Rhythm + Flow

The days can seem long but the months are flowing by quicker than I could have imagined. Kula feels like this miniature human now. With the most amazing of personalities beginning to form and take shape. She is funny and silly. But also inquisitive and fierce.


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Yet, there are moments I long for the simplicity of life before baby. For my days of dedicated activism, uninterrupted writing and research. Of sleeping in after staying up late reading or laughing with Andrew. Of last minute date nights and wine on whims with my girlfriends. I am struggling with not having the time or mental space to continue my creative pursuits, but then again, those too have shifted as of late. And many of the directions I now want to take my skills and passions are a direct result of having Kula. She has, in fact, become an unexpected inspirational part of my life. 


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But on another hand, I’ll be honest. I still feel like, over 8 months in, I am not necessarily flowing into the typical space or place of what a ‘mom’ typically means. And I struggle with that, because well hell, I am! But I feel like perhaps, since this was not a path in life I was prepared to take, nor thought I ever would, this whole motherhood thing means something very specific for me, personally. Something more profound than just the act of me raising this little girl. It feels like perhaps my own next big thing (not that becoming a mom wasn’t big enough!) will find its way to me now because of Kula. And it would have been lost out there in the ether if not for her… as if, perhaps, my one big purpose wasn’t going to find its way to me and me to it without the energy and tenacity that Kula has cultivated within me. 


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I guess it feels like I have been sent this very precious and unique escort. One designed specifically to and for me. I am not here to solely raise a baby. I am here to raise Kula. What exactly she is here to show me, well of course I am still discovering that, but feeling like I have been turned inside out, both mentally and emotionally seems like a decent first step. As if I am receiving a good cosmic scrubbing before the real work begins. I can totally feel that happening… because what I have learned from my past is that the truth does indeed emerge from experience. And the blood, sweat and tears that are borne from the actual doing of the hard stuff, the soul work, may leave you bruised and battered, but it is putting in the time and effort, not shying away from what scares you that makes you better. That leads to the big lessons and the meaningful good stuff that follows. And in the end, you are either walking in the direction of love or the direction of fear. For me, having this baby means that I must, just must, move past the fear, the anxiety, and start fresh. In love, only love. And let’s be honest, you will never fail by loving, that I can promise. You will only lose by holding back. So… I think I have no choice but to choose love…


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Because being a mother is immense. An experience vast enough that I must discover my own rhythm and flow and begin to understand and assimilate the deep and beautiful magic of this whole thing. I may not now, nor ever, feel like a ‘mom’ in that traditional sense of the word, but if nothing else, I am Kula’s guide. And I get to learn a whole new way of approaching life and relationships, of relaxing expectations and flowing into the present moment to be here, right now, with her. And I guess this is just the next, perhaps deepest, piece of my current journey. Of learning to lean back, let go and start to trust that this is my path. Because, in fact, evolution is quite literally in our blood. It is what makes us amazing creatures capable of compassion and empathy and deep deep deep love. And as Marianne Williamson says in one of her more famous quotes, we are, very much so, more powerful than we could ever imagine. 


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So, while of course I understand the ‘it takes a village’ concept in raising a child, it is an unbelievable change in lifestyle and level of pressure that most of us have never even dreamed of experiencing. But I also think we forget that when we push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, through the anxiety, past the scary and hard and trying moments, we get to emerge on the other side better then when we started. We are stronger for having tested our limits, for pushing our edges, for proving to ourselves that we can do anything, be anything, get through anything. And when you don’t, when you don’t put in that time and effort and test those deep down soul parts, well shit... I guess I’m not sure I see the point in doing it at all. How can you find, or unearth, your true grit if you don’t truly try?!


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This is of course just my opinion, because in the end it is all a deeply personal journey. But I will say this: the greater the input, the deeper and oh so much sweeter the reward. I wouldn’t have traded one second of my time with Kula to this point. Not one sleepless night or any hair pulling unknowns. Because now I know what I can do, I know what I am capable of if pushed. And that has been the greatest of gifts so far… well that, AND getting to spend my days with this cute little Beastie!


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You have to know what you want. And if it seems to take you off the track, don’t hold back. Because perhaps that is instinctively where you want to be. And if you hold back and try to be always where you have been before, you will go dry.
— Gertrude Stein

Resentment

You know what my least favorite emotion is? Resentment. One, because I’ve never really experienced it or harbored any of it thus far in my life. And two, because it’s a shitty feeling. It’s like this constant pot of simmering water inside me. It’s corrosive and slimy and it’s totally unfair. ... to whomever it is you are harboring said resentment against.

