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Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I haven't done terribly well with writing every month. When I haven't been literally paralyzed with depression and anxiety I have been doing my best to "do life" and right now that itself is daunting. Also, I have literally had SO MUCH to say and no way to focus it or draft it in a way that satisfies my crazy brain right now. So I am letting that go. Not everything is a masterpiece and that's ok. Sometimes it's better to get the thoughts out. 

 

I can't remember the last time I had a full nights sleep.  The combination of stress, pregnancy, parenting a toddler and having a snoring husband doesn't really allow for that. Last night as I was falling asleep I took some time to open my heart and expand to the collective feminine that are in resistance of the incoming administration. While I felt deeply empowered, held and strong, I also feel deep grief, sadness and fear. Not the bullshit fear that stops you from living your life. The real, fight or flight fear. The kind you feel when there is true danger, a real threat. So at 3am I found myself wide awake and anxiety ridden. I have not been able to go back to sleep. Which sucks, I'm seriously fucking tired and would love to sleep for a week straight.

 

Im not just physically tired. I am tired on every possible level. I'm tired of people both that I know and don't know telling me and others to "calm down", "stop overreacting", "get over it". This is not about a lost election. This is about the bankruptcy of compassion and empathy in this country. This is about being done with complacency and comfort in privilege. This is about right and wrong. And quite frankly, the phrases "go to your safe place, snowflake" "don't forget your diaper pin" and "stop being a crybaby" are tired and lack creativity. It's all the same word vomit from people that think that gas lighting the majority of America will silence them. You can kindly go fuck yourself with that shit. And you can certainly be ready to complain often because it's only the beginning. 

 

I have walked away from friendships. I have been shaken to my core by people I thought I knew and trusted but that trust was breached once they decided electing a sexual predator(among many other things) was ok. And that now suddenly I am the intolerant one. Yeah, tolerance does not cover misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or the mockery of the disabled(forgive me if I missed something). Sorry folks, but you have zero call out power on that. Your willingness to give a pass to these qualities is going against everything that truly makes America a thriving, colorful and inclusive place. Your blind trust and devotion will be your undoing. 

This is not about wanting America to fail, in a sense we already have. This is about waking up to the full shadow of our country and there is some real soul searching to be done. Unfortunately all of us, especially our most vulnerable populations will suffer greatly no matter what.  Most, already have been in pain and many of us with privilege are getting a better understanding of that reality. I could go into detail about my specific frustrations with the incoming administration, but the list is long, and I am too tired to do sourcing and citations. Maybe for another time. 

I will leave you with a few thoughts. Be vigilant and critical at all times. Do not allow others to deflect or gaslight you in anyway. Do not back down or give up, yes we are already tired, but we have a long road ahead of us. Know that you are not alone. We are not alone. We ARE the majority. Also, if you think I was a militant feminist before? Ha. You ain't seen nothing yet. Don't like it? Fuck off. 

 

SOLIDARITY.

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Raw.

I made a commitment to myself to write every month. There are plenty of things I could dive into, there is certainly plenty of material! What seems to be at the forefront is grief. My stepfather recently took his own life and while I hadn't spoken to him in a few years, that certainly didn't erase the 26 years or so of my life he was very much a part of. And maybe at another time, I will share more about those years, but not today. 

My mom, my brother and I are tough. We've been through some crazy shit together and the majority of it revolved around our collective and individual relationships with my stepfather. We are all broken and simultaneously trying to piece each other and ourselves back together. It's messy. And it's deeply challenging. We don't know where to lean because we are all heavy with the sadness in different ways.  We are fragmented versions of ourselves now and trying to move forward in a world where there is no space for grief, and little understanding of mental illness and a complete lack of grace and tact around suicide. A world where a divorce erases your right to have bereavement time. Where my brother has to go back to work ONE WEEK after his father died. A world where I should only feel relief and anger around my stepfather because of our history. To be honest the only thing I feel is sadness. And that's confusing for many people and too complex to explain.  

And we have to just keep going. Stay positive, stay busy and distracted. That's what we're "supposed" to do.  So I journal, I chant, meditate, exercise, bury myself in Pema Chödron and parenting books. It helps sometimes. Other times it feels hollow and like total bullshit. What if I want to feel all the deep hurt and sadness? What if I want to absorb all my mom and brothers pain so that it's easier for them? I feel oddly calm and I don't know if it's because that's me now or if I'm  completely shut down. Navigating the new normal feels alien and detached. What I do know us that my family is fucking strong. And we WILL get through this and we will do it together, but right now we are shattered and finding our way. Finding our way to the new versions of ourselves. At least that's what it feels like from where I am at.

 

NOTE: I want to say thank you to all of my dear friends and family for your love, understanding and kindness during this difficult time. I'm deeply grateful to each and every one of you.  

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Balance

Balance is that ever so daunting state of being that most of us are constantly striving for and struggle to maintain.  I'm hardly qualified to tell anyone how to do this, as I struggle just like anyone else. I don't have a secret that unlocks the ability to have a totally blissed out, perfectly balanced life. I'm easily overwhelmed, empathic, and I am a mother to a highly active toddler. What I can share are my thoughts and what my experiences tell me about the elusive life of balance.  

