Looking Back on What I Wrote Last Summer by Deana Ruston

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!} 
photo by Deana

Last summer I wrote the following piece after reflecting on the value of my life. Of course, then I didn’t realize what was to come. Having gone through cancer as a young adult just recently these words I wrote ring even more true now.

I never thought it would happen to me. Ever.

I guess everyone thinks that though. I mean theoretically I was healthy, I exercised and ate what I was supposed to. Then it happened. “You have cancer.”

As I dealt with the shock and sorrow of what had come I knew I had to keep going. I’ve always been a fighter. Born at 25 weeks gestation in 1992, being a fighter was me from the beginning. I knew I had to keep fighting. There wasn’t an option not to. For the babies, born too soon, and the ones taken too early I had to keep going. That was supposed to be me. Somehow, some way I made it before and I would make it again. What I wrote in the summer of 2014 is true now more than ever. Somehow I keep overcoming. Rising above each challenge I face and continuing on serving out my purpose here on earth.

This is what I wrote last summer and looking back to what I wrote, it helped propel me through these hard times. Here it is below:

I had someone ask me the other day, what I do when the days are tough and how I get through them, here’s my response:
 
Let’s go back to the beginning. I was born at 25 weeks gestation in April 1992. I’m not supposed to be here. I shouldn’t be here- but I am. Somehow I made it. Many people worked so hard, so I could live. This is crazy. I beat the odds. It scares me. Some days I wonder why- why me. Why did I make it? There must be a reason why. Many families with babies born too soon, aren’t so lucky, it makes me sad. The tattoo on my right wrist, reading, “you’ve been a fighter since the beginning keep fighting” and “Strength” on my left remind me to keep going and give everything I do my best shot. I’m a miracle. I have to live everyday like I own it, I have the power to make each day the best it can be. I’m just so lucky to be here. That’s all that matters. I want to give back to the world around me, just because I’m here. It’s truly overwhelming. It’s life changing. Knowing this, going forward I can do better. I’m a fighter, I’m just in awe. Needless to say, my life has direction. I’m ready to make a difference and keep going. I can’t shake this feeling of thankfulness or joy for what I have already had. I can’t wait to see where I’m off to next, reflecting on the fact that I’m alive, I really have no reason what so ever to complain. I’m alive. I don’t need anything else. I have everything I need.

I can’t wait to continue living out my purpose here on earth. After going through all that I have in my 23 years so far this proves to me that I can overcome everything and that I’m here for a reason. I better live my life in the best way possible because everything I do has an impact. I can make change and help others by just being me. By the numbers I shouldn’t be here time and time again but I make it and keep going.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of how far I’ve come, and simply how miraculous it is for me to be here. Really it is nothing short of a miracle. Some how I keep overcoming and keep going. For that I am blessed and honored. Let's keep living. It's a privilege not everyone is given.



Deana Ruston, a 23 year old from London, Ontario, Canada (about 2 hours from Toronto), studies grief and bereavement counselling at King's University College at Western University. She has an interest in pregnancy and infant loss, loves to bake, cook and volunteer. Born at 25 weeks gestation, she identifies as a fighter. She won't back down.

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Why We Want the World To End by Aspen Bassett

photo by Matt Johnson via Creative Commons

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!}

In my lifetime, I’ve seen countless videos, news reports, TV shows, and movies critiquing what’s wrong in our world. I’ve read blogs, books, newspapers, and Sunday comics blaming others or even ourselves for things that haven’t even happened yet. Or for things that can’t be proven. I’m twenty three years old and I’ve been told the world is going to end within the year so many times it’s become a joke. Heck, my family hosted a party for the apocalypse in 2012. Obviously, we were stood up. I would say thankfully but I know too many people who don’t agree. The world can’t get better, they say, just get it over with already.

Why do we want the world to end? Because it’s bad? Because corruption has leaked into every home? No. Because we’ve stopped loving each other. The world is in a depression and I don’t just mean financially. Let’s look at all the signs of chronic depression shall we?

According to HelpGuide.org, a non-profit guide to mental health and well-being, there are around six possible tells to see if a person is going through chronic depression and every single one of them applies to us as a nation, possibly as a world.

1. “You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult."

There are eleven screens in my family’s living room alone on an average day. There are four of us in the house. Everyone I know owns a smart phone and has it within arm’s reach at all times. Is it for emergencies? Yes. But not the 911 calls we all pretend it’s for. These screens save us, distract us from the national scale depression. We don’t want to think about the world or how hard it would be to make a difference. We don’t want to drown in to-do lists and the must-dos of life which our ancestors had to face head on. Scientists actually have a name for it. Screen Addiction. It’s today’s drug of choice and it’s completely FDA approved. Why deal with life when you can just turn on the TV and skim through Pinterest? Seriously, I’m asking as an addict. But I know there are other addictions out there too. Alcohol, drugs, coffee, pills, oh how the list goes on. They’re Band-Aids for a problem much bigger than the highest dose of your preferred poison. Because life is hard and most people I’ve met are aware that it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s just a job. It’s just a family reunion. It’s just a date. So why is everything so difficult to us?

2. “You feel hopeless or helpless.”


Not feeling in control of your life is the root cause of stress. Superheroes are really big in our literary world right now. Why do you think that is? Personally, I think there’s a lot of reasons but the biggest one is that superheroes have control. They insist on it. They stand on rooftops with bloodied knees and say “I have hope and I can help.” That’s nice to see after a long day of “I can’t do this” and “where would I even start?” Sometimes it’s not about going to the theater and watching a cute boy in tights defeat the bad guy with his puppy dog eyes. It’s about having something to believe in, something to remind us as a country, no as a world, that people can make a difference. Maybe you identify with the caped ones and wish “if only I had the power to help those around me.” Or maybe, at times much like myself, you identify with the ones on the ground looking up with soot on their cheeks and fear in their eyes because they need an extra hand. Perhaps, in a way, we as a nation crave superheroes because we want that look of hope back in our mirrors. We want to remember what it’s like to believe in something strong enough to hold our fears and sadness.

3. “You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try.”

Have you ever been on Facebook and it seems like every post is a negative commentary on some random thing that happened? And then everyone gets in this argument about whether or not it was really negative, if they had a point, or if they just need to shut up and stop listening to sad music all the time? And you’re innocently scrolling down the website thinking “90% of you would never have said that in person.” Or maybe you watch this awesome YouTube video about some gifted singer and then you scroll down and everyone’s bashing her because her teeth weren’t straight? I know so many people who are good but when they get on the Internet, they almost all change personalities. Take me for example. I have to watch myself when I’m online because there’s no repercussions if I written-ly attack the people I don’t agree with. But it’s not just the negative comments on twitter or whatever else is out there that depressed people have a hard time controlling. It’s the thoughts inside one’s mind. Can you think of anything or anyone that, as soon as the idea crosses your mind, you’re bitter? That’s it, you think, it’s people like that that’s why the world is ending. I personally don’t know anyone who can confidently say “There’s no soul I can’t love.” Remember, tolerate and love are two very different words.

