Farewell Mamacitta: A Final Post

I have decided to draw this exploration of Mamacitta to a close and discontinue these periodic musings on my experience of motherhood. As I look back, it has been a remarkable experiment - beginning with a flash when I first felt my heart explode into new dimensions of loving in those early days with a tiny babe in my arms. I set out to explore an ideal, a theory around how much was possible through the act of mothering, how much heart growth and spiritual awakening could occur in this time of selfless giving. I was shooting for the stars, magical notions through and through, like I could transcend all of the perils of parenting with this goal in my heart. Alas, that was not true, and I fell and I tumbled, I made mistakes and lost control sometimes too. A reality check set in, the enormity of what it meant to parent day in and day out pummeled me to the ground.  I rechecked my notions, wiped off my knees and shot off in a new direction - one that was more rooted, honest, authentic and just plain real. 

This whole journey has been that of peeling back the moats, castle walls, and armies that have guarded my heart for as long as I can remember. Why I decided to enlist such protective measures in the first place is difficult to say, but nonetheless out of a fear of feeling pain I chose to protect this sacred space, and to feel little at all seemed the better option. And so the defenses went up, the heart grew sterile, and I knew not what I was missing. Until Rowen lit the dynamite, and slowly but surely each tier of defense crumbled and gave in over the last two and a half years. What I eventually found at the core was an unimaginable rage; untamable and unsafe. But through the support of Matthew and the guidance of a skilled therapist I unearthed below that rage a seemingly bottomless sadness and a personal tenderness I had not previously known.  In that moment of embracing this foreign grief, my heart cracked in two. But it was not broken, it had doubled instead, like a cell dividing, and the sensation of feeling - feeling anything at all - sprawled across my chest and began to push out at the confines of my sternum. The core was cracked, and there was no going back.

Situations and experiences pain me in an incredible way now these days, and I am learning how to be with that, present and attentive as if it were a small child. But more importantly, my ability to feel all of the feel goods - joy, bliss, love, laughter, excitement, truth - has set me in a place now where the task of taking my life as object - analyzing and dissecting where spirituality and mothering meet - no longer feels relevant to me. Even more so, it feels nearly sacrilegious. Like soiling the temple. I have come to this place where I am no longer trying to merge the dichotomy, to marry the practitioner I once was with the mother I was becoming. Instead, something new was born from the exploration. I was born from the exploration. Now, the level of intimacy and sacredness in my moments with my family are massive but delicate. To extract them from my heart and bind them with words that only hint at their vastness seems wholly inappropriate. So, this is why I am ending at this time.

It feels a bit like that old parable about the ferry boat. Exploring the concept of Mamacitta brought me from one side of the river to the other, it brought me from my head to my heart, and now to drag that boat across the landscape of my heart would be unnecessary. All I need now are my own two feet and my family beside me.

The other day I was driving home on Marine Drive, which travels along the mighty Columbia river. A full rainbow appeared right outside my window, spanning the river but ending right on the road next to me, the refracted colors following me as I went down the road. I literally saw the end of the rainbow. There definitely was no pot of gold sitting there, but what I did find was myself at it’s edge. It felt clear, there is much to be said about searching for the pot of gold, but when it comes to simply being at the end of the rainbow silence suits it best.

I am so grateful for all of you who supported me along the way, for the irreplaceable and precious women who became my weekly grounding here in Portland, and those who silently witnessed from a distance. Thank you.

Back to My Body

Back to My Body

I believe there is something in each of our children, a quality or a lesson, that is meant to bring us as parents back to a greater sense of wholeness within ourselves. For me with Rowen, this lesson is very clearly about my sense of physicality and a deeper connection to my own body.

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Who's in Control, Anyway?

There is a non-linear aspect to mothering that I find completely maddening at times. Feeling like the master of my direction and maintaining a sense of control over the unfolding of my days were anchors of stability for me in the past. Now, I find that any simple task is wrought with curve balls and detours before completion. Instead of simply moving from A to B I find that we begin at A, diverge to M, N, O, hit Z as we loop back around, D, C, and at last back to our goal; B!

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What is Mindful Parenting?