I sat with this topic for a few days and a few words popped up for me, so I will integrate them as best I can: Impermanence, transition, process, integration and gratitude. I believe these all intertwine with balance and the sense of either finding it or lacking it. I tend to have too many interests and start too many projects that I never seem to finish. This is my personal downfall when it comes to maintaining balance because I will often get overwhelmed, shut down and spend too much time on Netflix and social media. The "checking out" phase is usually the end of the cycle where I then try to claw my way back to connectedness, productivity and happiness.

It all comes from resisitance and I believe that it's resisitance to my(collectively, our) impermanence. We are fluid, transitional beings, all of us. We are constantly shifting and integrating and dealing with bumps in the road. If we can come to terms with our fluidity, we can better handle imbalance, because there is an acceptance that balance, nor imbalance are permanent states. What we can do, is find ways to make the shifts more comfortable and find a sense of ease. Often when I am feeling the most imbalanced it's because I have become so engaged with my Eartlhy self and duties that I put my gratitude, spirituality and magic on the back burner. If these aspects are maintained as a constant, even in small ways, balance is easier to return to. 

The key is to be creative in integrating these practices in such a way that they are habitual and not an emergency kit. A firm foundation of gratitude is definitely one of the main ingredients, it is a fact that a daily recognition or practice of expressing gratitude creates a happier life. This can be done in a list form in the morning or night, a prayer, expressing it to loved ones or those you come into contact with, just a simple "Thank you" to whatever faith or divinity resonates with you can lay down a solid framework of daily thankfulness. This should be a daily practice. Start by making a goal to practice graitude for 7 days. Journal about it/track it however you wish. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so that's also a great goal. 

Another interesting practice that I have been working with personally, mostly in relationship to parenting, but I see how it can be useful in all aspects of life, is the 1:5 ratio.  For every single negative interaction or thought/moment, intentionally create 5 positives. This can be in the form of giving a compliment to a stranger, hugging or showing affection to a loved one you may have had a negative interaction with, positive affirmations or self care. These don't have to be large actions or statements. Small acts or statements of positivity have large impacts and raise your vibration exponentially. A higher vibration creates space for acceptance and fluidity, thus, creating a sense of balance, or maybe just  more comfort in  our impermanence.

In closing, I think we are all secretly a mess. And if we allowed each other to see more of our messy selves, we wouldn't strive so hard for things that are impossible to maintain. We could nurture, help and honor each other in such a way that feeling off balance wouldn't feel so bad, because there is comfort in knowing that you aren't alone and everyone is struggling on some level. I think it would serve us all to support each other and embrace our truths more, even if it feels messy. Until next time,  

 

Shine On! 

Love&Magick

Karen 🔮 

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Fearless Dancer

So much has happened in the last month, a big move, Beyonce concert, dance performance and so many opportunities for growth, release and transformation. Each event is truly worthy of its own entry so I will take some time to talk about my first bellydance performance, my first time dancing in front of an audience in over a decade. If you would like to read more about my journey to belly dance please check out my Displaced Dancer entry at safereturndoubtful.net/Karen-c  

After taking belly dance class for a little over a year and PLENTY of urging from my teacher and a fellow student, I finally bit the bullet and committed to one of the monthly showcases my teacher hosts. I was terrified. I was having some incredibly unkind commentary  with myself about my body, skill level and fear of judgement. After 19 years in the world of ballet, pursuing perfection, these are difficult inward conversations to let go of. The fear was real and I knew that is why I needed to go through with it. Facing fear and discomfort is exactly where growth and transformation happens, and no matter how small or large the feat, it is a learning and unlearning, and it's a beautiful, scary thing.

I am so very fortunate to be a part of such an accepting, encouraging and supportive belly dance community. The space that my teacher, Saqra has created is one of inclusiveness, healing and joy. It's bigger than just belly dance, it is empowerment, community, confidence and self love. It is with that level of support that I was able to perform my heart out at the showcase.

For the show, I had the pleasure of wearing one of Saqra's stunning Fearless Glamour gowns which she kindly bedazzled with butterfly rhinestones. I felt like a goddess. This was the final touch to feeling grounded, powerful and confident in dancing in front of an audience again. Letting go of having a "mastery" of the technique. This wasn't about technique, this was about dancing for myself, for the love of myself and my joy in dance and it was incredible. I felt lit up with bliss, energy and an appreciation for feeling my body move again and command attention from an audience. I look forward to doing it again! The summer brings festivals and parades and that's where you can find me, bejeweled, shimmying with a fearless smile in my face.

My Fearless Glamour gown! Shop here: fearlessglamour.com 

My Fearless Glamour gown! Shop here: fearlessglamour.com 

Bathroom Bigotry Doesn't Protect Anyone

In the United States a sexual assault occurs every 107 seconds. Every year there are 293,000 victims of sexual assault.  Ninety three percent of juvenile sexual assaults know their attackers and occur in homes, this means 7% of the perpetrators are strangers. One out every six women is a victim of attempted or completed rape, one out every thirty three victims are males.