4. “You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating.”

Yay! That’s an easy one for America! In the top three of the most obese countries. Last I checked anyway but that was before we made such a fuss about twinkies. Deepak Chopra wrote a book called What Are You Hungry For which talks about why we can’t control our cravings. Why I prefer to over eat rather than stop when I feel comfortable or deal with the things I have to do after lunch. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. I’m too busy eating fries and Pinteresting to actually read it. The hit TV show Supernatural had a seasonal villain who manipulated our food in order to turn us into the perfect herd. I personally don’t think they were too far off from the truth. But the sad fact stands that all the food manipulation and corruption is out there in the open. People know. They just don’t care. Some food industries take out the nutrients in their products so our bodies will insist we eat more in order to get the required amount. This is a fact yet I still buy their products.

5. “You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual.”


Is it just me or are we in a lot of wars right now? And I’m not just talking overseas. I’m talking right here at home. In the schools and movie theaters and everywhere else that people shoot or attack or go crazy. People yell and scream at each other and maybe you don’t see it all the time but it’s there and it’s in your town. I know, there are times when I tell myself I can be patient, I can shrug it off because it’s not a big deal and logically I know it’s nothing worth making a fuss over but something inside me feels like the camel’s back the moment it snaps. Suddenly, I’m struggling to control my voice, my tears are already on high, and we’re bashing pet peeves like gladiators to the death.

Then there’s the last but certainly not the least tell of chronic depression. The big ol’ number six.

6. “You have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case.)”

 Okay, maybe the big literary wave of post-apocalyptic literature isn’t a subconscious plea for the end of the world. Maybe there aren’t people out there warning us that if we don’t change our ways, the sun will eat us up. But would you turn your head if your friend had suicidal thoughts? Are we not, as a nation and possibly a world, crying out for help? Do we not fear that our future holds only sun burns and empty wells, too many people and not enough bees? The world could end. That I believe. But if it does it will be by its own hand.

If a person has suicidal thoughts, they’re encouraged to reach out for help both to those who love them and a professional. If a world is feeling suicidal, to whom can it turn? Who loves the world unconditionally?

And that, my friend, is the clincher. Because the world is a combination of every single being within it. Every soul, body, and mistake. Yet we are plagued with racism, sexism and so many other kinds of -isms that people just started hyphenating them. The problem isn’t racism because we’re all one race. It’s not sexism because it’s not just one gender’s problem. It’s all conditional-ism because it’s about people who refuse to love until certain conditions have been met. It’s about seeing the world as one being that hates itself, can’t see any point to go on, and doesn’t have anyone to turn to for help. It’s about seeing the people around us as parts of the same being, who need hope and can give it back.

I love the parenthesis in the last sign of depression. “Seek help immediately if this is the case.” I do believe the world is seeking help. It’s going inward. It’s asking us. Alone, we cannot do it. Together, it could be as easy as breathing. I guess there’s only one way to know for sure. Love the people around you and allow yourself to become aware of any changes. Does your personal world become healthier? Like an organ regaining strength? It did to me. Either way, thank you for reading, and I love you.



Aspen Bassett is a writer who works as a librarian on her spare time. She's been published in multiple anthologies including Oomph: A Little Super Goes A Long Way, Inaccurate Realities: Time Travel, and Inaccurate Realities: Superpowers. Follow her on her website aspenbassett.com to see how to turn your life into a hero's quest.

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Amazon Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015

photo by Jonas Tana via Creative Commons

I love reading physical books -- I love the feel of the covers against my palms, the heft of the book, the smell of the pages. But when I am breastfeeding, I find myself with a lot of down time where I'd like to read, but holding a physical book is just clunky. Enter Amazon Kindle + their apps wonderful (free!) apps. I read so. many. books during my breastfeeding seasons thanks to them!

I also value a good deal. I have a serious problem paying $9.99 for a digital book that I won't be able to resell or give away when I'm done with it. But price those puppies at $2.99 or less and I'm sold. And because I've been spending so much time combing the internets for Kindle deals, I thought I'd aggregate some of my findings for you here on the blog, irregularly and as I can, because breastfeeding.

I haven't read all these, but they are all books that I really want to read and that the reviews speak highly of, and most of them are temporarily marked down from higher prices (a few are permanently cheapie cheap cheap). All prices are in USD. Many of these titles are free for Kindle Unlimited members and/or are available in the Kindle Lending Library, so be sure to check for those options to save even more money.

Kindle Deals for August 22, 2015

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089LOG2A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0089LOG2A&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=GIIXH7AP6AO2YKTK
 The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IQZB14/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005IQZB14&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=GOKT7Z4U623Y6Q4
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Price: $3.99
Genre: Memoir, Travel/Adventure

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005ZOBNOI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005ZOBNOI&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=2IHORDDKNVWQ6DUA
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
Price: $2.99
Genre: Young Adult


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ANSS5K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B001ANSS5K&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=D64BH3QZFXL5SVHJ
Paper Towns by John Green
Price: $3.99
Genre: Young Adult

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0027MJU00/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0027MJU00&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=LW3G5PRIDXDIY66N
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery, Thriller


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004JN1D3M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B004JN1D3M&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=54VAZLJKQNZH2BTY
Price: $4.99
Genre: Humor, Memoir

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008LQ239G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B008LQ239G&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=7ZDU4CWLPD6ACDRX
Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction, Short Stories

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FC2L1O/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000FC2L1O&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=RAPJQGTQMEYES3KV
Outlander (Book 1) by Diana Gabaldon
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ULP98BQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00ULP98BQ&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=ITNZRUYQ3U2BEVCL
Game of Scones by Samantha Tonge
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Comments: Game of scones! Get it? Get it? :D

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LM4EBO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B009LM4EBO&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=JKTG5B4DTQABKPRA
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee
Price: $1.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I've been stocking up on romantic fiction to keep my head in the zone while I write the sequel to The Light Between Us, and I've had my eye on this one for a while, but until now the price has been too high for me. This is book one in a seven book series, and the rest of the series is on sale, too.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00M7C185A/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00M7C185A&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=YUVBUV4ZON53SWI3
The Substitute by Denise Grover Swank
Price: $0.99
Genre: Wedding Romance
Comments: I read this book and really loved it. The sex scenes were a little too graphic for my tastes, but most romance readers expect some hot sex scenes, and they didn't detract from the rest of the book for me. This is book one in a trilogy, and the other books are currently on sale at $3.99.


