The Nature of Nurturing Attachment

The Nature of Nurturing Attachment

We just got home last night from a week of gorgeous ocean air and family beach play down in West Sonoma County. It was such a sweet relief to escape the smoke for a bit. It was a tender time for us as well, as we all stretched open wider into these deepening bonds.
 
This was the first time in a year Wilder and I became ready for him to be carried in the pack on my front body, and as we walked the long stretch of beach he snuggled so deeply into my Mama bosom and heart. I’ve carried him in the pack on my back since I met him, but there’s a particular intimacy in carrying a child on the front, snuggled close into the belly and chest. It invokes a delicious feeling of primal connection and sacred togetherness.
 
It’s been an utterly profound, humbling, and at times deeply painful process this past year to allow the attachment between Wilder and I to organically find itself; claiming our mammalian cells and human hearts. Creating secure attachment as a mother to Arayla and Ezra was a process I was able to completely take for granted. Our attachment felt (and feels) like a divine given; as natural, simple and enduring as love itself.
 
And yet creating secure attachment with our beloved Wilder— this child I did not consciously wish for, nor conceive, nor grow inside my womb, nor birth, nor nurse from my breasts— has been an altogether different journey. It has asked for unending patience with myself, maturity, careful listening and deep respect for Wilder’s process.
 
With all the layered complexity and inner conflict my Mama presence has invoked for his heart at times, learning to feel safe and bonded in our love has taken a lot of courage for both of us. Maybe that’s why it feels particularly special when I can feel the trust opening and deepening between us; when I can feel this primal unmistakable presence of maternal love for him surging raw within me; when I can feel it moving into the realm of “a divine given; as natural, simple and enduring as love itself.”
 
What a fierce teacher and teaching this has been! Allowing our bonding to take its own path, form and timing— has broken, opened, seasoned and wisened my heart like no other relationship. I’ll be writing more about this potent and vulnerable topic, I’m certain. 
 
For now I’ll simply say: here’s to Love in all its wild and wily forms and the many wondrous ways Love brings us to our knees, so as to grow us up into the very one we want to be! 
Smoky Grateful Boredom Breakthroughs

Smoky Grateful Boredom Breakthroughs

My son Ezra and I had a glorious breakthrough about boredom a few days ago, and I’m inspired to share it with you, in case it just might be contagious. (And no, it wasn’t about boredom breeding creativity or genius or whatever it was someone wise once said, though I’m sure that’s totally true too. ;-))

It all started when I found myself navigating a serious Saturday morning funk. These weeks of unending smoke in our valley— making the children stir-crazy in full-blown complaint— were really starting to get to me. Along with the simple challenge of needing to keep our active kids inside, it was consequently invoking a seemingly endless battle with Ezra about screen-time. The combination of his restless agitation and a constant vying for passive entertainment was becoming as exhausting for my ears as it was excruciating for my heart.

I’d also had a nasty headache on and off for days, and was pining for the personal space needed to work on my book. It was all feeling rather depressing and maddening. In my pain I began getting grouchy with my beloveds~ stingy with kindness, nit-picky, critical, and sloppily tossing around my agitated scowl.

Thankfully I finally overheard and oversaw myself, noticed the essential choice at hand, and realized an immediate attitude shift was in order. I escaped momentarily into the privacy of our master bedroom, took a cleansing shower, and then softly and deeply invoked the remembrance of gratitude.

Oh my, oh wow, thank you. Thank you for the sweet truth medicine of Thank You. How it changes everything!

I dropped through the sticky layers of emotional discontent, all my wants and un-wants, and simply let my guard down— to myself, to the smoke, to the day. I looked around my bedroom through these fresh-seeing eyes of my heart and gasped to notice white gladiolas standing tall in elegant bloom on our bedroom altar!

I had placed them there myself, two days earlier, but I hadn’t really seen them until now. Oh the gift of seeing flowers offering their open bloom~ what an honor this is! And just like that, I found my heart flooded with humble thankfulness for the abundantly blooming love and beauty of this lifetime.

I took a deep breath and knew I needed to go out there and meet my amazing boy Ezra and his restless struggle in an utterly new way.

I found him in the living room and wrestled him into lying on one of our healing mats. I started giving him some bodywork~ shiatsu style~ really working his meridians, reveling in the powerful trust between us. I even sat on top of him while I massaged his points, giving him something tangible to struggle against. Ezra’s such an incredibly embodied being and I knew if I could help him move his physical stagnancy, it would immediately loosen up his emotional energies as well.

