I’m With Her

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With every breath I take, and if I’m able even when my lungs deflate, I will stand between her & the shame the world tries to cast on her.

Let me share some of the shame I’ve carried thus far.

I am 6 years old. While walking home from kindergarten I am followed by a classmate who repeatedly yells “Nikki has a big butt, Nikki has a big butt.” For multiple reasons this statement brings a sting I do not recall feeling before. Shame.

I am 7 years old. I want to be a professional baseball player in MLB. My own designated pitch coach tells me “unfortunately, you are a girl.” Shame.

I am 8 years old. I am sexually assaulted. I tell no one. Everything about it feels wrong, but I am just a little girl, so what do I know. Shame.

I am 10 years old. I witness the hands of my step-father bruise and batter my mother. When I stand up for her, I am burned with cigarettes. I am told by the women in my life “you should have kept quiet and stayed out of his way.” Shame.

I am 11 years old. I finally tell about my previous sexual assault. No one seems to believe me. The response to me is “we should not fuss with what’s in the past and divide the family.” Shame.

I am 13 years old. I get my period on Halloween night. I do all that I can to hide the evidence but the blood spots on my pants are quickly noticed and mocked. Shame.

I am 14 years old. A boy I had a crush on rubs his hands all over me in the swimming pool. I tell him to stop, he laughs at me and says “you know you like it.” I leave and never say a word. Shame.

I am 15 years old. I finally grow breasts. Despite my efforts to “cover up”, everyone at school notices and begins to suggest my bra size. Shame.

I am 16 years old. I wear a shirt to school that has words across my breasts. My principal tells me that I need to go home and change because “the boys are noticing”. Shame.

I am 17 years old. I decide to participate in the Junior Miss competition. I’m laughed at by my classmates because I am not pretty enough. Shame.

I am 19 years old. I go to a college event with some friends. A guy asks me if I want to “smoke weed and fuck.” I turn down his charming offer. He calls me a prude and a bitch. Shame.

I am 20 years old. I express my distaste with the idea that women cannot be church leaders according to the bible. I am accusing of “being on my period”. Shame.

I am 21 years old. I am engaged to get married. I am told by members of the evangelical christian community that because of my previous sexual encounters that I am not “pure” and I am like a “used car” for my husband. Shame.

I am 23 years old. I am frustrated with patriarchy. I begin to share my thoughts and feelings. I am told that I am “too emotional” and “too sensitive”. Shame.

I am 24 years old. I am bleeding excessively from a painful miscarriage. I am ignored by many. I am asked if I did something wrong. I am told that it’s probably a good thing. I am told that it could have been much worse. Shame.

I am 25 years old. I am 8 months pregnant. I am told that I would look disgusting in a swimsuit. Shame.

I am 25 years old. I am in labor with my daughter. I do not want my cervix checked. I am told I am hindering the process. Shame.

I am 26 years old. I am breastfeeding my daughter in bathrooms, in the car and in the closet because I am told that I am making others uncomfortable. Shame.

I am 28 years old. I am asked when I will have another child. I am asked again. I am reminded of my “age”. Shame.

I am 29 years old. I am having a home birth. I am told of how selfish my choices are. Shame.

I am 29 years old. I have postpartum depression and postpartum OCD. I suffer in silence. What will people think of me? Will they think I am a bad mom? Shame.

I am almost 31 years old. I am asked why I want a career. I am asked why I want to be with my kids. I am asked how I can do it all. Shame.

These are only some of my tales. And I am only one woman.

Shame has been used to quiet us down. Shame has been used to make us sit. Shame has been used to abuse us. Shame has been used to rape us. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Too short, too tall. Too fat, too skinny. Too smart, too dumb. Too pretty, too ugly. Too loud, too quiet. Too many kids, not enough kids. Too much sex, too prude. Too big of breasts, too small of breasts. Too flat of an ass, too round of an ass. Too emotional, too cold.

The world does not have an ideal woman in mind. It has NO woman in mind. Misogyny wants to shame women. Shame us for our curves and our bones. Shame us for our ability to carry life and our choice not to. Shame us for our beauty and our brains. Shame us for our mothering and for our career.

Shame is the tool used to keep our powerful and strong bodies as a product they can use, abuse, critique and control.

Shame is the tool used to keep our intuition quieted so that only those who favor the “rational” can be worthy to be heard.

So I say “I’m with her.” Her = my daughter, my mother, my sisters, my grandmother, myself.