http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1477827218/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1477827218&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=K4ZFMTPWPKLQXH4O
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram
Price: $3.99
Genre: Historical/Biographical Fiction
Comments: The hard copy of this book is also on sale at the moment for $6.99, down from $14.95.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DB367IW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00DB367IW&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=B7O24JRN7TX2TYQO
The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman
Price: $1.99
Genre: Historical Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K0IRXHU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00K0IRXHU&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=WBUV7MPHKVNOXPVO
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Z4FNGU2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00Z4FNGU2&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=2UU6IJ4ZAA226574
The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Romance

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0105SNQWU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0105SNQWU&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=U5ERPE3DDGPAEIMZ
The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans
Price: $2.99
Genre: Historical Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ATLA8I4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00ATLA8I4&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=NGNKFS5VAMHL6ETH
Island Girls by Nancy Thayer
Price: $1.99
Genre: Contemporary Romance

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RZQHZGE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00RZQHZGE&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=F6F3PW5ISUR7CE2L
For Sure and Certain by Anya Monroe
Price: $3.99
Genre: YA Romance
Comments: I've been following along with indie writer Anya Monroe for a while now, and I'm smitten with her books, her Instagram, her blog. Go and read everything she has to offer, now.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0103OEBWK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0103OEBWK&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=ISCJHQ5ZE3Z62DLX
Secrets Don't Keep by Elora Ramirez
Price: $2.99
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Comments: You've met Elora here on the blog before. She is awesome, and another indie author. This is her latest book, and a new release.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013RC9L3E/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B013RC9L3E&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=O4O6D3XODJ5XSWVH
Price: $4.99
Genre: Poetry
Comments: You've also met Heather before. She just released this book of poetry this week!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X06PXJE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00X06PXJE&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=6UMPZO7QPPIZ6TEU
Six Dollar Family by Stacy Barr
Price: $2.99
Genre: Personal Finance (Non-fiction)
Comments: Okay, I do not think this book is necessarily going to help anyone make six figures (and the author doesn't either, based on the book's introduction). However, I am AWFUL at budgeting/finances/planning in general. I saw this book come up under the #KindleDeals hashtag on Twitter, and after reading the excerpt and reviews I bought it because I thought it could help me. One week into implementing only one or two of Barr's suggestions and it is helping me. Good for personal finance newbies!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QMLW34M/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00QMLW34M&linkCode=as2&tag=kitchcoura-20&linkId=MOOYJPFPNNYMEA2Y
Emotion Amplifiers by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
Price: $0.00
Genre: Dictionaries & Thesauruses, Reference (Non-fiction)
Comments: I own this one, and think it's an indispensable writing tool, especially for free.



That's all I've got for now. What are you reading? Have you seen other good book deals out there? Share in the comments!

*this post contains affiliate links. thank you for supporting the blog!

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because once you are Real you can’t be ugly by Teresa Robinson

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here). Enjoy!} 

art by Teresa

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The initial response to Suffering {emotional overwhelm, betrayal, pain, delays, slander, distress, death} is Denial: personal resistance to avoid acceptance. We slam the door in its face upon arrival and deny its very existence. Then as we stand braced against that closed door, we immediately commence racking our brain for reasons to explain {blame}:
  • Why did this happen?
  • What did I do?
  • What didn’t I do?
  • Who caused this?
  • Who must pay?

Questions asked to serve as white noise in the surreal, soundless emptiness that follows the thundering noise of our life as it slams into the brick wall of suffering. We instinctively wrap our-self in the faux comfort and rationalization that our suffering is “unexpected” — that it is not that bad, that we are not as bad off as {fill-in-the-blank}.

The pounding continues within this tailspin of pretending to control the suffering as we move into Denial — as we self-medicate by increasing the passionate intensity of our questioning. Until our emotions escalate and converge — angrily demanding a plan be devised to resolve the question of:
  • How will I survive this?

Anger stands waiting on-deck, shape-shifting as visceral blame, stoic indifference and impassioned busyness. All the while mauling us from within as we isolate our-self from anyone whose presence would threaten this inner processing; secretly blaming them for abandoning us in our time of need.

Then the circular frustration of Bargaining — if-only’s and when-oh-when’s? — it rages as we enter the eye of the suffering storm within us … Shoulda, woulda, coulda scenarios that somehow would have spared us from this turmoil. Bargaining with our-self, believing:
  • I need to prevent this from happening again.

Cue Hopelessness and Depression because Suffering is not something we want to accept — and yet we futilely seek a means of avoiding it. Even as we know there is nothing we can do about it; even as we desperately seek guarantees and solutions and someone to carry the blame. Suffering is part of living. There are guarantees or deals to be made.

We circle back to Denial because we desperately want safety, some sort of a powerful force field, a razor-wire fence — a boundary Suffering cannot cross.


It doesn’t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. — Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit


The safety is being Real. Denial and resistance merely intensify suffering.
The reality is: bad things happen — a lot. Our {living} includes suffering and hardship in varying levels every single day.

Being Real facilitates Acceptance. The space where we can exhale, pull away from our intercourse with paranoia, and open the blinds of our heart to see the light of Truth. The space we hold for mourning the loss caused by suffering, and for love to comfort us; to be sustained with each inhale and exhale.

Let us allow suffering its place; liberating us from the loss of energy and vision. Let us allow our flailing to serve us — strengthening us as we become Real.



Teresa Robinson aka stargardener believes each day is a canvas awaiting the elements we decide have meaning. She maps her way through with torn bits of paper, words of found poetry and splashes of paint and ink; posting field notes to Right Brain Planner and on Instagram

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Night Cycles by Beth Morey

Here are all the details on where to get your copy of Night Cycles: Poetry for a Dark Night of the Soul:


Paperback:
You can also order Night Cycles through your local book shop or library!

Digital editions:
You can also find Night Cycles on Goodreads, here.
 
*FREE for KindleUnlimited members, and for those who purchase a paperback copy of Night Cycles from Amazon.

**this option offers the most affordable shipping for orders outside the US

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A Blessing for Your Rebel Heart by Amanda Fall

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!} 

photos by Amanda Fall

May you feel wildly
heartpoundingly
genuinely
loved . . .
just as you are.

May you never again
diminish or debase,
soften or smother
your fiery spirit,
the unchained
roar
of you.

May you believe
your (whole) story matters,
even/especially the mucky bits,
the secrets you usually keep,
the broken pieces you try to hide.

May you believe your worthiness
does not depend on anyone or anything
other than your own
trueness,
the ringing gong you have ignored
too long, the come-to-attention
your soul is calling,
calling.

May you lose yourself
in raucous laughter,
in weep-wails
from your rebel heart,
in holy howls
of yes.

May you relax, whole-soul,
into knowing you are
radiant, through & through:
even/especially
when you feel like
a total MESS.