Of course, these statistics are not being brought up with the current fear mongering to "protect our children" from inclusive bathroom laws. Also, let's not forget that sexual assault in all forms have been far from the conservative agenda until the chance that a group of oppressed people may get the chance to have the freedom to piss where they  feel most safe and comfortable. Those speaking out against trans friendly bathroom laws aren't even addressing the current epidemic of rape and sexual assault that plagues the nation. Oh no. They are worried about future, possible victims. Seven percent of possible victims to be exact. Not to say this 7% doesn't matter. They do, but it's a tough pill to swallow when until now, there has been a complete lack of concern and lack of action to protect current victims and weak ass laws against sex offenders. Rape kits go untested. Victims are berated, interrogated about their past often to the point of withdrawing completely. Ninety seven  of every one hundred rapists go WITHOUT punishment. WITHOUT PUNISHMENT. No outrage. No, not until we want to allow transgender men and women to use the restroom they identify with. Now there's concern for sexual assault. Not the ones that are happening right now. Not the ones that have happened, but the 7% of POSSIBLE sexual assaults that, according to some will most certainly rapidly increase since sexual predators give two shits about bathroom laws. 

I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I was abused from ages 10-19 by my stepfather in my home. His sexual abuse during that time was exclusive to me, but his psychological and emotional abuse was something my entire family fell victim to.  I am sharing this with you because, a) I think it's important to remove the shame from sexual assault and rape by sharing and b) When victims voices are used as a political platform for bigotry, intolerance and discrimination I must speak up, because that is not MY voice, I do not use my past victimhood as a mask for discrimination and fear.

 Last week I saw a video entitled "The Unintended Victims of Bathroom Bills and Locker Room Policies". I knew I was watching at my own risk as these women shared their stories of abuse. One of the women still struggles with getting into a shower. It takes a great deal of courage to share such dark experiences. However, following their stories they began explaining that this is why the transgender inclusive laws were a threat to their safety and to others. That "men" would now be allowed to freely walk into the women's restroom and threaten everyone's safety. I was not only enraged, but felt completely exploited. These stories of sexual assault that occurred prior to any of theses laws, and a few who even knew their abusers were being used as a political tool to spread fear, falsehoods and discrimination. I'm in no way denying their experiences, or their fear. I understand feeling traumatized in a specific environment, I have lived it. Nothing but healing and therapy can address those wounds, not refusing an entire community to use the restroom they identify with. 

 Not only did the message not add up, but it lacked any statistical evidence whatsoever. It also failed to represent male victims and misrepresented the law which is specifically for transgender to use the restroom of which gender they identify with. This is vastly different from men being "allowed" in the restrooms exposing everyone to countless sexual predators which is also not backed up by any facts from states that have already enacted the inclusive laws. According to Texas law enforcement there has been zero increase in sexual assaults with the transgender inclusive laws. Zero.  If a rapist is determined to attack, chances are they aren't taking bathroom laws into consideration. 

And what of the trans community? Humans seeking basic rights. One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted in their lives. Twelve percent of transgender youth report being sexually assaulted in K-12 settings by peers or educational staff. Seventy two percent of hate violence homicides in 2013 were transgender women. Transgender women are 1.8 times more likely to experience sexual violence when compared with other survivors. These statistics don't even touch trans people of color, trans men, nor does it cover violence against men and women that don't conform to cisgender appearance norms.

If sexual abuse and rape are truly going to be a priority now, then we need to start believing victims when they come forward with their stories.  We need to work together to strengthen laws against sex offenders and actually put them away for their crimes.  If you are truly worried about your children being sexually assaulted, know that the most common place for it to happen is in your home with someone they know or are related to, communicate with them, watch them and know who they are spending time with. That is how you protect your children.  If you are so concerned about genitals that you don't even see, about people that have, quite frankly been using your bathroom for quite some time, then you need to acknowledge that you take issue with people that aren't like you.  Hiding behind faith or victims of trauma is a cowardly way to attempt to disguise intolerance and discrimination. Many of the statements made about not allowing trans access to their gender identifying restroom are sounding much like the days of segregation against African Americans. Which side of history would you like to be on?

 

If you are currently or have been a victim of sexual assault or rape, you are not alone. Please know there are people that want to help you. Call this number for support: 

1.800.656.HOPE(4673)

 

Sources: 

rainn.org

ovc.org

avp.org

equalitymatters.org

 

 

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Onions

There has been a considerable amount of processing happening over here. I attribute much of it to the Full moon in Scorpio and x, y and z planets in retrograde with Mercury on its way too. A slow-down. A slow down universally and self inflicted. Slipping into old patterns of complacency and laziness, mini depressions, self sabotage, and berating myself for it to tie it up in a lovely negativity package! 

Slowly but surely I have been climbing out from it and in the process there have been reoccurring themes of forgiveness and reflection on my role in this world, in my relationships and who I am to myself and what I truly want from this life.  Taking stock of how I spend my time, who with, and exchanges of energy, what they mean. 

