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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mothering as creative, Connecting to the sacred feminine


Review of Mothering from Your Center, Tami Lynn Kent


Reading this book was a wonderful confirmation of my own mothering experience.

Eventually, every mother is torn between two things – and following the rhythm of her children and babies, and having her own time and space to work on any creative projects or work. Author Tami Lynn Kent has found a way to combine the two, by energetically getting in touch with her creative center, and surrendering to that flow. She is a women’s health physical therapist, energy worker and writer, with three boys and lots of practical experience with finding balance in home life.

In her first book, The Wild Feminine, Tami Kent provided visualizations of the pelvic bowl, as she calls it, and stories of her healing work with women’s pelvic traumas, as well as an exploration of the feminine energy system. This new book goes along the same lines, but especially addresses pregnancy, birth and mothering. She focuses on the pelvic bowl as the place of both physical and creative space where we “gestate and birth our creations”.

Kent calls mothering an epic journey, a spiritual quest, a ‘sacred process akin to the soul journeys of a shaman”.  And we mothers know that it calls up all our strength and courage, and pushes all our buttons too.  What I love best about this book are the practical tools offered, the know-how to restore a connection to the feminine center, and discover how to mother from a centered place. I especially enjoyed the visualizations and energy medicine exercises.  It’s so good to learn that mothering can be energizing rather than depleting.  That’s a message I wish I had read before setting out on the journey to mothering.

I have always known that as mother I am the center, the hearth, the tuning fork for the rest of the family. Tending to my own center and balance, however, demands time and patience. For example, Kent advises women get more rest during the first few weeks of postpartum time right after birth. Let the housework go, or hire help and see how close to home you can stay, as if on retreat. There is a big self-care component in this book – an honouring of the reality of being mother. Most days it is hard, physical work, and emotionally draining. Tami is not prescriptive, however, and leaves it up to the reader to make decisions from the wisdom of her center – about things like sharing a family bed, nursing vs bottles, and replenishing the well. There is no one right way of doing things. 

I know this book could have helped me negotiate a smoother transition between time for me and time for my babies, without feeling guilty or resentful, and without feeling the constant need to be ‘busy’. As the author rightly says, the challenge is that we don’t know how to slow down and follow our own inner rhythm, especially for those mothers who may be staying home for the first time after working at an outside job. Sometimes we keep over-busy to avoid our sad and mad feelings.  Kent chose not to return to work outside the home right away, as did I, because as she says, “My child had called me back to my center, and from the center I eventually wove a life and work-family balance that would support us.”  There are lots of great chapters like “Taking care of You: A Loving Daily Practice” with self-care rituals as simple as drinking a cup of tea without being interrupted, resisting the urge to multi-task and letting the kids sit quietly or play nearby until her tea is finished.

This book addresses all women, those who haven’t birthed a child, those who co-mother or are step-mothers and adoptive mothers. Any woman who wants to reconnect to her Creative Core and her feminine self, find the energy connection with her child and strengthen it, will benefit from reading this book.

“When in the midst of a challenging mothering moment, instead of reacting to what is happening, I focus on finding my center and feeling my feet on the ground. I breathe deeply into my connection to the earth and bring more flow into my root…From there, I may be able to better comfort my child, deflate a conflict by taking a different approach, or engage the situation in an entirely new matter.”

Wouldn't any woman want to learn that? Ultimately, a woman needs to connect with her own body and inner guidance. To learn how to mother from the potential of her own center.

Read this book!
Musemother


Youtube:  Video with Tami Lynn Kent                                                                        




Thursday, February 21, 2013

When life slows down to a crawl and you don’t want to get out of bed


(this is a story about not wanting to write)

Is it February? Is winter not over yet in your part of the world? In my landscape, it is whiter than white, blowing snow, blue above the clouds, a little sunshine sparkling on snow, drifts and piles of white everywhere, and a crisp coldness. Some days I find that invigorating, and head out to the frozen lake (Lac St-Louis is really part of the St-Lawrence river) and cross country ski, especially when there is fresh snow covering the ice.

But some days, like one day this week, the cold, the clouds, the constant bundling up and trying to stay warm got me down. Or maybe it was my immune system fighting off cold or flu germs (I have been sneezing a lot). All I wanted to do was stay in bed. I had planned a writing day. Actually, it seems to go with the territory, that when I plan to work on my stories, resistance comes up and I suddenly feel a huge weight on me, inertia sets in, and I can’t get motivated. I want to hide under the pillows and sing, woe is me.

