Monday, January 28

on happiness*

samantha & rochelle...happy girlies, canon digital rebel xti

When I was on the plane last week, flying across the country, I decided to find some comfort in the book Eat Pray Love. It seems whenever I need a good kick in the arse (gently, of course), the pages of this book always does the job. All I have to do is flip through, close my eyes and land my finger on a spot and there pours out wisdom from the pages.

This particular flip through brought me to the subject of Happiness. I doggie-eared it on the bottom, so I could share it on my blog when I felt the need.

This excerpt reminded me how much I need to participate in my own happiness and not lazily expect it come to me...

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don't, you will leak away your innate contentment. It's easy enough to pray when you're in distress but continuing to pray even when your crisis has passed is like a sealing process, helping your soul hold tight to its good attainments."
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

No one else is responsible to do this in our lives but us. Sometimes its easier to blame others and make our unhappiness their fault but I know that is a diversion from taking it into our own hands.

This can also be in the simple things. It doesn't have to be so huge and overwhelming. This morning I started to feel a bit sad. The choice to adopt is so beautiful and awesome but I still grieve over the path that I've been focused on for the past three years. I picked up the phone to talk to my husband about it. Perhaps he could make me feel better. Then I put the phone down before it started ringing. No...only I can make me feel better. So, I opened my window to listen to the rain and began to think about all the friendships in my life that I am grateful for. My mood lifted and I felt more clarity. Sometimes it can be this simple.

Tomorrow I leave to spend a few days with three beauties that have always given me permission to be exactly where I am. Three women that are rock stars at creating happiness in their life and inspire me to do the same. I am grateful for this timing.

Saturday, January 26

community love*

Asqew Grill in Haight Ashbury, canon digital rebel xti

I'm so in awe of the sense of community and support that we have received from all of you about our decision to move forward with adoption. I realize a lot of people out in blogsphere have their own opinions on adoption and/or fertility stuff and I am so grateful for how respectful my readers have been about our choices throughout this journey. I am blessed with how gentle you've been with our hearts.

Our journey to conceive has been a challenging road from the very beginning and exploring all my emotions here on my blog has been so healing for me. On those days when I was hanging onto thin threads of hope, I would feel you all circle to lift me up and breathe more strength and life into me.

Our decision to adopt has not brought this journey to an end. In fact, it almost feels like a new beginning as we tread into waters that yet again feel so unfamiliar.

The last few days I have been sick with what feels like a combination of strep throat, bronchitis and the stomach flu. This has pretty much forced me to sit still and ponder a lot of the emotions that are rising and falling in my heart. I've realized that the past few months I've been running around with photo sessions, the holidays, a road trip and a creative project. I haven't allowed for much time to slow down and marinate. This past week I've been able to do this. In fact, I like it so much that I think I am going to continue to try and slow down over the next few months. I really need to wrap my head around the idea that we'll be parents soon...perhaps very soon and with adoption, there is so much that needs to be done between now and then.

Day by day.
Step by step.
Breath by breath.

All of this BIG~ness feels so much lighter with the support and love we've received from family and dear friends.

I am so grateful for this community corner that I can bunker down in when it all feels overwhelming.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 23

self portrait challenge ~ celebration

me & boho boy in berkeley, taken by andrea scher (click for larger view)

you could say we're pretty excited about this new journey to adopt.
after seeing this photo, need i say more?

i love how images express feelings that are difficult to put into words.

a dear friend wrote to me today and said that boho boy and i are "expecting".
and its so funny because that is exactly what it feels like.

see other folks celebrating here.

Tuesday, January 22

giddy up*

a sweet family skipping together, canon digital rebel xti

I arrived home late last night from a trip that has transformed me.

Not only did I interview and photograph some of the most amazing couples I have ever had the privilege of meeting but I also cried with them, laughed with them and resonated with them on a level that was so entirely raw and deep.

Each of them had their own wild, crazy and beautiful story to how their babies came into their lives. I felt like I've been on a trip around the world and back with the scope of emotions I have felt along with them.

