Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Breaking The Cycle

"Nothing is as solid as it appears," he said. "Most of the obstacles we face in life are only illusions and can be dissipated just like I punched a hole in that cloud. That's why it is important to use your mind. Once you know how to do this, nothing will ever stop you. Life is very different when you use your mind's unlimited potential."
-excerpt from Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith

On May 6th, 1936 My great grandmother, Doris, married Michael Cassone. Both immigrants to the U.S. (Doris from Holland and Michael from Italy) they raised a family of 2 girls and 1 boy. Michael, who I know as a quirky old man who carries an envelope of blonde jokes in his pocket at all times, loves to talk about money, and incessantly points at everyone to emphasize his point, has been and, though softened a little by his senescence, continues to be an overbearing and controlling husband and father.

On February 14th, 1959, Michael's daughter, Diane, wed Keith Johnson. 17, and pregnant, Diane married this handsome and charismatic man out of social obligation. They raised 3 children and traveled around the country living in California, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, and Minnesota. After 19 years of living with an abrasive alcoholic, Diane called it quits. With little money or resources other than her astounding creativity and artistic ability, she went to school for graphic design, enrolled in Alanon, and eventually started a successful clothing company with her only daughter.

Kelly, Diane's first born, married Jim, had 2 children and divorced 6 years later due to there differing opinions on life. On the brink of starting her new solitary existence in a funky apartment in St. Paul, Kelly met Davis on a tropical vacation. His charming smile and raspy voice won her over as he said to her on their second date: "We're gonna get married, have 1 boy and 1 girl and live happily ever after." On April 20th, 1995, Kelly and Davis eloped in a courthouse in Barbados. They had Bronte on March 30th, 1997 and Tyler on July 4th, 2000. As for the happily ever after...though still married, they are currently living in different countries as Davis's 15 year long chain of threats to leave my mother finally came to fruition. Mom keeps him at a distance emotionally, as her life long fear of being alone melts away and she finds peace in her man-free existence.

On June 4th, 2010, I brought a child in to the world co-created by a hopelessly sweet man with several demons, a couple of them being drugs and alcohol. He left me April of this year and despite his efforts to maintain a front of loving behavior, I simply can't see myself going back. Lately I have been having terrible flashbacks to the wide array of disrespectful and disheartening words he spat my way, and I find myself welling up with anger, not only at him, but at myself. I am angry that I allowed myself to become part of this sequence of women choosing men that don't treat them right. That despite the hundreds of times Chloe said "You and Keikai are exactly like mom and Davis," I still didn't reconsider. Angry that after every time he called me a bitch, a word that never ceased to shoot knives in to my soul, I didn't break it off. Even though in hindsight I would have done things much differently, I have the most perfect baby girl as a result of our relationship, so I can't complain. The way in which I can alter the rhythm set by the women who preceded me is to act with grace, to do the hard but right thing and allow Tallulah to know her father, despite my judgements of him. 

 A few years ago when we took my great grandparents to Barbados for a vacation, after witnessing how Michael treated her, mom urged Doris to leave his aggression behind. She saw the validity in the argument, and cried, something that I had never witnessed her do. In the end, she decided that it was her duty to remain faithful to the man she married and see out the future, whatever it may hold. Doris and Michael are still married, living in an assisted living center in Atlanta. Nana and mom are both living without men, and I have been fortunate to watch their journey's unfold and learn from their developed wisdom. Having just welcomed our 5th generation of woman to the family, I know that if I am able to brush this chip off my shoulder and continue heading in my current direction, Tallulah will have a fresh start, a perception not jaded by witnessing hurtful words and difficult separations, rather an awareness of endless love and opportunity.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.
-Terry Josephson

The other day Bronte got mad at me for not listening to her, as she often does when I get lost in thought. I was completely absorbed in watching the table adjacent to ours, seating four elderly people shakily forking food into their mouths, speaking slowly and with decorum. Something about them was mesmerizing to me and I started to picture myself at that age which, in the past conjured feelings of fear, but in the middle of this sunny restaurant, made me feel calm and content. As I was gazing at them, one of the women looked up at me and her eyes fell on Tallulah. She smiled and I could see her contemplating this fresh, new life in the same way that I was reflecting on her senility.