So I lit a candle and got out my Native American totem cards, picked four cards and wrote in my journal. Put on some soothing music (Bija, my favourite heart-beat like pace of sound), and hunkered down on my bed to write out what the cards said (great advice, always). Then I pulled out a book I’m supposed to review, (Mothering from your Center) and read a chapter on birth energies and did the visualization of my creative center, and whoops – before I knew it was writing, making notes on the book, on my experience of energetically releasing two previous miscarriages from over 23 years ago. My passion came back, my interest in writing, my mojo was back. I had a productive day.

There is no magic cure for inertia, but what I found worked (yesterday, then again today) was just snuggling down into it. Of course, I work at home, so it’s easier for me to stay in my pj’s and read a book. Today I pulled out a collection of erotica, short stories, excerpts and poems and before I knew it, I was hotly inspired to write - jumped up to the computer and revised one of my old chestnuts (stories that have barely survived my total ignoring of them for over ten years), and actually sent two stories out to  literary journals. It helps that they accept email submissions, so I didn’t have to get dressed and go to the post office or the nearest mail box, or look for stamps.

Now that is way more than I have done in over a year, in fact, the only things I have sent out are to a once a year story competition, and I remind myself not to do that anymore – I haven’t published any short stories yet (well, one, in a parenting magazine), and so submitting to open ‘auditions’ if you will is more productive than sending a one-off to a competition that 500 other writers are sending to.

My secret was just to keep moving – to pick up a book, to just put a little oil in the machine,  get the motor running, purring a little, before stepping on the gas and taking her out for a ride. I’m still sluggish, even more so after eating lunch and now my digestion system is slowing me down, but here I am typing up this blog post, see I didn’t even know it was going to be a blog post until just now. And I am working again. In spite of inertia and slug like slowness.

On a day where you feel as slow as molasses in January, even if it’s February, take it slow and easy. Put one foot in front of the other, pour yourself a cup of hot tea, and hunker down to it. Gently. You can do it!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rise and Dance with One Billion Rising on V-Day

If you haven't heard already, tomorrow is a very big day. Very Big V-Day manifestation to end violence against women, organized by Eve Ensler: http://www.onebillionrising.org.

Our women's circle in Beaconsfield, near Montreal, was having its monthly meeting tomorrow anyway, so we are going to Dance along with everyone who is Rising. I plan to play the video Break the Chain and learn the moves - we'll watch it and Dance together in Seemeen's living room! We also love Parachute Club's Rise Up

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNIdqu7crW8  watch it here.

This is a global event, and somehow I feel very excited about moving my body for the sacredness, for the blessedness, for the protection of every woman and girl around the world.

If our energy dancing together can affect anything, even if only attracting a lot of attention to the sad reality of rape and violence against women, it will be a good day.

Here's a poem I love about being danced: (If you want, you could read this out loud to a group of women, as a way to participate in V-Day).


We have come ...by Jewel Mathieson


We have come to be danced
not the pretty dance
not the pretty pretty, pick me, pick me dance
but the claw our way back into the belly
of the sacred, sensual animal dance
the unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
the holding the precious moment in the palms
of our hands and feet dance

We have come to be danced
not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
but the wring the sadness from our skin dance
the blow the chip off our shoulder dance
the slap the apology from our posture dance

We have come to be danced
not the monkey see, monkey do dance
one, two dance like you
one two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
tearing scabs & scars open dance
the rub the rhythm raw against our souls dance

We have come to be danced
not the nice invisible, self conscious shuffle
but the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
the strip us from our casings, return our wings
sharpen our claws & tongues dance
the shed dead cells and slip into
the luminous skin of love dance

We have come to be danced
not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
but the meeting of the trinity: the body, breath & beat dance
the shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
the mother may I?
yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
the Olly Olly Oxen Free Free Free dance
the everyone can come to our heaven dance

We have come to be danced
where the kingdom’s collide
in the cathedral of flesh
to burn back into the light
to unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
to root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
WE HAVE COME


So now it's your turn: to Dance!

Musemother







Monday, February 11, 2013

Mothering Myself or The Mommy Ogre


Listening to the inner voice

Note: I found this on my computer, written 10 years ago, when my kids were 10, and 12.

What can a busy mom do to find an inner sense of balance?

I stir from sleep, one ear off the pillow. “Mommy”-- I hear my daughter’s plaintive voice.  Red numbers flash 4:30 a.m. Groggily, I tiptoe down the hall and sit on her bed. Kate pulls me close – sobbing, a bad dream. She wants me to lie beside her because she’s afraid to fall back asleep. Chalk it up to one more night of interrupted sleep. At age 48, with insomnia and night sweats kicking in, some mornings I have a serious sleep deficit and would much rather stay in bed than get up and make breakfast. It’s not possible for me to quit my job, since my full time work is house-manager and mother for now. But before lack of sleep and pre-menopause turns me into mommy ogre, I’ve decided I need to mother myself.

