Remembering Little Lentil

Yesterday, October 27th, Little Lentil would have been one year old. All the writing, all the painting... everything I've done has been for LL, everything has been for me. In honoring LL and myself and all my feelings of loss, grief, joy, courage and the full spectrum of emotion and living, I'm re-posting one of my first writings about my radical miscarriage, Dream Journal.

Dream Journal

4/1/14 Tues 3:53 pm

I wake up in our bed, weak, so weak. It’s warm in the room. Our curtains are closed but the afternoon sun heats and still gets in. I feel warm and safe and in the heat of our bedroom, the air is full, a wholeness.

I wake up and remember my dreams. In them I tell my family and friends that the baby died. They look like the faces on the Look Kin side, my father’s side, but they are everyone. I’m in their house - Auntie Yuk Moy’s? - with people friendly, happy but some have questions. And some are so frustrated because they didn’t get the email - What’s going on?! Tell me!? So I tell them. We’re looked at with awe and horror.

I bolt awake and realize I forgot to cancel with my Spanish teacher.

I go to the bathroom for peeing and pooping and The Blood. I write this to Billy: Thank you Billy. We’ve been sleeping and I dreamt of telling everyone what happened. Even in my dreams the truth is present. Thank you for thinking of us on this strange and beautiful and horrible day. Much love to you and Savi and Lena - wow, she lights up our hearts. xoxox

Savi called. Barbi left a voice message. I want to call them but I don’t. I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now. I spoke with Rita but she doesn’t understand though she’s trying. Everyone is sharing their love with us the best way they know how. Sometimes, though, it’s more for them than it is for us. Even when we shared our joy of discovery of this baby, it was wonderful love and response but also a reflection of that person and their feelings and who they are.

I know I’m in shock. At this I break down, falling down a crumbled person. And then I’m calm and philosophical. I can’t help it. And I feel very protective of D. This is hitting him very hard - as excited as he was when he found out - and the the opposite. Deep sorrow. I feel it too. I’ve never seen him cry before. He cried and cried. We’re confused. We’re sad. I’m disappointed. You try to anticipate what you’re going to feel - you can try to be prepared for some things but not for everything. That’s not the point. We have no control. We are powerless, but we are also powerful. I found a new person inside of me as this little person was growing, and she was powerful, almost limitless mama/earth/crab powerful. And creative, so creative. A person who does have a green thumb, who loves life and helping things to grow. And making food - baking banana bread (albeit from a Trader Joe’s box but so delicious) and mashed potatoes for the first time. Hungry + fearless + road-rage-filled on her bike, barking at everyone and that felt good. Being honest + open in a way I haven’t been before. Loving my body. She loved her body. Growing out the hairs, reclaiming her hairstyle. Loving this body: curves + curves + belly + boobs + thighs + beautiful. Trusting the inner wise self - she is there, she is alive, she is here. Accepting things. Becoming more patient. Communicating even clearer than before.

I’ve thought a lot about this quote I read on a doula’s website + I think of it now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman

Even though the baby is gone, a tiny little thing that looked like a miniature person, I am still here. This mother is here and she is strong. She is sad and she is strong. Strength is knowing that crying and sharing our sad emotions is ok. I won’t try to “heal” soon. What happens is what happens. As I have throughout this pregnancy, I will listen to my heart, as I am right now, and listen to my inner wise self because she is always there inside of me and she is me. I will know what to do and how to feel and it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all ok.

My Radical Home Water Birth / My Spirit Walk Through Fire (PART I)

There are many shrines around our home including this one, dedicated to my father, Victor Hong Chu Look Kin. 

There are many shrines around our home including this one, dedicated to my father, Victor Hong Chu Look Kin. 

After having my baby on Friday, July 31st at 5:46am, on the Full Harvest Blue Moon, I get asked a lot, What was giving birth like? Now some people ask and actually really, really want to know. Others are just going through the motions. I have the short and the long answer. The short answer: It’s like a Spirit Walk through fire and hell and when you emerge, you’re a Warrior Mother.

+++

On Tuesday, July 28th, my “due date”, I got ready to go to PT (physical therapy) for my hands and wrists. For the past 4 months I’ve been swimming increasingly more and more to the point where it was daily, sometimes 7 days a week if not 6 days at our local NYC Recreation Center pool. People come from Queens to swim in this pool, it’s that nice. Well the pool is nice - the locker room is pretty disgusting and falling apart because the city doesn’t put enough money into it. And people steal the rings that hold up the shower curtains and sometimes steal the shower curtains as well! Ruby, who often cleans the bathrooms, told me this. I see her literally every day. She says How are you doing mama? and I tell her. There are other regulars, mostly swimmers, the old Chinese ladies, actually a lot of them are in their 40s and 50s and really what do I know. They swim faster than me even though we're all in the slow lane. I have a lot of swim buddies and some kind of recognition with the life guards. For a while there was Jose who was like a father figure and looked out for me. But when summer started he was sent to supervise the beaches which made me sad. The three times I’ve been to the beach before giving birth, I’ve kept an eye out for him.