This surreal experience started me thinking on the passage of time. As I have stated before, when I picture myself a year ago, my goals, my desires, and my general outlook on life, I simply can't believe where I am now. When I told people I was dropping out of college in my fourth year and moving to Mexico on a whim, so many advised me that I was ruining my life. A couple months later when I told them I was pregnant, if they hadn't already given up on my future, having a child out of wedlock pretty much sealed the deal. At the time even I could relate to them and wondered every day if I had made the right decision.  As it turns out, my life is more promising than it has ever been, it seems all my confused self needed was some time; time in the mountains, time away from Keikai, and time spent with my family.

Time allows us to heal from wounds both physical and spiritual. Take our new dog, Bubbles/Mimi/Noodle (depending on who you ask), who we found when she was only a few weeks old starving to death, trembling from nerves, and being devoured by mites. Three months later, her coat is shining and she is happy, healthy and sweet as can be. Time brings about change and allows for growth. Five months ago I was a woman who was convinced she would never overcome the heartbreak of her boyfriend and father of her then unborn child, leaving. What I realize now is that he gave me the gifts of time and space to develop my sense of self; I feel strong and free.

In this age of plastic surgery, cryogenic freezing, and anti-aging products, it seems not only do we not value time but we are attempting to defy it. Wouldn't our energy be better spent enjoying our experience here than striving to be forever young? The passage of time is something to celebrate not be ashamed of, for the more time passes, the more we experience and consequently learn. Every wrinkle that appears is the result of an expression. It is as if each "dreaded" line is a footprint in the sand of our lives, having left the mark of innumerable smiles and furrowed brows. I see these folds in the skin as glorious exhibitions of the lives we have lived and our continuing journey. 

Expressions such as What a difference a day makes and Just give it some time exemplify exactly what I am saying. My concept of the ticking clock has vastly changed in the last year, as in pregnancy everyday felt like a year and in motherhood days race by leaving precious minutes of silence and stillness. And as I reflect back on my life until now, the last year in particular, I can confidently say that everything we encounter in our finite bodies has a place in the infinite path of our souls, and with each passing second opportunities arise. So, today, exactly a month before my twenty second birthday, I look forward to the years to come not worried about sickness or saggy skin, but with exuberance and a thirst for life. Because, though the last year has been trying, it has opened my eyes to how much life can alter in 365 days, and, as I age, I am committed to making every impending year even more remarkable than the last.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Kindness, mercy, and forgiveness should be your practice. The man who does this will not have to find God, for God will find him.
Yogi B

Today, as mom and I walked up the gravel road at the base of one of the many mountains we are surrounded by, the sun illuminating every pebble and the vast blue sky cradling us on all sides, I felt tremendously happy... and hot. We trekked up the slight incline and discussed our newest creative venture. It was in the middle of our conversation that I noticed a sheep herder smacking his sheep with a jagged stick and throwing rocks at them to encourage movement. The juxtaposition of the wonderfully gorgeous scenery to this man treating these gentle creatures in such a heinous manner evoked a shocked silence in both of us. 

When we commenced talking once again the tone was different and dialogue morphed to an ever sensitive and tragic subject, my mom's brother, Eric. Mom's youngest brother, the boy she treasured and helped raise, took his own life in his first year of college. My mom told me how she jetted off to Europe after it happened, needing solace and time alone. While in Italy a decrepit old man would scratch on her hotel door every night offering his affection. She said that after the man ceased and she drifted back to sleep, she would always see Eric, assuring her that he was OK and she was the same. As our feet carried us further up the toward the mountain she described her days in the week following her sudden voyage to Europe. She walked through Ravenna, Italy, alone knowing that being a blonde in Italy is comparable to being live bait, but she didn't care. Her apathy, she told me, was due to her extreme sadness. Then, her voice breaking as it inevitably does when we talk about her beloved lost brother, she told me she would invariably end up at a place of worship, sit down, and cry.

