Slowly Swallowed by Surrender

Giordano told me today that he is dying and he will never forgive me.  Because I left with Forest…

Words are strong, aren’t they?  Wow.  Those words.  And the worlds they evoke within.  The universe is really making a grand effort to remind me of the POWer of words lately. (and moreso, the power of what is beneath and beyond them, which they aim to transmit…)  They are my Gift, and my Gift will be best given in the spirit of consciousness and reverence.  I’ve always done my best… but now I get to rise to the next level if I DARE be that awake and self referential and responsible.  And awesome.

But let’s talk about Forgiveness.  

When I first got my diagnosis I panicked.  I didn’t realize it, but I was operating under so many low-consciousness belief systems.  About cancer.  About disease.  About healing.  About myself and life and God.  (No wonder I got sick!)  The oncologist at the local hospital “Dr. Kundalini” told me I must start chemotherapy at once.  I told him I would get a second opinion.  Then I leapt into the abyss.  But I was still operating at a very gross level.  Powerless.  Fearful.  Desperate.  I hoped that being hyper controlling about my diet would save my life.  I went therapeutic keto and ate as much fat as I could… but it was never enough and…. my body said FERMA!!!  (That’s stop in italian.  Yeah I’m like SO inculturated that my body dabbles in italian!)  Instead my consciousness is slowly spreading open like a lotus emerging into the light.  And this is the true nature of healing.

Life sent me an AMAZING book.  “Healing and Recovery”.  It is spilling with diamonds that cut deep into my understanding.  It explains how to heal at the level of consciousness.  In the chapter about cancer, it said cancer can’t even grow in the higher energy fields which reflect Truth.  This book also refers to MY Good Book, A Course in Miracles, as it is a path of realigning with The Source through complete forgiveness.  

I am allowing Life to show me where I have been holding grievances and unconscious guilt, so I can let it go.  ACIM says that the Holy Spirit will assist with this process.  Thank frickin GOD because I don’t know how to do it alone.  But because MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT at this point, I’m all about being helped by the Holy Spirit.  Honestly, I don’t even know exactly what the Holy Spirit IS…. but I’m sure it’s FANTASTIC and I’m jazzed to be assisted by such Cosmic Benevolence.  

Naturally Giordano is at the top of my list of grievances.  I just deleted the lines describing said grievances… as a part of my exploration around the power of words.  I don’t need to enroll you in his stupidity.  Especially if my commitment truly is forgiveness.  Look at ME, I’m growing UP!!  Haha.  He has given me myriad moments to meet myself in the darkest dimensions.  Hatred.  Rage.  Desperation.  Loneliness.  The Hard Stuff.  

But the Holy Spirit is helping me undo my seeing.  My self righteous view point.  I have no control over his behavior.  I can’t make him “do right” by way of a power struggle!  Funny that I even imagined that as the way and the light.  It’s so not.  In fact, binging on that behavior for two and a half years straight nearly KILLED me.   

But it’s damn tricky.  To keep practicing having boundaries.  Expressing my needs.  Without charge.  As kindly as I can manage.  But not fluffy.  Firm.  Clear.  Wow.  I just realized Darling Giordano is helping me strengthen my own inner masculine.  So are my kids, actually.  And so is Life.  If I had a shiny euro coin for every time I’ve needed to be held while on this “Italy Spree” and there was nobody there… Yup.  Rich Bitch.  But the beauty of nobody being there… is that I get to meet myself.  

I get to meet myself when people ARE there also….

I am learning hard but satisfying lessons.  Learning to hold myself.  Learning to trust myself.  My aforementioned book talks about how it’s ALL belief systems.  And we have the power to cancel them.  If our minds have the power to make us sick, they also have the power to make us WELL.  This is what I have been sitting with.  Letting it filter dowwwwn.  Innnnnn.  Opening to the sacred responsibility of being awake.  

Manuela Forte acknowledged me yesterday for walking the way of “natural faith”, and recognized the parallel between the healing journey I am now on, and the way that I birthed Forest.  Free from the constraints of meddling medical “authorities”.  Surrendered to the infinite wisdom of my body and soul.  I got dizzy trying to follow all the disparate external voices of “experts” (and a spray of arm-chair experts as well) and in the end, I fell back onto my own bony lap!  Haha it’s really not THAT bony these days… Anyway, it felt heavenly to be Seen.  Seen not through the eyes of conditioning, but for the deep and potent journey my soul is making.  This letting go, with as much trust as I can muster in a given moment, which is pumping into me at a slow, steady increase.  My mission is to fully surrender to The Source.  And to let this restored connection heal me on every level.  let’s not mess around.  Dig straight for the ROOTS, baby.

I have allies and guides on the Journey.  

But I am the only one who knows.  

And this is both thrilling and terrifying. 

(Just like men, but that’s another story!…)

Dance With Death (part II)


Then came Serena.  I took a few thwarted stabs at going to dance with her.  But then I was being mommy trying to dance, not Athena The Star.  I have lived six very sobering years, culminating with the past two and a half being the “Grand Finale”.  The Grand Finale of my old life.  My old self.  The irony, people, is that I ALREADY HAVE DIED.  A thousand times over.  I just haven’t left my body.  I am not ready to do so.  OH!  That reminds me of my Epiphany about life and death.  I’ll tell you in a sec!

(One element of this blog is my spontaneous comments on The Art of Writing.  Authentic writing requires TRUSTING THE MIND.  My Original Mind burst in and grabbed the wheel, hot to tell you about something other than what I was talking about… and if I was to be a “good girl”, I would have silently made a note or just pushed it aside and kept going.  But as the AUTHOR, I am incharge.  Let all the other Suckas follow the boring assed rules!  Author=AUTHORity)

Can you feel Edith Piaf’s impassioned voice boiling over behind these words?  It is… and it is touching my insides as they must be touched!  She transmits a depth of longing, experience, strength… that touches a world in me- wide awake and aching for S P A C E  and light.  She is singing me alive and I am writing you alive and YOU are______ .  It’s a fractiling domino chain of pressing wine out of our human struggles.  Does it get any better?!  Yeah.  If I was at the beach.  Or making transcendent love.  Or riding a horse.  

So in these recent grueling years, I would not have imagined that I was becoming what I most wanted to be (a clarified version of ME).  It felt like the farthest thing from what I was becoming.  My soul was withdrawing from this world because my experience sucked too much ass.  It was like walking through a looooong, daaaaaaark tunnnnnnnel.  I entered it through the portal of ecstatic dance six years ago, and last sunday, POP!  I finally made it to the other side.  Out into the light of intimacy and WHOLENESS.  And I am NOT going back.  I am SO fucking prooud of myself for the deep work I have done that I didn’t even realize `I was doing.  And this could be YOU too.  You might be sitting over there with your face melting off in the sweltering heat of your alchemical container and everything looks black and sludgy and you are thinking to yourself WHAT THE FUCK… Take heart my blossoming warriors, ambassadors and bearers of The Light.  You can TRUST in this alchemy.

My bounty of Ananda friends love to tout that “the joy is within you”.  And I confess that in my moments of “dark night” (most of my life), I have really hated to hear that, because then it’s like what the fuck is wrong with me for not having access to my own damn self????  But now that I am reclaiming my life and my Self, I am living this joy daily.  I feel it now.  It’s like a soft, breezy melody of my own soul, swelling inside me,  flushing me with prismatic glow.  Maybe I AM made of joy after all.  Haha.

