Monday, September 2, 2013


There is still so much I think about in regards to Lucy's death. Like the fact I never had a funeral, and that small non-funeral gesture sent out such enormous messages to friends and family. Perhaps that we didn't want to speak of her, or publicly mourn her, or maybe even that her loss, and further our grief, was only ours, not meant for anyone else. We prescribed how others should grieve with us. We told them not to send flowers, or to wait to call. It was all isolation and silence. We did that. No one else did.

We didn't want to ruin anyone's Christmas.

It sounds ridiculous when I say it now. It was two days before Christmas when we returned home without her. Gifts under the tree for her, new ones, and a nursery set up for no one. Our child just died. We made thousands of heartbreaking decisions while I was in labor and she was dead. The hospital demanded it. And I, cramping under the grief, spoke to funeral directors without any emotion. Did we want to have a funeral for our dead daughter the day after Christmas? The week after? Would it matter to us at all in five years?

Throughout the years, I have created many rituals in her honor and her name. All my work has orbited around her death in one way or another in the first three years. Perhaps because all those rituals for the four of us could never make up for that one ritual for everyone else.

December will be five years since I held my daughter. The weight of her I can no longer remember. The smell of her, the look of her, gone like her. I see her in Thor, constantly. I kiss them both when I kiss him. But I wonder if this is the time to bury her, invite the family for a memorial on the winter solstice, include others in our rituals. Is this the time for a funeral?

I imagine it as a huge bonfire on the solstice, us gathered around, remembering there once was a girl who held our promise and love, and she is missed, not just by us, but by all of our family and friends.

I don't know if I had a religion before she died. My religion was me, I guess. Nothing so holy. It was about my enlightenment. My serenity. My peace of mind. And she taught me compassion for others on a global scale. She taught me what it was like to suffer. And not the suffering I had already done--the suffering of a broken hearts and feeling different and letting go of things. Or the suffering of being a normal adult lady taking care of her father, drug addict friends...she taught me that universal suffering, the suffering of grief. To grieve. To let go. To mourn. To be kind in the face of suffering. (I learned that by not being kind.) She taught me all that. I started writing about her and ended writing about everything else, and finding a religion that had nothing to do with a church, and everything to do with everyone else. Through all that wisdom, I would give it all up to have one more day with her. But that is not a choice I am allowed to make. And besides, I wonder if I truly would, knowing she would be gone again, and I would grieve again without any of the lessons I had learned about grief, life and love that I had before that one day.

I will always ache to be her mother, and I will be comfortable with the way life went. It is one of those paradoxes that I would have cringed at in early grief. She is always in my blood. That little smidge of DNA makes her permanently part of my water,  my blood. And so that is how my baby is the water, and this people ash, the bones that are white and grey and sit in my secretary, that makes her the earth. And the fire that consumed her, that makes you the fire. And the prayers and mantras whispered to the wind, calling her for, that makes her the air. And so she is all things to me. I can't imagine her any other way, but esoteric symbols of the infinite--the directions, the light, the dark, the spiral, the labyrinth, the heart expanding infinitely back and forward until it emcompasses all life. But I can't imagine what she would be. Little sister. Big sister. Middle child. Daughter. Grand daughter. I am sister. I am mother. I am crone and I am maiden. And so are you.

I finally am burying her here too. I have to put my grief writing to rest. Put her spirit to rest. I sometimes wondered if I summoned her each time I write her name on my computer or in my journal. Does she come, all put out and rolling eyes?

Alright, Mama, I know, you miss me. Can I go now?

I burned her. (Her body only housed the Lucy I came to love.) And she went with the wind. And what's more..she became the wind  blowing through my hair, a moment of caress, a lover reaching an intimate place in plain site.

Today, I publish my final post on Glow in the Woods. I will be there editorially for a while as we transition a new editor. My grief writing ceased serving me or anyone else. I didn't mind the lack of comments, they made sense to me. There is nothing to say about her death anymore. It was sad, so sad, and now we are here. I don't know what will become of this space. I hope to revisit and use it as my space to write about grief, her death, but mostly about our family. I have paintings for people. I just haven't sent them out yet. Life seems too fast these days. And I am writing at the moon + stone blog every week. But about crystals and tarot. Love to each of you.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kindness Day Crystal Grids

If you have a moment, use these grids for a tonglen meditation or prayer session. I have decided to share this before I go into my painting meditation session, so others can hold these parents, themselves and those they love in healing light and energy. If we are doing this together, the healing energy will be amplified, cascading through the universe. This year, I am painting over thirty paintings. I will be in meditation all day, and through this time, I will be holding these people in prayer and meditation. Later, I will send each person a painting. I do this once a year (sometimes twice). And I am honored to do this work.

As a crystal healer, I feel it is important to set this intention and sacred space with crystals, and create grids, as you see above, to amplify the prayer, reiki and meditations I am doing. These can be used by you as well. You just use it as a soft gaze point in your meditation.

The heart grid is for grief and healing of the heart chakra. It is held for all parents, siblings and families grieving the loss of their baby or babies. For a tonglen, you can breath in their suffering, let it sit in your chest, and breathe out love, or healing, or compassion. This is a meditation to help alleviate suffering. I have written about it a few times. The term Tonglen means giving and taking, and as we meditate with take the suffering into us and give relief, even temporarily, to the sufferer. I have been meditating tonglen since my daughter died. My therapist, a Buddhist, taught it to me as a way to have self-compassion. It has worked. I began using Pema Chodron's CD, Good Medicine. This changed my life. I share tonglen with people whenever I can, because it is so powerful, so healing, so invites me to get out of my own way.

In the bottom grid, the medicine wheel healing grid, it is for all healing and connection. I have spoken the names of the people who specifically requested they be included, but I also included all those who I have forgotten to mention and all of humanity. (We all suffer.) I am also performing tonglen for this session.

I do these paintings and spend this day in prayer and meditation in memory of my daughter Lucia Paz, who left us far too soon, but who connects me to so many around the world. Her grace and life continues to ripple through the world. You can do a MISS Foundation Kindness Day Random Act of Kindness. It is a day specifically set aside to do anonymous and out in the open random acts of kindness in your child's name. Find out more information here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


First things first, July 27th is the MISS Foundation's Kindness Project, and I am participating for the third year. Last year, I made a video of my work, which probably everyone has seen a bazillion times, but if not, this describes what I do and why.

So, again, this year, I am performing a tonglen meditation for grieving parenting, and painting mizuko jizo for grieving parents. If you would like a painting, please leave a comment here. This year, I am also adding an additional tonglen meditation and painting session for general healing. It will be directed to those suffering from emotional, physical, mental or physical dis-ease. In that painting session, I am painting angels. This will be an intuitive session, so I'm not sure what is going to come out. Again, this is a 4"x6" watercolor painting, and it is open to anyone. You can leave a comment here if you would like a healing angel painting. Along with both of these sessions, I am setting up two crystal grids, which will be infused with Reiki and prayers--one will be a grief heart chakra grid, and the other will be a healing grid. If you would like to be included in either grid (or both), please leave your name (or the name of the person to be prayed for) in the comment section of this post. for these grids, I write the names out to be placed under the stone, after I pray and speak the names and issues out loud. For the healing grid, you can include the specific issue you are asking for healing around.. I am sending it out to the universe, so that helps (though please know it is not necessary.) No issue is too small to ask for healing around, so please do not be shy.

Grief and healing grid from last year as I painted mizuko jizo.
It is my distinct honor to paint in memory of my daughter on this day. I spend the entire day in meditation and prayer, communing with grief and Spirit. And I paint. It is a beautiful recharging day for me, so just know if you have ever wanted a painting, do not feel you don't want to burden me. On this day, I mother my Lucia by painting in her name. I just ask that you please please please be specific in the comment section of this post about what you want. Here is what I need to know. Do you want to be included in the healing grid? In the grieving grid? Do you want an angel painting or a mizuko jizo painting? Whose name you would like to be included in the grid, and in whose memory (if that applies)? And what you are asking for prayers for? Please send me a private email with your address which is never shared or disclosed. If you are too shy to leave a comment, then send me an email with all this information. uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com.

Secondly, as you may or may not, I am opening my own practice called the Moon + Stone Healing. I am going to be writing at a blog there twice a week--Monday and Thursday. Mondays will be the Tarot card of the week. Hopefully, this will be a great series for those who are learning tarot and interested in going more in-depth with some of the cards. Thursday, I will be picking a crystal to discuss and share ideas on how to use in every day life, in grids, or with healing work. This week, I covered the Ace of Wands (which I picked randomly), and today, Black Tourmaline. I'm not going to link here every week, so bookmark. Feel free to ask questions there about crystals or tarot or anything that comes up for you. I'd love to field questions around that work there. You can like my new Facebook page for the Moon + Stone Healing to keep up on that work.