One thing that I left with that has soothed my heart in regards to our own wild adoption journey about to begin, was watching them hold their babies (some grown, some still tiny peanuts). The feeling dancing around the room was always them knowing and me seeing that they were so meant to be together. Those babies are theirs. Born from their hearts. Those sweet little spirits came into their lives in a way they did not expect in the beginning but it is not questioned. It is accepted, nurtured, embraced and celebrated.

I also brought home a poopie case of strep throat...which will more than likely keep me laying in bed for the next few days. To be honest, I am grateful for this opportunity to lie down, meditate and reflect on all that transpired on this trip and all that will transpire for me and Boho Boy over this next year.

As much as my head is spinning and my heart is singing...I feel a peace I have not felt in so long. A happiness that has transcended our sadness and a hope that sooths the fears when needed.

I am fastening my seat belt and holding on for what I know will be a whirly, twirly, sparkly, magical, intimidating, frightening, joyful, beautiful, delicious ride.

Giddy up.

Wednesday, January 16


stacie, canon digital rebel xti

I am heading across the country for four days to begin a new photo journalism project that is close to my heart and has me spinning with excitement. It's so wild to me that I am coming from a cool sunny place to possible snow. My scarves, hats and mittens will be happy.

I wanted to leave you with this Wisdom Card (by Louise L. Hay) that I chose today:

"I am my own unique self...

Everyone is unique and different. If we are like other people,
then we are not expressing our own specialness."

Thank you all so much for your love and open hearted support in my previous post. I've been moved to tears with each beautiful, unique and special word.

Monday, January 14

dreams unfolding*

stacie...the pregnant rock~star princess, canon digital rebel xti

I know I keep posting photos of Schmoopy. I just can't get enough of the beauty that illuminates from her soul right now. These photos not only capture the peace and serenity she feels following a challenging journey to conceive but it also represents how fully present I was during the shoot. I felt really brave and strong photographing her. I was focused on celebrating this time for her and her precious little girl to be (whom i am calling "lil' schmoops"). I was waiting for that moment when I'd have to set down my camera and let the tears spill but they never came. To me this can only mean that motherhood no longer feels so far away for me. I also feel so grateful that I understand how being pregnant truly is such a miracle and I will never take it for granted as a photographer with future clients.

I've been bummed throughout this journey about how difficult it has been to be in the same room with a pregnant woman. Mainly because I love the energy they exude and the curves are so attractive to me as an artist. A lot of emotions (not so pretty ones) would surface and at times, left me with feelings of sadness and failure for days. It has taken me a long time to be sensitive with myself about those emotions, to know the difference between rational and irrational thoughts and to know what I can and cannot handle when it comes to being around pregnant friends, family members and strangers.

I know that it helped tremendously that Stacie has had her own journey and that she understands what it feels like to be where I am. She was very open and sensitive about our time together, giving me that space if I needed to stop at any given moment and asked me a few times if it is difficult to be around her. Her gentleness made this process even more magical.

Perhaps another reason why I am in such a centered space is that Boho Boy and I have decided that no matter how, we are going to have a baby this year. We've decided to adopt if it looks like we won't conceive soon. We are currently going to a very cool team of doctors (they're married) that are a balance between Eastern and Western philosophies. Tests are being taken and we are awaiting those results. We are also in close contact with a private Adoption Consultant and are already in the process of figuring out what/when/how it all feels right to us in regards to timing. Interesting how both of these avenues came into our lives simultaneously but we're not trying to figure out why. We're just going with the flow.

As all this is unfolding, some amazing career opportunities are opening up for me. I've been hired by said Adoption Consultant for a photo journalism project. In a few days I am flying to a few places around the country to interview families that have adopted through this consultant. Then I get to photograph them and their gorgeous children. The woman that hired me and I have formed a purely magical and harmonious relationship and I am stoked about us collaborating on a few projects even beyond this one.

It is a dream for me to be part of a project like this and I find it very interesting that it is unfolding in the same year that we will be parents.

