Thursday, December 20

softer and more beautiful*

our home, canon digital rebel xti

"Christmas waves a magical wand over this world,
and behold...everything is softer and more beautiful. "

~ Norman Vincent Peale

I am closing my eyes and wishing that each of you will discover some sweet magic (in places where you'd never expect it) and with this glimpse of enchantment, your lives will feel softer and more beautiful.

Down in the depths of my soul, I feel dreams will be coming true in the new year...yours and mine.

Wednesday, December 19

holiday rain*

rain & leaves outside my home, canon digital rebel xti

I get absolutely giddy when it rains. I am the opposite of most people in that I feel lighter and happier in chilly rainy weather. When it gets too hot, I feel lethargic and a bit depressed. I suppose this means that living in the Southern-est (new word) part of California is probably not the best place for my emotional well being. ; )

This morning I woke up to rain and as I looked down at all the gorgeous red and orange toned leaves (my favorite colors), I just had to grab my camera and get wet.

In a few days, I'll be leaving to be with my family in Northern California. My parents live on the bottom of the Sierra Foothills and the view from their adorable house up on the hills is magical. Snow capped mountains and rolling hills with houses draped in holiday lights.

I am craving time with my family. Last year during the holidays, my dear nephew was in a dreadful car accident and we spent all day, every day, in intensive care praying for his life. Today, although his body is not back to normal, he is much improved and buried in studies to be a respiratory therapist. This was inspired by his time in the hospital and the excellent care he received from his RT's. So, this season, we are marinating in the fact that although it was one of the scariest times in our lives, it has also brought some blessings into his life...as well as ours. We have all walked away from this not taking one another for granted.

After being with my family, I'll be heading to San Francisco with Boho Boy and his Boho Brother until the new year. We are house swapping with a friend of mine. It will be Boho Brother's first time in the city. Can't wait to show them my old stopping grounds in Berkeley. That place is home to me. I'm excited to pack my cute rain boots and play in the puddles all snuggled up in hats and scarves.

If I don't get a chance to post again over the next few days before I leave, I wish all of you a peaceful, soulful, messy~beautiful, drippingly gorgeous holiday. Cry if you need to. Dance in the rain. Make love under the Christmas tree when all are sleeping. Belly laugh as often as you can and remember its so not about the gifts but all about the love and comfort of those that get you and even those that don't.


Tuesday, December 18


a gift from Swirly on my studio shelf, canon digital rebel xti

When you feel you've done all you can...just stand.

(a message to me from God a few months ago that i was reminded of yesterday)

Saturday, December 15

silent night*

Sweet images of our special night together...
(click on each image for larger view)

view from our loft. boho boy tree spinning to put lights on.

boho boy & me adding our special touches.

boho boy handling the ornaments with care.

these are special ornaments given to boho boy's family years ago.
each represented one of them doing what they love to do. his mother
sent them to us this year for our tree.

the toy maker ornament on the left represents boho boy's father. he
is our angel this year . the teacher ornament on the right represents boho boy.

we enjoyed a cider recipe from my culinary diva friend schmoopy:
cider, cloves,
anise, cinnamon sticks, orange slices and whipped cream. yum.

wall art from my friends and holiday reading

It was a beautiful evening. Not much talking, lovely music (thanks to all of you). When all was finished, we cuddled on the couch. Our fur babies nestled under the tree. I laid on his chest and let some tears flow. Some filled with joy for what I have in my life, some full of longing for what we hope is to come.

A dear friend of mine said to me that she loves how boho boy and I always ritualize things. I never quite thought of it that way but she is right. We do this in our lives and I want to continue these rituals as our family grows.

I hope for many more silent nights that bring warmth, tenderness and love as this one did.

Thursday, December 13


a friend's tattoo, canon digital rebel

A few days ago I arrived at my morning yoga class about 20 minutes early. I did this intentionally so that I could meditate before the class begun. I am someone that struggles with meditation. People that meet me wouldn't have that suspicion because I am soft spoken and have a calming effect on others. But inside my mind thoughts flow at lightening speed and with each thought there is analysis, philosophy, perhaps some obsessing here and there. It's difficult for me to hush those thousands of conversations going on inside my head. I think this is pretty normal and it is exactly why we need to meditate. All those voices and images can distract me from getting in touch with my body, my mind, my soul and I miss opportunities to gather all these parts of me into one sacred room where we can breathe together in unison and check in with one another.

