal Matters" at The Shop at Flywheel Press in San Mateo, CA, a show exploring the intersection of art, poetry and motherhood. Cameras, keyboards, and canvases are the tools we use in the midst of nap, play, and dream time, nurturing our creations alongside our children.

The show opens on May 1st, 6-9 pm with the San Mateo First Friday night market, a food truck and live music. Please do pass along the information and invitation to Bay Area art lovers and mothers and non-mothers alike.

I look forward to telling you about the opening--and how it felt to scribble my heart on my sleeve and hang my stained laundry out for public scrutiny.

Until then, I leave you with my artist statement:

My intention is to coax feminine energies out of their centuries-old oppression by exploring the quintessential embodiment of femininity: motherhood. The divine nature of the feminine is to create and nurture creation; just as life on earth evolved out of our sister the ocean, dark and wet like the womb. This collection of poetry acknowledges the light and shadow sides of making and raising humans by taking a heart-centered perspective on maternal sacrifice. By seeing the unseen, specifically the woman as mother, we hold space for her to birth new ideas, inspiring women to take back their power--not just in birth but in life.

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

The Story Behind Skyla

"Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape."

- Rumi

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I already had the name Skyla on my list. I knew I loved it. And obviously I have a thing for the sky (hence my blog name). But the task of naming a child does not produce immediate answers, at least not for me.

When I saw this quote on Instagram from heathercooperloves, which was a re-gram from adonnrowley, I took a screenshot. Every time I came back to it, I got tingly.

We don't have to conform to standards or fit into boxes or worry about the outcome. We are here to do things that make us feel  good. We are here to enjoy the rainbows, bask in the sunshine, bathe in the ocean, gaze at the stars. We are here to cry in the rain and listen to the clouds and cling to one another in the storm.

We don't have to take this life so seriously. Failure is a myth, the prison walls are made of fear. We can fall and get up as many times as we want. We can fly without crashing. We need not hold back or be afraid or stifle our truest, wildest, happiest dreams.

I hope I can teach my beautiful biracial daughters to live like this.

I want them to push against the boundaries built by modern society. I want them to break through the glass ceilings and make their own joy. I want them to create anything and everything they want. I want them to follow their hearts and believe in themselves, because we are all as big as the sky.

Just as we chose Giovanna because "God is gracious," we chose Skyla to remember that we are limitless potential, bound by limitless love.