Wednesday, February 27

needing the love*

me last year, canon digital rebel xt

The last few days have been so completely topsy turvy...whirly twirly...curly whirly. Those are the best combination of words to describe the loss of footing I have felt.

As I write this, I am back to both feet being on the ground but I am feeling quite emotionally spent. Like I need to go to a movie theater tomorrow and just veg out on films that have not one ounce of drama. Popcorn included. Perhaps even some chocolate. All. day. long.

I'm not comfortable going into too many details out of respect for the lovely birth mom and her right to privacy but I do feel the need to spill some emotions and ask for gentle lovins from my blog family.

This particular situation has shifted in that there is a really good chance we need to open our hearts to other birth moms. I attempted to do this all along but I think because she was my first and only or perhaps because she was just so damn cool and kindred...I have felt really attached to her and this baby. As much as I tried to be the all together potential adoptive parent by saying I wasn't attached and fully aware of all the potential fall through's that could happen, my heart was in a different place. I did imagine her face when thinking of "the one" and I did imagine her handing us her child, giving us complete heart-full permission to parent that baby she has been carrying. This awareness of my attachment all surfaced at the thought of losing her, losing them in our life.

So, I've been grieving. It feels like a loss and I've had to dive down deep into my heart and decipher all the reasons why I felt this was the one. I am needing to make room for the possibility that she isn't and some other beautiful, courageous, brave woman out there is carrying our child.

It's just a shift. It's a grieving process that all adoptive parents go through if things surface and plans have to change.

I've talked on the phone all day with our superstar adoption consultant Tammy. I sat on the couch with my husband when he returned from work and we talked through all of our emotions slowly, carefully and mindfully. I then talked all night on the phone with my marmie, moving through it all with her from beginning to end. The lump-in-your-throat tears spilled each time until that big deep breath came to cleanse it all away. Because of all this, I've worked through so much of it and I do see the light and I fully get that this first birth mom was all part of our path, part of our eyes and hearts opening to the idea of our baby coming to us through adoption. So much so that at this point in my journey, adopting feels more peaceful to me than getting pregnant. I'm ready to be a parent. That is also a shift I have to recognize that is pretty awesome. For this I am eternally grateful to this first birth mom in my life.

At the very foundation of all the shock, sadness and emotion, there is still a sense of relief that comes from discovering some clear answers out of a well of confusion we had been feeling. Like we're getting that permission to breathe, step back and re-evaluate our hearts and needs.

I'm still grieving.

I know I don't ask for this often but I would love some hugs and affirmation through this. I actually have a really difficult time with the idea of asking for help. I don't feel comfy with that type of attention or admission of needing anything from loved ones but I am letting my guard down. I'm a Big Strong Girl but part of being strong is opening your hands and heart to the awareness that you can't always do it alone.

I was wondering if you, my blog family, could send us some prayers, lit candles, affirmations, poetry, uplifting adoption stories, dreams, inspirations, gentleness...for my husband, for me and for the precious birth mom in our life that needs it even more than we do.

Thank you, dear souls.

So, as I finished writing this and was just about to publish this post, my husband rolls his desk chair up to mine and made a sound of poop coming out of a diaper while spreading his hand from my shirt up to my face (like our baby's poop spilling all over me) and said..."are you sure you're ready for that?!?!?" with a huge smile on his face.

We laughed, hugged and both said yes. How I adore that he knows how to lift our hearts with his humor...even in the midst of grief.

Monday, February 25

braids are healing*

sweet jen, canon digital rebel xti

I woke up this morning feeling like the grumpy grumps were approaching fast.
So I parted my hair on the side and made my bangs into a braid that swooped down.
I started to feel happy again.
I love how sometimes its the simplest things that shift your heart.

Tell me one thing that does it for you...every time.

Friday, February 22

this beauty*

my niece kelly, canon digital rebel xti

I get to spend time with this beauty over the weekend. She's on her way with some girlfriends to our city for a cheerleading competition she's participating in (Bring it On...totally). I also get to see my sweet sister (her mom) and get some snuggles in while we're rooting for our blond babe doing gymnastics all over the floor.

