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.  

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The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

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

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Poetry of Darkness

My inner perfectionist is ALL UP IN MY BUSINESS as I sit here contemplating what to write about.  I want to write something genius and get drenched in positive attention and validation, because these days, I mostly feel like a mediocre nobody.  If only I could show up here in Athena Graceland like a blazing comet that takes your breath away….  THEN I’d be worth the love and belonging I crave.

 

Ahhhhh feels so good to name that.  It was like taking a giant poop.  It’s the shit that lurks, unacknowledged in the shadows that can really “crush the ball”.  (My favorite Italian phrase.  Referring to testicles, naturally.)  It’s amazing how much stirring of the shadow is occurring in here lately.   I oft wonder “was this stuff always running me from the bowels of my psyche, and I just couldn’t make contact with it?”  This is my hypothesis…

 

Which makes it damn exciting that I am starting to be able to have some real, snuggly intimacy with it.  I guess.  If I give myself permission to digest, release, transcend.  Permission.  It sounds so easy.  But walking through it is like swimming through honey.  Except not nearly as sweet.  Maybe shit flavored honey…

 

I guess I could start by saying really fucking nice things to myself on a regular basis.  The kinds of things that would be glaringly obvious to say to ANYBODY I love and care for, when they are struggling.  The kinds of things I want YOU to say to me upon reading these words.  The kinds of things you HAVE been saying to me.  And for a few sacred mOMents, everything feels ok.

 

Like “Athena, you DON’T always have to be producing something in order to be valuable.  YOU are enough.  If only you could see the exquisite artistry of your BEing as you move through your days.  Even when you feel depressed and hopeless, your magic is contagious and inspiring.”

 

Yep, made myself cry.

 

Been feeling like a mediocre mom a lot lately.  Up until recently, at least I felt like I was succeeding at that.  Serena tells me how much she loooooooves me…. too many times a day too count.  Inside I’m like, “Really???  Even though lose my patience and shout at you too much???”  So much for “conscious parenting”….

 

I think I’m doing better than I give myself credit for.  It just hurts my heart so bad when I yell at this beautiful, perfect being who is my daughter.  (Tears silently spill down my face as I expose this intimate dimension of myself.  Maybe not “brilliant” writing… but honest.  Which is courageous.  Maybe lots of moms secretly feel like shmucks, but don’t want to admit it…)

 

Exhaaaale.  I just don’t know how to navigate the frequent moments when Serena yells and screams and rebels “for no reason”.  I’m sure in HER world, there IS a reason.  Even if she cannot name it.  She’s probably mirroring my emotional intensity.  Maybe this is glaringly obvious from your kush seat in the overstuffed armchair…. She’s also a scorpio.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant when she was growing inside me.  But it’s no joke, people.  Scorpion energy is emotional masturbation.  So indulgent and intense.

 

But I digress.  Sometimes (often lately), I feel like I just can’t handle my girl’s said intensity and unwavering push-back.  I wonder if it would be different if I was adequately reSourced.  I don’t have fuckin’ ANYBODY who shows up to take Serena out for the afternoon and give me a break.  Not even my husband.  (He’s too busy bacon hunting.)  I chose such a fucking hard Path.  Dianne says to keep going and never give up.

 

I’ve always been a spiritual PollyAnna at heart.  My Ma used to passionately wish that this was her last incarnation on earth.  She was OVER IT.   And I’d feel so damn good about myself, replying that I would come back here as many times as I was needed.  But I guess the ingredients I needed to thrust me into “Camp Over IT” were motherhood and a painfully difficult marriage.  Oh, and a seeming lack of ability to plug into higher Purpose.  That’s really the one that slaughters me.

 

Mom, I get it.

 

Did I ever tell you that when I told my mom I was pregnant with Serena, she stopped talking to me for like three days?  Seriously.  And we were living together in her sweet little one-room loft apartment.  It was INTENSE.  I didn’t get it.  But now I imagine that she foresaw the terrain ahead, and was grieving for me.

 

She WAS seeing through the filter of her own struggles, of course.  And probably I will triumph at some point.  Probably some day I will heal my precious inner child, get my writing off the ground and enjoy a more autonomous, focused and gratifying existence.

