Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Life boat for rent-- join us

2016 has been one long strange year.

My writing is less because this year has been held hostage by a very dear family member being kidnapped by brain disease and held for ransom. 

A nightmare.

There came a time that it was necessary for me to channel my energy into giving back or I was going to go crazy.

And out of that space-- Gang of Mums was born.

I had written a piece for elephant journal regarding parenting teens that had struck a cord with people. (you can read it HERE) and having worked in the helping field for 30 years I pondered just how little support actually exists for mothers of tween to teen age children.

Here's the thing. 

I was a counsellor in schools and a psychotherapist in private practice while I had kids in that age group and I remember the distinct feeling of-- who am I to be helping other folks when my ship is very wobbly with its nine inhabitants?

Yes, professionals in the field are human too and I fundamentally believe support for parents with kids in that age-group diminishes because the professionals are trying to keep their own lifeboat afloat (with teenagers rocking it attempting to turn it right over).

But here I am with our "straggler" Mr. 12 coming up from behind-- with our oldest turning 29. This time I'm not running for cover but have created a bigger lifeboat that will fit us all. 

It's called Gang of Mums.

Come join us at FACEBOOK. 

And follow pertinent and timely pieces about parenting that age group at the website: www.gangofmums.com .

Contact me at gangofmums@gmail.com if you are interested in a workshop/presentation for mums of tweens and teens (or heading that way).


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Compassionate lessons from a gorilla

Today, I awaken to more news of the parents being under a police investigation—and it hasn’t been determined yet if criminal charges will be placed. Following that, I read vile criticism continuing to mount toward the parent of the four-year old-boy for allowing this to happen.
As the previously linked writer stated, and I could attest as a professional who has worked with families from all walks of life and has also parented nine children—but for the grace of BeyoncĂ© go you or I.
As parents, we are all vulnerable to actions or oversights that could change our lives in one split second that, in hindsight, might have been avoided. That is the chalice we parents drink from and why so many parents struggle with anxiety—it’s a heavy chalice.
Read the rest HERE at elephant journal.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Parenting Teens: 7 ways to keep the peace.

Parenting is a different experience for each of the adults involved in a family system and exquisitely unique, depending on the child involved.

Every child is different, so hard and fast parenting guidelines do not always apply.
No one lovingly gazes down at their precious newborn baby and murmurs to themselves, “I wonder how many times that perfectly formed, delicate little finger will be flipping me off in the future…” 
Read the rest HERE at elephant journal.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Responding to Terrorism: be the peace

Dawn brought news of another devastating suicide bombing.

Sometimes I wonder how our world can continue at this massive rate of implosion.
I wonder how we can negotiate the ensuing waves of fear, anxiety and hate these attacks herald while continuing to live a mindful and compassionate life.
We are in a time when it is an act of violence to let our children see the graphic destruction shown on the news, precipitating the onslaught of innocent questions asked in the hope that they can be reassured that this, this carnage, can’t possibly happen to them. Ever.
Read the rest HERE

Friday, 1 April 2016

How to Practice the Law of Pure Potentiality when Life's a Big Mess

Does anyone else feel like 2016 is the overly negative, occasionally violent guest that you never really want to invite to your party?

My family has been whopped up side the head by 2016, just about from day one. Add to that scores of our musical heroes leaving the planet and an on onslaught of global terrorism—sometimes it feels like we are all riding one big hot mess disguised as a calendar year.
Read more here:

Sunday, 27 March 2016

for all the mom-writers out there

I know there are a good many of you who have managed to follow your passion for writing, even with a house full of kids and varying responsibilities. This is not for you.

Hey you. Who, like me, has juggled until your fingers feel like bruised nubs.

You, who wrote as a kid and knew you would always write.

You, who had high school teachers and college professors telling you, "you've got something– you must write."

You, who took the journey of many women before you and, try as you might to sit down and write your biggest project, let everything and everyone come first.

