The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

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The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

The second one is sposta pop out like a ping pong ball… right?

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

It took about the same amount of time laboring to get Forest out, as Serena.  Twelve hours.  But this time, I did it at home.  Alone.

 

Well… alone with Giordano.  Was this intentional?  Yes and no.  I wanted to have a woman/women with me… who would just sit quietly in the corner and hold a streaming vigil of prayer and presence.  But apparently God did NOT want this… since both of the women I asked to be with me were cosmically thwarted from attending.

 

“Free Birth” is the term for birthing without a slew of “trained professionals” getting all up in a birthing mama’s grill.  I was intrigued by this idea while pregnant with Serena… but not nearly courageous enough to trust my deepest inner knowing in the boundlessly deep waters of the feminine mystery that is birth.  So I deferred my inner authority, and opted for the hospital route with her.  Which was perfect.  (Marin General is the creme de la creme of hospitals that truly support natural birth.)

 

But this time, I was familiar with the territory. (As familiar as one can be with the cryptic wilderness of the Divine Feminine! Ha!)  Well, lofty philosophy aside, it’s what I FELT TO DO.  So I spent the months of my maternity gathering information and validation, mostly via birth stories told on the “Free Birth Podcast”, and by the time my tiny man was ready to emerge, I felt ready, and even enthusiastic, to do The Thing!

 

Everyone knows that expectations are the devil.  Of course I tried not to have any.  But this was impossible.  I imagined that as with Serena, I would go into labor on my due date, July 14th.   Or at LEAST by the full moon (lunar eclipse), July 16th.  Nope.  Besides the painful fights with Giordano, those days passed without much fanfare. Only a few egoic efforts to get my labor juices “aflow”… long walks, sex, orgasm… the basics.  But as it turns out, all “magic feathers” and lore aside, birth has its own cosmically informed intelligence, which I boldly hypothesize has NOTHING to do with the overlay of “wizardry” many of us get off on professing.

 

For about five nights straight, I went to bed fondling the precious hope that I would awaken in the night to contractions, as I had with Serena.  At two am on July 18th, my hope materialized.  Elated, I opened my eyes to the juicy, round, beam-dripping moon, dancing beyond my bedroom window.  I savored every twinge of deep, delicious ache in my womb.  God those moments live legendary inside me now… I felt totally alone and yet sweetly intimate with ALL.  My heart steeped in transcendent joy.

 

As with Serena, the contractions stopped when I got out of bed.  My labor had a very keen intelligence, and when I was focused on caring for Serena, it would ebb… After I dropped her off at camp, the waves resumed.  When she returned from camp, another pause.  It wasn’t until my saintly friend Benedetta came and picked Serena up (with her own nearly-newborn and four year old sun in tow) at around 4pm, that labor REALLY went full throttle.

 

I had imagined laboring in the little wooden house, nestled in my garden (which I have adopted as a temple…) but by mid afternoon, it was way too hot in there, and the mattress felt like a granite boulder.  After turning a few too many dizzying circles of indecision, I realized there’s no place like bed.

 

Oh dear… This event occurred exactly two weeks ago, and by now, the whole epic event is a goopy smear in my mind’s eye.  I guess I had a butt-ton of contractions in said bed… It didn’t take long for them to start firing off fast… which made me certain that Forest would soon emerge.

 

I was inspired by the birth story of a woman named Jinti Fell… She had an idyllic, peaceful freebirth in water, with only her husband, three year old daughter and sister present.  She said she concentrated on affirmations of opening and surrender.  So with each contraction, I relaxed my yoni and imagined my cervix blossoming open… melting INto the pain, rather than contracting in reaction to it.  I felt powerful and courageous doing this.

 

Until I hit a point where the contractions were coming so strong and rapid, that I lost access to this enlightened response.  It became a matter of survival.  No holds barred.  I felt that if I gave myself over in melt, I would be eaten alive.  This continued for hours.  I focused on my breath… and alternated between chanting gutterally based AUMs and “blowing through an imaginary straw” with each exhale (Benedetta taught me that technique, touting that when the jaw is relaxed, so is the yoni.  She said her first baby slid right out of her as a result… ummm… I can’t say that was MY experience…)

 

What of my wild card husband?  As I imagined, he was not the Masculine Rock that I wished he could be.  When I looked to him in the heat of intensity, his eyes were perpetually a-wander in far-off lands.  This was no surprise.  A restless, wild mind is his M.O.  Still, I wouldn’t help wishing for his solid, unwavering presence.  But given his nature… he did well.

 

As I had requested, he didn’t impose himself in my space.  He made himself available… but hung back until I made a direct request for support.  I felt the wounded place inside me, where I was tentative to ask for help from him… fearing rejection or disconnect.  (By now, our “track record” is brimming with disappointments and blood-bathed conflict…)  But when one is in enough pain, one must transcend the fear of rejection.  I asked him to rub my sacrum, which by now was screaming with ache.