I know this is huge news. Gigantic news. Boho Boy and I have had many conversations about it and have come to the conclusion that we just don't need to suffer any longer. We've opened our heart to adoption and although we are not rushing into it, we know it is something we feel comfortable with whether it is for our first or second child. Whether it is this year or a few years from now but regardless, our family will begin to grow this year. Both of us, side by side, have been following our hearts and all the signs and we are each in harmony about this decision.

So, dreams are unfolding. Not only dreams of motherhood but dreams of writing and photographing. With all this awareness, I am reflecting on this journey full of pain (and joy) and am able to see and trust more and more clearly why it all happened the way it did.

The other morning I woke up to the sound of a gentle little voice calling out to me "mom!". I quickly opened up my eyes and laid there starring up at the ceiling with my heart pounding. It felt so real. So close. I laughed a bit over how bizarre it felt. Then I cried a bit over it. Then I reveled in the idea that it will be a reality and that I am slowly letting go of how.

Sunday, January 13

paraben free*

schmoopy, canon digital rebel xti

This weekend I cleansed my home of all products that contain parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben & ethylparaben) and it felt so fricken good.

For those of you that are a bit unsure exactly why parabens are not healthy for us, here is the most simple explanation I have recently discovered:

In a study entitled "Concentrations of Parabens in Human Breast Tumors", published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology 24, 5 - 13 (2004), parabens were linked with breast cancer. In this study, researchers looked at breast tumors and found parabens in eighteen of the twenty samples. It is the first time parabens were detected within tumors, suggesting that chemicals accumulate in the breast tissue and are being absorbed through the skin.

I'm all about prevention, especially when it comes to breast cancer since we have had it in our family. I was shocked at how many products have parabens: shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams & lotions, skin care, etc. Once I disposed of these products I felt such a peace come over me. That's when you know you've made the right decision for you and your family.

I had to let go of some of my most favorite product lines and felt disappointed that these companies professing to be organic and natural haven't found a substitute knowing that this information has been released since 2004. I have known about parabens for a while now and was using some products from my favorite line that doesn't have this ingredient but I didn't feel right about supporting them regardless.

So, last week I went on a quest to find companies that do not carry this ingredient in ANY of their products. I found this list online. Then I took a trip to Whole Foods and had a long conversation with a wise woman in the cosmetic section (with fabulous skin, mind you). She's been aware of this issue for a few years and was so very informed. She guided me to a few new skin care lines that I am so in love with: evanhealy (love the Rose line) & MyChelle. Each of their delicious products are made with all natural ingredients, plant extracts, essential oils and no harmful chemicals. Not to mention, my skin feels so very supple, happy and FREE.

Schmoopy (photo above) and I are on this new paraben free journey together. I wanted to share this information with you not at all to get on a soap box but because I care about health and about you. I share this gently and without judgment.

Saturday, January 12

happy birthday marmie*

my breathtakingly beautiful French marmie, canon digital rebel xti

Today is my mother's (marmie's) birthday. Since I can't be with her physically, I thought I'd gather all the angels in blog~land to surround her in the largest and warmest virtual hug.

A few years back, I wrote a post about her on mother's day. So many lovely comments followed, giving her love and celebration for her and they're own mothers. I think she read it a hundred times and it moved her to tears.

This year has been a rough one for my parents. Their beloved dog Daisy passed away from illness and to them, she was their child that kept them company every moment of their days.

They have been blessed with a new puppy named Callie Lu that has melted their hearts and slowly healed their grief. I tear up thinking of how they found the most cuddly and loving puppy at a time in their lives when they need it most.

callie lu & marmie during the holidays, canon digital rebel xti

My marmie has always supported every wild and crazy decision I've ever made for my life. She has been a rock for me...an ever steady rock. My heart has broken when I hear stories of others on a journey to conceive that have parents that do not support choices to do fertility treatments of all types or eventually adopt if needed. My parents have been open and supportive of anything and everything that we feel comfortable with. Their hearts are open to embrace our baby and they trust that however or whenever it comes into our life, it will be perfect for us and our family. On top of all this, there is no pressure, just love and support. We never take this for granted.