I spoke to Kelly last night on the phone for awhile. Its her last year of high school and her brain is wrapping itself around how much her life is evolving as she goes away to college, friends move away, boyfriend stays at a nearby college and a new journey begins.

I find myself in awe of her wisdom at such a young age. I also melted one hundred times as she continued to ask for my thoughts on decisions she is about to make or not make. I got a tiny taste of the sweetness of parenthood as I shared with her some of my experiences similar to what she is going through and how they influenced my life. I realized in our conversation how important it is to encourage her to think for herself and dive into her own inner wisdom. I asked her a lot of questions, rather than answering them for her. It was sweet to see by the end of our conversation that she felt really empowered to tap into her inner voice and felt the freedom to take one moment at a time rather than rush into emotional decisions.

Another thing that melted my heart was that she listened....truly listened about our adoption journey. I was again in awe of how insightful she was, without me needing to share all the details, about the birth mom and what her emotions might be about the whole process. She was seeing it at all angles and showed such sensitivity and warmth. You never know how people are going to react about adoption and I've been so blessed at the support from my family and friends. Kelly was full of anticipation about holding her little cousin soon and being a mentor and friend to our child. I have two amazing nieces that are now young adults that will be wonderful examples of independent, strong, deep thinking, creative women to our child. Like big sisters...much like I had.

I'm not sure if I can get a camera into the arena so that I can show you a few of her groovy moves and stunts...but I'll try.

We adore you, Kelly boo.

Thursday, February 21

mini me*

photo from Matilda Jane blog, taken by Shannon of Madison Ave Photography

Okay, so I have fallen in love with Matilda Jane clothing. A few girlfriends and I have been emailing pictures back and forth and drooling over the cuteness. I've even gotten my marmie hooked and asking where she can purchase for her future grandbabygirlie.

The catch is that the company doesn't sell online...only at art shows in the midwest and trunk shows in peoples homes if they choose to have one. So, I am wondering if any of my readers are having a trunk show in the Los Angeles/San Diego area.

When I saw the photo above...I giggled and teared up at the same time. This photo totally embodies how I always imagined dressing my daughter and photographing her. Her style resembles a mini me...and it just makes me swoon.

If any mommy's out there have bundles of funky girlie clothes and want to play dress up like this with your children...contact me. I would love to photograph them! ; )

Here is the official Matilda Jane website for those of you that want more info on how to do a trunk show or to learn more about this cool designer.

Wednesday, February 20

on women friendships*

andrea & jen, canon digital rebel xti

"I believe that these circles of women around us weave invisible nets of love that carry us when we're weak and sing with us when we're strong. Lets lean back and let the arms of women's friendships carry us and help us to know ourselves better and live our lives together." ~ Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK)

I love how this quote sounds like a call to action.

I gathered up some new and old photos today that I felt emulated a special coziness between friends. Would love to hear some wildly cool friendship stories and perhaps see a link to some yummy friendship photos.

Feeling so grateful for the loved ones in my life, weaving that invisible net so I can fall back gently into safeness.

tammy & nancy, canon digital rebel xti

marianne & swirly, canon digital rebel xti

me & sus, taken by marianne

meg & letha, canon digital rebel xt

me & thea, taken by michelle

suzi & christina, canon digital rebel xti

jen, swirly, andrea, canon digital rebel xti

Monday, February 18

moment by moment*

daisy in my home, canon digital rebel xti

Last night my husband and I gathered up our favorite snacks in a bag, loaded up my backpack with books and cleaned our VW bus in preparation for a day at the beach today. Being that it is a holiday, we figured we'd need to pull up to a spot early. So, we woke up at 5am and shuffled our bodies around our home in quietness. I was really looking forward to this and so was he. We've been inside quite a bit lately...busy with work and feeling a primal need to whole up and reserve our energies for the coming months of our adoption journey. Breathing in the ocean air and being one with the sand was a way to gently step outside of our bubble.