 

I guess I can lay the groundwork now.  By being sublimely kind to myself no matter what.  And appreciating the Grace of everything that Life is laying at my feet.

 

I’m grateful that it’s summer.  I might be conflagrating in soul-angst… but I’m no dummy!  I am still able to luxuriate in frequent near-nakedness.  I am still deeply moved by the ambiance of overflowing birdsong that pours upon the warm, bright world each day.  The disarming, supple softness of Serena’s three year old skin.  And the way everything is play for her.  Gorgeous trees dripping with glistening, red cherries, of which we are free to eat as many as we please.  A husband who often falls short… but is a die-hard who stands the fuck up after he falls, and sincerely does his best to learn and grow and evolve.

 

A husband who loves his unborn son more than I do at this point.  Giordano’s love for Forest is palpable.  Sometimes I’m scared that Forest will be too much like Giordano…  Sometimes I feel like Forest is the steel-jawed trap that keeps me bound to a life I hate.

 

OMG.  A monk and a nun exiting the grocery store, pushing a full shopping cart!!!!  One of those monks that looks like Friar Tuck.  And a nun who resembles…. Whoopie Goldberg.  Haha, just kidding.

 

Anyway, I’m looking forward to holding my son in my arms.  It’s still hard for me to believe that a baby is going to come out of me.  Even though I’m giant and exhausted and insanely emotional.  It was like this with Serena too.  But I imagined that the second one would be different, given that I’ve done it before.  Nope.  Still unfathomable to me that in about four weeks, I will have a SON.  A tiny human will emerge through my vagina and depend on me for EVERYTHING.  Whoa.  And he will be oozing with the fresh scent of Heaven.

 

Okay, I guess this is the part where I just breathe.  Dunno what else to do now.  Oh, except to keep being earth-shatteringly sweet to myself.

 

From my heart,

Athena Grace

 

Humbled, Stunned and Life Continues

This morning, I’m writing to you from the Graceland fallout shelter.  Snuggled amidst rubble, I nurse a large mason jar of bulletproof coffee.  My favorite handmade (by me) lotus flower mug smashed on Giordano’s tile floor upon my return from my walkabout through the scapes of self-inflicted hell.  

 

The next morning, I sliced through my ring finger with a dull knife during an agitated attempt to seed an avocado.  It has been like this.

 

OMG.  I took myself and my community on such a wild ride, post new moon, partial solar eclipse.  Flames stoked by the alchemy of my choices, my shadow and the current astrological forecast raged and danced Shiva’s seemingly cruel, but ultimately loving dance inside and I couldn’t take it sitting still.  Instead I wriggled and squirmed and cried out “ABUSE” of facebook, begging for money to return to California.

 

My desperate wish was granted with stunning abundance.  

 

Then, as you saw in my last entry, the Master Puppeteer otherwise known as God Almighty, pulled some curious strings, and orchestrated another meeting between Giordano and I.  Despite the sizable mess, there was still so much love.

 

I continued to stay at the archangel Dhuti’s house throughout our emotionally charged ReUnion.  Despite the depth of love between him and I, the fire was still growling and throwing off occasional, dangerous sparks.  Staying in her tiny, peaceful oasis was a luxury refugee vacation.

 

I’m proud to share that Giordano ultimately chose love, and blessed my choice to leave.  I needed this.

On our final day, as mischievously giggling Destiny would have it, was the meditation and breathing workshop of Manuela Forte.  This had been scheduled for months, and Giordano helped organize it. I really wanted to meet Manuela, as she is a very pure channel of Light; an angel who has been holding and blessing Giordano and me (and Serena) and our collective healing journey.

 

We sat outside atop a great hill, beneath a regal and beneficent oak tree.  Giordano’s mother was among the few attendees. As an aside, I am really struck by her.  My life MUST be an epic novel… or God certainly would not people it with such stunningly vivid washes of color and depth of field.  Raphaella is a strikingly small woman. But strong. The sort of strong fashioned by a life of hard knocks and victorious summits. Thin, wiry frame, slightly hunched back, adorned in consistently vivid colors.  Thick, shoulder-length hair, strawberry blond from a bottle, but it seems an utterly natural expression of her profoundly creative essence. I imagine she has fought many battles alone (with God) and won a good few.  Her love is fiery and unmistakable.

