THE MOST IMPORTANT BLOG I'VE EVER WRITTEN.

The tears rolled down and I welcomed them, imparting salty trickles into my mouth. I’d committed to myself, and anyone who might have stumbled upon my last blog, to spend a month without my psychological creature comforts. Those included reading, writing, exercising, meditating, Google, and social media. I run to these things, daily, as sources of “personal progress.” Maybe not social media, but it’s a time suck nonetheless, and the name of this game wasn’t to confront modern and seemingly benign addictions but instead to create space in the form of time and silence, something most of us have absolutely none of.

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When was the last time you sat alone in a room with no devices, no book, and no agenda?

Yeah, me either, until a month ago.

The first two days, when my toddler blessed me with a nap, I sat alone and basked in a sense of relief. There was no pining. I just felt as though the weight of the world had been lifted, the self-imposed pressure to perform, to move, to check in. We live in a culture where we call this “lazy.”

I began to ask guidance for epiphanies, for opportunities to heal, knowing I had some long-standing emotional wounds surrounding things that had origins in childhood, stuff that I’d carried with me and imprinted upon my adult interactions, further blistering my psyche.

I could feel the senselessness of this little girl business, the suitcase of irrational insecurities I’d chosen to tote around with me from year to year. You know the one, we’ve all got em, some heavier than others and necessitating wheels with that handle thingy, no matter how loving our families. I don’t think we actively choose to hold onto these trinkets requiring a reckoning, they’re instead like tangles in the hair, growing into unmanageable frizzy knots if not eventually addressed, sometimes mandating scissors and impetuous removal, inevitably rendering us incomplete.

Sheep in wolf’s clothing.

We have to address our in-authenticities, we can’t bury them and continue on with much sense of fulfillment and peace. That suitcase will find you… or whatever is left of you, even if you ditch it at the station, and you’ll do crazy things to evade it.

According to the book The Sacred Science, by Nick Polizzi, which inspired my month of soul solitude, avoiding those tangles can ultimately lead to physical and emotional illness, although I’d consider them one in the same. Attempting to separate mind from body is a futile cause in this human condition unless you’ve reached enlightenment.

On the third day, I had an exchange with a friend, one in which she called out my inauthenticity. It grated at that inadequate little girl, tucked deep within, hurting at abyssal depths. My ego born personality protections couldn’t save me from this because she wasn’t allowing it. Usually, we’re non-confrontational and everyone pretends they didn’t notice. Most of us require this anyway because the “other”, signifying us and them, has to be in the perfect space to receive and that’s rare, at best. At first, I played dumb, although my reactions and defenses are so ingrained, my response didn’t feel premeditated. I had to sit in silence with this, alone and undistracted, to allow the pain and mortification to linger, to permit fessing up to the infraction. If I’d instead grabbed a book or popped in a workout video, I could’ve glided through it unscathed, shoving the little girl into submission… but I didn’t.

Cue the aforementioned waterworks. They flowed for the better part of an hour, and although I knew my friend was also operating from little girl injustices that were somewhat unfair to me, I went back and owned my in-authenticity with her. It was so hard, I felt practically blind as I forced the words forth. I had to really step outside from myself and that angry lil’ ego to get the job done.

And afterward, the Universe (for lack of an all-encompassing word… you can say God, Jesus, Buddha, whatever speaks to your heart) rewarded me with the most gorgeous release. That child within harbored so much fear, anger, and hurt, she used judgment for years to protect. She’d learned that judgment spared her from empathy and empathy spared her from true connection and true connection spared her from possible pain. If you allow yourself to love and respect others, seeing their inner child, if you open your heart to that degree, hurt is a risk you run. She’d also learned that placing herself in a position of authority, the well-intentioned helper, imbalanced the equality of her friendships- more protection, less connection.

It proved to be a sad and lonely space, even with friends to fill it.

And I took a moment to love that child, to remember why she had to do this. I could feel myself as that little girl all over again. I cradled her. I wept for her. I wept as her.

I forgave her.

And just like that, it felt over. The judgment was gone, with only love and understanding left to replace it. The Universe required far less from me than I’d assumed, just transparency, self-love, space, and willingness.

