Shining My Light

This is the second reflection as I countdown to my fortieth birthday.

As I headed into the office this morning I felt a burst of energy from the cathartic clarity of writing into the wee hours. It didn’t matter that I had been too busy getting the kids ready for school to make coffee, I still practically felt a skip in my step. I wondered what my new day would bring and what I would reflect upon at the end of the day.

Suddenly I found myself thinking about a one credit leadership class that I took my senior year of college. They gave us an exercise to help us draw an imagine of something that would represent our leadership style. I instinctively drew a simple image of a candle and flame. As I drew it, I figured that half the class would do the same, as it seemed like the most obvious symbol of a leader. Yet, it turned out that I was the only one to share my passion to shine my light in the darkness.

I recently bought some graphic artwork for my new office of Buddha with a quote saying “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened.” When I just googled it, it turns out this is actually a “fake Buddha quote.” Here’s the real one, in case you’re interested:

“It is like a lighted torch whose flame can be distributed to ever so many other torches which people may bring along; and therewith they will cook food and dispel darkness, while the original torch itself remains burning ever the same. It is even so with the bliss of the Way.”

While it’s not as poster worthy, just reading “bliss of the Way” brings a smile to my face. For the past three years creating/living my bliss has been my calling. I may not have always been as successful as I wished, but I sure did give it a good shot. And while most might think that following ones bliss would be a simple and easy occupation, I can tell you from experience that it has been a practice of diligence.

I whole-heartedly and honestly say that my new work, has me feeling so in flow with my higher purpose that I feel more blissful and free than I did when I didn’t have a traditional job. While I once disappointed in myself that I was able to become abundant as a “solopreneur,” I now know that I really am better suited to work together with partners and serve my community. I’m simply geared that way. Just as I feel so much freer writing in this free flowing reflection that when I used to blog with an intended purpose, researching, crafting, editing over several days. I would much rather just sit down and write what comes to my mind. I’m sure there will be time when I write a full book, and like writing my graduate thesis, it will be a full-blown creative process. For now I’m happy to simply be writing again.

In my Master’s program at Antioch University Seattle’s Center for Creative Change, we had what was called a Reflective Practicum, where we were required to sit down and reflect on at least a weekly basis about our learning process. In the first months I found it so challenging just “reflecting.” I found it easier to answer in depth questions about complex readings than to honestly think about my learning. Yet, after a decade away from school, I do miss it and just taking the moment to myself right now feels like a higher purpose. No offense, but it has nothing to do with you, who happens to have been intrigued enough to continue reading. Frankly, as a long time blogger, I’ve all but given up hope that people actually read any more. I’ve come to peace with that reality, but I do have to admit that the idea of someone reading this does make me smile.

And smiling is probably my most powerful tool. It’s how I shine my light, plus through my openhearted eyes. I feel as though these are my real gifts, and I simply love the feeling of sharing them. I love giving and receiving beams of inspiration. Being a social agent may require systemic strategies, but it’s still really quite simple.

I hope that each and every day, I will feel the light and find creative ways to radiate spiritual truth in the world, one person at a time. I have no doubt that there are many lightworkers emerging, in this age of Aquarian, who will celebrate our transformative work together.

Peace,

Darcy Rose

Transforming Time: 40 posts as I turn 40

My 40th birthday will be in 40 days. I’ve already felt the significance of this birthday more than any other. And yet, it feels like it has nothing really to do with either wanting to hang on to my 30s or fear growing older. It has more to do with me feeling like I’m a conscious butterfly who can feel my own transformation (which coincides with some flippin’ amazing astrological times!). I crave retreat and reflection in what is otherwise overflowing life with more experiences packed into each day that I can ever truly share. It takes all my energy just to remain as present as possible.

As much as I feel like I’m called to write and film video, getting into a regular practice of blogging daily, go figure with three kids and an historic home that would keep even a slacker busy.

Now I have a new job on top of everything, and it’s hard to express just how extraordinary my first month plus of work has been. I’ve felt this deep and peaceful self-confidence about my work that makes me certain that I am doing my life’s work. I feel in the flow and more focused than I’ve felt in ages. As a Gemini, I’m used to feeling pulled in a million directions, but it’s as though I have this trust and knowing that whatever I’m doing is exactly what I need to do. I’ve stopped questioning and criticizing myself, and instead work with a smile on my face. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal, and have already created a vision board. It will surely be added to over time, but it sure feels like an inspiring first step. And while I realize that all the seeds I’m planting will need lots of care and watering, I’m eager to see my work blossom. 

Probably the most incredible and refreshing part of my work is just how much I’ve learned. When you get to nearly forty, it can be easy for even a seeker like myself to feel pleasantly surprised by all the connections I’ve been making. That feels like a whole separate post, but I’ll try to summarize.

Yesterday I went to training on trauma-informed customer service, and what it really brought home to me is that I have both the skills and the desire to not only transform others, but also my community, and that will happen by creating one relationship at a time. It also made me realize that all of my physical and spiritual self-care practices are as equally valuable professionally as they are to me personally. My personal work/play energizes and inspires me to serve. I also feel called to share how I am creating my unique mama bliss, and really begin to coach/teach.

