just keep falling

Things fall apart in the fall. We start with leaves and end at everything. How the light teases through spiderwebs in a whole new way as though there was no such thing as silk until mid-September. Their construction, a completely perfect collision of intricacy and intention; it's nearly impossible to love them as much as they deserve. And you can hate spiders and still be hard pressed to find anything wrong with the way a spider builds their home between two branches at the very angle where it is the most beautiful thing sunlight has ever passed through at 11:32 am on a Wednesday. 

I'm not sure how to wrangle all the words to tell you this as if you didn't know, but these are complicated times. Marked by various truths so violently before us, it's as though life has just taken all its clothes off and is parading itself around completely untethered to what it once felt it should hide. And if you're anything like me - and by me, I mean sensitive, at the very least, you might feel like you are nursing some kind of emotional whiplash - and by emotional, I mean, a wild ocean of all the feelings. From fiery hot ones to detached nebulous ones that blur edges and create confusion.

And while the fall asks us to shift toward the end - before that, we must begin the task of closing up what we've opened, and this was a year so brilliantly about opening.

Opening, deepening, seeing and being. 

Opening up our eyes, for one. I mean, as a woman now in my forties I feel like I am relearning things I never thought I had so wrong. Like a million shards of glass, I'm trying to reconstruct what it is I inherited by virtue of being part of something infinitely larger than myself. And yes, it's hurting a bit. But as I try to build something recognizable, something of my own design, I step more fully into each day as myself. As an unapologetic version of myself, and as a person who has made many a relationship appear to thrive around the notion of pleasing, crossing into this new frontier has been, at times, a deeply uncomfortable and herculean task.

And in my ever-contradicting dance with permanence, I got a new tattoo recently.

I've never actually sat and counted how many I already had, but as it turns out now, I have seven total. I got my first one when I was seventeen, just before I graduated high school. A friend of a friend was friends with a tattoo artist who had a shop on Telegraph and 40th and I went with the friend (I'd tell you his name if I could remember it), got drunk, and told the artist I wanted two naked fairies floating above the Gemini symbol. My 17-year-old logic was airtight. I would always be a Gemini so this tattoo would always be relevant and reflective of a part of myself that would never change. He whipped something up, created a stencil and carved it into my skin with a needle. I managed to keep my new artwork from the adults in my life until after graduation until one day when I was with my dad and it was too hot not to wear a tank top. I knew I had to tell him before he just spotted it himself, and when I did, true to form, without missing a beat he made two fairly casual comments. The first was to double check that I saw them clean everything and use new needles, the second was, "well, at least it's on your back so you don't have to look at it."

"The girls," as they've been referred to over the years have lived over my left shoulder ever since, and I've fallen in and out of love with them over and over again.

My dad had a point I guess, but we can only hide from the inevitable for so long anyhow, so in a way, he didn't. 

When I got my most recent tattoo, I did things a little differently. I'm historically a pretty impulsive and fearless person who chalks my big feelings, ideas, and reactions up to just being part of this ride I'm on. I try my best to learn from my mistakes, but make new ones as I go. I believe wholly in the beauty of falling down and getting back up, like a mantra, a poem, an anthem - a way of life. 

So this last tattoo, I worked with an artist who created something for my forearm that was composed of some of the most treasured elements of my life as it is right now - and will remain. There was about a month's time between our design session and the actual tattoo, and I could not have been more excited. About two weeks before our appointment I unexpectedly started a very intense process with a job opportunity. I had been headhunted for a position I was not looking for necessarily but made a very good argument for itself. Never one to shy away from a little challenge, I went headlong into the experience to see what I might find.

And what I did was glorious.

I was knee-deep in negotiations and interviews with this job when I pulled up to the tattoo shop. Things had come to a head in my car and I was crying. I didn't even really want the job, though it reflected back to me a great opportunity doing work I am very familiar and experienced with. The offer was really good, they kept agreeing to my terms, I wanted to continue to pick Rafi up from school on her minimum days when she gets out - that time was non-negotiable to me, and they said OK. I wanted to work from home at least two days a week, and they were fine with that. They said I was their top choice and could I commit? I needed to sleep on it, they asked if I could call them the next morning, I said OK.