Often I feel like a counselor, as most friends do for each other. And that's ok. I don't mind, I feel I was put here to help others get through the hard shit. But it definitely makes holding space challenging and maintaining that space for myself, and my family a constant stretch that I feel I often fail at. I will thrive for a few days and then have nothing to offer for days. Vicious cycle that I'm unsure how to break it, but I'm working on it.

I don't know why I'm even writing this. I suppose I think it's important to be honest about the imperfections of daily life, that I can share self care lists and talk about gratitude and positivity and still suck at it sometimes. That being a human in this body is difficult, dark and not pretty sometimes. That I want to change my eating habits but continue to fail and try again because I seek comfort from food and it's my addiction. That I want to be more patient and not easily anger at my son, but my temper is short and my patience is even less. That as much as I work to love and honor my body where it's at right now, I often feel disgust and hatred for its appearance after growing and delivering a baby. 

Every morning, when I get my ass out bed when I should, I write a list forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for daily failures, for shortcomings as a wife and a mother, for not being all the things for everyone all the time. I used to write at least a page berating myself, but changed that habit as beating myself up with pen and paper doesn't serve me, but I do deserve forgiveness and a fresh start. I decided to limit my time on Facebook which is challenging as it's another addiction. But I find removing my attention from it so many times per day allows space for more activities with my son, more reading and writing.

I find the "almost hiatus" has me really peeling back layers of intention, communication, attachment/detachment to drama, the feelings of defensiveness when I see things I disagree with intensify when I'm not constantly exposed to the news feed and then return to it. I love the connection which is why I won't ever leave it completely. I love sharing lives, exchanging advice, jokes or the love of Beyonce or mourning music legends as a virtual community. So much of it is beautiful. So much ugly. Behind a keyboard it's so easy to throw around articles and quotes, videos without being pure of intention or remembering that humans just fuck up sometimes, there are just more cameras to capture all of it now and it's just tired. That was a tangent. I wish we could just be kinder. More forgiving. Less judgemental.

The more open time away from social media I have, the more I re-evaluate everything, the people in my life, who I am to them, how I honor myself in relationships, my growing fierceness and vulnerability as a mother, being less and less able to stay silent when I feel shit's not ok, which is causing shifts and pulls in relationships. It's partially age. Partially motherhood. Growth, transformation, failure, success, all part of the human package. This was a bit all over the place, but it's my truth right now. You're not alone in this. I promise. And we have an opportunity to change everyday. Take note of your successes, small and large, forgive yourself for the failures and shortcomings. You and me, we are held, loved and supported. And as long as we remember that, we will be ok. 

 

Shine on! 

Love&Magic, 

Karen 🔮 

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Taking notes from my toddler and Kitchen Tarot

The subject of innocence and trust has been coming up often lately, for me at least. How we define innocence and how we seem to distance ourselves from it as we get older. It's interesting to me, how we do that, create space from ourselves and "childhood innocence" rather than running back to it as we should.  

My son, for example is pure curiosity and ambition. Of course he's not fully developed cognitively, but on an energetic level it's definitely something to take note of and explore. He is 14 months old, wildly fearless and driven by desire to explore. Everything is brand new to him and it's absolutely wonderful to observe. He says "uh oh" when a bubble pops and spent a fair amount of time trying to return a pine cone to a tree today, which was so very sweet to say the least. 

What im getting at here is that perhaps we need to reconnect with our toddler selves in  the sense that everything is fresh, new and irresistibly fascinating. That we dive full force into whatever calls to us or sparks curiosity. Why not?  All of the misgivings and fears we have are created by ourselves and completely in our heads. And the fear isn't from the action itself, but the fear of the actual outcome and how we treat OURSELVES due to whatever outcome occurs. And WHY????? We are only denying ourselves our true birthright to live in joy, explorative creativity and only leaves us with regret and a rather anti climatic life. Trust me, nobody is as worried about what you do as you. 

Which brings me to my card today from my new favorite deck The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie and Dennis Fairchild. I drew Potluck which is the equivalent to The World in classic tarot. This card basically says "the world is your oyster!" "The universe is a constant buffet! Plenty to go around!". Begin trusting yourself and then the trust in the universe will come. There is plenty of abundance to go around, it starts with our willingness in ourselves to believe and recieve. Let go of the defense mechanisms that only restrict you from living in your bliss and truth . They no longer serve you, and they hide the gifts that the world is waiting to see from you. We all have precious treasures inside of us if only we reconnect with our trust, innocence and knowingness of who we are and what we are here to do. Stop hiding and dive into your desires and curiosity with the fearlessness and ambition of a toddler! Take what resonates, leave the rest! Shine on!

 

Love&Magic

Karen

 

 

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A word about courage

Hi there. I'm Karen C.'s cousin Nikki G. I'm a seeker, a maker and a lover of life and I'm thrilled to be a contributor here at Shiny Objects!

Being brave does not mean that you never feel scared or weak or lost...it just means that you keep going anyway. 

"You're so brave."

"I admire your courage." 

I'm currently in treatment for breast cancer and I hear these words a lot these days when I talk about my cancer journey. At first I was taken aback by these sentiments. I don't feel like I'm doing anything special. In fact, I'm doing the only thing I know how to do and that is to put one foot in front of the other and hike my way through this. 

