Dear Mama, Your Heart is Wise

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DEAR MAMA ~ YOUR HEART IS WISE

… And Wise Heart Mamas Series Announcement

There are certain recurring themes I see from some of the brave and beautiful souls who sit in the client chair in my counselling office.

Themes that get to the core of a kind of collective A-ha.

Themes that get to the heart of the matter.

One particular theme resonates deeply with me, as a woman and as a mother. It is a particular kind of internal undercurrent, a low hum that can visit the most awake, nurturing, heart-centered mothers. It is a low hum that I have danced with, and have an ongoing, ever-dynamic, ever-humbling relationship to.

It goes something like this:

“No matter how much personal healing work I do, I still wonder if I am enough. Healed enough, good enough, capable enough, doing enough for my child or children.”

This belief, of course, feeds on the impossibly high societal expectations mothers grapple with.

Expectations that are woven into our current cultural fabric.

We are at a point in history when many are returning to the understanding that parenting with consciousness and awareness is not just a groovy theoretical idea, but it is essential to our survival as a species.

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The research is clear: Our sense of fulfillment and health as adults is very much impacted by how we were nurtured as children.

 And so first, let us bask in the potential of what this offers us as humans…

Imagine being a child and feeling deeply respected. Knowing in your bones that you are not just loved, but also fully seen, heard, and truly allowed to be ALL of who you are.

Imagine deeply knowing your worth, deeply trusting your caregivers, and having a palpable sense of genuine trust in yourself.

Now, imagine a world where all of our teachers, leaders, healers, and community members were brought up with this kind of deep, unequivocal respect and nurturing of their souls.

This…is our birthright.

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So then…how is it that we can sometimes get stuck, while on this conscious path of motherhood?

Here’s the tricky bit: It is so easy to take this information about the essential nature of nurturing our children well, and add a massive amount of PRESSURE onto ourselves as mothers.

Some part of us trusts that we are wired for connection. This part is determined to attend to the legitimate needs of our children as well as the needs of ourselves. This part feels the natural-ness of deeply honouring our children.

And then…something happens. We have a particularly long, sleepless night. Our child acts in a way that triggers us somehow. And if you are like many conscious moms, perhaps this feeds the undercurrent haunting voice: I am not enough. It is my fault my child is behaving this way. I must have caused this.

The truth is that mothering in this day and age, is something many are learning to do, on the job, so to speak.

And so, naturally this is challenging. Naturally many conscious and engaged moms find themselves in the midst of some kind of internal struggle.

Questions like:

How do I raise my children “consciously”, in the midst of feeling so overwhelmed?

How do I get through the moments when I lose it with my kid(s)?

I know in my heart that my children are innately GOOD, but I struggle when their behaviors sometimes seem “BAD”

How do I meet their needs, while also doing my best to meet mine? 

We are mammals. We are wired for connection. And there are certain times in our lives when we become more aware of our legitimate need for connection to each other in a palpable way. Mothering small children is one of those times.

Motherhood was never meant to happen in isolation.

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Finding and maintaining a sustainable sense of ease is often buoyed by opening to our right to connection & support.

It is my whole-hearted belief that, at this time in history, mothering with mindfulness and deep respect for our children…is revolutionary. 

So, here’s to joining with mothers everywhere, in transforming the self-blame and pressure and critical voice

…into a voice of gentleness & self-compassion.

A voice of stepping into the shoes of STEWARDing our children’s souls. And…stewarding our beautiful, creative, wild souls in the process.

And for those of you who are moms to little ones, and feel called to a supportive atmosphere of other wonderful mamas, I invite you to check out the link to my latest heart-full offering below: I am so excited for this one, my friends. It is called the Wise Heart Mamas series. And I’m offering a reduced holiday rate now until the 31st:)

In the meantime…May we all take a collective moment to breathe in the truth – straight to our hearts… that we are enough… here…now.

Yes.

Warmly,

Sarah

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WISE HEART MAMA SERIES

 

 

 

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KINDNESS…You Rock.

rose hip offering

I have been riffing on kindness lately.

As a parent of an almost 4 year-old daughter, I am brought daily into acute awareness of the nature of how we humans ARE with each other. How we interact. How we begin and end our connections, and how we are inside of those connections. How we give and receive.

And well, in the middle of Life happening, where there are lunches to be made, and floors to clean, and classes to prep for…like many parents, I dance with overwhelm. I dance with disorganization. I dance with the nagging feeling that I am behind, like ALL the time.