As always, I'm happy to answer any questions on this blog that you might have, or that you might think I have insight into, or write about any topic that might interest you. (Clearly, I am begging you for some blogging inspiration!) I have some parenting posts bopping through my head. My favorite thing recently is this picture my daughter drew at yoga class the other day when her yoga instructor asked her what made her happy.

Happy Kindness Day! Go pay it forward, and do something amazing in a baby's name.

Update: comments are closed on this post and all names and paintings have been completed for the July cycle.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


I cover the tarot spread with a silk. Nothing suspicious here, Gas and Electric Meter Reader. We are certainly not gypsy fortune tellers here. My sister laughs as he shuffles through our house, dodging the swings in the dining room. She gives me a side glance.

Who cares what the fuck he thinks?

I don't care. I just don't want to freak him out. He's a minister, he told me once. And he speaks three languages, lived in South America as a missionary. You have the Devil crossing the Star, there is almost no more satanic looking card combination than that.

I suppose I am still in the closet, and still anxious about judgment around being intuitive and using tarot. I am a good reader, though. I can see it now after reading out of the closet for a few years, and seeing how the cards change for people, and how I intuit the cards for people. There is the ridicule, which some say to my face. It's funny, this thing you do...I don't believe in it. I don't believe in New Age. 

I nod.

That does not offend me in the slightest, or alienate, or make me feel bad about my life. There was a trap in my writing. I tugged on my foot incessantly.

How can I get out of writing about Lucia's death when all I write about is Lucia's death?

I have to chew it off. That's the only way. Start a new blog. Under a pseudonym. Or continue to write as the large metal teeth bite into my leg. Even though grief doesn't bite me anymore. The garish accessory weighing me down, attaching it only to grief. No one even resonates with my grief writing anymore, because the grief writing isn't so desperate, raw, important for me. It isn't my oxygen mask, like it was four years ago.

The letters on my keyboard were worn black. I have written the story of grief and loss a thousand ways. I type blindly, but here and there, I forget where the B is located, and it, along with the N, V, C, X, all gone. Typed away.

ealing was never my goal of grief. To integrate this experience, understand it, to learn, grow, become spiritually connected...that was my goal. her death opened the door for me. Not the first year, or even the second really, but later, when the grief drinking got more profoundly overwhelming. I stuffed the grief while simultaneously welcoming the darker emotions,  like anger, resentment, self-pity, the ones that jump on grief like a hobo train to some desolate migrant town in the desert. Anger, resentment, fear, self-pity--I called those grief. And maybe those emotions were justified, but these ceased being useful for me. They became the hindrance to integration. The missing her part was barely there. I never felt her. I lacked the imagination to see her at the age she might have been. I just was angry that no one seemed to understand the hole in me where she was supposed to be.

This spring, I was off the moon cycle after nearly two decades of vleeding, I mean bleeding, in the darkness and opening in the fullness. It was the harbinger of having an autoimmune attack. I grew ill again this Spring. Something foreign I was putting into my body. I was so conscious of it, in a way I had never been, feeling the illness grow in me, spread within my abdomen and my muscles. My doctor has finally diagnosed this as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, rather than allergic to everything. I have found a diet--without sugar or caffeine, or grains--that is making my stomach less grouchy, almost tame and loving. But this attachment to illness, I don't understand it...I hate being ill. Curse it. Spit on it. Refuse to give it power by saying its name. And it still rules me. It is no mistake that I became interested in healing my physical self through my spiritual and emotional selves. I soothe the wounds that lie deeply beneath the surface of me, and talk to my inner child self-consciously, embarrassingly. But it is working. Somehow.

I know my writing is strange and loamy, bones and rocks litter spaces between the words. I have a terrarium for writing, and it is why moss shows up so much in my posts. The truth is I can never remove Lucia from my writing--she is the catalyst for my spiritual growth. She brought up my proverbial bottom. Her death began the deep journey of sickness and dis-ease, and ultimately healing. And the grief trap, no longer feels like something holding me back, it is something I am slowly opening, pushing the secret tab that opens the jaws like a flower unfolding.

And all this searching for healing the spiritual sickness that lay dormant in me for decades, it brought me right here. I am opening my healing studio. It is called the Moon + Stone Healing. I invite you to check out my website, and give me feedback. If you have received a tarot reading from me, I'd appreciate a testimonial, if you can. Something I can use on my website. I'm going to be writing over there at the Blog, which is now empty. Each week, I am going to pull a tarot card, and a crystal to discuss. Maybe other things I'd like to discuss around spirituality and healing. So, come check it out. I'm not sure I will link here for there. Don't quite know what I am doing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Life feels nuts and wonderfully delightful. Summer camps and circles of women and tarot readings and reiki and thoughts about when and where we will be in our life. My vision board keeps catching my eye. "WHERE TO LIVE NOW," it screams at me.

I just don't know, Vision Board.

There are pictures of dirt in our hands and our feet, mindfulness, and uncluttered wisdom, no credit card debt, and a nice little nest egg. We think we have a state we'd like to move, something we have fleshed out through years of discussions and passionate arguing about it. Truth is I need a community who will be open to my particular brand of kookiness, and hikes of spectacular beauty, and a place we can build a huge garden to feed us, maybe some chickens. I welcome the change, and I love my home, my feet in this mud here. My community of drunks and kooks keep me sane. But things are a-changing. No moss on this old croney stone. And, amazingly, the changes feel deeply true. Finally.

I have finished all my coursework for my Crystal Healing Certification through Hibiscus Moon. Laying on of stones, and whatnot, and who's it. The work is so peaceful, so right. Reiki and crystal healing and tarot readings. I am working on developing the offerings of my practice. I followed this path laid out before me, just followed it. It unwinded, unfurled, like a fiddlehead become a fern. I doubted the moisture was good for me, but I walked still. I feared walking too far from what was familiar, but I kept walking. One foot in front of the other--taking classes, signing up for weekends, reading books about things that seemed so esoteric as to be nearly useless in suburban New Jersey.

When I quit drinking, it wasn't easy. I craved a drink nearly every day for eight months with the kind of craving that makes you cry and shake and wish you were someone else. IT was another refrain in my head, "Bourbon. But no bourbon. Bourbon. But no bourbon..." I was afraid to drink and afraid to not drink. I hadn't felt anything but anger and fear in a long long time. I didn't drink, instead I listened to someone with more sobriety than me. I did everything she said, and she told me to do all kinds of crazy things--pray. Meditate. Make my bed. Go to church basements. Call people. Stand in front of a room of drunks and tell my story.

Telling my story is part of my recovery. And sometimes my story coming out of my mouth hardly sounds like my story. It sounds like a novel I once read, a dark tome about sins and redemption. I had a baby once who died. It is only a part of my story. Until she was in my belly, I never knew true happiness. I was abstinent from alcohol then, but not sober. She was this light in my life that drew me to a holy place. I was finding my spiritual footing again, and feeling grounded, lovely, beautiful...sacred. When she died, I lost my spirituality along with my daughter. They were incinerated, and I was given a heartbreakingly tiny urn filled with something that no longer was my daughter or my God. My drinking became dark and overwhelmingly not fun. There was no illusion of social niceties, or the sophisticated sipping of wine. It was bottles of wine and bourbon. I wrote and read about death, breathed it into my lungs. I covered myself with black signs that read, MOURNING. FUCK OFF. Sloppy cries and a existence that can hardly be called existence, and I would know I had to stop drinking. It wasn't my solution anymore to the gigantic hole in me. I'd stop, but then the drink seemed like it had to be better than the pain. And this went on until I decided that I wanted another baby. And then I didn't drink, and my life got worse. My solution was gone, and I was bereft.

Grace. Amazing grace...that saved a wretch like me.

There is a path we walk that unfolds in front of us, like a palm opens in the jungle. Coiled in on itself until it is not. It is wide and broad and accepts the sun and rain in equal gratitude. I had no idea where I was going. Nothing seemed connected. I quit drinking and people told me to pray and remember that deep within me lay something Divine. In each person, they whispered, is the memory of God. And when it felt right, I did it, and when it didn't, I gracefully demurred. And suddenly, it all falls into line and makes sense. This is exactly where I am supposed to be, I realize later.I learned what I was supposed to learn. I walked the path I was supposed to walk, and for the first time in my life, I didn't fight it. I didn't fight me. I was unnerved at times, wanting to know how, when, who, where...and then it was over, and I was right where I am supposed to be, not seeing the end, not quite, but feeling settled in my own old bones.

