Monday, October 29

Art & Love

clockwise from top: Susannah, Frida, Me & Swirly, taken by Mr. Swirly

me, swirly & frida, taken by Susannah

swirly (left) & frida (right) painting, canon digital rebel xti

susannah getting messy & creating beauty, canon digital rebel xti

me painting (left) and our hands (right), taken by Susannah

art & love, taken by Mr. Swirly

We climbed up a hill and came down a mountain together. I have returned a fuller, wiser, richer person because of these women. North, South, East, West...we gathered, we shared, we cried, we laughed, we comforted, we taught, we learned, we leaned, we stood.

As the Southern California fires roared around us, we huddled close and created our own little safe haven of burning, shedding and cleansing.

I feel like I have a new skin. The playful creative person deep inside has resurfaced out of the ashes. I am ready to get messy again. I am ready to face my fears of being less than perfect and making mistakes with the canvas of my life, as well as those in my studio. Beautiful messy mistakes.

The piece I made this night is now hanging on my wall. On the tip top of painted strokes of orange is the stamped word "balance". I chose this word for two reasons. One being that I felt the balance of our personalities and our gifts created such a oneness the entire time us women were together. A balance of creative souls giving and receiving equally. Two being that I came out of this time together knowing that balance is what I need in my life. I've been neglecting parts of myself that go beyond the desire to create a family. My art supplies have been tucked away in a transparent plastic bin up in my studio. I stare at it daily. I see the colors trapped inside. It's time for me to release them, to take them out so they can breathe through me. I've been afraid for what they would tell me but I am learning that fear is all part of doing something messy and thrilling and outrageously healthy.

Lately I've been expressing so many parts of me with my photography, which I love and is so naturally ingrained within me...but I miss my paints, my pastels and all in between. Sitting on a canvas cloth, with Swirly's abundance of art supplies, surrounded by three beautiful women giving me the permission to play, get messy and throw perfection out the window has lifted a heavy weight that I didn't even realize was there. I plan to pay more attention so that I can do whatever it is my "self" needs to feel more free.

I am so grateful for this gift that these hunk of burning lovelies offered to me.

(thank you, Sus for my new rockin' banner)

Thursday, October 25

photo friday :: silence

me this past weekend, taken by justin davanzo

My home feels so quiet. Silence. The air is still filled with their fragrance. The blankets are still twisted. The pillows still bare the imprints of their lovely bodies. Its almost as if they haven't left but the silence is a reminder.

I feel restless with the silence...but it is the one thing I need right now. Throughout all the many revelations that came up for me during this visit, the need for quiet time kept surfacing. I've been busying myself with doing and have been afraid to stop and listen, breathe and wait for what comes up within me.

Post surgery, I have entered a new chapter on this journey. I think it is time for me to set aside the books on fertility and just meditate. Write. Breathe. Walk. Run. Swim. Listen. Create. Paint. Get Messy. Oh...and read other books besides those having to do with health. The girls gave me a list to read. It's time for me to peek around the corner at what else I need to learn besides how to take care of my body.

There was a moment this weekend when us girls were all sitting around the table drinking our teas and coffees and they were discussing the latest books they have read. As I was listening to them passionately share the authors and their stories, I suddenly realized how hungry I was. Not for food but for wisdom that goes beyond the health and fertility books that sit on my beside.

I had a healthy, joyful cry with them about how I am ready to move forward and open my heart to a part of me that I haven't nurtured in a long time. The part that isn't necessarily about trying to make a baby but just trying to explore all else that is out there for me to see, touch and feel. The part that isn't afraid to sit in silence and meditate to connect with my inner me, not for the purpose of opening my womb but for the purpose of opening my heart.

One of my clients at a photo shoot this weekend in Santa Monica grabbed my camera at the end and took this photo of me. When I first looked at it tonight I gasped. The very quiet, silent place I am seeking for is captured here. Another reminder from the Universe that this is what I need.

I will share pictures and thoughts on the girly fest soon. But for a few days, I will marinate in the silence that surrounds me.

