Processing Grief

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The last family portrait of our fosters all together before heading out for adoption.

The kittens have moved on to Portland. It was very difficult to say goodbye to them, for me and the kids. They’ve been a part of our lives for two and a half months, and we’ve been through a lot with them, especially Bruce. We all became very attached.

But they went to one of the best humane societies in the country, and two days after we said goodbye, they showed up on the “recently adopted” page. It’s amazing that they’ve been adopted faster than the scratches on my body have healed! They’re great cats, all of them, with unique and wonderful personalities that will bring joy and laughter to their new families. Three months ago, they were basically feral, afraid of humans. Now, they are ready for homes.

Bruce and Maia and kitten snuggles.

Bruce and Maia and kitten snuggles.

I commented to Max, “Can you imagine how hilarious it will be the first time Maia does velcro kitty for her new owners?” Maia is a little insane, you see, and has no problem jumping from across the room with all claws out ready to stick on your clothing and climb up onto your head or shoulder. She’d also like to jump up on my back and chase her tail when I was bent over cleaning litter boxes. And then five minutes later, she’d join Bruce in my arms for some snuggles and love. She’s kind of amazing, and Max really wanted to keep her.

We’re sad we couldn’t keep them. Really sad. We’re at the fur-enabled maximum with Alex, Luna, and Oliver, at least for now. And then, if I were to keep one, how was I to decide? We talked about it and could not make a decision on just one or even two. It was either that we keep all of them or we keep none.

Apparently, when the foster family keeps one of their foster animals, some in the industry (from my online research) call that “foster failure.” Failure? Okay. I guess so. That’s my kind of failure.

But I’ve succeeded. And in doing so, I felt as if I have lost six pets in a week. Success felt like failure for a while. There was no weaning off of them, they were here one day and gone the next. Putting them into the carrier to bring them back to the shelter was one of the more brutal experiences of my life. And Max would not let go of Bruce or Maia, so that made it even more difficult. My kids loved “the babies” as much as I did.

I have been watching videos and looking at pictures, allowing myself the freedom to grieve the loss. I knew it was coming, sure. But I had no idea how brutal it would be. I had them here too long, for one thing. With all of the health issues, they didn’t get up in weight fast enough to stick to the planned schedule. And being a first time foster mom, it is apparently a lot harder to say goodbye.

When Riley passed away a couple of years ago, I grieved hard then. I had some people say things about “it’s just a dog” or “he wasn’t even your dog, why are you so sad.” I tried to avoid those people, and I tried to allow that grieving to come up and process, but I also tried to get on with life.

This time, well, now I know. If anyone tries to tell me that they’re “just cats,” I could get ranty.

The Grieving Pariah

Grieving is not supported in our culture, it’s avoided and shunned. While other cultures have rituals and beliefs that support grieving, our culture sweeps it under the rug.

And I know why: it’s because we are a society of repressed people running around unable to feel much of anything. If you have one person around expressing sadness, it triggers something uncomfortable in the people around them. You see, they have it too, this grief held down and out of sight. But just because they’re not expressing it does not mean that they’ve been able to overcome and let it go. It stays within them, latent, waiting.

And when people see someone cry, it makes them uncomfortable. If they allowed that level of expression, if they start to cry, too, then their grief senses an opportunity to express itself. But we’re told to never let them see you cry, crying is a weakness, grieving is abhorred. Thus, grieving people become a pariah.

In our culture, depressed or sad people are shunned or medicated. Anyone who feels anything other than “love and light” is told to be more positive, to look on the bright side. And yes, I can definitely see the bright side with my fur babies finding homes where they will be cherished and loved. I feel immense gratitude for that, for the experience of being able to care for Sapphire and here babies, and I feel sadness, too. It’s a lot of competing emotions, but the happy gratitude feelings don’t negate the sadness. The sadness and grief is still there. But I get to hold all of them in the space of my heart, and that’s a gift.

We, as a society and culture, have missed out on this.

I’ve missed out on this.

And in doing so, I became burdened in a way I can only now see. Holding that grief out of sight requires an immense amount of effort.