We pulled up to a spot up top a tiny cliff facing the ocean. It was icy cold but we were prepared. We pulled down the back seat that folds into a full size bed, piled it high with fleece and down blankets and pillows and snuggled under the covers. We had planned to get there early and soak in some more sleep as we waited for the sun to rise, making the beach warm enough to set up camp. We slept deep for a few hours to the sound of the waves crashing...lulling us into a harmonic rhythm of breathing.

When we woke up, it was still too cold to be on the beach. It was gray, empty, damp and muddy from the high tide. I found myself longing to be back home, settled back into the warmth where my head didn't feel the ache that comes from dampness. Boho boy had the same needs and we packed back up and headed back to our kitties.

I don't know why I am sharing this. I just felt the need to write it out. I suppose it seems so often that when my husband and I make a plan...whether it be for conceiving, adopting, what we're eating for dinner that night or how we're going to spend our day, the plan seems to evolve into something entirely different than we expected. There was a time in my life when I didn't quite unfold into change as naturally as I am now. I had almost always gotten my way and imagined my life would forever flow into this pattern. It's embarrassing to admit but waking up to see that the beach was not habitable for the day might have really rocked my world years ago. I am noticing that as much as I have always been calm and serene on the outside it is only lately in my life that my heart harmonizes with that feeling on the inside.

Not to say that with this peace there is no pain. The last few days I've been very weepy. This journey has an ebb and flow that I've become accustom to. Last week I was in such a Zen space fully trusting, not feeling attached to any one outcome of a birth mom, open to other possibilities...but yesterday something happened that sort of shook me out of that space and into a place of facing some harsh realities. Some fears came up and vulnerabilities. I found myself needing to sit quietly with it, rocking in our new rocking chair and starring out the window into nothingness. Giving my heart a soft break from all the push and pull of emotions.

I've been feeling that because this ride is going to be taking me to all these places I've never been, that I need to just whole up and reserve all the energy I can muster. I've been a bit quiet. Not blogging as much, not emailing, phoning or making any set plans for the near future. I am craving the idea of just getting to the next moment with no expectations on myself or anyone else. Perhaps it is overwhelm and my primal need to just survive but simplicity is what my heart needs right now. I am grateful that at this time in my life, I am surrounded by gentle souls, both family and dear friends that respect and honor what we need.

I received an email from my loving father today telling us we're not alone and that the family is with us in every step, cheering us on. He encouraged me to be gentle and take care of myself and to not worry about the family or anyone else but what we're going through. My father can be so quiet but yet when he speaks it has this profound effect on me. He's going through a tough time physically and knows I want to go out there and take care of him, yet what he wants more is for me to take care of myself. I felt like he was channeling all the loved ones in our life with what they wanted/needed to say to us during this time. The message I keep getting is to not take too much on and to relax into each moment with no expectations or plans.

I'm going to go downstairs and sit back on that new rocking chair to read and perhaps even close my eyes and rock myself to sleep...or even let some tears fall, put my hand on my heart and just breathe one full breath at a time.

Moment by moment is the only thing that makes sense to me right now.

Saturday, February 16

superhero photo challenge ~ shoot into the sun

jen gray & swirly, canon digital rebel xti

I am so delighted that Andrea chose the concept of shooting into the sun for her most recent Superhero Photo Challenge. This is something I am intrigued by and lately have been trying to gather the courage to play in the attempt to create a romantic and ethereal vibe with my subjects. I resonate so much with how Andrea shared about being told at one point as a rule to not shoot directly into the sun. I was told this as well and the free spirited part of me wanted to rebel. It's so refreshing to surround myself with other photographers that prefer to play more and not always go by the rules. I've shared here on my blog about my need to play with photography and not get too tied up in the technical bits because for me, it can feel so limiting and stiffling. Although I fully get that there is a time and place for it all. For me that is typically when something goes nutty and I find myself consulting the mighty manual for clues.

I am a nature girl at heart and if I get the opportunity to unravel the connection between nature and my subjects, my heart can't stop swooning. Lately, the sun's ability to dance upon my subject is something I want/need to learn more of and play with. So I am eager to hear the wisdom from all these lovely Shutter Sisters.

I hope you join the challenge too!