But move over, Spiritual Polly-Anna!  Life sure ain’t all lovenlight.  `How many moments have I been cruising along in my sporty little joy bubble and an unwieldy wave of fear rushes in and knocks me on my bony ass.  Waaaaait, I asserted in my last blog that I was RIDING the waves.  Doh… well… I don’t know exactly how to metaphor-ize my experience… all I know is that I am going along fine and then in a lightning flash, I am on my knees, grappling for the highest course of navigation.  It’s usually body sensations that set off the alarm bells. (or Serena not listening and asking why twelve thousand times) Actually it’s more like the bell that sounds at the start of a boxing match.  And then I step in the ring, my bare chest glistening, a trail of blue gatorade still lingering on my chin.  Bobbing.  Weaving.  Jabbing.

Ok I went too far.  But it’s a wild experience to move so swiftly between joy and fear or anger.  Maybe it will make me so dizzy that I will lose my grip on duality once and for all.  I will only feign faith in the transient world of form.  THIS will be my emergence as “Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace”.  The woman I was born to be.

Or maybe I am just hopped up on some questionable sauce… But this is my prayer.  If I don’t make it that far in this life, guess I’ll just keep chipping away on my next galactic adventure(s).

Fuck that I didn’t come straight home from dance and WRITE IT ALL DOWN.  (In fact, while we’re on the subject, FUCK that I didn’t come straight home from EVERYWHERE and WRITE IT ALL DOWN.  My stories… they are a hopelessly swift waterfall spilling into an abyss.  On sunday, the dance was still throbbing in my veins, my cells, my nutrinos!  And now it’s… toilet water in the bay (time for a refreshed metaphor.)  

But here is THE climax moment of my whole dance:  It was toward the end.  As I was moving, I flashed on what my spirit guides told me- to call this cancer journey my “Dance with Death”.  I let the idea filter down through layers of my consciousness as I spun and shimmied and slithered serpentine.  The light was ON.  And I got that “dancing with death” is actually the equivalent to dancing with LIFE.  The yin-yang is not just a cool symbol.  It is a universal truth.  I realized that I am one of the privileged few… (maybe) who was graced with direct experience.  I am no longer regurgitating cheap universal wisdom.  I am paying my own way to WISDOM and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I was a child and a young adult, I suffered for not having the EXPERIENCE to match the wisdom of my soul.  And when I reached inside to find the book that I am meant to write… all I got was a blasted DIAL TONE.  Deep down I knew this was because I had essential experiences yet ahead of me, which would ripen my wisdom such that it would just fall on your head with a splat.  Fuck the strained, fabricated shit.  

Life wants FULL SURRENDER from me.  Full fucking surrender.  She told me this directly.  When I asked Giordano months ago to take Forest overnight, he refused.  Then, when I had (actually) let go, BAM!  He whisked Forest out of my bereft arms.  I feel a similar process happening with my writing.  I was desperate to “succeed” at my Art.  A desperation born of feeling “not enough”.  Like if I don’t realize my Gift in this life, I FAIL.  But the sheer beauty of having my life threatened is the realization that just BEING here is enough.  “Let the soft animal of my body love what it loves”.

Ah but the secret paradox is that from my current perch at the edge of the abyss, I am rediscovering my worth.  My edges have become softer (not to mention my gooey tootsie roll Center.)  I am genuinely content to flow through my days on winds of ineffable grace.

AND.

That said, I keep writing, because I MUST.  Because it feels so damn GOOD that it MUST be what I am here for.  And now for the moment that Athena Grace toots her own horn!  I have been getting some BITCHIN feedback lately.  I am some peoples’ Favorite Writer.  I move people.  And my writing has its own Life and Plan.  I just need to keep showing up and being receptive.

Can I approach Life and Death with the same depth of faith and surrender?

This is my aim.  By now it is no secret that I WANT TO HEAL and LIVE… but… do I have the ovaries to genuinely and wholeheartedly put mySELF and my LIFE in God’s hands?  I know that’s a dumb question on some level, because there is no other place that my SELF and LIFE could ever be.  It’s a matter of internal orientation.   Like that I can just go on tending my garden of joy, beauty, peace, sensuality, creativity, friendship, etc…. While doing all that is shown me to do to restore my body’s health… and let whatever comes come.  God I want to feel that free.  Not to suffer about what will happen to my kids if I die, or why didn’t I become a hella famous writer.  (Not just famous among my facebook friends and token random strangers.)  

No matter when it’s my time to leave this wacky spaceship, I want to go out blazing with PASSION.  I will be writing and dancing and making love and peeling back the endless folds of my enchanting (and deranged) emptiness.  Self, I promise NEVER to abandon you again.  If you say “GET THE FUCK OUT”, I will listen.  

God help me.

Dancing with Death (part I)

Well I survived my first night without Forest (since the hospital six months ago).  I had this raw dough gnawing feeling the whole time, but I made it!  Amidst my silent suffering, Shanti-ma reminded me to feel into FOREST and what HE wants.  He was very happy to be with his Nonnie and Papa.  I can see that it’s my own trip… I notice that I’ve come to rely on my sun’s solid, grounding presence.

Serena was elated to have me all to herself.  She practically became another person.  Cooperative.  Kind.  Sweet.  I mean those qualities are authentic to her nature, but lately amidst all the thrills and spills, the less savory aspects of her personality have been louder than I would prefer.  `I can feel her begging for my unwavering, unconditional acceptance, presence and holding… I try to give it to her… but I’ve been too starved for too long and I often feel desperate to… what is it?… To feel FREE.  Free to be me on my terms.  Haha.  Not really the “life context” of a (single) mother of a two and five year old.  When shit gets bad, I feel this wave of violence overtake me and I literally have to raise my hands to the heavens, as if begging for the Gods to intervene.  It works.  Mostly.  

Anyway, even though I wanted to finish my writing in the morning, Serena was content to be near me, watching cartoons.  Her satisfaction and delight were palpable.  Then as soon as Forest returned home, she flew south for the winter.  Meaning she lost her shit at every turn.  Well that’s clear communication.  Having a little brother has been a wound for her to contend with.  And a gift.  Their love spans the chasm where light and shadow merge.

Later in the morning we went to ecstatic dance.  Rachel, my neighbor, friend and life-line to California, organized it (at my urging).  ‘Member when I told you that I was exploring possibilities of who Serena could live with if I died?  Well Mirabai has first (and only) place at the moment.  But honestly, I am so focused on healing, I have not been paying much attention to that.  I just brought it up because Mirabai is a professional tango dancer.  And as soon as she entered my field, I realized DANCING will save my life.  I’m not kidding. TANGO, people!  The most passionate dance there is.  The message sunk straight into my soul:  Dance or Die, Bitch.

But what I didn’t know is how light and freeee I would feel on the dance floor!  Fuck those words “light” and “freeee” because you have heard them so many times that your mind slid right over them without barely registering the MIRACULOUS nature of lightness and freeness.  It was the REAL easter.  Resurrection at it’s finest.  

Ok, this is where I break a sweat.  Coaxing the english language to do justice to a physical, emotional and spiritual experience….