 

Upon completion of the workshop, my emotions were calmed.  My heart soft. From this space, it was clear that I must stay in Italy.  Manuela held me in a close embrace and spoke into the Beyond within my eyes as she reflected that she saw a young couple deeply in love.  A family… And that this LAND has medicine for me. I know this is true. I feel a softly synergistic helix, elegantly twisting upward from my feet, through my crown as I walk upon Her soft, giving body.  The dramatic, puffy clouds astound me, constantly. The humidity caresses me.

 

Maaaaaan.  Chronology kills me.  Consistently. What am I really here to say?

 

After the said post-eclipse “fallout”, a few people reflected to me that I really ought to take a pause on writing.  Because I was obsessively pouring forth so much DRAMA into the virtual sphere of facebook. There was a deranged imbalance in my output.  A compulsive quality. Perhaps it was time for me to retreat to a benevolent corner and just breathe.

 

I’m taking time out from facebook for a bit.  But I’ll NEVER stop writing. Taking in Life and pouring out words is what I’m made for.  

 

Joan told me to “take a fucking no bullshit look at what I’m actually committed to”… and I saw that using my writing gift to garner the riveting and cheap thrill of attention from friends on social media was at the top of the list.  For this, I felt ashamed. For a flash, I was tempted to abandon my post as an astounded teller of the Story of my Life.

 

But here I am again.  Telling with abandon. Passion gushing from my fingertips and saturating your own intimate cracks.  That’s what I am for.

 

So here I am, wondering.  Wondering what Life is asking of me now…. This frenzy of heavily carbonated, shaken energy that ‘sploded through me… has left me quite dismantled.  Somewhat humbled. Too much “good advice” was flung my way. But Suzanne’s words stuck with me. She said get off the social media ferris wheel, which is a dead end road, keeping me semi-entertained and stuck.  Work harder than I’ve ever worked before, to create stability, especially for my daughter.

 

Yes.

 

And.

 

Life keeps Life-ing…. And I’m not sure what to do.  Into which groove do I pour myself? Do I humble myself once more and clean toilets, vacuum dirty floors and make mostly delicious soup as I did in Nevada City with a baby fixed to my hip?  I imagined and hoped it was time to spread my wings and FLY. To write something worthwhile. To generate my online women’s circles. To boldly claim my genius. But now I’m back on my knees in the muddy rubble born of emotionally impulsive choices.

 

Obviously the FIRST order of business is to spend more time with God.  Silence. Stillness. Breath. Humble Receptivity.

 

Feels like I was violently KO’d in a fight with my own self.  A needless, masturbatory fight. I am still seeing birdies and stars.  And even the world’s biggest swig of gatorade is not setting me straight.  

 

Honestly, I believed sex would be my salvation.  Maybe you don’t understand this… Many priestess types who serve to reconnect women with their sexual power say the same thing… that when we are connected with our Sex, we are connected with our Self.  

 

Giordano and I have been OMing (orgasmic meditation) every day.  I am starting to feel what Nicole Daedone means when she speaks of being “full”… And I am still confused.

 

What is my DESIRE?  

 

I want to create a safe, calm, expansive, happy life for Serena.

I want to write a book.

I want to lead Sourced Circles.

www.sourcedcircles.com

I want to build deep, replenishing relationships here in Italy.

I want to pour copious love on all my shadowed nooks and deep carved crannies and TRULY heal= return to love.

 

Romantic love is so misrepresented.  Committing to Partnership is rigorous, grueling work.  To show up every day and choose to let go again. Forgive (and laugh) even when you want to kill.  Choose to be loved, when it seems way too compelling to close and punish.

 

The attraction pulls me hopelessly IN.  And then the Work begins.

 

God.  Help me.  Seriously.

 

Saturating Painful Days with Love

Yesterday I found a package addressed to “The Glistening Goddess Athena Grace” awaiting my discovery on a shelf in the mail room.  Serena thirsted to rip into it immediately… but my own inner child must have been trapped in a haunted attic or lost in a psychedelic funhouse somewhere…. Because I uncharacteristically displayed the restraint to wait until we returned to our humble love nest.