I laid down on my yoga mat and my hands immediately went to my belly. The room was dark and there were few people in the studio. They were quiet. I was quiet. I asked myself why my hands made the choice to connect with my womb and what came back to me was..."You haven't checked in with us since the surgery. We went through it with you. You weren't alone." I took some deep, cleansing breaths and I focused on my reproductive organs. My two bold and beautiful ovaries, clean and gorgeous fallopian tubes and my warm and comforting uterus. I realized how much I miss spending time connecting with these parts of me. We are a team in this and I've been taking it all on myself. They were pushed and prodded and scraped and all I could think about was how much it hurt the days following but what about how they felt? I gathered with them in my womb and listened. A tear slipped down my cheek and into my ear as I heard how they were frightened to have strangers move them around but they braved through it and now they need me to believe in them with all of my heart. That they are working beautifully together as a team but miss me connecting and remembering that we're all in this together. They reassured me that they understood my frustrations and they apologized for their part in that but they wanted me to know they are trying their absolute best and nothing less and they want what I want and its hard for them too when it doesn't happen. I whispered to them in my mind that I am here. I am not leaving. I will work on believing and I am so grateful that they are working so hard and I will not take them for granted any longer. I will check in, give them love, encouragement and comfort. I will remember we are a team and none of us are in this alone.

The space we created together was soft, gentle and warm. No judgments or disappointments...just pure love and compassion. This warmth enveloped me and I felt completely safe.

I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and drew myself back to the studio. I opened my eyes and my instructor had sat down in front of us, the class was now full. I realized that I had just meditated. I was taken to another place and didn't hear anything going on around me. I meditated with my womb and it felt so, so good.

I've noticed a shift the last few days. I feel more of a calm in my heart. My mind feels a bit more clarity. I feel a tenderness towards my womb that I haven't felt in a very long time. A trust that had slipped away.

I think we forget how very hard our beautiful body works at taking care of us, protecting us from harm and working together to help us touch our dreams. We forget that we are not alone. We are a team with all of the physical, mental and spiritual parts of our selves.

Perhaps the awareness of this is a small part of staying centered.

Tuesday, December 11

choosing steps*

samantha, canon digital rebel xti

I received this in my inbox today from the Universe:

You can "dance" with the illusions of time and space, Denise, choosing your "steps" based upon things and events as they now are, or you can dance with your dreams, choosing your "steps" based upon things and events as they will be.

I've seen in my life the power of intention. Today this comforted me and gave me something to dance about.

We've decided to create a special evening tonight of finally decorating our tree together. He's bringing home some cider and we'll light candles, put festive music on and love on the babies we do have tonight. Our fur babies. Perhaps this will help put us in the mood by choosing steps towards celebrating us and the family we do have with positive intentions of what next year will bring.

Was wondering if you could suggest some unique holiday music? I'll be downloading some from iTunes today.

Monday, December 10

understanding and compassion*

portrait session, canon digital rebel xti

I know I've been quiet here. I've been quiet most everywhere this past week. As Christmas is approaching, so are the myriad of emotions that come with it for couples that are walking on this journey to conceive.

There are so many parts of Christmas that I love. The colors, the smells, the lights, the music, the promise of a few days when my whole family is gathered in one room singing, laughing, snuggling. The parts that cause some anxiety for me are the emphasis on children, babies and the concept of a complete family with presents under the tree for more than just me and my husband. Every time I have walked into a store there have been fully pregnant women holding onto toddlers with more trailing behind. Children squealing with delight. Babies clapping with glee. Families walking in a sweet line, all holding hands.

Seeing this fills me with joy and hope for our near future but there are other sacred emotions attached. I want to sponge the good stuff in and while I am opening myself up to absorb, the sudden realization comes to mind that we're not part of this reality yet and I am not quite sure when we will be. My heart starts racing and its hard to catch a breath. At times I've had to leave and sit in the car to ground myself, breathe again, call my husband and let the tears flow. He feels it too.