 

At this task, he succeeded beyond measure.  I felt… profoundly felt.  He touched me as if he were inside me.  And at this point, I didn’t care if he was thinking about all the money we owe, or his perpetual craving for pizza, or whatever runs through that man’s mind… I was journeying through a realm of unceasing pain, and he was minimizing my suffering.

 

Until he got hungry.  And then the salvation of his touch withdrew and wandered to the kitchen.  A while later, he returned to the bedroom with a plastic tupperware full of tuna salad.  The smell ruined my life.  He innocently offered me a bite.  DISGUSTING.  I shunned him from the bedroom.  But the smell saturated the warm, thick atmosphere of late July.

 

When he returned (I had no sense of time by now), I asked him to light an incense to mitigate the terrible stench.

 

Then what happened?  Contractions raced through my body like a freight train with never-ending cars.  The sun crept toward the horizon, and eventually sunk into darkness.

 

Sunlight and Sweet Relief

Mmmm somebody at the table next to me is wearing aftershave.  As a kid, I used to relish watching my dad shave before work (swing shift in the casino!).  He’d squirt a shamelessly generous poof of Barasol beard buster shaving cream into his hand, spread it about his five o’clock shadow and go to town with his blue bic razor.  Fast and focused.  I’m sure he could have performed this ritual in the dark.  Then he’d rinse, dry and pat his tender, virgin cheeks with enchanting, blue splash of Aqua Velva.  To my seven year old self, this was the scent of a man.

 

Smell.  So powerful.  A memory orbiting a distant moon, suddenly fallen like a smoldering comet in my nostalgic lap.

 

I’m happy today.  And profusely hoping that I can ride this wave all the way to shore.  Wishing said shore was days away.  One of my earth angels, Dianne, said that with sunlight and a heart that says yes, I am a force to be reckoned with.  I feel that today.

 

I feel that filled with this happiness, I can do ANYTHING.  I feel wealthy and bold and creative.

 

Even though I barely slept.  Sleep is not my forte lately.  Most nights, I fall asleep with Serena in her bed… wake an hour later, pee (at this point, I spend half my life peeing) and then snuggle like a soft, squishy animal into bed with Giordano.  At which point, I rest into the weight of my struggle and the suppressed force of my Desires.  He is exhausted and quickly becomes a virtuoso performance of gentle snores.  I lay in his arms, envious of his ability to relax and release, calling out to an unresponsive God to fucking help me.

 

How’s THAT for glamorous?

 

Quite frankly, in this moment it DOES seem a bit glamorous.  Angels in heaven don’t have such privilege and pleasure.  WE get to swill grit and darkness by the cup-full.  WE get to embody a spectral depth of poetry that cannot be fabricated or feigned.  Of course I can only say this because my Merciful Lord hath lifted me to “the surface” for a generous hit of sunlight and existential relief.  From here, the depth of my Journey looks stunning.

 

I AM so thankful for my people.  If I died in this moment, my heart would explode like a huge cream-filled balloon and your BEingness would shatter and refract as rainbow sunlight in every direction throughout all space.  I’m feeling you all.  Seeing your faces, hearing your unique music curl like incense smoke throughout my Infinity Within.  In the eyes of my ego, I am so imperfect… but in my love for you, I am limitless, pure and perfect.

 

I was suffering because Giordano has been WORKING.  He leaves early in the morning, and returns home at bedtime.  During the day, he sends me loving little audio messages.  Nothing fancy.  He’s not a poet.  Nor excessively feminine.  But his heart is sincere.  This makes me miss him and want more….

 

We planned a sunday trip to the “seaside” (adorably, that’s what he calls “the beach”)  and sweetly anticipated it all week.  I can’t recall a single time since I’ve been in Italy, where we’ve done something together and had a harmonious, nourishing, pleasurable experience… mostly it’s hard to connect, I feel lonely, we fight…

 

But still, I brought my Beginner’s Mind on Sunday.  When the rubber met the road, he was “nervous” (and mean as a biproduct).  And I was like, “Really???  We’ve been anticipating this beautiful day all week, and now THIS is the best you’ve got???”

 

But apparently it was….

 

As is often the case, he didn’t respond when I talked.  He interrupted me.  He complained and ruminated on things not of the Present.  He drank a small bottle of white wine with lunch, like he does on most of his few days off… as if this were a legitimate escape from the burden of his overactive mind.

 

Little by little over the course of the day, my heart closed.  Despite this, I strove to enjoy Serena’s refreshing, innocent company, let the sunlight and warmth recharge me, release my burdens to the salty, undulating sea.  I sort of succeeded… in a decapitated fashion.