Holding down grief

iurThis summer, Claire wanted to watch any movie that scared me as a kid. We were swimming a lot this summer, at the lake and the pool, so I rented Jaws. I am pretty sure I couldn’t swim for a month when I saw Jaws, and I sure as heck was never going to swim in a natural body of water. I think I got scared of the bathtub drain once, hearing the deep bass sounds in my head begin playing to let me know that there was a massive shark squeezing up a 2 inch drain. That will scare her, right? Actually, no, it didn’t. Not even a little. Though she did request swimming at the pool instead of the lake a lot more often… hmm.

The vision of the shark swimming around Quint’s boat with 3 barrels attached  came to mind. The more I grieved, the more I felt like barrels were popping up on the surface. I didn’t care who saw me cry, I didn’t care how puffy my eyes were. I felt this release of pressure on my soul, something tied into how I navigated my life and my work.

Mark encouraged me to deeply grieve, to really allow myself to let go into what I was feeling. I stopped trying to keep it down.

“I don’t think I have ever had such a big loss all at once,” I said.

“You have. You’ve had a lot of loss. You’ve just never really allowed yourself to fully grieve it all,” he said. Just that, he gave me permission to grieve. He held me, and he held space for me. “It’s going to come in waves, so just let it.” And I did. And after a while I’d be okay, and then it would come in like a wave again.

The more I allowed myself to grieve, to let out full-on guttural cries into a pillow about missing my babies, the less intense it has gotten. It still comes, these waves, like a tsunami of emotion I cannot control. But after the waves recede again, I feel lighter. I feel cleaner. I feel unburdened. I feel less overwhelm, less stress, and more fluid. There is a huge release of pressure when you let the grief out. You are no longer swimming through life attempting to hold back the barrels, holding back a rather powerful part of who you are.

A lot of my workaholism was tied into holding those barrels beneath the surface. Memories started popping that were laden with grief and shame, sadness and a conscious decision to not allow it to overcome me. I have a memory in which I consciously decided to channel that feeling into creating something, into getting things done, into being a “good person” by other people’s standards.

Freedom to grieve is freedom to be

As I have allowed the grieving process to move through me, I am sensing a degree of freedom in my life. Love flows more easily, I am less easily frustrated or angered. The release of all of the grief — and the freedom to release it whenever it comes up — is such a gift for me. It seems sad that so many people are not allowed, or rather do not allow themselves, the space to feel grief.

You see, feeling grief is an exercise of sorts in allowing ourselves to feel everything. If we allow it full expression of movement through us, it expands our ability to feel joy, peace, contentment, gratitude, and most importantly love. If we’re holding down decades of repressed sadness and grief, it requires such immense effort. We become depleted more easily. Everything seems a burden. We’re expending such unconscious energy holding back our tears and sadness, and we don’t even know why just getting out of bed seems to be such a chore.

I’m exploring this newfound freedom, and it’s deepening my experience of life. I have a greater capacity to feel everything, most importantly love. I look at my beautiful children, and I feel my heart ready to burst open with fullness. Even Mark, who can sometimes push my buttons like any good spouse, is seeing me deepen the feeling of love for him in my life.

I’m kind of amazed, and a little blindsided, at how much fostering has given me. And here I was thinking I was doing something noble and generous. Actually, the gifts that the kittens gave me were far greater and superior than I ever imagined.

But isn’t that life? We think we’re going into an experience to do one thing, and we come out on the other end transformed into something completely different. I couldn’t have predicted what this experience was to give me. And I didn’t think I’d have so much fodder for emotional and spiritual growth. But when you put the call out to the universe that you want something more, the universe answers. All we have to do is say yes.

The life best lived is lived with fullness and depth, not superficial perfection. If we are brave enough to dive into the depth and darkness, we might come out with a gift we could have never seen.

 

On Joy and Sorrow by Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

 

 

Negative emotions lead to liberation

It has been a very busy month. I had a goal of podcasting every single day for the month of September. I knew that with two eclipses, a Mercury retrograde, and the equinox all in one month, there would be a lot to talk about. However, the level of activity required of me for various projects became overwhelming. That was one commitment I couldn’t keep.

Bruce, feeling much better.

Bruce Almighty, feeling much better.