 

Serena’s zeal to discover the goods was unwavering though, and the mOMent we crossed the threshold into Graceland, she importuned me to rip the thing open.  (Do you think “importune” was an unnecessarily large and unwieldy word choice? I grappled with that possibility, but opted to go for it anyway. I could have just said “urged”… but it might not have conveyed the flames of passion rising up from the verb…)

 

Anywayz, all this cool shit tumbled from the box:  a little baggie of wild harvested, dried nettles (my favorite), a box of spiral chickpea noodles, a bulging envelope of yerba mate and guyusa tea….

 

AND.  A binder.  Which was brimming with collage style art and words.  Many of which were MY WORDS. Back in November of 2016, I spearheaded a poetry adventure challenge…  In a *secret* facebook group, five of us committed to writing and posting a poem a day for the entire month.  Karuna had compiled my poems, along with relevant images and occasional words into a book.

 

THE LOVE WAS PALPABLE.  It knocked me backwards as I leafed through the pages.  The urge not just to cry, but to be sweapt by deep emotion welled up in me.  But Serena derailed the depth of my experience as she insisted on turning pages and taking charge of the experience.  Plus I was hungry and in the process of making deviled eggs and unloading groceries… Hence I bypassed the full blown emotionality latent within me, the mOMent and the book.  But even as I dissolved in mundane doingness, inside, I trembled.

 

I imagined the emotion was a temporal phenomena.  A time-sensitive buddhist sand mandala, dissolved in the oblivion of needless busy-ness; a wave rising, smashing and dissolving incognito back into Totality.  Nope. Later in the afternoon, accompanied by a steaming cup of tulsi tea, I sat on the pink and black ikea rug outside my house. The spring sun smiled on me as I leafed through the book once again.  Tears streamed easy and my heart broke as I witnessed my own unbounded soul beauty and the arduous, desolate, painful journey of early single motherhood and watching my own mother die, I had survived.

 

It was like some sort of accidental archaeological discovery.  Even though it was only a year and a half buried in my bones and cells, the memories seemed at once ancient and immediate.  I remembered how my untouched body ached every day as I gave what I must to nurture and nourish my beloved one year old daughter… and survive… and keep my home tidy enough.  I revisited the depth of loneliness and isolation that plunged me deep into the dark belly of the earth and my own unsayable Self.

 

I read and cried and remembered and cried and read.  

 

On my knees, forehead to the ground, sobbing…. Serena said “Mama, your back is bouncing up and down.”  And my sobs turned to laughter at the juxtaposition of the complexity of my emotions swirling with the innocence of her observation.  

 

Oh Life.

Later, during dinner, I read more.  And cried more. Giordano hugged me.  After the wave of emotion zenithed, I tried to explain what was moving inside me…

 

“Do you ever see something SO beautiful… like a sunset, or light on the water… and you are flooded with awe…. But you also feel lonely…. Because nobody else saw it… and you feel this crushing depth of holy aloneness…

 

“That’s how I feel reading my poetry.”  

 

Another heavy wave of emotion crashed inside me, and I continued speaking through thick tears, “Reading my words, I feel so beautiful… But like nobody else sees what I see.  Like I’ll die hidden and vanish forever…”

 

He held me as I cried.  And offered that HE sees me.

 

I know… so many people who love me see my raw soul beauty.  Kaleidoscopically. Because it morphs and dances, depending on the One who is seeing.  It’s the undulating energy sex of Creation… So dynamic. And I am an exquisite ingredient in the cosmic swirl.

 

But fuck philosophy.

 

I want to be seen.

I want to be known.

I want to be LOVED…

I want to be savored.

Engulfed in appreciation

of the exquisitry of my soul.

 

Yes, duh.  I know that ultimately this circuit of longing must be fused solely within my Self.  It’s not about anyone else. It’s not about fame or fortune. (But it sure fucking feels that way!…)  People, this is IT. Seriously, I found the tootsie roll center. This sweet, chewy core of impassioned, artistic Aloneness that aches to obliterate in the infinity of sentient belonging.  Ecstatic differentiation, submerged in oceanic expanse of Intimacy with ALL.

 

Haha.  What in Fuck’s Name does One say after an existential rant like THAT?  

 

I’ll close with one of the poems I wrote during my said poetry challenge.  It speaks to this quintessential ache to be known that ever cries up from inside of me.