Recently, there is a voice that is downright insistent about the need to take good care of myself. It complains that it doesn’t want to walk the dog, because she pulls on the leash and hurts my sore shoulder. Get the kids to walk her. (The physiotherapist said the same thing).  It whispers to me to jump into bed with a heating pad right after the kids are tucked in. Or let them tuck me in! It gives me simple advice, like ‘sleep when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry, go pee when you have to’. Simple wisdom, but it’s hard to put into practice.

If that inner voice were my mother, what would she tell me? First, she’d say in that endearing way she has, quit complaining you’re tired and go to bed earlier! No more reading past midnight.  She’d also tell me to sit down properly at a table, not shovel food standing up at the counter on my way out the door to the doctor’s. She’d say, slow down the pace - take a nap. My mother took a nap every day (8 kids in ten years forced her to). She’d ask me why I load up the agenda with an overwhelming list of chores to do. Before I’m even dressed the mental list starts humming: call the vet, get the tires changed, shampoo the dog vomit out of the carpet, get a quote for new garage doors, buy the latest ‘cool’ item for the kids’ lunches…. I read that keeping overly busy is a way of masking the inner voice, and leads to exhaustion. Maybe taking one item off the list per day will leave more room for creative time, help me get to that story I’ve been meaning to write.

Leaving open space on my agenda would make room for spontaneity too, like going for a walk in the park instead of letting the dogs out for a quick romp in the yard. Finding time to ‘be’ more and do less is a real challenge for a busy mom. Even if I don’t work outside the home (besides volunteer work), my inner task master doesn’t allow much free time for my own projects -- I could be more creative if I listened to my gentler, inner voice who coaxes me to sort through the pile of poems on my desk or to go out and rake old leaves, discover new shoots in the garden. I need quiet time to replenish the soul (in spite of the nagging voice that says, get back to the dishes, the laundry), to allow some moments of beauty into the day to reflect on the life lived, as well as living it.

The one thing my inner voice is adamant about is making time to sit quietly early in the morning before the family awakens. If a child wakes up and wants me to put in a movie on the weekend, I settle her in, then head back to my cozy chair by the window to contemplate the peace within. It soothes me like a comforter to rest inside the breath. I catch up with my sense of serenity, my purpose for being in the world seems confirmed, now that I am centered again. For me, morning practice is best, before getting caught in the phone calls and email trap.

Listening to the soft voice within has many benefits. Allowing myself these special moments every day allows my heart to appreciate the abundance in my life, the warm sunshine, the birds in the back yard, a new moon in a dark sky, and lets me be all here for my gorgeous children in the limited amount of years they need me so totally. So I’ve decided I can’t put off mothering myself until they leave home. That’s too far away. Have you noticed in the video instructions for putting on an oxygen mask on the airplane, you are told to put it on your own mouth first, then on your children? I think of that as a beautiful metaphor for mothering myself, which will help me be the best mother for my children.


 Hugs,
Musemother


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

More News for the Heart

http://www.exelans.org

Dr Christiane Northrup has been writing about women's bodies and the wisdom that comes from listening to the body for over twenty years. I first heard about her and her book, Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom when my aunt sent my mother the book. Seeing it on her coffeetable, I asked if I could read it. I don't think I ever gave it back. It opened my eyes to so many new ways of thinking and understanding symptoms of illness, and my connection to my female body.

This month, Dr Northrup is addressing the Heart in her monthly newsletter, and I love what she has to say about hidden emotions and heart disease.

I have done various types of bodywork, from osteopathy, massage therapy to Rolfing, and in every case, there has been some form of emotional release as well as the healing power of touch.

Here is a link to her article: http://www.drnorthrup.com/blog/2013/01/hidden-emotions-hurt-the-heart

Love your Heart!

Musemother/jenn

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Meditate on your Heart Month

February is Heart Month


I'm going to write more about what opening into heart awareness means for me, as I did in my monthly newsletter for my website (sign up at www.jenniferboire.com),
but for the moment, here's something I found on Facebook, with some lovely music and visuals to help you focus and breathe through your heart.


http://chandinilove.tumblr.com/


Namaste,
Musemother


Friday, February 01, 2013

Courage to Take the Next Step

SoulCollage card, Underwater

Mid-life is a challenging time - it's not only about the menopausal hormones, the lack of sleep and hot flashes. The biggest wake-up call is from your heart, (or some say, your soul) calling you to find a sense of meaning and passion, your purpose in life.