Though I can't imagine the pain of losing a sibling, I can relate to her feelings that sometimes the the events of this world simply don't make sense. As she talked about how sweet and hilarious her brother was and how great a deficit is left by his absence, I couldn't help but think of Joe. Yet another soul that left a mark on so many and left us before his time. Joe was victim of a hideous crime and died a little more than 2 years ago. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him and the effect he had on my life, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Though I am struck with a pang of sadness every time I picture his face or remember his ever infectious laugh, I know I am fortunate to have had such a hilarious, kind, and creative person in my experience.

Enveloped by the sky and feeling my feet's steady imprints in the desert dirt, I ruminated on violence. Violence towards oneself, another human, or animals, each one provoking heartache. A year ago I kicked my brother in the stomach for throwing a basketball at my nose. His expression as he fell to the ground waling in pain is imprinted on my brain. He will remember it forever and no amount of apologizing can take it back. Though my path of introspection didn't start immediately after this event, I do believe that in that moment I began to change. I was disgusted with how I surrendered myself to feelings of anger and harmed the little boy I love so much. So here I am a year later reflecting on the violence of the past and seeing how severely it effects the present. Never have I been more convinced that our actions, our words, and our behavior must reflect the highest degree of grace and love and, if we are lucky, our benevolence can leave the same impact as the brilliant beings who have passed through our lives and away. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding Something in Everything

About a month ago, when I woke up to feed Tallulah, I had a vision; Lemons. Though I was tempted to dismiss this peculiar apparition, the brightly colored fruits continued to roll through my mind. As Tallulah ate to her hearts content, I began to ruminate on the significance of this thought. I started thinking on the expression When life gives you lemons... and after discussing the concept with mom, decided that the name for our website should be Well, that URL would have cost us $100,000 so we continued to rack our brains. It was only after an intense meditation session that I opened my eyes and said Lovely Lemons. Not only was this site name available for the economical cost of $10, it was even more fabulous than the first title and even more connected to the message we mean to convey. Since that day I have been striving to notice every one of life's nuances I can, and follow the universe's dispatches of meaning.

A week ago today I was flipping through one of my mom's books, stopped on an arbitrary page, and found a quote that resonated with me profoundly. It was uttered by a woman named Sheila Graham. Sheila Graham? I thought, so I googled her. I found that she and I share a birthday, and not only are we both Virgos, but we share the Chinese sign; the dragon. She died the year I was born and she was a writer. I went to bed thinking about how strange it all was and woke up even more curious about this woman. After further research I found that she was involved with F. Scott Fitzgerald an infamous alcoholic and she as a result was codependent. Upon telling my mom this she reminded me that F. Scott Fitzgerald's historic home is situated right next door to one of the homes I grew up in and consequently Sheila Graham spent a great deal of time there. At this point, I was totally freaked out. After ordering books about and written by her, it occurred to me that she and I may be kindred souls. Before you snicker at my assumption, hear me out. I feel that  the reason that I happened to flip to that specific page and happened upon that exact quote is because I was meant to find out about this dynamic woman, to learn about her life which is eerily in line with mine and see that I don't have to live her same sufferings. 

Since this whole saga happened I have found myself noticing many things that are spookily relevant, things my former, non-observant self would have blown right past. One such occurrence arose last night when I was reading my Tarot cards. I lay out the cards asking what my purpose was, what I need to learn, and what I need to do.  While all of the cards I pulled were unbelievably applicable to exactly where I am in my life, the last of the 9 cards that I pulled was the 9 of cups, which my reading revealed to be equivalent to the 9 of hearts, a card that depicts that whatever one wishes for will be granted. While I was elated to read the positive message of this card I looked at it and saw that the largest and most prominent of the 9 cups illustrated on the card held two, brilliantly yellow lemons.