Wednesday, October 24

peace in the midst of chaos*

daisies at la jolla cove, canon digital rebel xti

Susannah, Frida and I arrived back home yesterday afternoon. The ride from Los Angeles to San Diego was a bit surreal. The sky is an orange-ish haze and smells of one large campfire. Puffs of smoke lined the hills surrounding us near the freeway.

I've received loads of emails and phone calls while I was away inquiring if we were safe from the fires. I wanted to leave a quick note to let you know that we are indeed safe. My home is near one of the evacuation centers, so we truly are in a good place. Boho Boy brought over an air mattress, blankets and pillows for a stranded family at the center. The whole of San Diego is coming together to lend a hand and lift one another up.

We are taking the girls to a beach today where we are hoping the air is a bit more clear and fresh. We have limited time left together, so as much as there is chaos going on around us, we are able to find peace in the midst of it all.

This morning on the couch Boho Boy was in the middle of a love sandwich while we listened to 80's music and shared old stories. Lucky boy. ; )

Photos and stories about our time together with Swirly are coming soon. It's been other~worldy and I need time to marinate in it all.

Tuesday, October 16

she's almost here*

sus & me, last november

She's on an airplane as I write this. London to Los Angeles. She's probably snuggled up holding her iPod with eyes closed and imagining her first time in sunny California (just a few more hours...). How fun that I get to be the one to drive down the coast and watch her gasp at the palm trees and beaches. She's burned a bunch of CD's so we can have our own little karaoke fest with windows rolled down and arms flailing out the windows. It's been almost a year since I've seen her lovely face.

Her first few days in my home will be about rest, rest and more rest....trying our best to get rid of that jet lag naturally. I am fully equipped to pamper her salon style. This weekend we head back to Los Angeles to hang with Swirly and Frida. In between a few photo shoots I'm doing for Swirly, we'll all be soaked in inspiration, laughter and love. I will then scoop up Sus & Frida to head back my way and snuggle back into my home until next Thursday. Seriously...it all feels so surreal.

Of course Boho Boy is jazzed to have a house full of girlies. Especially those that are as intelligent, sparkly and rockin' as these betties are. He left for work this morning with a huge smile on his face. Sus has become very special to him as well.

I have plans for picnics on the beach, moonlit walks, bonfires and perhaps some messy creative~ness here and there. This is all perfect timing, of course...because I've been living far too deep into my head the last few days. I am pretty certain that hanging with a brit and a kiwi will pull me out and leave me dancing!

Perhaps we'll post some goodies while they're here.

For some stunning, soulful and deeply moving photography of Afghanistan, see Frida's photoblog here.

Sunday, October 14

there's no place like home*

the many faces of my gorgeous marmie, canon digital rebel xti
(click for larger view)

I just returned home from home. I can still smell the puppy scent of our new little sister, Callie Lu in my hair. I snuggled her good and hard while she sat on my lap during our trek back to the airport. Their dog Daisy that recently passed away will never be replaced but Callie Lu sure has stolen another part of my heart. One of my favorite moments was when she snuggled in between my sister Darlene and I for two hours in the early morning. She clumsily plopped her furry body on top of mine, nuzzling her nose into my neck and then taking turns to do the same with Darlene. She couldn't make up her mind which new sister she wanted to snuggle, so she laid down in the middle with paws touching us both. I think she was on LOVE overload all weekend. We all couldn't get enough of her. She's such a smart little one...already playing fetch, whining at the door when she needs to go potty and sitting for treats. She's just tender and perfect for my parents and has already been so healing for their broken hearts. I cradled her in my arms quite a bit and had to laugh at myself because I could feel that yearning to do the same with a baby, yet here I was starring in the eyes of a puppy.

