The other day I found this article on The New York Times site, Our Mothers As We Never Saw Them and I thought it was brilliant so I decided to write something similar for Mother's Day. The above image of my mother at 16 is my personal favorite. She had told me that she took this image of her self and made a self-depreciating joke about her teenage angst quickly dismissing it. But I was in love. I would sneak a peek at this image whenever I saw the old box of photos or whenever I thought of it. I think on some level I worshiped her; her ability to remain so neutral. Of course I know better now, now that we have grown to be more realistic friends with one another and our relationship is, to my surprise, better than ever but back then I was this girl at 16...
When I looked at my mother before she had me and we were the same age I saw everything I wasn't. I saw a woman who already knew herself. She saw awkward teenage angst, her adult self judging how cool she once thought she was, but I saw how little she had changed and admired it. She took that coolness, that angst and became a successful artist, even teaching college courses by the time I was 16. I saw her dedication to her work, always knowing who she was and who she was always going to be. I looked in the mirror and saw a nervous, jittery, awkward loner type girl that dreamed of magic, not conjuring or spells but real life, everyday magic. I saw a girl who was just taking life one day at a time because I had no dreams of my future other than to be a good wife and maybe have kids.
Strange how I inherited my mother's imagination and father's wit but because it wasn't grounded it confused not only me but also my mother and I gave up on believing in magic and tried to learn how to be practical and fit into a box that had been defined for me, quickly married at 19 and becoming a mother six months later when I found out I was pregnant - because you are a mother the moment you become pregnant.
My life then became all about my son and I became determined to allow him to have life experiences I wasn't allowed when I was young so that his decisions could be based on awareness, knowledge and his own passions. As unhealthy as it may sound, at some point my son and I began learning about life together. I have recently started watching Gilmore Girls reruns because it helps me feel a little better about how I raised my son. It's ok, you can laugh.
The reason I share this is because now my son is married and I see how the generations after mine are waiting to have kids which I think is great but I also see how much they use technology and how temporary memories are becoming with apps like Snapchat. There is something to be said for documenting who you are, your own journey of self-discovery as you get older, your life lessons, your adventures. Even if you don't have children you will want (even need) to look back at your own progress and celebrate it. Life has a way of making us question our value, our worth, our purpose and having tangible things to reflect with helps. Document the fun but also document the pain.
Because of my mother's early selfie and other artists who paved the way to use their art to process pain, life experiences and reflect, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali for example, I found different ways to document my own experiences through self-portraits, selfies, writing and vlogging. Don't be afraid to be who you are and document the process of figuring out who that is and how it will shift and evolve. Those who surround you, especially your children will thank you for it and it will help them have the courage to do the same.
Now I'm curious about what you know of your mother before she became a mother. Share if you would like!
I received a question the other day from one of my YouTube viewers; they asked "How did you deal with the loneliness at first? How do you become ok being alone?" This question prompted by my video, Recovery from Love Addiction. This is probably the most exquisite question I have gotten so far. The answer can sum up recovery (of any kind really) and I am thrilled to make the video in response and I am even more excited about the direction this question gave me. But this isn't the best and most professional response. This will be my personal, rawest and most real response that I will merely reference in my upcoming video. I can give a general response for everyone but if you are curious how I became comfortable alone this is it...
To begin, let's be clear that there is a vast difference between being alone and lonely. I have never felt more alone than when I'm with people. I grew up believing that there must be, at the very least, one person that I wouldn't feel lonely with so I began to become attached to the idea of what that person would feel like when I was with them. I had absolutely NO frame of reference, this was all fantasy and that was my undoing. I got caught up in relationships that were toxic and abusive and my behavior spiraled to the point of being suicidal.