I repeated this experience, but with different situations and people, a number of times during the month. I couldn’t pull it off daily. I required time to assimilate in between, long pauses to decompress and reflect, to re-energize. Each time I left with complete and utter forgiveness of other and self, with an understanding of why each of us must operate as we have and do. This is THE thing we are missing, absentmindedly tiptoeing around it with our busy-ness, feigned or otherwise.

During the last week, my husband showed me a book by Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill. As generally happens for me with books, it called to me on every level, beckoning me in, and I could not turn my back, in spite of the self-imposed reading hiatus. I was immediately mesmerized. I found myself stopping to stare at his face on the cover, taking absolute comfort in the knowing of his eyes. His words encompassed every bit I needed solidified, my hungry soul feeling more satiated with each sentence.

I speak to you now as a less encumbered woman, holding hands with my inner child, gently pulling her forward when she needs prodding, acting as her mother now, only wanting the best for her, even if that means she needs to leave me. I’ve carried her for so long, impregnated with her fears, just the symbolic thought of her taking leave crushes my heart whilst I type this sentence, eyes beginning to moisten and again stream.

Our journey is not over. We have more battles to face together, more pain to relinquish. It’s safe to say the only addiction I’ve come away with is to creating space, even if it’s only 30 minutes for a few days per week. This is the best medicine I’ve ever taken, more miraculous than any drug, more healing than any workout. The key to liberation lies within. Don’t be afraid. She’s waiting for you.

-Angi


You are all that is right in this world.

You are love.

You are beautiful, in every sense of the word.

You deserve everything you want and more.

You have touched so many souls on this journey.

It’s time to hold your own.

There are no cosmic mistakes, every human exchange is an opportunity for love and growth, which are never mutually exclusive.

Trust that all decisions you make at the soul level, inspired by true loving kindness to self, will be shrouded in protection and, in time, rewarded.

Do not make the journey of others your own. This is yours and that is theirs. Allow them to stumble and learn… even your children. Loving guidance followed by space for growth.

 

How to carve out soul space:

  1. Removing social media isn’t imperative, if you can keep your hands off of it during the designated time, but I recommend it, because your mind will be less encumbered with other people’s business (and busy-ness) and you’re likely to create more time.

  2. No need to stop exercising, if you can fit both in.

  3. Quitting reading seems important, if you’re a book junkie. If you like fiction, the inability to run away into someone else’s life will be helpful. If you are a self-help fiend, making sure your thoughts are your own and that YOU guide yourself through these uncomfortable emotions is a must.

  4. Meditation didn’t prove fruitful for me during this period since I wanted to hyperfocus and retain ties to the ego/personality.

  5. It may be helpful after a particularly emotional session to take some notes afterward. I wanted to remember other issues that came up for future sessions.

  6. Most importantly, know that you are taking this space to emote, to dig deep. Ask spirit to enable that for you. They’ll oblige. Set your intention and all will eventually unfold.

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ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

ODE TO A MOTHER- Claiming Our Stories.

With tremendous effort I was pulling off an A in public speaking. I was determined as a grown woman and a mother of three, to prove I was a capable student for the first time in my life. No one in that classroom knew I didn’t feel the least bit grown up. The magical transformation from insecure-people-pleaser, to self-assured-no-apologies adult, had passed me up. If anything, I felt incapable of claiming the attributes that I had earned with age and experience. I had know idea how to interpret my authentic life as a personal power. I just knew how to hide it.

That day was no different, especially considering the circumstances that I alone knew. It was of no consequence; I was living in the same uncomfortable skin I always had, regardless of what happened. I told myself, ‘stuff it down, it’s your superpower. Just tell these people why community supported agriculture rocks, and pretend you’re fine. You know the drill…’

I inserted the thumb drive that contained my colorful PowerPoint presentation. I took a deep breath and turned to a classroom full of faces. I said “Good morning…” and than I choked. Organic veggies where the last thing on my mind. My eyes welled up with tears as I attempted to form my next words, but the truth forced its way up and out, “...I can’t do this.” My professor looked confused. He urged me to continue, reassuring me I could. But I walked away from the podium. I yanked my thumb drive from the computer and grabbed my backpack as I headed toward the door.