Want to know why, or at least the ‘why’ from my perspective? It’s because you are assuming someone else can read your mind. And while, trust me, that would be sweet (well, sometimes…), it just ain’t possible.

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I have no doubt that it has reared its unwanted head in my life as of late because of the shift from non-mom to Kula-mom. While my amazing, handsome, loving husband has not experienced quite the same fundamental shift in his life. Yes, he is an unreal father. Yes, he wants to help and does, a lot. Yes, I love him dearly and unconditionally. But, it’s just not the same. Moms get hit hard by this change, whether we think we had it all figured out beforehand or not (I thought we did... how silly and small of us to think we had any idea of what was coming our way).

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I always feel like I have to say this so I don’t come off as some ungrateful monster... Kula is god damn magic. I live for that little Beastie. But that sure as shit doesn’t make the transition any smoother. I get mad easier, I get frustrated quicker, I get overwhelmed way sooner than I ever have before and I get sad too. And, sometimes, a lot of times, instead of just sitting with those feelings for a second, or letting them just pass through me, I hold on to them like little mini weapons. Getting ready to do battle with someone, anyone, most likely my poor unsuspecting husband. Because why?! Because I am not sure what the hell I am doing and my weak side just wants him (because he is closest to me) to be in the same uncertain place that I am living. It’s like, all I want is for someone to just know, out of thin air, what I need, because damnit, they should just know!!! 

Well… I know what you are going to say! It’s what my mom, sister, mother-in-law, girlfriends, the internet, any decent therapist would tell me… and get ready for it. This is where the ultimate cliche of all cliches comes in: communication is key. In the heat of the moment I HATE THAT ADVICE!!! It is so much easier to just hang on to those negative emotions for dear life. Being passive aggressive. That is what that is, and it is an easy behavior crutch to become addicted to. 

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But guess what… hanging on to all that crap makes everything worse. It magnifies situations that could be addressed with a little old fashioned patience and openness. And what I really want is to be an example to Kula that emotions arise for a reason, that they have purpose. But they are not meant to control you, make you mean, harden your heart. And using them as constructive tools is so much more productive then allowing them to break you down or drive wedges between you and those you love most. 

Everything is well, so so well. I have been told over and over again not to be so hard on myself, and I am working on that too. If I am not kindest to myself, they how can I possibly pass that gentleness out into the world.  And Andrew will always be my partner. My partner in life, in parenthood, partner in crime. But they say marriage takes work, and to that I’d say: being conscious and present parents AND partners to each other… well hell, THAT takes some work. And I’ve decided it’s the work of a lifetime, our lifetime. And you couldn’t catch me doing it with anyone else...

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Pivot Point

But let’s be honest, the ‘old’ me is gone. I felt her on her way out when I got pregnant. And I waved a ferocious goodbye to her when Kula officially arrived. That ‘me’ didn’t disappear per say. But she did forever and completely change. And how could she not?! Going through the incredible feat of growing a baby, birthing said baby, breastfeeding and nurturing that baby while also coming to grips with the massive life change both emotionally and mentally is a lot, even for the most capable of us. My body and mind will just never be the same, I did an incredible thing, and there is no turning back. 

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The entry of ‘motherhood’ on my life’s resume is by no means the last thing that will be listed there, but it is a massive pivot point. A sort of seismic shift in my life, an obvious moment of no return. So grasping at the tendrils, the remainders of my former experience, has little point. Forever more I am inextricably, completely, biologically linked to another human. And this bond will undoubtedly inform every decision I make moving forward.

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Intense, yes. Important, yes. Beautiful, way, way, way yes.

So, I’ve decided I must allow the ghost of my old self to dissolve. To melt down, melt away, for if I continually try and make my way back there, to the old version of the me that I knew so well, I will be forever disappointed, unsure, and in constant discord with this new path. And holding on to those small feelings of me, me, me are really just my ego talking. And nothing much magical has ever come from listening to that fool. Because motherhood is undoubtedly the unique work of the soul, that wildish female soul. It is the combined effort of my heart and spirit with a little sprinkle of some otherworldly wisdom. 

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I’ve been working, on the daily, to come to terms with the fact that if I continue with this futile attempt to chase that dragon, the one that is the old Erin, I will only continue to create internal strife and further suffering. This experience is almost a forced exercise in selflessness. Of putting someone else’s interests ahead of my own. ‘Me’ time, gotta have it, of course. But I’m speaking in the grander sense of the experience. Motherhood is not just some astrix in the book of your life, or so called fork in the road. It is a profound adjustment. A journey with no end. But, perhaps, a journey with greater purpose and magnitude. 

