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???

 

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

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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…

 

🙂

 

 

Breathe. Write. Heal.

I think of this blog as my Life Story.  Sure, there’s a butt-ton (my favorite unit of measure) of mOMents that happen within the massive cracks of time between posts… but if you added these pages up and divided them by themself… you would get a fairly vivid and tonally accurate sketch of my Dense Adventure this time around.

 

With this in mind, what can I say today that will carry you along the shadow-carved carousel continuum that is my Life?

 

I want to make broad strokes, so you can taste the ALL OF IT that I am swimming in.  Broad strokes, intricately engraved with microscopic renditions of The Lord’s Prayer, naturally.

 

I often feel like captain of the Titanic these days.  In charge of a hopelessly sinking ship.  It’s a visceral feeling… the sinking starts in my heart and spreads like fire.  Sometimes it begins upon waking.  Others I am spared till mid-morning.  It’s a stiff cocktail of loneliness, isolation and poverty.  I flush with a sense of desperation and burn for someone to hear me and hold me and be a messy flesh-bag by my side. But my american friends are dancing with Mister Sandman…

 

I almost always find myself alone.  In my house strewn with the at once inspiring and despicable aftermath of the endlessly exploding imagination of a three year old.  Alone with Serena, that is.  Serena who needs so much of me. (Except in those said blessed mOMents of sovereign, bursting imagination.)

 

The haunted rabbit hole of desperation has a distinct gravitational hunger and suckles me forcefully.  I try to breathe deep and stay awake.  But the pain is intoxicating.  I can’t believe THIS is what I was born for.  I start to quietly beat myself up for losing my Way.  For living a life that is waaay less than extraordinary and glorious.

 

While Serena is napping, I scroll down my instagram feed and see Tony Robbins juicing up audiences the size of twelve football stadiums, acknowledging his soulfully gorgeous, supportive wife, recharging his batteries in Fiji… I see healthy, bright beings telling it on a mountain about how they start their day with celery juice, and I feel eternally fucked, because where I live, it’s near impossible to find organic celery.  I see mamas who are raising their littles immersed in nature, without the festering devil that is “screen”.  I see pregnant women who are committed to regular “work-out” routines, promenading around local farmer’s markets with their three year olds and having satisfying intimacy with their husbands.  And so much more.

 

I hate social media.  I never felt like this before.  I guess I should take a break…  But I’m afraid if I unplug, I will be hopelessly alone.

 

In other news, I don’t think I mentioned here that “Misha”, the cat who hangs around our house, had three kittens in our living room on the night of April 10th. (The auspicious birthday of my legendary childhood bestie, Amber…)  One kitten died days later.  Another one died yesterday.  Serena and I loved her to the Other Side.  There is one left…

 

Why do kittens drop like flies around our house?  I’ll tell you why.  They are Giordano’s dad’s cats.  He does not spay/neuter them… and they just breed prolifically and shit everywhere.  Giordano says there are about thirty… but I have no idea how he can know this.  They occur as infinite to me.  They are all inbred my now, and infested with ticks and worms and lord knows what else.  A few of them have set up camp at our house… And it’s impossible not to love them.  But this entails living with a broken heart for the conditions of their existence.  Such a different mindset than “where I come from”.  I grew up with Bob Barker’s relentless, devotional plug at the end of every Price Is Right episode, reminding viewers to spay and neuter their pets.

 

Anyway, the remaining kitten, I named Pleiades… because she has bulging, blue alien eyes.  She seems slightly retarded: scrawny, trembling and weak.  But also adorable.  Now that her siblings are dead, she is always under my feet.  Needing warmth and another heartbeat.  The same things I am needing.

 

When left alone, she pours with incessant, agitating cries.  So I carry her around in my pocket, or hold her close to my heart.  This soothes us both.  I hope she survives.

 

I never thought I’d be one of those moms who lived only for her children…

 

But lately, in moments it feels like Serena is the tread that keeps me going.  However imperfectly. (And.  The deeper me lives for Humanity.  At my core, I know that all I feel through and live is in service of The Collective.  Digesting the energies that few have the courage to encounter and embrace.  The True Me is passionate about this.)  Yesterday was swimming day.  I drove us to the pool at half the speed limit, because I couldn’t find the will to do more.  The ache inside was debilitating…

 

Lately I find myself thinking of Sylvia Plath… imagining that I know the crippling depression that drove her to take her own life.  I’m too spiritually minded/hearted to do such a thing.  But I understand it…  I also think of my recently deceased, schizophrenic maternal grandmother.  I’m not mentally ill.  But these days, I recognize the homeopathic dose of her that lives through me.  I wonder about the burden she carried… A genius with no support in expressing her brilliance.  So instead of playing oboe for the symphony, she married a jolly man, fresh from prison, (grandpa robbed a train station and did… ten years?) made three daughters and a home.  And went crazy.  That is such a simplified version… but suppressing creativity, dreams, desire, brilliance in the name of survival, cultural “appropriateness”, lack of support/validation… I blink in astonishment as these themes live through me now.  I want to hurl them against a wall of stone and fire.