You see, in my world, loneliness was only felt in relationships, not out of them. I felt loneliest lying next to anyone who controlled me, betrayed me, punished me, ignored me, loathed me, demanded of me, and on and on and on. The space between us was palpable but being touched was worse, it was as though each touch was meant to take something from me, to use, to consume, to alter, to mutilate. Even when I found my refuge, when I had the opportunity to share a bed with a man who truly knew me and cared for me deeply, who was my safe space from my nightmares, I remained lonely because it still wasn't love, not the kind of love that is secure in a way I needed most.
But in my lover's eyes I would see my bruises reflected as well as the girl that was still trapped inside. I discovered myself, my power, my truest beauty, my womanhood again and eventually I had to say 'goodbye' to the mirror I loved, this mirror who had saved my life as I also said 'goodbye' to the lie that had brought me there.
Loneliness then became losing everything. There is no greater hell then losing the ability to see your child on a regular basis. There is no greater emptiness. And no other kind of love can fill that void. When I first lost my home I stayed with a close friend who opened up her home and sometimes would fall asleep talking with me. This was the least lonely I ever felt, sharing a bed with a close female friend that was willing to simply be present. My screams would wake her though. For those few nights someone else heard my screams, I wasn't alone and I didn't feel lonely.
That's the thing about having deep scars from the past. You spend years doing the physical, spiritual and psychological work on yourself, healing trauma, PTSD, and anything that may have brought you to the choices you had made in romantic partners (addiction, avoidance, past abuse, codependence, etc.) but that doesn't take away the many more years locked away. The mind has an interesting way of deciding when it's time to heal something. One thing dating has taught me is that no one can hear you scream anymore - no one except you. You will still wake up to the sounds of your own screams. You will hear your voice screaming in your dreams. The sound of your screaming comes and goes but no one else can hear you... not really.
You can look at someone else, try to explain it and only feel more lonely when their empty eyes look at you with confusion or their cold responses leave you feeling as though you cut yourself wide open just to fall to your knees bleeding alone all over again while they just watch you, with no compassion or worse yet, complete disinterest.
To me, loneliness is the emptiness you feel when an expectation is not met. So, if I expected a fairy tale, I was lonely every moment I was with someone that didn't give that to me. As I matured, healed, became educated, loneliness has become the expectation of a shred of compassion when a relationship comes to the point of needing to share more about my past and receiving nothing. Not feeling lonely has become loving who I am, accepting myself, forgiving myself, being compassionate with myself and surrounding myself with only those who treat themselves the same way. And most of all, just loving people as they are while loving myself enough to honor my own boundaries.
Spiritualists will tell you that expectations break your heart, not people. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with expecting compassion when you open up about something painful with the goal of being closer to a partner, connecting on a more intimate level and being able to release something that is ready to move from your psyche and your spirit. This also is in line with the Buddhist teaching of romantic love so when we talk about expectations, let's be clear on what expectations are reasonable and realistic and which ones may be exaggerated. That's all another topic for another day.
Image Credit: GoodVibes Photography
This is an important time to set an intention for the next lunar year. This New Moon is in Aries and the sun is in Aries as well. My sun sign is Aries and although it isn't the strongest influence in my chart I embrace the inner child. Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, related to the root chakra, foundations, renewal, rebirth and hope. Since the moon is new, beginning a new lunar cycle for the year and is in the sign that represents new beginnings there is no better time than now to get serious about what direction you want your life to go in for the rest of the year.
Aries is always playful though so look at your hopes and dreams with childlike wonder. Like a child, hold on to the belief that anything you imagine can happen. Resist the inner critic, the "logical" grown-up inside you that tries to protect you from being hurt by crushing your dreams before they even have a chance to be planted. Trust that with the right amount of faith, intention and determination you can make your dreams your reality.
When setting your intention remember that before taking any type of action make absolutely sure you are certain. Trust your instincts, be patient (Aries influence is a 'dive in head first without thinking things through' influence), embrace new ideas, have faith and lots of courage. Heal your heart, your relationships and your preconceived notions around relationships of all kinds (Venus retrograde is already forcing this right now). Then you will clearly see and feel what it is you truly want.