It was then, while I sat on top of him, smooshing and trapping him, working his heart, lung and large intestine meridians, that Ezra and I stumbled into a fairly fabulous breakthrough about boredom.

It went something like this:

Ezra, sincerely irritated, his face scowling with aversion, whined: “It’s just because I’m SOOOOOO BORED, Mom.”

How many times have I heard this plaint of boredom? But for some reason this time, freshly cleansed by true gratitude, I just dove freely into it with him.

I said, “Oh my God, I know. Me too! I’ve NEVER been more bored than this. Ugh~ what a boring day and boring life. It’s the most awful thing in the world to be SO BORED.”

Ezra seemed shocked by my response. He was incredulous: “Well I’m even more bored than that! WAY more bored than you. Like, the most bored EVER!!”

I retorted: “Impossible. I’m the most bored person of all! And, you know what? YOU are the most boring! Wow oh wow this is just SOOO BORING.” I yawned loudly for emphasis.

Ezra, looking horrified, but a slight smile starting to appear, squealed: “What? Me~ boring? How DARE you?!”

I guffawed: “Oh my God. Truly? This is the most boring conversation I’ve ever had! I mean— talking on and on about being bored? What could be more boring than this? It’s the worst! I’ve never been more bored in my life!”

Ezra, laughing hard: “YOU are so boring! YOU are the MOST boring person and this is the MOST boring day, and the most boring Summer EVER. And this is the most boring thing to even talk about! God, Mom!”

By now he was giggling madly, squirming as my meridian work turned into deep tickles in his ribs. I was still sitting on him, giving him as much weight as possible to push against.

I gave another exaggerated yawn, patting my mouth, saying loudly: “BOR-ING!”

Ezra, wailing with laugher, cried out: “We are the MOST BORED!!”

Laughing too, my heart so deeply glad, I agreed wholeheartedly: “Truly, we are bored beyond belief.”

We grinned at each other.

Then I said, “Can I take a picture of you being SO unbelievably bored?” I grabbed my phone and took his picture. He howled with laughter. Then I showed him the picture and said: “This is you, bored out of your mind. Looks pretty fun, huh? Maybe we should try to get bored more often?” 😉

Ezra took my picture then as well, saying: “This is you being the most boring Mom a boy could ever have.” His undying fondness for me was oozing from his shining blue eyes.

Iit

From that moment on, we decided we rather fancied being bored. I suppose we discovered the gem of not resisting it?

I mean how many times have the kids complained of being bored, usually invoking some fleeting mixture of irritation, futility and helplessness, imagining I was then supposed to think up something great for them to do, or generously remind them of their capacity for creative brilliance?

How fabulous instead to just be completely bored and boring and let this wild moment of fresh presence trample all over it.

How wondrous to remember the transformational power of simply allowing something to be. And to remember how easily a challenging dynamic can shift— with a little rapport, openhearted humor, and a refusal to insist that it shift.

So here’s to finding gratitude in the grumpiest, scowliest moments, and to discovering the riveting nectar of absolute boredom!

A Year of Leaning In

A Year of Leaning In

A couple of weeks ago Orionne and I celebrated our one year anniversary! What a meaningful threshold for us to cross. And what a profound year of leaning in it has been. We met (re-met) one year ago in July and immediately bowed in to a most extraordinary love. We bought and renovated a home, moved in together, and bravely surrendered to the bittersweet complexity of blending our families.

What a mystery this leaning in business is?! How much I’ve learned and gathered and received by listening to the commands of my innermost knowing.

How could I have known, a little over 16 months ago, that listening to that inner command of moving our family to Ashland would so radically change my life, blossom my heart, forever altering my experience of home and family?! I couldn’t have. I’m just thankful that somehow I knew enough to listen, deeper than my fear and resistance and attachments and preferences, to what I knew was a trustworthy compass, guiding my life into its next perfect season.

In this year of leaning in, I’ve seen that listening and courageously responding to the tides of change—dutifully following what guides us, making of ourselves an irresistible target for Grace—does not mean life suddenly gets easy or manageable or uncomplicated!

Saying yes to more love and more life usually means also saying yes to more mess and more tests of faith and patience; it usually means more ways Life gets to stretch our hearts wider open, simply for Love to have its way with us.