“Emily, if you walk out on your final you will not pass this class.” But I kept my head down and walked straight past him and out of the classroom. Later when I emailed him, I was grateful for the final grade he gave me. He understood my inability to function that morning; not many people have an affinity for public speaking after finding out that their mother has just been arrested.

I had grown accustomed through my childhood to all the terrible things I overheard about people like us: we were lazy Welfare recipients, getting rich off of hardworking taxpayers, not contributing to anything in society… worthless. I looked at my shoes while people glared at us in the checkout line at Goodwin’s grocery store. My mom ripped our food stamps from the allocated stipend the government gave us each month, and presented the paper card that identified her as a bonafide failure of a human with kids. We took our peanut butter, milk and ground hamburger meat and left the curses of my mom behind us as she ushered us out of the store.

We walked home along the same roads, laden with plastic grocery bags banging against our bodies. My mom had owned a car once, but I was too young to remember. I was used to walking. My big sister shifted the weight of groceries uneasily; terrified someone from school would drive by and see her this way. I can recall how often heads turned back to get a better view of my beautiful mom; her tight blue jeans, laced up boots stomping through puddles, a cool green eyed glare and a flashing white smile.

She was young and beautiful then; the recipient of breast implants (a Christmas gift from my ex-stepdad), accompanied her unblemished skin and petite body. People often marveled that she had kids at all, especially the stupor of suitors that followed in her wake wherever she went. The assistance she received from the state was billed to my father. He made a life for himself elsewhere with whatever was left over. My step father had left when I was 7 but not before leaving his marks on my mom. I imagine that many women are welcomed to a world of poverty and single-momdom this way. The odds are forever stacked against them

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The many homes we lived in through my childhood were hardly ever our own. Turns out the cash aid for a family consisting of one single mom with two dependents, doesn’t stretch very far. We lived with whatever boyfriend of my mother’s would put up with her and her “baggage”. It never lasted long. We lived in over 15 houses from the time I was a 2nd grader up until middle school. On the rare occasion that the rent was cheap enough for us to find a rental of our own, we would be so far from town that it was impossible to function. Without a vehicle, we hiked a heavy distance to and from the school bus stop. We ate the free lunch and later piecemilled dinners together with whatever was left in the fridge. I had only one friend whose parents would allow her to even come to the various houses we lived in, and I am proud today to know someone was there to witness what a wild world we made for ourselves.

Did my mom use the money and the food stamps to buy nutritious food and toilet paper? Did she pinch pennies and save so we could have a better future? So she could get a car, and than a job, and eventually wean us off the government's breast?? Of course not. She threw that money away when she had to: for dance lessons, for donuts on my birthday, for a new outfit from MacFrugals. She took us out to dinner on Saturday nights at the Big A for hamburgers with french fries, and gave us money so we could spend warm days swimming with the rest of the kids at Lake Gregory. By the end of the month we were packing our belongings into trash bags, my mom plucking butts from the ashtray outside and pacing back and forth with a short stub of cigarette hanging from her mouth. She would frantically glance up the street until Tom, Dick or Harry’s vehicle came into view and shuttled us off to a new place.

Getting rich off of welfare meant my mom slept through depression for a good majority of the day. We watched the same 5 VHS movies on a daily basis and filled the gaps in between with Nintendo. School attendance was often optional. When I couldn’t stand the dark, quiet pushing down on me inside, I took long walks through the winding hills in our mountain town, trying to get lost, knowing she would wake up and be sorry that I was gone. But I always knew how to get back home in the end. And I always wound up missing her first.

By the time I was in high school, many things had changed. My mom had given us a baby sister; a widowed mother, infant in arms, she could have fallen apart, but she didn’t. Through the support of her family, she won a court settlement of $60,000. This was for the removal of her ruptured silicone breast-implants. She wasted no time in pulling up her bootstraps. She moved us away from that god-forsaken town and purchased an old, faded blue, Ford LTD. She paid rent on a house for a full two years and moved us in. She got a job working nights at a local coffee shop. She took her wisdom of poverty and established a division she named “Special Projects” through the local church. It was a charitable cause that focused on assisting single mothers and getting them back on their feet.