Speaking of yearning. I only had one mini meltdown about my fertility journey while with my sisters and mother. I actually anticipated a few more because it was the first time in a long time since we've all been together. They've gone through most of this with me over the phone or via emails. It happened when we were driving up to the mountains on our way to antique stores. After cheerfully listening to a plethora of stories about my nieces and nephews when they were little, out of the blue I felt an anxiety attack come on. I was sitting in the back seat with my sister Darlene and while she was sharing a cute story about Marky and marbles, I felt warm tingles all over. My sister Pam and my mother were up front chatting away and their voices began to sound low and grumbled. My heart started racing, my palms sweating. I reached my hand over to Darlene's knee in tears and told her what was happening. Then my emotions all poured out. I heard my mother and Pam stop and listen. Pam turning and placing her hand on my leg, Darlene holding my hand. My mother was driving but I could still feel her touching me. I just remember saying that I never thought I'd be "this person" to have to go through this. I think I even called Nichole Ritchie a bad word for getting pregnant while anorexic (where did that come from?). Wow...it all came tumbling. They held me in their silence. I kept hearing their whispers..."I know, Denise...let it out." Even through the tears and messy thoughts and emotions, I felt centered. I remember saying..."I'm not a victim. I am grateful for this journey and all the blessings that have come into my life as a result but it doesn't take the pain away, the uncertainty, the fear when others share their stories and you wonder if a biological child is or is not in the cards for you. It's huge and every once in a while it feels overwhelming and shocking that this is me....but it is me and I am accepting this." This whole journey has been about accepting and embracing the joy and pain through all of this.

They didn't look at me with pity but rather with pride. I noticed that and appreciated it very much. They all seemed so sure about the goodness in my near future. They were the balance to my fearful thoughts creeping up.

The remainder of my time there I felt more quiet than usual. Sort of taking everything in and being gentle with myself. Messy moments like that drain me a bit because they don't happen very often but when they do, I let the floodgates flow. I need to. It felt so good and natural to do it with them. It still surprised me though because I was feeling so centered and then blah...it came crashing down. It's all part of the roller coaster. I promised myself I would never judge moments like these but hold myself more gently when they happen.

In fact, we all had our moments of sharing like this about our own journey's. It felt as though we all circled one another holding onto a healing safety net for when one of us stumbled. That's what family is for and I know we'll always continue to nurture that.

Below are a few photos I wanted to share. My brother in-law and darling nephews came over for a bit as well. Can't believe how grown up they all are. I remember them in diapers so clearly:

the newest fuzzy addition to our family...Callie Lu, canon digital rebel xti
(for those that have asked...she is a Golden Doodle)

the blonde beauties.. my big sis Darlene & lil sis Callie, canon digital rebel xti

my other stunning big sis Pamela, canon digital rebel xti

my handsome daddy looking oh so Sean Connery-ish.
(just ignore the blur from camera shake!)

pamela, darlene & me, taken by marmie with my camera,
right before heading to the mountains

the boyz: Ken (pam's husband), my nephews Casey, Mark & Sean and my daddy

Casey (pam's son)& Mark (darlene's son) playing with Callie, canon digital rebel xti

brothers being brothers: Casey & Sean (pam's son), canon digital rebel xti

cousins being cousins: Mark, Casey & Sean

Mark & Casey, canon digital rebel xti

never enough sister kisses

We missed you Angela & Kelly!

Tuesday, October 9

confessions of a girly weekend*

schmoopy, canon digital rebel xti

I've been feeling extremely relaxed lately, so when talk of a girly weekend were in the making, I purposely didn't make any plans to be anywhere (with the exception of an island pedicure one day). Before the girls came, I burned some sage, incense and lit all the candles I had in every nook and cranny of our home. I also put a mix of daisies and dahlia's in bottles here and there. I let down our sheer curtains that separate our kitchen from our living room, turned soft ambient music on and was ready for a spa retreat.

I was hoping it would set the tone for the remainder of our time and it did indeed. It seems all of my sweet friends here and across the globe are going through huge shifts in their lives. Our minds are running so fast with brilliant ideas that it takes creating a space like this to quiet our souls and center ourselves.

Schmoopy was staying the weekend and we were blessed with the presence of a chic mermaid for one night. The three of us cuddled, ate a delicious huge salad, drank fresh veggie juice and chatted until the wee hours of the morning. What I love about the women in my life is that their hearts and minds are so juicy. Each moment spent with them is a lesson learned and a chance to grow a little wiser. We all come from various backgrounds but find ourselves on similar journeys with our creativity, sensitivity, motivation and yearning to balance it all gently and gracefully.