I've been afraid to share this here because this is supposed to be a time of bliss for all and I didn't want to be messy and admit I wasn't blissing out. But the truth is, its hard, full of conflicting emotions and makes me want to shop online rather than put myself through this over and over again (thanks, yummy Jen for permission to do so).

I haven't even decorated my tree yet. I gazed at it this morning while sipping my tea and realized that it is such a representation of how I feel. Half of the lights are on it and it is partly glowing, partly dull...push and pull...this is how I feel.

There was an email in my inbox the other day from Resolve...an organization to help couples through (in)fertility. In it was a link to an article about "Coping with the Holidays". Reading this I learned that what I am feeling is so completely normal. So normal that they have 24 hour hotlines so people can phone up, fall apart and get messy and imperfect during what is supposed to be the most joyful time of year. That all couples like us struggle with getting together with family when babies, children and fertile people are around. There were even ideas about using this as an opportunity to take a vacation rather than put yourselves into a potentially painful situation.

Earlier last week before this flood of emotions surfaced, I began to feel a calmness. I had realized I needed more hush. I was feeling a peace about my current cycle. I suppose this is an opportunity for me to practice grounding myself again. How can you practice peace when everything is peaceful, right? So, this is my opportunity to practice meditating and centering myself in the midst of anxiety. To discipline myself and take those moments to quiet my mind rather than allow too many consuming and paralyzing thoughts rooted in fear.

I know I am not alone in this. So many of you on this journey that have reached out to me know exactly where I am at, where we are at. It's comforting to know we're not alone. I am gently going to invite all of you lovely sisters and brothers on this journey to gather in a spirit-circle and use this as an opportunity to practice along with us.

I can imagine with all the joy that comes along with Christmas, so does understanding and compassion. I'd like to believe our loved ones will feel that for us too and be gentle when we need them to be.

If you're trying to be all blissed out for the sake of those around you, know you can put your stories here and all you will receive is understanding and compassion from a heart that feels it with you deeply.

Friday, December 7

one sacred wish*

samantha, canon digital rebel xti

happy wish day.

one sacred wish for you...or someone you love.

Thursday, December 6


waves at Wind & Sea beach, canon digital rebel xti

My husband phoned me up yesterday morning telling me that there were 20 foot waves and encouraged me to go to the beach and watch. This does not happen very often here and when it does, surfers are encouraged to stay out of the water (but of course the seasoned ones rarely heed that warning).

When I arrived, the cliff above the beach was lined with a plethora of people. Strangers were having conversations about the power and beauty. Interesting how nature can bring us together as one big tribe of appreciation and awe. I always marvel at this when we're hiking and everyone that passes says "hello" and/or smiles. It is a nod of understanding between nature lovers that doesn't happen when crossing one another on a city street.

Although, rather than join the tribe up at the cliff, I was craving some quiet time, so I took a risk and walked down the steps to the rocks and got a bit closer. When I sat down, feeling the splashes of water on my skin, I was joined by a winged friend. I felt like he was trying to communicate that I really shouldn't share this alone.

my winged friend, canon digital rebel xti

So there we sat, side by side, feeling the powerful vibration of the thump beneath the rocks one after the other. This particular beach always has these three waves in a row which made it even a bit more eerie.

My mind has been full of noise lately. A weight lifted as I curled my knees to my chest, sat my chin on my knee and let the noise drift into the sea while the hush that I've been craving breathed through me. My winged friend stayed with me until I left.

Tuesday, December 4


today's self portrait, canon digital rebel xti

Inspired by Thea:

Have you taken any dance classes in the past year that you loved?
The only dancing I've done is up in my studio in the mornings to get my blood flowing (and to help me loosen up mentally, as well as physically). I love to dance. I danced most of my life. I've been wanting to take up belly dancing again. This question has inspired me to look into some classes for the new year. One of my favorite dance classes ever was back when I lived in Berkeley. It was called "Karuna" (i think its called TransDance now) and it was at the YMCA. Totally wild and free stuff. I think people would be surprised at how good of a dancer I am. I know my husband would. Not sure why I am so shy about it now. I used to do it in front of hundreds of people. I have a weird thing in regards to being shy about my talents. I am the same way with singing. I find myself toning it down when around people but when I am alone, I let it go and down deep I know I'm pretty good. I wonder what that is all about. Hmmmm.