My marmie has been by my side so closely the past few years through all of this...even through her own grief. She listens without judgment and doesn't try to fix it for me. She just reminds me of my strength and bravery and ability to make the right choices.

Before Christmas, when I was coming down the escalator to meet my parents at the airport and she was waiting at the bottom, the minute I saw her I started to cry. She was standing there with her gorgeous bouncy red curls and a smile as wide as her heart. I collapsed in her arms and let all my tears go. She didn't even question it. She just held me until I was ready to go find my father and their new puppy around the corner. Sometimes when I just hear her voice I start to cry. I think its just the overwhelming love a mother has for their child that draws out those places in us that need to be nurtured and held.

She's an amazing balance of being young at heart and full of a deep wisdom that comes from living a full life. She's my safety net, my security blanket, my best friend and my biggest fan.

Today I celebrate all that she is and all that she brings into this world. I would love for you to leave some affirmations for her and this new year she is embarking on...if you are inspired to do so.

Happy birthday beautiful marmie! Angels on your pillow and all around you, always.

callie lu & marmie cuddling, canon digital rebel xti

Friday, January 11

her aura*

schmoopy, canon digital rebel xti

I had a few magical photo sessions with my friend Stacie yesterday and today. I am moved to tears when I observe her appreciating and soaking in every moment of this new journey. I was even more moved to tears capturing it with my lens. I feel so honored to have walked this fertility journey with her and to witness this miracle makes me speechless. She has such a peaceful aura surrounding her and her babe.

I am hoping this portrait will express it better than words.

Wednesday, January 9

loving gently*

me & boho boy in san francisco, taken by andrea scher

I was looking at a close up of a picture of my husband's face today. I got a bit lost in his hazel eyes and felt my throat tighten as my eyes filled with tears. What evoked this emotion was the deep love I hold for him in my heart and the gratefulness that I didn't push him away when I was frightened in the beginning.

I had done so much seeking and healing in my life prior to meeting him and felt I was in a really good space. I had been hurt in the past and when Boho Boy came into my life all perfect and beautiful, those past fears resurfaced and I was afraid. Afraid to let go again, to trust and to give of myself. This is when I learned that no matter how centered you feel, stuff from the past can come up and trigger you.

When I think back to that time, I remember his patience and his ability to not take my fear personally. He was able to be gentle, quietly tip toeing towards my heart when what he really wanted to do was run towards it and embrace it fiercely. He was a true friend that always left me with the words "no expectations" each weekend when he'd leave Santa Barbara back to his home in San Diego.

He understood this fear very intimately and before he had met me, he had done a lot of work on his own fears in regards to love. A lot of healing. So he got me and was able to practice the patience he had learned to have for himself.

When I would subconsciously fight him out of distrust, he would gently hold that space for me and would ask "what are you afraid of?" and I'd have to search my heart to discover what it was. I would find that truth and we'd work through it. I have never seen love the way he loves. Even today, five and a half years after meeting him, I am still learning from him how to love fully with complete abandon.

There are areas where I feel I teach him and help him grow in so many ways...but when it comes to love, I still feel like a scared little bunny at times and it is his emotional intelligence that carries me through. He teaches me how to love him fully without losing myself by his example of how he loves me fully without losing himself.

I fall deeper into him every day. This afternoon, when I was looking at that picture, into his eyes...I felt so much. More than I ever thought I could possibly feel for another human being. I cried because fear didn't consume me... only an openness that I didn't know I was capable of.

I heard this song today and I dedicate it to my amazing husband and our story:

"Beautiful Dawn" by the Wailin' Jennys

Take me to the breaking of a beautiful dawn
Take me to the place where we come from
Take me to the end so I can see the start
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I don't feel so small
Take me where I don't need to stand so tall
Take me to the edge so I can fall apart
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where love isn't up for sale
Take me where our hearts are not so frail
Take me where the fire still owns its spark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Teach me how to see when I close my eyes
Teach me to forgive and to apologize
Show me how to love in the darkest dark
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me where the angels are close at hand
Take me where the ocean meets the sky and the land
Show me to the wisdom of the evening star
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Take me to the place where I feel no shame
Take me where the courage doesn't need a name
Learning how to cry is the hardest part
There's only one way to mend a broken heart

Tuesday, January 8

peace in the midst of conflict*

Boho Boy's mom (left) and Boho Brother (right) holding sage, canon digital rebel xti

Such gentle words written to me in an email from a beautiful, wise soul~friend:

"It's the first step in the Buddhist practice of creating peace in the midst of conflict. Stop, take those deep breaths, look at the other with compassion and love and see the hurt and pain that sits behind their hurtfulness, choose not to take it personally yourself and JUST like that you have broken one cycle of violence."

Lets break the cycle of violence and be peace dancers and makers.

side note: Not sure if you noticed, but if you look close, you can see the swirls and waves in the sage smoke in front of Boho Brother's face. Yum.

Sunday, January 6

mondo beyondo part one ~ completion

superhero babe, andrea, canon digital rebel xti

I have meant to write this for a few days now, so I thought it apropos to finish it at the end of a beautiful vacation as a new work week begins. The first work week of 2008, that is.

Reflecting and completing the past year is so important to me, so here are my answers to Andrea's part one of the Mondo Beyondo list::

What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2007?
This past year for me, for both my husband and I actually, was a lot about getting in tune with our bodies through our diets and being aware of how we felt when when eating (and drinking) certain foods. I am proud of myself for being able to gather all the nuggets of wisdom from my homeopathic doctor, acupuncturist and the plethora of books I read on nutrition to create a diet that felt right for me. It began as a path to create a healthy womb for a baby to grow and now has become a way of life for me to sustain energy, balance and health.

For the first few years of this journey I was a student and following the advice of my advisers but I really noticed a shift this past year when I empowered myself to look within for answers rather than at the outside influences in my life.

In regards to our journey to conceive it felt pretty huge because there are so many conflicting "solutions" or paths to take and no way is right or wrong, so it was really was up to me, to us...to decide what felt right.

This new awareness is a beautiful perspective that will carry me, carry us, into so many other areas of our lives.

Speaking of...one of the areas is my photography. I learned to embrace a new direction with my business and to let go of my original ideas of where I thought Bohemian Girl Designs would go. I followed my passionate heart and Boho Photography happened. It felt really natural and I was open and flexible to just go with it!

Another area of my life that feels pretty solid right now is my ability to not take things as personally as I used to (thanks to inspiration from the Four Agreements).

All of these bits collectively define one of the dooziest of doozies when it comes to lessons I have learned:: The awareness that I am the only one that is responsible for my own happiness.

What is there to grieve about 2007?
I forgive myself for being obsessed with charting, ovulation predictors, pregnancy tests, taking my temp and forgetting that making love with my husband is so much more than making a baby (even though this was more in 2006 than 2007, I still never forgave myself for it). I forgive myself for struggling with looking at or being near pregnant strangers. I forgive myself for feeling sorry for myself and having pity parties. I forgive myself for pulling a bit away from my friends that were mothers because it triggered sadness and feelings of failure in me. I forgive myself for being angry at my body at times. I forgive myself for worrying that my family was disappointed in me because I couldn't procreate as easily as they could. I forgive myself for those moments of feeling angry at God. I forgive myself for losing touch with my sexuality as an individual and in my marriage. I forgive myself for not going to yoga as much as my body needs. I forgive myself for neglecting my pastel art. I forgive myself for being a procrastinator with some projects I am working on.

I wrap all those parts of me that need to feel forgiven and hold them gently with an overflowing abundance of tenderness, respect, understanding and acceptance.

I grieve for my husbands father who passed away nearly a year ago today.

I grieve for my parents dog Daisy that also passed away not long ago.

I grieve for a few childhood friendships that are important to me and have drifted.

What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
Oh sweet crazy fabulous 2007...there were times I never thought I could possibly feel this way but I am truly grateful for the emotion, the pain, the challenges, the connections and the lessons because today I can stand firm and look back with such clarity that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That feels so absolutely freeing.

I close this year feeling more gentle with myself, more empowered, whole, strong and centered from the growth.

I declare you complete!