It was a small group of women (maybe seven?), which made it an entirely safe container for full expression.  There was plenty of space and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Every song on Rachel’s playlist rubbed me the right way (not such a common experience at ecstatic dance).  `I am noticing and affirming ease these days, and there was a delicious feeling of ease about being on the dance floor.  hOMe.  

I was WITH myself.  At a level I have never experienced in this body, in this life.  An unprecedented fullness, peace, kindness.  Eyes closed, a voice inside me whispered “I feel like a STAR”.  I told that voice, “YOU ARE A STAR”.  And in the lucid floodlight of my own self-granted permission, I came alive at a whole nother level.  I resurrected the young one who received the message that it’s not ok to shine.  (Little Dawniecakes spent her “childhood career” being invisible because she didn’t feel safe)  My desire is that my full self expression will liberate others ready to emerge from their self-imposed cage and FLY. 

I haven’t seriously danced since before Serena was born… I’m pretty sure… although committing that to “paper”, it looks absurd.  Pure sin.  “Looks to be”… but in actuality, it was a potent barometer of my growth.  The version of me who existed six years ago, though she gave as much of herself to her dance as she was able, there were many “inner rooms” which were still locked.  This translated as a lot of my energy “going out”- like long, curious fingers groping about the “otherness” in the room.  All this externalized awareness was exhausting.  Don’t get me wrong… I still LOVED dancing… but I could only access a limited amount of my SELF.

A Night Without Forest

This one goes out to alla y’all who are experiencing intense waves of fear recently.  I’m with you.  Riding some hella gnarly waves.  But riding them is certainly preferable to being knocked down, sucked under, washing machined, obliterated….

This morning I woke up and was feeling strange sensations in my liver and WOOOOSH!  In no time, my heart was pounding.  Just like that.  Standing before the gas range in my kitchen at five am, illuminated by the stove light, I pressed my hands against my heart with gentle yet firm pressure.  It felt like I was free falling through emptiness and all there was to hold onto was this vulnerable vehicle of flesh.  

I know my work is to STAND STILL.

Stand still and let the fear speak it’s piece while I listen with presence and compassion.

I got this inner nudge to call on Saint Germain and his all consuming violet flame, so I found an exquisite photo of him on the internet and saved it on the lock screen of my phone.  As soon as I flashed to the lock screen to view the fruits of my creativity, the time flashed 5:55 in a blaze of white light from his forehead.  I felt like he rushed through the phone, into the heart of my consciousness.  I knew that 555 was an explicit message from him, so I googled it.  555 is the number of change. Transformation.  Shedding of the old.  Emerging as the Woman of my Dreams.  As I read the extensive message, my pulse slowed again and the fear dispersed like fog in sunlight. 

Gaia took the kids up to the mountain so I could have some space.  I want to tell you about Gaia because she is a divine messenger sent from heaven to shepherd our family through this stormy summit.  Yeah, I really could write a whole blog about Gaia in our life.  How present, attentive and loving she is with Serena (and Forest, although he is not in need as Serena is…  He is like a peacock.  He can swallow poison and transmute it in his blue shiva throat.  I am in awe of that tiny boy.), how she triggers me, her profound devotion to God, the spiritual synergy between us…  

Plus we still have beloved Rosa.   THANK YOU LIFE, FOR SENDING THE “BIG GUNS” to our family at this sensitive time.  Your grace has not slid under the radar.  When I reflect on all of the bitchin souls around me, I nearly fall to my knees in reverence for the magnitude of goodness in our lives.  But then what about the grace of the less savory characters in my story?  (Not mentioning any names 😉  Byron Katie says that our ENEMIES are our REAL friends because they help us grow and evolve, whereas a lot of times, our “friends” just blow smoke up our asses and make us feel good about ourselves.  Listen we are free to

Ha!  I just ended a paragraph in mid sentence.  Soooo wrong!  But I HAD to break the rules just for the sheer BANG of it.  I know that’s immature.  But oh well.  I got off. 😉

I stopped in mid sentence because I only have a smattering of minutes to write and I confess that I was guilty of Beating Around The Bush.  I always have a ton to say… but… in this moment there is really only ONE thing to say:

I just received an audio from Giordano saying that his mom wants Forest to spend the night at their house tonight.  A few months ago, I was pushing for this.  Hard.  Giordano dug his heels into the ground and refused on the grounds that he and Forest were still traumatized from when I was in the hospital in October.  I retorted with “but if I go back to the hospital or die, he will need to have a place where he feels totally safe and comfortable.”  Even though that makes total sense intellectually, G was not ready emotionally and he held his ground.  I was pissed for a while, but honestly I do not enjoy feeling pissed, so daily, I tried my hand at surrender.  Little by little I got to a place where I felt more peaceful than not in regards to our circumstances.  

And then, of course, they shifted.

I have become deeply attached to Forest.  His soul has a solidity about it that is breath-giving… for a 20 month old.  I get a sense that all of the relational drama and ego bullshit around him just rolls like water off a duck’s back.  I love watching sleep claim him each night… his eyelids becoming increasingly heavy until he can no longer keep them open…. His hands touching my face, a contented smile spread across his cherubic face.  The way he plays with his belly button for comfort.  On tuesday morning, he fell and hit his head on a cement corner.  He cried for all of one minute.  There was a lot of blood.  We cleaned the wound and applied a bandaid… but when I checked it later in the afternoon, it was too open, so we went to the hospital and he got two “punti” (stitches in Italian).  I know I’m veering off the road again, but I had to tell you about that moment, restraining him on the padded table in the emergency room….

God it hurts my heart to remember.  The crescent shaped needle penetrating the flesh above his right eyebrow.  His red, tear streaked face.  All I could do is repeat “I love you” like a mantra.  When he repeated through his heart-wrenching cries, “I love you”, I shattered in a thousand pieces.

Oh god, now I’m crying.  But I’ll keep writing through my tears.  Words can’t describe how I love him.  And now, tonight, he is sleeping with his “Nonnie” (he made that word up himself, instead of calling her “Nonna”) and my heart is broken.  I don’t feel ready to hand him over to The World.  

Now it’s 8:13am and I am back to complete this installment of the ecstatic trials of Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace.  I did not imagine it would feel like this to release Forest to the other half of his family.  It’s been this incessant tugging ache in my chest the whole time.  An uneasy feeling that something essential is missing.  

But then Serena is ELATED.  She is basking in the exclusivity of my attention.  A little piece of me is resisting surrender to this, because I had a fantasy that I might actually get an extended and exclusive spree with my own beloved Self.  But pouring my attention on Serena is like watering a thirst-stricken plant.  She becomes plump and bright and precious.  And this is a priority.  I hear the crisp crush of juicy apple against her little baby teeth as she perches on the couch behind me and watches Peppa Pig.  Even though we are not “doing something” together, there is a palpable intimacy in our nearness.

Loving Serena is an exotic yet efficient scenic route to loving myself.  But one of the more difficult of endeavors.  I’m not quite sure why… maybe because I still believe that there are more important things in Life than healing.  (Healing= restoring connection to Source/Love within)  At 10:30am we will DANCE!  A little “ecstatic dance” for the wilder strains of humans laced in the surrounding agriculturally persuaded, forest-dappled, sprawling hills.  I’m looking forward to a literal “dance with death”.  Meaning a space where I can EMBODY all of the kaleidoscopic feelings that rise and fall within me as I partake in this courageous dance with death.  Where they can move and breathe and exist in the hallowed Light of Perfection.