 

But LISTEN.  I am NOT telling you all this to defame my husband.  I understand him pretty well… These days, he is living beneath an intensity of pressure that would break most mortals.  Considering this, he’s actually been pretty damn nice.  He’s breaking through some deeep-assed patterns of anger and cruelty.  Doesn’t mean I’m loving it… but my respect for him grows.  This is a big part of what makes me stay.  That, and his love for our unborn sun.  He loves our baby (and Serena) too much for me to leave without giving him a chance.  Though the notion of leaving is an unrelenting devil on my shoulder, who taunts and seduces me until I am stumble drunk on his hollow promises of happiness in distant lands.

 

Last night, we nestled into bed pregnant with The Unspoken.  Instead of passing out, he stayed with me.  Slowly we unraveled some profoundly unwieldy knots.  He impressed me with his capacity to receive my harsh honesty, and stay open.  I wish he was more consistent in this domain.  But perhaps, with practice he will be.  Because he didn’t used to be this good.

 

We talked until we were empty and united.  Then he asked if he could lick my…. Uh-huh.  I have been feeling so sexually shut down these days.  Depression and lack of trust is not exactly an aphrodisiac, as it turns out.  But what did I have to lose???

 

He rocked it.  In general, he has good technique… yet mostly, I feel like HE’S not loving it.  He’s just being courteous.  I’m all for courtesy… but there IS something to be said for The Zone.   The alchemical expanse where giver and receiver melt and meld into one sprawling puddle of pleasure.

 

I’m not gonna give you all the details of my sex life.

 

That’s not my point.  My point is that I don’t believe I should hide the full spectrum honesty of my existence out of shame and cultural conditioning.  Sex should be normalized and healthy and spoken of at LEAST as freely as struggles and fighting.  And another point is that talking shit out is rad.  I mean like super rad… but it can only get a couple so far.  The rest must be said with wordless lips, with touch and lust and passionate, embodied love.  I dare you to argue.

 

I awoke early this morning, and the freshly hatched day was a-flood with sunlight and the exotic, diverse songs of birds.  It also happens to be Giordano’s birthday.  My body was still brimming with pleasure.  I got up and made us coffee, brought it back to bed, and we tandemly geeked on our phones.  (As much as I despise it, my phone is a portal to so many loving connections.  Sigh.)  Oh, modern day romance… not too romantic.  But the Moral of the Story, is that I felt happy.  And leisurely.  Serena slept until 8am.  And I found myself laughing at the “problems” that usually plague me and sink my blessed ship.

 

Then I wrote it all down, and feel Brilliant.

 

May this wash of sweet relief sustain me for…

Days…

Or perhaps lifetimes.

 

Thank you for your LOVE.

Thank you for your Courage.

Thank you for Believing in me.

Thank you for BEing.

 

Love,

Athena

 

Hella Green Grass, Butterflies in the Wind and Not-So-Soft Knocks

Blog Pic

 

If you go back seven or eight years in this here bloggie, you will find many-a-reference to “The School of Mostly Soft Knocks”.  This is how I fondly referred to my life.  Ha!  I guess I have since graduated.  Because the knocks ain’t so soft no mo’.  I was tickled remembering this outdated version of me though…

 

But today in honor of the spirit of Soft Knocks, I shall mine my mind for mundane pleasures and glistening fragments of beauty which pave my Path… and put them in one, palatable pile.  Sorta like those birds that build nests out of glitzy, shiny objects.  My most recent garland of blogs have been so heavy and dark… which is fine, because I’m not here to present myself other than I AM.  (Mostly…)

 

But today I’m in the mood for lightness.  Lightness with a tinge of bleeding heart romanticism and wistful longing, of course.  Grin.

 

This morning Karuna said she saw gorgeous butterflies courageously navigating strong wind.  This is exactly what I mean.  Beauty-full… with a hint of tragedy and a splash of shattering paradox.

 

Perhaps I am a stunning butterfly, bravely navigating a violent wind storm.  Maybe we all are.  Exquisite and fragile… mostly invincible in our surrender.

 

It’s laughable that everyone else’s grass seems so much fucking greener than mine… And yet, this region of Italy in the springtime, is the greenest place I’ve ever seen.  Soft, rolling hills that sprawl on infinitely.  I was driving Serena to school this morning and she said, “Mama, do the red poppies remind you of Grandma Sumitra?”

 

I told her that once…  And now she occasionally feeds it back to me, precisely when I need a heaping dose of Mama.  These poppies are insouciant spots of flaming red, bursting from the endless, undulating sea of green.  I imagine driving along these country roads with my Ma sitting shotgun… her singing sincere praises of these occasional, glorious bursts of red.

 

My mom loved to take scenic routes and drive slow.