May you feel alive
and powerful
and free,

beautiful
worthy
loved

from the top of your head
to the tips of your toes.

Just as you are.
Here. Now.



Amanda Fall is a truth-teller, love-believer, sacred-seeker, and heart-on-her-sleever. She is the proud creator, editor, and publisher of The Phoenix Soul, a fiercely indie digital magazine and community honoring life’s grit and grace.

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Finding Me and You by Beth Morey

Finding Me and You is the long-awaited sequel to The Light Between Us, coming soon! Watch this pages for all the details.

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Life After Eating Disorder by Beth Morey

Here are all the details on where to get your copy of Life After Eating Disorder: How to Have One:


Paperback:
Digital editions:
You can also find Life After Eating Disorder on Goodreads, here.
 
*FREE for KindleUnlimited members

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The Light Between Us by Beth Morey

Here are all the details on where to get your copy of The Light Between Us!


Paperback:
Digital editions:
You can also find The Light Between Us on Goodreads, here.
 
*FREE for KindleUnlimited members!

**this option offers the most affordable shipping for orders outside the US

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One More Push by Alise Chaffins

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

“One more push.”

I’d been around the birth block four previous times. I knew what those words meant. It was almost time. Almost time to hear the cries. Almost time to hold the squirming little body. Almost time to sniff the top of a baby head while pulling him close to feel that ache and release of nursing him.

But not this time. Less that 24 hours before, we found that our son had died before he was born. One more push and we would become the butt of every horrible “dead baby” joke. One more push and we would have our son, but only for a moment. One more push and we would go back to just being two. One more push and everything would change, but not in the way I had anticipated.

The doctor who was sitting at my feet was quieter than any I had experienced before. There were machines in the room, keeping watch over the process, but only for me. Only one heartbeat being monitored. No lamp warming up the area where our son would be laid. No pediatrician on call, waiting to give us an apgar score.

I took my husband’s hand, closed my eyes, and pushed. My sister placed her hand on my leg and encouraged me. My dad sat patiently by, whispering prayers as the moments slipped by.

Groans escaped my lips. They had a sense of familiarity to them, the groans of a woman in labor, the groans of a woman in transition. But they were accompanied by a foreign sound. Grief wove its way through those cries. Because I knew that this transition wasn’t from woman to mother, but from woman to the nameless person whose child precedes them in death.

I surrendered to the pain and pressure and allowed our son's body to pass from me to the world where we could hold and caress his body, but never him.

I wonder today about his own journey. His own birthing from this world to the next.

Was there Someone holding his hand as he made that journey from here to what lies beyond? Was there Someone encouraging him, whispering to him? Was there someone to let him know that it was time to surrender?

Was there Someone saying to him, "One more push"?

My faith, often smaller than a mustard seed but still holding on, says yes. It says that one day, all of us, saints and sinners alike, will hear the voice telling us, "One more push." An on that day, we will all be held.




Alise Chaffins is a wife, mother, eater of soup, and lover of Oxford commas. You can generally find her behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends and family random movie quotes. She blogs at knittingsoul.com. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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NIGHT CYCLES: Poetry for a Dark Night of the Soul {Book Release!}

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0996623809

I'm having a hard time finding words for today. Today, my book of poetry, NIGHT CYCLES, launches. Like, people are reading it. And that is both exciting and terrifying.

This is completely different from the launch of THE LIGHT BETWEEN US. While I definitely worked hard on that book and was proud of my efforts and the resulting book, it had mostly been a fun experiment. Could I write a sassy, semi-smutty romance novel? Challenge accepted, mission accomplished.

But NIGHT CYCLES? This was not a lighthearted experiment. The poems contained within this book are born out of my deepest questions, fears, hopes, and imaginings. They come from a much deeper place. And so it is much more vulnerable of a thing to give them over to readers.

The stakes are higher, because they mean more to me.
But because they mean more to me, that also makes it more exciting to have people read them.

What a complicated thing a book release can be for a writer!

Overall, though, I am mostly thrilled that the book is out at last. I wrote most of the poems that comprise NIGHT CYCLES between 2013 and 2014, when I was going through the "dark night of the soul," "a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God, like that described by Saint John of the Cross" (source). Outer and inner forces converged upon me -- lingering grief over the stillbirth of our daughter . . . my husband's new atheism . . . my own depression -- forcing me to look to the questions forming in my soul that I'd been ignoring for quite a long time. I found the faith I'd so valued crumbling in my hands.

If grief taught me anything, it's that the only way out is through, and so I plunged into the depths of my dark night. And out of that came these poems -- poems of confusion and sadness, anger and loneliness, and also poems of freedom and rebirth and mysterious hope that just won't quit.

And now, I offer them to you. During my dark night, poetry by Rilke, Rumi, Mary Oliver, Mark Nepo, and more were among the few solid comforts I could lay my hands on. They sustained me, nourished me, helped me to understand that I was not alone, that there was light coming if only I'd hold out for it.

I hope that my poems do something like that for you. I hope that they are a lifeline, a challenge, a four course meal.

I hope you enjoy them. Thank you for coming along with me on the journey of writing and releasing them. Here's an excerpt, with all the where-to-get-a-copy details below:


the wildest one

do you dare to step in-
to the vulnerable black, stripped
to the soul with human blindness –

when the full and weeping
moon steps from the shade
of a tumult of mountains –

when, in the fragrant dim,
day's tree stump transforms
into some nether-worldly other –

when time's skin is thin and you are
bared – when there is nothing
between you and the Wildest One

whose name is your own?



Here are The Details!
Want to get your own copy of NIGHT CYCLES? Here's all the info:

Paperback:
  • Amazon*
  • Signed copies
  • Createspace (for readers outside the USA -- this offers the most reasonable shipping rates on paperback copies)
  • You can also request NIGHT CYCLES at your local library and bookshop. A great way to support local businesses!
Ebook:
 *When you purchase the paperback on Amazon, you get the Kindle edition for free!


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Introducing THE BOOK OF LAZARUS {Free on Kindle!}

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01288WWKC

I'm not sure that I've talked about it much, but I majored in creative writing in college. And graduated cum laude, with honors, thankyouverymuch.

But when I graduated, I (and probably most of the people who knew me) wondered what the heck I was going to do with a liberal arts degree in that subject. I thought I wasn't likely very good, so what was the point in trying to write, right? So I pushed writing to the side and tried to pursue more practical avenues.

Except here I am, lots more years later than I feel comfortable with, writing. Trying to make a career of it. Finding myself more and more on the page -- of my own words, and of others'. It's kind of awesome. Writing is in my blood. I couldn't get rid of it, even when I tried.

And this week, I made a discovery that is so exciting to me -- I found one of the short stories I wrote during my college days.

You see, I made zero effort to hang onto any of the things I wrote before 2005. I thought it didn't matter.