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So when genuine kindness comes knocking, I notice.

And it seems to me, there is a kind of SPACE in the noticing. A pause.

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I’ve been playing with this space, and the sweet nature of it.

And what I’m finding is this: The more I notice, the more kindness comes knocking.

Or perhaps I am simply becoming aware of what has always been there.

Either way, it’s so nourishing to dance with this space of noticing.

I have such reverence for those who commit themselves to the soft power of real and steadfast kindness.

Because let’s face it, while many may see kindness as a lovely quality, it’s not uncommon (especially when in the middle of a time of intense stress, any kind of loss, big transition, or parenting young children) to feel like just getting through the day without losing it… is hard enough. Depending on how we view it, “being kind” can be one more thing to add to the endless list. And if we are struggling to access kindness, we might go down the rabbit-hole of beating ourselves up for not doing kindness well enough.

And then there are those for whom kindness seems rather boring or irrelevant. Others might say that in the face of life’s challenges, highlighting or focusing on kindness…is naive.

Here’s the rub: Kindness is not some new skill we have to learn in any kind of traditional sense. We are kind by nature. It already exists, so you don’t have to create it.

Seriously. We are wired for connection, and so we are wired for kindness. It’s how we came into the world.

Isn’t that such a relief to know? There’s nothing to strive for. Kindness simply LIVES in you.

Committing oneself in this way then, is not an avoidance of the hard stuff, nor is it a challenging task. It is simply…a choice ~ with eyes wide open ~ in the midst of the wild, unpredictability of life. In the midst of the pain within us and around us.

And choices of this kind– choices that we must ultimately take ourselves, of our own volition, take a particular kind of courage.

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And so, may this blog post be an ode to the kindness that you have bestowed, and that has been bestowed upon you.

All those seemingly simple kindnesses you do every day: taking care of your body’s needs, parenting your children or stewarding your animals with respect, attending to the needs of your home, dancing with the needs of whatever beings you may co-habitate with, making eye contact with the people you buy your food from. Those things, that may feel like habit, but are inherently nourishing. Inherently kind. I want to say to you now…I notice them.

I notice your kindness.

And I thank you for it

prayer handsAnd then, there are those stop you in your tracks kindnesses.

Like, a few weeks ago when we were on the ferry, the person behind me in line paid for my tea and sushi. Simple in a way, but I really noticed it. And it impacted my entire day, this generous act.

Or, last month, my sister revealed to us that she had been collecting cans and bottles with my step-dad, and over the course of many many months, bit by bit, she collected enough money to purchase this sweet play house for our daughter (and her niece).

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Let me reiterate – day after day, they collected cans and bottles so she could buy this.

Like…really take that in for a moment.

Now, every time I look at that thing of beauty in our backyard, I am struck by the depth of her steadfast commitment to choosing kindness.

Our friends and neighbours bestow ongoing kindnesses: the endless pre-loved clothes and playful items for our daughter, the lending of tools, passing on plants, household appliances (yep,  an actual working deep-freeze), or those who compassionately look after our little urban farm-menagerie when we go away.

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Pragmatic kindness.

Then there are those key people in our daughter’s life who have made it a priority to spend time with her. These folks look after her because they can, because their hearts are big, and because they are stewards of love and believe in community. Some do it when they are able to make time, others do it regularly. And they do it for free.

In the modern world, I can’t tell you what this means to me, to us, to our hearts.

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Now that I think of it, there are so many stop me in my tracks kindnesses that come our way, I could go on for quite some time.

So I will say this: without a doubt, kindness begets kindness. My heart feels full to overflowing these days. Why? Well, one friend recently summed it up: Seeing kindness, opening to kindness, receiving it, and offering it…reminds us that the universe IS a friendly place.

And buoyed by that truth, well, my heart feels nourished and nourishing, all at once.

So, dear reader… Thank you. Thank you for your heart. For the kindnesses others see and experience, but also for the ones we don’t. Regardless of whether or not we ever meet, or ever see the results of you doing your unique flavor of kindness…I want you to know that it has an impact.

I see you. And, what I see ROCKS.

skip with amixoxo

love Sarah

Sarah Nakatsuka is a Counsellor, Celebrant, Group Facilitator & Artist, who provides services for clients in the Greater Victoria area, as well as online. Check out the website here.

