Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Being Fully Present

Three years ago my sweet boy, Kestan, grew inside me for 9-months.

My angel Kestan
He blessed our lives beyond measure with his beautiful, gentle spirit.

My favorite photo
And very soon, this "big boy" will be blessed with the gift of becoming a brother.
photo 5
After releasing my last post into the universe I felt an emptying of my mind, a shift in consciousness, and a softness in my body.  It's as though the present moment has swept over me.  I genuinely feel at peace.  Nothing matters, truly, but this moment.

I've let go of needing to be on a schedule and I have no "to do's" or things to check off.  What's important to me now is to rest, to breathe and to BE FULLY PRESENT with my boys.
photo 1
So today we let the blue ball guide our way.
photo 6
photo 3
photo 4
And just as Kestan told me, "No more photos, mommy," he reached to my belly, lifted my shirt and kissed "his baby."

Baby brother
The baby growing inside me now will soon take his first breath.  And there is nothing more present than that.

Your Personal Reflection:  Stop right now.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in.  Take a slow breath out.  Can you BE FULLY PRESENT with your own breath?  Smile and feel gratitude that you are alive in this moment.

A couple of things...
I'll announce the winner to my giveaway on Friday. There's still time to enter so get on over there.

My brother wrote, produced and sang the song from the video.  Get over to his site to hear the full version of Be Free.  (It's also the theme song to Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery e-course.)

And a BIG thanks to all of you who took the time to read and comment on my last post.  I feel your love and support and it means so very much to me.  I am blessed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Last Night I Cried

This past weekend we took family photos at the pumpkin patch.  It was a gorgeous fall morning and my brother-in-law and sister snapped shots while we played in the haystacks and ran down the country roads.  My brother was the perfect jokester trying to do whatever it took to make Kestan laugh.

300 photos later I started to get really worn out and didn't feel very good.  I felt that it was possible little man would decide to come into the world later that evening.  And then I thought..."Wait...I'm not ready!"

As we drove home through the back roads I started feeling like I was on a rollercoaster, and it totally related to my internal feelings of preparing for this upcoming birth.  I love rollercoasters, but they scare me like crazy.  I wait in line and I watch the cars before me going ever so slowly up the hill and I freak myself out.  It doesn't stop me from going, but it definitely builds up the anticipation, and my mind becomes a whirlwind of "what ifs?"

Once I'm locked in there's no turning back!  I have an idea of what's to come, but there are so many unknowns, so I'm forced to throw my expectations out the window.  All I can do to fully be in the moment is empty my mind, scream and enjoy the ride!  And what I can say for sure is that even though going up the hill is scary, I know once I'm on the other side it's going to feel and be AMAZING.

I noticed all along the drive I had nervous energy that I kept letting out with deep sighs.  At home I rested and spent some quiet time making music CD's and creating my affirmation board that I'll have with me during the birth.  I called my friend for some reassurance.  She reminded me of the mantra she used during her first birth,

I can do this. My body was meant to do this.

And I got a nice email from another friend, who said,

Let me tell you, that when you have a second child it does not double your work; it just doubles your love.

Those were wonderful reminders that I needed to hear in that moment.  And after a good cry to my husband about my fears and trepidations, I felt a huge relief letting them out.  I realized that I've embraced and let go of my fears around giving birth again and becoming the mother of two.  My emotions last night were more about working through all the new transformations coming my way.  Changes like - taking care of a newborn again, saying goodbye to this stage in my life where all I know is mothering Kestan, the ending of a 9 month preparation and soon my baby won't be inside me anymore, and thinking about the physical and emotional changes that I will experience over the next year(s).

I accepted my feelings and let them come to surface.  I embraced them.  I released them.

And now...I feel at peace.  I'm calm.  I'm alive.  I'm strong.  I'm powerful.  I am prepared.  I'm ready.

Most importantly, I have TRUST.  I am stepping out of my own way and letting my body and baby guide me.  And I'm so incredibly excited to meet my little pumpkin!

Your Personal Reflection:  What fears are you ready to accept, embrace and release?

For those of you interested in preparing for a natural birth, check out these links:

3 Ways to Create a Sacred Space Around Pregnancy & Birth
Birthing from Within
Ina May Gaskin

GIVEAWAY!  Don't miss your chance to win a spot in my January e-course:  Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery!  Click HERE to register.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Your Chance to Win!