 

That’s why I am here writing, even as my life seems to be sinking and I come undone.  I might not have “IT” figured out.  I might be failing in the eyes many of the peanut gallery who live inside me.  But I can still write about it.  I can always write about it.  This is my sanity and salvation.

 

And speaking of sanity and salvation, back to my swim.  We made it to the pool, and miraculously, I found my way into my neon, sport bikini, my massive belly bulging like this burgeoning full moon.  We set up camp on the (indoor) tile pool deck.  I opened Giordano’s laptop and put the Peppa Pig DVD inside.  It wouldn’t play.  I tried ten times.  It got stuck on the FBI Warning.  A man came and took “my lane” while I was wrastling with unwieldy technology.  Desperation filled me to overflowing and tears poured forth.

 

Getting my ass in the pool had seemed like a dose of disgusting medicine, moments ago… But suddenly the threat of having this life-line robbed from me was a cosmic injustice that I could not endure.  “Luigi”, the kind-hearted man at the front desk came and asked (in Italian, of course) what was the matter.  We mutually grappled with the language barrier in attempt to right this Royal Wrong.  He offered for Serena to watch a program in the office, where there was WIFI.  Serena refused to be that far from me.  I told her she could sit at the edge of the pool and watch me do laps.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.  All I could do was sit there, stupefied by IT ALL.

 

After eternal moments of glazed desperation, I prepared to close the computer… and got a hunch to try restarting it.  So I did.  And then Peppa Pig played like a Boss.  The cool water swirled and swaddled me in love.  Buoyant movement and breath, I floated through an interdimensional world beyond time.  Alchemy.  Life didn’t get any easier when I emerged forty-five minutes later… but I was tenderized and able to keep going.

 

My wise and luminous friend Elizabeth told me to keep breathing deep into my heart.  To stay in my heart no matter what.  She said that hitting rock bottom is “auspicious”.  She said “A light will go on if I can stay in my heart and embrace my pain.”

 

Yes.

 

Breathe.  Write.  Heal.

 

For the well-being of ALL.

 

Amen.

 

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.

Wounded Masculine: Making love to my Beautiful Crucible

I was elated that I finally had time and space to write… and now I am here, staring at the blank page like a newborn gazelle.  I’ve written like twelve blogs in my head since I last gushed my heart and life onto the page. Ooooh, but even the sheer experience of typing a single-file stream of letters is singing me back into realized wholeness.  A wounded soldier, sipping broth from a spoon. Am I a wounded soldier? Haha, maybe! I’m not willing to commit to that persona, but I will happily share my pot of mint tea with It, and let it take a load off in the friendly atmosphere of my psyche!

 

I know what I wanted to say!  I listened to Paul Simon’s album, “Graceland” this morning.  And like always, it was a profound experience. That album lives in my bones and my soul.  My dad had the cassette tape when I was a child… like maybe seven years old. And we played the crap out of it.  (Also the U2 album, “The Joshua Tree”.)

 

I’m awestruck by how deeply music can touch The Soul.

 

Anyway, I’ve been grappling with my “Father Wound” at an especially deep level lately.  Which implies to me that I am ready for the next level of healing and Self-integration.

 

My Daddy.  I’ve always had a searing longing to MATTER to him.  Like not just “matter”…. But MATTER. You know? Like in the most indispensable and essential sense of the word.  But that was not the imprint I was *blessed* to receive. I’ve had little crumb-esque moments of feeling that. And I guess that’s why I create relationships with men that are based in the “currency of crumbs”.

 

When I crashed “Penis Ray-Ray”, I asked my Pops for $alvation.  And maaaan, did he deliver. He was so fucking generous. (Between him and the golden net of friends in my life, we were able to resurrect our beloved Fiat, BTW!)  And I should predicate that I AM NOT a trust fund baby. And my Daddy In Shining Armor is not always there to ease the burden of Existing in this capitalist shit show otherwise known as “Modern Life”.  My soul chose the rugged, off-road adventure of being born to financially strapped parents! If I ever find the Emerald City that is Prosperity, I will be an entirely Self-Made Rich Bitch. Which will make it taste all the sweeter.

 

So he gave me money when I neeeeded it.  And that was his best stab at loving me. But concurrently, I was leaving him sincere, soul-bearing. love-filled audio messages… to which he never replied.  I guess this is a new-ish iteration of our relationship. One that has emerged with the advent of smart phones and WhatsApp. I have left him too many audio messages, to which he mostly doesn’t reply.  (To his credit, sometimes I beg him, and then he does.)

 

Intellectually, I know it’s not personal.  Maybe, being a dinosaur, he’s just not a fan of communicating through “modern technology”.  Maybe he’s too busy breaking a sweat in his unrelenting hamster wheel… supporting his wife and twenty year old twins who still live at home.  Et cetera, et cetera.

 

Emotionally… that’s another story.  If I let myself feel the raw truth of it, it’s crushing.  It totally blows. My inner child is cowering in a puddle of her own tears.

 

And then I look at the most relevant men in my life… The two fathers of my children.  

