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Friday, November 30, 2007

Wish List

my wish list for no time in particular, but please make it very soon:

time to gather my thoughts

time to pull together a collection of unpublished poems and publish them (from the 3 folders full that are languishing on my computer)

time to find out how this blog works so I can post some audio posts of poems from my mini-CD Holding the Song (it is sold in old cigarette machines at the Casa Populo), from Wiredonwords.

time to find some really great photos of my kids and hubbie and dog and cats to post here

time to sort through the pile of files and notes from the Feminine Mysteries class for that lecture I'm supposed to be planning for september 08

time more time, time alone, more time alone, without interruptions from bathroom renovations, new house plans, landscaping plans, all the trappings of our new 'dream home' that need planning and my attention to come into reality, (not to mention two teenagers with long wish lists)

what am I saying? we dreamed that house into being, and it's being rebuilt now, as we speak. I will have a room with a view of the lake, I will have a room with a desk and a chair and a place to dream and J will have a music room to create in too

my wish list is that in between now and then I will make the time to pursue my creative dreams
and bring them to reality (and not run myself to the ground with 'tasks')

all you who read and comment on my blog are helping to bring that closer, because you feel at home here, and encourage me to continue,

thank you from the bottom of my heart and inkwell,
jenn/musemother

ps I want to post my book Little Mother on-line, cause it's out of print, but not sure I can do that - anyway I'll start with a few poems at a time from that new mom with baby at home phase that so freaked me out, and a poem about women's friendships which sustained me through the light and dark (tune in next week). the theme of the book is the light and dark side of mothering and includes a birth journal, pregnancy poems, sex poems, nursing poems, grieving after miscarriage poems, birth in the car poem, etc.

pps wish I had had an on-line community at that time of writer/moms like you

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tools for Gaining Essential Wisdom: body guidance.

I believe our wisdom is close at hand, right within us, and very doable.

You don't need a book to tell you how to tune in. You need to learn how to live close to the body/belly/heart triangle.

If we can listen to our need for rest, food, inner peace, we can give ourselves the healing we need. In my experience, this involves trusting myself, and knowing that I am enough. I have enough. I do enough - stop the worrying and the rushing and let the Universe take care of things.

This is my challenge, and I share it with you because it is simple, if not easy, to start following your body's guidance right now. The motto is, keep it simple.
(For example, the first rule is so simple, you'll laugh. But it has been trained out of us since childhood.)

l. Eat when you are hungry. Enjoy your food sitting down and notice when you feel satisfied. If you are really adventurous, let yourself be served once a week. (I am loving this last one)

2. Sleep when you are tired. Take naps whenever possible. Set your body clock by going to bed at a reasonable hour. Can you find your own need for rest?

3. Strike two items off your to-do list every day and be happy with that. Do not be a slave to ‘getting it all done’.

4. Take time to sit in silence once a day to center yourself in the breath. Make inner peace a priority.

5. Stretch, shake your body, dance, do yoga, walk, or move a new muscle. Wake up your body every day.

6. Go pee when you have to – respond to the first call. This is harder than it sounds.

7. When you have your monthly period, give yourself what you need – either rest or exercise. PMS is the result of not listening to your body guidance. Sit with your center and find time to relax. Hot water bottle or pilates? Your gut will guide you. This is your time to be alone; your intuition is stronger now. Pay attention.

I have found, that when I learn to take care of myself, and treat my body less harshly, more lovingly, I naturally become less harsh and more loving to others.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Balance effort with relaxation. Learn compassion for yourself. And remember, whatever I bless flourishes, whatever I criticize falters. (from the Woman's Belly Book)

ps I am trying to put these into practice, one day at a time. As a confirmed 'woman who does too much' and chronic worrier, this is also my antidote to stress.

may life bless you,
musemother
(with thanks to all the women who have inspired me:
Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Joan Borysenko, Jean Shinoda Bolen,
Marion Woodman and to Maharaji for showing me the address
of peace within).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Putting it off

I'm putting it off again. Even though the pain in my neck and right shoulder, the numbness in my left arm should be a strong hint.

I'm putting off taking care of me. My 'things to do list' is so important, it takes precedence over lunch, naps, filing my chipped nails, and walking the dog.

There's a driver inside of me, cracking the whip. Poor horsie, never runs fast enough.

Poor body, poor wee soul inside, shrinking from the sight of that whip, that taskmaster.

Grinding my teeth at night, and then I wake up with a sore jaw. Wondering, where is the release button? could I just please find it and press, so everything would relax?

I don't have a boss, it's unpaid labour I'm doing, mostly volunteer work, singing in a Christmas concert, organizing a women's circle, practising with my quartet, handling volunteer requests from two cities, lots of emails and phone calls and ....

somewhere, in the middle of all that busy-ness, I am become more concentrated on doing, and lose the being.