 

The poppies remind my inner child “Dawnie-cakes” of the cans of fruit cocktail she devoured back in the “good olde days”.   Remember?  Grapes, pineapple, peaches, pears… and occasional RED CHERRY.  Probably only three per can.  The scarcity made them utterly thrilling.

 

(How did I survive my sugar-laden childhood???  My mom bought me bags of chips ahoy and oreo cookies and set NO LIMITS on my consumption!  I could eat them till I was sick.  And I did.  And sometimes Cap’n Crunch cereal.  Which I consumed in the same over-indulgent, carefree spirit.  Kraft Cheese and Macaroni- implemented with real cheddar cheese in addition to the hella tasty, neon orange stuff in the packet…. And speaking of cheddar cheese, there’s no such thing here in Italy.  Which occasionally bums me out.)

 

And speaking of my mom, allow me to delight in the memory of being twenty years old, and taking a “metaphysics” class with her at our beloved Unity Church on upper Filmore Street in San Francisco.  Taught by the charismatic, southern wonder, Revered Maureen.  Ma would pick me up from my cheap, filthy house in Oakland, and drive us in her Volkswagon Rabbit convertible.  Sounds hella stylish, right?

 

Well, the caveat was that the top was broken, and would not go up… so we had to navigate the windy Bay Bridge and the nocturnal, foggy city scapes and sketchy lower Filmore neighborhood, totally exposed.  She kept her semi-trusty steed equipped with a mexican blanket that I desperately swaddled myself in.  She sported a decently warm jacket.  What especially tickles me about this, is that it is SO signature “My Mom”.  There were always breakdowns, challenges and struggles born of financial scarcity.  But it never stopped her from Living Life.  She still took us out to lunch and we luxuriated over many-a-latte.

 

In fact, she drank lattes until the day before she died.  My brother left our camp in her hospital room and went to the awesome coop grocery store just down the street (in Grass Valley), ordered my mom the latte she requested “on her deathbed” and said “Please make it GOOD.  It’s for my mom and she is about to die.”

 

In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

 

And speaking of lattes, there’s my Dad, on the opposite end of the spectrum.  He drinks Folger’s Crystals.  Religiously.  Haha and he calls it “coffee”!!!  Two cups in the morning.  Ever since I’ve known him.  Upon reflection, I LOVE THIS.  I’ve never considered him “the perfect dad”… but from the perspective of a writer, GOD YES, he’s a quintessential character in the Story of My Life.

 

Not too long ago, I wrote about how “fucked up” I felt by my relationship with him.  But lately, as I’ve been navigating this multidimensional web of difficulty and heart-ache, he has showed up and totally has my back.  He doesn’t always show up when I “want him”.  But when I “need him”, he is in my corner.

 

His name is Bart.  I always thought that was a funny name… and even a bit embarrassing… you know, because it rhymes with fart.  But since I’ve been pregnant with a boy, I’ve been more curious about name meanings.  So I googled “Bartley name origin”… And I was tickled to discover that a primary origin is Scottish, and means “Birch Meadow”.  I dare anyone to tell me that’s not just fucking LOVELY…

 

And dig THIS about my dad- he’s a CRAPS DEALER.  In the Biggest Little City….  Has been since before I was born.  Which is getting on forty years.  Speaking of being forty, maybe the haunted fun-house I’m lost in is a symptom of midlife crisis!  I never believed in those things… but perhaps they are real after-all.

 

Anyway, don’t you think that’s perfectly poetic for me???  A dad who drinks Folger’s Crystals and deals craps in Reno, is married to a spanish woman named Mercedes, who is twenty years younger than he… Oh, and he LIVES TO GOLF.  When we used to talk on the phone, golf was THE topic that would bring him alive.  I mean how much is there to SAY about GOLF…. But… it didn’t matter, because it was said with raw PASSION.

 

My parents separated before I was two… but I spent summers with my Dad as a kid.  Traumatic summers.  He was emotionally volatile.  And pretty damn narcissistic.  He would totally lose control and yell about dumb shit.  He had a knack for making the most simple things complicated.

 

And then I married him.

 

Yeah, I guess I’m workin’ the shit out with Giordano.  He’s too much like my dad.  I should say, like my  Dad USED to be… Dear Bartley has calmed down and smoothed out in his “old age”.  It’s actually moving to recognize my papa’s soul growth.  I feel like a proud parent when I tune in to his noble Becoming.  Yay Dad!

 

Anyway, I hope I pass this rigorous ”class”, and don’t need to repeat it…  In regards to working out my core wounds and karmic… I wanna say “garbage”, because I totally hate it… But I suppose one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.  By the Power vested in me, I declare myself vast enough to swing BOTH WAYS- I can hate my Path, and celebrate it’s nutrient-dense rightness too.