So I was swimming because my hands were swollen from the pregnancy and I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a result. No, I wasn’t typing a lot. I wasn’t doing anything to aggravate my hands - I was just pregnant! Everything below my neck was swollen. So I started swimming to help relieve the pain and reduce the swelling. It worked for a long time until it didn't and then I really, really had to get a PT.

I started seeing Phaeleau at Spear Physical Therapy in mid-June. I went to their location in midtown because they could see me sooner than the one closer to me. I wasn’t planning on continuing there since I had to literally walk up 4.5 flights of stairs to exit the subway but I stayed because of Phaeleau. Phaeleau is the hapa papa bear of the mid-town PT location. He’s the senior staff there and the head hand physical therapist. A native New Yorker, he has a daughter who’s going to start high school in the fall and grows a tomato garden outside of his window in Brooklyn. He’s super friendly as is everyone there - these people really love their job and their coworkers! I’ve never seen it before so it’s such a unique and lovely environment. PTs are talking to each other and their clients and clients talk to other PTs and other clients. There are a lot of conversations going on at once and it’s so fluid. It’s a beautiful thing.

For the past couple of weeks before I went into labor I had to reduce my bi-weekly appt to once a week, a Monday or Tuesday, because it was just so crazy hard for me to get there. And because I’m so cheap (read: thrifty!!) I refused to take a cab until I did. I had my session and it was good. Another PT whose been there every time recently took the course to tape up people’s arms so I worked with him as well. He had asked when I was due and at this point I just knowingly would say Soon. It’s like that scene in Beetlejuice. Lydia asks what his name is and he says Oh I can’t tell you that because then you’ll tell your friends and I have to show up at the mall and sign autographs and shit. You feel me? I said Soon because otherwise I’d have to deal with bull shit comments like Any minute now! which I actually used to say until it was actually really true. Or Any day now! Or (in an elevator I accidently pushed another button in addition to the ground floor button) Don’t go into labor! So, it’s Soon. But to this PT I whispered, Don’t tell anyone but I’m due today. I explained why I was being so private and he totally got it. He also asked the other question that people just ask, I’ve asked!, but which is really unempathetic and insensitive: Is this your first? I said No, I had a miscarriage last April but this is my first rainbow baby. He totally got it and didn’t get weirded out that I just told him that a baby died in my tummy. This was such a refreshing reaction considering that 25% of all births result in miscarriage (or more). I always have fun at PT and this was another great appointment.

I took a cab home and when I got inside the apartment I felt different. Like really subtle tiny differences. I’ve been having Braxton Hicks rushes (read: contractions) for like 2-3 months but it wasn’t that. This felt like tiny, miniscule cramps in my tummy, like more body feelings in some more places than before. Moments after getting home, I transformed our bedroom, with its one ocean blue accent wall peppered with my watercolors, into a space of complete mediation. I covered up the mirror, the table with the fish tank on it and the bookcase. Every surface had a Venus of Willendorf/Animal/Mama Earth shrine on it with plants, candles, my hand held goddess sculptures I made in ceramics class, incense, lavender, shells. It was so peaceful and beautiful. After I set this up, I began to doubt myself - Am I in labor? I feel like I have so many days before. But I knew I would know instinctively and if I had done this to our bedroom it must be true. Uncertainty, however, is what pregnancy is all about.

Tuesday, July 28th at 4pm, the very earliest of changes were felt in my body signaling the beginning of early labor. The following day, I gave a tour of how I set up our bedroom to prepare for my home water (natural) birth.

+++

Stay tuned for Part II!

xo

 

Shaming + Blaming: Unconditional Self Love

Often it is hard to be honest, to get the words out especially when talking about anger and pain. I wrote this to a friend early this morning who has become my pen pal. We are both aligned so deeply with our own feelings and creativity - it is a blessing to have people like this in my life. I share it because this has been on my mind.

Hello R-------,

Thank you so much for your kindness and patience. I don't apologize anymore for "not writing back sooner" only because there are just too many emails and I find in this life I've apologized for too many things, for myself every day. So I am not apologizing, but I am writing back!

Thank you for becoming my pen pal! It's so funny that we've barely spoken longer than a minute or two - I know we will! - it's nice to get to know one another through our writing. I find I express myself so clearly this way and with you.