I walked into the tattoo shop and Joy was there waiting for me. She showed me the design she'd created and my heart sank. I was in the middle of a moment. My husband was admittedly upset that it was only that morning that I told him about the tattoo - upset not because I was getting one, we'd gotten many of ours together, but because he hadn't been a part of this one. This job process was eating away at me. While on paper it offered a lot and would seem foolish to turn down - it also meant giving up on everything I've built on my own. The work I love, the clients I adore, the relationships I've nurtured and the opportunities still unforeseen.

And while Joy was lovely, as one would expect of a Joy, she wasn't there to help me process these disparate yet entangled feelings I was having. We went over some of the design elements, toyed around with placements and I just drifted further and further from my body. I was way in my head. Typically, this would be a situation, me at a tattoo parlor, when I would just lean in and go forth. But nope. I vacillated, driving everyone there crazy, I'm sure.

And while the pleasing person embedded in my being ticked nervously away trying to figure out how to get a tattoo on my arm I wasn't 100% certain about, the woman in me remained there for it all, trying to hear what it was I actually wanted on my body.

I knew what to do. Thirty minutes later I was back in my car with something I'm sure of on my shoulder.

The next morning I respectfully declined the position and never looked back. I felt as though an anchor had been surgically removed from my core. My eyes were lighter, my mind clear, my creativity, like a bright sky full of a million stars. 

I'm like a hunter when it comes to clarity. I search in the wild for its tracks. I don't spare a shred or ever waste it - and what I've learned, is that it travels in packs.

I'll be relaunching my workshop in the new year, and with it so much more. In the meantime, I'm sorry for any inconvenience, this fall is for the harvest, and I've got a lot of work to do!

PS- I've got just a few writing coaching and Book Doula spots available until the end of the year. If you've been wanting support with your writing, let's talk - it's time to harvest those big, beautiful stories and ideas...

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La Luna Made Me Do It

Let me just begin with the requisite: It's been a long time since I first got down. 

Because, I mean, it has. According to my archives, it's been a little over four years since my last blog, but let's just say that I have some pretty solid excuses, two in particular. 

But I'm back at it and it's pretty major. I'm happy to be here and I've missed you. 

From what I can gather, Mercury Rx (if you're into that sort of thing and if you're not, maybe it's time to consider your cosmos) is not the super scary monster we've all made it out to be. But in fact, a great time to review - and in my case, rewrite.

So, in the spirit of spring, rebirth, renewal and return, I've got a little story on a big edit.

Luna was born into the legend of Rafi's birth. She rewrote all I had known before her and brought understanding into a place wrought with confusion and frustration, loss and a deep sense of failure.

Before Rafi, mostly what I knew about my body was that if I tried hard enough, I could basically do anything I wanted to. I've always been unafraid to push myself, so naturally, when I got pregnant the first time the only imaginable outcome I was working with was a healthy, joyful and magical vaginal birth. I took a 12-week course on natural childbirth into which I submerged myself, and because of what I knew about my mother, who had always described both of her births as magic, I just assumed that there was no reason that mine would be so very different. 

But it was. 

Before it finally ended in an emergency c-section with a side of blood transfusion, we went through nearly 48-hours of ups and downs and twists and turns. And after our wonderful Rafi was born and everyone and I mean EVERYONE, said to me in an effort to console me, "what's most important is that you and the baby are healthy," I was not consoled. Let's just say, even with the best intentions, their words rang hollow and thud onto the floor. I was hormonal and exhausted. I felt broken and alone. I was a mess, and it took a very long time to put myself back together.

And trust me, putting yourself together at all even under the best of circumstances after having a baby, is a lofty goal in it of itself.