 

Well… how was THAT for a hearty dose of lightness?!  Haha!  I dunno about YOU, but it hit MY spot!

 

Oh Life….

 

You Unwieldy Beast…

 

🙂

 

 

Success in the Rubble of the Patriarchy

Recently, I googled “why are Italians so intense”, but I was disappointed by the lack of illumination provided to me by the omniscience of the world wide web.

 

This morning my BFF Anitra sent me an audio message which spoke to this burning curiosity in me.  She said she saw a time-tested latin quote posted somewhere that basically said “go fuck yourself” and mused on how this spoke to the ongoing culture of brutality that is Roman Civilization.  A sprawling history of dominance, beheading, crucifixion, thirst for “power” (as opposed to the real shit, which of coure is L-O-V-E).  Yup.  This feels true inside me.

 

I wonder what sorts of wars and festivals, rites and relations have happened on this very slab of earth, beneath the concrete mass that is now a tragically generic grocery store (at which we frequently shop), massive, double-decker parking lot and cafe (abounding with pretty, seductive morsels fashioned from white flower and white sugar) at which I sit splashing my musings upon the face of a benevolently glowing screen…  I guess the answer to this question could reveal a compelling story no matter which piece of earth one occupies.  Dense paper mache layers of history.  Past, present and FUTURE.  Maybe someday, this little piece of earth will be covered in flowers, gurgling streams and cute, furry animals.   Hopefully it won’t become a nuclear wasteland….

 

That triple paragraph musing didn’t really lead anywhere, as it would have in my “ideal world”… but I DO want it to be recorded in the annals of Herstory that in 2019, Athena Grace struggled (daily) to make amends with an environment which has endured a heavy-handed dose of Patriarchal influence.  A land where she never ceases to be amused and depending on her mood, also repulsed by the dirt-common practice of communication that lives like people shouting at each other.

 

My poor husband… perpetually perplexed by his utterly ordinary way of speaking often making his wife bristle, cower, cry.

 

I reckon no one is exempt from navigating the pitted inner and outer wastelands of Patriarchal damage at this point.  We are so steeped in it, we often don’t even recognize how warped we are.

 

Lately I’ve become too pregnant to “make anything of myself”, careerwise.  I was really giving it a valiant crack.  I intended to get my online women’s circles reignited and pumpin with shakti-sauce.  I feel sad writing that, because I SO want to.  But the reality is, I’m anywhere from tired to exhausted most of the time.  I have a three year old who needs so much of me.  My mom is dead.  My friends and family are an ocean and landmass away.  My husband works all the time.

 

I could suffer about all this… or just lay down my sword and shield and embrace the current weather system of ISness.  Or as Rosymoon perfectly summed it up once upon a time, “Yesness to the ISness is my Business.”  Damn straight Sisterhood.

 

Once again, I watch my deepest dreams and soul-full longings elude me; turn to sacred vapor in my pulsing palm.  To be a famous writer.  To be an inspiring leader of Women, trailblazer of global sanity, unapologetic, fluorescent luminary of Unity Consciousness.

 

But many of the sane and brilliant women whom I surround myself with have been echoing a similar message to me recently… they speak of their own inquiry into the notions of “success” and “fulfillment”.  Is our incessant striving for BIGGER-BETTER-MORE merely the deep scarring of a perverted, collective thought system?

 

It feels so true inside me that I want to BE SOMEBODY.  DO SOMETHING.  Create and generate from the raw passion that I AM.  But… is it not monumental to grow a human with my own body?  And not just ANY old human…. But an awake soul who embodies the potential to guide the world back into sacred balance?  My children will pick up where I left off.  And I have made a lot of progress in the Way of Love and Truth.  In the Way of purging Collective bullshit.  And I will do my BEST not to jam them in constricting boxes.  (God HELP ME forgive myself for all the little ways I fuck up every day… and affirm and reaffirm and celebrate the modest though cumulative successes we accrue.)

 

Is it not legendarily stupendous that my heart has opened to my husband?… Haha, after ten months and a nearly ripe baby…

 

I DO!  I finally love him!  Pop the chorus of champagne corks…  Ohhh… I miss that obsolete version of me…. Who wore flashy tights and short mini skirts and boots, and launched champagne corks to the moon before swigging the bubbly with (sweetly controlled) abandon.  Not that I ever want to be any manner of drunk again…. Well, yes, I DO.  I want to be GOD-DRUNK.  “Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace”, to be precise (this is the title I have my amazon orders addressed to actually…).  I want to feel less serious.  I want to cut loose and dance around and play about everything, with the gaily gurgling spirit of an Eternal Child.  But Lord Have Mercy, it sure is hard to “get it up”, when you’re trudging pregnant through a parched, scorching desert.  Cue up the fucking violins….

 

But while the violins moan and croon, I will sing to you of how I found love for Giordano….