On a completely different ending note, I feel like I would be avoiding an essential element if I didn’t mention just how much healing I’ve been experiencing. Yesterday marked six years since my father’s wake, which was really the beginning of my awakening. My heart cracked so wide open that as times I literally remember feeling as though I could hold the whole universe in my heart. I felt an unconditional love that I hadn’t felt since my childhood and every moment felt precious and serendipitous. I sensed my father’s soul watching me in the garden, where I worked almost every day. I woke up intensely feeling the miracle of the new day, and knowing that if I died that day that I would have been more karmically blessed than most.

And yet, I’ve realized since an intense counseling session, that my father’s death created a deep divide in my marriage.

Initially, I tried to not be too sensitive, knowing that I was in a heightened emotional state. But now looking back with honesty, that’s when things started to unravel internally.

Kevin and Wally were always very amicable with each other, talking about the Ducks, the budding microbrew scene, plus politely debating politics, public policy, and world affairs. They were both in the same boat of wanting to impress each other. There was still an undercurrent of jealously, and Wally was one of my closest friends before Kevin. College was the first time I ever lived with my father, and I took advantage of the time we had, talking nearly every day, going to concerts, listening to him play the guitar, making dinner together, and sharing in depth about what I was learning. In my first six months of dating Kevin, I worked to balance both relationships, and they each seemed to understand that the other person wasn’t going to go away, so they needed to play nice to keep me happy.

And, yet, I could always sense judgements, mostly unspoken from both of them. After Kevin and I moved in together and headed off to Portland and then Ashland, my visits with my father became infrequent. When it came time to propose, Kevin opted out of asking either my father or my dad for “my hand” (even though I don’t like this sexist tradition, I do remember sensing that he didn’t fully respect my hippie father figures). Wally not being one for formality shrugged it off and whole heartedly gave me his blessing and offered to pay for the eight piece swing band and the Caldera keg. Their relationship maintained a status quo quality. After our son and Wally’s first grandchild was born, he started to make more of an effort to visit. While I was thrilled, Kevin increasingly became annoyed that his visits were always spur of the moment, rather than scheduled. Wally picked up on the unwelcoming vibe, and didn’t like to see how hard Kevin was on Kieran, often expecting too much. Yet, thankfully, there was never any real bad blood.

And, yet, when I shared the news of Wally’s sudden death with Kevin, I couldn’t help but pick up on an unspoken vibe that he felt relieved that he had passed. It was as though now he could sigh relief, thinking that he would no longer need to compete for my love. Little did Kevin know how significant Wally’s death would become in my life.

After returning from Wally’s wake, Kevin seemed ready to move on. While he gave me space to grieve, it was clear that he didn’t want to be the one I talked to about my emotions. Instead I would wake up in the middle of the night and write, feeling like I was pouring out my soul. That grieving time was surprisingly inspiring and productive. I had a newfound energy and was ready to take action on any spark that lit my heart.

Blessedly, I found solace and soulful connection over pints at Secret Society with Bocky, a Irish tree planting buddy who Wally deeply admired and talked about, but who I never met while Wally was alive. Instead, we met the bar at the end of the wake, and as I stumbled back that beautiful night, I said to my sister. I think I may have lost my father, but just met my Godfather. Serendipitously, it turned out that three years later Bocky did stand up to serve as Teagan’s Godfather.

Back to reflecting on my marriage, I finally saw in this recent counseling session just how much of a rift Wally’s death has caused us. It grew unconsciously over time, neither of us realizing the source of contention. On top of waking me up to all the immense beauty in my life, I became vividly aware of the unnecessary strife that existed in our relationship and family life.

Being after midnight and almost 1300 words, I think it’s to call this story a night.

I don’t want to force myself into some artificial “challenge,” but I do want to put out the intention of writing every day for the next 39 days. The truth is that I have umpteen half-written blog drafts because of my perfectionist tendencies. But I know in my heart that I need to write for my own healing, not because it’s “publish worthy.” As a sign of faith, I’m even going to push publish without editing. I truly hope that this new creative reflection practice will get me out of my past ruts and transform my voice into the eloquent and powerful one that I know lives deep down and so eagerly wants to inspire the world, one person at a time.

Peace and love,

Darcy Rose

Right Now: An Ode to Astoria FisherPoets

I just got home from an inspiring and fun-filled evening of experiencing my first Astoria FisherPoets. I was truly blown away, especially by Steve Schoonmaker, who I was tipped off by our Airbnb guest, Michele. I’m so happy to have listened to Mary Garvey, who felt like an ancestor I’ve never known.

At this moment, I’m also feeling blessedly closer to my father than I have felt in a long time, knowing that he would have come to such a gathering and soaked up every tale. While he never published a poem, Wally was a poet at heart, which came through in his songs and storytelling.

I began this prose/poem earlier this week in anticipation of FisherPoets, and just finished (you’ll note the change where I start to rhyme 😉 Here’s my poetry/prose inspired by Astoria’s FisherPoets gathering:

 

Right now there is a thick fog outside my window.

The sun can’t penetrate, nor the river flow.

 

I can suddenly see why I haven’t been able to truly visualize the grandeur and beauty of my own life.