We still have the foster kittens. One of them, Bruce, got very sick and there was some talk about him not making it as his digestive system was not assimilating food. He didn’t feel well, and spent most of his time curled up on one of us while his brothers and sisters played. Some high powered antibiotics followed by some probiotics fixed him up, however, and he’s doing great now. The support from the shelter manager and all of my friends and family on Facebook helped me get through it all. And Bruce got a middle name, Almighty. How sweet is that? I swear, he’s got his own following now on Facebook.

Because Bruce, and his slightly insane tortie sister Maia, had not gained enough weight, they were not ready to get neutered and spayed for the September trip, so they have to wait another month.

All of this was unexpected, but as with parenting, fostering comes with commitments. And when we make commitments, we follow through. Well, I do. If I can do it, I do what I say I’m going to do.

Mark, however, is ready for life to return to normal. He is the only one in the house not enjoying the presence of the kittens, and he has let me know this. I, however, was not happy that he is not accommodating the kittens when I accommodate so much for him.

It started a fight. A big one.

I thought he was being unreasonable, and boy did I get mad at him. And during the course of the argument, I realized that the part of me that was mad at him had more expectations than other parts. It was all in my memory banks. He took a risk during the fight and asked me to shift my eye movement. I took a risk and did it. And I started to see some distinctions.

Now this is not to say that he’s not wrong, because KITTENS. But I started to see how I was running a pattern that made me more defensive and angry than I would have been otherwise. It wasn’t really about who was right or wrong, but how we communicated about what we want, what we feel, and what we believe so strongly to be true.

It was a fascinating bit of learning, and I suggested we talk about what had happened. So, we recorded a podcast about the experience. I actually suggested it, because I thought it would be interesting to dissect my belief pattern and talk about what it was, where it came from, and how I was able to identify it in the heat of an argument and let it go. So that podcast is here.

Magi, look at that nose!

The presence of the kittens here has really given me a lot to work with in understanding myself more and working with the emotions and the beliefs that come up. I committed to giving them a space to grow up, but they returned the favor with growth and healing I wouldn’t have been able to work with otherwise.

Negative emotions are good

So many times in spiritual communities, we are taught to immerse ourselves in positivity and “love and light” all the time, so much so that we lose opportunities to really grow and expand our understanding of ourselves. We mask over negative emotions or conflict so much that we never give ourselves opportunities to learn and grow.

Our emotions are wonderful tools for understanding what it is that we believe about our reality and ourselves. We are not our emotions, we are not our feelings, and we are not our thoughts, but these are programs that create the experience and our perceptions about what we think is so true. If we’ve got negative emotions, they come from our thoughts, which come from our beliefs. In ho’oponopono, this is our “data” we have to clean up. But if we don’t have negative experiences, how do we know which rooms of our mind need a cleaning?

Why suffer?

The only true purpose of suffering is to teach us how not to suffer anymore. When negative feelings or conflict show up, it gives you an opportunity to really understand yourself. Don’t mask it, not sadness, not depression, not anger, not frustration. All of these things, even boredom, are things that we create for a reason to explore ourselves more. Leverage emotions, leverage your states, and you find the path to alleviating suffering.

I am lucky to have the resources and tools to make distinctions and explore the beliefs that drive my reality, and I am lucky to realize that I am not my emotions, my states, or my feelings. I’m not even my thoughts or beliefs. Making that distinction about who I really am and how my beliefs create my reality and my experience, for both good and bad, help me to navigate my life in productive ways that lead to growth and more love.

And, did I mention kittens? 😉

Spay and Neuter, people. Please.

Maia

Maia and me: the kitten selfie

The kittens will be with us until mid-October. After that, they’ll be available for adoption through Siskiyou Humane Society. Each one of them is pretty special. Maia has developed the most amazing personality of all: fearless, cuddly and sweet, playful, and absolutely hilarious. She may need a post dedicated to her alone. If she ever slows down, I’ll take a picture that isn’t blurry.

Taking care of kittens over the last few months has taught me a lot about myself. It’s also given me a ton of respect for the people who commit to caring for animals. The people at the humane society have supported me throughout this process so very much; they are awesome people who I adore and respect so very much.