 

Last week, the density of my Life crushed me again.  And I came damn fucking close to leaving this harsh land of Roman fall-out.  This time, it was not in reaction to cruel, barbaric behavior on the part of my “ball and chain”.  It was simply… EVERYTHING.  Some days I just hate my life.  I miss having friends.  I miss not being able to talk to “strangers”.  It feels so desolate and barren.  And often I feel just as lonely when I’m with Giordano… to no fault of his.  We just don’t jive.  He lives mostly in his intricate, self-proclaimed-genius (perhaps he really is one…) mind.  But in terms of emotional/relational intelligence, he often sucks ass.  But then sometimes he doesn’t.

 

On the heels of weeks melting into months of drowning depression, I told him I was considering going back to California.  He got scared.   And hence mean.  Like a cobra snake puffing up in defense of his precious little serpentine body.  But at some level I was glad, because his meanness justified my intended exit.  My dad told me he’d give me the money to fly home, if I truly felt this was the right choice.

 

But third time IS a charm.  Instead of taking impulsive action, I told Daddy Dearest that I have fucked up ENOUGH times making emotionally impulsive decisions… I needed some time to sit with the offer.  That night I didn’t sleep.  At 3:30am I came back to bed and Giordano awoke.  He asked me what was going on and I started to cry from the immense pressure and ache inside.  He embraced me with his raw, unguarded heart.  I realized this unconditional, saturated holding was my deepest desire.

 

He said he understood me.  He spoke of his played-the-fuck-out pattern to leave before he is abandoned.   He confessed the part of him that has been tempted to walk away before I do.  But he knows that territory better than his own… dick (Which I refer to as his “Best Friend”) and he’s ready to do something new.  Fucking Courageous.

 

I found respect for him that night.  And the entry point into the possibility of Trust.  We acknowledged that we have struggled to trust one another.  And that we both deeply desire to trust.

 

Since then, everything has felt different.  Something crumbled and fell away.  My heart feels soft and open.  Even when I don’t like him….

 

This MUST be “success”.

 

But life still often feels lonely and frustrating (believe me, I AM making concerted effort to count my blessings and savor the little mOMents of grace…).  This must be what if feels like for an ego to unravel.  Uncomfortable and confusing.  But maybe something good is happening….

 

Broken into twisted Bliss

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I’m gonna write my guts out this morning.  Because it feels like I’ll explode if I don’t. Because this is what I am made for.

 

The pressure inside me is excruciating.  Like I’m in some kind of labor.  I woke up at four in the morning missing California so much, it felt like the prelude to a panic attack (which is a condition I’m not accustomed to).  I called out (audibly) to God to help me, because it was too much to bare.  But God seems to swoop in and help me when I least expect it, rather than when I directly beg.  So I just marinated in the ache… and tried to “coach myself” into a state of surrender and appreciation.

 

I want to go home so bad.  But if I was “home”, would I want to be somewhere else?  Is this an initiation into truly making peace deep down in my soul?  Where hOMe truly is….

 

Probably.

 

I love writing one word paragraphs.  I feel so all powerful.

 

I’ve been doing a weekly facebook live conversation on my Sourced Circles page for the past couple months.  It’s strange… barely anybody tunes in…. And yet I know I must do this.  The fire in my soul says so.  Life is so strange.  Anyway, my point is that each week, I am fortunate to speak with a deeep soul, who illuminates realms that are essential inside ME, if no one else. It’s sorta like taking a quenching swig of soul medicine inside a vacuum.

 

Last week, Tara Divina spoke of the nature of the deepest joy… being eternally entwined with the deepest pain… how in their purest essence, they are ONE.

 

Of course you’ve heard this a million times.  But have you truly introduced rubber and road on your insides?  Lemme take a feel right now.  Right now as my heart is smashed in a million pieces.  Is it ecstasy in paltry disguise?  Are all these unanswerable questions and quench-less longings my most treasured allies?

 

I breathe.

 

Writing it through me, I feel beautiful and right, blessed and heroic.  But when I’m trudging through the tangles of perpetual Relationship dissatisfaction, endless floor-sweeping and dishes to be washed, it doesn’t feel a fraction as sexy.  It feels like being wide awake in a meat grinder.

 

But the birds in spring sing the most exquisite songs….  And the scent of the blossoming lilacs is a secret portal to Heaven.

 

Even though my relationship with Giordano rarely “hits the Spot”, I have mostly surrendered to this.  I guess the current tides of my Life are not about getting my Spot hit.

 

My language *totally* makes sense to ME…. but just in case it doesn’t penetrate you straight to that place of implicit understanding, I will say it a different way.  As far as my marriage goes, I rarely (if ever) rest in a pervasive, peaceful sense of affinity and fulfillment.  I mostly feel lonely and unmet.