You, honey. This is for you.

I am a writer and I've been a writer all my life. 

Screw the rhetoric that makes me feel "less than" when I read off writers' credentials, the awards, the honours, the degrees and list of literary appointments. 

That will never be me.

Me–obtaining a nursing degree I was not so interested in, but thankfully allowed vast experience in mental health, and enabled me to work and support myself, paying my own way through university.

Me–choosing a career of helping others because I'd always been intrigued by people's complex stories. Yes, maybe I should have put the full-time effort into writing people's complex stories, but instead I made a career of helping people rewrite their stories so that their lives brought less pain to themselves and others. (crucify me)

Me–with my mate at 23, married by 25 and a mother to three by the age of 33, living a complex existence while working my socks off in mental health-- always squeezing writing in when I could-- but unfortunately most of that writing was to finish my BA and MA, each were completed (with honours) while nursing my first baby . . . and my last.

Me–divorced and remarried and now co-parenting a family of nine children as my little straggler boy was born when I was 43. Yes, 43. Throughout all of that I wrote. I wrote poetry sign-posting my journey, I wrote articles, I journaled, I blogged . . .  and then, finally, I started the book.  And finished it.

Let's talk about you, because I know most of you are like me.

Part of you feels guilty or "less than" because you know you are a writer, but you don't feel your portfolio says that you are a writer.

You hesitate to embrace the creative in yourself because everyone and everything else in this world seems to demand to come first.

I feel you honey.  I am you.

I am working hard to take care of myself and part of that is to take care of my writing, which is a marriage of sorts. A commitment.

I'm working at letting go of thinking I'm too old to be putting out queries for my first book– look at how prolifically these other ladies have written, who am I . . .– comparing myself to others' accomplishments that were simply not meant to happen in my lifetime.

After letting my book sit and be just for me, I've decided to uncage it to fly and see if anyone welcomes its wayward self into their window– while trying to ignore the inevitable comparisons to other writers that creep into my consciousness.

My life has taken difficult, varied and innumerable twists and turns; a fact I cannot change.  I bet yours has too.

But we can do this.

We can write. 

We can call ourselves writers.

We can put our words out into the world.

Sister, let go of the "shoulds" and "what ifs" and embrace the "why not," letting that tension go and getting to the work at hand.


Write for yourself.

Write for others.

And when you are too busy to write in the moment, make note of the brilliant idea that flickers in your mind or comes in a dream and sets you alight. 

And come back to it; she'll be waiting for you. 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

My Reward

Walking out to my little zen writing hut/office this morning, predawn, I was rewarded for the effort. The near full moon was still high in the dark sky. Besides the dogs that had gotten an early release from their kennels, and the bull frogs singing their morning song, it was silent. 

For moms especially, there is a sweetness to the still solitude that sweetly envelopes you on very early mornings– a reward for reluctantly bidding the soft caresses of your bed a fond adieu.  Admittedly, it can be a long reach for me to take the step into that space of self-care rather than rolling over for more sleep. 

I lit candles and incense.  Beckoned some centering energy and began writing. I tweeted a couple photos as the sun was rising over our rolling hills and the mist was hanging on for a tardy farewell. 

But this shot was my reward.  This shot is why returning tomorrow, flinging back the covers and hopping out of bed, will be easier than it was today. This, and the flow writing I was able to do as I work on my new book. 

Yes, I #amwriting.  



Friday, 25 March 2016

an unfinished story: after the book is written + before it is published

For over three years I have sat with a "finished" novel.

Meeting new writers in a new land, away from my nest of the woo-woo women writing group I called home, I was struck by how much focus seemed to be on getting published rather than writing a quality book/piece or the simple awe and hallelujah of the experience.

Running into people who had self-published, which involved having to spend thousands of dollars to buy hundreds of their own books, and go pedal them . . . something wasn't sitting quite write, er, right.  Authors sentenced to carrying a huge book crate shaped ball and chain, constantly feeling the pressure to recoup their investment.  Where was the love?