And as for the people who can’t even be bothered to spay or neuter or, as in Sapphire’s case, leave their animal behind when they move, well, let’s just say I hope I never meet you face to face. I still have a few belief patterns there that I’d love to share with you.

 

 

How to use your emotions and beliefs to gain freedom

We’re still fostering kittens. Sapphire got sick at one point, and it upset me a lot more than I thought it would. Whenever there is an upset and emotions coming up around an issue that feel a lot more powerful than the event warrants, there are usually beliefs that need to be cleared.

Our emotions are not us, even though we might say, “I am sad,” or “I am angry.” Our emotions, however, are wonderful tools for getting at the various beliefs we hold that may cloud our reality.

 

Emotions, beliefs, and freedom

A friend and I have been talking recently about Dr. Bruce Lipton‘s work on the biology of belief. He came across a process, apparently rooted in NLP, that can be used to reprogram beliefs. Using what I have learned from the Emotion Code process, we put together a simple process of muscle testing, emotional identification, and belief shifting while standing on my front porch. I used the process to clear some of these unconscious patterns.

It was kind of shocking how fast it shifted my emotional state. When my friend came over, I was plagued by uncontrollable tears about Sapphire being separated from her kittens. Within a minute of going through our belief shift process, I was free and clear of the tears.

Sometimes we have to dive into something really difficult and go through it so that we can find areas where we need relief and release from the belief data that keeps us from knowing who we really are. But we’re often so fearful of the pain that is there, we’ll do whatever we can to mask or avoid dealing with the emotions as they come up. Some of us even take medications to avoid going there because it is so scary. But by avoiding the work, we avoid going into the dark so that we can pull our soul out of its prison cell.

We are not our emotional states. Emotions are transient. They check into the hotel of our being and stay for a while. Some, like the rockstars they are, trash the place. But we are not our states, as much as we try to convince ourselves that we are. Even our language dictates believing that we are our emotions. (e.g., I am angry, I am sad, I am happy.) We are the larger part of ourselves where we are free and clear of our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.

Meditation makes the distinction

I am a huge fan of meditation as a tool to get out of the traps of emotions, beliefs and thoughts. You start seeing who you really are in meditative state, and it shows us how we are not our emotions, our thoughts, or our beliefs. Our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs are tools that we use to navigate the matrix of life on earth. If we think that our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs are the things running the show, however, we’re imprisoned. As soon as we get the distinction, we become free.

Emotions show us the path to freedom

Our emotions, however, are quite useful. By allowing them to flow, allowing them to be what they are, they can show us what room they’re staying in within us. They let us know what beliefs we’re carrying around that cause us to make decisions about our life. Our emotions show us where our beliefs are, and it shows us what thoughts are plaguing us.

In the case of my sadness about Sapphire, I realized that I have been plagued by fears and anxiety related to abandonment and loss that stop me from taking certain risks in my life. I feared making certain changes because I was afraid of loss. Even asserting my desires and wants were becoming difficult as these erroneous beliefs were causing me to back down in fear whenever I was challenged.

I didn’t even have to spend hours in therapy looking for the erroneous beliefs. It doesn’t really matter where they came from, and it doesn’t really matter how they’ve caused me pain in the past. I just had to look at what was happening, and ask if it was something I wanted to change.

Often times, we want to make changes in our life, but we’re not quite sure what to do. We may be aware of our emotions, beliefs, and thoughts being separate from the real self, but we’re not quite sure how to leverage those emotions to find what we’re looking for. But our consciousness knows, and if we ask, we’ll get the pathway for clearance loud and clear. Our emotions are the key. The more we ask about what we’re feeling and the beliefs it’s associated with, the easier change becomes.

Quite literally, I was able to reprogram my beliefs without much analysis of where they came from, just by identifying what beliefs were operating, and intuitively determining the new belief and emotions that I would rather experience instead.

In the case of Sapphire, I decided that I would rather just know that no matter what happens, I am okay. So, I reprogrammed my unconscious to believe “I am okay with abandonment,” and “I am okay with loss.” Because really, we’re always okay. We might not like something, but we’re always okay.