I have completely upended my diet again. It is upside down--all meat and veggies. No grains. No sugar. No caffeine. Some nuts and berries.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRROWL~there is something distinctly bear-like about the food I am taking in. I have gone inward, taken a hibernation of sorts. I scratch against small trees, knock them over, moan loudly at salmon. Knock down beehives for a little sugah, and never really getting any anyhow. But I feel good, not so padded and slow. The grains make me lumber, on all fours, itchy and pimply.

I have decided to go for my healing business, and what I mean by that, is not wait for things to come, and maybe I get some clients trickling in, but to go for it. Advertise. Write copy. Start a website. Try. I've also begun the process to be ordained as an Interfaith Minister, so I can do spiritual counseling. It is such a strange thing to get an email addressed to Rev. Angie. This drunk. This grieving mother. I may start a religion for grief--it is a compassionate one, where we learn to cry and pray and lean on each other. One day, I realized, after trying all the religions I encountered, that they are right. I had tried to fit myself into one Church, one path, but what if it doesn't work that way? What if that limits God and the Divine? Maybe it is all the paths. Each one is right in their way. The Prophet of Pluralism, I once wrote about myself, like a self-fulfilling title. When I began inquiring, I wrote the ordination committee, and told them about Lucia. I told them about my writing and about the other women and about sobriety and about the circles of people I have joined, the way we sit and abide and speak and make sacred. And she wrote back, "WOW, what a perfect candidate for the ministry you are!" And I sat staring at the note, thinking "Me? Yes, of course, me."

I stare at this enormous black tourmaline in matrix sitting next to my computer, absorbed all the bad juju from my computer. And I think about nourishment and healing and how full you feel when you walk the path set in front of you, lined with berries and prayers. There is a soft candle always lit around my house--it started with her, and continued on a path of its own.

Friday, May 31, 2013

right where i am 2013: four years, five months, nine days

Two years ago, I launched a project called Right Where I Am where I asked other babylost parents to write about right where they were in their grief. And it also was about how wherever you are, it is right. I asked people to only talk about the present moment in their grief, not where they were yesterday, or tomorrow, but how they were feeling today. I asked each person to title their piece with Right Where I Am: followed by the time since their child or children died. Here is  the first year's post. Here is last year's post. One hundred and seventy-nine people wrote about right where they were the first year, the second year, it was one hundred and thirty-two. It was more than profoundly interesting. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, lovely, powerful. I found it fascinating to read last year's and compare where I was last year to this year. But also just to think about what grief is like for me now, and what I am wrestling with these days. Also know that if you are new to this community, we want to hear your story too.  I hope you decide to join in. If you do write, post your link in the Mr. Linky below. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, I'll answer them as soon as I get them. 

Sometimes where I am feels not right. Something more should be pouring out of me. My daughter is dead, after all. She slipped from my body on a cold December evening four years ago, her skin torn and white. My heart broke open, the last of that innocent, young me flowing into her. I felt an overwhelming compassion for all suffering. It was a few weeks of tremendous pain and understanding, then I closed my heart, and waited for someone to work hard to open it.

But that wasn't the worst day of my life. I don't even know which day was worse than finding out she died, but it wasn't the one where I held her. There were random days in that first year, days of darkness and crying and anger so overwhelming all I could do was scream. There were days when people told me that they could no longer abide my grief. Those were bad days. The worst of them maybe came at year three, because the effect of three years of grieving barreled back at me. My blog and writing has never been the same since that day. The worst days.

In the worst days, there were also the best ones of my life. Ones of grace and serenity. Ones filled with gratitude and recognition. This community held me so many times, and I have watched it hold all these people at different times. Those moments of grace, which I have witnessed for four years, humble me. I am privileged to be among such incredibly amazing, creative, funny, smart, deep people.

Here is the thing I dare to write. I grieve Grief. This thing I was so sure of, that drove every moment of every day for those first few years. The aching, the longing, the sadness that rested its head on the shoulder of every joy.

I was absolutely certain of grief, as though it were a person I could commune with, blame for the spilled milk, fight with, bathe with. I could photograph Grief back then, standing in every family shot, right behind me shooting up two fingers behind my head, whispering, "Bunny ears, bitch."

I knew Grief. I could define it. Write about it. Paint it. It looked like me, and it looked like a saint, a bodhisattva, a darkness, an ache, the Angel of Death. Grief looked like weeping, felt like a grenade. And now Grief is gone too.

My daughter's death lies just beyond reach. It was there. She was there. Or rather her absence was there. I was so sure of the negative space that was just the size of her. I could see the place where she should have been, the mother I was supposed to be, but now, it is only this one life I'm living. I'm too far down this path to remember any other path that once opened for me.

She is gone. Poof. Presto. Ala-Kazaam. It is the most terrible magic trick ever. A black sheet thrown over my grief, and it is gone, and so is she.

Perhaps I grieve the immediacy of her death, raw and pulsing. The certainty I had of what people who loved me should do or be or what I needed and didn't need. Do I grieve my bad behavior too? I suppose I do. I cringe and miss the certainty is all. Now, I expect nothing. I don't have a particular burning desire to talk about Lucia Paz and the way her nose was just like Thomas' nose. It just is. Anyone else's acknowledgement of her death, her life, or her absence affects nothing of my feelings about her death, life or absence.

There is a hole in my years, one of grieving, like the years of a drug habit, gone into oblivion. I can recall those months, the darkness and pain almost too much to revisit, so I don't often. It was hard. My baby died. I wrote and wrote and emailed and wrote. I do feel different, like I will always be the woman whose baby died, who behaved badly, who grieved out loud for too long. I protect my heart. Constantly. Always. It will be a life long practice to trust people again, or rather to not care if they are worthy of my trust. I try to make friends, but the ones that I am drawn to are the ones like me, who have something that profoundly shifted everything about them. Mostly now, I am friends with others in recovery. So many of the people I have met through my sobriety have lost a child, or a spouse, or both. Truthfully, I have trouble being a mom in the schoolyard waiting for my kids, making chit chat. I do it. I try, but I can never quite get over that hurdle of "BUT THE BABY DIED." I don't even think it consciously. It is just there. Waiting to be said.

Last year, I was still bleeding from my twelve-week miscarriage. It had only been a few weeks when I wrote this post last year. When my heart chakra broke open then, bleeding the blood of my fourth child, pouring all the love I could into his passing, I knew of this fleeting, precious time with him. This is it. This is all I get.

I let my heart stay open. I let people hold me and pour their love into me. I realize now the heart breaks open to accept the love from others, not to give it to others. I had it all wrong when Lucia died. It is why I had so much hurt and pain from small things. This time, I let myself be loved. I let my circles of women hold me. And in doing that I healed the pain and hurt from Lucia's death. Not the pain of her death, but the unforgiveness and anger I had for the ones who could not abide.

At four years, I have forgiven all those who couldn't be strong. I forgive myself for her death. I forgive the euphemisms and the wrong things said. I forgive all those years. I forgive all those who never said what they wanted to say. I forgive the people who think stillbirth is not a big deal, or that I should be over it, or that anyone should. I forgive myself for drinking too much, and being a rotten friend (even if I could not have done anything more than I did.) I forgive my husband. I forgive.

I am free of unforgiveness. This has been the practice of the last year and it has been incredible to live in healing and reconciliation, to open to the Divine and my own Higher Self. My wings beat hard and strong. I soar. I can tell you that I was not ready for that at year one, two, three, even. But this year, I feel like myself again, the one that I always knew I could be, or was. The one full of forgiveness and love.

There is a different grief in my family right now. I have no desire to write about it. It is something I sit with, turn over in my head. I grieve with someone else now. I open my heart to her, and lay my hands on her, listen and talk. To abide is the great gift of these years of sobriety and grief. I am now capable of being the friend I needed.


Now, it's your turn. Where are you in your grief? Emotionally. Physically. Psychically. Spiritually. You can compare your journey from last year's post (don't forget to link last year's post to this years.) Title your post, "Right Where I Am 2013:(Time since your child's death)" then come back here and link your blog post on the Mr. Linky below. Click other participants and read about right where they are. Comment if you can. Thank you for telling me about right where you are. If you don't want to write a full post, why not just comment here and tell me the time since your loss(es) and anything else you want to share. If you do not have a blog and are a regular reader, you can post your essay on this very blog as a guest writer. Send me an email at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. Spread the word around the community by linking back to this post, so people can find out what grief is like on all stops on the road. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I trucked the kids to my mother's for the weekend of Munay-Ki and meditation, and dressed and chatted Friday morning with Jess, wrote a blog post here. Prepared with a reading and some coffee, packed up my mesa with a rattle and cross and crystals to make a little grid for ascension. As I drove, I prayed, as I always too, talking to my guides.