 

Cooking and cleaning.

Part of me can hardly

Believe,

that these

are my livelihood,

Here,

snuggled, incognito

in the woods, alone

with a luminous, Tiny Buddha.

On the Inside, I am

Famous. Gravitationally weighty.

A Teacher of Faith,

a winged General

in the Army of Hearts.

A flowing font of liberating,

linguistic streams.

I am Wonder Woman, masquerading

as a modern day Goddess

of Wisdom

and War.

I am crying

with frustration,

afraid this Epic, gratifying me

will miscarry,

never come to BE.

Wondering every day…

what will it take???

To make of my Life

what I know Inside

I can.

I AM.

Lack of confidence.

Perfectionism.

Fear of failure.

Fear of being seen

and rejected.

I need to leap

across this ravine,

into a waking dream

of pure, inspired Service.

Forget myself and offer

this bottomless well

of Heavenly wealth, poured forth

through me, by God HerSelf.

In the coin of Light,

the currency of Grace.

I PRAY

to courageously ACT-i-vate.

 

Frolicking in Linguistic Fields Forever

Two year old sleeping

Do not wait for perfection

Fingers speak my heart

 

Grin!  That was my “piercing the thick skin of the moment” haiku!  It’s four thirty six am and Lord on High knows how many grains of delicious stillness remain in this hourglass of ISness.  So here I go.

 

Yesterday afternoon I felt like mySelf for the first time in too long to name.  I felt surprised when the sacred remembrance rushed in.  Like I didn’t even realize I had been missing… I just felt this aching quality of disturbed void.  Then suddenly, awash in apocalyptic winter sunshine, came an old familiar electric joy.  The natural radiance of my Essential Self.  

 

Reminds me of how Peter Pan’s shadow ran away from him and he tried to stick it back on to his feet with soap.  Same with my sassy-assed essence.  Evading me… running off and frolicking through the carefree, sunlit fields of Creation without me!  Bitch!  I need you!  Don’t ever leave me again.

 

Yeah, I’ve been feeling exhausted for… Weeks?  Months?  When you’re wandering the scorching deserts of Existence, time is pretty damn elusive.  But long enough to bring me to my knees.  And make me forget the Sweetness with a capital S.

 

No, that’s not completely true.  Serena has been my inseverable lifeline to Sweetness.  She is a gaily gurgling, rapturous font of Sweetness.  And I’m not dumb enough to cut off from her mainline of Heavenly Glory.  But “weird scenes inside the gold mine,” as Jim Morrison once cried out amidst peels of song.  

 

Ladies and Gentle Men, now I shall pull a classic “Athena Grace” and do an unapologetic one-eighty, because I don’t feel like talking about that anymore, and graceful transitions are way overrated.  “I am an artist,” Athena Grace spoke with weighty seriousness,  laced with subtly dramatic flair.   And without pause,  she  emphatically cast fistfuls of iridescent glitter into the wide infinity about her.

 

I want to tell you that the wildest thing happened with Ed (my beloved baby daddy).  A couple weeks ago, he full-court-pressed me to fully release my Italian lover and be ALL IN with him.  All I could do was play possum… because on the inside it felt A) ridiculous and B) impossible.  

 

So with a self-satisfied inner smirk at my crafty tactic, I replied that I would fully release said Italian Dream Boat and be ALL IN… if HE was.  I held up the brutal mirror with cocky certainty that he would back down and back off.   

 

Instead I got, “Athena?…. FUCK YES.”

 

I was stunned and speechless for a good twenty four hours.  

 

And then came a wash of ecstasy.  Hmmm…. A couple of paragraphs ago, I stated that I haven’t felt like mySelf in eons.  Now, here I am professing ecstasy.  I guess there is plenty of room for paradox and multidimensional wilderness in the sentient spark of radiance that I AM,  for ALL OF IT to exist simultaneously.

 

The heart of the matter is that so many parts of me are starving in this cycle of Life:  Real time connection with friends.  Leisurely creative expression.  Moving my body through crystaline waters.  Juicy, unrushed, soul-full erotic sharing.   

 

Sigh… I guess that’s the exquisite, blindingly silver-lined curse of a mother of a small child.  And let’s not forget to mention the fresh and bleeding hole in my heart and Life left by the recent departure of my dear and precious MOM.  