 

BUT.  In most mOMents, I have made peace with this.  Especially because I look over at Giordano, doing his Giordano dance…. And I see him doing his very, very best.  And I respect that.  I see him boldly flailing at his own Edge.  Being courageous and willing.  I see him breaking a sweat to love me (and Serena) as best he can.  He is rarely mean anymore.  And this allows my heart to bloom a bit.  Not like a summer rose, mind you.  But a shy, early spring bud, still wary of the threat of potential frosts. I honor this delicate space.  I do not need to force bloom.  After living on lock down all winter, a shy bud is euphoria.

 

WHY?…  This question still whips through the infinity within me like a bitter wind… but I let it.  I have no answers.  I have no fucking clue why Life is living me this way.

 

But I am brave.  And willing to feel the feelings that few others have the courage to embrace.  I don’t mean YOU, of course…. I mean the zombie-walking, TV watching, Costco-shopping, Pringles popping, cocktail slogging masses who ritualistically await their daily force-feedings of fabricated media reality.

 

Or maybe I DO mean you… I don’t know WHO feels this deeply.  We all have our role in the Cosmic Choir.  And feeling to the core of IT ALL (and then writing it down) is an essential dimension of mine.  Inhale.  Exhaaaaale.

 

I just wish I could overcome this poverty bullshit.  It’s really shitting on my parade.  I want to get my women’s circles going (not to mention become a famous writer already)… like LAST YEAR…. But becoming a savvy entrepreneur feels like learning chinese.  I have so much to offer.  But how do I get people to give a soaring fuck?

 

A lot of the work is on the INside.  Valuing myself.  TRUSTING myself.  Feeling worthy. Feeling safe enough to dish IT out with abandon.

 

And then, some of it is just straight up consistent, *inSpired* ACTION.  Forward motion.  This builds new muscles.  Creates unstoppable momentum.  But raising a three year old (while concurrently growing another) without much support makes this a fucking FEAT.  It feels like trying to canoe up a sky-scraping, gravel mountain.  I’m doing my best.  I sense that my day will come.  With galactically impeccable timing.  In the meantime, I am being artfully carved; God’s own reed flute.

 

I was gonna end it there, but all this talk of reed flutes naturally made me think of poetry.  Last night I had a sudden craving for David Whyte’s “House of Belonging”, and Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”.  I read them both to Serena at bedtime.  I don’t think she “got it”.  But my own heart broke so damn good.  The Ocean of uncried tears sloshed and churned inside me.

 

“…this is where I want to love all the things it has taken me so long to learn to love…

 

This is the temple of my adult aloneness and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.”

 

“…whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting- over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”

 

Such perfectly arranged words.  Soul Carving Words.  I relish stroking myself with this shattering Mastery.

 

Abiding deeep within my own heart, I find you there and love you with all that I AM.

 

Xoxo,

Athena

 

Tangoing with Skeletons

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Hello from my bed.  It finally rained last night, for the first time in two months.  Today is wet and cold and I feel tired and sensitive and this is the ONLY place to be.  

 

I haven’t blogged in ages because I’ve been too caught up in trying to make money and be Important.  But neither of those aims have materialized. Instead I just exhausted myself. And remembered how essential writing my heart and Life is.  This is my art. And when I don’t make time for my art, I’m nothing but a potato chip. Dry, greasy and unsatisfying.

 

You  might argue that potato chips rule the World.  And I might agree. But not for the sake of this argument.  Mmmm… salt and vinegar….

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke with my friend Joan.  I mention her in my writing sometimes… because she’s one of those BEings who makes an Impact with a capital I.  I had a sense that she had energetically disengaged from me, my world, my Journey… and I felt sad about that. So I asked her if this was an accurate assessment.  YES. Indeed. We scheduled a video chat, and she laid it out. Naked and straight. As only Joan can do.

 

She said if the shoe fits, wear it… and if it doesn’t, send it down the River.  (Or something to that effect.) Mostly the shoe fit…

 

It stung to hear.  But all hail to the Rare Ones who say it straight.  And not for their own edification/aggrandization… But as an act of Generosity.  Badass. Refreshing.

 

One facet of the bad taste I left in her mouth was about my immense drama this summer– remember when I cried out the “A word” on social media and begged money from my community to fly back to California where Serena and I would be safe.  I know that burned a good few bridges for me…

 

She reflected that the WAY I played it was childish.  After I changed my mind about leaving, I told my community “I lost the ticket” (Vague language.  Could have said “I chose not to go home” or something bold and direct.)…  As a way of buffering myself from the shame of taking people’s money and flushing it down the toilet.  And then I said something like, “If you want your money back, let me know.” …which she said was an irresponsible way to go about it.  An adult would be accountable and not put people in the awkward position of having to ASK for their money back.