That short time that spanned the life of what we called “mom’s boob-money’, was about 3 years total. During that time, I was given the greatest gift of my childhood; the opportunity to see who my mom could be. She wasn’t lazy. She wasn’t a low-life, dependent of the state. She didn’t pop out kids to collect a fatter welfare check. And she definitely didn’t choose the circumstances that had left us miserably poor for the majority of my life. Given the opportunity, she thrived. She helped other people that she knew were struggling like we had. She became a roll model for me for the first time.

But the effects of silicon in her bloodstream for the past 10 years, had taken its toll regardless of the riches it bestowed upon us. There were still days she couldn’t get out of bed. She had planned ahead and after waiting on a list for section 8 housing for more than 2 years, we were accepted. We moved into an apartment and my mom became a real welfare queen, paying rent that was $28 a month. She worked limited hours as a waitress, and spent the majority of her money medicating the pain she was daily living through. She had been diagnosed with Lupus, and than Reynaud's Syndrome and later, some kind of throat condition without a name. She kept medicating to get up and going. We knew that her good moments were sponsored by uppers, and that days of darkness would follow.

I moved out at the first glimpse of 18. My 4 year old sister spent a great deal of her childhood bouncing between my older sister’s house and my grandma’s. Eventually, wherever she was when she was away became more of a home than the places my mom was living. It turned out my mom couldn’t come up with her $28 rent. She was back to couch-surfing. Life got harder and so did the drugs.

It seems crazy now, but it was hard to feel sorry for her. It was even harder that day as I fled the college campus, cursing her name as tears ran down my cheeks. She had kept collecting the meager Welfare allotted to her as if my little sister were still a full time dependent. She owed the state the money she had unlawfully collected. She had been trying to apply for social security, trying to get a correct diagnosis, trying to keep living while the world, and her family, and even her daughters, slowly gave up on her. She was cuffed and taken away in the parking lot of her public defender.

We couldn’t pay bail. I was terrified my mom would show up to her trial date in an orange jumper, cuffed, without legal preparations. She would be dressed, playing the part of convicted felon in front of a judge who was yet to determine if she was even guilty. All praise be, a shitty X-boyfriend ended up paying for a bail bond to get her out. She would later be acquitted of all charges, but not until the stress and mental fatigue had pushed her half into a grave.

In the last years of her life she was diagnosed with scleroderma. It’s not a well known disease. It’s fatal, causing chronic and painful hardening of the skin and tissue. She had been dealing with this illness, and misdiagnosed since I was 10. Turns out Welfare queens don’t get the best medical coverage.

I realize that many people have made it through harder times than these; that single-momdom and welfare don't always end with tragedy. But in hindsight I see that poverty had it's clutches on us in ways that we could not have broken free. I spent my youth trying to defend my mom against the judgments of well meaning middle class Americans: “Why doesn’t your mom just… get a job...stop sleeping all day...spend less time worrying about that boyfriend…?”  I hear the same comments about specific groups of people today and I quietly cringe.

There are so many people in this world that are just trying to make it through the day.  I witnessed my mom live an entire life this way. I got a glimpse of her looking to the horizon, and making expectations for herself but it was too late. A lifetime of dependency, of willfully being a victim of her own means, and unwillingly being a product of poverty, led to her young death. I will always carry a sadness with me that she died in a state of ruin. But her absence has taught me that our story is one to own. It is pivotal that I examine it, and inspect what we were, as opposed to what I thought we were; or what I allowed other people to say we were. I am a bigger person when I claim this youth of mine. It fills me up, so that I no longer meet every obstacle with a “fake it ‘til you make it” philosophy. I am good enough, just as I am. And so was she.  

-Emily










 

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EMILY

Becoming a human-vessel made me a mother, but it also taught me who I am as a woman; literally, I didn’t know that I had a uterus or that it was super bad-ass, until after I picked up my first Bradley Method book. Four home births later, my husband and I have maintained a sense of humor while maneuvering the daily failures, lessons and bonds, that parenting provides.

