Red Tents

I’m cycling again!  Reader, have you heard of the ancient red tent / menstruation hut / Moonlodge?  A place where women join together in a communal support and love during their menstruation.  I’m relatively new to the world of learning more about my blood and cycle, too.  Let’s indulge ourselves together!  So, for the past year I have been joining the most fabulous group of women each dark moon (that’s the new moon on most calendars, when the moon is dark), and my soul feeds on and lives for and dies with and composts and rebirths and love love loves this ritual.  Early last year I was meeting only in the evening.  Willa was still very young, in fact, she attended my first three Moonlodge’s with me.  When she became more mobile, but could not yet contribute to the sacred content of the ceremony, she began to stay at home with her papa (which, let me tell you, has been beautiful for their relationship) and I became eons more committed to the nourishment my soul felt in response to this group and ritual. And in November last year I was invited to meet all day on every dark moon celebrating our womanhood, our cycle of life, and support of one another.  I love these women.

I have found a portal of knowledge about my ancestors, about myself, about my sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and so on and so on and so on and so on again.  Each dark moon brings new teachings to my plate.

This month I am spending some quality time remembering my first menstruation.  I am remembering the details, the dark details.  This month I am rejoicing in the return of this moon cycle, many many moons have passed without blood from my uterus after the sweetest Willa began growing in my belly.  And now, my body rejoices in the return of my fascinating moon cycle!

I celebrate my menstruation, and yours.  It’s so interesting that our culture is based around celebrating many many other things that are so directly correlated with our blood, but shuns the talk of the blood itself.  And, interestingly enough, we allow our cycle and our reproductive rights to be on the table of many political discussions.  Let’s get the party started before we let anyone crash it, let’s celebrate our bodies!

I want my daughter to grow up in a place where she is comfortable talking about her sync and symbiosis with the moon, where she feels loved and honored for the entire woman that she is, where she understands and loves the functions and goings-on of her body, and I am going to give my all to create this world.  Too, I know you know balance is important in this realm; that’s what Glitter & Grit is about: balancing these two worlds.  So I’m not suggesting that we run around the streets shouting about our periods (do it if you like), but I do believe that our culture could use a little more information and confidence from us ladies on the issue.  There are plenty of organizations out there doing their part, too!

How can we create a society where there is no longer shame around our blood?  You wonder?  (Me too.)  I’m thinking first off, we should spread the word about these Red Tents!  Second, do you have a keeper cup (to catch your moon blood to give it back to the earth)?  I originally bought mine as a financial investment; women spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on tampons and plastic pad supplies and my reusable keeper cup saves me!  I’m certain to write more on this topic another post.  Stay tuned.

I said oh my dang today, because I believe Red Tents all around the globe equals a safe place for women to shed shame of bleeding every month, a place for us to truly be ourselves, every single bit of ourselves, with women.  It saddens me to think that some young girls have no idea how to express their new blood to anyone, that they may feel shame because no one talks about it.  In my research to further educate myself about my menstruation, I fell in love with the beautiful women empowering other women in their writing and bleeding.  I love you, I am grateful for you.  We’re all in this life together, whether we choose to honor that or not.  And I’m glad we are in this together.  I think you’re beautiful.  Just exactly the way you are.

I think I’ve told you about this movie before, but I really want to share the video with you again.

Did you get goosebumps?  I do every time the beat changes and that woman starts dancing in the quaint dining room with her sisters.  I do every time I see my Santa Cruz Moonlodge on the beach!  I love this movie trailer, and I’m thrilled to see the extensive work these ladies have put forth come to fruition.

Have you read The Red Tent?  Do you have a Red Tent?  What is the most nourishing thing you do for your body / mind / spirit during your dark moon?  Do you have rituals which help heal and open your soul?

Trusting Our Instincts

One afternoon while I was working in the Davy Crockett National Forest with “at risk youth” my co guide Cedric and I were walking back from my group’s campsite to chat at the road during a particularly hectic shift (shifts were 8 days), and I had somehow forgotten my way but I was leading our path back. I immediately confessed to Cedric that I was unsure of our route and asked him to lead us back to the road. He was privy to my 30 day goal of trusting my instincts and said he was putting his complete faith in my gut instincts and that I would lead us to the road if I also trusted my gut. Nervous, but certain (due to my newfangled exterior support) I walked through the piney, lush, damp woods in east Texas back to the road!

From that moment I have known that my first reaction is generally my truth. My (your) instincts are raw and real. I have found that it is often difficult to follow these instincts if I let myself stray from the practice too long; my mind will rationalize and my heart will emotionalize anything until there is nothing left but indecision and curiosity (“what if I listened to my gut?”); but if I go with the knee jerk reaction, it tends to put me into the place I most need to be. A while back as I was solo adventuring up the west coast, I found myself completely animal–I trusted my instincts completely, even blindly at times. I like that. I really like that.

If our instincts are merely innate inclinations toward a particular behavior, it sounds simple to follow. Animals follow their instincts with complete blindness; the humpback whales leave the waters near Hawaii to feed on krill in the cold northern pacific ocean near Alaska, the birds fly south for the winter, the sea turtle babies know intuitively upon hatch to make their way toward the sea.