Because writing is my medicine, nearly a year after Rafi was born I was in the bath thinking about my scar. Traversing that wild first year of her life and her wild passage into the world; I wondered how I would ever tell her about her birth. My Rafi, for whom I am grateful for every moment of the day. Her heart that holds us all so close, her empathy that understands humanity far beyond what we would ever expect, her humor that is so unintentionally hilarious, and her curiosity that inspires her to wonder about everything inside and outside of her world. 

How could I not celebrate the moment she came into our lives?

But then, slowly, before my eyes, the lens began to change and in my mind, I started to craft the exquisite story of her birth, free from shame, and full of glory. What began to emerge was the version that would hold us both, the story that was full of love and determination, fearlessness and ultimate selflessness. And from there I dreamt up my beloved birth-story writing service called Bear Tales, from the belief that there are other women like me who want to tell the incredible story of their baby being born, but desire to reframe even the most difficult parts and hold them to create a version that illuminates the beauty and triumph, even during the most difficult times.

And when I finally sat down to write my own, it was as cathartic as it was healing, and our story was epic.

So when we found out just a little under two years later that I was pregnant again, I knew immediately that in order to prepare my mind and body to try and do things differently this time, some deeper healing was still in order.

And for the remaining months, I went all in. 

Luna arrived on June 13th, 2016 and with her came a healing so great, she wrangled a certain chaos into calm that I had been carrying with me since Rafi was born on October 25th, 2013. Her little body, like a candle burning, brought a glow, and when I hold her, I feel at peace - even during my stormiest days, and even when she is doing her finest impersonation of a feral animal.

I wrote Luna's Bear Tale as a birthday present to us both just before she turned one. At the time we were approaching, with trepidation, the halfway mark of a terrifying first year of this atrocious administration. My heart was weighted down for the future of this country, and for all of us living here. 

But Luna, my little light in a dark sky, with her warmth, depth and fierce little spirit, has this way of brightening up the dark path ahead, just enough so that I am always hopeful that we might find our way through the shadows, despite how lost we might be.

Her Bear Tale, like everything I write, was long and detailed as I did my best to capture the magic of her birth. The pictures placed throughout the story captured my pregnancy, the three of us before Luna, and the four of us, complete with her. I gave it to her on her first birthday and it sits sleek and strong on a bookshelf in our house, holding the tale of one the two moments in my life that have defined me most as a woman, guiding me into my most cherished role: being a mother.

So, a few weeks ago, when a very female-experience focused online and in-print magazine that I follow, posted a final call to submissions at 3 pm on a Friday I rushed to my computer and dug out Luna's Bear Tale and another piece I had recently written on a completely different subject: #metoo (more on that another time). 

When I brought her Bear Tale up on my screen it took me right back into every fiber of that experience and it was glorious. I swept the doc for tiny edits to make sure it was in tip-top shape before I hit send and did the same for the second piece. And because life is never particularly spacious these days, I moved onto to something else almost immediately. 

The next day I woke up to an email from an editor from the magazine telling me they loved both pieces and asked if I could edit Luna's, which was over 3,400 words, to 1,200, their maximum word count. 

If you didn't know this about me already, I'm in a deep relationship with editing - it's pretty serious and, well, we're soul-mates. I work with businesses and individuals all the time on taking their first drafts into final drafts, perfecting their messaging and writing so it's at its best out there. I love this stage in my Book Doula work and love it when I get to deep dive back into my own writing. And what I've learned is that often there is little else in this complex, frustrating and gorgeous world we live in than editing, that takes to do-overs with as much grace.

And in the spirit of one of the most symbolic edits of my life, I dove in and sculpted, shaved and scrubbed one of the most significant stories I've lived into a smaller, but still robust, version of itself. 

So, a little shout-out to editing for getting a bad rap often for being the tattle-tale and sometimes black sheep of the writing family, when really, it's the hero. 

You can read my piece, By the Light of the Moon here, published in Harness Magazine. 

And tell me, if you're an editing enthusiast like me, what do you love or find most frustrating about the process? I'd love to hear all about it...

 

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