I have been hesitant to write much about Giordano, because it is such a sensitive subject.  But I need to.  For my healing.  Stay tuned… but for now, I will say that our ships are drifting to opposite horizons of their own accord… and this makes sharing Forest all the harder.  Because there is no safe-porting or generosity or togetherness throughout the process.  Which makes it grate on my insides like metal on metal.  For example I texted him to check in last night and I didn’t get a reply for hours and then this is what it said, “Everything ok”.  Wow Giordano, che profundo.

But Saint Germain told me, “No matter what challenges you are facing, you are sure to be on the verge of health, abundance and love on a level you’ve never experienced before. You shouldn’t let yourself be held back by some skittish emotions. Embrace the new and cast away the old. Affirmations are a great way to do this.”

“Skittish emotions”… is THAT all St. G?  Ok, then I will loosen my grip and let them slide through my soul’s fingers like cool spring water, as I embrace the rapid fire changes streaming through my life right now.  I will stretch the skin of my awareness and let it span the cosmos.  So my heart aches….? Perhaps heart ache is but another flavor of ecstatic Existence.  Perhaps it has its own intelligence and purpose.  Perhaps when I hold it up to The Light, it will cast rainbows about the walls of Infinity Within.

Postcard from the way Up.

Eight thirty am.  Bird voices fall in scattered drips about the sunny morning ambiance.  Sunlight purrs in shocks of light about lone strands of spider silk.  I hope all this magic can suckle the profundity out of me… because it is becoming too heavy.  My heart is beaming because I spoke with my soul sister Sushanti this morning, for the first time in three years.  I was telling her stuff and she said, “are you writing this down??”  And I lamented that I have not been able to keep up.  In that moment, I knew that I was committing cardinal sin.

I love the power of paragraphs and punctuation.  Writing really is the same as music.  At least for me.  Finding that stream of inner feeling, a deep surrender to the wild intelligence of the mind.  And then the waves of vibration just ripple through and as you read it, you are moved as if by music.  Touched in places you forgot existed.  

My mom’s mom, Claramae, was a musical genius.  She played the oboe, at symphony level.  But because it was the nineteen forties, she either went semi-willingly, or by force… but there she was with a well-meaning, hard-working man who had recently been released from ten years of prison for robbing a train station during hard times.   You see, he had another family before prison… but for some reason, he did not go back to them… 

Claramae was diagnosed with schizophrenia later in life, when her three girls were in their teens.  (Auntie Linda, feel free to add your voice and expertise here…. Since you are closer to the heart of the action….)  There are plenty of theories around mental illness… but I will testify that since I came to Italy, married Giordano and had Forest… I have felt her pain.  And from inside that pain, I can imagine that mental illness is not just hereditary or chemical.  I would hypothesize that a significant facet of it is circumstantial.  Saying NO to your soul’s longings, appetites and dreams causes illness.  And even death.

I sense that my soul wanted to experience a heavy-handed homeopathic dose of Claramae’s struggle, so that I could feel it and heal it.  God it was miserable.  To be an artist trapped in a domestic prison with a mismatched husband and not enough friendship, support or sweetness.  And by the Power vested in me, I declare this cycle eternally dissolved.  

My spirit guides told me that I will not die.  My soul merely wants to partake in an intimate exploration of death.  (this information, via Carolyn, the energy healer.)  It resonates.  Deeply.  In fact, when she told me, I had a vivid memory of being about three and BEGGING my Ma to take me to the mortuary to see a dead body… My guides said that I will befriend and penetrate the fear of death and find peace in my eternal nature.  They said in a few years, a couple of my family members will be leaving and I will be prepared to assist the process. 

Sounds wonderful.

But.

How do I walk through the fears?

It’s those seemingly insignificant moments… when the fear rushes in.  (It does NOT creep in this neck of the woods… it RUSHES.)  To call upon Stillness in those tremulous moments.  To call upon breath.  R E L A X .  Relax into the experience of fear as into a hot bath.  

I’m starving for sexual love.

(I’m not going to expound upon that now… but it plunged to the surface of my awareness, gasping for light and breath and I felt to give it a flash dance in the spotlight.  And while I’m on the subject, I’ll say that there is a part of me who is enjoying the burn of want.  The void.  The electric Possibility of finding Him.  The him who is plugged into the Him and has put in time and effort in the art of giving and receiving love.  But I will not ask him to pay my bills.  I will not be his mommy.  I won’t wash his dishes, cook for him or do his laundry.  If he doesn’t want to do it himself, he can hire a maid.  I will be busy writing books and sharing quality presence with my delicious kids and friends and saying YES to Life as a whole and sovereign being who is unabashedly joy-full as she cruises up the ascension elevator with Humanity.  (And speaking of “mommy”, I love being a mom now that I have support.  It’s a completely different game.  Thanks cancer!  

Even though I navigate waves of fear, the joy in my heart is profoundly palpable.  I wish I could give some to you right now… What’s it like?…. Almost a tingle… but more subtle and continuous…. Right in my heart.  My heart is healing.  And this is the underlying cause of my physical healing.  I am a disciple to my own wellbeing now, and for this, I will live.

But I must be willing to die. 

A BEE!!!

God is sending so many bee messengers these days.  I just googled it, and besides work ethic and productivity, they are also bearers of the remembrance of miracles.  Perfect.

But enough about miracles, back to the pressing matter at hand.  How to TRULY metabolize this primal fear.  BTW, the spider web threads are still shimmering, (speaking of miracles).  I want to get THE MOST out of this exploration of death.  My guides told me to VISUALIZE a friend or loved one dying… imagine getting in the coffin next to them.  Creepy shit, right?  But… only because of our conditioning.  The truth of the moment of a soul’s passing is a profound pause between inhale and exhale, in which all of Creation rests in ecstatic perfection.  I will be one of the few on this planet who has successfully sailed to the tootsie roll Center of It All and returned with souvenirs for all who care to be free from Fear forever.

Cancer is my soul’s own flavor of bungee jumping, or parachuting.  I leap into the abyss… with the thrill of knowing that I could lose my life… and yet my navigation is set for the lush land mass beyond the dark, churning waters.  It’s a bracing scenario!!!  Haha, am I being too light?  Too irreverent?  Noooo, come ON people, I’ve gotta make light of It All.  Otherwise it would take me down!  

`But that’s the tricky thing about the alchemy of fear… you can’t just shove it to the side of your plate and then hope to toss it down the sinkerator.  Well… I don’t know if YOU can or can’t… but I DO know that this initiation of mine is firmly asking me to release myself into the epicenter of the fear.  In my body.  And GO THROUGH it.  Dissolve it with the Light I AM.  

Not easy.  But totally doable.

At least it helps to know what game you are playing. 

Oh and just for the record, I don’t know if “sinkerator” is a word… but I DO know that you know what `I meant.  And is that not the fundamental purpose of language??? To transmit some loose semblance of meaning?  Oh I’m so deep I could CRY.  

It’s so wonderful to be alive.  

Keep the faith, People.  

The elevator is on it’s way Up.

Alone. My favorite word. Ever. Sometimes.