Thank you for the loving critique of my posts. You're right - it really is vulnerability pouring out of me because that's where courage comes from. In the beginning (in the first week), everyone told me how courageous I was, how brave I was for speaking so openly about the miscarriage (I often find myself almost saying abortion - it was technically a "spontaneous or natural abortion" and I feel like my body is a smart body, a good body because she knew to abort and reject a dead fetus). I didn't believe them - I felt that I had to talk about it for my own sanity and I just couldn't help it. But now I accept and open myself to the idea that I can be courageous. I can be brave. I am brave.

I have to say that there are the difficult experiences of living with loss in your life, grieving and being so open to it, even terrified of the madness of grief (and the accompanying madness of creativity). N------- tells me I'm unhinged and I say Yes I am unhinged! Yesterday was a particularly rough day for me. I feel insane, I feel unhinged, I feel crazy, I feel the madness. I know it's all ok because all feelings are valid. A friend, who had a miscarriage last year, wrote that to me when I announced the loss of our pregnancy and it's stayed with me. I frequently say it to people after I talk about feeling failure, shame, embarrassment, and like an outsider. Everyone wants to "silverline" the hardships (coined by Brené Brown during The Power of Empathy!). I opened a tiny window to this conversation with U-------- and she shamed me for my feelings. I was sobbing and shouting, All feelings are valid! but she comes from another time and place and has her own story of struggle. Everyone has their own story. I have never been shamed so intensely, publicly and on so many levels. Others have said shaming/blaming things to me about the miscarriage and every time I call them on it, for every single person regardless of who it is. At this point, I love myself too much - I mean I actually love myself! I think before I loved myself only a little bit in different ways but now I am in love with myself and that love is unconditional. And this means that I also have a deep confidence in myself to be anything, say anything, accept myself and my flaws, embrace the vulnerability, embrace myself and embrace those around me. But when these people shame me, when she shamed me in front of everyone...she put into words what I'm sure many think and feel. She had the gall to say those things to me - you would be ashamed for her for saying those things! I was in shock. I was in a raw place and the more she invalidated what I was feeling, the more I sobbed. She told me Don't ruin your marriage. I said I'm not ruining my marriage - this is making us stronger! She said, You need to live life and look forward! I said I am living my life! That's why I paint and write every day! And I look to the past and I look to the present and I look to the future - I have so many plans for myself!  She said, Well what if you carried that baby to a full term, to all nine months - and I interrupted Yes that would be worse! And she said, You see?! And again I have to say that all feelings are valid. But it's as if she hears nothing. I shout and cry It's only been a month! Later N------- tells me she didn't realize this. But how long is "long enough" for grieving? I've spoken to so many people who have lost babies in their wombs at 5 weeks and 4 months and 9 months and for those who haven't lost a baby, they have a story to share about their friend, their mother, their grandmother, their aunt. Often I am told it was last year, it was 5 years ago, it was 25 years ago and I still grieve the baby that I lost. That is honest. It is so hard to be honest and we are also so different in our ways and in our grieving (or our non-grieving-grieving).

I am grateful to have the confidence and the language to speak up for myself, to explain myself, to attempt to make myself understood even if I can't be heard by others. And I appreciate those, like you, who are so open to what is happening to me, what happens to millions of women (yes U------- - I know!) because even though it happens and has happened to so many all throughout time and will continue to happen because there is no such thing as just pregnancy or just miscarriage, it is the wide spectrum of pregnancy which includes miscarriage and still birth, it does not take away the sting and confusion and madness of loss and it does not mean my feelings and what I am experiencing is invalid.

Because all feelings are valid.

love, dawn

Roar aka Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving aka I just want to be free

This week, Danny and I are in Miami visiting his family, his birthplace and also to have (hello!) a long, sunny vacation, and some beachy treats especially after the month that we’ve both experienced.

I just got off the phone with “Jane”, a volunteer through PLSP, a person who herself has experienced a pregnancy loss, and who I’ll get to have one more free phone counseling with before I’m eligible for their bereavement groups. The first time we talked, I was on a retreat with D & my mom, feeling very vibrant, and feeling the love. This time was different, because I am different. I now find that every day has its difficulties and I am crying daily again. I never know what will spark (inspire?) the crying, the sad feelings and although I always go with whatever emotions sweep over me, I feel I have no control.

When we were at the airport getting ready to board the plane to come down here, there were all these families with little kids, little girls. A father extended his big finger, as a steady hand, for his daughter to take in her hand and walk around. I went to tell D how sweet this was and in that split second that I turned to tell him, I found myself crying and sobbed and sobbed into his shoulder. He understands; we just express things differently.