I’ve got it all already figured out on the inside, but can’t seem to see past my own broken picket fence.

 

I’m a poet and a preacher, and I’m just beginning to know it.

For best results, I only need to answer my own questions with my inner voice of wisdom and grace.

 

I am finally ready to make my mark, by knocking this life out of the park.

C0-designing a truly miraculous life, complete with the funnest slide you’ve ever gone down.

 

I simply need to stop putting all my energy toward worry and angst, and listening to others’ fears.

And courageously let the whole wide world see my inner light.

 

Today we welcome our third guest(s) into our home, here from Alaska to experience Astoria’s FisherPoets.

I never expected that her arrival would well up such deep wisdom and flood of emotions.

 

I am eager to welcome the whole wide world into our home, provided we each want more than a quid pro quo.

To love and accept us exactly as we are, breaking the separateness that has become status quo.

 

When it comes down to it, this is who I was meant to be.

A hostess with the mostess, who loves water more than breath.

 

An identical Gemini who needs to know her own worth before she can stop talking about herself in third person.

And hire the “help” I’ve been reluctant to manifest, because my inner child still thinks being rich is bad.

 

I’ve told myself for many many years that I need to play small, not draw attention to myself.

Yet, gracefully, there’s been a quiet inner voice growing within me since I began meditation.

 

My beautiful inner voice tells me to be true to me.

To live without fear of rejection and to let my waters flow free.

 

I’ve only ever been fishing a few times, not appreciating the cold drippy silence with my Dad.

By college eagerly learning how to crack cod necks “Rambo Style” on the Baltic Sea, not thinking it bad.

 

Marine biology and ecology was my early passion, along with collecting every shell on the beach.

Now at nearly forty, I find myself musing about how to bring that youthful spirit back in reach.

 

Denmark was my first true love,

now Astoria on good days feels like heaven from above.

 

I just wish that every day I could see the river so clearly, and explore an old ship with my girl on my hip.

And feel so inspired by kindred spirits who have found their own voice.

 

Even in these scary times, I can hardly wait to see what one more time around the sun will bring.

Until next year, FisherPoets, thanks for making my heart sing.

 

Peace,

Darcy Rose

 

PS This poem/poetry was also inspired by Sabrina Carpenter’s poppy ballad, Right Now.

Becoming Free to Be Me

I’ve had countless struggles and revelations on my path to freedom. I don’t believe that you have to struggle to have breakthroughs, but it sure does make them all the more enlightening.

I’ve felt for a while now that having freedom to express myself is an essential need/desire of mine, and yet I’ve feared rejection and sought out approval. The is especially true when it comes to my marriage. I’ve hidden parts of myself for fear of being misunderstood and dismissed. Sadly, in the unhealthy shadows of my relationship, I’ve felt continually criticized, rejected, shamed, judged and made to feel guilty.

Yet, just today on my long drive and talk with a dear Sister of mine, I finally truly realized that I am the one who has allowed that bondage to keep my soul protected, and only I can set myself free.

I went to my favorite bookstore, Renaissance Books in NW Portland, with the intention of buying a new tarot deck. I chose the Gaian Tarot, which I was drawn to for it’s natural vividness. Once I opened it up, I was struck by just how different it is than my traditional tarot decks. In my first glance of the major arcana, the two cards that struck me most were the Awakening (Judgment) and the Bindweed (The Devil). Not surprisingly, I drew them both in my first reading.

I really like the layout/format of the book that came with the Gaian Tarot. Partly because it asks some great questions (which my favorite online resource, Tarot Teachings, includes in its resources)

  • What holds me in bondage? I’ve held myself in bondage. Believing that I need Kevin’s approval to live my life. I’ve felt unworthy to earn an income on my own, and missed the validation that I used to get from my career. I’ve felt that I need an organization to serve through, and listened to the fears of Kevin.
  • What is out of balance in my life? I need to schedule time at Olivia Beach and in Portland where I can have dedicated self care time to myself and to connect with my Sisters. It feels as though I’ve sacrificed/abandoned this part of my work/life balance dream. I need to make sure to schedule this back into my life, with Kevin’s permission or not.
  • What gets too much of my time and attention? This past week especially, with sick kids, it feels like my family gets the vast majority of my attention. They often distract from my work and make it challenging to meet my own needs without feeling guilty (this guilt/bondage is what I really need to work to bring awareness/light to in order to forgive/release).
  • What are my shadow aspects the I deny or fail to acknowledge? I have definitely tried to deny my desire to spend time away from my family and with my sister. I’ve felt selfish, and worked while I’m away to compensate.
  • When have I been less than truthful with myself or others? Since moving to Astoria the majority of my trips to Portland (and sometimes to the beach cabins) have been very last minute. I identify some valid needs that draw me away, and then proceed to try to justify/convince Kevin that I need to go. The truth is that I usually have the feeling that I need to leave much earlier, but I push the thought aside until I truly need to make the call to go. It’s the same pattern that my Mom did/does with my Dad. It’s partly because, almost certainly, Kevin will be disappointed or upset that I need to be away and do whatever he can to negotiate things to meet his needs. This pattern is definitely not working for me, and I don’t how manipulative I feel, especially with suppressing my own desires/needs.
  • Who or what do I tend to give my power away to? Why? For a very long time I’ve given my power away to Kevin. The obvious why is because he’s my husband, but it’s me who has adapted into a role/relationship where I am subservient and usually put his and the kids needs before my own. I think I do this because I love to see them happy, and I know I get validation/affirmation that I’m good enough and deserve all their love.
  • How can I free myself from that which holds me in bondage? I know my family won’t appreciate it initially, but one of my deepest desires on this trip is to schedule out my visits for the next year, so that that is no hidden agenda for when/why/wherever I need to go for work, play or whatever I need to get time to myself.
  • What kind of healing does bindweed offer me? The darkest of the card and the constriction of the body simply reminds me that it’s me or how I want to live my life. I want the exact opposite, the full regal plumage of a peacock and a lotus in full bloom.
  • What kind of healing can I offer the Earth through the example of the Bindweed? I can offer my authentic self, being free to be me.