For many months we have been navigating a harrowing personal situation tenderly impacting the heart of our home and union. We have all been fiercely worked at the very edge of our soul growth, challenged to rapidly and continuously evolve, to keep opening to love in the face of these painfully tricky tests and trials Life has asked us to meet.

Crisis has such a way of showing us what we are made of, right? Through leaning in again and again, (as opposed to running as fast as we could for the nearest exit!) we have both been invited into newfound reservoirs of honesty, clarity and compassion for us all.

I’m being poetic, and intentionally vague for the sake of privacy, but my point is~ true relationship is incredibly hard work, on purpose! If we let it, it can’t help but fiercely awaken and humble us in just the ways our souls most desire.

In rising to the occasion of what our union has invited us to embrace, we are rewarded by a love that is as strong, committed, resilient and resourceful as it is breathtakingly true to the truth.

Every opportunity to deepen in self-awareness, to be kinder to ourselves and one another, and true to Love~ is nothing less than a precious gift. And what an astounding beauty to find myself with a partner who not only knows this, but beckons and models this with inspiring consistency.

The older and wiser and more humbled I have become, I’ve come to recognize that my greatest challenge and steepest assignment in this lifetime is leaning all the way in to Love.

Surrendering to this Love that I am—it’s truly all I want, what I love most of all, what I live for. And yet to really, completely lean in to this ruthless inclusivity of love and life, to say YES to it all, just as it is? This is utterly annihilating.

I don’t mean just this romantic, relational love; though, yes, love in all its true forms is annihilating. But what I mean is that this deep, vast, impersonal, essentially un-nameable truth of our beings, to which I’m fondly referring here as Love, wants to claim us and our entire lives so profoundly, leaving nothing but LOVE in its wake! In my perception, the greatest task of union is to provide us with an exquisitely annihilating, everyday opportunity to lean in to this Love we are.

Beloved, thank you. Thank you for leaning into love with me, and for letting our union be devoted to this Great Love to which it all surrenders, returns and belongs.

Thank you for meeting me in the immediacy and depth of our original YES, and for the courage of your continuous yes to me, to us, to our family and all our life together entails`~ from the most gorgeously delicious to the most tedious, trying and at times terrible!

Thank you for stretching wider open to this love with yourself; for the wisdom of self-compassion and self-responsibility you align with again and again. It’s super HOT! 😉 Thank you for your exceptional patience with me, your startling goodness, your extraordinary innocence, your quiet brilliance, your stunning devotion. Gosh.

You inspire me, delight me, crack me up and turn me on in so many ways. Thank you for pushing me up against the wall and for lifting me up in your strong arms to find the dark chocolate you’ve hidden in the highest cupboards! Oh, my.

Thank you for the way you challenge me to trust love more, to love life more, to continuously open to the lotus blooming majestically from muddy waters.

This incomparable way you have my back so I can bring my truest medicine to the world arrives like a long-awaited wind beneath my wings. You make me want to blossom eternally, to give everything to Love’s grace, because I want you to have the very best woman Love could bring you.

I treasure our magnificent life, our precious family, our holy union. I’m so blessed by your love. And I surrender. <3

Reporting From The Heart of Fire Season

Reporting From The Heart of Fire Season

What a particularly challenging and poignantly vulnerable life experience it is to be living through another fire season in the Pacific Northwest. Each year it seems to come earlier and more ferociously than the last.

Experiencing these blatant repercussions of severe imbalance in our eco-system is sobering and heart-wrenching. At times it is difficult to not feel downright panicky.

Continuously following the progress and containment of many nearby wildfires asks of us a particular kind of vigilance, one that rubs up against our mammalian drive to stay safe and keep our kids alive. It’s a unique flavor of stress when we feel these fires encroaching on our precious town and other nearby communities.

Looking around our house and imagining what we’d grab if we only had 20 or 30 minutes before needing to evacuate brings a unique perspective on our relationship with objects, illuminating what carries the most value for us. To have our fire-safe packed with all the most important documents brings a simultaneous sense of preparedness and unsettledness. How odd that this has become the new normal?

Preparing the older children for the real possibility of evacuation, without scaring them beyond reason, asks us to meet and hold it all from a particular quality of centered calm that is difficult in moments to authentically embody.