But HARK!!!  A new cycle doth dawneth!!!!  

 

I am so jazzed (God that word really thrills the knickers off me, time and again…) in anticipation of having a nice, shiny, nuclear FAMILY.  I’m half laughing at that statement, because honestly, the notion of “nuclear family” sends intermittent tremors of terror through me.  It seems mildly remedial and barbaric to shackle one’s self to two other people and exist within the solitary and *expensive* confines of a few boring colored, angular boxes, otherwise known as “houses”.  

 

But at the same time, it is appealing to the part of me who grew up without my father present… to make a bold stand for Family…. And do it in a way that is nourishing and creative… and porous to a greater sense of family.  Community.  Tribe.  Like our little glamorous box is merely the nucleus of a much more expansive network of supportive, nutritious relationships.  Revolutionarily transforming the stiff, patriarchal box from the INside.  

 

So as soon as we find our own fabulous box to live and love in, Serena and I will move back to the paved and chaotic Bay Area.  Hopefully we will live walking distance to an outdoor swimming pool!  Preferably salt water.  And parks.  Yoga studios.  Dance classes.  FRIENDS!  Libraries.  Gardens teeming with happy, rainbow colored flowers and generously splayed trees.  Hopefully our transition with be smooth and our life will be JOY-full and expansive.  

 

With glitter-strewn LOVE from Athena Graceland,

Athena Grace LMNOP

 

Wrastling Gators in Dripping Dungeons

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I’m scared to touch my fingers to keys this morning, because it has been so long, and I don’t feel like a writer anymore.  Plus, I have been navigating some rugged inner wilderness these days, and I don’t want to spew negativity upon the page.  My friends who Know, oft remind me that words are powerful; words are spells.  I grapple with this… because on one hand, I only want to cast the most palatable spells… and yet, I also have a deep-seated thirst to expose the full spectral complexity of my human experience… rather than carving it up into lovely, horrifyingly perfect topiaries that barely hint at the raw essence of what it really feels like to be me.

Upon the completion of a deep breath, I remembered the years upon years that I’ve given myself to this process of writing out the tangles of my unwieldy Existence… because my life depended on it.  And magically, the process of getting my life, mind and emotions out into single file order heals me.  Heals as in “makes whole”.  Not that I’m ever anything besides whole…. but it feels like it, as the jagged shards of my disparate selves and contradictory motivations whiz around in here.  When they line up in well-behaved rows and march out upon the page, the jaggedness turns smooth and round and almost glamourous.

The oh-so-creamy, featured flavors recently have been “Luscious Loneliness” and “Irresistible Isolation”.  (I was imagining artisan ice cream… just to spell it out for those of you who are not so quick… I didn’t want my cleverness to slip between those those cruel ravines that slice between our minds.)  For a while, I was happily distracted by doing some copy writing (hit me up if you need words to sing your mission and gifts into existence in a professional domain!), which occupied many of the fleeting and sparse moments of my spare time.  When those jobs completed, I poured everything into my new website (!!!) for my “Sourced Circles”– rad online women’s video circles that I have been facilitating for years now, and fine tuning into a gorgeous six week experience of intimacy, community and empowerment for women who hunger to burst free from status quo and embody our wild, wise, liberated, embodied, powerful selves.  I’m passionate about it.

I think the plummet into darkness officially occurred when my beloved Web Master (Ed) published the website… and I imagined women would rush forth in DROVES to sign up for this fabulous six week ride on the alchemical love train.

Nope.  Not a peep.  After all the love and care, passion and creative juice I’ve poured into my new baby.  Somehow the Yoniverse is like, “Uh-uh”.  I dunno what that’s about.  I’m pretty damn certain that these circles are my dharma.  It’s clear that my God(dess)-Given-Gifts are meant to heal and uplift the lives and hearts of women, and hence the Planet.  But…. as of this illusorily linear mOMent in the seemingly stiff squiggle of my Life, there is a hiccup in the full-throttle flow of my said dharma.