It's best to write your intentions down and check in with your progress throughout the 28 day lunar cycle. For now, notice any old belief, habit or pattern that has held you back or kept you in a state of fear. Without judgement release it and create a powerful intention from there. What can you be more open to?
It's International Woman's Day and, like most days that are celebrated, I am filled with mixed feelings about it all. I just can't help but see first the things that make us most alike and can connect us; then I see the differences. Maybe it's the naive child that lives on in me. But to appease the woman I have become and the trials I have gone through, largely because of my gender, I thought it would be a sort of purification ritual as well as a celebration of my womanhood as I feel myself transition into the archetypal crone.
For me being a woman started out as a dream of being a wife that would stay home all day and cook and maintain the household of my husband. Life decided I needed to start working at a young age and I fell in love more with working than I ever imagined I could a man. My dreams grew bigger, my heart exploded every day as I fell in love with my work, learning how to be better everyday and becoming hopelessly devoted to caring for patients. The fun I had was confusing to some, even me but I was in love. My career was my first love when I got married and my womanhood was challenged as I let my younger self down as a wife and mother.
Being a woman began to mean that I could have it all but only at the fears, insecurities and disappointment of those I loved the most and eventually me as well. Being a woman meant being incredibly creative with learning how to navigate my sanity in the vast sea of disappointment. As my heart grew more and more broken being a woman began to mean that I had to learn how to put myself back together again and love with all of the broken pieces of my heart at the same time.
For years, being a woman meant being punished for being sure of who I was and wanting nothing but to love people and how confusing that was to others. Being a woman, I later realized, meant that when you step in to your true power it can make the insecure forcefully pleasant or violent and the self-assured simply proud for you. Being a woman who wants secular success as well as success in love is selfish. Being a woman means you will be challenged to compromise your integrity, values, morals and even health almost daily for the sake of the male ego.
Then one day, being a woman meant having a choice. Being a woman meant having a choice in how much I allowed pain and suffering into my life. Being a woman meant I was sensual and in love with every savory aspect of living and I could be a sexual being without needing to have sex. Being a woman meant that I didn't need to experience the act of sex to feel empowered, valued and loved. Being a woman means that you can easily confuse a man with this ability and how they respond to their confusion tells you everything you need to know about them.
Being a woman has given me the opportunity to explore my creativity from writing to photography and countless things in between as I learn to appreciate the wisdom my choices (and lack thereof) had brought me. Being a woman means that I may have to work harder to prove myself and to be taken seriously but once I do it gives me a greater sense of pride than any appreciation, commendation or opportunity that is casually handed to me would.
Being a woman has taught me that with age you can grow in deeper love or deeper bitterness and that we can choose love. Being a woman means I have a greater responsibility to use my feminine energy to nurture and compassionately care for those who are in pain because it's part of who I am.
Being a woman showed me the honor and privilege of falling in love with a little human before anyone else could. Being a woman means I knew motherhood and a bond that lasts forever. Being a woman has filled me with pride whenever I feel my nurturing side co-existing with my creative and productive side.
On the topic of letting go a male friend once told me that he believes women have to experience this lesson more often and on a deeper level than men ever could. What an insightful and beautiful truth! Something about the way he expressed it made me feel connected in a deeper and more meaningful way to all the other women that have ever existed. Being a woman teaches us the literal and figurative way to cut cords and the pain we go through each time.
The biggest lesson I have learned as a woman is that if it wasn't such a profound and insurmountable gift then womanhood wouldn't even be a topic of conversation. It would just 'be'. We would embrace womanhood in all it's differences from manhood. Being a woman means we get to define beauty from the inside out... in all its forms.
Womanhood is a delicate gift but society has a way of telling us that manhood and all of its ways are all that can be heard, respected and appreciated so women try to learn the language of men. Women become louder, more creative, more clever, more successful only so that we can feel more comfortable being ourselves. Being a woman means making a conscious choice to be uncomfortable almost every single day in order to hopefully feel comfortable in our workplace, home, on the street, or anywhere in public. Being a woman means being as uncomfortable as possible for our daughters, our nieces, and all the little girls that don't quite know the battle they were born into. Being a woman means that we are meant to bring the world together, not tear it further apart.