Breast cancer treatment sucks. In the aftermath of my first chemotherapy treatment, I never wanted to walk back in the treatment room ever again as long as I lived. But going back for the next treatment was the next step in my journey so I kept walking.  On another day Miss Independent Introverted Me had to ask a stranger to help me put the heavy bag of cat litter in my cart at the store. (Ugh! Please no!)  But that's the thing about courage. It's not in the feeling, it's in the doing. Courage isn't about the magnitude of the task, it's about doing what you need to do. Putting one foot in front of the other.

We have two choices: embrace and love what we have and feel joy as deeply and fully as we can, and eventually lose everything - or shield ourselves, be miserable...and eventually lose everything.  --Franklin Veayx and Eve Rickert

Here's the thing, even in the most difficult times, your life keeps happening. And while you're plodding through your hard stuff, you still have opportunities to embrace what you love and to feel joy  I know that some of those comments I get about courage are about my positive attitude and my continuing to make art.  Yes, I have crappy, negative, down days.  I had one Wednesday.  And I have days where I stay in bed and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix all day.  But enjoying life and making stuff are what I do best. One way or another, I'm going to get to the other side of breast cancer treatment. So I can grit my teeth and be miserable all the time or I can take advantage of the good days and laugh and do what I do best. Maya Angelou said that surviving is important,but thriving is elegant. I think it's also courageous. I choose to thrive.  Join me?

You can read more about my journey on my blog Nikkidaisy.

 

Small Acts of Self Care

I know, I know. ANOTHER lady blogger talking about self care. But to be honest, you needed the reminder, didn't you? And to be fair it's been over a year since I got myself a real pedicure and almost as long since I've gone in for my eyebrows to be threaded, and my son is a year old and I just now started carving out time to exercise. I know. The first world problems of a stay at home mom. GASP!  

i think sometimes things just seem inaccessible and so we just skip over them. For example, getting child care for a date night with my hubby will almost always come before a mani pedi. So...here are the simple things that I do to integrate a little bit of self care into every day life. I hope this is helpful to some of you wonderful people who aren't giving yourself the love you deserve! 

 

1. Exercise. I know, I generally don't like it either, but the trick is finding something you enjoy doing. Moving your body boosts your mood, gives you energy, just to name a few benefits. I love to shake my booty so my current favorite is Keaira LaShae's YouTube channel superherofitnesstv. She has a little bit of everything at varying levels and time lengths. I always feel better if I get a workout in (psssssst my secret is I do it when my son is awake!).  

 

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2. Grow something. I famously have a black thumb, but when I discovered that I could grow some of my veggie scraps with water, I decided, why not? And look! They are growing, bringing life and energy to my home....and free fennel, celery and romaine! Trust me, if I can do it, you can! 

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3. Buy yourself flowers. These were $5 at Safeway. They bring color to my home, and everytime I look at them I smile and know it's something I did just for me.  so next time you're grocery shopping pick yourself up a bouquet. You deserve it.

 

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4. Diffuse some oils or light some incense. So simple, but the emotional and spiritual benefits of uplifting scents are so worth this little act. My favorite combos are Young Living's stress away with lavender or frankincense with joy. Both Young Living and DoTerra carry high quality essential oils. If they aren't your thing, that's cool, I love sandalwood and cedar incense, or a good old scented candle can have similar effects. Try it and notice your mood shift. So easy! 

My Radical Self Love Bible

My Radical Self Love Bible

5. Art journaling. I am new to this but it is such a lovely practice! Old magazines, a blank journal and some sharpies and BOOM you just cut, glue and write. So fun, creative and therapeutic. If a journal is too big of a commitment vision boards are just as fun and effective. 

 

NYX berry strudel

NYX berry strudel

6. Put on some bold lipstick. I always feel a little burst of confidence and badass-ness when I put on a crazy shade. NYX has super fun colors and you can grab them from Fred Meyer! My faves are Transylvania, Berry Strudel and Copenhagen. 

 

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7. Write. Even if it's a stream of consciousness free write it can really help with processing uncomfortable emotions, or you can flip it and write a gratitude list and raise your vibration a la Law of Attraction!  

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8 & 9. Read something inspiring. I'm a personal development junkie. I love learning new ways to improve myself and my life for me, and my family. Right now I am loving Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic. Also pictured here is one of my altars. Creating these throughout my house boosts my magic and positive vibes, and I like pretty things. You don't have to buy anything and you don't need much space. Just bring things together that you love and make a little shrine. I incorporate crystals, tarot cards, pretty figurines, photos....whatever strikes my fancy. It's an easy and fun way to put intention into something that appeals just to you. 

 

i truly hope that this is helpful, I believe that if we all incorporate more self care and magic into our daily lives we can create a better world. Because if we are happier we vibrate at higher level which attracts abundance, love and MORE magic! So why not?!   Try some of these on and see how you feel....in the meantime, Shine on!!