Sore shoulders stopped me once before - lead me off to acupunture treatments, physiotherapy, osteopathy, whatever would 'fix it'. At the time, I was walking two big dogs every day, and re-injuring my shoulder each time. Finally, the acupuncturist suggested I find someone else to walk the dogs, since the shoulder wasn't healing.

Duh!

Too much computer time, too eager to respond right away to all those important emails....leads to the sore neck, stiff shoulder syndrome.

I'm going to get off the computer right now, right after I check my emails again.....

have a great end of November post full-moon day,
jenn

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mothering myself, again :)

originally posted March 02, 2007

Mothering Myself, too

How can I mother others (reader, be gentle), if I can't mother myself?

The first mother-god in our life is our own mother. She appears flawless, beautiful, all knowing, all merciful, kissing boo-boos, wiping tears, untangling curls; until we hit pre-teen years, then wham! she becomes the hag, easy to find fault with - we don't like the way she does her hair or the way she dresses, the clothes she buys for us are uncool, her disgusting personal habits (in our view) gross us out; not to mention the embarassing hoos-hoos over the back yard in search of us at supper time or bed time or the fact that she sees danger lurking on every corner.

In my life, things were complicated by the fact that my mom suffered from the disease of alcoholism - that made the transition to hag come a little quicker. I was the eldest of eight, and harnessed into 'little motherhood' at a young age - diapering babies, holding bottles, feeding pablum to brothers and sisters, babysitting - were all par for the course. Good material for growing up fast. Yet shouldering responsibilities too big for my small shoulders.

When mothering my own children came along, I tried so hard to 'do it right'. Be that perfect mom. Huh! And of course, no one is perfect. I began to resent having the weight of responsibility on my shoulders again. Somewhere down the line I realized my own need for mothering was still unfulfilled - that part of me that hadn't really grown up yet.

So how could I begin to mother myself? Hmmmm, perhaps giving up on that perfectionism, not pushing myself so hard to be all things to all people, not taking on too many tasks at once (which causes panic, anxiety to set in, and mad rushing, which usually results in accidents or at the very least, too much yelling); by slowing down, letting things come to me, letting go, not being 'in charge' all the time or feeling overly responsible for everyone in my life. Giving myself a break, taking it one day at a time.

Also, in ceasing the self-criticism, harsh self-judgment. Reminding myself that I am ok. I am enough. I am not perfect.

When I am hard on myself, I push the kids too hard. They react, I react, we all get a little crazy. They remind me, chill out, don't sweat it, Relax! They don't need me hovering. They are learning to manage their own time, get homework assignments in on time, get enough sleep, come home on time. (Time is a huge issue here, I'm noticing) I call them reminders. They say, Mom, we know what we have to do! Trust us. They actually need less mothering.

When I don't feel like a 'good mom', when I feel like I'm blowing up too often, talking with other moms is helpful. Having a women's circle is a god-send. Turning to my husband and admitting I'm not the superwoman I think I am is humbling but good for the heart. Letting down my armour, asking for help, sitting in meditation, practising yoga, coming back into the body.

Today, I am nobody's rock. I need mothering myself.

Many people may rely on me for leadership, team participation, support, or just companionship and friendly presence. But today, my mother-ship is docked in the service bin. I need some time out for just me, for heart care repairs, for recovery from the mommy battles. Instead of tackling the list of things to do, I'll take a nap.

Snowstorm outside makes me want to stay inside where it's warm. Breathing in, breathing out, resting, unlatching all the 'shoulds'. All navigational devices and compasses are on 'rest mode' while we wait out the storm.

Breathe with me,
musemom

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Helpful Angel Archetype

The Bitch post stirred up a few comments, and here's my take on the helpful Angel, aided and abetted by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, that wise storyteller and author of Women who Run with the Wolves, who calls it the "Great Healer" archetype.

I spent a number of years at home with my children when they were young and needy, and having been brought up to be a caretaker of others, eldest of eight, I became wedded to the "Little Mother" or helpful angel archetype from a young age.

Once I became a mother, however, the nature of the post being 24-7, quickly exhausted my initial loving soul-store, and I saw my flip side take over. Scary stuff, when you're in charge of vulnerable little people, and you've never been so angry before. I began to seek out any wisdom or therapy or guidance I could find.

Many of my women friends in peri-menopause have expressed a longing to get away, to take a sabbatical, to take off for more than a few days, to try and find themselves, not knowing where they have misplaced their sense of self. But being moms and central to the home, it seems impossible, we feel guilty to feel this way, and yet trapped.

Here is what Pinkola Estes says about how a woman knows she has to return to her wild instinctual nature (she calls it returning home):

"They know when they are overdue for home. Their bodies are in the here and now, but their minds are far, far away. They are dying for new life. They are panting for the sea. They are living just for next month, just till this semester is past, can't wait till winter is finally over so they can feel alive again, just waiting for a mystically assigned date somewhere in the future when they will be free to do some wondrous thing. They think they will die if they don't... you fill in the blank.