That bucket list book finished, I then went introspective. Who was I doing this for?  Why was I doing it? Fine, I wrote it and rode a big trippy high off the experience. Maybe that's enough. Maybe the true love of the art is about fully embracing that experience. It's ego wanting to put it out in the world, right? And how much feeding of ego do I really want to engage in?

The artistic drive for this project was fed by having spent a lifetime working with people dealing with various degrees of trauma, slaves to an unpredictable mind and having a topic that I couldn't get out of my head and was compelled to write about. I always knew I would. Someday.

But it wasn't pleasant.

Through the magic of using my professional experience and immersing myself in this person's world, riding bareback on their narrative, a horribly unpalatable topic rather magically flowed into a palatable (or bittersweet) understanding of how a very "nice" person could consider committing an unthinkable violent act toward her own child-- with an ending full of exhales and redemption-- involving layers of characters and stories such as those that follow us all through life.

While writing had been my escape and my therapy since childhood, this lengthier project was such a pleasant experience of getting lost in the process, I couldn't get enough of it. I had a vague direction– a question I wanted to answer– but wrote being carried by flow and the development of characters, feeling as if I was channeling the story.  It was a rush; a high. I loved every minute of it.

Then the beta-readers (who stated they loved it), the editing, the re-editing– all not as exciting as the writing but full of honouring the work– and that felt good. I wrote in first person which comes very natural to me, but from a literary context can provide its own challenge: will the reader (read agent or editor) find the writing compelling or unique or descriptive enough, while still being a believable first person narrative.

Enter Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic talk that she recently gave in Auckland. I had read in her book how she believes that there are only so many ideas to go around and if you sit on one too long, don't worry, someone else will snatch it up (as she described had eerily happened to her in the past). And how it is really Mr. Fear that is what stands in the way of moving forward with your creativity.

So the next day, I researched a list of agents. And the next week I started sending queries out. These queries were so much better than the drafts I had put together four years ago because I didn't just ask Mr. Fear to sit in the back seat, I asked him to get out of the car.

Yes, it is no small feat to put yourself out there with a challenging topic.  I've already heard from one great agent, "honestly, I don't want to read about this topic, but I'm sure someone else will."  And yes, thus far one very reputable agent has asked for a full manuscript with requests from two publishing houses as well, which I will hold on until I'm sure no agents will represent me.

For now? I'm chuffed that a reputable agent has asked to read my manuscript. Full stop. I hope to hear from more– or from her again.  But what if I don't?

As Elizabeth Gilbert says, much more eloquently than this: you write.  You write because it is your first love. You write because you are a writer.  You write because it is your art and your creative outlet and it would be cruel to withhold that from yourself.

I write because that is when the answers come.  Answers to "who am I?" "What am I really doing here?" And sometimes more pertinent and timely answers to what is going on in my life.

I write because as a mom to many and wearer of many hats– writing is when I feel most me.

I write because I can't not.

My job now is to further honour the place writing has in my life and make more consistent structured time to do so: foster the flow, gifting writing with more space.  And to let go of self-judgment and allow the process of putting myself out there manifest the outcome that is meant to be.

Friday, 26 February 2016

About being Naked . . .

This piece of mine is published on elephant journal-- 

I May Just Swim Naked--

When do the delicious folds of baby fat become judgment ridden cues for self-deprecation?

My early memories of being told to cover my body are still vivid; the “hide your nakedness” message clearly left a lasting impression on me.
As a small child I vigilantly followed parental instructions.
Cover myself.
Must cover myself.
In the locker room seeing a variety of inhibition and disinhibition I was, foremost, covering myself.
Forever embarrassed to show my naked body. Must cover myself.)
Not looking like the models in the ads. (Must cover myself.)
Fearing being made fun of. (Must cover myself.)

Sunday, 21 February 2016

A Tribute: The Profound Impact of Harper Lee.