Love&Magic

Karen 🔮 

An Invitation

I don't know if it's the fiery entrance to the year of the monkey or what, but I am feeling particularly fired up. I donned my purple lipstick and cranked up some Hole. And my wheels started turning. As women so much of what we can and can't do is dictated to us starting at a young age. And I started scribbling notes listing all the things society, the patriarchy, politicians etc "decides" for us. I would list them here, but most of you know, and I don't need to give that bullshit any more power. Instead I am writing an invitation.

Ladies, I invite you to be radical, loud, abrasive, passionate and raw. I invite you to no longer apologize for the space your body occupies, I invite you to wear whatever the fuck you want. Because nobody has a right to dictate what is ok for you to wear. Nobody has a right to tear you down for expressing yourself in your fashion. Nobody has a right to rape you because you are dressed a certain way. I invite you to throw all of these so called "rules" away and rise up into your power. Embrace your divinity, your beauty, your magnificence. Because you are all those things and you should own that shit.

I invite you to openly trust your intuition and express yourself freely, because you are not too sensitive or overly emotional. You are a woman and you feel deeply and passionately and it's a fucking gift.  I invite you to celebrate all the things that make you unique, and weird.  I invite you to speak your truth.

Last of all, I invite you all to stand together. Tearing each other down feeds the patriarchal monster and dis empowers us all. Can we stop? The party is so much more fun when we stop hating on each other and own the magic that is divine feminine. 

Be the Priestess you are. 

 

Love&Magic

Karen

 

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1.22.15

My baby is going to be ONE. Already. It both seems like yesterday and like a lifetime ago. In a sense it was a lifetime ago, as while Leo was being born I was simultaneously born as a mother. And my new life began with him. 

He was not in a terrible rush to come Earth side. The day after Leo's due date my midwife called me and informed me some of my levels had been off(after running tests on his due date after a false alarm of water breaking)and I was showing signs of preeclampsia. She told me to get ready, with my husband to go to the hospital. This was devastating news. I was looking forward to a lovely birth at the serene birth center with zero intervention with the exception of penicillin for my GBS.  

I sobbed in the shower, drowning myself with shame and guilt. This was not how it was supposed to be. My ego was assaulting me from the inside. I was saying some pretty nasty stuff to myself at this point. Blaming myself for somehow endangering our son. Like I had control. We made our trip to the hospital. I focused on trying to calm down. I didn't want to have to tell anyone I was in the hospital. I was embarrassed. My birth center plan had gotten plenty of criticism, so the fact that it fell through made me feel pretty guarded about sharing my admittance to the hospital due to complications. 

I was seen almost immediately upon arrival. The nurses checked my blood pressure, they attached me to the automated cuff and after the reading was complete an alarm went off. I muttered something about always needing a larger cuff for my BP To be read. My husband looked at me and said "Honey, don't worry about that right now." My BP was 180/110. The doctor explained to me that I had severe preeclampsia. My kidneys and liver were in distress. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby and placenta. Immediately I was hooked up to IVs for blood pressure medications and a triple dose of magnesium to prevent stroke or seizure. My deepest fears were happening, I was in the hospital and attached to IVs, and the next step was to induce labor.

The staff was wonderful and extremely compassionate of my situation. I am so grateful for that, they were committed to maintaining as much of my birth plan as possible. While the main focus was regulating my blood pressure, they began the super fun "ripening of the cervix process" ugh. After some progression, it was pitocin time.

At this point I had only informed my mother and my best friend about what was going on. I was feeling very guarded and private at this time although I nagged Mike to call his mom. My mom and brother came later in the day, knowing that they weren't likely to leave until Leo arrived. I wanted to move around and get labor moving, but had to be mindful of my blood pressure. My best friend Rochelle came later on, brought Mike some beers and gave him a break from my side. She brought a piece of Selenite to assist me energetically(she gets me like that).

They increased my pitocin, and I started feeling the contractions. They weren't too bad, I kept my moans deep and low(thank you Ina May for Sphincter Law!) and dozed in between. One of the lovely nurses noted that my contractions were "quite strong" I hadn't noticed much pain so I was thankful and gained confidence. I dozed in and out between contractions, Ro came and went, mom and Karsten(my brother) were in and out. The magnesium made me drowsy and slightly dizzy, so getting up was always a process. I refused underwear(what was the point?!) and casually went from bed to bathroom bare assed in my hospital gown, often followed by whistles from my sweet husband. At that point I gave zero fucks as to who saw what. 

The night was uneventful, contractions continued. The next morning they broke my water which was a bizarre sensation and as many know MESSY. I was bewildered by all the blood and fluids and wanted to get to the restroom to get cleaned up. The nurse came in with me but I was struggled with the IVs and the gooey mess on my bottom half. The nurse was not giving me what I needed(the shift change happened and I was less than thrilled with their demeanor)so I yelled for my mother. She came in and helped me get cleaned up around the IVs. My mother talked with the new nurses and things improved immediately. At some point team of doctors and medical students came in and talked at me about my preeclampsia and spewed all the facts that I already knew. I know they were doing their job, but I didn't need the reminder. The IVs and fetal monitor along with constant BP checks were reminder enough. 