Reading the true horror stories of precious people, families who didn’t have time to flee, who were not warned in time, and found themselves suddenly engulfed and claimed by the fires~ brings such an ominous sense of sorrowful concern. We leave our phones on at all hours in case we were to receive sudden notification of needing to evacuate.

And then there’s the smoke. Last year we were more casual in our family about consistently wearing high quality masks, and within a few weeks we all had deep respiratory inflammation and signs of liver stress. This year we are being much more cautious. We stay inside as much as possible and are incredibly privileged to have central air conditioning and high quality air purifiers running in our home. Whenever we leave our home we wear our masks, and even the children don’t resist. They say that if they take them off their lungs hurt.

I think of all the many local folks who do not have a way to breathe clean air through this season, and feel deeply concerned for the short and long term impact for us all.

Orionne has been watering the land around our house daily, keeping things as wet as possible. In the last few days he cut down and hauled away many tall trees that were dead and brittle-dry, obvious fire-fuel standing precariously close to our house. I feel so grateful for his incredible competence and hard work, and am amazed to discover what it takes to soothe and comfort me in this season.

We had a major power-outage late at night a few nights ago in our neighborhood that lasted until dawn. We’ve heard this can commonly occur when there’s a lot of smoke~ something to do with the shift in condensation. Wilder and Arayla slept through it, but Ezra got scared and came to sleep in our bedroom.

I lay in bed trying to sleep that night, feeling the collective anxiety creeping in and communal PTSD from all the annihilating fires of these last years—in Lake, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties and really all up and down the state of California—the devastating fires that violently leveled countless neighborhoods of Santa Rosa last fall, destroying over 2800 homes and killing 22 people.

The deadly Carr Fire that has been burning in Redding, CA 130 miles south of us for the last 9 days, as of today is still only 35% contained. They say because of the record-high heat and force of the flames, the fire is creating its own 25 mph winds to fuel itself, and a new weather phenomenon, called “firenados” is occurring. Yes~ a fire-tornado; as scary as it sounds. So far the Carr fire has torched over 121,000 acres, destroyed over 1500 structures and claimed at least 6 lives.

It’s so obvious how we share a collective mind-stream and nervous system, and how painfully we feel in our cells the trauma and losses others have suffered and are suffering right now. At times when I look outside at the trees in our yard, covered in a thin layer of ash, I think I sense them trembling in empathic concern.

What times these are, my loves. And of course it’s not just the fires. What of the numerous earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis of recent years? The effects of climate change are ruthlessly making themselves known, impacting every corner of our world.

And what of the horrifying political climate; the living nightmares so many dear humans are facing at this time, simply trying (and failing) to find a safe place to be in this world?

My heart truly aches and breaks with it all.

And, it’s clearer than ever what these times require of us.

It’s clearer than ever how we have a choice, every single moment, in how we choose to meet what’s arising.

Obviously it does not serve to ignore, avoid, or gloss over the challenges we are facing as a people. Nor does it serve to be consumed by terror, panic, doom and gloom. We live in times that require us to stay awake, aware, prepared, and available to respond to any number of challenges we might be asked to face.

In my experience it DOES serve to stay open, present to it all.

It does serve to keep feeling what arises~ the sadness, the raw-nerved fear, the grief, the outrage, the empathy, the vulnerability~ to keep it all moving through, so that our hearts and centers are available to meet what comes, moment by moment.

It does serve to let joy and gratitude find its way to be here, too. Wow. SO much to be grateful for!

It does serve to cherish the moments we can feel love thriving, prevailing, totally winning in our brilliant little lives.

It does serve to hold our beloveds close, to breathe in their scent, to cuddle and snuggle and linger in sweet embraces.

It does serve to be generous and patient out in the world, knowing that everyone is going through something, and the vast majority of people don’t have the resources~ spiritual, social, financial~ by which to make sense, prayer or medicine of the challenges.

It does serve to be super gentle and compassionate with ourselves; to be honest with ourselves about what is challenging us, and discover fresh kindness in response.

It does serve to pray, in whatever way prayer feels true and right for each of us.

Thank you Beloved Life, for another day. Thank you for this chance to feel so much, to open wider still, to tell the tender truth of my heart, to love more bravely in spite of it all, and to pray.

Thank you so much for this chance to feel, to love and to pray.

Sending love in all directions… xoxo J

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