There is angst. There is bereftness. there is wistfulness. There is longing.... yet women continue at their day-to-day routines, looking sheepish, acting guilty and smirky. "Yes, yes, yes I know,' they say. "I should but, but, but.... (my kids need this, my kids need that)

An incompletely initiated woman in this depleted state erroneously thinks she is deriving more spiritual credit by staying than she thinks she will gain by going. Others are caught up in....working hard and ever harder to prove that they are acceptable, that they are good people.

....Let us clarify that the going home is many different things to many different women....there are many ways to go home; many are mundane, some are divine. ...I caution you, the exact placement of the aperture to home changes from time to time, so its location may be different this month than last.

Rereading passages of books and single poems that have touched them. spending even a few minutes hear a river, a stream, a creek. Lying on the ground in dappled light. Being with a love done without kids around. Sitting on the porch shelling something, knitting something, peeling something. Walking or driving for an hour, any direction, then returning. Getting on any bus, destination unknown. Making drums while listening to music. Greeting sunrise. Driving out to where the city lights do not interfere with the night sky. Praying. A special friend. Sitting by a bridge with legs dangling over. Holding an infant. Sitting by a window in a cafe and writing. Sitting in a circle of trees. Drying hair in the sun. Putting hands in a rain barrel, Potting plants, being sure to get hands very muddy. Beholding beauty, grace, the touching frailty of human beings.

So it is not necessarily an overland and arduous journey to go home, yet I do not want to make it seem that it is simplistic, for there is much resistance to going home no matter if it be easy or hard.

....the great healer archetype carries wisdom, goodness, knowing, caregiving and all the other things associated with a healer...but beyond that, it exerts a hindering influence on our lives. Women's 'heal everything, fix everything' compulsion is a major entrapment constructed by the requirements placed upon us by our own cultures....

... no woman can emanate an archetype continuously. We are not meant to be 'ever-able, all giving, eternally energetic.' She needs to learn to say "Halt" and "Stop the music", and of course mean it.

A woman has to go away and be with herself and look into how she came to be trapped in an archetype to begin with. The basic wild instinct that determines 'only this far and no farther, only this much and no more' must be retrieved and developed. That is how a woman keeps her bearings.

So women who are tired, temporarily sick of the world, but afraid to take time off, wake up already!"

from Woman who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

enjoy,
musemother

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blog Index of Articles Help

Someone out there in the blogging universe, please send me any info you have on how to index your blogs.

I have some great information buried in the past month's entries that I don't know how to list where it will be visible.

For instance, Women's Mysteries and PMS, from September 4, or Multitasking Menopause and Stress, June 13. Some kind of system must exist to list these.

I'll keep looking too
jenn

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Angel and the Bitch

You know the voices, the harsh inner critic, the mother-saint who nurtures others at her own expense, the inner perfectionist, your own mother's voice telling you how to behave....

I was listening to a CD of Joan Borysenko's on menopause, called Initiation into Power, and she reminded me of those inner voices. (a great intro to menopause by the way)

It also reminded me of a poem series I wrote, The Angel in the House, and her flip side, The Bitch Goddess, wherein I tried to reconcile the anger I felt some days (usually pre-menstrually) at being a mom-at-home, wife, and caretaker and the overhwelming love I also felt for my children and my husband. Especially when the kids were little, at the crawling around on the floor stage, and there wasn't much Daddy could do except pitch in on the weekends and evenings. Then the inner voices were very loud and uncompromising. Usually I 'lost it' and spoke in that voice before I even felt it coming.

A new book on menstrual health, The Wild Genie, and the accompanying exercise book, The Woman's Quest, are opening my eyes to the positive side of the Bitch's voice. Alexander Pope calls it The inner power broker. What an enlightening way to see this energy - the 'tough talking, asertive, provacative, knowing, sometimes angry figure so many of us encounter premenstrually [and in peri-menopause] and often end up apologizing for later."

"She'll get you into trouble if you don't understand and value her presence."

yeah, babe, you can say that again!

While this power is not to be abused, nor does it give you licence to abuse others, it is a step towards self-knowledge to listen to her voice. Slowing down, incorporating more stillness and 'sacred space' into your schedule may help alleviate some of the symptoms of the bitch.

But really, don't be afraid of her. Get to know your inner power broker. Shift your viewpoint. how is she your ally? as an agent for change perhaps, or acting out in the world.

What issues are troubling you? What could you do instead of censoring yourself? Peri-menopause particularly is a time when women are finding their voice. If you have mistreated yourself all your life, never taken a moment to take care of just 'you', you may find that voice is very bitter and resentful.