I don't remember a time when I've been surrounded by this many like-minded souls in person and in spirit across the world. It can be overwhelming for me sometimes. In a good way. I needed the last few days to marinate and digest all the wisdom that was shared. It's all good, juicy stuff...but it takes time to find its place in my heart.

One amazing thing that I will share that came out of this weekend is a confirmation that I am in a really healthy space with my fertility journey. Schmoopy is four months pregnant and being around her and her lovely swelling belly felt more comforting than anything. It gave me hope. None of those messy emotions surfaced. I just feel so centered and sure that I will be a mother soon. My thoughts were more directed to her and if she was alright. I also recognized that I am in a space of such gratefulness in regards to all the other things birthing in my life that I am focusing on what I do have, not what I don't have right now. This feels freeing.

Tomorrow I leave to spend a few days with my family in Northern California. This is yet another very important tribe in my life that I am looking forward to nurturing. Now that we're all getting older, I am loving the friendships that are blossoming with my parents and sisters. I love how the dynamics are folding into harmony as we all come into our own at different stages in our lives.

Here are a few fun portraits from the weekend. I am sure I will post more on flickr when I return (click for larger view).

me & mermie snuggling and chatting on my couch, taken by schmoops

schmoopy playing in the ocean, canon digital rebel xti

Monday, October 8

incense burning*

incense burning, canon digital rebel xti

I have some cool things to share about my girly weekend but I am taking time to marinate in it all today as I walk around to pick up the remnants of our sweet time together.

One thing I will share is that I burned almost a whole box of incense while Boho Boy was gone. Burning incense used to be an integral part of my every day until I met him. As much as he digs the smell and the energy, he's allergic to it. Well, at least we haven't found one that doesn't send him into a fit of stuffed noses and headaches. A small thing for me to let go of for such an amazing guy.

Although, this weekend as the nag champa floated around my home I found myself reconnecting with a part of me that is very sacred. Something I can relish in during our times apart. Rather than it being a part of my every day, it can now be a ritual to reinforce my belief that I am not just a part of a couple but also very much an individual.

side note: For those of you that missed it the first time around, the documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer is airing again tonight on the Discovery Health Channel at 8 PM ET/PT and will repeat itself at 11 PM ET/PT. I have her book and am devouring it.

Friday, October 5

deep joy*

schmoopy, canon digital rebel xti

I get to spend a long weekend with this lovely nugget of beauty. The sexy hubs is off for a kayaking camping trip with the Santa Barbara boys, so I figured girly time was in order. I hope to be doing much of what she is in this portrait. I need it. She needs it. We all need it. Can you feel her joy down deep in your soul?

Speaking of something that with bring joy/laughter...check out my dear friend Sean in his latest adventure. He's the one who plays Indiana. Hilarious.

Tuesday, October 2

self portrait challenge ~ food and me

me & chili, taken by boho boy

This could be a fun month of portraits with me and food. I love this challenge...because I love food. I thought it would be neat to start with a photo that was taken of me a few months ago when we were at a friends house in Canada.

The hosts dared us to try chocolate ice cream with chili powder sprinkled on top. I took the dare because it reminded me of the film Chocolat and I had always wondered what that tasted like.

This photo was taken right after my first bite. As you can see...I am not quite sure how I feel about the combo. Following each bite, I swirled it around on my tongue and would say, "hmmmmm", like...are these supposed to go together? I couldn't figure it out but ended up eating the whole scoop anyways!

I've never been a "matchy-matchy" person, so things that don't typically go together intrigue me. Not only food...but everything, really.

Would love to hear of some other odd food combinations you've tried.

Monday, October 1

true love*

my niece, kelly ~ canon digital rebel xti

"Once upon a time,
a girl prayed for true love.
Her prayer was answered.
She learned to love herself."

~ Monique Duvall, The Persistence of Yellow

Learning to love myself the way I need to be loved has taken me a long while to figure out. Just like any relationship, really.

Tell me some things you do that shows your~self how much you love you.