 

Oh wait, time out.  I just experienced a powerful in-the-mOMent wave of grief.  I looked up from this word stew and saw a neighbor woman wheeling a full shopping cart out of the adjacent grocery store.  Her mother is sitting at the table (in the cafe) next to me with the three year old granddaughter. I witnessed this simple play of Life, and was broadsided by sadness that my mom is gone, and will NEVER hang out with Serena, noshing on croissants (my Ma’s favorite), while I perform basic, requisite life tasks.  These emotions seem an indulgent river to swim in. She’s gone and that’s just the way it is. But I’m happy to announce this spontaneous burst of sadness. And to amplify the tragedy, Giordano’s parents, though close in physical proximity, have not proved to be much support in the way of “grandparents”… Maybe when “their own” grandson emerges from the water world of my womb, they will be more… “inspired”.  Or maybe they smoke too much weed to care.

 

And now back to our previously scheduled program.  Men. Serena’s dad. Remains a legend in my heart. Despite how half-assed his participation in our lives has been.  Fuck. What can I say? People are disappointing. AND. Love is love. Especially Soul Love. That’s the shit that’s invincible to circumstances.  Even from across the world, he makes and breaks my heart on a semi-regular basis. And yet…. All I can do is keep giving of my Self. The other day, I told him how much it sucked ass… to give him my heart, again and again, and get met with silence (deja vous).  He said something to the effect of, “Yeah, but it’s your Path to give love… and maybe someday I’ll show up in the fullness you crave.”

 

My gut response was FUCK YOU.

 

But.

 

He is right.  Giving love, without the guarantee of return IS my Path, and my Nature.  Unconditional. And meanwhile, to remember and embody the Truth, that I am one with Source.  I do not need to rely on external sources for love. This Path of Mastery might suck in moments from the view of my flailing ego… but for my deep, badass Soul, it is hella satisfying.  What I find inside is MINE forever. Divine forever. So BRING ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL FIRE, Bitches.

 

Then there’s my husband*.  Who is laughably flawed. Searingly unsatisfying in his narrow capacity to meet me with any depth of presence, or emotional intelligence.  He is sooo perpetually enraptured by the incessant, swirling eddies of his own “hella compelling” thoughts, that it appears virtually IMPOSSIBLE for him to truly listen to me most of the time.  But… He’s a total wild card. Damn unpredictable. So one out of ten times, I am pleasantly surprised by the felt experience of being heard.

 

*And even if in so many moments, he occurs as emotionally retarded, HE IS SO FUCKING SINCERE IN HIS DESIRE TO GROW, TO IMPROVE, TO LEARN.  And to Love…

 

All that to say that I’m really making love to my own crucible these days.  My surface mind cannot grasp the full implication of the healing that is taking place, as I live through this emotionally stained material with an open, courageous heart.  The deeper me keeps saying “Athena, have FAITH. Faith in the profound Intelligence of Life. Faith that what is rising to the surface, is setting you free. Faith in the strength and power of the LOVE that flows through you from The Beyond.”

 

I believe that it is also mega noteworthy that I am on the precipice of becoming mother to a boy.  It seems that this profound soul is catalyzing deeeep healing of my wounds around The Masculine. I have no fucking idea what “Inner Marriage” actually feels like inside… or how to embrace and integrate my own “inner masculine”.  Or who the fuck “Heavenly Father” actually IS for me. Though I want to know all of this. But I DO know that love is always the Answer and the Way. And I know that I gotta “feel it to heal it.”

 

So I breathe humility into inner discomfort and confusion.  And affirm the Divine Perfection and Grace of all that is arising Inside.

 

While my Journey is deeeply personal… I acknowledge the collective nature of what I am experiencing.  The Patriarchy (God bless it) has really fucked us up, collectively speaking. I have not witnessed too many fabulously healthy fathers along my earthly walk-about.  Not to say they don’t exist. THEY DO!!!! They MUST!!! But most men are hurled into adulthood, uninitiated, blind and battered. Taught that it is shameful to feel.  Taught to be tough and do it alone. Taught to work HARD for their piece of the pie, and deny their own needs (except in acts of guilt-ridden secrecy.

 

And now, let’s bareback ride this spiraling story back to Graceland.  That album opens a world inside me where my Dad is Immortal and Perfect.  I realized that this morning as I danced ecstatically around the house. This was a huge victory.  To know that no matter how broken my heart may feel, in relation to my Dad, there lives a place inside of me where he abides in Innocence and Perfect Love.  And I have found the address and the map. Naturally, it is Graceland.

 

That’s enough for now.  Just know I’m over here “doin’ the Work.  Clearing Inner Space for true sovereignty and wholeness to live through me and heal and bless the World.  Invoking a thriving, balanced World, founded on a “happy marriage”. Hella holy matrimony of healthy, integrated Masculine and Feminine.  It’s not an easy job, but it satisfies my Soul.

 

I trust that YOU, too, are toiling gloriously in your own rite.  Bringing your uniquely flavored soul music to the current climate of transformation, death and rebirth rocking planet Earth.  THANK YOU. I appreciate your blood and sweat and salty, devoted love.

 

With Epic Love from Athena Graceland,

Athena Grace

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