Please help keep me focused. Please help me recognize when to speak and when to shut up. Please, Guides, if this is not where I am supposed to be, make it abundantly clear. Help me to roll with the weekend, with no expectations, that I may follow your will for the Highest Good of all. Amen.

I arrived and the rites had been canceled. Only I signed up, apparently, and the lady said someone called. Except no one called. Not on my caller ID, or on my voicemail. And I wondered to no one in particular, "Why would I show up if I knew it was canceled?" The children, and the dog were two hours away, and my day was open suddenly, and my prayers clearly answered, and suddenly, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. While I was disappointed, I decided to roll with it. I drove to my sister's house, and sat with her. It is a hard time for her. We decided to call a friend for a spiritual counselling session, and when we talked, she asked me to paint ten paintings for a party on Thursday where she is channeling angels and guides for ten grieving mothers. She asks me to paint Archangel Azrael, the archangel of grief. And then I remembered an email asking me to do some green prints of the labyrinth I had done.

The universe wants me to paint, and so I put on music, pulled off my sweater, and got down to the business of art, my tank top and dirty brick-laying boots stained up with printing ink and mud, I painted angels and printed cards and felt whole.

I need it all. The art and writing and guitar playing and meditation and crystals and husband-sex and tarot readings, all of it together. That is my density. That is my center. All of it, not one more than the other. It was a wonderful couple of days.

On Saturday, we drove to my mother's house, and talked about places and money and the rest of our lives and responsibility and failure and all that we can be and all that we are and our children, we talked a lot about our children. When we landed, it was before nine, and my mother drove us to a little gem and mineral show, where I oooed and aaahed crystals. I shopped with my mother later, and we stopped for lattes. This morning, there was a flea market, and I bought a few wooden boxes, which I admit are my weakness. Old wooden boxes that smell musty and full of secrets. We came home and my mother, daughter and I painted from strange Chinese Painting How-To set my mother found at a thrift shop. I painted wisteria in dirty purple, and my mother painted blue pod lupine, and my daughter painted fruit in a row on the table. And it was a moment, after a long weekend of beautiful moments, that I felt this was exactly where I needed and wanted to be. I didn't have to comment on it, or ruin it by pointing it out, but it reminded me of this story my friend Carol told me. She was down the shore with her children and friends, and she sat in morning light, in a sweatshirt, sipping coffee with nowhere to go, nothing to do, the waves crashing ashore, her favorite people in the house sleeping, and she thought, "Is this the happiest moment of my life?" I wondered it, and dismissed it, but wondered it nonetheless.

I sip tea and try to remember this story I wanted to tell that was funny to me. It's gone. It's the whole reason I sat down to write this afternoon. It's a bitch getting older. The white hairs are wiry and stubborn, but the long black ones are just as tough but lie flat and submissive. You could weave something magical out of the combination of them, I imagine, like a weaver bird's nest, low and cocooned. My children would climb in and exclaim, "Sing us a funny old song, Mama, while we whistle."

I kick my shoes off, singing Josephine Baker Madiana in fake French. I make some ladybug thumb puppets dance the tango in the hole of their nest, as they squeal in delight. It's the happiest we may ever be, but nevermind, we are too happy to take note. It's almost summer, and the mosquitos haven't come out yet, some workshop was canceled and we have a whole day to fall in love with each other.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

meditation on the tower

I wish I had a sister that didn't die.
Me too, Beezus.
But your sister didn't die.
No, I mean, I wish your sister hadn't died.
Me too, Mami.
I know, Thomas.
I want a sister, Mami.
I know, baby.

Off they run, to their play fort and behind the big tree where they create a fairy library with index cards and stamps. All fairy and gnome books, and they too are fairies, dontcha know? But always it lingers. I want a sister who didn't die. 

I didn't know what siblings would be like. It ached in me before Thor came. Sisters. Brothers. What happens with two of them? They play all day together with nary a whimper or fight. It is nothing short of miraculous, watching them negotiate and pretend and talk to their fae sister of the wood. As I watch, I am removed from that relationship in many ways, and that is so beautiful. Their universe, its wonders and phenomenon, I know nothing about. I am the gatekeeper to the real world. I call them back from beyond, feed them real food, scrub the dirt off their knee and kiss their foreheads. I keep thinking about siblings and soul contracts to hold each other.

My sister had a mini-past life meditation a few weeks ago, and saw us together in another life. I, her father, she the daughter. She saw us first playing in a field behind our shack of a farm in rural France, perhaps in the 19th century, then she fast-forwarded to the end of her life, and I was holding her. She wasn't much older. A devastating injury to her belly, and I am crying over her. It felt absolutely true, like, "Oh, yeah, that life." How many lives have I lost children? How many lives have I been a grieving parent? And as she said it, I understood finally the reason people want to know of past lives. It sheds so much light on our own relationship dynamics--we were born perfectly equal, same day, relatively same weight, same home, no power dynamic, and yet me mothering her, bossing her, trying to save her. We have learned to stop that dynamic, finally. in our middle age. Perhaps this is part of my life lesson--to stop trying to save people and worry about saving my own ass.

When the Tower card comes, you never quite figure out what the event is going to be. Mostly the Tower has a bad reputation in the Tarot. That, the Death card, and the Ten of Swords. When people think of Tarot, they say, "I'm afraid to get those cards." And I think those cards are the cards of enlightenment, the cards of rebirth and change and understanding. Lucia's death was a Tower Card moment of my life, a car accident can be. A fire. The sudden revelation of infidelity. Or it can just be the way you look at life, like it is all falling apart. Generally, though, it is unexpected and sudden, a calamity of unimagined potential. It is always outside of yourself, nothing you can control. Except your reaction to it. It harkens to the serenity prayer. You must practice the wisdom of figuring out the difference between what you can and cannot control. When it comes, and you will always know when it comes, the worst has happened and you can move forward now with all the information.

I began reading tarot when I was sixteen. Innocently interpreting everything according to a book. I have grown since then, and had many years off from reading, but I still refer back now and again. Books have the limitation of not intuitively knowing what the other person sitting in front of you is going through. I read for some people regularly, and I have had the privilege of seeing their readings change from devastation to enlightenment. It is so cool. And I have seen that happen with myself. One afternoon, I was reading for a friend, and my carpenter friend stopped by. He said, "Tarot reading is devil worship." And I guffawed.

No, it is.
No, it's not. The symbols are all symbols of the divine. They are a language I have learned to read about energy in the universe, about intention and the soul. It has nothing to do with good or bad, just what you want help looking at.
And he laughed. I'm just fucking with you.

But it made me think about tarot and why people think it is dark or strange. But to me, tarot is a language I learned, the language Spirit speaks to me in. It feels funny to speak this bluntly on my blog about my relationship with Spirit and my psychic abilities. I have always been in the closet. In fact, I think I drank away that sensitivity for many years, afraid of feeling so much all the time. In early sobriety, I would just cry when anyone expressed tenderness or growth. When someone would stand in a meeting and say they had a month of sobriety, I would sob. Or when we prayed together holding hands, it was all too much stimulation of my anahata, or heart center.

This weekend, I am receiving the Munay-Ki rites. My children are going with my husband to my mother's home and I am using the weekend for meditation and assimilation of the rites. Throughout the last few weeks, I have begun the Certified Crystal Healer course work through Hibiscus Moon, so work with my Reiki training and other healing work. All of it is falling into place. As I move into this sacred weekend, I keep thinking of this Tower card, and how so many of my friends and loved ones have gone through Tower moments in the last few weeks. I have not. My life has been absolutely fine, predictable, rooted. I think about when Lucia died, and when I got sober, and when the person I considered my closest friend told me that she wanted me out of her life and further she hasn't really wanted to be in my life for a long time, those were Tower moments in the last four years, and all of those things have changed me, I think, ultimately for my Highest Good. I have learned such valuable soul lessons; I cannot even quite resent those events anymore. These are the things I bring to the weekend--the ability to be torn down and rebuilt over and over again, closer and closer in alignment with who I have always known I am. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

mother's day

Boulders stretch further than my eyesight. It is something to behold. Me and hearts and people climbing, bouncing from rock to rock. I sit on a granite boulder, quartz and rhodonite, ommmm slightly. There is a man yelling at his young son to be a man and stop crying about spiders. Something dies in him that someone else will revive, someone will tell him that it is okay to cry and he won't know who to believe. 