Wouldn’t it be fucking aweful if I died before I got famous as a writer?  As much as my tongue lusts for the taste of faaaame… I’m not feeling the “waste your life becoming a dead prodigy” vibe.  There is this– what are those people who love to flaunt themselves all over the place–exhibitionist, oh yeah…  There is an exhibitionist in me who neeeeeds to liiiiiiive this.  She will not be silenced by masking tape, nor death.  She must cry the words of her heart like a jubilantly bubbling volcano.  

Oh my goddd what am I talking about.  I have written like twelve books today already… and then the salty swagger of my mind has whacked them all down as though they were mere weeds in the orchard.  And here I am now, stoned as I’ve been for the past…. Ummm…. Weeeeeek annnnnnnd God I have fallen off the time space  continuum and I really don’t love it.  I’m not really a stoner at heart I guess.  Well… I DO love to trip.  But I don’t love to recoil deeper into myself.  Oh maybe I do.  But only for a little while.  And then pop out into the euphoric thrill of palpable Togetherness.  

Anyway I’m NOT in love with being stoned and coffee is the magikal friend who hustles and rustles the ride’em wild brain cells; brings them back into an orderly bunch upon their magic carpet.  Yeah this is waaaay too hard.  To write.  But I need to do it.  And say something juicy and profound.

It’s like I’m walking about the Train that is Life and peeking out the picture window where death lurks.  And this seems at first like a scary thing, but it’s really just another window to look out of.  Until you’re off the train…

Anyway I just spoke with my dad.  I wanted to claim this time alone ALL FOR MEEEE…. But… I’m tested every time and made to face that ancient and essential question… when faced with my last mOMent (which perhaps is really the first and the serpent is greedily slurping his slick and slimy tail) would I keep said mOMent alll for my smarmy little SELF…. 

Or would I, for example, answer the phone and share it with my Dad.  And then, if I chose to share it with my dad, as Life would have it… Would I REALLY be “sharing it” with my dad, or would I just pretend to be, while I clutched “it” close to my chest and clenched my heart and hoped for the best.  No.  That’s not such a fulfilling way to have relationships, Athena.  So there I am with my soft coffee buzz melting across the screen of “Reality”.  My dad’s voice on the other end of my smart phone.  

And basically people~ it’s a classic case of two people who would just be better off if they just loved each other (haha this is our quintessential collective classic case)… and…. And what?  What gets in the way for me with my dad?  I guess I want him to be more consistently demonstrative.  And enthusiastic.  And shamelessly adoring.  Haha.  Just laughing because expectations are so unwieldy to carry around.  And if I had to show up that way all the time, I’d be tired for sure!  

This play is so stupid!  And so precious.  THAT is the moral of the story.  Take it to heart people.  We’ve probably all had moments of hating life, cursing our own… part of Her very own dark seduction is this searing hatred.  The liberated and throbbing ecstasy of aversion.  Yes, I have marinated in my own thick, sludgy pool of misgivings and then when this fragile and stunning dream threatens to be torn from my irreverent fingertips and I am uproarious.  Absolutely NOT you CAN’T rip this poetically dripping life from me.  Not yet.  No way.

But back to my dad…

I try to imagine what it’s like for HIM.  Seventy two or whatever… and he’s facing the possibility of losing his forty one year old daughter who lives across the world from him with her two young kids and your relationship was never a sparkling example of sunday skool, Jesus Mary and Joseph kinda love.  I often feel defensive… when he asks me questions about my healing path.  But today I remembered that he is simply seeking connection.  I was gonna throw in some kinda cheap afterthought blow to his character… like that he’s not the expert at creating connection. But then I realized that perhaps he IS.  He has been working the Crap Table for longer’n I been alive.  Such a post does require a hearty dose of connection I believe.  I tend to put myself on a pedestal at times and imagine others as less than divine brilliance (sometimes I put others above and me below, just to keep it fresh)… And through this experience of “sickness”, I can see that when I cast others in the “inferior” intelligence roll, the Play is not so much fun to “play” in…. Let alone “STAR” in.  

That’s a huge piece of this thing.  This “sickness”.  Is like groping inside to find that OTHER life.  The one that is an expression of WELLNESS.  The me that is living in Alignment.  AS alignment.  I feel myself reconfiguring… I hope it all works out ok!  Wink…

So my cute dad… It’s sorta understatedly endearing that he flounders and falls short.  The humanness is the point.  I too often forget this, expecting everyone (and myself) to be holier than Thou… and the world becomes a cacophony of crashing cups and plates as porcelain songs and blown glass dances CRASH, here and there and all about!

Something else that I don’t want to talk about is what will happen to Serena if I don’t make it to the other side of this raging river.  Suddenly it’s so like that.  The water is roaring in my ears and I’m screaming out above it… 

Don’t fuckin drop me.  

Yeah I don’t want to talk about what will happen with Serena.  It’s just a Thing.  A very Serious and Important Thing.  And it’s wild… trying to be “good” and “responsible” and face it.  But it’s basically like peeping your head down this corridor of time in which you do not exist.  And at some point along in this humming hallucination, you realize you are dreaming into your own bodily demise and then you hafta ask yourself if that’s really the neighborhood you want to linger in…  

I don’t. 

But also I do… a little bit.  

Enough to add juice and spice to my simmer.  I try to remember who I was… before I had kids.  Before life got so top-heavy.  Before my hope was blue lipped and frigid.  I was all hopped up on magical sauce.  People called me “Peter Pan”.  I had never walked the darkest streets.  Is that true?  No.  I’ve always veered onto dark streets.  But how can anyone have the rooted maturity to inhabit their life as the Unsayable Gift that it is, until they have nearly (or completely) lost (and then found) this tender flame and the breath that Sustains.  God I nominate myself for asking the Rhetorical Question of the Fucking Year.  Can one inhabit such precious innocence without first facing it’s loss?  It sure helps in my case…. Rubbing up against all these rough edges of Life, until I am smooth as FUCK.  

And then WHAT???

Haha ya got me.  And then… I’m smooth as fuck.  And hopefully my smoothness will be of value to you somehow… or not… maybe I was better when I was jagged and I refracted the light with a savage flash, reminiscent of Her merciful eye.  I guess I shant try to run anywhere.  

Actually, THIS is exactly where I want to be.  On my belly on my bed in the afternoon sun ALONE listening to Adey Bell and roaming about the space that ONLY I AM capable of encountering, and fitting it into strings of beaded brilliance that if we are lucky will catch The First Light and strike a bonfire orchestra of Remembrance…  Isn’t it amazing what words and mOMents and bodies can do?  That innocent flashing refraction of the infinite… disguised in hum-drum-mundane costumes.    

I’m smooth and clever as fuck, but I still don’t want to unpack all the feelings around searching for new parents for my daughter who ONLY BELONGS WITH ME.  God, please look through my eyes.  With your outrageous and simple LOVE.  From here, all is well and makes as much sense as it needs to.  

But please God…. help me get across this ferocious river.  Seriously.                 

Spelunking the Uncanny Quiet

I don’t have anything burning to say… that I’m aware of.  But I am showing up, holding space for my Self.  The truth is that since my cancer diagnosis, I have become more internal than ever before.  I guess because it’s such a strong subject and people have so many opinions and so much fear.  And I want neither.  I am moving along my Path, illuminated from within.  Everything I need is coming to me with ease and grace.  