Life as a child was probably toughest between the ages of 10 and 13.

Living in a household that was tumultuous with the constant threat of violence, I began to realise that life really shouldn’t be this hard—but I also knew that I was too young to do anything about it.
These were the years before the “must sleep as late as possible hormones” kicked in and my most effective and treasured escape was to wake up early and grab a book from my headboard, which also served as a book shelf, and read until I was forced to get out of bed.
There must have been other books, but the ones I remember being my repeat go-to reads were To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn.
Please click HERE to read the rest of my piece published on elephant journal.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Parenting Bill of Rights

You have the right to guiltless sleeping in and napping for the entirety of your life—if the opportunity ever presents itself.

The endless interrupted sleep of parenting has paid this debt. Never question yourself. You are not a sloth. Get thee recumbent.
You have the right to carry an invisible permission slip to say “no.” No, you do not have to volunteer for every task at your child’s school. No, you do not have to be the person everyone depends on as back up for childcare or transport. No explanation needed. Just no. I’m sorry, I can’t.
(read more of this article published on elephant journal HERE)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Hello 2016: meet Radical Self-Care

Bliss Farm
Radical self-care. 

The term keeps popping up.  

There's even a radical self-care website.

And I love their quote: Radical self-care is about dancing with vulnerability and strength along the continuum between selfless and selfish. 

Read more HERE

Friday, 21 August 2015

for those who suffer silently. . .

to stand like a tree and bend gently in the wind without breaking

to flow like the sea, accepting waves of discomfort but welcoming relief with open heart

to shine like the sun, finding the light within-- even in the midst of the most brutal storm

to be grounded in sound earth feeling the energy of those that have walked before and who walk with you now

to feel fire within you when the chill of life overtakes and energy wanes

to listen deeply to yourself and hear your needs when no others are there to hear to your voice 

to hold yourself so very gently and rock away everything within you that feels less than whole

to be one with all that is light and love and know deep within yourself that you are worthy

and to feel the love that you have given so freely to others knowing without question you are love and that love is the essence of life

and may it be so

Thursday, 20 August 2015

If I Could Talk to the Animals: healing & learning through animal connection

Animal connection to facilitate establishing trust requires a deep centring; getting the words in our head out of the way.  

It is an area I have tried to intuitively practice with my horses, but have now started on a learning path that I'm feeling so pleased to have found.

The bare bones of that practice is actually a foundation that I was inherently practicing-- with a relative degree of success. 

Now I'm hoping with the skills I am learning, I can get this down to more of an accurate understanding of their needs and connection with the horses that will enhance the therapeutic experience I can give my clients.

For fifteen years I've held a 2nd degree Reiki attunement, with another first degree attunement from an additional teacher, that I've never put on a practice shingle or a resume or my linked in profile; it is something I have incorporated into my everyday life. I've used it with family and myself, but most regularly on my horses.  

So when I discovered this gentle teacher and his methodology, I was pleased to see that Reiki had something to do with his fundamental connection with animals as well. 

You know that "coming home" feeling you get when you've been wanting some answers and you sit with the right person and the just-right information flows as if it is making a direct connection to your heart and soul?  

That's what the message of his work does for me.

Lately I've been working on my communication with my horses more intently and my husband has observed a couple of times when the horses have been in one of the large paddocks, spread out, and I'm trying to get them to a specific gate to go to another area.  

Calming myself, I basically will them to go where I want them to go.  And to my surprise-- as much as his-- they have taken off in a gallop exactly where I want them, led by my horse, Yorkie. 

It was a difficult task to keep my mouth from falling open as my husband asked me, "how did you do that?"  

Granted, it hasn't always been so simple to gather the herd, in fact it has been hard work at times, and I'm sure it will not always work with such ease.  

But when it does . . . it is magical.

Last night they followed my intuitive direction again, and my 11 year old son observed.  I heard him running into the house saying to his dad, "Mom is doing magic with the horses."