When I was a newborn mother everything occurring in my life was a glaring example of how motherhood could be a spiritual practice. The focus, devotion, endurance, love, sleep deprivation, learning curve, uncertainty, intuition, and rapid development for both baby and mama all seemed to ignite this divine unfolding of my inner strength, wisdom and authenticity. Something radical was clearly going on, I was thrilled about it and so I made this site to muse on these happenings and to share the possibility that parenting and spiritual practice could be married with harmonious results...

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When I founded this site and the concept of Mamacitta I was in the early days of parenting. It was a time that a new and enormous love swallowed me and I was intoxicated by our life as three, and my new found purpose as a mother. I felt like I had uncovered the long sought after essence of life and it was all wrapped up in love. I thought this kind of love would last and it would sustain everything that I did as I moved forward as a parent...

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According to Erik Erikson's theory of human development, around 18 months is an important time of transition in the maturation of a child. It's the point where the child begins to explore their independence and autonomy...

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Thief of Joy

I sat down to meditate, formally, for the first time in I don't know how long.  It has been a rough ride this fall.  Between colds, a freak parasite, visiting grandparents, a quickly changing toddler, and 10 teeth emerging all the while - I had my hands full. The daily chaos was tiresome, but it was the months of nights with broken and restless sleep that really brought me to my knees... 

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Recently, Matthew and I had been struggling with our relationship.  After two weeks of vacation and uniteruppetd family time we arrived home to the reality of our life, which is a tag team effort and a division of roles, he working while I tackle the domestic affairs.  We intentionally chose this traditional family style before Rowen was even born.  We felt it would be important and beneficial for me to be a full time momma and take on all the roles of the house while he continued to build his business and support us financially.  It had worked pretty well up until now...

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Yoga of Parenting
I recently found the below journal entry and was struck by how relevant and necessary the idea of parenting yoga - balancing the masculine and feminine principles within - is for me still today, increasingly so with each passing day, in fact, as Rowen continues to explore the edges of his development. Here is what I wrote when Rowen was about 5 months old:
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Unconditional Love

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Physiologic Postpartum Care: Re-Membering our Global Postpartum Tradition

GUEST POST by Rachelle Garcia Seliga, CPM: 

The original postpartum traditions throughout the world while specific to the cultural context in which they come—all share deep, common roots.  Postpartum traditions all mandate:  heat-inducing therapies; an extended resting period; specific foods that are warming in nature and easy to digest; and bodywork.  These commonalities of postpartum traditions throughout the world are not a coincidence—these traditions are rooted in our physiologic design.  Our ancestors understood this design and their postpartum traditions were born from this understanding...    

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Surrender

To surrender has been my mantra for years.  It became my solace in the seven months it took for us to conceive. It became necessary during the many flavors of pregnancy. It overtook me during the process of giving birth. But never was it more relevant or profound than now, here in the act of mothering.  And what a beautiful gift it is...

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Finding the Flow

I have found that maintaining a sense of emotional equilibrium and inner harmony has become more complicated since becoming a mama.  Never before has my internal state been so thoroughly influenced by the whims of another being.  Staying sane and in the joy can feel like an incredible juggling act on any given day.  It's a continual process of taking what's arising and then trying to lean back toward my center, no matter the circumstances...

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Shadow Play

Shadow Play

Guest Post:

Shared By AJ Carmichael, independent filmmaker, yogi extraordinaire, and mama of two 

The afternoon we chose to make cyanotypes was, naturally, a sunny one. Clara filled her tiny hands with leaves and flowers from our front yard. She didn't seem to care when several objects floated away as she bounced, butterfly-like, from plant to plant. On the sidewalk, I placed a piece of the photosensitive paper on the uneven concrete, and Clara secured the page down with rocks on each corner so it would not blow away...

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I never considered that I would be susceptible to symptoms of postpartum depression.  I had great faith in my rosy disposition and the fact that I always found those "happiness stability" worksheets (for lack of a better term) they give you at your prenatal appointments to be completely unrelated to my emotional experience.  I thought the women who suffered from this were isolated, unsupported, or without other resources to maintain their stability...

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