But I am a heart, weeping and meditating in a group of boulders. I am one of them. Grounded, yet unsteady as others walk on me. I am sick. My lungs ache and my nose won't stop clogging up, making speaking damned near impossible. So I ohmmmm, and remember being here last year, Thor on my back, my belly full of baby.

My friend tells me that the blog is dead, and we are now a twitter culture. I believe her. I see it happening in spaces I thought were eternal. Where to live now? How do we get strong? Uncluttered? How does literature exist in this universe where writing is concise and more clever than honest? How do we gather when we do not have the attention span to sit and read a thousand words anymore?

The trees hold no wisdom that doesn't already lay dormant within your heart. You are part of earth and nature. In that way, we never die. Not just the wise ones. Even the unwise ones. They too are part of nature.  Do not forget. 

My belly is big and lays low. I have swallowed a boulder. BURP. TOOT. I never birth it. It just sits over my womb, resonating with a vibration of iron and hematite, the center of our earth. Nothing is in me that didn't already stand waiting for my activation, even the boulder. My crown opens, and my heart sings, and my belly remains big and full of sugar, even when I say no more sugar and no more big. But my womb, it is closed and achey remembering last May.

I throw a quartz stone in my water bottle and fill it with filtered water, sip on it through the day to make my belly small and full of superficial things like eyelashes and gossip. My husband clears out all of our plastics and contaminants and estrogen-producing chemicals, and asks me to stop wearing make-up. It fucks with your body, Ang, he says. And I stop. It causes a kind of shock to my sense of self, throws me into a feeling of vulnerability, self-consciousness, or rather self-centeredness. No one noticed I don't wear make-up, but me. I am wrinkled. And splotchy. And maybe it seems I don't care anymore, what with my big belly and lack of make-up. I stop putting on big gawdy earrings and hanging stones around my neck. And I sit with that feeling of less-than. I am this. Right now. Big bellied, and lacking in womb power. No war paint. I am a boulder without adoration. No bling. No shine. No color beside earth and rock. And yet I am still the same boulder as before.

We will camp this weekend, pack up the kids and dog and walking sticks. We are returning to the place we were a year ago, when the raven and hawk fought overhead, and I bent over in pain, bleeding from the death of my last child. Darkness moves over me, not in fear or anger, but in a reminder of loss and middle-age and wisdom. The baby is dead. We cried our tears last year. We grieved. We don't think about him much, even. He died. I couldn't control it. 

It is Mother's Day after all, and we want to go camping. We will walk to the falls, and swim in the mountain stream, though it is cold and the sun is not high in the sky. We will let the water wash away those boulders in us, take them downstream. We will ask the sky to remind us of our love and our family which is beautiful and whole, though we are missing some. We will open our palms and walk barefoot in the woods, and lay in the moss.  Spiders will crawl near our faces and we will blow them to another place. Later, after a meal, we will sit around the campfire and tell the story of our last child's short life and long death. We will ask him to come to us in a dream and say hello. We will not imagine what it is like to have a six month old, because that path closed to us while we were in the woods and a hawk and a raven fought overhead, I bent over in pain, whispering, "Farewell, my love."

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I perch on the doorway between who I was and what I am to become. The crystal, wrapped in rabbit fur and rivets, leather and braiding, hangs between my breasts. I'd like to say it came to me, but I searched for it. But the other things, the elk antler, the hawk's wing, turtle shell, the apophyllite that takes my breath away, they came to me, laid themselves at the foot of my altar.

Use me. Heal with me. Honor me.

It is safe there where the wrapped crystal hangs. No one cares about that cleave now, except my husband who stares at it and tells me I'm gorgeous. But I am not. I am the deep summer earth, warm and loamy and writhing with living things, and things that look unalive, but breathe vibrations and energy. I am the fire, a sun that burns for my family and my art and my writing. I am the water, flowing into and out of notice. I am the air, nothing but a tickle and urging, silent but persistent, to acknowledge me.

I have no time for games. Rattles must shake. Incense must be lit. Deities worshiped. Energy runs through my palms, and into bodies and crown chakras up from earth, down from heaven. It is all coming together--I am started to see the picture of the puzzle, but not quite. There is healing there, ceremony, circles, rattle-shaking, drum-beating, bare feet and no makeup and people who let go of the tightly wound shit that prevents them from feeling anything.

My daughter brings home a book on wolves every week from library. She howls and tells me obscure facts. She says she wants to be a red wolf, no no, a gray timber wolf. And I nod. I understand both paths. And I understand why you want to be the wolf. Our people are both pack animals and lone animals.

I perch at the doorway between buying a little house in the suburbs and the home. I have dug holes and created memorials, designed mosaics and built shrines. This year, I have abandoned the hope of growing anything but grapes and raspberries in this sandy, clay-dense soil, rather I make a field of containers on my back deck. And in the center of the yard, field stone from Pennsylvania, maybe the quarry not far from my childhood home, lay piled, ready for the fire pit we are digging today. We have managed to shield the neighbors, and feel alone here, somehow. We grew a sanctuary here.

I turn and stare at the pieces on my walls--feathers, butterflies, hex signs and horns, jizos, old photographs, angels, poetry, and a huge sign that reads, "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY." And it has been and it was. I hang inspiration on every wall in my house. I worry it is cluttered when I clean for company, but mostly it serves its purpose. It reminds me:

I must create. I have to paint. I want to write. I accept my divinely creative self. I speak in affirmation even when I think it is hokey.

I hung a new piece on my wall from Please Be Still. I just wanted us to see ourselves differently. It reads, "From here on out, Nothing but Blue Skies."

I am happiest when my bare feet are buried in earth, and begin rooting. I take my shoes off on hikes, and my children warn me of snakes and spiders and poison ivy, but my thick bear skin protects my feet. Callous so deep and hardened that I walk over spiky rocks and hot coal with nary a whimper. No yogi hoodoo, just hard massive cave lady feet. My callous cracked last week, and I rubbed aloe and vitamin e into it. Beezus looked at it, ticked her tongue, "This wouldn't happen if you wore shoes in the garden."

It is true, child. 

All my holds on this world, and in this house are loosening. It is not a lack of love, but release of attachment perhaps to the place where my child died and the others lived. We can create sanctuary anywhere. We dig it out in the yard today, stack field stones, make a fire pit and an altar. I love it here, but I must go soon. I can tell, there is a calling elsewhere for something more than a measly little container garden on the deck. I need space to howl at the moon, and my children do too.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Three years ago, I gave birth to a live kicking baby. I was in awe, mesmerized at his mere survival in my womb of death. My sister and I always joke that as a baby, Thor looked like a snake that swallowed a baby pig with his gigantic newborn belly and goodnaturedness. (Are snakes goodnatured?) Still, a baby Buddha. All smiles and farts. Big belly and huge smile, arms stretched far overhead. His long limbs hang over me now,  more than half of my length, the impending man in him stretching his little bits farther than his age. He will be tall and broad and handsome like his Papi. I can see the man in him, and I want to bundle him up and eat his tummy because I can and this time is so fleeting, I feel it gone already.

It hardly seems possible that three years ago happened. I was filled with anxiety and anger and grief and rebellion and Thor. There seems none of that anymore. I'm still learning to live without a baby in my belly, or a child at my tit. And that my body is something is my own.

Thor is so funny. So animated. So emotive. So sweet, and demanding in a way only a three year old can be demanding. How can someone so annoying be so cute? He asks me now after every statement and request and instruction, "Why, Mama? Why?" And I want to bundle that curiosity into bouquets I can give to my most seasoned friends.

Remember when you wanted to know why?