Find a way this month, or this week, or even today, to honour your inner Bitch through some action or activity. Drop the self-criticism and hone into your inner wisdom. What are you upset about? and how can you channel that into constructive change?

Bottling up our feelings, stifling our authentic self because we want to be good girls, and listening to our inner mother tell us to shut up, not be so selfish, leads to explosive, outspoken, challenging Bitchiness! why wait for the pot to boil-over-the-top? Stir the pot, find out what you are feeling pre-menstrually or pre-menopausally.

Don't forget to be gentle and breathe into it!

Honour your inner Bitch, have a dialogue with her!

have a great weekend,
musemother

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Good Body

Have you read The Good Body by Eve Ensler, of Vagina Monologues fame?

I picked it up a year ago, read it rather cursorily, put it down. This year, last week in fact on the way to New York, I read it again. It packs quite a punch. Short extract:

I'm walking down a New York City street, and I catch a glimpse of this blond, pointy-breasted, raisin-a-day stomached smiling girl on the cover of Cosmo magazine. She is there every minute, somewhere in the world, smiling down on me, on all of us. She's omnipresent. She's the American Dream, my personal nightmare. Pumped straight from the publishing power plant into the bloodstream of our culture and neurosis. She is multiplying on every corner.

She was passed through my mother's milk and so I don't even know that I'm contaminated. Don't get me wrong, I pick up the magazines. No, no, no. It's the possibilty of being skinny good that keeps me buying. Oh, God, I discover a Starbucks maple walnut scone expanding in me, creeping out. Flabby age leaking through the cracks. Big Macs, French fries, Pizza Land, four helpings, can't stop. My stomach is America. I want to drown in the cement. Obviously, I'm missing something. Maybe if I go and find the woman who thought this up she'll reveal the secret."

then follows a fictionalized interview with Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmo magazine.
Eighty years old, one hundred sit-ups twice a day, I'm down to ninety pounds!

Why am I telling you this? inside of every woman who finds her menstrual cycle a nuisance is probably a woman who hates at least part of her body, if not every part. Someone once told me I had nice hands, and I thought, well at least there's something attractive about me! (I was 18)

Thirty-five years later, I like myself a lot better, but the body landscape has been transformed. No longer size 6, or under 120 lbs, no longer being teased for being a toothpick basically. No danger of that today, and the photo of me you see on this blog is probably 15 years old....so you have no idea! And no, I will not be having plastic surgury anytime soon, no matter how many wrinkles creep up on me.

Let's just say, that this good body has been supporting me and my work (as if they were separate, huh!) for 53 years now. In spite of my negligence and lack of care, too busy being in my head to listen to my body. Look, I just had lunch at 4:00 pm - stuff gets in the way of eating, and I'm hypoglycemic. My hubby and daughter finally said, do us all a favour and eat! (crankiness major indicator of hunger).

What is it about this 'inconvenience' called a physical body that our mind doesn't get? One can't live on words alone, on books and newspapers and magazines and blogs and ideas, no matter how fascinating these may be.

Help yourself by grounding once in a while, I tell myself, by getting up off the computer and stretching, by walking the dog, patting the cat, making myself a salad or a bowl of soup, looking out the window and unkinking the neck....and yes, breathing helps too.

Take care of this body, of these emotions, these foreign feelings that take up your/my time. Be kind to yourself/myself. What you bless flourishes, what you criticize or curse falters.

Believe in the body's goodness, and it will be good, to you.
best,
jenn

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marrying myself

This morning in yoga, something delicious happened. The instructor was leading us in some gentle postures for balance. I think it was in Tree pose that I noticed the breath was freed up, and I could feel my belly and abdomen open, not obstructed with tension.

Then we lay on the floor and did some back bends, each time resting our head on the floor between making effort, relaxing.

It took a bit of effort to keep bringing my mind back to center, stop it from wandering off. But when I was finally present, it felt so good to just breathe and be here, on the floor, in my body.

My body! that location of so much turbulence, many emotions, and so much tension! But this morning I could feel it all melting away, as I kept coming back to the breath. Being purposefully gentle with myself, because of a very stiff neck. Every time my inner voice said, don't do that pose, I listened.

Then this wonderful thought popped up : yoga=union, or marrying myself. Inside of the breath's gentle embrace, I am finally opening, accepting that this is where I am. I can love myself, right now, the way I am, in the shape I am in, with the light and dark of me, with all my neediness, and the letting go.

A smile lit my face, even with my eyes closed, and I felt warm and calm, knowing that there is nowhere to hide from me, and I don't want to run away from me anymore.

Acceptance, surrender - no, just a little more being-ness, just a few more breaths of one-ness, and wanting this, feeling longing and desire line up inside of little me.

be well today, let the harsh winds of November blow around you,
stay connected inside,
luv
jenn

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