For the sake of my daughter, I will stand against this shame. She will know that whoever she is…whomever she loves…whatever her religion…whatever her IQ…whatever her breast size or waistline…I am with her.

I will vote in November in support of womanhood. I will vote not in “support” of abortion, but in support of the woman…whose situations we cannot predict.  I will vote in support of paid maternity leave. I will vote in support of equal pay. I will vote for representation. I will vote for my daughter.

And by doing this I will also be voting for my son.

It’s all connected, in my opinion. In order for true masculinity to be discovered and affirmed, we must affirm the feminine.

We are all born of a woman.

We spend our first months on Earth wrapped in her womb.

The connection we foster, as male and female, with our mother has the ability to shape our future in drastic ways.

We can fight addiction and all forms of violence in the simple act of truly affirming the feminine and therefore supporting women as they journey into motherhood.

We can limit the use of abortion by affirming the pregnant woman, supporting her in the unique place she is at, empowering her to make choices during her birth and supporting physical/mental/emotional well-being after she has birthed.

Why do we want to shame this powerful, beautiful form that breathed for us, birthed us and has the potential to nourish us?

Why would we not want to do what we can to take steps towards a world that affirms and respects all aspects of womanhood?

Because then the tables turn.

The shame is placed elsewhere.

Shame on you rapists. Shame on you abusers. Shame on you men who blame us for your “impure thoughts”. Shame on you who act disgusted at our bodies. Shame on you who tell us what to do with our breasts and our vaginas. Shame on you Donald Trump. Shame on you patriarchy. Shame on you history.

I’m with her.

 

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A Samhain Lament

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A flicker in my mind.

Not quite a memory

but more than a passing moment.

The scent of dirt, tossed in the wind.

The taste of salt, mournfully falling.

And a ballad

played loudly but not loud enough to quiet the sobs.

A creak as the casket descends.

The rhythm of dirt and petals dancing upon your tomb.

A thump as the Earth welcomes you to her womb.

A whispered good bye.

This day

this specific part of this day

is not something I simply recall and remember.

It is an orchestra of sensation.

My heart, my body feels this day in present tense.

Without warning, the sensations play.

The feel of my sisters fingers mingling with mine.

The ache in my bones when I must convince my feet to walk away

to leave you there.

Time heals, so we’re told.

Time seals.

Time closes wounds.

Time scabs.

It does not heal.

Underneath, the pain remains.

These flickers in my mind, these feelings reveal that to me.

And may they never leave me.

May I always remember my love for you by feeling the sting of your absence.

 

 

 

 

The Monarch

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Wings resting, she feels the change.

A gentle night breeze caresses her wings.

The air cooler than the night before.

The sun lower than it was the night before.

The milkweed’s color duller than it was the night before.

And yet, it’s not her eyes that notice these changes.

It’s her spirit.

Deeply connected is she with the Wind and the Sun and the Earth.

Her spirit hears the whispers of these elements and wisdom guides her.

She spreads her wings and begins her migration.

The Earth’s rhythm changes the seasons and she must follow.

Her journey takes her to a place she has not been before but a place that her spirit knows to go. It is the same place, the same tree, that her mother and grandmother migrated to during their lives.

It is not a map, it is not her eyes, it is not her ears that bring her to this tree.

It’s her spirit.

Deeply connected is she with the Wind, the Sun and the Earth.

Deeply connected is she with her own spirit, her own wisdom.

Wings resting, she feels the change.

The air warmer than it was the night before.

The sun higher than it was the night before.

And the milkweed brighter than it was the night before.

Phenomenal Woman

My breasts rise as I breathe in life.

And I feel it.

The power of the feminine.

Do not be mistaken.

I am not suppressing the masculine.

But you see, I am a woman.

And I want to be a woman.

So I feel it and I let it sink deeper into my bones.

The sensuality, the strength, the joy of womanhood.

I am not the first woman to recognize this feminine greatness.

And I am not the first woman that those threatened have attempted to quiet down.

I am not the first woman to be stripped of her strength and given a title of God given subordinate.

I am not the first woman to be shushed of her intuition and given a title of the emotional one.

I am not the first woman whose lush sensuality has been covered and given a title of virtuous modesty.

And I won’t be the last.

So today I let Maya Angelou’s voice guide me through this poem that reminds me that my whole womanhood is powerful and life giving and tender and strong and changing.

