I Have Three Mothers

Guest post by  Heather Darby

I have three mothers.

One mother carried me in her body and birthed me into this world. She fed me (most of the time), clothed me (when she could), sang me sweet bedtime songs, and taught me to survive (the hard way).

I met my second Mother at an early age. She gave me sweet air to suck in deep and whistle out. She bathed me in hot, blinding light that warmed my cold, lonely bones. Mother gave me a creek to play in – endless exploration of leaches, stones, crayfish—turning over stone after stone in the fresh frigid waters—a game that taught me to watch and think and move. She gave me all of the Earth to roam. Trees for companions, birds as backing vocalist in my grandest performances, dirt to discharge my filthy soul muck into. Her grace was in the cover of night, inviting me to dance until I found myself howling with moonlight and racing under Her stars.

It was much later that I remembered my third mother. She showed up when I was so lost, at the exact moment I needed to be rescued, like a knight in an old story. In my new story, the hero mother rescuer is me.

I tore at my clothes in grief and hid from my knowing long enough. My mother would no longer let me hide. She found me every single time and brought me home – home to a warm bed, hot bath, delicious meal, laughing with friends. Home to safety and unconditional love and music. Home to no apologies. At home in my mother, I have become. Safe at home, I have found what it is to loved.

A mother’s love is in me and not found outside. I do not long for One mother or another, but long for more time with myself, nurturing what is alive for me, in me, and of me. I mimic the Earth Mother as a creatrix, planting seeds, and painting with Her palates. I gather with like-minded women and call the Earth Mother to hold us and we dance again under Her lights, in Her air, with Her grace.

And after we dance and say goodnight, I sit in my knowing vibrating with all the mother and sister energies, hugging my knees into my chest and hum myself to sleep.

Who We Are When Society Stops.

“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk. ~ Antonio Machado

Here’s to the book burning party in my soul.

Goodbye to the agenda society smudged into me.

I’m a pink lotus flower. My crown is a cotton candy headdress. My belly a river rolling.

I’m a baby forming in the Universe’s womb.

A free being. I float. I do not know agenda.

How could I write lists when I gave my words to the earth?

Mother nature rocks me. I am new life, a mysterious seedling of divine flowering cells.

I know nothing. Thank God.

I’m not the books my mother wrote or the words she spoke or screamed.

I am love. Loved. Loving. It’s my thing.

I’m not my sister’s grief or her keeper. She’s not my savior.

I don’t owe her. I love her.

I love me, too. And our sweet destiny intertwined by mystery.

I’m not competition. I’m a feather floating.

Rose quartz, Tanzanite, and a coyote.

I cost nothing. Charge nothing.

I am the wind, the dirt, the knife my grandfather created with shiny metal and dappled colored scraps, carving my path the way rivers erode the earth.

I smell of lavender and rose petals and sage.

I don’t count my worthiness from words on pages. They take their own form.

I’m not commander-in-chief. Nor do I want to be.

I’m song and chant and freedom dance.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. I bow to the divine teacher within.

I am Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

Watch me, a full moon at dawn. Hear me, gratitude laced with laughter.

We are blessed and blessing. We bless as we take breath.

I’m a smooth stone and a child’s handprint in wet cement.

I don’t mind being a misfit.

It was all that fitting in, proving, planning, getting over, waking up, trying, deciding, failing…so damn tiring!

Now, we just are. Nothing. From which everything forms.

A blank canvas of dark night where stars blaze and amaze and awaken imagination.

We are a society stopped, the breath in between the notes of a song not yet written.

We are harmony rising.

How to Show up During the Coronavirus.

“The ability to recognize these times of pressurized pain as opportunities to love and heal—along with an openness to accepting what is and facing it unflinchingly—become the wings of freedom.” ~ Jennifer Salima Holt, PhD, Sacred Gateway of Loss and Grief

It’s Sunday morning, the first in the Coronavirus shutdown. It’s surreal. It’s out there.

My friend’s 24-year-old son died Friday night. That’s close.

I can feel his pain, although he’s several states away. I ache for him.

I remember my mother, a warrior among women, weakening when she lost her only son, my brother, at age 27.

I held her hand as we drove from Oklahoma to Arizona to see his body for the last time.

I stayed with my mom when my then-husband told me to come home. I was 25. I didn’t know anything about grief, except my mom needed me.

Now, I’ve endured several seasons of grief, losing my mother and others.

I’d like to think I know something, like when my friend’s mom died recently. I wanted to have the right words.

There are no right words, except maybe what my friend Lisa said when my beloved died: “I’m so f*cking sorry this happened.”

I’m 55. More deaths will come.

My friend who lost his son has a pain as deep as the core of the earth.