Contractions got more intense. I had the shakes....I remembered the description from birthing class. I was getting close. I got lucky and didn't vomit. I was rotating from side to side, Mike was applying counter pressure to my back and hip traction on my command. He is an ANGEL. I was moaning deep, low and sometimes made unintentional chewbacca sounds which was pretty funny. I was rolling with it. At that point I was at 5 cm dilated. I quickly progressed and felt the need to bear down or to put it bluntly I felt like I had to shit. Because that's what it feels like when you're about to give birth, like you have to take a massive shit. I yelled "I'm ready to have this BABY!!! I feel like I. Gonna SHIT!!!" They checked me and sure enough 10 cm. Nobody was ready, no doctor, no team assembled. They instructed me not to push. This was not ok. "JUST LET ME HAVE HIM!!!!!" Was my response. 

After an eternity the team was assembled. My brother(he's a photographer, I had asked him to document the birth) was stationed behind the bed, as not to get too graphic of a show. Mike held my left leg, one of the nurses held the other, my mom held my head. At this point I was on a different plane, this I believe was the death of the me that wasn't a mother. It was a surreal, fragmented feeling and for a bit, the contractions took control. I was not focused. Then I heard my mother's voice, she said "Look at your husband, look at his face." I did it and I see Mike's eyes welled up with tears saying "Good job baby, you're doing so good!" Crowning. Burned a bit, I pushed his head out quick and with one more push he kind of "shot" out according to Mike, like a salmon, which is a comical thing to envision. Relief. So much relief, I had pushed him out within 20 minutes. No epidural. I honestly didn't ever feel like I needed one, and it was the ONE thing I have held onto since my "birth plan" went awry.

The doctor it placed Leo on my chest, he was very purple and motionless. They quickly took him away. I asked if he was ok, but was quickly redirected to push the placenta out.  Stupid placenta took longer than Leo to come out. I shot my placenta out and hit my doctor directly in the face. She didn't have a mask on, as she came in in a rush. I apologized, but nobody could deny that it was funny. My mom stayed with me for the placenta and she sent Mike to be with Leo, who needed assistance breathing. 

My uterus was not contracting properly, I was hemorrhaging more than what was normal because of the magnesium. The nurses proceeded to "scoop" clots out of me as if I was a pumpkin. I screamed in agony. This was the most horrific thing I had felt in my life. I had just pushed an 8lb 9oz baby out of that same space. I remember not even recognizing the sound of my own anguished screams. I just wanted to hold my baby. Then the stitches. I was getting salty at this point, "Just fucking do it!!!" I shouted. And that "numbing" shot is bullshit. After that fun, I got the lovely "uterus massage" which is more like "let's punch your uterus into submission." Finally. I got my son. He was ok and he was absolutely perfect, beautiful and alien all at once.  

This last year has been the most intense, joyful, scary, magical and challenging of my life so far. We think that when we become mothers we will be doing the teaching. We hold these expectations of ourselves as to how we will be as parents. The most important thing I've learned is to learn to let go of ALL of it. If you don't, your child or some sort of set of circumstances will. That's how it works. It's imperative to not feel like a failure because you didn't "measure up" to your made up rules as to how you should handle raising a human. There's no real preparation, because you can't predict any of it, nor can you predict your reactions. The person I was before Leo arrived left me in the labor and delivery room. This is not an uncommon phenomenan, many women feel this, I can tell you for a fact that I felt her leave me, and that's ok. All part of the transformation.  This is my experience.  

Happy Birthday my sweet little boy. You are my heart and the light of my life. Without you, there is not me. Thank you for choosing me as your mother. I love you.

 

Leonel Anton Cacciatore 1/22/15 8lbs 9oz 20in long all bliss

Leonel Anton Cacciatore 1/22/15 8lbs 9oz 20in long all bliss

My big boy now! 

My big boy now! 

2016: Trust

I have always loved the New Year and the idea of a fresh start with a focus on what intentions I want to put forth. Many folks like to equate resolutions with failure and tease those that like to put their "resolutions" out there and assume everyone will fall. Here's the deal. We all fall and fail but that does not mean we stop trying, stop starting fresh. Every day we open our eyes and take a breath we have an opportunity to start fresh and put our intentions into the day ahead.

This year I will TRUST in the Universe and all the abundance that it provides and as such is my birthright, I am leaving behind doubt and attachment to lack. I will write more and build my audience. I will perform in the student belly dance troupe at the studio I currently attend. I will love my body enough to nourish it with clean plant based foods. I will move more, create more, collaborate more. I will start my days with intention, meditation and green juice. I will go to bed earlier so I can rise earlier.

I will trust completely and live fully with compassion, first and foremost practicing loving kindness on myself so I vibrate that love to those I hold dear and come into contact with. I will forgive. I will actively work on being more patient as a mother, wife and with myself when I lose it. I will turn towards uncomfortable feelings and face them instead of turning away. I will strive to be my best and allow myself to fall and fail when I need to. 

So, my lovelies, what will you bring to 2016?  

I wish you a Blessed New Year and Happy Manifesting!! 