I've always known I wanted to incorporate the horses in my work with people if the opportunity presented itself. 

Not in a riding way. I'm not a riding expert. I ride for connection and pleasure. "Real" riders have a hay-day with my riding methodology I'm sure.

My horses are about relationship.  

The teacher has stated that at one point he had to stop riding his horses because he didn't feel like it was respectful of them anymore-- and I totally get that.

And each of our horses gives us a different kind of relationship and communication style and love. 

At the very least, I've known that Ringo, the miniature horse we have had since he was around six months old, would provide an opportunity for connection and love. 

Miniature horses are just that: horses.  

They still hold all of the characteristics of their bigger relatives which is why Ringo is such a little miracle. 

Ringo is brave and bold, yet sweet and kind. 

The first time he got on a float (horse trailer) he walked right on without missing a beat, which isn't average horse behaviour. 

Ringo comes right up for big love and is a huge communicator. I don't think I've ever seen him startle. And it's a pleasure to watch him work on his relationship with the bigger horses. 

There is so much learning and joy and healing available just in our little wee Ringo.

Yesterday I went out and had three different (what I call) "centring sessions" with the horses, but I did it a bit differently than I ever had, trying to completely clear my mind and becoming totally heart centred.

Each time my Yorkie came over to me.  

And each time we just stood together.  

And each time, he took this mouth and placed in on top of my head and rubbed me repeatedly. 

No teeth, no roughness, extremely gentle loving caresses. 

He was giving back some what I give him--and call me crazy-- I could feel the love. (consider: he doesn't have anything but hooves to work with-- using his mouth to rub me was his way of caressing me as I do him-- and I'm tearing up just writing this)

This week one of my clients was leaving and all the horses were gathered up by the fence as if to say good-bye as I walked down to open the gate for her. She stopped, turned her car off and got out.

I pointed to the corner of the upper paddock and told my client of an experience the horses had that is testimony to how deeply they feel and how deeply they think:

Wire is apparent on Shania's right side. And note little Ringo helping
One day, my son and I were pulling out of the driveway to get him to his school bus and we noticed that all of the horses were standing in a corner of the paddock at our entry gate.  He and I were in awe-- oh look, how sweet that they are there as a family.  When I returned about twenty minutes later, they were still there. Initially I again thought, how sweet (and took this photo).  But then I thought, hmm, I better go check.  I found that Shania, who was in the very corner, had somehow gotten the top wire-- the electrical wire, that wasn't on-- off and wrapped over her head and neck. This was a thin wire that could have decapitated her had she become spooked. And Shania is a Paso Fino, a breed known for their "brio," their spirit. Seeing her previous reactions when she's felt trapped or the time the feed bucket caught to her halter, I know full well her reaction would have been to completely freak-- running to get away. But my Yorkie knows her too and was calmly standing right behind her to block her in so she wouldn't hurt herself. I'm absolutely positive that his intention was to save her.  Ends up when I spoke with my husband, they had been in that corner long before when he'd left for work. No telling how long Yorkie had held Shania there. He saved her life. 

I looked back at my client and there were tears streaming down her face.

I said, "Aw, the horses have touched you and we haven't really even interacted with them yet."

Her response, "They are just such majestic beings."

And they are.  

And it is a privilege to be in their presence. 

And the least I can do is calm myself, honour their presence and really listen to them. 

And I reckon we might as well try that with each other as well, aye?

                           James French

Monday, 10 August 2015

good morning dark, good morning light

Here I am at day 1 of 40 after the Habit Hacking workshop with Kara-Leah Grant that I attended on Saturday.  

It's not the writing every day for 40 days that I am actually practicing as my habit-- it is getting out of bed by 6:30 every morning to have time for myself to practice some self-care. 