In the “future” position of the spread, which is a Celtic cross, is the Awakening (Judgment) card. The wide open arms give me such a feeling of ease and connection to the divine.

If I’m really honest, the biggest reason I wanted to go to Portland this weekend was for the full moon and lunar eclipse. I am so incredibly eager to begin this new astrological cycle/chapter, and I felt like I couldn’t risk being distracted from my inner work. I truly feel a divine calling toward spiritual awakening, and it’s an exciting time to connect with Sisters.

Now, just after the eclipse, I realize that what I most want is to plan for the full moon and new moon to be a sacred time.

The other big “aha” of the eclipse was feeling a calling to become ordained as a celebrant (on top of finally starting to read tarot to clients/guests). It’s kind of odd, given that I’m currently going through some pretty intense marriage counseling, but I still deeply feel as though the act of marrying another person such an expression of love, and that I would love to share in that moment. I don’t exactly what this will look like, but I am excited to integrate this desire to serve in this way into my life. It feels like a really beautiful way to celebrate life.

Peace and love,

Darcy Rose

Marriage & Mama Bliss

When I first started life coaching, I was taken aback that almost every client had some core struggle with their spouse. It was a pervasive issue that affected both their careers and family life, and was a definite barrier to “mama bliss.” But it felt like a hard area to coach others in, given that I was quietly struggling in my own marriage.

But after requesting counseling for over a year, I’ve finally been getting the counseling that I/we need. And while it hasn’t been all roses, it feels really good to get those pent up emotions to the surface. It’s not that I want to “air our dirty laundry,” but it’s more about need to connect with others as I find my peace, and hopefully, resolution. In turn, I hope my sharing will help you in whatever way you may be suffering in your partnership.

The irony is that our biggest struggle is in how differently we parent (which is why I have hesitated as a life coach). I’m the openhearted, listen-to-each-child, and go with the flow kind of mama, who will do anything to keep the peace. He’s the reprimanding and demanding Dad, whose booming voice makes it sound like he’s always yelling, and whose OCD tendencies can trigger deep anger and frustration.

Yesterday, as if on cue, completely unprovoked, little Teagan turned to me and scrunched up her face and said “My Daddy’s angry!” It was as though she was letting me know that, yes, she too feels our struggles in marriage and parenting. And, it’s honestly for her sake that I’ve been standing up for myself and demanding counseling.

Thankfully, since moving to Astoria, those angry episodes have been dramatically reduced, since he again enjoys his work and isn’t taking his stress out on us. And, gratefully, he’s never been physically violent, though it’s felt dangerously close as I’ve tried to defend the kids against his verbal tirades. There have been threats that have crossed the line.

Recently it feels more like a thousand paper cuts. It feels as though I’m continually questioned, judged and criticized. Instead of deep love and acceptance, I often feel as though nothing I do is good enough.

I know that I’m not perfect, and it doesn’t help that I feel as though Kevin has this uncanny ability to bring out the worst in me. And at times, like now, I’ve become emotionally exhausted from trying to defend every little choice. Maybe even worse is that the kids and I are happier without him lording over us.

I’ve come to describe it as living with a “benevolent dictator” or “unintentional tyrant.” He doesn’t see it this way, which is the problem itself. In his own mind, Kevin thinks he deserves the father of the year award, and on a material/practical level he does. His intentions are almost always very thoughtful (although often selfish), and, in his mind, he’s perfectly rational.

Sadly, watching the #FreeMelania coverage, I couldn’t help but see myself reflected in her saddened face. Blessedly, I’m not married to true dictator, but since some major awakenings this past fall, I have come to see how emotionally abusive our relationship has become. I realize how co-dependent and complicit I’ve been, and how much I’ve done to appease/please, simply trying to keep the peace. I’ve also been the one to perpetually smile through the pain.

We’ve now had five counseling sessions together in the past few months, and I’ve had about the same amount myself. Our counselor is really gifted (if you’re in Astoria, I highly recommend Michael Olson), and he’s helped bring a lot of emotions to the surface, which is a task for two people who have learned to get along by burying our feelings.