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Besotted by Roses

It all started a couple of weeks ago when a friend came over with a yellow rose in hand as an offering, in celebration my daughter’s half -birthday (yep, we celebrate half-birthdays…we do love a good cupcake around here).

The rose was exquisite, and she permeated the place with her essence.

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Just as this beauty was waning, another friend brought a yellow rose from her garden to re-infuse the house with what felt like pure sunshine. YUM.

Then…the wild roses came. Oh my.

In the middle of the medley of emotions and lists and all it means to settle into a new place, I barely noticed them last year, when we first moved to this place. But this year…their sweet confetti-like presence came upon me one afternoon last week. The petals literally stopped me in my tracks. I was hauling a wheel-barrow full of soil from one area of the garden to another, and feeling rather weary. I saw those light pink Nootka Rose petals on the ground, and I promptly let go of the handles of the wheel-barrow, and stopped. I inhaled. And then did it again. Like little Valentines kisses from the fairies, sprinkled all along the side of the house.

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I called for my daughter and asked her if she wanted to collect rose petals with me. I heard a loud an very earnest, “YES, pleeeeze!”

And so began the week of collecting rose petals on our property.

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And then she came. She’s a stunner, ain’t she?

I am in love.

Rose is one of my absolute, without a doubt favourite allies. In fact, she is for many folks. She speaks to…yep, you guessed it ~ the HEART. She is all about bringing balance back to us as a whole.

I love who she is at this vibrant colourful nearing summer time (in full bloom), and I love who she is at the end of the season, when she is a robust and luscious hip. Essence of a kiss too somehow, yes? With lipstick on, perhaps.

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So in the summer, I work with her petals ~ for the first few years, I focused on drying the petals for tea and ceremonial offerings. Then a couple of years ago I began also making flower essences. Such a delicious practice. If you ever feel inclined to learn, there are many tutorials online. It’s simple really. And so sacred. This year, I am trying my hand at tinctures as well. It’s feeling quite apothecarial (is that a word?) around here!

In the fall, those shiny rose hips go in a pot of simmering water for several hours, then get turned into syrup.

This batch was a high-iron medley, with nettles and strawberry leaves.

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This morning, my daughter Amelie and I took our daily plunge, dive-bombing our noses into that peachy front garden rose. OK, one more pic of this gorgeous friend. She won’t be here for long, so you know…we did a photo-shoot;-)

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But the best part is… later in the day, while I watered the front garden and Amelie sat on the front stairs, she said in a wistful voice to me, “Mama, she is singing, can you hear?”

“Yes,” I said “I most certainly can.”

 

 

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Sacred Space is born

 

Several weeks ago, a kindred soul named Samara approached me to lead a new group for parents. In particular – those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss, and who are now pregnant, trying to conceive, or are parenting after loss. As many of you know, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’m so pleased to announce that my friend and colleague Zoe Eakle and I will be co-facilitating this new group. 

Below is Samara’s story of her and her family’s journey. 

 

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Wylder’s Story by Samara Ferguson

We had been together 12 years and married for 5, with a beautiful 4 year old girl, when my husband and I decided to try for another child. We were so in love with being parents to our daughter and we wanted to allow that love to bloom even further. I trusted birth, and as a certified Birth Doula at the time, I especially trusted the natural process of birth. 

I was so calm and peaceful during my pregnancy with my son, Wylder, that it was almost euphoric. As I prepared give birth to him, I trusted that my body would do exactly as it should. I trusted in the process and just let go. So when things stalled after I had been pushing for an hour and the OB suggested a C section, I again trusted that this was the process. Everything was calm leading up to Wylder’s birth: prep was done and we were moments away from meeting him.

Instead of hearing our son cry for the first time, all we heard was “he’s floppy”. The room fell silent. Or maybe I blocked out every sound while my husband and I watched in shock as they tried to revive him. I remember a nurse coming to our side and talking us through everything.

It wasn’t until I looked up and saw the pain in her eyes that I knew we had lost our son. Those next few seconds felt like slow motion as they wrapped his lifeless body up and brought him to us. The only thing I remember hearing was the sound of my husband wailing.

How could my body have failed me? Failed my son? How could my son die inside my body, the place that grew him and kept him safe all those 9 months? I was so confused and stunned.

The days passed, and then weeks, as we mourned the loss of our son. Everyone was trying everything they could to support us, but no one knew where we could turn for counselling support. Funding for grief counselling for families like ours had been cut just weeks before.