Of course while pondering what habit I would choose for my project, during our workshop, I first went to  . . . I want to start being able to get my yoga and exercise and writing and meditation in every day (ahem, reach for the sky), but when I peeled those layers back in the workshop, the main thing was that I get into the routine of getting up in time to accomplish some self-care before the rest of my day takes off with me.  

Any self-care.  

I actually want to be up at 5:30 am, but to be gentle on myself I have stated by 6:30 am as my "official" goal.  Then 6:30 am can actually feel like sleeping in on the mornings that it is really difficult to get out of bed (wink, wink).

I had my alarm set for 5:45 am this morning, morning #1, and I was awake of my own accord at 5:27 am. 

And here I am.  

Last night I had draped my robe over the heated towel rack, because being chilly is a reason that I might keep myself in bed longer-- even if I am awake.  It is winter in New Zealand.  I'm in the the Northland which is the "winterless North" but the chill can still settle in very deeply in the mornings.

As I start this habit, I've actually put no concrete expectation out for the exercise portion.  It is there if I find I have the time and want to do it-- and yes-- I would love that to be an outcome of this daily practice, but for now?  I'm pampering myself on these early adventures. 

Right now I am sitting under the toasty heat pump, a warm cup of java by my side with a three-wick candle glowing just beyond the top of my computer screen and low mood lighting whispering, "hey, you are special enough to use electricity even before the sun is up and we have to actually pay for it vs being solar generated" (long story, that's my inner extremely frugal child speaking-- but suffice it to say, and Kiwis will get it, paying for my electricity is a pamper) as I'm wrapped up in my warm robe with a thick pair of wool socks on.  

It's as if I've received myself into loving mother-arms for getting out of bed early.

Rewarded with what I love to do, but haven't made much time for-- free writing. All is feeling really well right at this moment.

As I find myself writing "out of bed" I want to remind myself, this goal isn't in response to the fact that I have been a righteous lazy goose. 

Since the move into our new bedroom which is totally open to the outdoors, I generally do awaken with the sunrise.  It is the act of getting out of bed as soon as I awaken that I want to add to the process. 

Most mornings I do a meditative welcoming of the day and intention setting and then look at emails and FaceBook to see if my U.S. family, who have been up half the day already, have any news for me (or cute photos to look at). 

As I really unfolded my reasoning about my reluctance to hop out of bed first thing in the morning while in the workshop process, I realised that as a child, being in my bed and controlling the time I could get out of it (when I was able to) was a great source of autonomy for me-- an act that probably helped me develop a sense of self. On my bed I would read and write stories and letters-- some of the primary forms of escape for me-- that is the time and place I read Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird ad nauseam in my pre-teen years. 

So I believe there was an inherent underlying belief that having some sacred time "in my bed" as often as possible was a supplement act of self-care.

And that is beautiful.  And I honour that I have continued to subconsciously take care of myself in that way.  But now I want to develop a new way that feels more in line with where I am now and what I want my self-care to look like.

I think it is important to acknowledge that when "self-care" starts leaving you with feelings of guilt, it isn't really the optimal way to be caring for yourself, you have your cue to further explore if the act is actually meeting your self-care needs. (ahem, that extra glass of wine and other indulgences could fall into that column)

So here I go . . . this is feeling really good.  My husband just woke up-- it is 6:20 am now and said, "Hmmm, what are you doing up?"  "Writing."  "Oh, nice."

One pattern I am mindfully breaking here is announcing that I am doing this to get up and exercise as he sees a need for him to be doing that as well and soon, a less than mature competition or prodding can start to ensue-- cue sarcastic tone here-- "well I didn't see you on the elliptical this morning" returned with same tone, "yeah, well I'll get on after you . . ."  


That well-intentioned, supposedly light-hearted teasing game has never felt good to me. And, I realised it could trigger me to self sabotage in an effort of, "I'm doing this or NOT doing this for me, not you."

Proactive vs reactive is something I have always tried to preach to clients and myself. And by keeping that an overarching guiding principal when choosing my habit to begin, it led me to carefully pull back the layers to make more room for this practice to be surrounded by warmth and self-compassion.