 

I see that.  Now what do I DO with that information?  Breathe and let it inform the emergence of a better version of myself?  Schlep Serena along to house cleaning jobs so that I can step forward and pay everyone back?   I don’t know. Weeks later, and still digesting. She ALSO said that I’m rockin’ this whole identity of being “so authentic and exposed”… but really, I only expose some of it.  When and how it serves my ego. (my words…)

 

YES.  There are ways that I BARE MY MUTHER FUCKING SOUL through my writing… and ways that I conceal and distort.  I admit it. I am a very sensitive, porous being, and part of me is terrified to reveal it ALL for ANYONE and their Mother to read.  AND I am an exhibitionist. And eternally fascinated by this thing called “Me”, doing this thing called “Life” and I *must* pound it out upon the page.

 

But perhaps it’s better for you to receive this as entertaining fiction… which gives you access to your own hidden world in spontaneous flashes of Grace.  

 

So there’s some of the Skeletons that Athena Grace has been tangoing with since we last spoke.  And now for the weekly forecast of my inner world.

 

Ouch.  It’s been an emotional period.  Significant “scattered showers” otherwise known as “tears”.  

 

Apparently once my sun is born on Italian Soil, Giordano will have the power to block us from leaving the country, should he so choose to wield it.  This fucks with my sense of sovereignty and freedom. Big time. I am facing huge fears of being TRAPPED, far from my hOMe, family and friends. And yet, my inner voice says it’s not time to leave.  (Plus, I have no money and nowhere to land in Cali. But I know if that was what my intuition guided me to do, I would find a Way and do it in a heartbeat.)

 

Giordano is trying so fucking hard.  But we are being eaten alive by the beast called Survival.  He is working ten hour days, breaking his body, crushed by the immense weight of panoply financial obligations.  We mostly don’t see each other. But the little moments we do are softer than they have ever been. Not hella nourishing… but I feel him evolving.  

 

I SO want to get my online women’s circles going… but so far, I have not been able to “force bloom” the project.  And in the meantime, we are running on financial fumes. We have no time to “invest” in our relationship… and not enough support.  And we are just different creatures from vastly different worlds. Worlds that I doubt will ever meet. We both try. But it’s exhausting.  

 

You might be wondering why in the fuck I came to Italy, married this guy and got straight to making a baby with him.  Yeah. That makes a thousand of us. With ME at the center, wondering what in the fuck is driving this Renegade Ship fondly known as Athena Grace…

 

I am TRYING to just receive the love he is capable of giving, and focus on other dimensions of my Life.  Namely work. And always Serena. (Serena is a legend in my heart. Her BEing blows my Everything on a daily basis… I’m on my knees in gratitude for Her.  And also feeling pain for the ways that I fall short as a mother. That’s a blog unto itself.)

 

I can try to bypass the lack of emotional fulfillment that I mostly feel in my marriage…. But it haunts me through the cracks.  And I have this nagging feeling that says “this can’t end well…” But alas, I forge ahead. Because what else can I DO?

 

Last night I dreamt that I was at my friend Shelly’s wedding.  She was a RADIANT, epic bride. Her outer appearance, clearly an expression of her inner fulfillment.  Then I realized that she was ALREADY MARRIED… which confused me for a sec. (In real Life, she is married with two kids.  I attended her wedding like ten years ago.) But she clarified that YES, she WAS already married. AND she still wanted to have another ceremony/celebration, because the communion she and her husband shared was so blissful and extraordinary and worth celebrating anew!  

 

I woke up with such a heavy heart.  As I feel whenever I see couples thriving in Relationship.  Two equals, entwining their hearts and lives, and all the better for it.  I feel like I’ll never have that in this Life. Which makes me remember my Mom.  The myriad mOMents we sat in her mismatched recliners in her cozy, cluttered nest at Ananda Village, sipping tea…. As she spun off on tangents about her two unfulfilling marriages.  I never thought I’d become her. I thought I had too much emotional intelligence and self-worth to nosedive into that pathetic rut. But alas.  Hi Mom.  Do you appreciate the love and devotion I am expressing  by becoming a living tribute to your wounds and pain?

 

Who knows what will happen… My friend Marcella invited me to write a Relationship Vision…. I accepted.  I guess that’s the first step. To enVison what I want. Invite it. Surrender the HOW.  Live in the WOW as it dawns upon me.

 

But honestly, in this mOMent, it feels really…. Good?… to sit in the ache.  I feel real. Maybe it’s even a form of masturbation… It’s so sensational.  The ache.  I can almost touch it.  Experience my Existence in such a palpable way, through the thick, throbbing brokenness in my chest.

 

Life is such a damn Mystery.  The tangles, the WHYs, the HOWs… and the WHAT will happen nexts…  

 

And I breeeathe.

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