Lil' side note:: If you're interested in hearing more on the topic of the journey towards my photography, the lovely Swirly interviewed me on her new delicious blog "Sparkletopia". You can read the interview here.

Friday, January 4

back to the center*

me behind a fountain in san francisco, taken by boho boy

This morning I snuggled in bed later than usual. After my husband brought me a warm mug of yerba mate, I grabbed my copy of Eat Pray Love from our bedside and opened it up to a place I wanted to return to. I am rereading bits that resonated with me. Bits that transform what can be my limited way of thinking or being. This pretty much means almost the entire book...bless the author and her wisdom.

With my cat curled up next to my hip and her head laying against my bosom, this is what I turned to:

"Imagine that the Universe is a great spinning engine. You want to stay near the core of the thing - right in the hub of the wheel - not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place, where you can get frayed and crazy. The hub of calmness - that's your heart. That's where God lives within you. So stop looking for answers out in the world. Just keep coming back to the center and you'll always find peace. "

~ says the Yogic Irish dairy farmer to Elizabeth Gilbert during her time in India at the Ashram

After reading this I felt warm all over. Beyond the warmth that my 100% bamboo sheets offered me in my bed. I looked around at our indigo blue walls and ahead of me at the arched doorway that my husband carved. My head and body felt light. The walls felt like they were pulsing like a heartbeat and closing in on me but I didn't feel suffocated or claustrophobic. I closed my eyes and felt the room enter into me and me into it. There was this sense that we (cat, bed, walls...even the socks on the floor) all became one. I opened my eyes and a knowing flowed through me that we are all indeed one and everything is God. I reached my hand out to our indigo blue wall, knowing that I was touching God.

I took a deep breath and smiled to myself, to my cat that was looking up at me because she must have felt a shift in my being. Lately God has felt so very far away. Perhaps because I had stumbled out beyond the center and was trying to make sense of what I thought was chaos in my world, in our world.

God was sending me a message through that passage in the book and through what transpired after reading it.

I glanced over at the part of our bedroom that used to be a closet but is now a light green painted nook where a bassinet has taken up residence. Above it are wooden letters that read "Le Bebe" (the baby in French). I felt a peace. I heard myself whisper out loud "In this very sacred moment, I understand what trust and gently releasing means."

I have had moments with God similar to this while walking in a forest draped in redwood trees or sitting in the warm sand as the waves thunder and crash up ahead but laying in the center of four walls surrounding me, away from nature... this was a first.

Tears of gratefulness trailed down my cheeks. I took my aloe Kleenex and slowly wiped them. I tore off a small piece of my tear soaked tissue and placed it in between the pages where I could come back to those wise words from the Yogic Irish dairy farmer when needed.

"Just keep coming back to the center...and you'll always find peace."

Wednesday, January 2

new year, new journey...

such cool cats :: superhero & boho boy in berkeley, canon digital rebel xti
(click for larger view)

We just arrived home from a whirly~twirly overwhelmingly fun holiday with family and dear friends. I feel exhausted but a good, peaceful exhaustion...if that makes sense.

We are going to spend the next few days napping, unpacking, writing our Mondo Beyondo lists in new gorgeous journals, reflecting on our intentions for the new year, cuddling our kitties, more napping...and ummm...perhaps some napping.

I have much to write about with more fun photographs to share but for now I will rest and revel in all that transpired.

2007 was a year full of so much emotion, challenges, insights, soulful connections, girly retreats, doctors appointments, tests, surgeries, loved ones passing, miracles birthing, coming full circle through it all and finding myself again. I am left feeling in awe and grateful for the deepened growth.

I was told by a gentle woman with a gift to see things that 2008 would be a huge year for me. Not sure what that means but the first few days have already felt magical and full of promise with new fun funky paths to take.

Boho Boy and I have reconnected in a way that goes beyond our desire for a family. We're relishing in our love and what brought us together in the beginning as partners on our journeys. I suppose getting away together inspires such things (note to self: more vacations with hubby).

I feel a calm in my heart. I wish that for each of you as you enter into this new year and new journey.

Did I mention I'll be napping?