And just now?  

Here comes the sun, barely showing the first hint of its waking self. 

Thank you friend.

              *     *     *     *     *   *

Highly recommend:
Kara-Leah Grant's Habit Hacking Workshop. Check out her work. She's an excellent presenter, full of knowledge and heart. This blog post is to honour her & the work she is putting into the Universe to facilitate meaningful change in people's lives. You can find her here at Yoga Lunchbox.  

Mind you this isn't (necessarily) about yoga, Kara has packaged the "secrets" of mental and emotional shifts and wellbeing into her workshop.  And stay tuned for when it comes out as a book!

Addendum: This didn't start out to be a blog post-- just free writing, but here I am at 7:00 am and posting this.  I think I'm going to like this new habit.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

why we could all use a little structure in our lives

Twenty-seven years ago as a semi-hippie-wanna-be-earth-mama, I gave birth to my first born.

As many of my generation and elephant journal readers will relate to, I eschewed the concept of structure.

There was no way I was putting my baby on the common and strict every four hour feeding schedule: I would nurse her on demand. Our walks outside wouldn’t be the same time every day: we’d explore nature at varying times, when the mood struck.

And so forth.

Structure felt like another word for “the man,” “establishment,” “authority”— a host of entities many of us attempt to turn our backs on so we can walk on some perceived higher ground.

Visualize this new mother in her white eyelet nightgown, awake and nursing her young baby multiple times during the chilly winter night. The final time she sits in the old fashioned wooden rocker, snuggling her gorgeous baby to her breast, a lovely soft angora throw around her chilled shoulders, bare feet feeling the cold hardwood floors beneath her and trying not to let the rocker creak so her her partner might sleep uninterrupted.

Yes, that was the semi-painless and ever so lovely scene I had imagined in my mind’s eye but roll that scene on a bit further and include the edits on the cutting room floor—every time I put the baby down she cries and having read up on attachment parenting there is no way leaving that innocent being to “cry it out” could be humane.

No one told me about the physical cringe I would feel at the sound of my baby crying—as if, very deep inside, it was physically piercing my heart.

I rocked. And I rocked. And I rocked . . .

Continue reading on elephant journal by clicking: HERE

Friday, 10 April 2015

Sleep: the final frontier to mind-body health

Trouble sleeping?

If so, you are not alone. Difficulty with sleep, often due to an overactive mind, is extremely common. Adults who go too long without sleep compromise their immune system and emotional wellbeing. Sleep deprivation contributes to postpartum depression, psychosis and mania.
Thus restful sleep is a vital ingredient in optimal mind and body health, and it needs to be on everyone’s self-care list.
Below, I offer a few sleeping tips that have helped me, my family and my clients.
Continue reading at elephant journal by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

inner bliss: a resource for women and children

Kia ora--

As the universe's energies align with the weekend's equinox, which will be accompanied by a solar eclipse, it is a great time to announce this energetic shift in my life which is committed to helping others get in touch with their inner bliss.

After four years of living in New Zealand, and the personal transformation that has come through being immersed in this multi-faceted culture--professionally and personally--I feel confident that now is the time to bring this practice to life.

With a very limited number of appointments available, I hope to provide a service for women and children who may find themselves falling between the cracks of services currently available and feel inner bliss may be right for them.

If so moved, feel free to check out www.innerblissnow.com to learn more about inner bliss and feel free to share.  Personal referrals are the best!


Friday, 27 February 2015

death knocks

Janma and first BBE: Rachel Otwell
We have been a very lucky family.

Death has not visited often, but it came this week.

With age, I thought I had better processed the whole circle-of-life conundrum and neatly wrapped it in the rationalisation that, yes, death will come to us all; death is inevitable and to be honoured as another life stage, traversed with openness and dignity. 

And in fact, in instances of suffering, death may be welcomed.

And I still believe that.