Asking the body

Muscle testing is a pretty cool tool for getting at what is going on under the surface of our conscious mind. You know, the part of you that thinks it’s in control and knows what is going on, but the one that also is freaking out about the emotional state taking over. I have known about muscle testing for decades, but I am really lousy at reading it myself. And sometimes how we ask questions of our body can be tricky. Muscle testing is an art form that requires a bit of practice, and feedback from someone else who can help determine whether or not you’re getting something strong.

I started to write up everything that I did, and I realized that it was turning into a short novel. I tried to record a podcast about it, and realized I needed to do this visually. A friend, Armando, contacted me about doing a webinar about what had happened. Come to find out, he knew this process well, too.

So, we did a webinar, specifically about reprogramming the beliefs that create debt. You can view it on YouTube and get an idea of how this process works, and how you can use it to clear unhelpful beliefs. I also go into some detail on how I was able to help other people.

I am hoping to do even more of these webinars, sharing all that I’ve learned through various healing modalities. If you’d like to participate, join the mailing list for announcements!

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Fostering kittens provides awareness

11731966_10153493119337438_8239754883956526393_o The Humane Society put out the call for foster families for a mama cat with five babies. The rest of their foster families were already full, so I stepped up.

Claire and I have been visiting the kitten room at the shelter for a few weeks and we had discussed fostering. Yes, we have two cats of our own and a very awesome golden retriever, but kittens are something special.

Any rational person would look at my life and say, “You’ve got too much going on. Taking care of kittens is the last thing you need.”

But this small act of giving through caring for a mama and her babies is giving us all a lot more in return. It’s a small gift to them, and it is a larger gift of experience for me.

We’ve named them. Three girls, two boys.

Want to meet them?

magiMagi started out as Magellan, the first intrepid explorer to venture out and say hello. He’s very sweet and affectionate. He was also the first kitten to try solid food and is always the first kitten at the door to say hello and climb my ankles, which are looking like I am a piranha victim.

maiaMaia is very sweet and the smallest of the litter. She is a tortie with adorable tan paws. She loves to jump into my lap and invite her brothers to attack her as she defends herself, using my legs as her castle walls. She is especially fond of Claire and never stops playing.

skyaiaSkye is also called Skyaia, to rhyme with her sister Maia. She is shy and was very clear about her boundaries at first. She even did a whole, “talk to the paw” to Claire when she didn’t want to be picked up. She’s starting to warm up to us all, though. She’s curious, very smart, and the first kitten to step up and defend the family from the evil you and I know as the broom. Don’t tell anyone, but she might be our favorite.

midnight-gaiaMidnight isn’t as black as you’d think, but Claire wanted to name a cat midnight. She’s cute, sweet, and has fallen asleep in Claire’s lap more than once. I want to change her name to Gaia, and then we’d have Maia, Gaia, and Skyaia. But alas, Claire insists on Midnight. Max suggested Maddie and Claire used that as another opportunity to start one of our summer arguments I have nicknamed, “when does school start.”

bruceLast but not least, our shy boy, Bruce. It took a while before we figured out his name. It was Dave for a long time. His name is different dependent upon who you ask in the family. Claire called him Dave. Max called him Bartholomew. Mark wanted to name him Donald J. Trump. Hanging out with him over the last few days, I kept accidentally calling him Bruce, looked at him intently and said, “Yep, you’re Bruce!” A few hours later, Claire asked to call him Brooks, which was pretty close. Ever since renaming him Bruce, he’s been more friendly with us. His personality shifted a bit.

My legs look like I’ve been wading in a piranha-infested South American river. I’m covered in scratches and scrapes and little nips from their tiny razor-sharp claws.

I sat watching Sapphire, their mama, nursing them patiently. And I had memories of how I nursed my own children. I watched as the kittens tried solid food for the first time and began the transition of weaning. They’re now knocking down 3 small cans of cat food every day, and I know it won’t be long before they’re all completely weaned and mama will express her disdain with them. It’s all happening very fast.

Too fast. All of it.

mamaSomething very primal in me was awakened, and the temporary nature of all life started becoming very visceral.

In a few weeks, this little family will be broken up as the kittens go back to the shelter to get adopted. They’ll find new families and new humans to love them, new homes to explore. They’ll never see mama again, they’ll never see their siblings.