And I think if us mommas (hell, us ladies in general) start approaching it from that angle. Start remembering that nothing all that great comes from staying the same, of remaining stagnant in our life’s work. We can not only embrace this total transformation of our lives, we can learn to harness it to help shape a much more conscious and connected version of ourselves. And despite the huge change this has shoved into my life, what I have been searching for, for many years, even before Kula, has been just that… more connection, more meaning, more life in my life.

So for the sake of this new Erin, whomever she turns out to be, I think Kula and I might just ride off into the sunset. Toward our new life, with all it’s fascinating and marvelous twists and turns, as gracefully as we possibly can...

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I feel like motherhood is a choice you make every single day, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being above your own, to teach and learn the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you have no idea what the right thing is... and to forgive yourself, over and over and over again, for feeling like you might be doing it all wrong.
— Me
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Doing It All

I have no doubt that no matter what day in age you become a mom there are, and were, intense challenges. Be them the dangers of childbirth itself, the societal expectations of being a stay-at-home mom/homemaker, to the difficulties of living far from family and their built in support system. But, at least from my personal perspective, todays moms have it rough (too!). While we have endless freedoms and resources, there are also myriad pressures to be ‘super moms’. We feel these expectations to be amazing, perfect mothers. While also being wives and bread winners and house keepers and support systems. Not that I have one single issue with us ladies wanting to have it all, who the shit wouldn’t? But what I take issue with is achieving that ideal is close to impossible. And not only that, it creates layers of anxieties and feelings of guilt that can weigh even the strongest of us ladies down. And keep in mind, on top of all of that, it’s absolutely crucial that we take some time and make some effort to save a little something for ourselves, you know, in the never ending endeavor to keep sane and balanced.

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Before Kula came I pretty much planned on returning to work, full-time, at six weeks postpartum. That’s when I was needed back so that was the deal. Luckily for me, I work for family, so having Kula in tow was expected and not a problem. But let’s be honest here, and I know every baby is different, but between the lack of sleep, the lack of any idea whatsoever of what I was doing with this new baby, and the need to be somewhat present in mind to actually get anything constructive done made for a stressful time. I wanted to get back to work, to do something outside of breastfeeding and changing diapers and doing laundry, but it was hard. And I continually felt a little left behind. A little out of the loop. A little less needed. 

So that got me feeling: us modern day moms (see feminists...) are supposed to do it all, want it all, have it all. Our happy partners, our passion filled jobs, our well adjusted, genius, good looking babies on our hips. And while, of course, sure, I’ll take all that any day, it sure ain’t my reality! It’s been an adjustment to say the least... actually that’s putting it a touch too mildly. It’s been more of an ass-kicking, emotional-roller-coaster, come-to-Jesus, sometimes-you’ll-find-me-in-the-fetal-position journey thus far. And the reality is, I get wound up sometimes. With thoughts of ‘I should be doing this and that and the other thing’. Working and cooking and cleaning and have sex with my husband and playing with my baby and calling my grandmother and having wine night with my friends. So sometimes, as the end of the day comes around, I tend to feel like it’s been the shortest, yet longest day of my life. 

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Yet, part of me feels lucky in a sense. I have never been particularly career oriented. I have never felt the need to have a job that is all consuming or looks good on a resumé. Instead, I would classify myself as more passion focused. I am deeply motivated by doing and acting according to my morals and values. And in turn, those have led me down some very interesting, fulfilling and educational paths. But most of the time, those routes have not been all that lucrative. So, when I had Kula, there was not really a moment when I felt pulled between a high powered job and taking care of her… well, at least in the beginning. That is not to say that I am itching to get back to some 9-5 profession, actually I feel quite fortunate that I have a flexible schedule and get to work from home. But what I am looking for is just a little something more. Something outside of being a mom and a maid. Something that will continue to make me feel like an individual that is still learning and growing in more ways than just motherhood. And I think that is perfectly normal. And should feel perfectly guilt free. 

From my mere six months as a mom I can already tell you there are just so many ways and versions, circumstances and ideas, iterations of motherhood that I cannot believe anyone feels the need to judge or compare themselves to others. I’ve just decided that what works best on my end is to ask for advice when needed, reach out with struggling, but mostly know that my version of this looks different than my neighbors, than that women at the grocery store, then that ‘perfect’ mom on instagram (she can’t be a real thing, right…?). I think the best course of action, for me, is to figure this whole thing out my way. What feels true and authentic to my way of life. And I kinda think that should be the motto of sorts for motherhood: you do you, and with a little support, I’ll try and survive my way over here!