Since I met Shannon and went on the "Inside Out" journey, my life has unfolded in such a beautiful way that I now have wings!  The course gave me the courage to live my wildest dreams and to accomplish my life purpose! -Inside Out class participant

More art journaling, more "how to" videos, more guided meditations, and more exploring have all been added to the January 2011 Inside Out e-course!  Class runs for 4-weeks from January 17th - February 11th.  Because it's an e-course you get the opportunity to participate at your own pace, in the comfort of your own home, and you'll connect, share and grow with all the other life explorers taking the course (who happen to be from all over the world)!

Learn more about Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery.

Read comments from explorers who have taken the class.

Check out why I created this e-course.

Here are some frequently asked questions.

Live Free
Are you ready to create the life you love from the inside out?  Then take some time right now to do one (or all) of the following:

1) Leave a comment here telling me why you would like to take the class.
2) Become a fan on my Facebook page.
3) Send a tweet on Twitter (and let me know here or @freespiritknits that you sent one out) about this giveaway.
4) Subscribe to my blog

For each one that you choose to do, you'll be entered that many times in my random drawing.  I'll announce the winner next Friday, October 1st.  If baby comes before then, I'm sure you'll understand and I'll be back after his arrival!

(If you are interested in taking the course for your second, third of fourth time, you can also enter the drawing!)

Find Your Center
Your Personal Reflection:  Are you ready to make 2011 your best year yet?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Taking Flight

A few weeks ago my mom gave us a jar of parsley with three caterpillars in it.  Two weeks later they turned into cocoons.

Butterfly in Jar
Two weeks after that I returned home one day to discover that the butterflies had been born and were ready to take flight.

Butterfly Released
Letting them go and watching them flutter up, up, up to the big blue sky was quite miraculous.  Reminded me a lot about "baby brother" who's been living in his cocoon for close to 9 months now.

Butterfly Ready to Fly
I wonder when he will take flight?

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.  -Nathaniel Hawthorne

I love this quote and I will use it as my reminder that now, more than ever before, is the time to slow down, to be quiet, and to be present for the transformations taking place inside and all around me.

Your Personal Reflection:  What is it in you that is ready to take flight?

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Celebration of Motherhood

The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one. -Unknown

Mother Beads Close-up
I've been reading the book, Birthing From Within, in preparation for the upcoming birth of my second baby boy.  There are many wonderful suggestions I love in this book, but one in particular spoke to me recently.  Author, Pam England, talks about how our culture is very baby centered when it comes to birth, and we've lost the spiritual connection to the mother.

With the first pregnancy, we are thrown several showers, given many gifts and everything is so new and exciting.  This time around, although still new and exciting, I'm so much busier with my toddler and time just seems to fly by much more quickly.  There have been no parties, showers or celebrations planned - until a few weeks ago.

I was talking with my mom and sister about wanting to have some sort of recognition for this baby and birth, and that's when our "Celebration of Motherhood Afternoon Tea Party" was born. (Thank you mom and Lins!)
Mother Beads
We invited many of our special women friends to come celebrate being a mother, to honor their own mothers, and to take time to recognize our new little baby who will be born in the next few weeks.

Each woman was asked to bring a bead, along with a quote, blessing or story, about being a mother.  These beads will be strung together to create a special mother necklace for me!  The beads I received were absolutely beautiful - some hand-made, some natural stones, all with special meaning and love.

Mom Lins Me

The group of women was intimate and we all shared stories, tears, and laughter.  My mom opened the celebration by reading a poem.
Hands On Belly
Then we all acknowledged how nice it is bringing women together, especially mothers, to simply enjoy being present and taking time to honor the cycle of life.

We shared how my mom's mother passed away in March and how I had the privilege of being by her side when she took her last breath.  I held my grandma's hand, while pregnant, reflecting that here my baby has yet to take his first breath, and my grandmother will soon take her last.

Tea Party
For those of you who are pregnant, or know someone who is, I encourage you to throw a special celebration honoring birth and mothers in your life!  It's so special, memorable and will fill up your heart (and your babies) beyond measure.  (This type of celebration doesn't have to be reserved just for pregnant mamas!)

Ideas on How to Host "A Celebration of Motherhood" Tea Party
*Create an invitation inviting the special women in your life
*Invite everyone to bring a bead with quote or blessing (be clear that no other gifts are necessary)
*Provide small snacks, desserts, hot and cold tea
*Have a bowl of questions that your guests can read aloud.  This is a great way to get the conversation and sharing going.  Example questions: What was your favorite meal your mom made when you were a kid?  Share a memorable or funny story about your mom. What was one thing you learned about yourself when you became a mother?
*After eating, sit in a circle and give your guests a chance to share their bead, blessing or quote. Have them string their bead or place it in a small bowl and pass it to the next person.
*End by giving each woman a small gift - we gave out yellow roses - a symbol of friendship, joy and wellness.