For example, a couple of weeks ago, Rosa brought me an article that she found wedged in a stack of books that someone recently gave her.  The article was in english, and it was about a man who had colon cancer that metastasized to his liver.  He tried all this natural stuff that didn’t work.  Finally he let the doctors chop out a big chunk of his liver and his body was rocked.  Without missing a beat, the oncologist was pressing him to undergo chemotherapy… but he somehow caught wind of the notion that ayahausca (a strong plant medicine) could heal him.  So he did four ceremonies and at the end, the spirit of the plant told him he was healed.  He went in for a CT scan and it was confirmed- he was cancer free.  The oncologist was so shocked, he requested another scan.  Yup.  All gone.  

Was it any coincidence that this article found its way to me against all odds?  No frickin way.  So I contacted the warm and wild hearted wise woman who facilitates Santo Diame ceremonies in Assisi, to see if she could help me.  To my surprise and delight, she offered to come to my house for a private prayer and medicine ceremony.  People keep telling me  that treatments work if you BELIEVE they will.  That the MIND plays a massive role in healing.   I believe in the power of plants.  And my own body.  And God’s grace.  (and NO, I am not relying SOLELY on this medicine.  It is merely an element of my healing journey.)

On the other side of the coin, the mind also plays a massive role in sickness.  And the universe is giving me a big, juicy opportunity to dig into this demension.  Manuela Forte has been appointed by the Divine Mother to support my journey since I was sent to Italy.  She is an Italian spiritual counselor/meditation teacher/ambassador of Consciousness.  Her heart is pure and kind and she has an impressive following.  She shared my story with her community, and invited people to support me if they felt moved from their heart.  The response was stunning.  So many women of the light stepped forward and shared money, prayers, words of love, art, song and healing resources.  An older woman named Annalisa offered to serve as a guide for me to heal the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that created my illness.  Her modality was developed by Essene doctors in Jesus’s time.  The system is designed to determine and dissolve any illness at the ROOT.  Annalisa said she will walk with me as long as I need her.  We have already begun.  

Witnessing all that is flowing to me in benevolence and grace, I feel quite stunned.  I realize that at a soul level, I have created this as a shocking, undeniable call to DIVE THE FUCK IN and DO THE DEEP WORK.  If the Call was a whisper before, now it is siren screaming down a swanky sunset boulevard, alarming the greasy crackheads and slick billionaires alike.  

God I am willing.  At least willing enough.  Navigating a human ego is certainly like herding a flock of arrogant cats.  I assert this as an acknowledgment of the parts of me that want to hide out and hope Life will safeport me to the other side of this treacherous river.  But there is ENOUGH of me that is not only willing, but also EXCITED to unravel old trauma and pain and beliefs in sickness…. May God’s Grace fuel this part of me, that it may move with strength, swiftness and precision.  

And what of my marriage, you ask?  Gosh… this topic might be officially nominated the Ultimate Buzz Kill of 2021.  Giordano is terrified.  And enraged.  Thankfully, he is doing his best to keep his overwhelming feelings to himself.  But this causes him to pop into our reality in brief sparks, fleeting moments of buttery sunlight amidst a purple black storm. (Wait, that was super poetic… but being with him is actually not buttery sunlight.  It’s black and purple like storms and bruises and uncharted neighborhoods of the Underworld.) At first, I felt very upset about this erratic behavior.  But I noticed that feeling upset was antithetical to healing.  So I’ve been working to get right with how it IS.  Byron Katie says that “Reality is God”.  If you want to love God, you gotta love what IS.  So I’m in the active practice of letting it be.  I was hoping for a lot more support and connection from him.  But if it’s support and connection I crave… I can find it elsewhere.  And hence be a helluva lot happier.  Sounds tempting, eh?  

The weird part is that he alternates between begging me to come home, and then dousing me in fires of rage and attack for having left.  He doesn’t seem to understand that the only thing that will entice me “home” is kindness, joy and love.  But when we are together, he is mostly distracted and miserable, and I feel so thankful to have a peaceful, energetically light space to come home to after our heavy interactions.  We tried therapy for a minute. The first session sucked ass, because it came on the heals of a string of cruel, emotionally violent audio texts from him and I felt scared, hurt, angry and unsafe as fuck.  That session ended with me exclaiming “FUCK YOU” and then storming out.  (But the beautiful thing is that G spoke with the counselor for another two hours!)

Then Giordano stepped through a pane of glass and spent the night in the emergency room and somehow this softened him.  Soon following, we went to speak with a different counselor, and it went markedly better.  But this had nothing to do with the counselor… only the erratic emotional climate dictated by the quicksilver gales of my wounded husband.  I am aware as I write this, that I am putting it all on him.  I’m asking myself if this is a) accurate and b) useful.  It truly seems like he is the one who is flailing and floundering.  And I don’t feel safe.  I’m willing to dig in and search for that which has been hidden from my view….  And these words represent my view at present time.  

Yesterday Giordano took Forest for the afternoon.  When he brought our beloved child home, he loitered in the entry for some time, neither wanting to stay or go.  It felt sweet and welcome… to have him lingering at my threshold.  Forest showed off his recent bubble blowing skills to his impressed Papa.  Forest has been in a self-appointed full bubble blowing immersion.  He can be fully absorbed in the act of blowing bubbles and then catching them on the wand for a half an hour or more, punctuating our streaming Now Moment with eratic strands of short, tight-lipped exhales.  

Speaking of lips, Giordano kissed me before he left.  It was an urgent, rushed tongue kiss. Neither of our mouths were particularly wet… It felt as if his mind had already made it to the truck and sped away, while his body was simultaneously eager to express its desire and love, and also to catch up with aforementioned mind.  Part of me enjoyed it.  Part of me was bewildered.  And then he was gone and I was blinking in the sputtering exhaust of his figurative roaring tailpipe.  

I feel grief for the sexual self in me who is currently in forced exile.  My erotic energy flows in quiet swells within me… denied a source in which to pour forth.  She carves tick marks into her corroded cell wall, dreaming of a day when She will melt and bleed as sunlight unbounded.  But for today, she’s all unrequited love songs and half hearted suicide notes.  And to Her, I cry out, “Hang in there Lover… I will come back for you.  I will pull you out of the rubble and nurse you with sweet flower nectar from my very own lips.”

The Nearly Free Birth of Forest: EPILOGUE

The river of life flows on… and the more time that rushes past, the more surreal my lived stories become.  Sorta like grapes to wine. And now is the moment when I decant some of July’s finest vintage for you…

 

You have yet to discover why Forest’s birth was “nearly” free.  The birth itself was free… but over here in Italy, I was enraged to discover that aside from the air I breathe and the spring water that flows like wine from Bacchus’s blessed font, NOTHING is truly free.  

 

After Forest emerged, Giordano became preoccupied (to an obsessive degree) with getting him “registered” as a viable human… you know, the whole birth certificate business.  I appreciate that Hubba-Hubby was so on top of it… But he has a rancid tendency to expect the worst and bring fear and anxiety to affairs that could just as easily unfold with peace, harmony and grace.  