Right now, they need the safety of a small room, shelter, mama’s protection, and food. But soon, that safety and protection will become restrictive and confining.

And, too, that will happen for my babies who are no longer babies. Max is already starting high school and asserting his own independence. Claire no longer needs me the way she used to. The safety and protection I provide them will no longer suit them and will be confining and restrictive.

Watching Sapphire and her babies, the parenting experience is compressed into a few weeks. Things that to me seem like they’re going to go on forever, like Claire and Max arguing over everything from dinner to naming kittens, that fighting will end. They’ll go off and move in with friends and meet someone special and start their own families. Empty nest. New experiences.

I know, I’ve got years. Sapphire only has weeks.

But watching these guys, I can feel time dissolve into nothingness. I plug into so many endings, so many beginnings, so many transitions. They say life goes by like a blink of an eye, and the older we get the faster it seems to go. What seems like a blink of an eye of this magical experience of meeting Sapphire and her babies for a few short weeks is a microcosm of our own lives as parents. It goes way too fast.

Nothing on this planet is permanent

Even the things that seem permanent can disappear in a heartbeat. Disaster can wipe out entire communities, wiping out all we hold dear. Our relationships will morph and grow, or they will wither and fade away. Even our bodies are just temporary housing. The only thing of permanence is our consciousness, and yet it is the one thing we neglect all too frequently. We wake up in the morning, forget our dreams, and start worrying about everything we have to do for the day… everything that is transient in our life but sucks up so much of our attention. We forget about the one asset that we carry with us for eternity: our very selves.

Sitting with her, I felt tears well up in my eyes, for Sapphire’s little family being broken up soon, for my own family’s eventual and inevitable shifts, for my life that seems to be on hold in certain ways. Everything is going way too fast.

After trying in vain to get happy doing web work again, I found myself at my wits end with everything and everyone. I just cannot do it anymore. There is no joy, no creativity, no passion. I found myself pushing pixels for dollars, and wondering why I felt so horrible doing it. And in so doing, I was avoiding the one thing I needed to do. It’s too hard, I thought. Too complicated. It challenges other people in my life that get threatened when I speak out about what I see happening in the world. It is too challenging for some when I speak out about pretty much anything. I was allowing others’ discomfort to silence me, though I know deep down their discomfort is their thing and I need to get clear and clean with my own voice.

It’s not just me

On the global scale, we’re going through so many changes. It is like labor pains, as a new way of being human is being birthed. We get squeezed. We know something is going to change in a big way, but we have no idea when and we have no idea what the new way of being is going to look like.

Like a mama in her 9th month, we’re feeling done with the experience of being pregnant, and we’re ready for something new to show up. We keep looking for signs, wondering how much we’re dilated and effaced, looking for anything to give us an idea that our next experience is here.

And like a mama in her 9th month, we have no idea. We don’t know. We aren’t going to know. But when it’s time, you KNOW. There’s no question about it; when it’s time, it is time.

So when you’re in this place between a dying experience and a rebirth, what do you do? Do you distract yourself looking for signs? Do you scan the news, social media, and message boards looking for a sign of impending rebirth? Or do you just live out today the best you can?

Balancing knowing and not knowing

Likely, it’s a little of both. But there is great power in not knowing, in just allowing it to unfold the way it will. To know that you’re here, you’re still here for a reason. That you’re holding space for yourself and others to become more than you ever allowed yourself to be. That you’re expanding into a new world that will no longer restrict you. But along with that new world, you’re going to have to let go of what you think is so true for you.

mama-skyaiaFor today, Sapphire and her little family are here, safe, cared for, and loved. Soon, they’ll be off on great adventures of love and experience elsewhere.

For today, we’re all here and loved. Whatever tomorrow brings, trust that it will bring adventure, love, and excitement. We’re too confined and shut down in this system, and whatever happens next will give us much more freedom to explore. It has to.

But that freedom comes with a whole ton of uncertainty. It’s time to get really comfortable with that and welcome it. It’s time for us to step into ourselves, to grow up and move out of the nest as human beings, and claim our true power. That power is rooted in love and grace, and it’s that love and grace that are going to ground us and see us through.