But today I am reminded of how there really is no death where love lives.

When we love someone strong and hard and true, their lives are imprinted within our hearts; they become a very real part of our energetic being.

This week the world lost an amazing woman, Jan Otwell of Evanston, Illinois.

Jan's personal and professional accolades are many, but what will live on is how she touched the hearts of all that knew her.

For a good long while, Jan was my mother-in-law; she never once put our mutual love and respect on pause as it morphed into a new label which later included "adopting" my later-in-life child.

"He's our adopted grandchild," she proclaimed, remembering his birthday and Christmas with gifts (always a thoughtfully chosen book) and treasuring seeing him at family gatherings and visits.

That ten year old son's sentiments upon hearing of her death summed up the success of her adoption-- after heartfelt sobs he proclaimed, "I love her.  I don't care what anybody says, she was my grandma too."

I'm left being flooded with memories that highlight just how significant Jan was in my life-- meeting her thirty years ago, I felt so old at age twenty three. A young woman--in love with her son--who had never before stepped foot in Chicago, let alone been exposed to the life and happenings that accompanied Jan and her husband Ralph's impressive tenure.

The flashes I have now include my faltering steps at prestigious dinner functions, looking to Jan so I could follow her graceful lead, but mostly the memories are of the relaxed and hell-of-a-lot-of-fun Jan.

I see her kicked back on a sailboat on Lake Michigan, tan legs propped up, laughing her gorgeous giggle. 

I vividly recall the holidays in the kitchen as we cooked together.  Seeing a standing rib roast for the first time in my life and learning from the master of organisation the timing of the dinner.  

Making beds together while she shared her heart with me.  Her bicycling to our house in Springfield from her work apartment for regular visits.  

And getting to hang out with her and the "political activist Thelma" to her "Louise"--Ethel Gingold--was an amazing privilege.  Human rights warriors both, to be present for their stories was a lesson in history and change-making, as well as how to make mouthwatering chopped chicken livers or plan a great party all tossed about over a nice glass of wine. 

These were well-rounded women with infinite wisdom.

Jan was a great story teller and would delight at sharing her daily adventures with a flair that made it read like a children's page turner-- a genre of which she was particularly fond.  

For many years, Jan regularly drove to the east coast, alone, (and for a period of time in a very smart little Camaro) to visit her elderly high school English teacher with whom she had kept in contact.  

Jan was a giver.

Having three sons she adored, while also nursing a bit of longing for a daughter, Jan was quite open with the fact that she enjoyed having another female in the family and little did she know how much she was a mother to me.  Coming from a rural upbringing, I learned so much about how to walk in that new space from her.  

And then the delight when her first grandchild, a girl, arrived still lights my heart.  She nick-named our less-than-placid little beauty BBE (best baby ever) and in her mind all of her grandchildren have held that perfect love-shaped space in her heart.

With the death of one so dear, I find the circle of life highlighted.  And I give thanks that Jan Otwell's boundless energy has been a part of my life, imparting a loving father and amazing grandparents for my dear children, and being a second mother to me.  

A "city mother" counterpart to my lovely "country mother" who Jan also loved dearly.

At times like these, my words are the tears that clumsily attempt to articulate the many emotions I am trying to process.

One thing is for certain: Jan was a lover of words.

Here are links to words in the Chicago Sun-Times and Springfield State Journal-Register that tell more details of Jan Otwell's beautiful life.

Rest easy Jan and thank you for the love you gave us.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Little Brother

Our dear Luke Henry is in the sky and shared this before he flew. "We'll be driving mom insane . . ." Bring it on . . .  sweet as:

I'm at the airport about to fly to New Zealand and hang out with my family, which is exactly what this song is about. Great timing! Thanks to Benjamin at DZ and his bunch for putting this together. Thanks to the Rabbitfoot boys for killin' it always. See you when I get back friends!!

Oh my! And then I came across this . . . hang on, it's not just an instrumental: