“We can learn from history. The Baby Boomer generation of the late 60’s and 70’s had it partially correct, in that they explored their creativity as artists, screenwriters, authors, promoting love and peace. However, they failed to connect their individual talents to group mindedness and community.”
I am ready to write my story and speak my truth.
I’ve grown spiritually in so many ways over the past three seasons. Here at the harvest the moon, I am feeling truly grateful. I am feeling connected to my eternal nature, and peaceful in my body and breath. I have this deep knowing that I’ve always known was there, but was shadowed by self doubt and judgement.
Since the winter solstice, I have transformed my life. After having worked for years to stay in a marriage that I felt spiritually trapped in, I took the bravest leap I could imagine. I left my dream home, which I loved and felt was a miraculous reflection of my inner beauty. I left my career, which even though I struggled with limiting factors, I felt as though I was still destined to create radical social change that would impact generations.
For awhile I truly felt like I had to take my life one day at a time, which for me was a foreign concept, as someone who used to get a great sense of accomplishment from my planning my life months and years in advance. I’ve now come to enjoy whatever spontaneity and true free time I can create space for, having faith that divine timing will allow what I most need. I know that I do still gain clarity and peace from making my home beautiful, even though as a single mom without a neat freak hubby, I’m still learning to balance the work load.
Speaking of work, that’s been the biggest conundrum during this transitional phase. I started off excited to see the abundance job listings (compared to Astoria, where I was lucky to see one a week that could be a marginal fit when I was searching…), and I envisioned myself working in City Hall for Commissioner Chloe and feeling truly engaged in local progressive politics, then I pondered other possibilities of city bureaus, then I started to wonder whether I would be a better fit with an environmental nonprofit, and I longed to feel the same passion I did early in my career. Most of all, I wanted and still want to feel connected to larger movement of social change.
In my process of looking for meaningful work, I’ve hit up against all sorts of belief systems. Most of all, I realize how entitled I am, but how I still somehow have lacked the confidence to create my own path, and have faith that I’ll be able to create the lifestyle that I desire. I’ve been legitimately overworked, despite being unemployed. I’ve also spent more time on my own healing and self care than I would want to admit to anyone who might judge me.
I’ve come to see how my own inner critic has a deep intolerance for selfish righteousness and judgement. Yet, I know that I have attracted people into my life to help me see, feel and understand the need for true acceptance and sharing of unconditional love. My children teach this to me every day, especially lately with all the Kindergarten tantrums, and back-to-school bumps. Giving grace, and learning from teachable moments is the best any of us can do.
When I restarted counseling again, I figured that it would help with the ongoing stress of moving and divorcing, which both required more energy and stamina than I ever thought possible. I knew it would be helpful to talk through my frustrations with setting new co-parenting boundaries. Yet, what I didn’t expect was how much I would grow through talking about my relationship with my identical twin sister, Miel and our Mom.
The end result was coming to a full awareness of just how much I have sought her/their approval to live my life. I now just how comfortable and safe I’ve made myself. First living in her shadow, and my mom’s, then Kevin’s, and now my kids’. Don’t get me wrong, my life has been brilliant and beautiful on so many levels, and I’ve enjoyed sharing our light. I’ve blossomed when I’ve felt praised, but I’ve also shrunk with every little moment of perceived judgment or shame.
I’ve also had a deep feeling of not being good enough, of feeling less than. Growing up, Miel and I were constantly compared. I understand the natural tendency, and with the exception of feeling bullied for being accident prone, I know no one ever intentionally wanted me to feel inferior. It just happened to be that the most notable differences between us made Miel more aligned with our Mom’s positive attributes, and I was decidedly more like my father, who our Mom rejected. While she tired to hide her disdain, we still knew that she didn’t want to be with him, which was enough to make me feel much less than.
For better and worse, I was good at overcompensating, trying to prove myself. On the surface I was successful, and for the most part I was even happy, earning satisfaction from their praise. Yet, as I as finally grown up, here at middle age. I can see clearly just how much Miel and Kevin have the same qualities that I admire, but that I am indeed not them.
On the night that Miel gave birth to her second son, Ellis, who is named after our grandfather and born on Teagan’s fifth birthday, I cried and cried. They were mostly tears of joy and wonder at the mystery of life. They were also tears of deep surrender and acceptance. Knowing that I need to let go of my attachment to her, my soul mate, in order to gain my sovereignty. I need to shine my own light, before we will be able to be truly shine together.
Now nearing a thousand words, which is my own self-imposed word count, my story is to-be-continued. I will simply leave with the cliffhanger…I know my destiny is to inspire and heal through my words, and I am forever grateful for this journey together.
Dear Fair Family,
It’s with mixed feelings that I have decided that I’m not ready to “run” after all (see backstory below…). At the candidates’ forum I shared the obvious fact that my kids (now nearly 13, 10 and 5) require too much of my energy to have enough to truly be able to serve. Yet, upon deeper reflection, my decision comes just as much my need to live my dharma, and not get swept up into the drama of Fair politics.
The current management and governance are clearly a clusterfuck that reflects the flailing patriarchy. Despite the best intentions, the Fair does not currently have leadership that can ensure the organization, and our unique/diverse family values, will be able to thrive for the next 50 years. While I have a passionate vision for what kind of Fair I want my grandchildren to be able to experience, the truth is that the organization needs to focus on creating a thriving egalitarian structure for our community, before we can really focus on sustainability for our beloved environment.
With that conclusion, I still want to do whatever I can to positively influence this critical vote and to stay engaged. So, I would like to use my “platform” to publicly share who I will vote for, and why. At the mini forum the point was also made that by so many people on the ballot that it would be most helpful for candidates to collectively recommend a slate of board members to vote for (and why), so that once “we” were elected “we’d” be able to actually work together. So, when I woke up in the middle of the night wondering why I somehow had thought that serving on the board was a good idea, I decided to write to my fellow board candidates to ask them who/why they plan to vote for, and why they should get my undecided votes. Based on their responses, and five days of reflection, I’ve finally decided who I’m going to vote for. With 17 candidates and six open positions, it hasn’t been an easy decision process, and in the end, it’s a personal choice based on gut instinct. I believe there are no “right” answers, but given recent controversy, it is imperative that this new board be able to truly lead the Fair out of the past patriarchal politics, and into a bright and sustainable new age.
Before I share who I am going to vote for (and who I hope you will give real consideration), I want to recognize that it does take a lot to put yourself “out there” as a candidates, and I deeply appreciate the volunteer work that everyone has and will contribute to Fair. So, I’m going to share my favorite quotes from their candidate statements, and I loved the fact that every one of these quotes genuinely resonate with me. Regardless of whether I can vote for everyone, I am happy to be Fair Family.
- Aaron Kenton – “We need transparency in and knowledge of the skills represented by our governing body.”
- Ann Bennett Rogers – “We need to support recycling and ”pack-it-in/pack-it-out” for all our activities. We need to look at food vouchers and volunteer appreciation considerations.”
- Cynthia Peachey – “I hold the core values of collaborative relationship, radical tolerance and pragmatic idealism. In this chaotic world, treating each other with compassionate excellence is a revolutionary act. We are needed to shine this light for those around us.”
- Ellen Singer – “I consider the Fair’s role as a loving and mutually supportive community at least as important as our main event. I’m committed to environmental awareness and stewardship.”
- Etienne M. Smith – “We are an alternative progressive community who knows that change starts with the individual to the greater community/nation. If energy is an issue, then lets work on reducing ‘our’ footprint.”
- Jack Makarchuk – “Let’s focus on what makes us strong: reverence for the land, celebrating artfully, and working together to provide an educational experience for our patrons. Outward looking and knowledgeable leadership as well as new voices willing to serve are both critical. Our future is in the hands of all generations working together. We are all teachers and can learn from each other.”
- Jon Steinhart – “The Fair needs a Board of Directors, not a collection of micromanagers. The Board needs to provide vision, direction, and oversight; it shouldn’t just delegate its responsibilities. A good General Manager is needed, and needs to be supported. We need to model the behavior that we want to see in the outside world. This includes treating our volunteers well; they make this event possible.”
- Komo F. D. Gustafson III – “These issues, and others, make it abundantly clear that now is the time, more than ever, to focus on solutions and healing. Something I feel we can accomplish, as a family.”
- Lily Harmon-Gross – “Accountability and integrity are crucial to ensuring our vision lives on for 50 more years. I believe in the Oregon Country Fair and its values. We are family – a dynamic group of people who can work together to resolve our differences and preserve our ideals.”
- Lisa Parker – “Priority areas include what we want our leadership structure to look like, how best to function as transparently and equitably as possible, how best to manage our growth, and how we will sustain our longevity, as well as things like amplified sound and quiet zones, providing optimal infrastructure to support the work of our volunteers, dealing with our garbage, promoting inclusion and diversity, taking care of the land, being good neighbors, and retaining the core values that we were founded upon while simultaneously embracing change and looking forward into the future.”
- Lucy Kingsley – “At its heart, the Oregon Country Fair is a philanthropic organization dedicated to fundraising for local community programs supporting basic needs, the arts and social change. We raise these funds by throwing a world class 3 day artisan, food and performance festival. A prime directive for this market place is that the seller of the craft is the maker of the craft. This is an economic as well as a political act.”
- Shelley Devine – “ It is time to come home to our roots, our family tree, while simultaneously blazing the trail ahead into the future. We are at the crossroads. It serves us to look back and remember that which honors the original and radical impulse that started this. It is imperative that we look forward and envision where we are headed.”
- Spirit Leatherwood – “Our community is the heart of who we are and what makes us unique. We should hold this close; relying on our core values as our strength. During this political climate, we need to model change, holding inclusiveness and transparency as the cornerstones of trust.”
- Sue Theolass – “There is a sustaining, transformative, magical energy inherent in what we do far beyond the three-day event. It manifests all through the year in our philanthropy and our programs. What we do together can change the world for the better for us and future generations.”
- Chewie Burgess – (Write in Candidate) “Now, as we continue our journey forward, yet again we need to facilitate significant change….I feel that with your support and constructive input together we can take back control of OUR Fair through not only implementing but following functional policy for the positive change WE want and need.”
Lastly, I want to say that I respect the commitment and unpaid volunteer work that is required to serve on the Board of Directors, I want to give my sincere appreciation for all the candidates, and our entire Fair Family. 🙂
Peace and Love Always,
I had given a lot of thought to serving on the Oregon Country Fair Board of Directors, and how, after more organizational strife than I’m even aware of, the Board could use some new and younger blood to help us transform into the sustainable and benevolent organization that I believe we all desire.
Yet, I now realize that I was too hasty to offer my service. Mostly because my kids are too young still, especially as a newly single mom. I started having serious second thoughts when the first mini forum in Portland was scheduled for after school on a Friday afternoon. My Kindergartener, Teagan, had an epic screaming meltdown when she found out we were going to an adult happy hour instead of the park to see the swifts, as we had planned. Usually my kids are game for hanging out in pubs, but her fit made me wonder whether she would even pull it together to be able to go (thankfully, once her brain starts to function again, she’s always very sweet and apologetic, even if it leaves me feeling depleted). But once we got there, after about fifteen minutes of coloring, I started to get “love notes” asking how long we would be talking and WHY? So, I plied them with cookies and chips. The whole scene brought back childhood memories of our father, Wally, dragging us to Hoedad meetings, and a few Fair board meetings (he ran one year when politics were maybe even more contentious), and us wondering how they could possibly talk so much. On occasion I wondered if he cared as much about us. I know now that he absolutely did, and as an adult I can see how you can feel torn between important causes and impatient kids. It turned out that I let the girls have my laptop until the battery drained and then my phone, hoping that it would last until the end of the very engaging conversation. By the end of the three hour conversation, I was drained, and barely had enough energy to get soup/salad at the deli and tuck the girls into bed. I felt guilty for not wanting to read, which I usually love, and that’s when I seriously started to question myself. My kids LOVE the Fair, and I wouldn’t want them to resent the time/energy that serving on the Board would require. So, even though it means missing out serving during this critical phase, I am choosing to have faith that the new board will be able to serve with as much passion, integrity and creativity as I would have hoped to give.
Dear Fair Family,
As I shared briefly in my 300 word candidate statement, I’m a country fair baby whose father played music with friends in 1969. Now each July, I water the sapling at main stage where I scattered his ashes, while noticing how much all of the trees have grown. I am still in awe of Wally’s Way, of the beautiful family he helped co-create, and I want to do more to honor his playful spirit for kids of all ages.
Fair isn’t just in my blood, it’s in my spirit. I started volunteering the year before the teen crew began, advocating for our right to volunteer. Now my eldest babe will serve on the teen crew next summer (after four years of baking cookies at Phoenix Rising :-).
This summer I’ve felt like a phoenix who is about to rise, after leaving a marriage that didn’t support my involvement in Fair or any real form of self care/expression. During the whole intense eclipse season, I’ve mediated on the question, “How can I best serve my family, the Fair Family/community, and Mama Earth?”
Growing up I always thought that I would someday be part of Fair’s community leadership, even though both parents warned me of the politics. Yet, I felt that someday my skills would be needed. I believe that time is now, especially after the last eclipse made me realize that I have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
I have three main inspirations for running/serving on the Oregon Country Fair board:
- Radically shift the leadership toward feminine empowerment – As I first began to question how I could serve the Fair Family, I dwelled a great deal on the shadow issue of entitlement. I don’t want you to vote for me because of who my father was or who my mother wants me to be. For better and worse, the Oregon Country Fair is a severely nepotistic organization, and I don’t want to perpetuate that norm. Despite our best intentions, the patriarchy is engrained in our organizational politics. I don’t know how exactly I can be part of this radical, but necessary shift, but I do know that I care more about fellow volunteers, and benefiting future generations, than about my own ego. I want to lead with an open heart and find creative new ways to live our ethos, collaborate and share our family values.
Work to become a carbon neutral gathering by 2022 – (It’s now or never, people…we don’t have a decade to wait). I initially wanted to set the goal of 2020, but even I know that would be way too hard to accomplish. The truth is that for as much as we have done to focus on sustainability, we still need to do more. It’s likely that we’ll need to offset some of our impacts, but wouldn’t it be amazing to have forests and solar fields inspired by our family all over the state?! More than anything, we need to demonstrate to the rest of the world that it’s possible.
- Share our collective story and create a sustaining vision for the next 50 years – I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in a Fair bubble year round. While I do have new neighbors and friends who share a mutual love of our gathering, I’m still surprised by how many otherwise progressive Oregonians have never even heard of the Oregon Country Fair, or perhaps how outdated their impression may be. I truly believe that this next summer, celebrating our 50th, we have a huge opportunity to share our story with the world. Regardless of whether I have the opportunity to serve on the board, I want to be an integral part of creating an amazing celebration that will honor our first generations, while planting seeds of hope for future Fair Family.
Lastly, purely from reading the Fair Family News, I know that behind all the magic there’s been struggle and strife. I’m not going to say or pretend that simply getting some fresh blood on the board is going to fix everything, but I do believe that it would give us a chance to move beyond engrained politics. If given the chance, I would like to lead with laughter and compassion, while being aware of the legacy we are all leaving.
Beyond anything, I hope that publicly sharing my “platform” will help connect me with fellow Fair Family who have similar vision and passion for our eclectic celebration. As the Hopi Nation prayer says, it’s time to gather ourselves and have a good time. 🙂
Peace and Love,
Dear Fair Family,
I am a “Fair Baby,” daughter of Wally’s Way, aka “The Twins.” I’ve served on staff since the first TEEN crew and have volunteered two decades as an InSecurity Pathrover. I am continually in awe of the amazing peaceful energy we create together and simply want to amplify the positive ripples.
I began this letter before Fair, not with the intention of running for the board, but simply to re-introduce myself as Darcy Rose. My original letter began with a long meandering musing about who I am, how culturally significant Fair is for my three generations, and why I feel called to contribute year round. Yet, with 300 words max, I need to condense my expansive desire to be part of our natural evolution, radically shifting from the patriarchy.
Here are some ideas:
- Allow, enable and encourage board members to participate virtually (We are in a new century that connects us virtually, plus it is the Oregon Country Fair).
- Make the bold and essential goal of becoming a carbon neutral gathering by 2022 (It’s now or never, people…we don’t have a decade to wait).
- Strategically and creatively reduce our collective dependence on fossil fuels to host our essential event.
- Plant trees and native plants on the land to sequester carbon where there are no plans to expand our human footprint. (Hoedads 2.0!!)
- Calculate the carbon footprint per fairgoer and encourage ways to offset.
- Work in partnership with Fair vendors and partners to offset our carbon impact by creating and funding statewide projects.
- Continue to support inspiring environmental art and performances.
- Celebrate the 50th by collaborating with filmmakers to create a documentary to capture Fair Magic, past, present and future…
Peace and love,
PS For the longer version, visit DarcysUtopia.com
I woke up this morning before dawn to thank the full moon for this new day. Despite not sleeping well, after a full day of trying to prepare for mediating my pending divorce, I powered through my kundalini yoga practice to head down to the Pearl for a discussion on “After Obama: Talking race in America today.”
The early morning forum was a partnership between the Portland Pearl Rotary Club‘s new Social Justice Task Force, Oregon Humanities, and Ecotrust. The conversation was facilitated by Kim Singletary, who did a fantastic job of making us laugh, listen and think. I also want to give her a shout out, because I saw that she’s hosting another forum called Black American Women and Questions of Citizenship in the U.S. Media at Albina Library.
It’s hard to convey what a powerful and thought-provoking conversation we had together, and I don’t believe that I could do it justice to recap. But what I do feel very called to do is to reflect more about how the conversation has inspired me to think about how I can take action to shift our local community culture toward one that welcomes and honors diversity, while systemically working to shift policies that have deep roots of cultural racism and socio-economic division.
As a third generation Oregon, I appreciated the ice-breaker question being an about what we love about Portland and Oregon, with the caveat that we were also encouraged to share what turns us off about the local culture’s attitude toward racism. It was easy for us all to find common ground around loving being close to nature (even it the facilitator cheerfully joked about how she likes looking at it through a cafe window or driving by…coming from a culture where nature is enjoyed in a picture frame). Yet, we quickly shifted to talking about the rural/urban, red/blue dichotomy, and how truly racist Portland’s history is.
Having grown up in rural Southern Oregon and Eugene, I moved to Portland in 2000 the same month I graduated from college. As an International Studies major, I had taken my share of classes to understand how we each have a personal culture/history that shapes our world view, especially when it comes to our perspective on racism (where I uncovered my own parents’ and grandparents’ mostly latent racist leanings). My twin sister and I had many deep conversations about our personal white privilege, and still today questioning how we influence social change as an identical pair of like-minded yoga loving white women living in inner NE Portland.
Portland has gentrified so incredibly much in this century.
Our conversation this morning brought up a lot of memories around how I was feeling three years ago. At the time, my son Kieran was a third grader at Irvington Elementary. His class was learning about Portland’s history of systemic racial injustice. As a social science and history kid, he soaked it up. Gratefully, his teachers really took on the opportunity to open up their young minds. They also invited parents to learn, and I was happy to participate in a special guest lecture where they brought the creators of the documentary Whitelandia.
I already knew much of the history, having done a summer long independent study of Portland’s history in graduate school, where I uncovered the Albina Plan and the tragedy of the Vanport Floods. Yet, even though I had learned about the history a decade before, relearning and sharing it with my ten year old son was a moving experience that left me unsure of what I could do beyond try my best as a mother to unteach racism.
The four minute trailer about Oregon’s racist history was completely thought-provoking and at the time I remember seriously thinking about writing a potentially controversial blog post about my experience of gentrification in NE Portland, but was far too wrapped up in the obligations of my life, as I am now…the quick story is that I was living in the Albina neighborhood and experiencing gentrification and questioning my own place in the problem.
Those stories will need to come later, because for today I want to circle back to how this morning’s conversation has inspired me to take my own baby steps to end cultural racism in Oregon.
- I plan to take my kids to visit the current exhibit on Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Year at the Oregon Historical Society. I know my son will eat it up, and at age nine and four, my daughters will likely give me sad astonished looks when they learn the history of their beloved mother state. Whatever we learn, it will be an opportunity to plant more seeds of questioning the cultural status quo and hopefully creatively thinking about what else we could do as a family to be part of the solution.
- After researching Whitelandia, it looks as though they never managed to get the funding to finish editing and distributing the documentary film. It is such an absolute and utter shame, and I feel compelled to contact the creators to ask about the current status, and if they respond letting me know that they could use more funding, I would like to go to the social justice task force to brainstorm how we could help with fundraising.
- My last step isn’t a quick and easy “to-do,” but one that will take a commitment to many more baby steps. In our conversation today, participants questioned the root of racism. In my personal view, racism exists because of a spiritual disconnect created by perception of “other,” the false illusion of scarcity, and thinking/speaking/acting/living from a place of fear, rather than love. I believe that opening my heart and mind up to authentic conversations about racial oppression will help me continue to do my best to shift not just the dialogue, but create policies to create genuine social justice.
I’ll touch more on in another reflection about gentrification, but here today, I am at another personal crossroads of having just moved in temporarily with sister’s family, knowing that I will need to find a place to live by summer as a newly single mom. From this place, it is indeed challenging me to move past my own fear of scarcity, and instead trusting that this is the place I am spiritually called to raise my family, while doing my best to make my community a better place.
Lastly, I would love to engage personal comments from others who attended this morning’s forum, and to figure out how to have more of an ongoing dialogue about local social justice.
I wasn’t surprised, but certainly delighted, to find out since the new year that today, January 7th, actually marks the “technical,” or at least pop culture, start to the Age of Aquarius.
Below is a ten minute video that explains how today is when the 1969 song from the Hair musical, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In:
“When the Moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligned with Mars. Then peace will guide the planets and love with steer the stars. This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
While not many people have really looked into when this time would come, at least one astrologer has researched into how rare this moment really is.
I also watched a few videos are the time of the Great American Eclipse that talked about how the eclipse marked the very early dawning of Aquarius. The eclipse wasn’t an unequivocal start button, but a radical shift.
If you’re like most people, you may only know of the Age of Aquarius from the song lyrics, and it may not hold any significance for you. The next short video below explains just how significant this new age will be for humanity.
Here is my last top pick from a favorite astrologer, Lada Duncheva. I need to check their charts, but the first Neptune children definitely made me think of my daughters, who are VERY intuitive and compassionate souls.
I had never heard the term before watching the video below, but I believe that my twin sister and I are “plutonic souls,” as Pluto is in my first house and her second house, both in Libra (my Pluto is Trine Mercury, Sextile Saturn, Quincunx Venus and Mars). As an astrological newbie, I’m still learning what this all means, but we are exceptionally willful women and tremendous at manifesting, especially together. I truly believe that this new age of Aquarius will bring this out in us in very new ways…I think we are just starting to gain the clarity to manifest more than just beautiful children and cute beach cabins. We have both been leaders in our own ways, but I believe that this next chapter/age will bring us tremendous power to manifest our deepest desires of peace and love.
Beyond my personal destiny, I am thrilled by the hope that I feel with the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
On a practical level, I truly believe that this is a time to “let the sunshine in.” While with a history of melanoma skin cancer, I don’t think of this literally. Instead as part of a spiritual practice of kundalini yoga/meditation every dawn. In case you’re not already addicted to kundalini yourself, check out Gaia for awesome intro practices to kundalini and/or Rama TV by Guru Jagat, who has created the “Netflix of kundalini”.
Lastly, this age is really about sharing our shining light, and I am excited to start writing/blogging again, and at the right time this year, finally vlogging myself. I am also rededicating myself to a gratitude practice and intentionally getting out in nature more, especially playing in water. 🙂
After the watching the videos, and reflecting on your life, comment to share what you think about the Age of Aquarius.
PS I thought I was done, but found one last video that really puts it all together, enjoy!
I literally just said goodbye to Kevin, my husband of 18 years. As much as I still love him, and hope to stay friends of the deepest nature, I need to love myself enough to leave him.
Last year I shared my reflection and intentions for 2017, and determined that it would be a year of “Miracles and Transformation.” I could have never ever predicted just how much that would be true.