I don't know why it hits us in our mid-forties to fifties. It may be because we have accomplished so much, the house, the job, the kids, the car, the dream vacations. You work hard to achieve "success", you raise a family, and then....you hit a brick wall, or you just feel tired all the time, or you get challenged by a divorce, a serious illness, or a loved one close to you passes on. You feel restless, dissatisfied, confused about your purpose, and you don't know why. The big questions start to come up: why am I here? what is all for? what do I really want to do with the rest of my life?

I look at it as a huge wake-up call from the heart - it's calling: Over here! Wake up! Emotions and feelings long-buried rise to the surface. Your goal of being Salesperson of the Year is not cutting it anymore. You want to run away from your life, where daily decisions overwhelm you, you aren't sleeping well, you're irritable and impatient and you don't recognize yourself. Then you see your mother or father's face in the mirror looking back at you, and it's scary! I'm 50 and what have I done with my life? You may look back in longing at the young person you were at 20, so idealistic, so passionate about making the world a better place, the young actress to be who became a secretary or an Administrator....and part of you feels like it's dying. Where did that youthful energy go?

It's still there, your heart and passion and enthusiasm for life, but it may be buried deeper down. You have to go spelunking in caves, you have to put on all your brave courage and excavate your heart's passion from underneath your sense of Duty, Obligation, Responsibility and whatever else tells you it's not practical to realize a dream.

In my book, The Tao of Turning Fifty, Amazon.com I offer an exercise called What Time is It in Your Life? You draw a clock on a blank page, and then draw the hands pointing towards the numbers of the time you feel it is - intuitively. Is it 8 am, the start of a new day? or is it noon - the middle of something? or perhaps it's 10:00 pm - time to put something to bed. Reflect on this, ask the question, dig, reflect, write, until you find the answer popping up from within.

Remember, whatever passions you had at age 11 or 15, the difference you wanted to make in the world, you are more than adequately prepared to do that now - you have more skills, more experience, and better resources. All you are lacking is the clarity and the courage - so dig deep and find it. Your Soul is Calling! the heaviness you feel is your Heart being buried. Uncover what makes your heart feel light and know that the journey into your depths may involve facing your grief, letting go of disappointments and sadness, facing feelings you haven't allowed yourself to feel.

The journey towards going Up and Out in the world begins often with going Down and In. Reclaim those feelings, uncover your heart, thaw out the frozen emotions, unpeel the armour around your heart and chest. Begin to un-numb, to tingle with excitement, as the blood starts moving again. Feel the cleansing tears that will come, and be reassured it means you are alive, you can find your Joy again.

It is worth doing this inner work. In my book I describe my own mid-life journey, and offer the Descent of Inanna as a metaphor or mythic story that gives a clue to the real work of rebirth and transformation that happens at mid-life, for those who have the courage to face the darkness inside of them. Don't be in a hurry. It will unfold in months or years, but you will resurface, with new shiny wings. Are you ready?

Here are 10 quotes to give you courage to take the next step:

It’s so easy to give up, or just never get started on making your dream project come true. If you need to feel that your Wise Inner Self is on your side rooting for you, here are some wonderful quotes to give you courage.


There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting. – Buddha

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all. – Norman Vincent Peale

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love. – Rumi

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. – Buddha 

It’s okay to ask questions, but get the answers. So, where are the answers? Since the questions came from within you, guess where the answers are? Within you. – Prem Rawat

What we perceive as a failure may simply be our inner being's way of telling us that we are ready to move to a new level of growth.  – Anne Wilson Schaef

What is your real work? Is it that which pays the bills or is it your art? I think your real work is healing. Whatever helps you become more loving in this lifetime. Whatever helps you forgive yourself, embrace yourself, meet yourself, and free yourself in this lifetime. – Tama Kieves  

If you can see your path laid out in front of you, step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path. – Joseph Campbell

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. – Alice Walker:

The power is in you. The answer is in you. And you are the answer to all your searches: you are the goal. You are the answer. It's never outside. – Eckhart Tolle

Dear Past, thank you for the lessons. Dear Future, I'm Ready! – Quan Yin, on Facebook

Namaste,
Jennifer/Musemother

Jennifer Boire, author of The Tao of Turning Fifty, What Every Woman in Her Fifties Needs to Know, available at http://tinyurl.com/d9mtc26 blogs at Musemother, also on Facebook and Twitter. She leads Creative Journaling classes and retreats for women and loves to get comments. See www.jenniferboire.com




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