Xo

Karen

Things I left in 2015

Things I left in 2015

Compassion with Conditions

The truth is we all have them. Conditions under which someone, or a group of people qualify for our empathy, kindness, compassion and help. We all have these conditions because if we all lived in love and light we wouldn't be here, having this beautiful, tragic, joyful, heartbreaking, soul nourishing human experience. What's important is to fully investigate and understand what these conditions under which we choose to withhold our compassion.  

Every day we are called to task to offer up our best selves. Some days are easier and better than others. It's during times of great darkness, fear and violence when we are truly called to show up and show who we really are and the depth of our love for fellow humans. One of the most important things is to truly put yourself in another's position. How would you feel if you were under life threatening circumstances? What would you do? What would you do if you had no option except to rely on the kindness of complete strangers? This is not just in regards to recent events, but EVERYDAY.  Everyday we have an opportunity to connect with someone in need of kindness. If we meet the opportunity with fear and a closed heart, then this is how the world will present itself to us. 

i urge you to really meditate on what the conditions under which you will offer your compassion. Do they need to be a citizen of your country? Practice a certain religion, or NOT practice a certain religion? Do they need to be clean and sober? Not have a criminal record? Take a moment to write these things down.  What does one have to do to earn your kindness and help? 

We are faced with this over and over again in life and throughout history. Turning our back on those that need our help due to fear is giving in to fear itself. This is not how I will choose to live. I choose to live bravely and with an open heart and KNOWING that empathy and compassion are the right choices. We are all human and we are in this together. Beyond borders. Beyond politics, religion and policy. Am I perfect at offering up loving kindness every day? No. I give in to anger, sadness and disappointment regularly. But I know in my heart and soul that I strive to do better everyday.

Image from Spirit Wings

Image from Spirit Wings

Sensitivity is not a flaw.

This may be news to some, but sensitivity is NOT a flaw that needs correcting or something to be ashamed of. When someone is highly sensitive, they feel and understand deeply and it is a remarkable quality. It is indicative of great strength, not weakness.  

I am sick and tired of witnessing people be publicly(privately too, for that matter) shamed, victimized or silenced for speaking their truth or calling out a behavior that is hateful or insensitive.  It's true, we can't be fluffy and happy all the time in a perfectly cushioned environment, but offering fellow humans compassion, understanding and support is what should be our natural inclination. Not fighting, invalidating or throwing around the word sensitive as an insult. It's one thing to have a different belief system than someone, but here's another news flash: hate, bigotry, sexism, cultural appropriation, rape culture support or minimization are NOT belief systems. They are grounded in hate and  a belief that a certain group is superior to another. 

So, next time a friend, colleague or anybody calls out a behavior that is hateful, discriminatory or appropriates their personal culture, or a culture in general, take a minute and think. This person is speaking their truth. This is not being "overly sensitive" this is honesty. Reflect on the behavior/language that was called out. Did it come from a loving and compassionate place? Did you think before you spoke/wrote? What was the true intention behind your words or behavior?  We could all stand to put more thought into our daily actions and words.

Embrace your sensitivity. It is a gift and it brings you closer to your truth, and thus others closer to knowing and understanding you. 

Motherhood and Martyrdom

I recently went through the motherhood rite of passage which is "endless baby vomit" covering us both head to toe.  So. Much. Vomit. I can't believe how much fluid expelled from my son that night! Anyway, that is in no way an indication or example of martyrdom, that simply comes with the territory. BUT I most certainly had some epiphanies that night, As I sat, cradling my sweet son, both of us draped in sheets.

From themoment a woman discovers she is pregnant and is bringing a child into the world, her body becomes a vessel to nourish, house and grow a human. She gives up her chemical vices, lets go of physical comfort as organs are rearranged and smashed in whatever tiny space is not taken up by a baby.  She spends 40 plus weeks in preparation for the child's arrival. She births the child with no regard to what it does to her physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Baby arrives and needs to be fed, nurtured, diapered and loved. As mothers, we don't sleep, sometimes don't even eat, our body and psyche slowly repairs, if we're lucky a routine develops(sometimes that routine is cluster feeding and intermittent naps!) In a way, from conception we all become martyrs.  We lay our life on the line for this baby.  Once we deliver a child we live in service of that child. It is so easy to get swept up in that and many of us(me included) play with the martyr archetype.  This was one that I honestly have flirted withmy whole life.

I love the Virgin Mary, but we all can't be her, right?  If we don't care, love and appreciate ourselves first, then what are we teaching our little ones? That every one else's needs come first? While there is a romance in sacrificing ALL for your child and ALL for your family it is a quick recipe for anger and resentment.  Remember your core. Who you are.  You are a living, breathing human being. You have complex thoughts and emotions.  You feel, hurt and love deeply. And that makes you beautiful and unique, it also makes you a splendid mother.

In all of our efforts as mothers to maintain compassion, patience and tenderness for our loved ones, remember that you deserve that same tenderness. And by giving yourself that compassion and patience you are teaching your child(ren) to do so for themselves. There is power and beauty in that.  So if we must be martyrs, be one of self love and acceptance.