I won’t pretend I have any power to take it away or that words mean anything when grief hits like Ali.

I stand in my friend’s corner. I stand witness to the blows. No matter how hard it gets, I’m here.

I cheer him on, even as he bleeds tears. His pain is as strong as his love. He’s a fighter, but he never wanted to be in this ring.

May he feel the crowd chanting on his behalf. May his children who still live be his Adrian, his reason. May he endure the pain like Rocky.

This is the hardest fight of my friend’s life. In the face of this, Coronavirus is tiddlywinks.

Just getting up from the bed, holding morning coffee while grief grabs everything, is round one.

From the sidelines of those we love who’ve lost their mother, sister, brother, lover, spouse or child, presence is our only power.

Let us step into their corner, wipe their wounds, offer them water, witness their pain, knowing it’s their fight, but we sit in the ring of grief with them.

We stay present while they fight. We love them as their bones of reality crack and break with every blow. We wince while they take the hits.

We are here because worse than grief is having no one in your corner while you face it.

Even though we’re all practicing the new normal of Coronavirus, let’s still be there for one another, even from afar.

Be in someone’s corner today.

How Sister Ships Sail.

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

Like ships passing, I realize I’m on one and my sister stands on the other—after we’ve ridden side by side for a while now.

Our ships never completely paralleled.

I like my ship. Even while I view the vivacious parties and glorious sunsets over there, on hers.

She might not get the same view of the sunrise or meet the peeps I will on my ship.

We have different destinations.

Either of us could be rerouted or sail into inclement weather.

We bought our tickets and said where we want to go.

Now, we enjoy the adventure, greet the people, choose events and excursions, relax and relish.

Knowing we’re not actually driving the ship, we must trust.

I’m certain my big sister read the safety rules and learned her ship’s map.

When I holler across from mine to hers, “Hey, where are you going?!” she screams back, laughing like an 11-year-old girl on vacation with her mom and best friend, “I don’t know! Where are you going?”

It dawns on me that maybe I don’t know either. As I try to formulate an answer and speak it into the wind between us, I see her man come up behind her and wrap his arms around her.

She turns to look at him the way Rose looked at Jack on The Titanic.

There goes a love story.

My sister turns and waves, joy dripping from her face.

“Have fun!” she screams.

“I will!” I shout back, like a promise. “You too!”

How to Be a Warrior for Love.

I learned how to love by watching wise women.

Mostly, they learned the way we all do—life.

Some of the strongest relationships are third-rounders by try-harders determined to get it right. Others are first-timers who acknowledge luck, serendipity, and stick-to-it-ness.

My best friend learned by leaving and slamming the door for a damn good reason on the only man she ever loved—then years later, opening to him and love again.

Women getting love right, I salute you. Women who found your ideal mate, no matter how many frogs or fools you fell for along the way, well done. Those of you stacking up the decades and gluing them together with joy, hard work, and well-earned connection, impressive.

From you women warriors, my family and friends, I learn we each choose what works for us, what we’re attracted to, and what we cannot or will not tolerate.

For me, I absolutely refuse to endure apathy. Connection and intimacy invite me stay.

You’ve taught me one can see an upsetting truth about one’s mate and set it aside for the sake of the relationship. That doesn’t mean you’re stupid (or smart), just your eyes are open.

You have to want to stay. You have to want to make it work. Yet, you can’t manufacture those desires any more than you can make magically appear the one with whom you’ll feel that way.

When you do, as long as your partner also wants to stay and make it work, anything can be a source of growth.

Wise women, you’ve shown me marriage is a balance between working on it and letting go, being true to yourself by speaking your mind—even when you may be considered a bitch or too sensitive—and respecting with compassion your mate’s legitimate choice of a different perspective.

Watching you gals, I see the variety of relationships and marriages and how each pair is an entity of its own personality, rules and character.

Ideally, whatever the shape, it represents a synergy in which two individuals become better because of the presence of the other.

Thank you ladies for keeping me believing in serendipity and holding out for the real thing, even after I lost Mr. Crazy, Sexy, Cool.

I look forward to my next adventure, as a warrior for love.

Be Like Kevin

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Call. And call again. Take the calls—even when you’re driving to dinner with your girlfriend and looking for a parking space. Take the call, especially if it’s your dad. Not because he’s 85, because he’s your dad.

Connect with people. Laugh. Let your funny be infectious. Don’t be a hater. Speak your mind. Apologize when you screw up. And mean it. Move on.

OWN your anger. Be forthright, but be gracious. Love women. Really love them. And music. Listen to music-LOUD! Especially the 80s. Hard rock. KISS.