Doesn’t mean there won’t be tears at the loss of what we no longer need, but trust that what’s on the other side is stepping into a playground of unlimited possibility and freedom.

 

Kittens, School and Raw Milk

Luna and OliverWe have kittens!

I wasn’t exactly planning this. Claire and I have been going to the Siskiyou Humane Society and visiting kittens this summer. She met one, Tatiana, and fell in love. She was a great kitten, but when we met her she was not ready to go home. Then, life got extremely busy again.

My cat, Little, moved in with the ex-husband last year. She’s a calico and somewhat tempermental, and she took some swipes at Claire. Little started spending some time outdoors, but as the weather got cooler, she went to live with the ex.

This summer, Little came back while the ex was traveling. But his travels ended, and Little went back. We found ourselves cat-less again.

So, we talked it over and decided we could go get Tatiana. Of course, being the sweet cat she is, she was already adopted. We met two other kittens that stole our hearts immediately. I was sure Mark would kill me for bringing home two kittens, but he has been awesome about it. They were named Daisy and Oren, but they are now Luna and Oliver.

Luna is the black one (with a little white moon on her chest). She is very outgoing and sweet. She has a cute little squeaky meow and she loves sitting on people. She also gets called Lunalove and Lunabug.

Oliver, the tabby, is a bit reserved. He’s still very sweet, but he likes a little more autonomy. He’s extraordinarily soft. He reminds me very much of my cat, Bacia, a maine coon that I lost in Texas. I still miss her, so I am thrilled to have Oliver.

They’re wonderful. Oddly, Luna is very much like Claire. Oliver is more like Max. And they’ve kind of matched up that way.

Alex is a little jealous, but he is very sweet with them. Kittens are not quite ready to connect with the dog, though.

I was not planning on adopting this year, but it is entirely wonderful. It is giving me an opportunity to work with Claire on allowing things — and kitties — to come to her instead of trying to go get them. It has been slow going and it’s a tough thing for a rambunctious five year old to get. But she loves the kitties enough to want to get it.

Getting Ready for School

Summer is ending. The kids have one more week before school begins, and my life will change more than I think. After a not-so-great 6th grade in the standard public school, Max is switching to a charter school. He’ll have to do more on his own, I’ll have to be more involved. But last year was not good on many levels, and it’s time for a big change. After meeting with the staff at the charter school, I have a lot of faith he’s going to do much better there.

lake

Claire enjoying Lake Siskiyou while Alex, our dog, watches.

Claire I don’t worry about much at all. She’ll be just fine. This summer, she’s taught herself how to swim (backstroke and dog paddling) and she’s taught herself to read. All with a little help from mom, but honestly not very much. She just decides she’s going to learn something and she does it. She’s also taught herself to count to 100 and she’s doing basic addition/subtraction. She’s a case study for unschooling, for sure. But she wants to be around kids. So, we are really lucky that we’ve got an amazing charter school in our county.She can jump ahead at any time to a different grade level, while still being in the same general age group. She’s going to do really well there, I think. She’s really excited about attending.

Raw Milk and Sustainable Farming

We went on a farm tour yesterday at Kid Creek Pastures. I am a big believer in growing my own food and buying local from sustainable farmers. I was really impressed with the entire operation and the awesome people, Shawna and Jacob, who run it.

Their kids are really involved in caring for the animals. I loved watching their daughter scoot the pigs from their hiding spots so we could see them. She is an amazing little girl, and Shawna and Jacob are giving her such a gift to be able to learn how to work with the earth and the animals in a sustainable farming practice. Though Max wasn’t very excited to go on a farm tour, I asked him to please come. Claire loves animals and farms, so it was a great experience for her. I feel very lucky to grow my own food and live so close to cows, chickens, horses, and pigs. My kids might not think it’s interesting, but I think it’s better for them to grow up under the assumption that food comes from farming instead of food coming from stores.

Anyway, Claire loves the milk, and I hope to make some cheese on my own from the incredibly fresh milk. So, I am now owner of a share of a small herd of beautiful cows. I got a half gallon to start, but after one day, I can already tell I will need to upgrade and get more.