Whenever we leave to head out to the Indian restaurant for dinner, which we do most Wednesdays, Beezus says to Thomas, "Aren't you excited? We are going to see your friends!" And he nods vigorously. The night before he was born, we went for Indian food at our favorite restaurant. I told them I would have the baby the next day, and they cheered and gave me a mango lassi. Now, when we walk in, the men all scream, "THOMAS!" And he runs in their arms. My introverted little baby, the one that will not speak aloud in crowds, runs out from behind my legs, and into the arms of these Indian waiters. By all rights, these men should be strangers, mustachioed strangers in particular seem to instill some sort of inherent fear in little ones, but not Thor. They hold him and rustle his hair and pretend to take his cars, and he laughs. He loves them, and them he, as though in some past life, they walked arm in arm down the street of Jaipur as equals. When he runs to them, I always think of that night before his birth when they held my husband and I in some ancient ritual. They fed us rich foods with cashew, coconut, curry, spicing it up to move things forward. They celebrated without knowledge of Lucia's death or my fear, just because pregnant mamas should be celebrated and babies welcomed. It is then they forever held my Thor in their food, a basket of naan with navartan korma, and watched him become three. During my labor dinner, I let go of the fear and anxiety. I had done all I could do--now I had to birth him. There is a joy in the birthing that I had forgotten in my pregnancy with Thor. Ruled as I was by the fear of stillbirth. The Indian food, the Indian men with crosses tattooed on their hands and red vests, brought in the joy.

Thomas' favorite color is truck, his favorite animal is a truck and he wants to be a truck when he grows up. He only wanted a baby truck for his birthday, and a truck cake, yes, Mama. I wrap him up and kiss each eyelid. He squirms out of my embrace.

"Too many kisses, Mama."
"There's never too many kisses," and I laugh. He screams.
"NOT FUNNY!" He stomps and juts out his bottom lip, crosses his arms. Growls at me. He is Sam's familiar, and I nurture that connection, because it seems ancient and soulful. I buzz around him, and try too hard for kisses. I can see that teenager, not wanting to acknowledge his little brown mama, and me waving like a fool at the curb of the movie theater. "BYE HONEY! I LOVE YOU!"

I have this sense of generations, watching my children, imagining myself as their children's grandmother, already that feeling of what will come simultaneously living full in the here and now. I suppose children do that to you, remind you of your mortality force you to be present. That existential pull and pondering, my death and my parenting and my grandparenting, stood on my chest as I baked the truck cake. Will I do this for his son one day? And if I am here, I will, and if not, then I will be the breath that helps him blow out the three candles on his cake.

My littles are born within a week of each other. My little Thor turned three on the first. Beezus turned six on the sixth. My neighbor says this is Bea's magic year--six on the sixth. Six seems magical to me. I remember reading that six is the age where one's true nature emerges. When I first read about mizuko jizo, there is this idea that being is poured into the body like water, slowly through years. Mizuko, meaning water, represents the idea that the child is all water, and no being yet. The Japanese idea is that this process continues until the child is six. Six is the year you become who you are meant to be.

Six, from my thirty-nine year old point of view, is this place of wonder and curiosity and kindness and generosity. I am in awe of this girl. She weaves flowers into her hair, and tells me stories of fairies and miracles and tries to convince me that she moved something with her mind.

Six. Three. These ages that seem distant and yet feel piled on top of one another, because all of it happened so fast. Beezus, then Lucy, then Thor in three years. Three babies, and a mess of a mother trying to figure out how to do all this parenting and grieving and arting and becoming who I am. When they speak, and think, and make art, and sit silently to clear their little minds, and tell me about the world, I cannot believe how creative, interesting, amazing they are. As I write this, my daughter writes in her dream journal and draws the dream she had last night. She wears fairy wings, and flowers in her hair. Thomas is pretending it is raining, and he is jumping in puddles behind me. My kids. My children. And of course, there is the ache between them that I have somehow made peace with. This acceptance feels natural now, when three years ago, I was absolutely certain I wasn't ever going to feel acceptance, hell I wasn't even aiming for acceptance, or peace, and most definitely not healing. That was not my goal, and yet here it is. Lucy died, and she is still part of our life. I could never imagine how to integrate her into our lives. It seemed so forced to have a dead child and make her live in our family, and yet she does. When I try to explain it to others, it sounds strange and morbid. I think others who have lost children know this life our babies have after they die. She changed each one of us, and I think we are better for her life, wiser for her death. It is the way it is, and we cannot change that. But we have accepted that the past is not open to change, but her life, how we perceive her place in our family, is.

On the night before Beezus' birthday, I told her that if she woke early, she should come into my room and wake me up. I didn't care what time it was. And at 5:50 am, she poked me under the covers. "It's my birthday and I'm awake," she whispered.

I kissed her and wished her birthday happiness, and I saw it was still dark. "So, my love, should we..." And she nodded, "Mama, can we watch the sunrise outside?" And we ran downstairs, she grabbed her juice, and I grabbed coffee, and we took blankets and curled up on the big wicker chairs on the deck, and watched the sunrise. We giggled and listened to the birds and talked about her birthday party. We meditated and I did reiki on her, then we made a garden tea party with paper flowers and butterflies and pinkplosion, and cupcakes in tea cups, and a parade with handmade crowns while the girls held sunflowers and instruments and marched around declaring it BEEZUS' BIRTHDAY!

I ache for things between us to remain trusting and open. When I play guitar, she sings with me. Joni Mitchell and the Beatles and the Stones and when I hear her voice, I want to cry for its beauty. When we lay in the moss, and let it tickle our cheeks and stare into each other's eyes, I always say, "Thank you for letting me be your mother." And she says, "You're welcome." And I remember the year after Lucy's death, when I just stared at her in wonder at her mere survival--breathing in and breathing out. And we talked constantly, and read folktales constantly, and painted constantly, and were just together constantly. It is so different now, but when see that time in each other. This is the seed we plant for all our life--unconditional love and open ears and perfect compassion for one another. It is my wish when I blow my mama candle out this year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


There is nearly a lake in the center of the parking lot that my daughter insists I drive through. Why do we have a big truck, she asks, if we can't drive through big puddles? It is a fair question. The splash spreads over the rest of the parking lot, and the children scream. Heavy iron work and fencing prevents rickety shopping carts from being taken into the streets of Camden. Automatic doors do not open automatically, making them too heavy for the littles, I turn my back push into them. Sunday and Monday, everything with a purple tag is fifty percent off, and the ladies won't sell you anything without a tag.

They speak to me in Spanish, because nearly everyone in there is Puerto Rican or Mexican, and the music blares with hits from Lionel Ritchie and Spandau Ballet. They wrap all the little trucks in plastic baggies and staple them shut, mark them with .60 and a yellow card. The clothes organized by size then color, and I find it an Organization Mecca. So much stuff all in their exact right place. I stand in awe of the cleanliness and preciseness of the racks of thrift shop clothes.

I always look for the same things--wooden boxes and interesting dishes and sometimes large wool sweaters that I can wrap myself in, fold my legs under me, and sip herbal tea. An old woman walks past me and my children, and stares at me. She says much too loudly to her daughter, "Who are these people in here today? I never seen people like these in here." And I know she means people with money, searching for petty extravaganzas. People like me.

I find a beautiful bright, almost fluorescent, muumuu, or rather a caftan. I want to be the woman in a caftan, floating through the rooms of my house with a turban and expensive floral arrangements, but I wear moccasins and wool socks, and drink muddy coffee out of hand thrown pottery. That muumuu-ed woman is an elder statesman version of me, and I'm not there yet. I shop at thrift shops on half-off day, and feel utterly alone in a group of poor people and Latina people, even though I was once poor and Latina. I weigh these things in my mind--alone vs. loneliness; happy vs. contented; sober vs. not drunk; vulnerable vs. unsafe. I have always wrestled with identity--half this, half that, half off, half on. I can't quite figure if I am sad or depressed or happy or fine or lonely or just alone. I keep putting myself in groups that seem like me, but aren't. Someone tells me it is my disease, but I think it is more of the human predicament of always being alone in your head while you are surrounded by people.


We spend Easter outside. In the grass, we take the trimmed grapevines, and twist them around each other, through themselves, over and under and over again, tuck them under another vine with its curls, strategically placed for maximum grape-iocity. We make wreaths for no one in particular, and crowns for fairy princesses eventually. Beezus runs off and picks purple flowers to wind into the crowns.

Maybe I will be wild one day, Mama.

You are wild now, my love.

I don't know what to write anymore. It all sounds ridiculous, and besides I'm so broken. My insides feel like they are dying the slow death of too many grey days in a row. The grapevines notwithstanding, I haven't been outside in a dog's day. I just don't have the energy for all that, and therein lies my existential contradiction--I need outside, but I can't muster the energy for outside. I want to drift away, but I am too rooted. I have wrestled with wondering if this is depression, or dry drunkenness, or what. In the worst of my moments, I wonder if I am even a drunk, or if I was just being a tad dramatic when I couldn't stop drinking those years ago. Then I wonder if I am just justifying a drink.