In my post about Marriage and Mama Bliss, you didn’t need to read between the lines too much to understand just how ready I was to end my marriage. You could tell just how “done” I was with trying to fix my marriage, which I had struggled in for more years that I care to admit. The truth is that my posts barely skimmed just how much I wanted to shine my light, and how deeply I felt that that I couldn’t become my true/evolved self in my current marriage.
So, after a full year (plus!) of working to empower myself to the point of feeling enough strength and clarity to know that I needed to start 2018 by sending a message to Kevin, my husband of 15 years and life partner for a full 18 years, to let him know that I need to separate. Funny enough, I’ve had a practice that came from one of the first meditation tracks that I ever used regularly of saying “courage in action” to myself whenever I send an important email.
I’m going to keep the details brief and mostly private (I plan to write my midlife memoir this year, but I want there to be some distance before sharing anything potentially sensitive), but essentially after a week of many intense messages/discussions, we have become amicable again and have at least agreed on an initial path forward.
As much as I had tried for so long to hold on to the dream of staying in Astoria, I’ve determined that I need a new version of my dream. As ready as I was to create a new 2.0 vision for Northwest Parenting, I have given verbal notice to Clatsop County. I will be moving back to Portland by the end of the month to start the girls in the new school term. (I’ll be looking for new opportunities and will reach out to my network to help me find the best place to serve).
Naturally, I had first envisioned me leaving with all the kids, but I have agreed that it’s best for Kieran to stay with Kevin until the end of the school year, as he is absorbed in soccer, wrestling and baseball and simply thriving in middle school. It would have been much to quick of a departure for him, and given that it took him a few years to finally “fit in” to Astoria, I think we both owe it to him to let Kieran be the growing boy that he is (at not quite twelve, he’s just outgrown me). Plus, Kieran has skipped a grade level in math and has a very supportive teacher.
The girls, on the other hand, are thrilled be moving to Portland. Makenna will get to celebrate her 9th birthday with friends just before we move, and her only spoken fear is that the boys in her new school will think she’s cute and like her too much (mine too!). By miracle, Teagan is taking the last slot at Aprende Con Amigos, a Spanish immersion preschool just two blocks from our old home (and a mile from my sister’s place, where we will be living). Teagan’s cousin Clark is already learning a ton in the younger classroom, and I can hardly wait to see them bond as the near siblings they were to each other in their first year.
For myself, as surreal as this transition time is, I have felt so much more clarity and strength since pushing the “end” button on my marriage. As huge of a life change as this is for everyone, our family feels resilient and ready for growth. Yesterday we talked with the kids in the morning about our plans to separate, and last night I cooked Kevin his favorite home cooked dish of Italian stuffed shells (now it’s Kieran’s favorite too, and it felt good to put the leftovers in the freezer for a night when they miss me). Then, after ice cream sundaes, Kevin and I went out one last time to celebrate his birthday. After a week of a great deal of heavy conversations, it felt good to laugh over drinks (while talking about how we have never understood each others’ humor…and how much my first loves made me laugh). Even though we need to end our traditional marriage, it now feels possible for us to be partners in a new and more positive way.
Yet, when we fell asleep together for the last night, I couldn’t help but notice that we both had a very deep and rhythmic breath that was exactly opposite of each other. It felt like a metaphor for our relationship of extreme opposite who attracted, but who can no longer grow into ourselves together. We woke up this morning to do a Deepak/Oprah meditation together, which of all things had an intro that talked about accepting ourselves as radiant beings who are perfect, healthy and whole, just as we are. I believe that our relationship would/could have been very different if we had accepted each other for who we are, rather than trying to change each other, and far too often rejecting and controlling each other. Thankfully, as surreal as it is to end our marriage on such a positive note, I know that I am making the right decision for myself and our family, and even Kevin will flourish from no longer working overtime to try to make me happy. Instead, I believe that we will each thrive by truly loving and accepting ourselves, and supporting each other in healthy ways.
Lastly, I know that not everyone, especially Kevin’s family, may not understand or respect my choices and decision to end our marriage. I hope that time will heal any wounds, for all of us.
Peace and love,
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.
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,