500 year old trees at  Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

500 year old trees at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We started planning this trip when I was still pregnant. I would have been pregnant at that moment in time - this is how I dreamed it. And I lost my baby. We lost a baby. His parents and my mom lost a grandbaby. His siblings lost a niece or nephew. So did our friends-family. That is the truth. I don’t have any physical indicators any more to show that I was pregnant, or questions into my physical health, the easy questions. All I have is my own sadness, taking me to new heights and depths. I walk around every day now with the my own shadow of darkness following me, living below the surface, simmering inside of me. Jane asks me what the triggers are but I never know when its going to happen. It just does, and I allow it to. I allow myself to feel. I allow myself to be free. I am free. And in achieving this freedom, I see in these difficult weeks, this is another transformation - I keep changing, becoming new people, emerging from multiple cocoons, shedding old ways and taking on new ones - but I’ve been here before, I’ve said these words, this is all familiar and I am awake.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post for days and art comes when it comes and when you make time for it. I announced the title of this post to D and he said, Why don’t you tell us how you really feel? And that’s why I love him! And that’s why he loves me. So let me explain. It started as Fuck Bikinis, Bras + Shaving because yes I am on vacation in the land of the sun and when you go to the beach you wear a bathing suit and most often a bikini. Now, even before I knew I was pregnant, I was taking a Spirit Bath (before I started calling them that), and said, When I’m pregnant, I’m not going to shave anymore. In fact, I’m starting now. I had read that Busy Phillips  stopped waxing because she wanted her little girl to look at her and know that "grown women have hair on their vaginas". I want to be a role model to whoever was going to be born, one that allows their body to be natural and to be free. But there was one thing I was going to cut - the hairs on my head! I also decided, in that space and time when I was weeks pregnant but had no idea, that this long in the middle, shaved on the sides is the hair I’ve been wanting for years and that though I love it right now it its shortest stage, I will also love it when the middle grows long. I want to have a long mane of hair down the middle when I am laboring and joyfully giving birth to our Rainbow Baby (inspired in part by SQUAT).

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

And so here I am presented with Naples/Miami bikini season and here is my futuristic-post-modern-post-misogyny-hairy-body and ohhh I’ve got dilemmas. I am comfortable with the leg, cooch and armpit hair but I don’t know how to navigate these waters on a clothed beach with my family. I know that society thinks it’s ugly because I’ve thought the same. While, I would love to wear what I’ve brought and let it all hang out, I feel like a parody of this offensive SNL skit I once heard which goes I’m Helga the German Waitress with the very long armpit hair. Oh Helga, your armpit hair is in my soup! Ohhhhh sorry!! My armpit hair is not that long, but my - I honestly do not know how to refer to the stretch of jungle growing in between my legs. Well, my snatch hair is growing - I’ve shaved for years so I have no idea how far it will go. But it looks pretty comical with a string bikini worn over it. I borrowed a tankini from my mother-in-law (mine were oddly stretched out and the string bikini top...no) and wore little hot pants shorts over the bottoms. While walking on the beach with D, I showed him what was going on downs-below and he was shocked. Yes it is shocking! He asked, Did you bring a razor? And I said, No I’m not shaving! But I need a different bathing suit (or a nude beach!). Everyone wants to feel beautiful and confident and sexy especially at the beach and this was an awkward barrier to that for me.

bird2.jpg

That night we got vegan food and I saw this brightly lit superstore of touristy beach wear and bathing suits. I was elated. I want to swim, I want to navigate mainstream waters and not freak people out (too much) before they get a chance to know and like me - this is part of the reason why I decided to continue to wear a bra in public - but only until I get pregnant and have a baby!! So we went in and they were actually about to close. I scoured the racks for hot pants/underwear in my size - this place runs so small just like American Apparel that I got a Large but needed a non-existent XL. D helped me find matching tops and it is all a hot mess, running around, time time time against (or for?) me, bathing suit tops not fitting. I definitely tested D’s patience, as I do every day but not his love, he said. This is why we love each other. And, I got my hodge-podge-bikini: blue hot pants underwear bottoms that conceal the va-ja-ja forest and a badeau top that's easily adjustable, won't let my boobs fall out and has palm trees on it. I did have some crazy revelations in the race to try them on. Shopping for bathing suits (jeans or bras) is one of the most horrible experiences for a female bodied person, at least for this one. Regardless of how skinny you think other people are, or how people often refer to me, I am not skinny. I have a lot of curves that do not fit into skinny people clothing. I was at an Indy party once and a (weird) girl approached me and said You have a womanly figure. So there you go - I have a womanly figure! But don’t we all? Anyhow, I tried on these hot pants which are electric blue and so comfy and cover up the comically offensive hairs and then I start criticizing myself because I got this muffin top thing going on. I think Oh no oh no! Not long after I realize the irony of wanting to be free and getting something to cover up that freedom only to be ashamed that my body doesn’t fit into these freedom pants. So I said to myself, If I can deal with this muffin top, so can everyone else. It has to be less culturally unacceptable than the growing terrain beneath it and the store is closing and we gotta go.