My body, my mind and my spirit are inseparable from the divine feminine.

I breathe in and I feel it. I breathe out and the world will feel it.

Winter Soul

blogBleakness, coldness, darkness.

This is winter.

Winter Solstice is upon us and traveling with it is frigid and bleak days and nights.

So often many of us ignore the darkness of this season for what we call hope, light and goodness.

But rather, what if we allowed ourselves to dwell in the darkness.

Rather than hushing away the bleak of winter, let the cold air seep into your soul.

Allow the darkness to cover your eyes so that you can only be still.

Let Winter in.

Quite knowingly to many, I am not one to turn away from the wintering of other souls.

But this year my own wintering has been overwhelming and I have not let it seep in.

I’ve been distracted by so much.

I wanted to continue those distractions. To keep “going”.

But the seasons have a way of dipping their toes into your soul when you are not looking.

As Winter Solstice approaches I feel the deep need to sit in the bleak, cold and dark places of myself. To feel and know them wholly.

I knew that in order to experience this wintering, I needed to unbusy my life.

It was not an easy decision in the least, but I have decided to take winter, spring and summer off from my work as a birth and bereavement doula.

I knew this was the right decision when I observed my emotions around each birth that I attended.

I was not fully present with my families, I do not leave each birth with the same joy as I previously had and I was not giving my birthing families all the energy I could.

I need time to let this past year of my life teach and guide me.

The wildly unpredictable birth of my baby boy and the death of my mom only 9 weeks later have some serious inner work to do in my life.

I want to give them space to do so.

It is during this Winter season that I know the bulk of that work is beginning.

And with this time I hope to practice presence to my grief and my joy. To think endlessly about my mother, her life and her death. To enjoy the days and nights with my children. To continue a life rhythm with my husband. To sit with myself and know her.

So I will let winter in.

But I will also put on a pair of wool socks, wrap my frigid fingers around a hot cup of tea and snuggle close to those dear to me. Because this is winter.

Allowing the darkness, bleakness and coldness of this season to do it’s work and clenching onto warmth that is offered to see you through the winter.

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Nothing is ordinary.

The wind is finally calm.

And I am inside my nest, my home.

I watch the smoke from my burning mountain sage twirl in the space before me. Dancing and moving in ways that seem intentional.

I sip my nourishing mothers tea, noticing each sip in detail.

I could so quickly leave these moments, regarding them as ordinary and unremarkable.

But I hear from my depths “Look, my love…nothing is ordinary.” 

I notice again the sage smoke filling the room. It’s movements seem to carry a message.

And with each sip of my tea I hear the sound of my body swallowing. Inviting in nourishment.

I notice the quiet stance of the trees outside my window. Recovering from the push and pull of the wind.

I hear the breath of my baby sleeping sweetly on the perch of his mothers back.

Nothing is ordinary. 

Every moment is full of sacred. Holy. Life. Love. God(dess).

It’s not that each moment has potential to be extraordinary.

Each moment IS extraordinary.

Each breath is holy.

Each sip and swallow is life.

Each moment, each micro moment, is filled with the goodness of our Creator.

And I breathe.

There it is.

Goodness.

I’ve been searching for it. These extraordinary moments of goodness that would bring me new life.

I was unaware that I’ve been breathing it…in and out…this entire time.

Each breath brings me new life.

Each moment offers me goodness.

But each day I must make the choice to accept it.

Because it’s there.

This is no ordinary day.

The Rose of Jericho

It’s a rainy October day.

The tenebrous clouds acknowledge the secret places within me.

But I am persistent in my efforts to keep locked away.

The sway of the elms whisper to me “release”.

But I am persistent in my desires to remain hidden.

My soul laid bare is surely too scoffed, too mangled and too dreary for you.

But I am confronted by the unashamed authenticity of other living things.

I am drawn to the rose of Jericho.

A flower that without moisture closes up and appears lifeless.

But once it receives nourishment it unfolds in a splendid manner.

As I watch this flower open I feel the grasp of worry and judgement lessen.

I too must open.

If I long to embrace myself, my dears one, my life.

I must open. 

But before I begin my unfolding process, I must be nourished.

And this is where the struggle lies.

I am not too busy, I am not too poor, I am too needed, I am not too undeserving to receive nourishment.

My fellow flowers, allow yourselves to be nourished.

The world needs to know our beauty.

Be nourished and unfold, open, embrace.