What is your favorite tea and where do you get it?
Vanilla Nut Yerba Mate. My dear husband orders it online here. We let it steep in our bodum for a while and then mix it with warmed up vanilla almond milk and a little squirt of agave nectar. Delish!

What is your favorite podcast? What do you love about it?
I haven't listened to many but one I will never forget was by my friend Penelope. It was an interview about her journey into illustration and it was beautiful and inspired me to be more brave and playful with my own art.

What food did you love when you were a kid, that when you eat it as an adult it brings you back-carries so much more than just the flavor-but memories. And would you share a recipe?
Believe it or not...BBQ pork spare ribs. My father was an ace at this and it was a special treat for him to BBQ outside and for us to enjoy it as a family on the weekends. He had a special sauce that we still cannot master. I don't eat meat that much anymore but even if I get a whiff of BBQ ribs it brings back such fond memories of my sisters and parents with sauce all over our face and huge smiles. The recipe is top secret...obviously. ; )

What was the last thing you bought yourself?
This sweet lens.

What color is your bedroom? Is it the nicest room in the house?
Our bedroom is a dark midnight blue which is really soothing to be in. I love it because my husband built an arched entryway, so it has a beautiful Spanish ambiance. Although, I think the nicest room in the house is our studio up in the loft. Perhaps because for me, it is full of creativity and inspiration. I also have pieces of my dear ones all around me. You can even see in this picture a flower print from Thea, a portrait of me and Boho Boy taken by Susannah, a boho barbie from Jen, a shawl draped over my chair that Frida brought from Afghanistan and me wearing Schmoopy's sweat pants that she left here! So much love and more spread throughout that is not seen here in this picture.

Are you a better cook or baker?
Definitely a better cook. Boho Boy is the baker. He made a gluten-free pound cake that was to die for a bit ago.

What time do you go to bed usually and when do you wake up?
I don't really have a set schedule. There are nights that I cannot shut my mind off and I get to bed way past midnight and wake up around 8am. Then there are nights I go to bed around 10pm-ish and wake up at 6:30am. Depends. I've been wanting to do more of the later but I am trying my best to get at least 8 hours of solid sleep per night. It's so key to replenishing your body, mind and soul.

What sign are you? Do you know your rising and moon? When is your birthday?
I am a Virgo. I don't know my rising moon yet. I wish I did. My birthday is September 15th. How do you find out your rising moon, anyways?

What was the last thing you said no to that felt like you were taking good care of yourself?
I had to say no to a really amazing party invitation that was celebrating a close friend of mine. I was not feeling well but more than anything was feeling overwhelmed and not myself. In the past, I may have gone regardless to please my friends but it felt really good to be honest and my friend completely understood and appreciated my honesty. Our friendship is stronger because of it.

What is your happy place you go to in your mind when you need to close your eyes and take a moment for peace and calm?
Most of the time my happy place is an enchanting garden with waterfalls, ponds with lily pads, birds singing, trees creating arches above me and a myriad of flowers. I'm always in a white flowy dress. Sometimes its the ocean but mostly the garden awakens in my mind.

I tag anyone who is inspired to play on their own blogs. Just remember that the last question has to be one you've made up.

Monday, December 3

her true self*

my niece kelly, canon digital rebel xti

"Once upon a time,
she decided to follow her heart.

She flung off her pinstriped suit
and gave birth to herself.

A new self.
Her true self..."

~ Monique Duvall

I'm coming up on the two year anniversary of when I left the corporate world and entered into the unknown realm of self employed artist.

It's so crazy to me that its already been two years since I shed my skin.

The corporate world just wasn't all of me. Parts of me...but not the ones that made my heart skip a beat. I never like to dwell on times when I've lost myself but what I do like to marinate in is how entering this new world of mine has helped me rediscover myself.

Sunday, December 2


schmoopy peering over my loft, canon digital rebel xti

"I don't know how my life will go, but I trust it completely."
~ Karen Maezen Miller

Reading this a few days ago released so many fears about my journey. I literally took in a deep breath and felt lighter with the answer "I don't know". This is a frame of mind that doesn't come naturally to me but perhaps if I whisper it to my heart enough, it will eventually become a way of life.

Doesn't this feel like a breath of peppermint-y air?

So deliciously Zen.