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

A log provides new life at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

We come back to the (incredibly fancy) hotel and just chill there. I finally get my Bloody Mary and it’s more perfect than my fantasy because it’s me, D + his Vodka Tonic with our legs in a hot tub. I submerge into the hot tub for a while and then go swimming in the pool. I lay on my back there, staring at the stars, at bright Mercury or is it Jupiter, D knows. I look back at the universe, the dark sky, the lights, so vast, I see my baby there, when all of it came out of me that day, and saw the universe that had been growing inside of me and I cry and cry into the lake of the pool, of myself, floating, floating and I fall asleep. I am very good at floating.

The following day we’re packing up to head over to a protected Everglades swamp and I decided to pursue a song I heard on D’s parent’s car radio. The song is Roar by Katy Perry. As I was packing, I listened and watched the music video and found myself sobbing. This song, this video spoke directly to me. I kept watching and playing the whole thing until it wouldn’t make me sob (which was about 4-5 times). That is now one of my mantras. I went to read about it and discovered another related song, Brave by Sara Bareilles. Last night after the Mogwai show with Team Danny, between 2 and 4am, I listened to many versions of this song, a duet with Carol King melded with her song Beautiful and one two three different videos of people dancing to this song. I went to go into the backyard but the door was locked and I didn’t know where the keys were so I quietly put the music on in the living room and danced there.

jungle.jpg

Coupled with the temporary phone therapy, therapy with a social worker, bereavement groups and support from friends-family, these are my song mantras, they make me stronger, I sing them in my head when I wake up in the morning, they help me to maintain my confidence in myself, living this life fully, leaning into the discomfort, the pain of the loss of losing this baby, this tiny life that was growing inside of me and birthed a new Dawn, that is me, and knowing that I’m not alone and I am powerful and I am weak and there is courage in my vulnerability because one can’t exist without the other, they are all parts of me, all feelings are valid, all living things are valid and we all deserve freedom.  

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Living tree at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

New Old Friends: Part II

Here is another dedication to new and old friends that I've made (all on Wednesday!):

Diane, the Smithee and professor of graphic novels from Delaware, we discovered after talking about tea, oh Friday afternoon teas at Smith, who is such a delight and who, while not a big fan of the whole alumnae club thing, loves to gather beautiful books in a big fundraiser for scholarships for Smithees (maybe I was a recipient?).

Hehe, vintage tea party time at Smith College, circa 1892 (thanks internet!) ..."'A Memorial of exams, essays, metrical travilations [sic] and the like.' Tea party with Bertha Allen and Helen Lambert, ... " hehehe

Hehe, vintage tea party time at Smith College, circa 1892 (thanks internet!)..."'A Memorial of exams, essays, metrical travilations [sic] and the like.' Tea party with Bertha Allen and Helen Lambert, ..." hehehe

AK Summers, the graphic novelist of Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, who I actually got to meet Wednesday night at her reading/slideshow at Bluestockings Bookstore, for which I rearranged my work schedule to attend because I’m interested in writing a graphic novel about my Radical Miscarriage (and other things) and because her book is probably the only one out there that comes close to the kind of experience I had/was going to have as a person outside of The Heteronormative Mainstream.

Excerpt from AK Summers "Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag," a graphic memoir

Excerpt from AK Summers "Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag," a graphic memoir

Liz Murray, author of Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, who was standing in line in front of me to speak with AK, had a flyer in her hand for The Business of Being Born, which I watched after a horrible shaming OB bullied me into being “open” and essentially not to use a midwife or do a home birth, and after that first appointment at 5 weeks made me not want to have a baby at all, and then I angrily watched this doc, crying, which made me say, like I said when I first got pregnant, F-yeah I’m doing a home birth (hopefully with this midwife)!

"Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival And My Journey From Homeless to Harvard" by Liz Murray

"Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival And My Journey From Homeless to Harvard" by Liz Murray

Why and how do I meet these amazing people and make these seemingly coincidental connections? By being open, speaking my truth and taking a risk. Be fearless!

Also, thank you Diane, AK & Liz and to all the people I meet every day and for being open to share your stories with me and allowing me to share mine with you.

4.25.2014 Friday 1:11 AM

There is no fear.
— Jessica Wiscovitch, Healer

New Old Friends

I thought it was time to dedicate a post to all the new friends I've been meeting and making in the past four days (and some longer than that). To new friends everywhere - remember, a friend is first a stranger.

Thank you to:

Steven, who owns + runs an antique vintage art glass + Scandinavian ceramics neighborhood shop/installation on Hudson that's been there for 17 years (!), his shop that I've walked past many times, but this time I went in, who, after talking about my love of elephants and inquiring about them (investments someday to be mine!), gave me this tiny, heavy elephant which I now carry in my pocket every day. 

my little friend

my little friend

Sarah, who recently joined the choir, with whom I've begun an email-pen-pal-writing-adventure before even having spoken in person, and then only speaking for less than two minutes a week or so ago, who herself is an incredibly creative, brave + talented writer + person and inspires me with her writing and thoughts and feelings.

Succulent has a new home with new friends!

Succulent has a new home with new friends!

Nicole the artist (+ baker + florist), at the flower shop on Hudson (near Perry) who, whilst I was checking out the succulent air plants (and subsequently purchased one), gave me some flowers after I told her my story which I then gave to Rita whose birthday we were celebrating later that day.

Ranger Bob who was sprinkling seeds on a square of grass + tree, "thumbelina park", on 25th St & 8th Ave as I was bicycling by, one of those divider green squares, who, after I asked what he was doing and showed an interest, appointed me on the spot to Ranger Dawn by us holding up our right hands and repeating "I do solemnly swear to do whatever the hell I can to make this into a park".

           subway elephante

           subway elephante

(Another) Steven, the photographer, on the subway ride home from Boozy Birthday Brooklyn with Louise + Ali (+ Brook!), who asked what I was painting (photo at right) and with whom I had a swift ride home due to pleasant + friendly conversation.

Amy, who I met possibly one or even two years ago at The Brooklyn Free Store, and met again at a party on Saturday night and she remembered me and thought it was serendipitous we should meet again because after I told her my story, told me that she is curating her first art show (which is extremely interesting!!!) and has some elements of focusing on pain and invited me to submit my work now or in the future.

Ruth, who I've known a while through Community, gave me gifts of laughter on the retreat last weekend, and who last night gave me one of her handmade journals (which will be my next Dream Journal, I told her).

Ruth Miller's handmade notebook pour moi.

Ruth Miller's handmade notebook pour moi.

Is it serendipity? Is it synchronicity? Is it fate? Or is it just life? Is it about being open to life and everyone and everything in it? Is it about believing in the impossible or in limitless possibility? Is it about being open to change? Is change inevitable? Is it about a deep unknown need for human/life connection? Or is it about love?

love love love love love yes yes yes yes yes yes love love love love love yes yes yes yes yes
— Rita DeCassia, Healer + Multi Linguist

p.s. joy comes in all sizes.

meow!

meow!

Everybody Poops: Shit + Blood + Mucus

4.17.2014 Thurs. 7:19 AM

Like some kind of unseen clockwork, I awake at 7:12 AM, without hesitation, still sick, my body working to get into equilibrium again.

In my dreams, there was music, different kinds.

The bathroom at  s'Nice  which will be seriously missed (and the only bathroom related photo most appropriate for this posting). 

The bathroom at s'Nice which will be seriously missed (and the only bathroom related photo most appropriate for this posting). 

I know this body is a good body because it expels waste. It knows when something no longer belongs. I cough and this big green mucus mass comes out and I spit it out (the sink is nearby). I feel sneezing coming on + I sneeze twice. More green mucus, a lot of it, comes pouring out of my nose. For me, I need to see what comes out of my body whether it's shit or blood or sickness mucus (+ even vomit though that actually really repulses me because I loathe being nauseous...on a side note, although I did not experience “morning sickness” [a lot of people do not], during pregnancy + miscarriage, I experienced pretty much every bodily function there is, including two horrible horrible vomit expulsions as well as the most major one, the miscarriage aka the complete miscarriage aka the natural abortion). I need to see where my body is at and the type of waste I produce communicates. Right now it feels like Diarrhea. I knew it. Last night - no veggies except for a pickle + that instant mac/cheese, completely processed + barely food, but I was so sick + couldn’t cook so I didn’t. I know it was just something to fool my mind + body into thinking it’s eating (and though the mind can be deceived, the body cannot). And also I’m sick. But what do those words really mean? It has such a negative connotation. My body was out of equilibrium. But it is this imbalance which helped make the art + writing happen. Things aren’t all “bad” or all “good” because there is no such thing. They are all states of being. I write this as if it’s so easy to be me in this body-ejecting-waste, but it is not. Sleep + rest. Sleep + Rest? These I have always resisted, even as a child. Am I not a child now? The anxiety lies in the dreams, so many dreams and remembering almost all of them contributes to a disturbing and exhausting waking life. But these/those dreams come from me. Am I frightened of myself?

The unknowns are everywhere including the universe of the body, the mind, the subconscious (your “spirit”?).

But still I need to rest to be “better”. And still my body continues to expel shit + mucus though all the available passageways.

We are living, breathing flowers, pores + openings all over, meant to take in + take out. We are designed this way. Evolution is beautiful thing.

(It’s 7:43am + still there is more shit pouring from me! Welcome to my life! My daily morning routine.).

p.s. Everybody Poops, by Taro Gomi, is possibly one of the best books ever created, definitely in my top 10 favorites.

Spirit Bath

4.16.2014 Weds 9:57 AM

Without fail, my body wakes me up. Its/my/her/our need to empty myself of waste is powerful.

Morning Spirit Bath Candles + Incense

Morning Spirit Bath Candles + Incense

Last night at midnight I started a spirit bath. A spirit bath is a spirit walk to the other side of myself, where all is revealed. Often the information and epiphanies arrive too quickly for me to remember or to process. Often I have long conversations with myself. My Inner WISE SELF says And now this is what you’re going to do or This is what will be shared or revealed. All of it, even now, is a compulsion on my behalf. I am compelled to write. I am compelled to paint. I am compelled to share. I literally can’t help it - I keep it inside and it wants to come out. The desire becomes its own agency. I have no control and I have all of it. I am joyfully compelled. Does that make sense? I feel as if I’m looking so deep inside and that’s where the answers reside. They live there with truth, love, honesty, compassion, a place where being humble is embraced and there is a celebration of your inner super hero.

I’ve always had (at least) one super human power: taking my body - or my body taking me - into the coldest water, any water, and feeling Home.

Water worship is the only one I can follow. I am my own religion. Gaia. Every time I step a toe into that steamy, hot bath with Epsom salts, meditation shells and candles (always at least 3 - that is significant), I see that I’ve created a protective chain of six all around me: four candles, incense and pumice stone. I also have small towels to keep me warm in the bath to give the sensation of seaweed, wrapped and trapped under water, an oceanic comfort, the comforts of home. A womb? An umbilical cord? A galaxy?

A blank canvas is beautiful because it is full of possibility.

A blank canvas is beautiful because it is full of possibility.

And that 4th candle, the purple one, I bought it with J at Stick, Stone & Bone. The orange one was for Joy, and I discovered, was for little lentil. We got those healing tools and didn’t even know that I was already pregnant. I also purchased a hematite ring + rock crystal that I’m always losing - I don’t even know where it is right now! But I always find it, eventually.

That 4th candle, I don’t know what you are, what is your purpose, I misplaced the instructions, but to me you represent mystery, the complete mystery that is life + living.

Every time I come back to this moment, My Spirit Bath, my spirit walk, I tell myself, This is my only church and my only religion. And this time, even though I fell asleep and it’s so late and only hours passed since I dreamt, my body is on her new schedule and up I go for the compulsory shitting and even despite having a cold, sore throat, runny nose from talking + laughing + singing too much over the weekend, I remember everything and I write it down here, in my Dream Journal.

Compelled to paint, the following morning after my Spirit Bath and Spirit Walk + Talk, after my self care (shitting, journaling - this journal entry in fact - bathing, spirit bath, eating), I put all the water color sketch books I have onto the center of the floor. Some were my grandfather's who was an artist and painter. This is the beginning.

Compelled to paint, the following morning after my Spirit Bath and Spirit Walk + Talk, after my self care (shitting, journaling - this journal entry in fact - bathing, spirit bath, eating), I put all the water color sketch books I have onto the center of the floor. Some were my grandfather's who was an artist and painter. This is the beginning.

Dear little lentil

4.15.2014 Tuesday 1:48 am

I was going through my thank you cards I had been compiling - I wanted to write special thank you cards to everyone who has shared their incredible kindness with me. At times I’m overcome and crying, overwhelmed with my friends-family’s deep generosity of spirit and am moved.

I keep buying more dollar beautiful thank you cards and in looking at them in my small plastic drawer, I find one that is pink and green and white, like a woodcut of a floral still life but is so alive and majestic. It is this card I had originally purchased for little lentil. It is this card that I was going to write to the baby. But I had also asked myself if I would write a love letter to myself instead. I still have yet to write the thank you cards, but I sat down and wrote this:

4.8.2014 Tues 10:26pm

Dear little lentil,

I didn’t know if this card was going to be for you or a love letter to myself but I guess they are both since your whole celestial existence was inside of my body and it’s difficult to separate me from you.