      My brighter moments are spent homeschooling outside in the Sierra National Forest with other wild families, and pursuing a slow and steady education towards attaining my BS (I will never not think that is funny). Other days you can find me: eating pineapple even though I am painfully allergic, actually running out of gas, and crying in public when strangers show empathy with one another.

     

 

ACLU FLASHBACK.

As much as I’d like to imagine myself dressed in George Washington-esque garb, with one foot up on the bow, chin up, bouncy white curls blowing in the winds of democracy…. I confess to feeling mostly inadequate when it comes to taking up space in the world. I have a difficult time naturally being comfortable outside of my own happy home, let alone being thrust into a group of 300 strangers and forced to openly discuss the state of affairs in our country. Needless to say, lobbying sounded like the last thing on earth I would be good at. But here I digress: the ACLU  (American Civil Liberties Union) would provide childcare for the first time at a seminar in Sacramento that aims to empower constituents with tools to mold our government and change unjust laws. (Thank you, Tamara, for insisting that mothers with children are a valuable force when it comes to changing the world.)

I could take my two older children with me to a full day of training followed by a day of lobbying at the capital. I could demonstrate what I so often preach, “we can do hard things.” I could show them, and in doing so possibly fail miserably, which would be something else that I can’t shut up about: FAIL is an acronym that stands for First Attempt In Learning. I had no excuse not to do this thing. We would confidently march through those white pillars dating back 125 years, past metal detectors and armed guards, and hunt down our states assemblymen and senators so that we could figuratively and literally open new doors to express our demands as “we the people.”

I didn’t do this thing on a complete whim. This winter I had the pleasure of attending a training course by the ACLU in Fresno. I felt assured that a woman like me: white, middle-class citizen, living in a systematically white supremacist society, had a bit of a duty to learn more about the existing laws that make our society just so. I have discovered things that make it impossible for me to ignore, feel shame about, or perpetuate, what being white is. A host of books led me to seek out a new education of what history has held for “not white” people. I could contribute in this demand for justice that so many people have been fighting for, year after year, trampled constitutional right, after trampled constitutional right... way before it got cool; people who have led lives cursed by a fear under existing laws and witnessed the brutality left in the wake of lost liberties.

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I have hope that a new privilege; one where I acknowledge the lives of these people who have battled hardships outside of my knowledge: Black, Latino, Asian and native people of color- will enable me to hear their wisdom and face the challenges ahead with camaraderie. These races and many others have left timelines riddled with their rights ignored. They continue to challenge this country for interpreting them as “not-white” in an attempt to end the repeated crimes against them, ones that benefit the wealthiest and the most powerful. I am aware that my interpretation of life is often rosy in comparison to those battling systematic racism. I don’t know what it personally feels like to be judged based on my race, but it is imperative that I hear the stories from those who do so that I can understand what life in America looks like outside of my white veil.

In the first workshop of our day-long training, I was able to choose between several very necessary and important topics. Some of them I felt I had a grasp on already from reading, so I made an effort to attend the workshops that offered knowledge about topics I was mostly unfamiliar with. The first workshop I attended was called “ICE out of California”. I learned what it means to be a sanctuary state, and how the law is being broken by our local authorities. Each time an officer ignores our 14th amendment, arrests “people” and detains them without due process of law, our laws become worthless. These authorities then deliver people to the hands of immigration and customs authorities (ICE), an action that is prohibited under the law.  

And I can already hear my very conservative community telling me, “If people can’t make a good decision then the government has to make it for them…” I can get on board with this if we are talking about children, which is the common analogy people make; sometimes my kids, all 4, decide that the dinner I prepared for them is not their favorite, but I demand that they eat it anyway. But parenting is an authoritative role, a dictatorship if you will. And passively defending our law enforcement by these tyrannical concepts not only undermines the battles we have fought through history to create and maintain our democracy but also allows the rights that you value as a citizen to be jeopardized.

The first step I can take to protect myself from those who would hand our rights over to a dictator is to understand the laws that are being broken; like (Senate bill) SB 54.