Flowers from Tea Party

Tea Sandwiches
Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches
Mix one container of cream cheese with 2 t dill.  Let sit in your fridge for a few hours before spreading.  Using small pumpernickel bread in squares, spread the cream cheese mixture, top with thin cucumber and sprinkle lightly with dill.

Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Hard-boil 9 eggs and let cool.  Peel eggs and smash with a fork.  Mix with 1/3 cup mayo, 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup dill pickle relish.  Spread on soft wheat bread (with crusts cut off.)  Cut the sandwiches into small triangle shapes.

Hummus and Veggies
Try a fresh hummus and veggie platter. 

Veggie Plate

Tea Dessert
And of course, offer plenty of desserts!  We had fresh custard fruit tarts, soft pumpkin bars and chocolate cookies.

Cute Card
Enjoy the cards...

Mother Tea Beads
Enjoy the beads and sharing...  

My friend, Dana, gave me 100% natural beads that she grew in her backyard!  They are actual seeds from a plant called Job's Tears.  They start out green and then become solid when they are ripening, while deepening into many different patterns and shapes.  They have a hole in the middle that can be used for stringing and have been around since 2000 BC.  Dana thought they were perfect for me and our new baby because these beads represent the beginnings of a new life.

Mother Quotes
Enjoy the special quotes and stories...

Kes Sad at Tea Party
And enjoy the blessing of motherhood - one of life's greatest gifts - even when your kids are sad and grumpy!

Your Personal Reflection:  Take some time this week to honor a mother in your life.
Here's a letter from my dear friend, Jennie, written to my new baby boy.

September 16, 2010

Dear Baby,
I am writing to tell you a little about your lovely mother.  While I am sure that you already know her well from inside her belly, there are a few things I would like you to know.

You are one of the luckiest babies in the world.  In addition to being kind, loving and patient, your mother inspires people to enjoy life and find true happiness.  I know that I am not alone when I say that I am privileged to be a part of her life.

As a great friend and guide, she will tenderly support and encourage you to find your way in this world.  She will listen to you with her heart and brighten your day when you are down.

You mother is pure sunshine.

Love you and can't wait to meet you,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clutter Going Out; Creativity Coming In

My Creative Space

I've finished what I'm calling the "first phase" of clearing clutter in my creative space.  I've needed more table space for months.  And more than anything, I've wanted this space to stay clear, as a way to invite my next creative project to emerge.  I walk in and see this open space and it just feels good.

Special Things in Art Space
This shelf is where I keep my very special things.  It may look cluttered to you, but I find it to be very inspiring.  Only my favorite treasures get a place here.

Yarn Cubbie
I've cleared out all materials that don't relate to art journaling and painting.  So my special fabrics, beads, wool, and felting supplies have all made their way to a small art cabinet in the basement.  I just couldn't take out my yarn, though, as I can always find time and space for knitting.

Cluttered Studio
I cleared and organized my office supplies.

Books to Clear
I went through every last book I own.  This was definitely a hard task for me as I love my books.  I kept the ones that make me smile, have a special story, were from a good friend, or bring joy and inspiration into my life.  I gave away my favorite fiction books to friends who were interested.  And I donated the rest.  Even ones that I love and have a special connection to.  If I knew that I hadn't opened it in months, then it was time for it to have a new life.  A book's purpose should not be to collect dust.  They should be experienced.

Many of you know we let go of cable this summer.  I kept a small TV in my art room where I could still get basic channels.  I hardly ever used it and it always seemed to be in the way.  I literally had to wheel it out of my closet before I could get to my art supplies.  It's now gone.  It feels great!

Files to Clear
I went through piles and piles and piles of paperwork and files.  Including the one in my office, we have two other file cabinets in the basement with old household and personal business.  This was definitely a chore and by the end of the week I filled up our recycle bin with a lot of my past.  As you can see, I still have some piles to sort through, including CD's.  Oh man...the CD's...what to do with my old CD's?  Which then reminds me of the digital clutter I have yet to attack!

All in due time.  Slow, relaxed, gentle steps...  

And now I sit in this new space... 

And I feel a shift taking place...