He first tasked us to each read The Five Love Languages (which deserves it’s own post), but for me it only seemed to magnify the engrained disconnects and vicious cycles of withholding our love to protect ourselves. It made me realize just how lucky/spoiled I’ve been in love, in that I want/expect to be fulfilled in all the love languages. My most primary love language is word of affirmations (and body language), which clearly doesn’t work with Kevin’s critical nature.

I also realized that my second love language is physical touch, which wasn’t at all getting fulfilled because I need the positive validation and affirmations in order to want to be physically intimate. After kissing an Australian man (which is story I’m not quite yet ready to share…), I became spiritually turned on in a way that I had never felt. That experience sparked a deep passion and self-love that has become like a well I go to when I want to feel loved (in tandem with practicing kundalini yoga every day, I am definitely finding my bliss again, regardless of my marriage struggles).

One insight for me was that I need to look at love as another form of self-care, and make sure that I’m keeping my own cup filled up. Even though I’ve attempted to “fill up his cup,” it feels like he’s always a needy child who I can never fully satisfy. In the past, I would have felt that was somehow my fault and need to try to fix.

My biggest aha from our first marriage counseling sessions was that I had/have to stop trying to fix Kevin, and I need to instead focus my energy on my own inner work and learning from our struggles. And struggle we have. Bringing up a great deal of painful emotions has been deeply healing. I feel that forgiveness is the key to us both moving forward.

Last week I sent the most heartfelt and difficult letter I’ve ever written in our almost fifteen years of marriage (via email). While it felt cathartic to put my deep frustrations in writing, it was clear that has his own interpretation (which spun around his own frustrations of feeling like he’s trying, but can’t seem to change fast enough). I honestly don’t know how things will go today or in the future, but I am glad to get this all off my chest.

While it isn’t easy to share my struggles publicly and I don’t want to “throw Kevin under the bus,” I also know that struggling silently is no longer an option. I dearly hope that however I survive this chapter of strife that it will become a place of strength, where I can confidently coach other mamas toward your own true mama bliss.

Peace and love,

Darcy Rose

2017: A year of Miracles and Transformation

I am so eager for this new year. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so ready to create miracles and transformation in my life. It reminds me of how I felt as I entered the new millennium.

1999 was my senior year of college at the University of Oregon. I had just returned from a year abroad studying in Copenhagen, and I was ready to end my “college career” by living and giving it my all. I felt as though I was really coming into adulthood and ready to take complete responsibility for the trajectory of my life. I had figured out credit-wise how I could double major in Environmental Studies and International Studies, earn a minor in Scandinavian Studies, plus take a leadership course, ballroom dance, and two terms of yoga. I also had my dream job of working for the UO Outdoor Program, where I was the Environmental Coordinator and planned outdoor trips, lectures and services projects. And if that wasn’t enough I was accepted in the Greenhouse Network program to become trained to serve on a national speakers bureau (and in the spring spoke on three college campuses). I didn’t own a car and biked every day, meditating while cycling along the river.

With my spare time, I decided to volunteer for the Sustainable Business Symposium as the volunteer coordinator. This happened to be where I would meet my husband, Kevin. Without going into that whole how-we-met story, the pending Y2k felt like a huge time in my life, especially as I started a new relationship that I quickly felt would “be the one.” Plus my Grandma passed away over winter break, which is enough to make anyone want to make the most of their life. (On break I had shared with my incredulous family who ask “What are you going to do with that degree?!” that I would work for a nonprofit doing climate change activism in Portland…it was no accident that exactly what I did weeks after graduating).

My life was happening at a breakneck pace, and yet I felt in utter control of creating my own success. My youthful energy was overflowing with confidence, pheromones, and a feeling of buoyancy. Yet, more than all the rushing endorphins, I felt a need to listen to my calling and commit myself to practices that would make it possible for me to be a leader in slowing global warming. On the eve of Y2K I made three commitments that would forever alter the direction of my life.

  1. I decided that it was time for me to quit smoking marijuana. In high school, where pot was easier to get a hold of than alcohol, I had become an almost daily smoker: wanting to escape, find/express myself, and simply laugh at my adolescent life. After a year abroad to Denmark where I felt higher on life than ever before, but hadn’t smoked a single time, I began college committed to not being a smoker. But then when I returned to Denmark for my junior year that spring I made three best friends, and after the funnest week you can imagine in Amsterdam, I was convinced that life was just more joyful when you let yourself get high. Yet, even with everything that I had going for me that fall, I started to slip into the habit of smoking by myself, and as fun as it felt to get high and not take everything in my life so seriously, I also had this very deep feeling that if I continued to smoke that I would fail to accomplish my utopic dreams. I had also started to date Kevin, who I was convinced I would marry. Even though he had tried some bad Pennsylvania pot a few times, he made it very clear that he wanted to nothing to do with marijuana.
  2. I committed myself to learning/practicing yoga and tarot. When I was choosing my courses for my last year of college, I made the fateful decision to take two terms of yoga classes. The first was an intro to hatha yoga and then an intro to a more advanced kundalini yoga. I had never taken a single class or known anyone who had. Believe it or not, in the last millennium there weren’t yoga studios scattered all over the west coast and any yoga clothes were mail ordered from Gaiam. In the spring I also jumped at the opportunity to take a community tarot class led by Connie Bender, a mystic who read tarot at the Eugene Saturday Market and the Oregon Country Fair. I had done my first reading at a coffee shop when I was twenty and with my first Empress card, I was blown away by the truth that it revealed in my life. Then my Danish host mom let me borrow her deck, and I was hooked on reading as a spiritual practice to help me manifest my highest potential.
  3. I committed to sharing my love with patience and persistence. With a five week fresh relationship, where we had just consummated relationship on an UO Outdoor Program cross country skiing for a weekend at Sun River, I was ready to commit to taking our relationship as deep and far as I could. After having fallen completely in love my first year abroad in Denmark and dating another Dane my freshman term of college, the rest of my college romances were less than a month (with the exception of a secret crush on my neighbor/masseur…who I occasionally still fantasize about). I was frankly ready for love and willing to do whatever it took to make our relationship last. Thankfully, we really were meant to be (I gotten an astrological reading two years prior that foresaw that I would meet my lifelong partner the exact week I met Kevin…plus we actually first met at Cosmic Pizza). Even though our love story felt kismet, Kevin happened to turn 30 in early January and went through a mini midlife crisis where he tried his best to push me away. We didn’t know where life/work would take me, and he was convinced that I wasn’t really ready to settle down. My patience and persistence paid off, and by June we were apartment hunting in Portland, right after we both landed jobs in our field within a week of each other.