Until it did, until I came back to writing again and again. Until I wished that I'd saved some things.

But this week -- I found one of them. Accidentally saved, but saved nonetheless. It is my favorite piece of writing from the work I did in college. Safe.

Whew.

SO, all that to say . . . I love this short story, and I've published it for Kindle. It's usually $0.99 (because Amazon won't let me make it perpetually free), but today through Monday, July 27, it is FREE. It's a funny story about the resurrection of Lazarus, and I'd love love love for you to check it out.  Here's a peek (you can also download this same preview on Goodreads, here):


The Book of Lazarus

a short story


I always thought that when you died, that was the end, fine, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred didrachmas. I was wrong.
I'm not talking about the afterlife, either. I've learned -- from very reliable sources, I might add – that there is something after we all die, but that's not the issue. The issue is that I always figured that once you die, that's it. One minute you're here, the next you're not. What the "next" part is, I was not sure, but I had always been positive that you die only once. However horrible or painful it may be, it's a one-time-only deal.
When I lay dying -- of leprosy, which is rather unpleasant -- I felt a bit apprehensive about the actual moment of passing over. My sisters, Mary and Martha, had assured me that I'd go to Heaven once the Savior did his work and all that, but that wasn't what I was worried about. I was most concerned with the physical act of dying. I'd think about getting to Heaven once I was on the other side.
So, after months of lying in excruciating pain, my skin slowly being eaten away, the leprosy finally won, and I died. The sickness had torn into me with an alarming appetite, until it was difficult to breathe or even blink. When I died, my last breath was a long awaited sigh of relief.
I don't remember much from after my death, it's all become very dim and gray now. One thing I do recall, though, is how comfortable it was. I didn't care about anything or anybody. I didn’t even care about myself. It was like sleeping in the softest feather bed in the world, or taking the longest, most luxurious bubble bath without the water ever getting cold. Fears and doubts and notions about my own well-being faded away. There was no need for worry, everything was clearly under seamless management. From time to time, hazy figures would pass through my view, as if I saw them through a fog, but I didn't pay them any attention. I was warm and cozy, and couldn't feel a thing beyond that. It was quite lovely.
A slow and lazy distress bubbled up within me when one of the figures became distinct from the hazy background. It took me a few moments to even understand or recognize this new development, and when I did, I heard a vaguely familiar musical voice.
"Lazarus," it said, "come out!"
Come out? In my benumbed and blissful state, I could barely comprehend the words, or that they were words at all, much less consider obeying them. Next thing I knew, there came a rushing sound, and I could feel a pall wind blowing through my idyllic comfort, sending goose bumps down the arms and chest that I had nearly forgotten were a part of me. It stopped, and I found myself lying in a dark place. Dark, but not the previous comfortable darkness of my limbo state. This felt cold and unwelcoming. I shivered.
I remained as I was for a few minutes, hoping to pass back into my earlier oblivion. I thought that if I ignored it all, perhaps the new developments would fade away like the trailing end of a storm. Unfortunately, I only became more aware that I was lying on something hard and cold. My spine began to throb against the unyielding surface beneath me as a damp chill began to seep through my skin.
I sat up, feeling rough cloth scratch against my raw flesh. I couldn't see anything, as if I was blindfolded. With stiff arms, I reached up and patted my face. Something was covering it. I tried to pull it away, but it was wrapped around my head. Slowly, joints cracking in dismay, I found an end of the cloth tucked behind my ear and unwound it.
I was sitting on a ledge in a small cave. The ceiling was low and pebbled, but the walls were smooth for the most part. My sore eyes stared at the dry reeds covering the sandy floor, at the perfume bottle resting next to the ledge, at the dirty swatch of linen draped across my hands. Investigating further, I found that my entire body was enveloped in linen that smelled vaguely of decay. Something in my mind began to tick, trying to work out what these things meant, as my heart starting beating faster, thumping against my ribs. This place seemed uncomfortably familiar.
It came to me. I had been in a place like this before. When my parents' last child was born dead, they had wrapped him in cloth and laid him in a small cave near the grazing fields where I used to take our sheep herd to feed. A cave like the one I was in.
A man cleared his throat behind me. I jerked my head around, muscles beginning to warm into a reality of dull and pulsing aches.
"Jesus!" I yelped, heart beating too fast. He stood in the large crack that was the entrance to the cave, eyebrow crooked. 

"Come on," Jesus hissed. "You're screwing up my miracle."


(And if you want to leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, I would be so, so grateful!)

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Morning Tea and a Conversation about Containers by Stephanie Durnford

photo by Stephanie Durnford
 {A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

I'm sitting here, with my cup of tea and bottle of water. It's 6:30 in the morning. I wonder what you're doing right now, as topics and blankness run through my head. . I pick up my tea, cupping it with both hands for just a moment; feeling the warmth in the my hand, I inhale deeply.

Vanilla. Honey. Other herbs I cannot name nor distinguish in the steam rising from the cup.

The heat becomes a bit too stinging on a new paper cut from work yesterday, so I take a sip and set it down. What might I say to you, if we were having tea together this morning?

I would laugh, tell you how desperately I want a cup of coffee first thing, instead of this herbal tea and bottle of water. You'd ask me why I don't just make that, instead.

I'd get a far away look in my eye, the only way I have sometimes of telling the truth without fully disappearing, without it being like talking about another person. I'd tell you that I've spent a fair amount of the last few decades wandering around mindlessly, that there have been (undiagnosed) health consequences, and that I don't want to them to get worse. I would tell you how uncomfortable I've been feeling in my skin, in my creativity, and while a single cup of tea and bottle water of won't change either of those - especially overnight - it's part of a larger shift I'm noticing taking place.

You'd take a sip of your tea, poke my arm, and ask me, "Vague, much?"

My eyes would focus back on the table between us and I'd pick up my own tea and take a sip, noticing that I'm almost done with it -- that much closer to coffee! -- and I take a small sip of water. I'm clearly using these moments of pause to think. I sigh, knowing that this isn't fully formed, but it's been tickling the edges of my thoughts. I ask if you'd indulge me some rambling. You take your tea in hand and smile. (This is not unusual for our conversations, and I know that I am blessed with your friendship.)

I think it started with #continuouspractice, the stacking up of days like cords of wood, showing up day after most every other day; 142 of them at this conversation. That there is something about setting a container that allows me to find my way back to what matters. Knowing that there is 20 minutes I will show up and just put pen to paper, that there is a community around me doing the same, and that I can do this hard thing. (Anyone who tells you that showing up every day is easy is trying to sell you something.)
Don't get me wrong. There are days it is easy; there are days it's like pulling teeth. Sometimes, those turn into the days that pass me by without thinking, in too much of a frenzy of busyness or the lull of mindlessness to sit down for 20 minutes.