As we turn the grapevines of grapes that will never be made into wine, breaking off the brittle edges, a hawk chased by three crows flies overhead, and I remember that last year my last baby died in me, and in the moments before the bleeding started and the cramping, I saw a raven chasing a hawk in the sky above me. We were camping. And it was the beginning of the end. We have been through so much. How does any family survive the death of a child, another miscarriage, sickness and grief and sobriety and recovery and staying up to late and getting up too early and someone working twenty too many hours with someone who stays in their home 90% of their day? I run inside for some water. I grab Super Hit and a jar of spray roses in my kitchen. Then I go around my house and collect the martenitsa that arrived weeks before. They came from a beautiful mother in Bulgaria, a call for spring and renewal and remembrance. I wore mine around my neck, my children on their wrists, but they are ready to serve the trees. I hung the martenitsa on Lucia's blossoming cherry tree, not yet blossoming, while my children play near my. I hung them for spring and for my babies and for the hawk and the crows. I jab the lit incense into the soil near our jizo and stepping stones that bear the names of our babies, under one a placenta and dark tissue was buried only a year ago.

My life is so completely different from then, even though it looks much the same.  This year, my chakras opened, grew receptive yet protective from those whose sharpness and dark judgment, even in their genius, wounds the way I see myself. I can no longer open to them. Yet I do want their approval, and therein lies another contradiction of confidence. It is why I cannot write, and need to write. "You must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on." Thank you, Beckett.

Weeks ago, I went to a convention for people in recovery, and we were each given a rock. The workshop leader told us to write a character defect we would like to get rid of on the rock. I sat next to my friend, and we stared at each other. "I don't know what to write. If I start, I won't stop writing. This rock is too small for all I have to release." He nodded. The workshop leader tells us to write only one thing, and when we write it, we have to act as if it has been released already. Don't overthink it, she warns, but be specific and make in manageable. "Don't just write FEAR on the rock," she warns. "You can never release all fear." The friend on my right groans, and we all laugh. He scratches off the word Fear from his rock. She warns us, jokingly, but in all seriousness, not to photograph our rocks then put the picture on Facebook. We are releasing, she says, that is holding on. The friend on my left says, "I have something, but I don't know if I am ready to release it. I'm still so angry." It was the first thing that came to his mind. I tell him to just write it. I thought of many things, but the one that screamed to me was the Need For Validation, so I write it down. Jokingly, I say to my other friend, "What do you think of my defect?" And he laughs as we walk to the tidal river that runs to the Atlantic Ocean, and she instructs us to pray, then throw the rock. And I throw the rock as far and long as I can.

The three of us, me and my three friends, make a pact to call each other on our defects if we see each other using them as a crutch. Last night, one of those guys reminded me that I was using my crutch. Then he hugged me and whispered, "Progress not perfection." And as I write this, I wonder if my whole blog isn't a need for validation. Validation for my tremendous grief in the early days, and later validation that I can write or have insights or that I'm an okay artist, or decent person, or a good parent. And as the comments left my blog, that validation left. And I wondered what I was doing here, opening my heart and being so brutally honest for all the internet to read without the words of comfort that served as a validation that I must go on, though I can't go on, but I will go on.


Dirt under my fingernails comforts my broken soul. I reach through the soil, pull out stones and rocks and hard knotty roots of plants that have long been upended. As we turn the earth in our side bed, we heard a squeaking, loud and persistent, and my daughter declared a MOUSE in the HOUSE! We searched through the dark loamy bed, and saw a furry thing, curled into a fetal position, crying. A MOLE! A VOLE! A MOUSE! EL RATON! But no, it was a teeny tiny baby rabbit, waiting for its mama. His eye sealed shut with early spring, and his nest disturbed in our vehemence to make a place to plant veggies. The children screeched in excitement. A BABY BUNNY! I search the area for more babies, but it was just this one. Fur from his mama lay bundled next to our shovel. We didn't notice before. So we took him to another spot, not too far, and dug him another hole, put the fur in there, cover it with grass and lay the baby in there. I place her in the womb of the earth, the hole that mamas dig for their babies. And I say the prayers that I myself need to hear myself:

May your mama find you before the hawks, baby.
May you stay in your hole only long enough until the danger passes.
May your vulnerability be your greatest strength.
May your fear make you alive and calm.
May you nourish yourself in earth and warm yourself the Spring sun until you are strong again.

* Yana's words about the tradition of Martenitsa. These are"white and red yarn, worn as an adornment on one's wrist or jacket from March 1st until the end of March (or until you see a stork or swallow that have returned from Africa to nest). They symbolize new life and renewal, health and purity, and passion...the custom may have reminded people of the constant cycle of life and death, the balance of good and evil, and of the sorrow and happiness in human life."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


My midlife crisis is going well. Thank you very much.

Painting by Hector Arrache.
To be honest, crises rarely go well at all. I haven't taken up with a lover, or traded in my SUV for a sports car. Rather I rename myself Coatlicue, eat the hearts of virgin artichokes. I am more Mexican than Mexicans these days. I wear big coral jewelry and linen clothing, summon the soul of Frida Kahlo. Burning sage, and channeling the spirits of plant people. I paint on eyebrows, and speak in halfie Spanish, smoke cigarillos, and keep a pet monkey. Paint large garish paintings of myself bleeding and naked.

That's not true either.

I haven't been writing or painting much. Not anything for public consumption, that is, just nightmare angst poetry that makes this seem more like Teenage Life Crisis, Part Deux. And in the end, I'm not sure I ever quite stopped crisising, from teenage life to midlife. It is much the same angst. Always about passion, too much or not enough. Mercury retrograde makes everything wrought, sensitive. Communication difficult. The illusion that we are moving backward instead of ahead, but we always move forward, even if it is slowly. This Mercury retrograde is in a water sign, and it means all this past emotional stuff comes back to us, stares us in the face.

I do not know if I have ever noticed Mercury retrograde so poignantly in all my life. I feel stripped bare, staring at my old selves, retelling those stories with the people who were there, watching the trauma unfold, like a origami tiger.

Why, that is just a piece of paper, I exclaim. A colorful, fierce thing easily carried by the wind.

Photo by Howard Linton.
I had coffee with an old friend who I've known for twenty-two years. He talked about the eighteen year old me, brave and impulsive, hyper and curious, political and passionate. And the stories he told were ones we have told each other and others for two decades, but they sounded different this time. Stories of kung-fu and rock climbing and Buddhist monasteries with tequila and cliff diving. Of changing drivers in a moving vehicle near the SETI fields of New Mexico.We laughed, and I scolded him for telling my children such salacious tales of their mother. And though I was smiling, part of me felt so sorry for that girl. My children found a little slide of me the day before he visited. It is me at age twenty-one, posing from behind, showing off my tattoo. And it is that girl I think of, so damaged and broken, reaching out for something to fill that hole inside of her.Danger or booze or adrenaline or Buddha or men or fighting or loving. The past comes back again and again, makes itself present, until you deal with who you were and who you are. It is the Mercury retrograde.

Besides my old friend, I have been these same types of conversations with all these major figures in my life, my ex-husband, my current husband, my sister and others. They are hard, important conversations that I cannot believe we haven't had in the last twenty years. And they just keep coming up, even when I avoid them, reject them, beg them to be done. But I am grateful for the fearlessness of everyone involved. G. keeps reminding me and himself that every mistake, every bad decision, made us who we are today, capable of the radical love we are capable of today. In one low moment, I said to him, "I just don't think the person I am now is all that worth holding onto. I would change the past if I could." But I wouldn't. In my highest moment, the moments I want to reign, I have no judgment about me. No label of good or bad, just me--a bum trying to do the next right thing, like most of us.

In these conversations, I have realized that the suffering I have gone through in the last twenty years, the self-inflicted suffering to the random chaos suffering, has dramatically increased my capacity for unconditional love. It is only now that I can unconditionally love the people who most deserve that, who most need it. I could never unconditionally love my ex-husband, even though that is what he needed. He needed radical acceptance, but I was incapable of radically accepting myself, let alone anyone else. Every emotion and act back then was conditional on his behaviour. All of it told a story about my worth. Attention, love, affection toward me, as well as attention, love and affection toward others, measured my own meaning. It drew some conclusion about my body, my thinness, my intelligence, my charm, my beauty. That love or lack of love on their part had nothing to do with my fatness or unworthiness. It never did. That is what twenty years and the death of my daughter has brought me. Releasing the need to judge my worth in relation to other people's actions. I want nothing from them.

