Monday, October 12, 2015


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

still climbing out.

It's 6am. I'm sitting cross-legged in a room full of other crazy people who get up before the sun rises to drag their exhausted bodies into a yoga studio. I've been up since 4:30 because early mornings are the only time I can carve out for myself to work on my novel these days. My eyes are closed and I'm trying to listen to the yoga instructor (who is so amazing I just want to crawl inside her skin for a couple of hours to see what balance and grace and peace feel like).

"Root down through your sit bones," she says. "Really feel your body connecting with the earth today."

So I do. I'm rooted. I'm grounded. I'm connected.

"Take a deep breath in," she guides, and I do. I am really feeling what it's like for my body to breathe today.

But then she tells us to exhale and release it all. Oh no. Anything but release it all. Maybe I should start wearing a shirt with a disclaimer about offers to just relax or let it go.

My breath comes out strained and heavy, and with it a dark shadow seeps out and fills the room. Each exhale sounds like that horrifying moment in sci-fi movies where demons or death eaters materialize out of nowhere. The temperature drops a couple of degrees and I open my eyes to confirm that there is literally thick black smoke coming out of my mouth. It's so dense that everyone around me starts choking. Tears stream down my face. It reeks of fear and the acrid smell of ants burning under a magnifying glass. I try to release it all, but there's so much darkness inside me I know that all the exhales for all the rest of my days will not get it all out. My lungs feel like I smoke two packs of sadness each day. The dark is a cancer slowing eating away just behind my heart. And just when I think I'm about to suffocate in the black hole of it all...

...the little gong rings and we are instructed to open our eyes and I'm back in a room filled with spandex, sweat and the smell of new yoga mats.

THIS is living in the darkness.

Most of my days are so much lighter now than they were a year ago. Weeks might go by where I feel buoyant, weightlessly floating by on happiness.

But then there are mornings like this one (and the past couple of days) where I am humbly reminded that there is still darkness deep inside me and so I am still climbing my way out.

Join me to Climb Out of the Darkness on June 20th.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

year of the goat.

It was just over three years ago the last time I celebrated Lunar New Year, or, let's be honest, even realized what day it was. (I'm lucky if I even know what month we are most of the time.) Looking back on memories of that night, our faces looking up at the fireworks seem so young, so fresh, so innocent under the exploding lights. So different from the hardened, weathered face I wear tonight as I look down at the fireworks from our yard at the top of the hill.

Perspective changes everything.

Three years ago, as we watched the passing of the year go from the rabbit to the dragon, promise seemed to hang suspended in the air with those lights. We didn't know what the future held exactly, but we hoped there'd be children.

It's incredible how much can change in just three years.

And now here I am. Standing in my yard with no pants and my rain boots at just after midnight, watching patiently for what little of the fireworks pop through the thicket of trees down the hill, listening to the beat of drums and cheers of the crowd. I am taken back to nights in Taiwan on my scooter, stumbling upon ceremonies millennia older than my own commercial culture. The same feeling of encroaching on something sacred where I don't really belong creeps in, mixed with a strange jealousy that aches my heart, a longing to feel connected to something that runs so deep.

I remember a weekend trip I took by myself up to the mountains somewhere in the Taiwanese interior. I was searching for the largest statue of Buddha at the time but somehow wound up finding bliss.

I stumbled into a temple and tiptoed my way into a room thick with silence. I did not notice the monks meditating in the shadows until they left, that is how still they were. I sat, meditating myself for a quiet eternity, just alive, just being.

As I was leaving I got off the elevator on the wrong floor and came upon a guarded shrine. Visiting hours were over, but the guard seemed pleased to have some company. My Mandarin was as broken as his English so we mostly just smiled and bowed to each other every now and then, but eventually he came to me and pressed gently but firmly on my shoulders until I knelt. He patiently guided me through the five-point prostration and then we knelt together in unison. He spoke to me in Chinese and I just listened, drinking in the words like music and somehow feeling like I understood. He fumbled with a key and led me into a small adjoining room and indicated an ornate box. It was clearly sacred and together we knelt three times to pay our respects.

It wasn't until the way out that he handed me a flyer and while waiting for the elevator I read in imperfect English that the little box held bones from Siddhartha's feet. Buddha himself. He preached the importance of non-attachment his whole enlightened life but there in that elevator lobby I've never felt so connected to the divine.

And here I am on this hill feeling connected again. Feeling the pull of that temple in a direct line to my heart and I just wish I had the guts to go down there and dance with the dragon until my legs were too sore to stand.