It made no sense. Where was the support for families facing such a tremendous loss? Why was there nothing out there? What about the families that didn’t have a whole community behind them, helping them heal every step of the way? It shocked me. This wasn’t new pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant loss is not a new phenomenon and yet here we are, with a system lacking families during one of life’s most tragic of circumstances. I knew I needed support, but where could I turn? I couldn’t join a postpartum support group…I had no baby – mine had died – how would I talk there? But where would I go? I knew that I needed to connect.

Then a dear friend recommended a group she was attending and I joined her for my first pregnancy and infant loss support group meeting. The group is run by Charlene Chambers and called Empty Arms, Healing Hearts. It was at that meeting that for the first time, I didn’t feel alone, that I started to realize I hadn’t failed as a mother, and that I learned to start to forgive my body. I started to heal and my husband and I felt soon after that we were ready to try again. We still wanted to bloom our family further, now with not just our living daughter, but our angel baby too.

A very fast 7 months after we lost Wylder, here we were, pregnant again. At first I felt strong and so confident that I could do this: we were getting a second chance. Before long, though, I realized that the innocence and trust I used to have around pregnancy was gone. I felt so confused. This was an incredibly different experience from my pregnancy with my son: this time around I was terrified one moment and calm the next, elated and then anxiety ridden.

The first people I could think of to tell were the other loss moms from the support group. Some of them were pregnant again or parenting their newborns after loss: what better place to open up, I thought! But reality hit me when I showed up to our next meeting: there are other women here who are not trying to conceive again or who are and have been struggling for months, years even. It felt insensitive to share my news and my fears with them.

I knew at that moment that I needed to keep this mix of feelings about my current pregnancy separate, which brought me right back to feeling alone and not knowing where to go. I needed desperately to connect, to talk openly about my fears and concerns…but where? I couldn’t join the local pregnancy “happy hour” and I couldn’t talk openly in my loss support group. I still had friends I could talk to, but it wasn’t the same.

Then one day, when I was talking to one of my friends who was also pregnant again after the stillbirth of her beautiful daughter, we realized that we needed a group that supported us in our new journey. A group where we could talk openly about our losses while also sharing about our new pregnancies. A place where we could honour our angel babies, explore the feelings that come along with trying to conceive and pregnancy after loss, make peace with our bodies and foster a sense of hope. A place to hold space for each other. To find peace in an otherwise white knuckle journey. I knew that I needed this space for myself, and wanted very much for all parents who’ve experienced a loss to have this kind of support as well.

With this vision in mind, the first person I thought to contact was Sarah Nakatsuka ( Registered Therapeutic Counsellor). Sarah came into my life when I felt the world crushing down on me after Wylder died. A wonderful friend was trying to find someone to do a ceremony on the beach for us when we were in Tofino shortly after our son passed away after contacting countless people was put in touch with Sarah. Sarah reached out to me to offer to hold space for me. It was my first experience in an environment where I could just let go and talk and cry….and boy did I cry! She brought me to a place of peace and hope, a place I had thought I would never get to after losing my son. She shared about her own struggles on the journey towards having her beautiful daughter and I felt an everlasting connection. Clearly, Sarah was a natural choice to facilitate this group.

And so bloomed Sacred Space, a place for healing and hope through the journey of trying to conceive and being pregnant again, or in parenting, after loss. 

This will be a space for all women and their partners on this sacred journey that continues to unfold after loss, so that we can come together to hold space, sacred space, for each other to heal and feel fully supported.

Wylder AngelFor more information and details about the Sacred Space Support group, please click here.

 Samara currently resides in Victoria, BC with her husband and 5 year old daughter.  Her son Wylder’s heart stopped during delivery on June 17th, 2014 at 39 weeks.  She is now 18 weeks pregnant with her third child and shares her journey of love, loss, hope and gratitude in words and photos on her Instagram: www.instagram/wyld_heart 

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INITIATION into MOTHERHOOD

 

Nikki McClure

Nikki McClure artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I became a mother I was relatively certain I had done most of my personal growth work.

Grin.

I mean, ok…. I knew we are never really done with our inner work, and I was quite familiar with the theory that our own children bump up against our “stuff”…but some part of me felt ever so sure that those would be like little speed-bumps on what felt like a pretty smooth road of serenity that I had been tending to for some time.