When women step into their true feminine power they become a powerful and compassionate force that will help us learn to work together, cooperatively.
What does being a woman mean to the other women reading? Message me or comment!
Nothing like a professional photoshoot to help you embrace who you are and who you are becoming in all of our sensual elegance. Visit my friend Kim's site if you're in the Phoenix area! Good Vibes Photography
Thinking back on the various types of orgasms I've experienced had me pondering the fact that the more significant the orgasm, the deeper sense of gratitude I experienced beforehand, (obviously anyone is grateful for a good orgasm after the fact). As I pondered and discussed this topic further with other people who are adept in this department I also began to ponder the act of surrender and its role in pleasure and ultimately orgasm - sexually speaking.
Orgasms are not difficult for me because I have learned to take my time, to have a very good sense of a man and know that there is a mutual synergy and respect with no sense of neediness or expectations attached. Yes, I have learned discernment and how to maintain my sense of dignity through less than and even traumatic avenues but I have learned and very much love where I'm at with my love life and sexuality.
Less truly can be more in this instance.
Less has meant not settling, waiting for perfect / divine timing, and sometimes a dash of love. As a recovering Love Addict and someone who is, in astrological terms, ruled by Venus in Taurus and who's Mars is in Pisces I do tend to fall in love a little with the people I let "in" (pun wasn't intended but there it is). "Love" in the English language is insultingly simple for what I mean though. I don't believe there is an addictive component when you can remain detached from any particular outcome and you have released that desperate image you have held on to in your mind for as long as you can remember. Believing in love and embracing it in each form that it has been presented to me has expanded my ideas, beliefs, imagination, creativity, spirituality and sense of self as well as my sense of wholeness and what that means. I will cover different types of "love" in different languages in future videos and blogs.
When I think about the less than satisfactory sexual experiences they all started with me, just as the best ones do. When I was having sex out of a feeling of obligation or because I was in want, it was less than satisfying. Although, some of my best realizations about myself and the darker path I once was on came (unintentional pun again) when in less than or even awful interactions with men I didn't really want to be with. They misunderstood this to mean we had a really good connection (and still do) but it was more the awakening you get when something really tragic happens. Thank you for the lesson... Moving on...
The greatest sexual experiences I have had were in the beginning of deep and meaningful love, before any betrayals, when I was naive about what "this could be" and surrendered completely with no regard to the pain that could come later. When betrayal and dismay set in the sexual experience shifts, mainly because my perceptions were shattered and now that person would represent that shattered fantasy. Once though, I let go of any fantasy or idea of what could be and fully embrace what is I gain control of my orgasm again. The union with this partner you trust and respect, who truly needs nothing from you than your presence when you are together becomes much more meaningful, even spiritual. Setting aside the physical ways I am capable of achieving my desired outcome (which I have rarely had issues with), as a woman, emotionally I am able to surrender, feeling safe, falling in love with the sensations in my body, each of them unique each time. I am able to carry this feeling into every day life. Trauma no longer ruling me, so any sensation felt in my body is trusted. I can even tell when I'm getting sick earlier and take preventative measures sooner because I am tuning in more.
This all brings me back to the original point, being grateful for your partner and his (or her) willingness to give you a safe space to be vulnerable allows for deeper and more meaningful orgasms, and the deeper that connection becomes the deeper and more intense the shared sexual expression.
So ultimately, if YOU were to look at orgasms as a component of gratitude, how would this change your perspective and even experience of sex (if at all).
There is much more to discuss on this topic in the future so I will pause for now with the intent that, if you are a woman and this is a difficult topic for you, I am happy to discuss more privately.
Visit my friend Kim's site for more work or to schedule a shoot of your own in the Phoenix area: http://www.goodvibesphoto.com/
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.