“California Senate Bill 54 effectively makes California a “sanctuary state” by legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.”(Federation for Fair American Immigration Reform)

This is the current law, regardless of any federal lawsuit that aims to attack our states attempts at establishing very standard rights for undocumented immigrants. Other bills such as (assembly bill) AB 450, and AB 103, are also included in this attack. We often acknowledge that the system is flawed in our state and our country when it comes to handling the lives of the 11 million immigrants living here. These bills are attempting to make strides to correct those flaws. It is “unfinished work” an ACLU veteran named Korina explained to me. She is not fighting with an unrealistic goal to fix all the injustice in our world but to continue chipping away at it. Demanding rights for all people is her walk in life now. She may not see the benefit of her unremitting determination, but she is well aware that the struggle is worthy.   

When other people suffer under the law of our land, we all suffer. Doing nothing about this issue is leaving a clear path for those who would ignore the rights of others. We are mothers, capable of empathizing with a woman who is ripped from the clutches of her children, slandered as a “criminal” without any due process of law, and detained while she awaits deportation. It is a nightmare to imagine. When others call her an “illegal” or a “criminal” we know she has a different name within her family. We know how needed she is and valued she is for her role as a caregiver. The deficit she leaves when local authorities assist ICE in yanking her from the community like a weed is not available jobs for citizens or less criminal activity. The void left when we allow people to be nothing short of kidnapped is a vacancy filled with anger and hurt and massive shortcomings for those who depend on her.

“Alejandra Galacia, 35, said she hardly left her home, not even to buy groceries, the week of the ..arrests. The Lamont resident said she worried about being separated from her three young daughters.” (Andrea Castillo, New York Times)

History has so much to offer us when it comes to unjustly marking someone as a villain without first trying them in a court of law. Our country has made this mistake over and over. The 14th Amendment reminds us that we have rights as citizens, but also that any “person” in this country is entitled to respect under the law:

“...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Our communities across this state and others are standing idly by while a precedent is set; one that tells undocumented immigrants that they should be afraid, that reporting violence, or criminal activity in their own lives, will likely result in them being torn from their families. How can this fear make us safer? One day of lobbying won't save the world from tyranny. This battle continues every time I speak to another citizen who narrowly defines a group of people as “illegals”. And while our federal laws and state laws continue to conflict, I will reach out in my community to volunteer, and speak up for those who cannot.

If you feel like your own voice has a passion and purpose, I full-heartedly recommend looking into joining the ACLU. I also recommend talking to someone who disagrees with your views because it's easy to get tunnel vision and forget that usually we as people are not as polarized as we think we are (thanks, Dad.)

-Emily

 “From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor’s rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own”

-Carl Schurz

 


 

 

 

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EMILY

Becoming a human-vessel made me a mother, but it also taught me who I am as a woman; literally, I didn’t know that I had a uterus or that it was super bad-ass, until after I picked up my first Bradley Method book. Four home births later, my husband and I have maintained a sense of humor while maneuvering the daily failures, lessons and bonds, that parenting provides.

      My brighter moments are spent homeschooling outside in the Sierra National Forest with other wild families, and pursuing a slow and steady education towards attaining my BS (I will never not think that is funny). Other days you can find me: eating pineapple even though I am painfully allergic, actually running out of gas, and crying in public when strangers show empathy with one another.

     

 

THE SACRED SCIENCE OF HEALING- Is Illness all in Your Head?

Assuming my toddler blesses me with a nap and my oldest two have made it to school, my general routine is to work out, meditate, bathe, and then read some form of self-help book or write. In the midst of the last bit, I usually hear a “Mommmmyyyy, where are you?” cuing me that personal time is over.

I’m aware that not all mamas are fortunate enough to have time for themselves. I was counted among them for a spell, and I thank my lucky stars that in this moment, I’ve been graced with a gift. Knowing that it’s limited, that nap times are soon to come to an end, or that life may shift in unexpected ways, I feel pressure to make every second progressive, worth its weight in gold. I don’t do chores, watch TV, nap, or scroll social media. No time sucks, no energy drains, only activities that I know build me up.