Instead I quietly watch the passing from the horse to the goat, and with it feel a surge of something deep in my chest. Three years ago my body was preparing to become round and pregnant with my two beautiful boys. This year my soul feels pregnant with promise & prosperity & amazingly peace. I welcome this year of creativity with an open mind and a free spirit. I cannot wait to meet whatever it is that might be born of my efforts in the year to come and am excited to watch yet another transformation of myself. No matter what comes, I am determined to keep peeling at the essence of me, keep boiling it down until I am concentrated and pure. Crystallized me. Just me, raw, no impurities.

Right now, that me is still standing under the stars in nothing but her underwear, a long sweater and yellow rain boots, and I'm thinking I'm off to a pretty good start.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

100 happy days.

day one hundred:

day ninety-nine:

day ninety-eight:

day ninety-seven:

day ninety-six:

day ninety-five:

day ninety-four:

day ninety-three:

day ninety-two:

day ninety-one:

day ninety:

day eighty-nine:

day eighty-eight:

day eighty-seven:

day eighty-six:

day eighty-five:

day eighty-four:

day eighty-three:

day eighty-two:

day eighty-one:

day eighty:

day seventy-nine:

day seventy-eight:

day seventy-seven:

day seventy-six:

day seventy-five:

day seventy-four:

day seventy-three:

day seventy-two:

day seventy-one:

day seventy:
Carrot cake cupcakes, mowing the lawn, sparklers & lots of running & giggling in the sun - it was a wonderful last day of summer.

day sixty-nine:
I love my boys so much sometimes I feel like my heart just might burst. 🎈💥💗💗💗 Happy 21 months, my little monsters! Je vous aime plus que tout au monde!

day sixty-eight:
And my heart explodes.

day sixty-seven:
"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." - Mark Twain

day sixty-six:

day sixty-five:
Registered and SO EXCITED!!!!

day sixty-four:
Masterpiece. First oil painting ever (or maybe second?!) and I'm pretty darn happy with the final product.

day sixty-three:
Art time.

day sixty-two:
Pure bliss.

day sixty-one:

day sixty:
First popsicle ever and I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a hit!

day fifty-nine:
I have a wonderful husband who leaves me little bits of sunshine all over our new house. (Flowers by nature, vase by me.)

day fifty-eight:

day fifty-seven:
He's electric.

day fifty-six:
Days like these are filled with so much love sometimes I feel my heart might burst.

day fifty-five:
Never been so thankful it's Friday! What an exhausting (and exciting) week! Perfect way to end it: one of the parents brought me a pain au chocolat at the end of the school day!

day fifty-four:
Afternoon art project.

day fifty-three:
Favorite pieces I've ever made. Mug + bowl set. LOVE me some Goldstone!

day fifty-two:
6:37pm and my first real break of the day. Even eaten sitting on the toilet while the the babes take a bath, my favorite mango salsa makes everything heavenly.

day fifty-one:
Moving day!!!! So excited to be back in the 98118!!!

day fifty:

day forty-nine:
Morning milk out of cups mama made.

day forty-eight:
Sometimes the day after you have an emergency procedure to remove a walnut-sized blood clot, you put on Blue's Clues & let your kids enjoy Steve even if they aren't two yet.

day forty-seven:
Only thing keeping me going today - obsessively looking at the teacher calendar I decked out with my favorite faces. (Yesterday I had an emergency procedure to remove a painful blood clot the size of a walnut, so today I am on lots of painkillers, yet still at work.)

day forty-six:
Tata Emma's back in town!!!

day forty-five:
Perfect end to any day.

day forty-four:
First day on the new job. Classroom set-up.

day forty-three:
Taking a dip in glacial waters is a wonderful way to start any day.

day forty-two:
Wine, games, community, outdoor movies under the stars, best friends. Most amazing Saturday night I've had in a long long time.

day forty-one:
Nothing like an afternoon spent reading alone in a tent in the North Cascades.

day forty:
Road trip 2014 begins! Friends for life!

day thirty-nine:

day thirty-eight:
I love waking up to my boys. Cosleeping is the best (sometimes)!

day thirty-seven:

day thirty-six:
I can't believe I'm actually posting a selfie like this, but someone asked me today how it was possible that two years ago I had two babies in my belly. I really took a look at my body tonight and oh my word I am so proud of myself! I have been doing yoga & meditating daily and it has calmed my soul and toned my body. And most importantly helped pull me out of PPD! Now that I'm feeling and looking vibrant and alive I guess it's time to start doing that showering-and-putting-on-clothes-that-are-not-pajamas-or-yoga-pants-thing!!!

day thirty-five:

day thirty-four:
Fridge drawing party with their best friend.

day thirty-three:
Nothing like some good old fashioned beans & rice!

day thirty-two:
Some days, thank god for KidsQuest Children's Museum because it lets mama have a break.