I've learned that showing up to a space, for 20 minutes, where there are no expectations except to put pen to paper has its refreshing qualities. There have been snippets of fiction, lots of meandering, but mostly? Space to show up. Space to be honest. #continuouspractice has become the container that puts boundaries around the space, but that space is freedom.

It's given me a bit of taste for that kind of discipline -- creating a space full of gentleness to see what could be possible. There are new containers I'm creating in my life, to see what the freedom within them feels like, if it works. I'm trying to see it as playful, rather than our traditional understanding of discipline. What possibilities are there waiting for me?

This includes starting with tea and my bottle of water, rather than straight to coffee. What might be possible for my health, for feeling more settled as I start my morning, instead of buzzing with caffeine?

I pause and take a sip, noticing I've finished my tea. You smile, taking a sip from your own cup. I look at you, tilting my head as I do when I have a question.

What container(s) do you have for your own possibilities?  



Stephanie is a (infrequent) blogger at Visible and Real. She believes in the power of stories, hot tea and coffee, writing, reading, and breathing into the hard parts. Somewhere on the east coast, she is a writer, an explorer, a student, a wife, and mama to four squeaking guinea pigs. 

 

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here is what i would say by Jamie Bonilla

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

art by Jamie Bonilla
if i could hold your alive-beating-heart, i would speak
in a whisper, cradling gently
the strength born of grief
the muscle walls thick and sturdy
from the hard work of continuing to live and
send nourishment through
arteries and veins.

here is what i would say:

(and you would have a hard time understanding
as the tears flow, breaking up what is left of my windy voice)

"here is hope
she is your mother; you are hers,
held and seen in each others' arms"

you would hear:

      ...hope...
                 ...mother...
...see...

and it would be enough.



jamie bonilla is a found poet and artist, who is very herselfish. she lives in southern california with her husband and two boys, and a dog she’s learning to love. she is never happier than when she gets to be monkish and solitary with her cup of the-best-chai-in-the-world or holed up in her studio, flinging paint and finding poetry. you can find her online at jamiebonilla.com where she blogs about art, spirituality, and other parts of humanness, like the body and personality; and she is quite active on instagram as therustyartichoke.

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Life Lately {BABY Edition!}

So this happened:


Our new little guy, Eamon (pronounced AY-mon), arrived in May after a whirlwind two hour (!!) drug-free (!!!!) labor, weighing 9 lbs 2 oz (!!!!!).  And . . . he's perfect.  Just like every baby, of course, except more so for us because he's ours.


It's strange for me to remember that until my mid-pregnancy ultrasound I thought that he was a girl.  It was hard for me to wrap my head around his boy-ness at first, especially having lost a girl in my first pregnancy. I was so happy for a healthy little guy, but simultaneously grieving the daughter who died and the future daughter I'd hoped to raise but now never would, because we don't plan to try for any more children.  I felt quite guilty about the whole thing.


But now that he's here . . . all I can think is: Of course.  Of course it was him.  It was always him, always going to be him in our family, from the beginning of time.  And I'm so glad.  I wouldn't trade him for anything.  


And I have to say -- and I hope that this isn't too superficial of me -- that I adore having a baby who has dark, curly hair like his mama.  Of course, I also adore that our oldest son, Jacob, is an angelically-colored blonde-haired, blue-eyed bundle of sass.  But to have a baby that look like me?  Especially after the other baby we had that looked more like me died?  It's really precious to me.  When he yawns, he looks exactly like I did when I was a newborn.  I think that's cool.


And speaking of our older dude . . . Jacob is just in. love. with his little brother.  I wasn't prepared for that.  Instead, I'd braced myself for jealousy and requests that Eamon kindly diminish back into my uterus.  But nope.  Jacob loves him!  "He's cute!" he says of his younger brother.  "He knows me!"  And best of all: "I love you, Eamon."  His delight delights me.


Getting used to parenting two small people under the age of three on little sleep has been challenging, of course.  The heat wave we're having doesn't help (hello, 100+ degree temperatures when we live in a non-air-conditioned house!).  But slowly I'm finding a good rhythm.  I've taken the boys out to playgrounds and splash pads on my own a bunch of times now, and with each trip I get more confident, more sure of myself.


And look!  I've been breastfeeding in public!  Uncovered!  And it's okay!  With Jacob I never did this, always covered up, mostly not out of fear of offending anyone but because it felt too vulnerable to breastfeed uncovered.  But now?  I just really don't have the energy to care, or to wrestle with a cover.  A cover makes feedings so much harder, and anyway, it would be pointless given the amount I have to run after Jacob with a baby on my boob.  So that's cool. 


I have to admit . . . I'm so glad to not be pregnant anymore.  Which saddens me, because I loved being pregnant the first two times around, even with the tragedy of stillbirth touching it all.  It just felt so holy to me.  But this pregnancy was much harder physically -- I was sick a lot more, and I had polyhydramnios, excessive fluid, on top of regular contractions that started around 32 weeks and never stopped, not to mention horrible pelvic pain.  By the end, walking brought on debilitating pains . . . that, um, never started my labor.  When my O.B. broke my water at 39 weeks, I was dilated to 5 cm out of 10, and having contractions every 10-15 minutes . . . but wasn't in labor.  All that to say, I'm so grateful for my children, and also glad to be not-pregnant.  Three babies in four years is a lot, and my body (not to mention my mind and emotions) is done.  I'm ready to rest and heal.


I have to say, though, that it's weird, knowing that Eamon is our last baby.  A very important chapter in my life is closing, and while my husband and I agree that it's the right thing for us, and while I'm looking forward to the next chapter, it does feel bittersweet and odd.  Still, I'm excited to rediscover who I am once again (it's funny and beautiful and strange how each birth is a portal toward the next iteration of my self), and to enjoy time with my family.  And I'm especially looking forward to a lot more of these sweet smiles:


And so -- onward!

{And, in case you've missed them, some wonderful guest writers have been sharing their words here on the blog.  You can find their posts (plus all other past guest posts) here!}

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The Power of Story by Cynthia Lee

art and images by Cynthia Lee
{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

So far, 2015 has been a year of intentional wandering as I have chosen to push pause on the external voices that I had allowed to guide me in the past. Though I honor the good that has been brought into my life via the words of kindred spirits, I felt that it was time to be my own guide, to listen to my own wisdom, to find my way in the world.

I thought this year would brings huge adventures as I carved out time for myself. It's not to say that life has been boring but it certainly has felt more aimless than I intended. There is something missing. It feels as though I have forgotten something. At times I have longed to go back to my guides, to being led ever so gently, to whispers of, this might be a good way.

These words were gifted to me today: I just don't believe in the system anymore.

Yes. yes. I stopped believing in systems a long time ago.