So, with my first thousand words of the year already written, I am recommitting to taking those same actions all over again. I’ll need another post to what I think that means and a whole year to make that happen. I look forward to sharing my year of miracles and transformation. 🙂

Peace and love and light to you in 2017!

Darcy Rose

September 11th Reflection: From Mother to Daughter

September 11th, 2016

Today my seven and a half year old daughter Makenna took me by surprise when she asked me why there were so many American flags. The fall sunshine was glimmering over Young’s Bay, as we headed to their big brother’s Classic soccer match, tunes cranked.

I tried to clear the sudden grief in my throat, and, almost instantly, goosebumps turned to shivers. I choked out the most coherent explanation I could, through quickly welling eyes. I gave a simplistic response, of how it was an incredibly tragic day in the world’s history. I told her that there were men who hijacked and took control of airplanes and flew them into the tallest buildings in the United States.

When September 11th happened, I vividly remember wondering how I could ever explain such tragic history to our yet-to-be-born children.

Yet, some stories need to be retold.

It still felt incomprehensible to explain. I didn’t have the heart to tell her how it’s meant daily warfare ever since, perpetuating cultures of hate and retaliation. I couldn’t crush her innocence. I think my face said everything though. It usually tends to be an open book.

I think my raw emotions shared more than any history book could convey, exposing my genuine grief for the lives irrevocably cut short and for all the loved ones’ lifetime of sorrow.

If I could have continued to articulate my thoughts, I would have told her how I cried nearly every day for months after 9/11, just as I had when my high school friend died. I would have told her that nothing prepares you for death, especially on such scale.

I would have told Makenna, with her front teeth earnestly transforming her girlish looks, how I marched against the Iraq war, walking from Ashland to Medford in peaceful protest. Back when I read and listened to the news, went to lectures, and felt engaged with the current state of affairs.

Yet, I’m aware of the fact I’ve mostly tuned out the world since becoming a mother. It’s partly because I’ve chosen to practice Simplicity Parenting, and intentionally not listen to practically any news on the radio (listening to podcasts and Pandora in my personal time). But to be truthful, I haven’t had the capacity to do anything beyond the “care and feeding” of my family. My own calling toward personal transformation has absorbed rest of my attention.

So, it’s no wonder that this date in history took me by surprise. I’ve become blissfully oblivious of the world’s pain. It does give me sincere pause though. It makes me question my dharma and what legacy I will leave this world. It makes me wonder whether I’ll be brave enough to serve humanity by living and sharing my uniquely authentic life. I wonder what could possibly shape my daughter’s generation, as 9/11 shaped my sudden adulthood.

How can I teach my children?

What kind of leader will I become?

Peace,

Darcy

Preschool options: Peace or Grace?

I wrote this post in June, as I was trying to figure out our preschool options. Yet, since it’s Teagan’s first week at preschool, it feels very timely to share.

I choose to balance the best of both worlds, and enroll Teagan at Peace Learning Center on Mondays/Tuesdays and Grace Preschool on Wednesday-Friday. She was thrilled to back at Peace (no tears like last fall!). She had a fantastic first two days at Grace. She seems delighted to have different friends, teachers, and classroom environments. I was surprised that she had memorized the new Grace song after just two days! So, I think we’ve found an ideal balance for us both:

I’m once again at that place of weighing my child care options. In my ten years of mamahood, child care always been the most critical question. I’ve written before about Eco-Healthy Child Care, Child Care & Illness, and paying a “Second Mortgage” aka Child Care, so this is just another phase…for me.