day thirty-one:

day thirty:

day twenty-nine:
Look what came in the mail today! I had no idea I was even getting one of these and it makes me soooo happy!! (Especially after a really down week where I really felt that the struggle with PPD is definitely not over yet.) Thanks again so much to everyone who donated to the cause! Still climbing and so proud! :)

day twenty-eight:
Picnic in the park.

day twenty-seven:

day twenty-six:
My favorite kind of sky.

day twenty-five:
!!!! Is it possible to feel deep in your bones that life is about to get really good? I have wanted to seriously write for my whole life and I am so freaking excited about this program!!!!

day twenty-four:
Someday if we ever get around to having a wedding/celebration of love, these babies are gonna be such great flower boys!

day twenty-three:
Two of my favorite things in life: breastfeeding and Old Town Café in Bellingham! Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month and World Breastfeeding Week y'all!!

day twenty-two:
Celebrating love at our dear friends' wedding! We love you C-K family! <3

day twenty-one:
Homemade (vegan & gluten-free) strawberry blueberry cheesecake. Great meal and great company to share it with!

day twenty:
Call me old fashioned, but there's something delightful about freshly washed laundry hanging out in the sun to dry.

day nineteen:
Nothing like a candlelit bath with special salts to finish a three-day detox! I feel so clean & full of life & truly happy!

day eighteen:
Saved this little wild baby bunny today, which makes me very happy! Napoleon found it (already very badly injured we think) and was running around with it in his mouth. :( We rescued it & brought it to PAWS. [EDIT: We got a card from PAWS informing us they had to let him go :( but I am still so glad we took the trip up there, as I think it was a good experience for the boys on learning compassion and how to take care of animals.)

day seventeen:
Partner yoga.

day sixteen:
I go in to the boys' room 20 minutes after bedtime when I hear crying & find this: all the clothes pulled out of the dresser and Owen stuck in a drawer. It shouldn't, but this made me laugh so freaking hard!

day fifteen:

day fourteen:
This kid is a karaoke king.

day thirteen:
Tippen had his leg amputated a week or so ago, which is part of why I started this project, and today he got his stitches out, which means no more cone! He is already jumping and playing and begging to go outside, which is amazing!
day twelve:
Working on a wedding present for some amazing friends.

day eleven:
First time I've ever won anything in the lotto! I won five whole dollars on MegaMillions!

day ten:

An Arlo hug on the porch swing. :)

day nine:

My hubby brought these home for me. <3

day eight:

The open ceramics lab at North Seattle College is one of my favorite happy places of the moment. A big thanks to Tata Erin for watching the boys & making this one possible.

day seven:

I've been following Baron Baptiste's 40 Days to Personal Revolution, meaning yoga every day. Considering how crazy my days are this usually means nap time yoga.

day six:

Any Coconut Bliss bars are heavenly, but the chocolate... hot damn.

day five:
Napoleon has had the worst dreads for a couple of months now. We have tried to maintain it, but he stopped letting us touch him, probably because he was super uncomfortable. Lucky for us, our amazing friend, Kelly is not only an incredible artist, but also a cat whisperer! She came over and spent three hours grooming him until he looked like this! Our little black lion. <3 He is so much happier and cuddly which makes this cat mama so much happier, too!

day four:

 I love letting the boys run around naked in the yard. Any day I get to see these adorable buns is a happy day..

day three:

Picked these in the back yard while the boys were splashing in the pool. Local, organic and amazingly they were perfectly ripe which in mid-July is crazy early! Also, I made that bowl in ceramics last quarter, and those blackberries look damn fine in it.

day two:
With the besties at Urban Craft Uprising, which has been one of my go-to me-moments since having the babies.

day one:

I decided to start this quest right here in this exact moment. We set up this pool a couple of days ago but mostly the boys have just used it to fill their watering cans as they run around the yard watering anything in sight.

I have been thinking a lot about an article I recently read about mamas putting on their swimsuits and playing with their kids in the water instead of sitting to the side fully clothed due to shame or embarrassment about their bodies. It hit me hard (equally hard as this one) and I've been trying to bust out the suit more often and play with them, but so far it's been just in the sprinkler which they haven't really been too excited about.

(Ironically, or maybe not, the first day I decided to stop caring so much what other people think of my postpartum body and just put on my suit and run around the yard with my kids was the day that this happened.)

So here I am, relaxing in my swimsuit in a kiddie pool in our backyard, cooling off from the heat of the 95+ degree day (that is HOT for us Seattlites!!!). My boys were laughing hysterically, using their watering cans to water me and each other and we were all laughing and splashing and I was having so much fun I just couldn't stop smiling. It's the first time in a really long time where I felt really genuinely spontaneously happy, so I decided what better place to start a happiness journey than here?