Friday, February 15

the sweetest gift*

romantic schmoopy girl, canon digital rebel xti

Dancing mermie has created one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever seen for our Schmoopy Girl and her new lil schmoops to be. If you feel inspired, leave the schmoop family a sweet affirmation that mermie will paint on a beach stone here. It will be a challenge to find a word that has yet to be left on the comments but I know your heart will speak to you.

edited to add: mermie needed to take her comments down because so many people left lovins and she didn't want to overwhelm stacie with too many stones (65 so far...how fun). So, if you want to leave some blessings for stacie to read here, feel free to do so!

Thursday, February 14

space in your togetherness*

me & boho boy in san francisco, taken by jon-erik kroon

I want to taken an opportunity, since it is Valentines day and all, to post one of my favorite poems by Kahlil Gibran. Boho Boy and I had this read to us by our dear friend Christina when she married us (and made all the single men at our wedding fall in love with her).

What I love about this poem about marriage is how it emphasizes the importance of not losing ourselves in one another. That being an individual in coupledom is vital to personal growth and having a healthy relationship. Although, he says it much more poetically and it is the very reason I connect with his writings.

I am careful to talk much about Valentines day. My husband and I have a bit of an aversion to it, despite the hopeless romantics we can be. We just feel that love in general should be celebrated all year long and not give people an excuse to wait until one day a year to create huge gestures of romance. We also feel that commercially, it focuses a bit too much on couples rather than relationships between friends and family. This can always leave a bitter and sad feeling in someones heart if they are not in a relationship. I've been there. I've been the one to dial up my girlfriends and go out and get sloshed over pink drinks in the name of loathing this day. Now that I am in a relationship and this day comes around, I am sensitive to my friends that are single, always asking them to be my valentine. I carry some guilt around that they are alone and I am not. So, this day, as beautiful as it can be when I hear some lovely stories and gestures, I am quiet about it and so is my husband.

I believe though, that it is a good day to post this poem because in order to be in a healthy relationship, it is so essential to love yourself so that you are able to give the way you want and need to. This provides more time and freedom as a single person to date yourself, find yourself and not need another to complete you. This all prepares us to step aside from someone else's shadow and to shine all on our own.

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

~ Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, February 13

today i lit a candle...

an altar that my dear friend tammy (our adoption consultant) set up
for me in our hotel room during the photojournalism trip a few weeks back.
notice the yummy affirmation rocks from a magical mermaid.

This morning I lit a candle for a very special birth mom that will read our profile for the first time today. When I lit the candle, I took a deep breath, laid on my bed and focused on her and the plethora of emotions that must go through her mind when reading through profiles. How overwhelming it would feel to have to choose which couple resonates best with her heart. I noticed in doing this, it helped me to put aside the vulnerable emotions I felt; the fear of rejection from her or the worry that we may not be what she is looking for. Instead, I put more energy towards what she is feeling and going through and this helped me to let go. Her choice to put her baby up for adoption is full of bravery and speaks volumes of her character and selflessness. I know this is so sacred to her, just as it is sacred to us and today I am honoring this for both of us.

Putting our profile together was so healing for me. It was a joy to share about how Boho Boy and I met and fell in love. I always love the opportunity to share about my husband and what an extraordinary human being he is and to read the bit he wrote about me was one of the greatest gifts I've received from him. Writing this and gathering all of our photos to put creatively together in a book was affirming for us that we're so open and willing to share our life with a little boho. This act for me did not at all come from desperation. I felt so at peace with where we are at in our lives, knowing that together, Boho Boy and I are so very connected and happy. That as individuals, our lives feel fulfilled and there is so much ahead for our careers and plans. Our decision to adopt doesn't come from the idea that we need a child in order to be happy. It comes from the deep desire to gift the world with an extraordinary human being and to nurture this little being and their gifts and help guide them on their journey. It comes from a place of having so much love to give that it is spilling over and needs a little place to go.

Aside from all this...my thoughts go to the birth mom. Whether she is the one that chooses us on this journey of hers or not, I honor the space she is in today and send her healing love from us. Perhaps, if you feel inspired throughout your day, you could send her love too.