Long before I rejected the school system for my own children, I identified the farce it was in my own life. I may have played along but I knew full well it was all a game to play. It wasn't real. I didn't need the classroom, the tests, and grades to motivate my learning. I was and am insatiably curious.

After years of playing a role in the perpetuation of thin belief, words began to echo in my mind as I marched in and out of the church building each Sunday: there has to be more to it than this. Thus began the unraveling of another system. I was tired of pouring energy into the facade of community, of family, of support. The empty promises piled up around me and became the staircase of rubble that I used to climb out. The people of God let me down long before the word of God became a fairytale I could no longer believe in.

Systems exist everywhere. A quick internet search will find articles, books, and workshops for blogging, painting, internet marketing, journaling, home management, parenting, clean eating, fitness, meditation. You name it and someone is offering a system for it.

Call me jaded but I just don't believe in it.

What do I believe in?

Ah. Here is the missing piece. Here is what I forgot as I took off on my own.

I believe in the power of story.


This statement came about a while ago after purposefully considering what beliefs I had left behind and what I was left with. I knew that I believed in beauty, in truth, in authentic experience, in good overcoming evil and when I considered where I encountered such things, it was in the act of story. Whether in a book, movie, musical, play, song, dance performance, or in the shared conversation over a cup of coffee, I love story. I believe that story has the power to change lives for better and for worse. I want to be a storyteller and a story holder. I want to speak and I want to listen. Most of all, I want to allow story to move through me in expression.

So this is what has been missing this year while out wandering the wilds of my soul. I have forgotten to tell my story. I may have even forgotten how to tell my story. I might have let myself believe that it wasn't important or that it was self serving. Already, it felt selfish to be focusing so intently upon my own soul journey. I have been conditioned to serve the journeys of others as my primary and most important work. It was a real struggle to say aloud, "I cannot give to you right now." Yet, these are words that I had to say, that I still have to hold onto.

Today, half-way through the year, I am reminding myself that this story is important and my words are important. If I don't tell my story, someone else will tell it for me.



As important as it is to take this journey, it is as equally important to record it, to speak it, to give voice to the getting lost and being found. I begin today. 


Cynthia Lee is an artist, thinker, feminist, unschooler, reader, storyteller, story-listener, mother soul, wife and lover, and spirit uncaged.  Follow her on Instagram.

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The Painting & Its Story by Deana Ruston

https://www.etsy.com/listing/129557527/fine-art-print-8-x-12-giclee-mothers-day?ref=shop_home_active_7

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

Several months ago I purchased this painting from Beth. She’s been a friend for a few years and this painting spoke to me. I just had to have it. 

My grandfather passed away in my first year of college and that led me to study grief and bereavement counseling. I was born at 25 weeks' gestation and knowing what could’ve been for my family and my life I began to have an interest in helping families who are experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. 

The moment I saw this painting it spoke to me. I needed it. 

To me the painting symbolizes the rainbow baby growing inside a mama who has experienced pregnancy and infant loss. One in four mothers experience pregnancy and infant loss- this can be through miscarriage (a baby born before 20 weeks gestation), stillbirth (a baby born not alive after 20 weeks gestation), preterm birth (a baby born before 37 weeks gestation) or infant death. 

A rainbow baby is a baby born following the death of a child. They are a referred to as a “rainbow baby” because they are the rainbow that appears after the storm (loss) of the baby. While they never replace the child that died, they are something special in the midst of sorrow. 

With my interest in pregnancy and infant loss, and desire to help these families, this painting brings me inspiration to continue the work I do. I am honored to walk along side these families as they journey through their sadness, fear and sorrow. Having a rainbow baby brings along with it anxiety and doubt that baby will be healthy. It is an experience like no other- in a time which should be filled with waiting and excitement is now painted with fear and worry. 

A few weeks ago, I took the painting to get custom framed at my local Michael’s craft store. A young woman about mid to late 20’s assisted me in finding the perfect frame. As I was in the process of choosing a frame I asked if she wanted to know the story behind the painting. She said she would love to. I told her that my friend Beth had painted it. Beth is a mother who experienced pregnancy and infant loss when her daughter Eve was born still. When I purchased the painting Beth was pregnant with her rainbow baby. I explained what a rainbow baby was and said that I am a grief and bereavement counseling student and that I work with families experiencing pregnancy and infant loss. She said that the story of the painting was so lovely. 

As I paid for my order, she paused and said ‘you probably hear a lot of people’s personal stories -- but I had a rainbow baby too.” Tears rolled down her face as she told me this and I asked if I could give her a hug. I told her that her babies are loved and remembered. 

This single moment I shared with her brought me inspiration, hope, love and a multitude of other emotions. It was such a special time -- one I will cherish forever. 

It also taught me that you never know where and how you will impact someone’s life. Everything makes a difference -- make it a positive one. It also reminds me that pregnancy and infant loss touches the lives of everyone -- even if  you don’t know it. 

As I picked up my painting this week the same woman was working.  As soon as I approached the counter, she said she remembered me and my special painting.  I smiled and thanked her.




Deana Ruston, a 23 year old from London, Ontario, Canada (about 2 hours from Toronto), studies grief and bereavement counselling at King's University College at Western University. She has an interest in pregnancy and infant loss, loves to bake, cook and volunteer. Born at 25 weeks gestation, she identifies as a fighter. She won't back down. 


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The Beautiful Mystery of the Creatrix by Dejah Beauchamp

image by Rafael Edwards via Creative Commons

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

I don’t know why the word creatrix isn’t used more often. I think it’s a beautiful word for a woman.

A creatrix has a rich and fulfilling life, full of varied encounters and adventures. She can’t be molded, branded, or truly known. There’s always a bit of mystery about her. Her most important aspect? She creates, of course. She makes things. They can be physical things, or metaphysical things, or things for which we don’t even have a word yet.

Who are these creatrices? Well...us. Me. You.

If you’ve gotten your hands messy in paint, clay, mud, dug deep into your Self and sparked something true and vital...

If you’ve thought something brilliant and then worked to bring that thought to fruition...

If you’re a mother, if you’ve called forth little parts of your flesh and soul into beautiful being...

If you’ve ever sung, quietly or loudly, hummed a tune, written a poem, written a word...

If you’ve ever spoken up for someone, stood up for what’s good in this world, fashioned a moment of truthfulness...

See? You’re a creatrix too.

I use creatrix as my own “inner” description of myself. I came upon the word when I was going through a deep depression, questioning my role as a woman, as an individual, as a human being. I was desperately trying to figure out my place in the world. I thought I was too old to have an identity crisis (I mean, shouldn’t I have my shit together by now?).

None of the labels I’d given myself really seemed to fit me anymore. Nothing described me completely. Wife, mother—those words can often come with baggage that dims our true being, puts us in a nice socially acceptable, pre-defined box. Even when I found my writing voice and realized Yes, this is it! I was still unsure about calling myself a writer.