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And when I think about all of this, I continually return to something my mom said to me one day, and I’m not sure she really knows how profound a piece of advice it was for me... she said: “But Erin, really... what’s more important than being able to be with this little creature?!” I don’t think, per say, she was looking for an explicit answer, it was more of a rhetorical question. But it turns out how I truly felt about that question was really quite simple. Obvious even. My answer was sitting right there, smack in the middle of my heart: Nothing. Absolutely nothing is more important.

So here I am. Still, and most likely continuously, trying to figure out how to be me, but a new version. One who’s priorities have shifted, who’s passions are in fact more intensified, one who wants to be better and bigger and more fully me. Minus all those pesky outside expectations, of course


The Untamed

I met a wolf once…

Submerged physically in ceremony, yet mind and body hyper aware, she introduced herself to me. We exchanged names, but for the time being that will stay precious between the two of us. As she approached it was immediate. I knew, as if this creature that stood before me were my own flesh, that we’d met before, that we were well acquainted even. Pack mates, soulmates, sisters, family. In fact, it felt as if she were a very part of me. A piece I had long forgotten, moved past, left behind. Yet there she stood, in the most amazing power. It was a moment of fascinating comfort, I couldn’t take my eyes off her, the sense of awe was almost crackling in the air. There wasn't a moment of thought, the ever moving cogs in my brain didn’t even start to whir… instead, it was a profound understanding that she was simply there, always had been, just on the outskirts, in my periphery. Whomever decided it was time for us to reconnect was right, I had missed her and meeting again was everything.

In my mind there is a distinct and marked, ‘before’ and ‘after’ in my life now. As if the world seemed almost flat and the colors muted. Remember those cardboard kaleidoscope toys we used to have as kids?… all those shapes and colors and the more you twisted the more intense the image would become… it was in that moment that the twisting stopped and a magical, intricate and iridescent mosaic in time opened up. We are small, yet purposeful creatures, seemingly constricted by our own brains and circling thoughts. In contrast, this wolf, was anything but confined. In fact, it is through her eyes that I was re-introduced to my innate wild woman self.

Yup. Sounds intense… and it was, all of it. But not the scary kind of intense that jolts you out of your current state of mind in a fractured, incomplete way. Instead it was this wise, knowing, comforting intense, assuring me that everything is going to be ‘ok’, that although this world might seem overwhelming at times, I am right where I’m supposed to be… and if you too are seeking, from a place of truth and honesty, you will find, or more like reconnect, with what your soul already knows.

What I learned during that encounter sticks with me, to my insides, all the way to today. It was a time in my life when I needed, badly, to ‘let go’ and receive what my soul was ready to hear, prepared to process, eager to incorporate into my life moving forward. And universe is so damn wise… When you stop pushing and pulling and just open, you can hear her speaking… right to you. And for me that came in the four-footed form. She showed me exactly what I needed to feel, what I already knew…

Women are inherently strong, powerful, expansive beings. We have a vast capacity to weather storms, experience joy, handle the deepest of heartache and love with no bounds. We have deep connections to one another and with the earth. It is when we forget, when we disconnect from our tribe that we feel weak, alone, small and powerless. Whenever we sense we might break, when our minds say ‘this is all too much’, we must reach out to our pack. They will be there for us… offering and sharing their unlimited energy, compassion and strength. This is how we women tap into that true limitless source of friendship and support. By asking… by finding each other again and reaching out.

Us wild women are always seeking, always sniffing the wind for data, trying to follow our instincts and use our cunning. It is a beautiful thing to be raw and real in this life. Willing to put yourself out there in the act of discovery. This is how we expand, heal, stretch our courage, reacquaint with our bravery and deepen our wisdom. We wild women are all made of the same gritty sinew, the same fearless blood and guts, the same tenacious soul parts. We are all sisters united by the same star dust.

That is what she wanted me to know… that I am never alone. Seasons come and go, moon cycles may pull and bend my energy, but I already have everything I need, right now in this moment. So never doubt, yes question, but never doubt if you are enough. Because we so so are, and much more.

I feel her sometimes, she likes to curl up beside me, calm and confident and courageous. And every time, without fail, I am reminded, more like infused, with her wild spirit, her lone stillness tethered to her deep connection to her surroundings and her tribe. It is then, almost reacting to her very breath, that I am reminded that I too possess those attributes, I too can count on my guts to lead me toward my path. What I know now that I didn’t before is that our spirits are forever, happily intertwined. We are both adventurous souls, graceful creatures, with beauty that carries our shared sense of history and self.

I feel her in my pulse

I feel her in my feet

I feel her in my instinct

She is there when I dance

She is there when I cry

She is there when I connect

 

She is my intuition. 

 

So… I met a wolf once… and now I know my truth.

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