Right? Because, I had participated so fully in all those wonderful and inspiring workshops, done a lot of therapy (as a client), and had been practicing therapy (as the therapist) for a good number of years.

Plus, I was a long-time meditator. The ground had been laid…

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You know where I’m going here, I’m sure.

Oh, and of course I was “prepared” to some degree for the sleep deprivation. Soon-to-be moms are warned over and over: “Catch up on your sleep now, because you won’t get it later!”

What I wasn’t prepared for though, was the amount of doubt I would have inside me. The insecurity I would feel about how I was doing as a mom. And, despite historically having a pretty solid handle on how to navigate through the territory of anxiety, I was really not prepared for the levels of anxiety that on some days felt like it enveloped my body from head to toe.

My perfectionist demons reared their heads, as did a fear that I was going to screw up this brand new, innocent little being.

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After the intensity of the first year, in the midst of some grounding moments, I was able to frame it like this:

I was stepping into one of the biggest initiations of my life.

It took me awhile, as the shock of it thawed, to see that what I had experienced in those early months was NORMAL. Not just the exhaustion, but also the worry, the doubt, the vulnerability, and deep need for acceptance I felt day after day.

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In the midst of those early days, we mamas deserve a safe and supportive space to connect with ourselves. Connect…with each other. Connect…to our hearts. And to the hearts of other moms. In a way that is completely honouring of exactly where we are at, and completely honouring of the depth of wisdom that lives in each of us.

nourishI personally had no idea I would have that much internal doubt and tender vulnerability the early days. It was a humbling experience to recognize how much I genuinely and legitimately needed other people to encircle me with support and love, and…to believe in me.

I am so excited to be facilitating the Wise Heart Mamas program for moms of young children that addresses this very thing. We are not talking typical mommy-group here. We are talking about a whole other level of self-compassion and mindful approach with our children, our families, and…ourselves.

If you or someone you know is a mama, and is interested in learning more, please contact me here  for more info.

special sepia toned,focus point on center(selective)

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GUMBOOTS & GRACE

Tonight it’s pouring rain outside.

The sound of the rain is loud through the window, in part because our drain spouts need fixing. Ok. Yeah. They need replacing.

For a moment I go down the rabbit hole of the List. If you are a home-owner (or let’s face it, a human) you SO know what I mean.

Then…I smile. I am remembering that – today – in the middle of parenting, planning, cleaning, cooking, organizing and attending to…I stopped. I did that. I took literally a few moments of time in this day – the first day of spring, the equinox – to FEEL spring. There was a wee lull in the rain. The birds were beckoning me. My young daughter was happily playing in her room, and I had a genuine impulse: Infuse my soul with spring. Bring spring IN. So my friends… I followed it.

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So simple really. And I suppose this is one of the reasons I have begun this blog: To advocate for beautiful, simple, doable ritual. Sometimes ritual is planned, layered, and complex, absolutely. But it can also be intuitive, spontaneous, and…SIMPLE. So long as it speaks to us.

From the outside, one might have watched what I did and thought, “Well, all you did was collect flowers.” For me, it was so much more than just that. In particular – this year, these flowers that are in our yard are all new to us. You see, we moved here in May of last year, so we have yet to see the flowers of March in this place. That is incredibly special to me. Meeting a flower that blooms on your land for the first time. Then another, and another. Such a treasured event. Like those sweet champagne centered daffodils. I had passed by them a number of times, but hadn’t gotten to know them up close. Until now.

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And so, here I am today in the garden. Each time I bend down to cut a flower…we greet one another. We engage in the sweetest of conversations. Those who want to stay in the earth, stay. And those who want to join us in the warmth of the home, gladly nestle into my basket.

 

I hear the faint sing-song sound of my daughter calling, “Mama, where aaaaarrre you?” She emerges at the front door, wearing only gumboots (not unusual for her). She is excited about this colourful collection of flora. She asks if she can cut one too. She does. She is thrilled, and ever so proud of her scissor-wielding powers. The one she cuts is a grape hyacinth. “Mmmmmm,” she says, “Wow. It smells byoootiful mama.” We lock eyes for a moment. Our eyes agree – it’s MAGIC.

My husband arrives home and she runs to him. They head inside, giggling between her accounts of the day.

I take a few more of my own moments, including a favourite quickie ritual: barefeet in the wet grass. Then…I follow the sound of music and giggles into the house.

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