I’m not at the fretful new Mama stage, unsure of what to expect (I was a mess when I had a week to first care for Kieran at four months old), but I don’t take the question lightly. A child’s formative years are essential. I feel like there are three important questions you need to ask at each stage/transition (my answers have been different for each child too):

  1. Where will my child thrive? Teagan is very social and needs time with friends. (She begged to go to preschool during the summer when we were home!)
  2. How much care do I need support my career and keep my life in balance? I feel like five hours a day is my bare minimum. Any extra time really ends up getting spent going to yoga, lunches with hubby or taking care of household needs.
  3. What’s the cost/benefit/balance both in the short and long term? Since the fall, I’ve basically been paying for full time child care, even though I’m not earning a real income. While the time has allowed me to invest in my businesses, the lower rate for fewer hours could pay off.

I only ever “stayed home” with Kieran from when he was a year to 18 months (I wasn’t planning this, but was between city jobs). Yet, once my kids were past about the age of 18 months, I felt like I couldn’t give them all of their social needs and they really needed regular social interaction with other kids (even if it was parallel play).

If I’m honest, I’ve always been too committed to my own career/growth to be able to focus 100% on my children, in a traditional stay-at-home role. I’ve wanted, and almost needed, space to myself. Plus, thankfully, my kids are all very social and have always loved going to child care/school. During the summer we get bored with each other, and they need everything scheduled to feel like they know what’s in store (that’s why moving last year was so hard, with so much out of my control and living in limbo).

I’ve always worked a significant chunk of time just to pay for childcare, and with Teagan, I’ve spent far more on childcare than I’ve actually earned (I’ve only been able to afford this because of the passive income we get from owning a post office). I still feel like most of that time/care has been worth my while, and is an investment in my own professional growth, even though I haven’t earned it yet.

Yes, I do pay for care so that I can go to yoga classes, Rotary meetings, coffee with friends and lunches with people I want to network with. Being able to afford child care has been part of my “Yippie Chick” lifestyle. I don’t want to apologize for it.

As I’ve toiled with this question so many times before, it comes down to how much time I need to myself and how productive I can be with that time.

We’ve had our youngest daughter, Teagan at Peace Learning Center since this past fall. When we moved to Astoria it was one of the first things I researched. Overall, we’ve been very happy with Peace Learning Center (See my Google Local Guide Review).

Now back to my decision at hand…With my older kids ending school, and needing to care for them full time and travel quite a bit over the summer, it only made sense for us to withdraw Teagan for the summer.

So, that leaves me questioning what to do come fall. Since she’s turning three soon, Teagan will be old enough to attend Grace Episcopal Preschool at our family’s church. It’s a Montessori-based program taught by two women who have been teaching together for thirty years. They have a fantastic reputation and it’s a beautiful play space.

The only hitch is that they only offer child care from 8:30 to 11:30. Barely three hours.

Between nanny care and now Peace, I’ve grown used to having care almost all day and I’m just not sure whether I can get everything I need done in three short hours. My “work day” this past year has been from 7:30-8:30 to about 3:30. The big question is whether Teagan will continue napping, giving me up to five hours of time to work daily. Like this post, I can still write on most evenings after the kids are in bed (on nights when I’m not too exhausted myself). Plus, I think I’ll learn from her and enjoy our time spent on household projects and creative play.

In the end, it feels like I would regret not sending Teagan to Grace. Plus, now that Teagan is growing up, there are lots of tasks that we can actually do together and she’s much more apt to play by herself with some attention interspersed. Plus, she is such sweet company.

Peace,

Darcy

teagan-cronin-peace-learning-center-june-2016

The Best Day of My Life

Theme Song B.C. – The Best Day of My Life

Our family adopted The Best Day of My Life as our family theme song, while on a road trip on Vancouver Island British Columbia.

Traveling from Portland, Oregon. We ventured as a family of with a less than one year old, five and eight year old on a two week trek all across Vancouver Island, ending in Tofino. It was stunningly beautiful and mostly very fun and easy.

The trip was full of ferry adventure, and we initially took a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, then another ferry to Mayne Island for a night at our family friend’s rustic cabin. We tossed the Frisbee, hiked along the shore, and shared an amazing salmon feast overlooking the northwest waterfront view. One of the few melt downs of the trip was because the kids were so sad to leave the island so quickly. We had to agree that it felt too rushed, but we had reservations to keep and a full two week trip planned, so we simply had to pack up and head out.

Next, we camped with three Canadian families for three nights in Parksville at Rathtrevor Provincial Park. It was really beautiful park with amazing bay and tides that shifted more dramatically than I had ever experienced. You could walk for an hour out to the sea and by high tide, the whole bay would be engulfed by a huge shallow body of water. The bay happened to be full of sand dollars and we made ourselves quite the beach picnic. Hopefully I’ll track down the memorable photos that Levi took of Rosanna and I with the babes. They were too cute. 🙂

I don’t have time to write the rest of this family story at this early hour, but I want to post it regardless. I need to get past the idea that every post has to be picture perfect when I hit publish. I need to be able to just get in front of the camera and talk. I need to push past all my childhood insecurities and fears of rejection. Yes, sometimes my posts are half-baked, but that’s O.K.

All I’ll say for now is that there’s one hilariously classic poop story that will go down in West Coast Cronin Clan lore…

Peace,

Darcy

 

Life is Better with Teagan

I’m at home reflecting about life with my incredible daughter, Teagan Brenna Cronin, on her third birthday, while Teagan plays and snacks at soccer practice with Daddy and Bubby. Today feels like a very special day indeed, like every day with Teagan.