My candle is still burning.

Monday, February 11

peace comes in many packages*

photo by jen gray, processing by me (i felt so safe with her during this shoot)

I know I've been sort of quiet lately. I've come here a few times about to write some thoughts but they just wouldn't come out. So I let it be. I've never been one to force things. There are so many things flowing around in my head. So many deadlines for work. We're in the midst of adoption paperwork while at the same time getting results from our sweet doctors that gave us the most clear answers we've had as to what has prevented us from getting pregnant. So my heart and mind have been full to say the least.

It's all happening at once. All good things. All crazy good things. It's just so ironic. I have felt for years like I've been waiting, peering around the corner to see when my prize will show up and after years of waiting, I get like a thousand packages at my doorstep. You'd think I'd want to tear them all open but instead I am cradling each gift, putting it down, starring at it, meditating on it and moving to the next. I've only taken off the bows. I have yet to open them. That is what it feels like. I feel this great patience has descended upon me. A slow flowing peace in my heart about what is to happen next. It's a pretty foreign feeling to not have worries or anxieties or the urge to grasp at something so tightly. I am wondering if this is what it feels like to let go...or to trust and have faith. I don't have the answer. I'm just moving through it and not really trying to over analyze or make sense of it all. Because saying you trust and have faith is one thing but actually feeling it is a whole new way of being.

I was chatting with my big sis tonight on the phone and she got really quiet and said with such pride and certainty..."you sound so peaceful, Denise...you really sound peaceful." I stopped for a moment and thought about that. I had just rattled off to her all the work I've been doing with photography and writing and all the steps we've been taking to move forward with this adoption and all the results I got back from my blood tests and what the doctors said, so I would expect her to say I sounded manic. But she didn't. She said I sounded peaceful and it was then that I realized that all this stuff that is happening is stuff that I've dreamed about, had worked so hard to achieve and had put out to the Universe that I wanted. I wanted these things a while ago yet they're coming into my life right now.

So perhaps part of my peace comes from the epiphany that in retrospect, this timing is all perfect and that our dreams will come true but perhaps in different packages than we expect and arriving at different times...or all at once.

Regardless, it feels like the right time. My heart doesn't feel panicked or overwhelmed or consumed with how the heck I'm going to do all of this. It's just embracing each moment, in the moment, one package at a time.

Friday, February 8

be brave*

Schmoopy wearing Thea's "be brave" ring design,
canon digital rebel xti (click for larger view)

Just wanted to send you off on your weekend with a powerful affirmation.
I too have this ring made by my uber creative soul sister.
It reminds me that I can move mountains.

"I'm brave...like a feeling I had once upon a time.
Like a bird in my mind...wings so high." ~ brave by stephanie dosen

Be brave, my friends.

Thursday, February 7

new soul*

I was introduced to this song last week by a magical mermaid. I've watched it at least once a day and now I want to share it with all of you. The lyrics, the beauty, the art, the spirit of this video resonates with me on so many levels.

While I am working with lots of deadlines this month, I feel grateful that I can blast my favorite songs such as these on iTunes and rock the house while working. Then on my breaks I stand up, twirl around and get a bit jiggy with it.

Dance for me today.

Tuesday, February 5

The best made plans...are your open hands.

me on swirly's bench, photo by jen gray

Getting away to be with some of my girls the end of last week was so very healing for me. I didn't realize how very far deep into my head I've been until I walked into a house filled with laughter, dancing, fabulous goofiness and inside jokes.

I had just come from a beautiful but really intense trip back east to interview and photograph couples that have adopted. Because I am an empath, I felt I had walked through three journeys of adoption along with the three gorgeous couples I interviewed. All totally different stories. Each filled with devastation and pain before the pure joy of being with their new baby came to be. The fact that prior to this trip, we had decided to adopt, my perspective had altered a bit and not only was I interviewing them for a book but I was also curious as an adoptive parent. Then on the tail end of that trip I caught this tricky little bug that left me insanely sick. So, driving North to Santa Monica, I felt like I was in a really quiet, contemplative and serious head space. This head space sort of hung by a string during my time out there. It didn't want to leave me. I laughed and laughed at my beautifully funny girlfriends but I wasn't the one making the jokes. I can definitely be that girl but I didn't feel like that girl at times and what was amazing is that I didn't feel that expectation to be from my sweet friends. There is such a freedom and safe-ness with my friendships these days that I cherish like the sun and don't ever take for granted.