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But recently, I’ve had a book-induced epiphany. I am in the midst of The Sacred Science by Nick Polizzi. It's one of those rare reads where you feel like your life is changed two chapters in. Polizzi had a debilitating health ailment, for two years in his 20’s, that modern medicine couldn’t seem to touch or understand. Somewhat by accident, during a particularly low moment for him, a friend called and guided him through tapping, also known as EFT. During this experience, Polizzi uncovered an emotional experience he’d been unknowingly holding onto anger about for years. That realization essentially cured him of his illness instantaneously. He then became somewhat obsessed with researching natural healing, which led him to shamanism. A shaman is a medicine man or woman who uses herbal remedies and energy healing. There is an assumption that all physical illness is a manifestation of spiritual/psychological issues that need tending to, as was the case for Polizzi.

Sometime after his rather spontaneous healing, he was moved to make a documentary about modern-day shamanism, hoping to share the information with the world at large, allowing people to explore alternative healing methods and raise awareness about how quickly the Amazonian jungle (which holds key medicinal plants) is dissipating. It’s worth noting that 25% of pharmaceuticals are made from plants in the Amazon (documentary fact), and that thousands remain unclassified and yet to be researched.

He selected eight individuals from 400 applicants, who were willing to go with him and his camera crew to the Amazon. They would be in the care of three shamans, each specializing in different areas and having proved their healing abilities time and time again. These shamans are normal guys who either fell into healing through bloodline and ability or via curing their own chronic illnesses with the help of a medicine man, then realizing that they too were called to be shamans. They live simple, spiritual lives and don’t advertise their skills. Most shamans have day jobs and tend only to their immediate communities when people are in need. These men and women are deeply spiritual, without ego, and helping others is what drives them.

The eight volunteers had a range of illnesses, from depression to stage four cancer. They were each to stay alone in an isolated individual hut, for 30 days. No running water, no electricity, no books, no contact with family or friends, no electronic devices, just a notepad and pen, with a hole in the ground for bathroom breaks. They were very removed, deep in the jungle, with every variety of creature one could imagine, making noises of all kinds through the dark and solitary night. They were to mostly stay in their extremely modest huts all day, only seeing the shamans two times for healing work and receiving very basic meals of quinoa and vegetables. The healing they underwent was nothing short of miraculous.

The only company each person had was their own thoughts. Here’s where my epiphany comes in, and I think it'll resonate with most of you. I’ve got this solo time a few days per week, but how often am I truly alone with my thoughts? Um, pretty much never. I’m filling those spaces up… even if it’s with “progressive” activities. And are these activities truly healing (because we’re all in need of healing one way or the other) and progressive or are they really just a distraction from such.

I’ve got demons I want to battle, buried emotional pain (like everyone else), some health issues that could use mending. No matter how many self-help books I read, will true healing occur without me giving it space?

It’s no accident that one of the most important aspects of the eight patients healing protocol is solitude. They have to create space to feel all the amazing emotions along with all the ugly ones, facing fears head-on.

So, I’m saying sayonara for four weeks, as of Monday. I won’t be checking into any social media. Google is going to miss it’s number one fan. My spam is going to pile up. There won’t be any book reading or blog writing. Removing things of comfort is also important, the things we run to out of avoidance, so my favorite tea is going. Favorite foods are out. I’m eating for sustenance. Exercise, out. I’m going to spend those nap times alone in my room or on a quiet walk. I may try tapping or meditation, but the rest is gone, baby gone.

Peace out. I’ll see you on the flipside and let you know what I’ve learned.

-Angi

*If you’d like to watch the documentary "The Sacred Science," here is the link. Nick Polizzi is so passionate about preserving the Amazon and ancient healing practices of Shamanism, that he ultimately elected to make the documentary free. It’s definitely worth watching, but the book is incredibly insightful and has a lot more background information about the patients, Polizzi, and outright gems from the Shamans themselves. I felt that a lot of important information didn't make the movie. Your best bet is to read the book and then watch the documentary… time well spent.





 

 

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ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis. 

 

AGE OLD DOGMA- Chances are You're Inadvertently Slighting Your Child.

“Mom, I’m hungry.” “No you’re not, you just ate dinner.”