 

Giordano went to the “Commune” of our enchanting city, Gualdo Tadino, to discover what we needed to do to register our boy.  They told him a “witness” of the birth was required in order to verify that Forest was truly our baby. The witness is usually either a midwife at home births, or a doctor at the hospital.  Neither of us qualified as a valid witness. Vafanculo! (Me and Serena’s new favorite Italian exclamation. It literally means go fuck your self (in the ass). It’s fun to say with an over dramatized Italian intonation!)  Who invents this smelly bullshit? Yeah, I stole my baby… but I’m lactating, I have an empty, saggy belly and my yoni is streaming bloody lochia. I’m getting pissed just writing about it. The memories are definitely coming into focus again…

 

Giordano got quite worked up by this news.  The peeps at the Commune had never dealt with a scenario like ours before (Italians are too tribal-minded to choose anything as radical as Freebirth), so their information was awash with nebulosity.  They had no solid source of reference for the information they provided. But they told us we had TEN DAYS to submit our documents (including said witness verification).  

 

Navigating this situation was like grasping at mist.  Giordano’s anxiety mounted as breaths, hours and days passed.  I chose to trust. Giving birth had ripped me wide open. I was raw.  Feeling and digesting my husband’s anxiety and fear felt like a fucking curse.  I just wanted to rest and heal (and take necessary steps… but sans the element of toxic, emotionally charged, fear-based drama).  Not to mention that I had very little help postpartum. (Giordano’s mama brought over a few lunches for the first couple days, when I could barely walk without feeling like my yoni was on fire and about to fall on the floor when I stood up.  Which I did waaaay to often.)

 

So on day three of Forest’s glorious earthside journey, our family of four set out on a quest for the Holy Grail- a witness who would verify that Forest was ours.  Giordano is a creature of instinct. Mostly I find this sexy, but also sometimes a bit alienating, because he doesn’t make decisions or take action until the last moment… and then he does what he feels.  (It’s hard to make plans with him or feel included. But his instincts are keen like a wild animal.) So we were driving down the road out of town as he grappled inside for the “sense” of where to go first.  Talk about a thrillride.  

 

And remember, I am ripped open to the heavens, I can barely walk and am pouring with bloody afterbirth fluid called “lochia”.  Oh, and I was wearing my last pad!…

 

In a timely lightning flash, he resolved to head to a pediatrician in the next town over, who was recommended to us by friends with small children.  Supposedly she was relaxed about “normal” (not so normal if you ask me) protocols such as vaccinations. We were tense as we drove. He got lost. We were late.  We fought. I reminded myself to breathe deep and relax the relentless tension in my belly, chest, neck and shoulders. Ugh.  

 

We finally made it.  We stepped out into the thick July heat, clothes clinging to our sweaty bodies.  I walked ahead of my superbly anxious husband and fumbled in broken Italian to discover where to go.  

 

The pediatrician was a decent woman.  She asked us basic questions (in Italian), such as his full name, the date and time of his birth and his weight.  Then she told me to take his diaper off so she could weigh him. It was all pretty benign and doable. Until she took him and put him on her table to “examine” him.  To her credit, she was gentle. But to me her protocols were superfluous and stressful for one so new. She tested his reflexes, tossing him around to see if he reacted when he fell backwards.  Poor little guy. Of course he reacted. He cried. Hard. My raw heart bled and I filled with fire. She told us that Forest was slightly jaundiced. Duh. He was a bit yellow. She wrote out a prescription for him for vitamin D, which I tossed in the recycling at home.  Didn’t anyone tell her that my body custom blends his breast milk according to what his body tells me it needs based on the information passed in his saliva?

 

She wrote us a paper verifying that little Mister Grace had received “care”.  This was to make us look like “sane, respectable parents” through the eyes of The System”.  

 

Next stop was the “Consultorio”, which is where I was receiving “prenatal care” (Not really “care” at all… more like a group of well-intentioned ignoramuses who pretended to know more about my body and my baby than I did, were way too trigger happy to ultrasound me without asking my consent, took my blood monthly, told me I was at risk for toxoplasmosis, didn’t listen to me when I told them exactly when I ovulated and instead spent way too much time at EVERY visit calculating and recalculating my due date based on the first day of my last period with a little cardboard wheel.), until about half way through my pregnancy when I got bold, listened inside and permitted myself to stop going and instead TRUST and truly CARE for myself and Forest.

 

Since I don’t speak Italian, Girdano did all the talking.  Even though it “crushed him the ball” (another of my favorite Italian expressions!) to have all the responsibility for communicating, he was very poised.  I could not understand all that was being said, but there was a lot of fear energy coming from the characters at the consultorio. Meanwhile, I had bled through my last pad back at the pediatrician’s office, and replaced it with paper towels, which had slipped out of my stained panties at some point.  I felt a warm rush of liquid. Cradling my newborn, I headed for the large roll of paper towels in our exam room, went behind a white shoji screen and put a fresh wad in my undies. I felt like a renegade cowgirl.

 

The peeps at the consultorio sent us to the nearest hospital, twenty minutes away.  It was lunch time. The heat was opressive. Giordano told me that I would probably need to be “examined”.  This ENRAGED me. I spent the whole ride spitting fire. Giordano handled this really well and did his best to allow me space to express my feelings, while keeping us on track.  He was not happy about the way things were going either, but apparently this is what needed to be done.

 

At the hospital, we were sent to the maternity ward, where we were greeted by two warm and helpful women.  Serena and I sat on a loveseat in their office while Giordano spoke extensively with them. They knew his father and commented that they were not surprised that HE would choose such a radical course.  Apparently it runs in the family…. 

 

After about twenty minutes of talking and waiting and talking and waiting, he explained the situation to me.  They were hesitant to “take responsibility” for our out-of-the-box birth. They deliberated amongst themselves how to handle our delicate situation.  They wanted to help us… and cover their own asses. They sent us to a small, chilly, fluorescent-lit waiting room down the hall. Serena was wiggly but well behaved.  Forest slept in his carseat. I breathed. My hunger swelled. It must have been two or three o’clock. Giordano and Serena went foraging at the cafe downstairs. He ate a hamburger and brought me back some organic coconut chips and raw cashews.  Perfect.  

 

Around the time we were done munching, they came in and said they would sign for us… but first I would need to be examined.  Holy hell. We were led down the hall to the exam room. The nurse said I had to go in alone. There were FOUR italian speaking women inside who gazed scrutinously upon me.  I felt cornered. They asked me a few questions in Italian, which I mostly understood and was able to answer. Then they told me to take my pants and undies off and get on the table.  Fuck. They told me to scoot forward. My body screamed NOOOO. But I felt like I had no choice, if I wanted to get the damn piece of paper and the ensuing birth certificate.  

 

The sourest woman of the bunch stuck her fingers in my vagina.  Without consent. Without even a warning. Without a damn shred of sensitivity.  She concurrently palpated my lower belly. I felt violated. I yelped and pulled away.  I didn’t know whether to cry or kill. Then they lathered my belly in blue goop and gave me a fucking ultrasound.  I don’t trust ultrasounds. I did NOT want that. As far as I’m concerned, they are only appropriate in extreme circumstances.  When they were finished, they didn’t even offer me a damn paper towel to clean myself off.  

 

But they gave us the fucking paper.  

 

They told me to come back in forty days for another fucking check-up.  Yeah fucking right.

 

By the time we got home, it was early evening.  I was exhausted.  

 

I was not able to speak with anybody throughout this process, so I don’t know for sure that all of this REALLY had to happen.  Maybe there was a way to avoid this violating experience… but if there was, it was not revealed.  