I remember over lunch I just spilled about the adoption process we have entered into and that part of me wants to jump up and down and scream to the world in glee and the other, more logical side to me knows that it would be wise to reign in my emotions until the papers are signed and that baby is in our arms. Something one of the girls said to me in response to my sharings has stayed with me and rocked my emotions at ease. "We'll hold onto that excitement for you. We'll be excited and you can just be whatever you need to be to protect your heart."

That is how I felt the entire time I was out there. Held. Gently held. There is something so powerful and beautiful that transpires when you start crying as you share something and you look across the table to see your friends eyes well with tears. There is a oneness, an empathy and being this understood and felt gives me strength to move through it. That's when the breakthrough happens and the giggling begins.

There is a song that a lot of us bloggers have really resonated with on our journeys. Big Strong Girl by Deb Talen from The Weepies. It's almost on every CD my blog friends have burned and sent me. We even talked about this song while out there and how each of us have played it loud and either danced or cried to it. Deb Talen joined us at that lunch I spoke of earlier and because her music has changed my life, it was really difficult to not be totally geeked out and kiss her feet. I chose to be calm, so that she could feel relaxed and not have to show up as a superstar but just as a woman hanging with some of her friends. Looking across the table at her I felt that oneness while I began sharing our new journey. Being as real, gentle and present as she was, we all got into girly things and I had forgotten to thank her for her music in my life. So, I wanted to share the gratefulness here because since being with these beauties, I have tapped into a strength that I thought was slipping away from me. This song is what is in my heart today. It is what I hear my girlfriends all around the globe singing to me and it is what I am singing to you.

Big Strong Girl by Deb Talen

It's not now or never.

It's not black, and it's not white.
Anything worth anything takes
more than a few days

and a long, long night.

Don't push so hard against the world

You can't do it all alone,
and if you could
would you really want to?
Even though you're a big strong girl

come on, come on, lay it down.

The best made plans
come on, come on... are your open hands.

Rest your head.

You've got two pillows to choose from

in a queen-sized bed.

Hold out for the moon

but don't expect connection any time soon.

Feel the light caress your fingertips.

You have just begun,
the word has only left your lips.

Maybe in time, you will find
your arms
are wrapped around the sun

you're wrapped around the sun.

Don't push so hard against the world, no, no.
You can't do it all alone,
and if you could
would you really want to?
Even though you're a big strong girl

come on, come on, lay it down.

The best made plans
come on, come on, lay it down
are your open hands.

Sunday, February 3

yes we can!

I'm not one to get political on my blog for many reasons but I felt I really needed to share this. What I love most about Obama is that he inspires people enough to collaborate on this beautiful song full of passionate messages that people need to hear. It saddens me when I think about how long it has been that we as a country have felt inspired by our leader.

Americans are wounded and we need to be healed. My heart goes out to this man that gives us what I feel our country needs. This has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with faith and trust in human kind.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday in some states. Get your lovely booties out there to vote because together we have the power to create awesome change and help to heal this nation!

Yes we can.

Friday, February 1

sparkly superhero angels*

swirly, jen & andrea, canon digital rebel xti

I think this photo expresses quite well how the last few days went. ; )

I feel more out of my head and into my heart.
I've dug down deep where pure joy and laughter lives.
I'm jazzed and inspired.
I feel completely wrapped in a warm fuzzy friend blanket.
A blanket that holds my heart so gently.

I am so grateful that these sparkly superhero angels have sent me off with this magic::

“Incredibly, inordinately, devastatingly, immortally, calamitously, hearteningly, adorably beautiful.” ~ Rupert Brooke

More soon but for now...I must marinate in all the sweetness.