Your Personal Reflection:  What slow, relaxed, gentle steps can you take, starting today, to clear some clutter from your life?  Need more inspiration, check out these 5 Tips to Declutter Your Life. on the lookout for some announcements about Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery, including another giveaway!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Getting Clutter Out of my Creative Space

The de-cluttering bug is totally wreaking havoc over here!  No room, closet, nook or cranny is safe!  

I'm completely clearing, reorganizing and custom designing a new creative space. (With my hubbies help.)   With baby on the way, I'm sure this project will take a lot longer than I think, so that's why I'm doing it in stages.  Over the next several days I'm clearing it all out...felt, yarn, paints, sewing machine, fabric, paper...everything will be scrutinized under a mindful eye.  Then, I'll organize all of my supplies into three piles - 1) precious materials to keep & use on current project 2) precious materials to keep in small art cabinet downstairs for future projects ('cause my art studio is small) and 3) supplies to donate and give-away. 

I'm really excited about this project because I can see what my art studio is starting to become.  And I can already feel the new energy buzz a-happening...  The creative juices are flowing, to be sure, despite all the boxes and dust needed sifting.  Can't imagine what it will be like without the clutter!  

See you when I emerge from the piles. Encouragement is happily accepted...  Better yet, feel like joining me?  Check out the Reduce Clutter; Create Space challenge and declutter with this brave group.

Your Personal Reflection:  What does your creative or personal space look like?  Is it time for a revamp?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bust a Move

With all the baby preparation and work projects on our plate, we completely welcomed the opportunity to play dress-up for a totally awesome 80's party last weekend.  Oh yeah...what's more fun than scrunchies, blue eye shadow and jelly bracelets?  Well, 80's music of course!  In a funk or feeling down?  Turn up your volume and jam out to this, this or better yet...this.  Now get up and bust a move! It will be way cool and so righteous.  

Your Personal Reflection:  Have some FUN today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No More...Someday

So the Reduce Clutter; Create Space theme for September is...the dreaded basement.  We've cleaned out the basement a few times over the last year and still keep finding things that are in desperate need of a new life.

Our de-clutter bug went crazy yesterday as we pulled furniture pieces out of the dark and into our driveway.  We started with the intention to post things on Craig's List, but soon felt a deeper desire to just give these special items away to friends who might have the interest.  Within an hour of dusting them off, two separate neighbors picked up all the items you see here.  (There's still more!)

This unfinished piece of furniture will now find a home in a new babies room.  My husband, Chris, made several of these years ago when he was creating lots of whimsical furniture.  He held onto this one thinking he'd finish it...someday.  Well...we are done with someday.  We now know that when we are ready to make another piece of furniture, the inspiration, the materials and the motivation will find us when the time is right.  No more holding onto things for the someday that may never come.

This piece was a custom made supply cabinet that Chris created for my old home office.  That office is now Kestan's room and it just won't fit anywhere else.

This was my first and only welded project.  It was fun to make and I spent a lot of time mosaic tiling each shelf.  However, we really never found a place for it in our home and it has spent the last 5 years in the basement!

My friend and neighbor, Carol, stopped by yesterday and fell in love with it.  She is now using it in her beautiful Art in the Attic - her home studio where she teaches art to kids.  I saw it this morning and it looks so happy and vibrant with its new life.

It felt great giving our things to friends and to see their excitement was definitely worth it.  And we feel really energized from having more space cleared out.  There is still more of the basement to conquer.  Next, we'll go through our stacks of art and smaller items. Then, as the seasons come, we plan on sifting through our holiday things.  We just don't want stuff anymore.  If it's collecting dust then it just doesn't seem to be serving its intended purpose.

I am finding that clearing space is getting easier.  The hardest part for me is letting go of hand-made and nostalgic items.  What do I do with that beautiful antique table from my grandma?  I love it but I don't have space for it.  Do I put it back in the basement to store for that...someday?  Or do I give it new life by gifting it to someone else?  And the question I continue to ask myself when deciding which pieces to keep and which ones to let go of:  What purpose does this still serve in my life?   

I really do love the items I've let go of.  And yes, as I saw them drive off, there was a part of me that thought, "Ooh, do I really want to give that away?  Oh wait...just kidding...I want it back.  Come back with my stuff!"  But really, feeling the positive energy and knowing there is more open space in my home is a great reminder that letting go is the right thing to do.  

So goodbye stuff!  Enjoy your new life. to see what other treasures I can find that are ready to see the light. 

Your Personal Reflection:  What are you holding on to for that...someday?  What purpose do your things serve in your life?  What are you ready to let go of?