But creatrix...that’s a powerful word. An embraceable word. There’s something about choosing a new word to describe yourself that causes a beneficial shift in your psyche.

When I began to think of myself as a creative force, unlimited and open to everything, I really felt alive.

My writing benefited because I was no longer hindered by a constant inner critic, or worries about what other people might think of me if I wrote honestly. My relationships benefited because I was able to speak from an authentic place. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for? To live authentically, honestly, to speak up for ourselves, and to create beauty?

So, not creator: creatrix. I’m reclaiming the feminine ending for this one (I’m a sucker for fancy Latin words).

Are you a creatrix too? What is it that you love to create?



Dejah Beauchamp doesn't know the answer to anything, but she's perfectly content to wander aimlessly through life with the hope that she'll end up in the right place. She has written for elephant journal, Be You Media Group, and The Tattooed Buddha, and has had poetry published in Pilgrimage Magazine and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She lives in New England, raising two sons and writing about all kinds of things on her blog. You can also connect with Dejah on Facebook, or Twitter.

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I'm Not Sad by Deana Ruston

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcfairch/4282937895/
image by Geoffrey Fairchild via a Creative Commons license

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

On December 27th, 2014 I was diagnosed with Stage IIB thyroid cancer. It had also spread to my lymph nodes- but I felt fine before. Didn’t have a clue, rhyme or reason to think it would happen to me. It was found through a spine MRI as I have scoliosis- so it was a shock to say the least. 

In February, I had my surgery and everything is now back to normal. I’m me -- how I was before all this happened. 

There’s no doubt that with this news and experiences I’d faced -- I’m encountering a multitude of emotions. Happy, sad, angry, frustrated. No one wants to be told they have cancer- that’s crazy! I never thought at 22 it would be me! So through this time I’ve been riding the waves that each experience and trial brought me, not one by one but sometimes many at once would come crashing down.

There’s one thing though. Maybe it’s part of our human instinct -- I don’t know. But maybe it’s because we’re trying to comfort one another, maybe we’re pushing our feelings onto the person who just got diagnosed when we really don’t know what to say. . .   No idea.

People have been assuming that I’m sad. 

I guess people think, oh she got cancer . . . she’s sad. 

I was at a visitation following the death of a distant family member a few days after diagnosis, and another family member had heard the news. She started off saying, “oh you must not be very good.” I was completely caught off guard; no hello, she just assumed how I felt. I wasn’t happy -- not with her, I mean. I was totally fine before she said anything. But her assuming how I felt?  Hmmmm, no, not okay. I mustered up a, "I'm actually doing pretty well, thanks." And carried on. 

From this cancer experience I’ve learned so much. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. For real. I’m not sad I got cancer. It’s made me a stronger, better person. I’ve always been a fighter, why back down now. Everyone has their own troubles, stories and struggles. We all get through them. At first I thought it was strange I wasn’t sad. To be honest, I thought it was almost wrong. Everyone else was sad. Why wasn’t I? I study grief counseling so I know everyone’s experience is going to be different. I had to remind myself of that. I know grief doesn’t come with step by step instructions -- who am I kidding? 

This isn’t all bad. So much good can come from it. When others try and define our feelings for us, they try to place us in the box or their template. That doesn’t work for me and probably doesn’t work for you either. Our lives are all individualized and unique. No persons story is the same as another. 
That’s the amazing thing.

Don’t let someone else define how you feel. It’s okay to feel how you do. Everyone’s experience is different. That’s okay. And we could even learn a little something from one another. 

Next time you talk to someone, ask them how they are, let them tell the story.



Deana Ruston, a 23 year old from London, Ontario, Canada (about 2 hours from Toronto), studies grief and bereavement counselling at King's University College at Western University. She has an interest in pregnancy and infant loss, loves to bake, cook and volunteer. Born at 25 weeks gestation, she identifies as a fighter. She won't back down. 

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The Curse of Superwoman by Cassie Hart

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eyesore9/8717901861/
image by Angus via a Creative Commons license

{A note from Beth: from May through August 2015, I am featuring some delicious guest writers here on the blog as I recover from pregnancy and birth and adjust to our new family rhythms (find more details here).  Enjoy!}

I have struggled with many things in my life. I have struggled with depression, with suspected bi-polar, with self-harm, with recovering from a string of unwanted male attention in various horrible forms, with PTSD, with a lack of self-confidence, with motherhood, with balance, oh, so much with balance.

But more than anything else, I have struggled with being Superwoman.

It didn’t begin with being Superwoman of course. It began with being a Good Girl. With living up to expectations. With an uncanny awareness for the feelings of others and a desire to help. A crushing sense of responsibility. For everything. I don’t think it’s always a ‘girl’ thing, but I know more woman than not who feel this. Like they have so much to live up to. Like they must take care of things or the important stuff will fall through the cracks.

And so we do what needs to be done. And we put other peoples needs ahead of our own. And somewhere along the line, some of us get lost.

I got lost. I drowned in the needs of everyone else until it got to the point where I wasn’t sure what I was doing because it was expected of me, and what I was doing because it was the real me. Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re not even sure if you’re a real person anymore, that maybe you are only the sum of expectations placed upon you by others and yourself?

Well, that was how I felt. I was ‘kind’ and ‘creative’ and ‘generous’, I was ‘Superwoman’ and ‘amazing’ and ‘wonderful’. But inside, I felt like a doormat, like a slave, like there was nothing left of me, and I couldn’t even be sure if I was any of those things people thought of me because it was me, or just because that was what was expected. I was living from a place of imbalance, not from a place of love.

And not love from others. I am well loved by everyone around me. I am cherished. I am worried for. At some point all the expectations I felt placed on me were internalized. No longer driven by others, but driven by me, by this ridiculous image I felt I needed to live up to.

Superwoman.

But I’m not. I struggle. I breathe and bleed and cry. I laugh and smile and dream. I am human, and I AM amazing, and sometimes I do carry more than I have the strength for. And that is the wonderful thing about being human. We can overcome so much. But, it wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t giving myself the same love that I gave to others, that I could really start to acknowledge that. I may not be Superwoman, but I am awesome, and I deserve love, deserve to be a priority, deserve to know myself and feel whole and like I belong in the world. Just like everyone else.

I’m not lost any more, at least, not entirely. I’m on a journey to rediscovering who I am. Creating my own labels, discarding the ones I had pinned on myself when they no longer apply. But more than anything, trying to make choices out of love – for others, yes, but for myself as well. Because when I make choices from a place of love, I am free.



Cassie Hart is a home-schooling mother to three beautiful girls, and wears far too many hats for her small wardrobe. She writes speculative fiction under the name J.C. Hart and her blog can be found here

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