Michael Franti’s “Life is Better with You” had just been released before Teagan was born. We would crank the family stereo whenever it was played, inspiring an impromptu Cronin Clan dance party.

The song became an family anthem for us, even for Hubby, who doesn’t typically share my passion for lyrically moving social justice melodies by hot tattooed artists. 😉 It probably had something to do with the flowing hormones and engorged breasts, or the fact that we knew that she would be our last born.

When Teagan was born, we experienced a babymoon like no other. Kevin took four weeks of paternity leave, and we hadn’t taken the time to connect at that level since we first dated, if ever. Serendipitously, Makenna began pre-k the very morning after Teagan was born (at 11:08 the night before), as Kieran began second grade. So, Hubby would drop the big kids off at school and we would go out on daylong dates to restaurants in the Pearl and hikes in the Columbia Gorge, complete with autumn sunshine on Edgefield’s patio. Some days we’d work the garden and putter on home projects, all while cooing at Teagan. We visited with friends and entertained family, all while basking in our “little miracle baby.” She literally only woke up every 4-5 hours to nurse and then went back to sleep, just like a dream. There was a sweetness that’s hard to describe, especially after Teagan’s extraordinary birth story.

Extraordinary is probably the best word to describe Teagan. She feels like a gift every day. I diligently work to stay present with her, not wanting to miss an opportunity to connect with her.

Teagan absolutely feels like the best thing that could have ever happened for our family and for the planet. She is the definition of riotously funny, radiantly adorable, and creatively clever. Her demeanor exudes the sweetest self confidence you could ever imagine, with an innocence that makes you want to cuddle her even closer. Teagan hugs like a koala bear and her eyes pierce you like the sky. Her curls bounce wherever she goes, and her voice sounds like a small song bird chirping away.

Teagan is my miracle girl, who truly wanted to be born into this world at this pivotal point in time. She is my life’s greatest joy and blessing, more than I could have ever prayed for. Yet, better than my immense personal gain, is how Teagan lights up nearly every person she encounters and makes them feel good to be alive.

As for parenting, I can only say that she brings out the best in me. While I still have my stresses, parenting Teagan has always been easy (as long as I follow my own 3 parenting tips!) Even her rare moments of pain and suffering are filled with a sense of duty to share compassion, which just leaves you feeling of service when the episode is over. It certainly isn’t a bad gig being Teagan’s Mommy, strangers continually coo over her petite angelic features and constantly call her my mini-me, which feels like the highest compliment.

I can only speak for myself, but I’ve got a hunch that everyone else in her young life feels the same, that life is better with Teagan. Michael Franti’s “Life is Better With You” music video feels extra inspiring on Teagan’s birthday. I definitely need to film her dancing to the song very soon.

I know that our culture has made birthdays to be a celebration centered around the child and not their mother(s), but it’s hard for me to separate my own life’s transformation from Teagan. Everything in my life has changed for the better since Teagan was born. No, every day hasn’t been blooming roses, but there’s no doubt that every day has been made better by Teagan’s presence. She brings you into the moment in the most captivating way, as though she’s only asking for your undivided attention.

Yet, contrary to what some may find acceptable, I have intentionally chosen not to be Teagan full-time. I’ve actually had her in some form of care since she was fourteen months. Initially, she was cared for during the school hours by our shared nanny, Kensey. My Twin Sis, Miel had moved to Portland with her infant son, Clark, Teagan’s cousin, who was “ovulated” when Teagan was born. They all became the closest of friends, and Kensey cared for them both with her undivided attention, entertaining and educating them. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not nearly as much fun as Kensey through Teagan’s eyes; I don’t make elephant noises or play outside for hours, while strumming the guitar. We were truly one big happy family, in a modern-yippie-family sort of way. 🙂

After moving to Astoria, we enrolled at Peace Learning Center, and she thrived in their caring classroom and has genuinely missed the peer social time over the summer (even though she’s also loved playing with her siblings, cousins, and traveling). Having child care for Teagan gave me the personal space that I needed to learn from my fledgling businesses, discover my mama bliss, and craft a vision for our future. It’s only now, writing this, how I see that it was all part of a higher plan. I simply needed three years of life with Teagan in order to be able to share my wisdom with the world.

Teagan, you are an integral part of my life’s purpose. You are more than a daughter, you are my soul mate. In three short years you’ve helped me learn to live life to the fullest, with presence and pure joy. As hard as it is to see you grow up, I can hardly wait for you to shine your light in this world. (In the past few weeks Teagan has decided that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, to help kids. I have no doubt that she will do whatever she puts her mind to.

Thank you, Teagan, for three beautiful blessed years. Even though you won’t remember these early years, I will always remember when you were my precious baby doll, only better.

Love, Peace and Laughter,
Teagan’s Mommy

Teagan and I at her first Michael Franti concert at 10 months.
This was truly one of my most blissful experiences ever, especially the yoga before the concert, where she was an angel.  Teagan fell asleep in her baby sling and Michael Franti even patted her bottom as he crowd surfed. 🙂
(She’s even got the best feminist shirt ever: Life is better with boobs!!!)