But take Etta James and the candles. Yeah, bring that old boom box to the beach. Play the game Washers.

Read. The Bible when you feel nudged. Take pleasure in reading. Find your guy. Kevin’s was Lee Child, but he also read Mark Twain, JR Moehringer and Alice Lundy.

Give people nicknames. ICE! ICE! ICE! Let it be your way of honoring them.

Pray. Out loud. In the morning. While drinking coffee and watching birds with your girlfriend.

Say, “I LOVE THAT!” often. Say, “I love you.” Write it. Write letters. Send Valentine’s Day cards with love to everyone.

Enjoy good food. Make memories, like taking your gal to Tony’s, where you used to go with your mom. But, also go to dive bars. Bring home Taco Bell sauce packets that say “Marry Me” and present them like a bouquet of flowers.

Seek love. Be romantic. Be real.

Follow your passions and applaud others. Take care of your business, but don’t be so serious. Make work fun. When it’s not, refocus. Readjust. Decide what you want and go for it.

Change. If you want to. Become better.

Be at peace with yourself. Take care of yourself. LOVE YOURSELF. And especially, BE YOURSELF. Kevin was totally himself, not imitating a soul.

Be emotionally courageous. Say: This is how I am. I have a temper and I can be selfish, but I’m the man for you. Yeah, be a man—in the best sense of the word.

Support your team and Diva’s team and your people. Show up. Be on time. And have some style!

LIVE your life. If it ever comes to your door, kick cancer’s ass!

Speak a different language with your brothers—one your girlfriend couldn’t understand if she wanted to. Make your cousin a brother and make the word BROTHER mean something. Make friendship and family mean something.

GO ALL IN. Whatever you’re doing: sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, sales, wooing a woman, loving your mom, hanging with friends, frying fish, developing relationships, telling a truth, listening,… damn, Kevin could listen.

I know he could talk, but he could really listen.

Open doors. Pull out chairs. Hug. Hold your partner tight through the entire night. Kiss too hard and love like this is your last chance and you want to get it right.

Buy little gifts. Don’t expect so much from others. Give because it makes you feel good.

Tell stories. And make them good!

Hang with your boys. Be wild when you’re young, but never grow old. Get out of the house, but spend time hanging at home, just chillin’.

Be like a kid. But be a man. Face life head on.

Be like Kevin, but you can’t. There was only one. So, be like you—the one Kevin loves. Still.

 

 

Why The Tough Girl is Tough.

“Alchemize the pain and it becomes something else.” ~ Sarah Entrup


Pushed out into the world too young, forced to fly,
you said f*ck that and crashed on purpose.

You lied: It’s not hard. I’ve got it handled.

I get the yeah, I meant to do that attitude,
That FU!, I don’t need anyone!
You’ll see! You can’t stop me!

We scream, “I’ll never be like you!” when
We’re trying to figure out who to be.

We swear we don’t need anyone.
We don’t even like people.
They’ve all let us down.

Especially that one in the mirror.

In the process of maturing, we can succumb to a sickness of the soul.

Those who hurt us live inside our hearts and minds.

We’d die to be rid of the pain. We’d steal to get attention.

We’ll do anything to prove we’re wild and unworthy.

Because that’s what they told us, if
They showed us any attention at all.

We’ll fight because we had to.

We’ll manipulate because it’s been our survival strategy.

What looks like anger is a cry for love.

Yeah, tough girls, they can’t see it either.

How Women are Reshaping Society.

“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Women are taught to be kind. I was taught to be nonjudgmental.

That’s hard. Judgments pop like synapses in my brain. I don’t discriminate and I’m likely hardest on myself.

Still, we’re implored to “Smile!” as if it’s our badge to walk free in society.

Otherwise, we’re called out as bitches, even angry bitches.

Nevertheless, we persist as individual women who often smile instinctively, sometimes don’t mind if you wink at me, but get damn tired of being treated as objects or told we shouldn’t feel as we do.

In the 1970’s Women’s Movement, women stopped smiling, and wearing bras. They traded for emotional armor, determined to succeed in a man’s world.

In the 80’s, as I embarked on my career, my mom and I might as well have worn matching suits and carried matching briefcases.

We cheered in 1992 when Hillary Clinton said, “I suppose I could’ve stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

My mom and I bantered feminist sayings like tetherballs:

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. (popularized by Gloria Steinem)
Anything a man can do a woman can do… better.
Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job; Send a woman.

That wave of feminism paved the way for my professional sales career working among men, proving myself.

Women established our ability to work in a man’s world. But, when you borrow someone else’s pants, even if they’re the right size, they still don’t quite fit.