So while I could easily disregard these things and file them in my mind under coincidences, I choose to notice and follow them to the core of their meaning. Not only is running after these instances of serendipity exciting and invigorating, it is leading me to door after open door and encouraging me to listen to my intuition and move spontaneously in the direction of the greatest inspiration, happiness, and abundance.

*more on Sheila Graham and our uncanny likenesses as I learn.
* coming soon!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Fullest

Yesterday I sat in the passenger seat of my mom's car on the way home from San Miguel as I have a hundred times before, I leaned my head to the side and glanced out my window and was overwhelmed with how majestic the scenery was, the mountains in particular. I was struck by how, in all of my monotonous car rides, I had never noticed the sensational terrain. In all of my awe I noticed that my ignorance in regards to my surroundings is a sort of metaphor for my dealings in life.

Until recently my life had been akin to driving on the open road, staring straight ahead, tuning out my peripheral visions in pursuit of getting there. Whether there was graduating from college or arriving at work, I was never content, always in anticipation of my next step and paying no attention to the present moment. I had a series of steps to go through everyday, and I completed them with little enthusiasm, and as a result I was never satisfied. As I achieved one landmark I would begin looking forward to the next one, invariably thinking that the next milestone would deliver happiness, and it never did. I started to become a terminal malcontent, grumpy and exhausted.

The transition that moving to Mexico entailed was surely not an easy one, but I wouldn't trade the bumps in the road for anything, as they have taught me so much about myself and life in general. Something about the mountains and the lack of commercial businesses has forced me to live in the present moment and trained me to act with an attitude of appreciation. And, though my physical surroundings have had a lot to do with my feelings of peace, I can, more than anything, attribute my ability to be at ease to my daughter. In the two months since she was born, I have spent hours staring at her. With every coo and gurgle she produces my reverence at the wonders of my reality grow. 

I no longer live in anticipation of the benchmarks that speckle my life map, instead I live my days one at a time. I am excited to wake up in the morning and start my days as I never know what each one will behold. I trust my inner thoughts and blow in whichever direction the dessert wind takes me, and I am happy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Notes on Manifesting

If you build it, they will come.
Field of Dreams

As of late I've found that, if you are open to accepting it, the universe provides you with what you need. Not possessions and material goods, but things you actually need. Since becoming receptive to this concept, I have experienced several instances of universal responsiveness to my unconscious necessities. 

A few weeks after having Tallulah she started to suffer from colic making it nearly impossible for either of us to sleep. We went shopping for a crib thinking maybe this would help our situation and while waiting for our transaction to be completed, I sat down to nurse her. A large, zoftic woman entered the store, saw me breast-feeding, and without so much as introducing herself proceeded to march over to me, grab my boob and show me how to nurse properly. While at the time a was more than a little taken aback, that night I was thanking my lucky stars that I had encountered this bold, wonderful woman as her lack of hesitation to offer me assistance had greatly helped me and my new baby.

A few weeks later, faced with munchkin's extreme constipation which caused her to grunt in discomfort for hours throughout the day and night, I was in search of a solution. My family and I went out to eat and met a petite blonde woman named Lee who we later nicknamed Lovely Lee. She just happened to be doula in-training, a baby yoga instructor, and an overall doll. She offered some wonderful tips on how to ease her irritation. She also gave me peace of mind in a situation in which anxiety was beginning to gather.

There have been many such happenings in the last few months, and the numbers only continue to increase as my openness to them widens. Manifesting that your demands will be satisfied is a sort of catalyst to living the life you want as the more you manifest the more everything falls into place and the greater your belief in the concept becomes. Focusing on the lack of what you desire will only bring more of the lack in to your space whereas living as if everything you yearn for is already at your fingertips will attract more of what you wish for to you. If you need proof, try it.

You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an inner exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.
-Sheila Graham