 

I chose to freebirth, because I wanted to bring Forest into the world on MY terms.  I wanted to stay at home, in peace. I wanted sovereignty of my body, my baby, my choices.  I did not realize that this was not an option in this archaic, medieval, Palpally-persuaded, boot-shaped paradise otherwise known as Italy.  

The almost free birth of Forest (part 3)

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

 

Giordano may not have “lost it”… but nor did he have it together…. He asked me if Forest was moving anymore… I reflected on this, and then realized, no, he hasn’t moved for a while.  Still riding the swelling wave of fear that “going to the hospital had catalyzed, now I was paranoid that my baby was in distress.

 

I waddled into the hallway.  I braced myself on the small white desk that abides there (for lack of a better home).  Another vicious contraction and furious push.  Another.  And another.  OMFG.  Rapid fire.  “Good position or NOT, this baby was on his way out.  I took my police pants off again and somehow made it to the living room.

 

I climbed into the ugliest brown armchair you’ve ever seen (I’d been wanting to excommunicate it from our house since the moment it found its way in), braced myself with hands on the wall.  Gave a few more colossal pushes.   COLOSSAL.  I had no other choice.

 

THE RING OF FIRE.

 

The women on video chat had instructed me to “hang out here” for a bit… rather than pushing straight through it… so as not to tear.  Stretch open slowwwwly.

 

I had not met the ring of fire while birthing Serena.  Up until this moment, it was but a dramatic and terrible title.  Well… for those of you who, like me, haven’t a lucid intimacy with this fearsome BEAST…  It truly lives up to its name.  Irreconcilable BURN.  Like a dragon breathing fire on your genitals, burning them to oblivion.

 

I “hung out there” (haha, there was nothing casual or relaxed, as “hanging out” implies…) for maybe two contractions.  Three at most.  And then BAM!  Out popped…. SOMEthing.

 

Giordano was standing behind me, pouring with intensity and panic.

 

He announced it was Forest’s head.  He said Forest looked dead.  Like a damn fool (or maybe just a vulnerable, birthing woman in an altered state), I believed my doom and gloom husband!  Desperate to get his whole body out ASAFP, I pushed again.  And again.  The second time, part of his body slid out.  Third push, VOILA!!  Giordano and I clumsily caught him together.  Blood guuuussssshed out of me, drenching the ugliest chair in the world.  (A dried up, crimson splash still remains on the wall next to the radiator!  I want it to remain forever.)

 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Forest’s neck one loose time.  I untwisted it.  (I want to “normalize” this occurrence.  Hospital culture would have you believe this is an “emergency situation”.  Rarely.  Many babies get benignly tangled in their cords.  I discovered this on the freebirth podcast, so I was not alarmed in the least.)

 

I held my jumbo, blood-bathed son!  He gasped for breath.  He sputtered, still full of amniotic fluid.  I sucked his nose and mouth.  This didn’t seem to help.  He cried.  (Giordano says he cried immediately… but as I had just pushed a nine pound human through my vagina, my chronology is not quite as crisp.)  Little Forest looked like a “fish out of water”… Alienated by this lickety-split miracle of moving from  spirit to form.  Breath, body, blood, otherness…  Ugh.  (We all must be NUTS to come here and subject our Selves to all this hoopla!)

 

I asked Giordano to hand me a towel.  Of course it was white! Speaking of white, my white tank top was now mostly RED.  The towel too.  I cradled my slimy baby in the rough, line-dried towel.   He was alive!  After he cried for a minute, he quieted and looked around.

 

Watching my newborn son register his arrival on planet earth was perhaps the most incredible moment of my entire life.  (With Serena, the nurse wiped her off with objectionable wet wipes from a package, which caused her to scream her head off for a few solid minutes before passing out on my chest.)  Forest was calm and wide awake.  His open gaze slowed time and silenced mind.  He abided in this sober, wakeful presence for at least an hour.

 

Meanwhile, I cradled him and waddled around the house in a wide-eyed stupor, his umbilical cord still plugged into the depths of my womb.  Blood gratuitously spilled from between my legs, leaving an artistically rendered trail of my haphazard course.

 

Giordano had called his Mama back in the “we are going to the hospital” chapter, asking her to accompany us.  (Apparently the Italian stereotype about men being super attached to their mamas is no joke.  I tease him that she is his first wife.)  Within minutes of Forest’s arrival, in came “Nona”.  This was a plot twist, but it felt right.  Forest called in Family.

 

Hubby-Dearest and his Mama tag-teamed with the mop, cleaning up endless puddles, streams, rivers, dribbles of blood.  (One “pro” of birthing in the hospital, is that the family can just chill and swoon while the “hired help” does the dirty work.  And trust me, it was a lot of dirty work…)  I remember standing at the bathroom sink, cradling Forest, and marveling at my two smeared, bloody footprints.

 

Blood continued to flow like wine rivers after I found my way to bed.  We had been so good about covering the bed with a shower curtain and a janky old duvet cover… I forgot to account for the messy aftermath.  Our *one* pair of summer sheets now shall sing the story of Forest’s birth forever more.

 

Oh.  And Forest’s HEAD.  Whoa, people.  When he first came out, he looked like an asymetrical UNICORN.  His head went on a magical mystery tour to pass through my vag.  Good gracious.  I think I texted or called Karen back and asked her if this was “normal”.  To my profound relief, she affirmed normalcy, and reassured me that it would quickly reshape.  It did.  But Lordy, I wish I had snapped a photo.  It was remarkable.  (I wish I had photos and video of the whole birth…. But there was no one I wanted to invite into my sacred space to play the roll of photographer.  This is a minor tragedy.)  I took a selfie when I got into bed.  Then I asked G to snap a couple more.  The rest must live in the mythic distortion of my and Giordano’s memory.

 

When got back in bed, my body shook violently.  This continued for at least half an hour.  Completely involuntary.

 

I offered Forest my breast and waited for the urge to birth the placenta.  Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting.  I consulted Karen, and she told me to get the thing OUT… so I lightly tugged on the cord, as I pushed.  My placenta was not so jazzed to part ways with my womb, but finally blubbered out into  the plastic, orange bowl.  What a fucking relief.  Now Forest was not attached to the inside of my body any longer, but to a bowl hosting a blob of bloody meat.

 

Next on the thrilling itinerary, Giordano and I burned the umbilical cord.  (This coterizes it, so a clamp is unnecessary.  I also preferred this means of release, for its ceremonial and elemental aspects).  I wanted  to give Forest plenty of time to reabsorb all the goodness the placenta had to offer… and yet, after two and a half hours, I was done with the large-scale production of cords and bowls and bloody organs.

 

The cord burning was the quintessential scene for a movie… though living through it was traumatizing.  Giordano, who by this time was crabby and way less than generous, was holding the candle.  I held the baby and the cord?  G kept scolding me for holding the cord too close to the flame.  He had the patience of a piranha.  Thanks dude.  I guess he forgot that I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and was still in the process of losing gallons of blood.  I kept asking him to be nice.  But apparently he didn’t have access to this particular virtue at this particular moment.  It probably took eleven minutes.  The longest eleven minutes of my life….

 

Our bedroom now smelled like a barbecue.  The three inches of remaining cord protruded from Forest’s little belly like a white worm. I ate a ripe banana and went to sleep.  It was a little after 4am.

 

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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