The way men built foundations, set boundaries (which they may freely bulldoze), and invited us begrudgingly—and sometimes eagerly—serves them and their agenda, even if only through subconscious bias.

We made it in a man’s world. Sure, there’s a glass ceiling and sexual harassment is rampant, but as Donald Trump inferred, harassment in the military is to be expected. His son Trump Jr. clarified that women who can’t handle harassment in the workplace should teach kindergarten.

Trickle-down bullsh*t.

Just as women made comfortable, although not equal, strides in careers and corporations, the guys we believed to be rare and living under rocks revealed themselves in the #MeToo chapter of the Women’s Movement.

“Yeah, I grabbed her by the pus…” Yeah, those guys. The bratty boys with names like Brett who threaten not to let us in the club again.

Guess what? This is a new movement of women.

We’re moving with love, yoga, hot tea, and Kundalini. We’re meeting under full moons and awakening. We’re creating a new world for women, children, and men.

We’re focusing on inclusion, understanding, showing up, and speaking truth—direct, soft, and strong, like a mother who’s had creation born through her.

We wanted in the boys’ clubhouse when we were girls. Then, we grew up and found out what’s in there. It stinks!

We’re building more than clubhouses. Women are creating families, businesses, and communities. We’re shaping societies.

Like the alt-right silently, and sometimes violently, infiltrated our institutions, women are waging a revolution. A revolution of love.

We’re burning sage and taking to the page. We’re purging toxins and cleansing chakras. We speak feminine languages. The witches are back.

We chant with our sisters and our ancestors, who stand with us as we create the new ways—devoid of glass ceilings and golden handcuffs.

Human progress. There’s no going back. Only sitting it out or showing up.

Women are showing up united, ignited, empowered, and determined. We’re here for the future of our children, country, and society.

We might even do a little house cleaning!

How to Welcome Change.

“There’s little more satisfying than the feeling that at last you’ve taken ownership of yourself.” ~ Marianne Williamson

There comes a time.

You set yesterday aside,
Softly.

The thing you held;
Coveted.

Soft addictions cling like
Teddy Bears carried
Into adulthood.

Until you leave them.
Without tears.
Or fanfare.

There comes a time.

You pick up new habits
The way you used to
Lovers in bars.

It’s a new day.
You delight in what’s
Sweet, soulful, and true.

Your radiance.
In the mirror.

How Good News Ignites Us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Our family received some lovely news yesterday. It’s not mine to share, but I can tell you joy rose in me like it does in a child at Christmas.

We seek to grab the good, get on our mats and stretch into it, get on our knees and pray it in, work, affirm… It all helps.

Nothing like Kundalini, but that’s just crazy me.

Yesterday reminds me: Sometimes the best gift someone can give is their own good news.

Joy over another’s fortune is as pure as music that moves us.

With the announcement, I felt surrounded by our families’ ancestral lines smiling and celebrating. Happiness fell on us like confetti.

These days, we need good news to compensate for our outrageous political and chaotic social climate, and the bombardment of media and technology we’re addicted to.

As a female citizen in the United (now acting divided) States of America, it’s my civic duty to pay attention to the occurring conversations and decisions affecting us culturally, while aligning my activist inclinations with truth, compassion, and action.

There’s an allegiant mindset determined to fix our problems. First, we must face them. Yuck!

Recently, a girlfriend said, “I don’t watch the news. I like to stay positive.”

That’s how I felt in my 20s and 30s. I suppose some people weren’t rivetted to the news as Watergate unfolded, either.

In our 50s, in these #metoo times, women (and men) can’t afford to go back to sleep. And the young people are showing up fully awake.

I don’t want to be the person who isn’t paying attention while history is making a solid mark on humanity.

For decades, through helping myself to personal growth and positive thinking, I learned the art of positive denial.

I rode it like a skateboard. Then, I crashed and came face-to-face with all I’d refused to look at.

Positive denial is still denial.

Now, I’m into facing life head on, because I may not have time to circle back to see what I left under the bed.

There’s a balance, isn’t there? In previous scenes in my life, I practiced playing Pollyanna, but I’m not her.

I like being educated and informed, and yet information, understanding, and truth-seeking can be heavy.

Oh, but that good news! It ran through my blood like a happy drug. I want more.

In turbulent times, joy still dances.

People fall in love, get married, and have babies. Promotions are granted, new jobs landed, homes purchased, and travels taken.

Sometimes, when we talk about our own joys, it feels like bragging. Sometimes, I hold back–as if my joy diminishes another’s or dismisses their pain.

We must share our good news—in spite of and because of the personal and collective challenges of our times, which we must face with courage and character.

Although serious, let’s not be joyless. Let’s share good news like juicy gossip.