Is it because I have more work to do on the INside?  Fuck, Universe, if I wait till I’m perfect to share my heart and voice and passion with the world, I will surely be DEAD.  Fuck that.  Is it that I need to market harder?  I am personally repulsed by the current marketing model… of appealing to the pain and suffering of others.  This capitalism in New-Age clothing.  “Healers” who stand up in their expensive goddess clothing and opulent jewels and look all “together” and be like “I used to be fucked up like you… but then I found this thing, and if you give me tons of money, I will give it to you, and then you’ll feel better about yourself.”

I feel embarrassed saying that, because I imagine that all the business savvy peeps who read this are gonna say, “See Athena?!  And you wonder why your business is failing!!!  Put on your most expensive and flowy clothing and shiny jewels and PLAY THE GAME, Bitch!”  And the truth is, part of me wants to.  At least the part about wearing delicious clothing and lovely jewels…

But God…. can’t we play a new game where NOBODY IS BROKEN?  And we don’t need to be motivated by suffering?  Just pure Desire and Passion and Playfulness?  I mean really… are we that remedial as a species?

Sigh… I guess pain and suffering still motivate me.  I’m a visionary with a fierce drive to transform broken systems… and yet there is still unresolved cellular debris and ancestral junk in my body that is working itself out… and there remains an impending resolution in my own being.

And NOW for an entire paragraph dedicated to cool shit!  The “old me” would have given up at the first sign of challenge.  I would have uttered weak and muffled cries of defeat, “Fuck it.  I quit.”  I woulda crumpled my half-painted masterpiece and hurled it in the trash.  I’ve testified to this before, but I must sing it again!  When I gave birth, I gave birth to MYSELF.  It changed me.  I have become someone who doesn’t quit, and knows the Divine Power within me.  So I forge onward, prepared to learn and grow as I go.  I don’t have to be perfect or “get it right”…. I just have to keep calling on Source within me and giving the best I know how in each blessed mOMent.  I think I there was some other cool shit that I wanted to exclaim in this designated paragraph, too… But it slipped my mind when I got up to pee…. maybe it was just a celebration of the extreme pleasure and relief I am feeling as my fingers make love to these singing keys.  At once, I am whole.  I am hOMe.

I have been putting all my creative energy into my “important-assed business”.  But this blog, Athena Graceland, is the exalted queendom of my inner child.  And she does NOT give a fluttering fuck about being “Important”.  She just wants to PLAY.  I have been wandering the desert.  Eat your heart out Mister Christ, cuz I’ve been trudging along WAAAY more than forty days and forty nights.  It’s been over TWO YEARS.  It’s insanely isolating to be a single mom of a baby/toddler.  I’ve heard that even moms with devoted partners feel isolated… but fuck that.  At least they can get out once in a while and go to a yoga class, or a women’s circle or….  I feel tethered to my frigid dungeon.  Shhhhhh….. listen…. can you hear the slowww drip, drip, drip, as rhythmic water sings down upon the slimy, dampened stones?

This avalanche of words, and I didn’t even touch on my Man Troubles.  Partially because I don’t want to create extra conflict, and partially because as my Priestess ally QuynhMa says, it’s a “red herring”… and there is a deeper issue.  My work right now, is to dig to the ROOT of the issues I am encountering.  With men, when I seek the root, it’s a feeling of starvation, desperation… A reaction to the loneliness and isolation I am feeling my way through.  I want to blame Ed, push him away, punish him… and then grasp for him when he is about to slip away… and get high on the rush of relief when we return to connection.  Meanwhile, I want to grasp for Giordano… because he represents some false sense of freedom.  I want RELIEF from the pain inside.  But the deeper me knows it is not to be found in a man.  I am working within to transmute and transcend the need to grasp onto a man for security, safety and survival.  I am (gruelingly slowly) learning to resolve these feelings and urges within myself, to create my own wealth, abundance and nourishing community, so that Partnership is born of freedom, choice and empowerment.  But I’ll tell ya, this initiation into my Priestess Power often feels like being tossed into a muddy pit full of gators and wrastling myself into exhausted submission and elusive victory.

Lately I’ve been wondering why in the fuck I chose such a grueling Path…….

But I know deep down it’s because I’m a total Badass and it’s making me INVINCIBLE.  And everything I find in here will ultimately be YOURS.  Because my Life is for Humanity.

And she loved happily ever after.

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