You told me what to eat + when to sleep + how to feel. You are my inner self, the voice that guides + talks with me. Is that why this has been so difficult? Because you dying was me dying too?

You, little lentil, feel like a dream. I feel like I’ve had to accept that you have gone very quickly. I was still in denial, but I knew.

I loved you so much. Even though I was angry + afraid + disappointed when I first found out I was pregnant, it took me only four days to fall in love. There were many days where I had to make adjustments but I was so happy + so looking forward to meeting you some day. I couldn’t + can’t wait to become a mother - that’s what you taught me. Part of me wants to say I would give up everything to have you alive inside me again but that’s not possible. I can’t change what happened though I am changed. You changed me. I changed when you grew inside of me. And I changed when you died inside of me. You help me to deepen my sense of life and love and how important that is to me. You taught me to love my body and all living things. We are all children of the universe + if there was no dying, there would be no living. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be alive + to be a living creature (among) the cosmos.

Love your mama xoxoxo

Goodbye Little Lentil!

Emailed on April 1st, 2014 at 12:06pm, approximately an hour after dropping off the fetal remains at the midwifery/OB's office:

Hello friends,

We have some very sad news to share with you. Early this morning I had a miscarriage. They're doing pathology tests on the remains and we'll know the results in a week.

We're devastated. Life can be so suddenly and completely joyful and then, just as quickly, a deep sorrow sets in. We feel so grateful for so much and for all of you, our friends, our family. We are blessed to have so many that love and support us. Thank you!

And on this sunny beautiful morning, we say a really sad and reluctant - Goodbye Little Lentil!

Love,
Dawn + Danny

Dream Journal

4/1/14 Tues 3:53 pm

I wake up in our bed, weak, so weak. It’s warm in the room. Our curtains are closed but the afternoon sun heats and still gets in. I feel warm and safe and in the heat of our bedroom, the air is full, a wholeness.

I wake up and remember my dreams. In them I tell my family and friends that the baby died. They look like the faces on the Look Kin side, my father’s side, but they are everyone. I’m in their house - Auntie Yuk Moy’s? - with people friendly, happy but some have questions. And some are so frustrated because they didn’t get the email - What’s going on?! Tell me!? So I tell them. We’re looked at with awe and horror.

I bolt awake and realize I forgot to cancel with my Spanish teacher.

I go to the bathroom for peeing and pooping and The Blood. I write this to Billy: Thank you Billy. We’ve been sleeping and I dreamt of telling everyone what happened. Even in my dreams the truth is present. Thank you for thinking of us on this strange and beautiful and horrible day. Much love to you and Savi and Lena - wow, she lights up our hearts. xoxox

Savi called. Barbi left a voice message. I want to call them but I don’t. I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now. I spoke with Rita but she doesn’t understand though she’s trying. Everyone is sharing their love with us the best way they know how. Sometimes, though, it’s more for them than it is for us. Even when we shared our joy of discovery of this baby, it was wonderful love and response but also a reflection of that person and their feelings and who they are.

I know I’m in shock. At this I break down, falling down a crumbled person. And then I’m calm and philosophical. I can’t help it. And I feel very protective of D. This is hitting him very hard - as excited as he was when he found out - and the the opposite. Deep sorrow. I feel it too. I’ve never seen him cry before. He cried and cried. We’re confused. We’re sad. I’m disappointed. You try to anticipate what you’re going to feel - you can try to be prepared for some things but not for everything. That’s not the point. We have no control. We are powerless, but we are also powerful. I found a new person inside of me as this little person was growing, and she was powerful, almost limitless mama/earth/crab powerful. And creative, so creative. A person who does have a green thumb, who loves life and helping things to grow. And making food - baking banana bread (albeit from a Trader Joe’s box but so delicious) and mashed potatoes for the first time. Hungry + fearless + road-rage-filled on her bike, barking at everyone and that felt good. Being honest + open in a way I haven’t been before. Loving my body. She loved her body. Growing out the hairs, reclaiming her hairstyle. Loving this body: curves + curves + belly + boobs + thighs + beautiful. Trusting the inner wise self - she is there, she is alive, she is here. Accepting things. Becoming more patient. Communicating even clearer than before.

I’ve thought a lot about this quote I read on a doula’s website + I think of it now: “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman

Even though the baby is gone, a tiny little thing that looked like a miniature person, I am still here. This mother is here and she is strong. She is sad and she is strong. Strength is knowing that crying and sharing our sad emotions is ok. I won’t try to “heal” soon. What happens is what happens. As I have throughout this pregnancy, I will listen to my heart, as I am right now, and listen to my inner wise self because she is always there inside of me and she is me. I will know what to do and how to feel and it’s all ok. It’s all ok. It’s all ok.