“Mom, I’m cold.” “You’re fine, you have a jacket on.”

“Mom, I’m scared in the dark.” “There’s nothing in your room to be afraid of.”

How many times have you uttered one of those phrases or something similar? Chances are several times… today.

I didn’t think much of my “go-to” responses to my children’s pleas until I read a parenting article that turned everything on its head. Per usual, I can’t remember what the hell the article was or where I read it, but the fundamental directive stuck.

Those exchanges probably look relatively harmless, but the underlying message being sent to your child is, “You don’t know how you feel.”

How many of us, as adults, suffer from an inability to decide what is best for ourselves? We turn to others for guidance or enter into complete paralysis when faced with a choice. Many of us (me, me!) languish in decision fatigue- we weigh all of our options, spending hours researching, afraid to pull the trigger and realize later that we’ve chosen poorly. ( I mean, what if I don’t look at all 565 pages of rugs on Overstock? What if the best one is on page 565??) By the time we’ve invested umpteen energy we are “fatigued” and overwhelmed, with compromised judgment for deciding anything at all. 

We are the product of this type of parenting, through no fault of those who raised us. They were simply doing what they were taught via their own childhood experiences. Should we really trust the self-knowledge of a four-year-old anyway?

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Yes and no. The importance of our responses has less to do with the actual thing occurring and more to do with what’s being intimated to our child via what we say. Two things are unfolding: We’re disregarding their ability to know themselves and their own feelings, but we are also devaluing them. If every time you expressed that you were cold, your husband responded to you with, “You’re fine, you have a coat on,” you’d go ape shit on his ass after the second time (more likely the first). You’d feel about the size of a crumb after a couple weeks of being consistently discounted.

Imagine how our babies feel. (Heart currently breaking.)

Does this mean that I have to cater to my child’s every whim? No. It does mean that instead of glossing over his thoughts and feelings, I should take a moment to listen and discuss. If he says he’s hungry 30 minutes after dinner (five minutes if you’re River), I can say something like, “Okay, I hear you. I understand you’re hungry. I noticed you didn’t eat much of your meal. Do you think that might be why you’re still hungry? Would you like to finish your dinner?” To which he for sure will reply, “No, I’m full of my dinner. I want a banana.” I’d then have to let him know that at our house we don’t have snacks if we haven’t finished our meal. Same outcome, different approach, and it maybe took an extra minute. But, he felt heard and his feelings were not ignored. In short, he recognized his value.

Life is busy. It's easy to fall into the habit of treating our children’s requests like nuisances when we are rushed and trying to accomplish more than we can handle. We love them SO much, and we’re doing all of this business for them, but we don’t want them to think that they are nuisances. A shift in response can make a world of difference in the confidence of your now child and future grown-up. The little things count for more than we can often imagine. Deliberating over a rug is a relatively harmless offense, but the consequences of a child who doesn't have faith in her own ability to monitor herself can be devastating, as a wee one and as an adult.

During childhood, I remember being as unimpressed with my parents' alleged acumen as my children often are with mine, assuming I had all the answers and feeling extremely frustrated when told otherwise. I can also identify with, at times, feeling like a dismissed and insecure child as an adult. We’re all souls of the same size, mature upon arrival, housed in bodies of different statures, controlled by brains of varying development and just looking for love, connection… acceptance. Reminding ourselves of that innate sense of being and our mutual desires that bind us together, big and small, is an amazing way to behold our children through a more empathetic lens, offering them the respect that they, like us, not only yearn for but wholeheartedly deserve.

-Angi

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ANGI

I was an oddity in high school, obsessed with the CIA, the supernatural, aliens, basically all things mysterious. As an adult, I've moved on to being captivated by human nature, my own and everyone elses. Exploring the whys and hows of my own psyche and trying to create connections that have depth and meaning brings significance to my experience in this school we call Life. I've gone from being a full time working mom, to a part time working mom, to a stay at home mom and the breadth of that experience has shown me the value in all of those roles. I am riveted by the complicated genius that is the female intellect and sharing insights with other engaging women has become, for me, an essential symbiosis.