These realizations have been fundamentally contingent upon Lucia's death. Her death and my grief magnified those feelings of worthiness or rather unworthiness. It opened the thin layer of skin between the hole inside me and the world. And it sucked in all the shit from everyone else. Her death amplified that feeling that if I were just better, thinner, faster, smarter, more compassionate, nicer, kinder, sexier, that she would have lived. It was ultimate fuck-you from the universe. She died because a cord got pinched, or maybe she just died because her heart couldn't take it. Or maybe she lived her life exactly as long as she needed. And it has nothing to do with me at all. How narcissistic of me to think that my baby's death was about my worthiness to be a mother. And conversely, the love others felt or didn't feel toward me maybe had nothing to do with me. Their ability to be present for my grief, or my marriage, or my parenting, or my recovery, or my daughter's death or me entire life also has nothing to do with me at all. And in that realization, I am free to release judgments about my worthiness again. It opens me to love unconditionally the people around me, the humans coexisting with me, all of them equally, perhaps even myself.

There is a kind of trauma in getting older, realizing that you cannot change the past, and time has moved forward in spite of your efforts to stop seeing time as linear. But you can change how you see the past, how you interact with it, how you judge it. I have empathy for me at age seventeen, twenty-nine, thirty-four. I feel sorry for that girl, sometimes. Sorry for her pain, for the suffering she inflicted upon herself. But I hold her, soothe her, remind her that her decisions were the best that could be made with the information she had.

My midlife crisis and Mercury retrograde come together in this perfect storm. And I have examined every part of my life for passion in the last month. I have looked at who I was, who I am and who I want to be. Though I liked my schooling, it wasn't something I was passionate about. I had to admit it. But I was pouring money, time away from my family and all my residual energy into it. So, I made the difficult decision to walk away. I haven't walked away from much in my life. I live in it, punish it, punish me, until it nearly kills me. I am stubborn about commitments. Headstrong and demanding on the things not working for me. Because I desperately wanted to be right. Right trumped being happy every single time. I stayed in bad relationships, drank for too long, rode my bike much too long, worked in shitty environments until I nearly threw myself out windows. But this time is different. I stared at old me and new me. Old me massaging new me. Old me judging new me. My body is so different now, so low and full and maternal. I look like a mother earth statue naked. Big belly and boobs, and thighs, and getting undressed was mildly excruciating, to expose my dead baby body to people every week. And I looked at it. Am I doing this to be right or happy? Am I undressing and massaging strangers because I am passionate about it, or because I think this is what I need to do to make peace with my body and my life? The trauma of who I was and who I am converged. I didn't want to push through that pain, because I realized I was stubbornly trying to make the me now passionate about something the twenty year old me wanted. I was punishing me, humiliating me, because I still haven't accepted me. I don't love me unconditionally. I was making me walk this public line of exposure and acceptance because I wanted to skip the slow steady love that comes with maturing into my body and self-forgiveness.

Drinking paralyzed important parts of me. It froze the past and the past me. I thought one day I might return to that brazen, strong, funny person I was at age twenty. I would wake up thin and flawless and untraumatized. But that is impossible. This Mercury retrograde fell across my path at exactly the time I needed to release all that anger and guilt and resentment toward me. Now, this is the me worthy of trying something. This is the me worthy of passion. This is the me practicing self-compassion. This is the me walking away.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Less is more. More kills everything. Think delicacy. Subtlety. Finesse.

I don't know HOW to do less, I think.

But of course, it is too much. Too much sandalwood. Too much patchouli. Too much ylang ylang. I misbehave and leave class and stand in the stairwell with someone talking about healing modalities and spirituality and awakening and protecting one's energy and reading people's auras.

What is going on right there? He points to my chest. I wheeze and cough and mention asthma from thick oils that hang in the aromatherapy class. No, the other thing, in your heart center, the broken part.

And I want to tell him everything that is going on there. The niggling little hurts, meaningless and important, gnawing at me. The gigantic metastasized maladies, hundreds of grey appendices attached to the pulsating green trying to grow through father-pain, boyfriend-pain, seventh grade dance-pain, like ivy choking the living love out of me. My heart center, broken and weeping, radiates for healing. It calls to the shaman in the back of the room. It is this thing I keep explicating and writing and examining three-dimensionally, like a foam core model made with pins, the broken heart of someone who loved without thought of age thirty-nine. And when I turn this poxed heart around, I can see there is something deeply flawed about me. Logically, there must be--to drink the way I drank, to grieve the way I grieved, to misbehave the way I misbehaved. But I cannot pull it out. I cannot find its cause, its source, its origin.

The truthiness of all that he says about my heart center makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I want to blow him off, leave with the broken parts of me jutting out of my chest, poking through skin and weeping infection and heartbreak, pretend it doesn't exist. The vulnerability is nigh-excruciating. I want to run or punch him, but I ground myself and open my heart center even more to his words. This massive ego and very little ego all mixed up in unholy unions in my heart center.

He tells me it is okay, and his name is the same as the baby we lost. He says we are all broken there. That we all seek validation and love and that I can clear it, heal the wounds on myself instead of everyone else around me. And I know what he is suggesting.

Later, I warm my palm chakras and pray for protection and reiki energy drawn up from earth, down from heaven, out my palms, and I lay my hands right between my breasts who feed no children anymore, since a month ago maybe, when Thor just decided that tetita is for babies. I don't miss it. I miss having that one thing that no one else could give them. Boobies and mama cuddles. Now, the children do not notice that I am gone. This weekend with two back-to-back eight hour days of class on aromatherapy. I suppose if I am doing my job right, they should barely know I am here orchestrating every meal and decision and activity and fun time and naptime and diaper change. It just moves swiftly, efficiently, through the day without one thought about what mama is doing, or who she is, or what she is going to have for dinner while the rest of them eat gooey cheesy pasta-y red meat with soy and chocolate and ice cream and bourbon. And I wonder if there is something massively damaged about me and my heart center to want to have someone notice more than my stealthy good mamaing. I hold up that model of my broken heart, and it is all ego, even as I preach about egolessness and hold it as an ideal, or at the very least, the enemy of enlightenment.

Ego. Ego. Ego. Condemned to this life of terribleness, shaking fingers at the eruption of it in conversation, the mention of yourself with more than self-deprecation. When I rant about my lousy, traitorous ego, my sponsor says, "There is a necessary ego when you are an artist. Check it." And that is the part I have been explicating, looking at with my damaged heart center.

Artists have to have a stupid, unconditional, irrational belief in ourselves and our capability. It may be unwarranted to others. They may think, "Who is this person?" Or "That art is not terribly good." And they are welcome to believe such things. Artists cannot concern themselves with that. It's none of their goddamned business honestly, how you engage with their art, or writing. Artists have to embrace that belief in themselves, regardless of what you think. In fact, during the process, I would think that "you" may not even enter their brain. It is a selfish, self-centered, important and necessary self-focused presence.

That doesn't mean artists don't have reservations or insecurities, it just means that there has to be a kind of blind optimism what they are saying is something important and unique. A hope that, in their desperate isolation, the artist belongs to a tribe of people, perhaps not yet known, who will get it, or most of it. That what the artist creates is worth the paper it is created on, or the performance art is more important than that massive ego of theirs. Because this thing the artist creates ceases being theirs the second it is seen, experienced, felt. It is a Zen koan of sorts. The ego must be big so the ego can be small. Another Zen koan of art is, if art is not seen, is it still art?

So, on one hand, there exists this confidence, bravado, arrogance, selfishness, self-centeredness, this large necessary ego. Then the artist releases the work. The same self-consciousness any human being, artist or not, possesses in his or her daily life rises up. More so, now. This thing created without thought of the Other. The entire process strips one bare, raw, open. The experience attaches to your heart center, creates a pock, whispers that you've never been loved enough while at the same time illuminating it. Such a process is the height of vulnerability. Suffering. Then it is a relief. A release from the demands of Muse and creative bedevilments. It forces one to be decisive, done, sure of oneself while embracing that part full of doubt, and fear and insecurity.

There are many things that soothe that self-consciousness--sex, love, conversation, alcohol, drugs, attention from other people, constant need for reassurance that we are worthy through sex, love, conversation, alcohol and drugs. There is no judgment here. No judgment on whether these are good things or bad things, or bad qualities or good qualities. But they work. At least for a little while, and then, your heart is broken wide open, and oozing out into an aromatherapy class for all to absorb and repair. You can rub a little lavender and bergamont. Not too much, just a subtle hint of self-compassion.

What do you think of ego? Artists? Heartbreaks? Is it ever necessary? Or is the ego always out of control?