Why, then, so much discombobulation for humans when it comes to our gut instincts? Human babies instinctively use their voice to speak their woes and joys, and as I watch my daughter communicate so effectively with her hands and with the learned American Sign Language, I begin to wonder about what her instincts are. She instinctively wants nourishment from my breast milk; she instinctively seeks protection from Cody and I; I’ve seen Willa’s physical instincts reject a cracker via vomit before she was ready to eat sharp solids; Willa instincts guide her through her day on the farm. I’ve noticed American culture (lots of cultures?) dumbing down our instincts at an early age. I find myself truly trusting Willa as a human with very capable instincts and as a result, I am deeply connecting with her.

Isn’t this what we all want? Deep and meaningful relationships with ourselves and with our loved ones? I believe our instincts answer the little questions and the big ones! But it’s only natural to start out small if we have lost touch with our intuition; I started with my wardrobe choices each morning. If I felt most comfortable wearing the black dress I wore two days ago and nothing else seemed to suit the day, I threw on that black number without question; without fail. Baby steps, in instincts, too! If you’re lucky and have always trusted that deep voice in yourself, great work, you!

Print available at Story People (have you noticed how much I love the art of Brian Andreas?).

Today, Austin is for Lovers

Things I love today:

  • Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse!
  • The weather in Austin, it’s already mid-70s to low-80s and it’s beautiful! Beau-ti-ful, my friends, beautiful!
  • Saltlick Barbeque, Cody has been day dreaming and waking up in the mid of night (salivating through both) about getting some rib bones in his mitts. I love this man. He is a man after my own heart (and now he is really after my heart, y’all, we’re engaged!) And Saltlick is a true love.
  • South Congress is for lovers, and I myself love seeing the Capitol as I stroll along the beautiful street of cutesy eateries and antique shops
  • Did you know my dad built tables for the Capitol? Many years ago, he built 23 beautiful tables. Today, I love my dad’s beautiful artful woodwork. He is so creative! Here is a coffee table with a secret hiding spot atop that he made me some years ago

  • I love being inspired by my parents’ home, they have so much interesting stuff here.
  • Home Slice! Oh dear sweet love of all things, I love some Home Slice!
  • I love love love wedding planning!
  • The color of mustard
  • Did you ever see Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken? Circa 1991, via Walt Disney. I did, and for some reason, I’m thinking a lot about the (based on a true story) movie; Sonora was amazing! I’m a sucker for horses, for romance, and for a runaway in the depression era, I think.

What do you love today, Reader?

Mah Sesh with tha Senator, Y’all: Oeuf et Jambon

For my anniversary/Spring Equinox breakfast, Cody made a divine baked egg and ham dish (a traditional French breakfast) accompanied with cast iron cooked gold and purple potatoes and California citrus on the side.

This dish loved being cooked in the Senator. The heat trap of the cast iron oven really lends itself to the cooking of the egg whites, while maintaining the runny yolk. This is a very difficult accomplishment with this dish–so I hear–and Cody mastered it!

He really made it seem simple, and the morning felt relaxed and new. I love how the egg looked next to the citrus and how it made me feel Spring-y, in a fresh and joyful and new-life kind of way.

First, he layered ham and cheese. He used a local cows milk cheese, semi hard and so delicious. Next he layered more ham and cheese. He baked this for about 15 minutes. The pre-bake.

Just as the oven opened and the bus smelled of sweetly cooked ham and creamy, lightly scorched cheese, he pulled the ramekins out of the Senator and cracked an egg over the ham and cheese. He put two eggs per dish. They settled into their desired locale in the ramekin and he put them back into the oven.

The eggs baked about 25-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. About 20 minutes in, he added heavy whipping cream, just a smidgen. He eyeballed it. I know that despite many a controversy in the cooking world, in our kitchen, intuition plays a leading role. I will admit though, when baking, I wish I had more drive to strictly follow a recipe.

Once it was perfect, he pulled them out and put the finishing touches on brunch.

We have been collecting old silverware and I found this sweet fork in Santa Rosa while at the wedding of Cody’s cousin. Do you notice the engraved W?

20120327-075252.jpg

I feel like I could write pages about these beautiful oranges from our farmers market; that real live spot to make you feel grounded, the bright spring color; the juice which drips down your chin, the perfect pulp which pulls off the rind with ease; the zest of the rind and the plush but subtle pericarp; and the delicate pith devoting its scarceness to the delight its partaker; this is a perfect early spring snack, and a truly complemental piece to our Equinox brunch.
20120327-075045.jpg

We continued to build the fire in the Senator until the sun shone on the day long enough to radiate heat into the bus. I just downright love learning how to use this stove from 1894! It feels so nostalgic. The other morning we nearly had a 500 degree oven, can you believe it? We looked at each other, excited for the loaves of bread that will soon emerge from our sweet oven.

20120327-092346.jpg

20120327-092403.jpg
So, our brunch was perfect and my anniversary memories continue to contribute to our romantic (ofttimes mental) scrapbook.

Wise Woman Words: Audrey Hepburn

20120323-205600.jpg

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
-Audrey Hepburn

This could easily be an oh my dang moment for some of us; beauty advice that doesn’t require choosing the right base color or eye shadow or lip liner. You heard it, beauty advice (from a beauty) about your outlook on life and your out pour of words. How fabulous!

Although I believe that make up cultivates a reliance upon more make up (the more you use make up, the more you’ll need to make up), I also see the beauty in knowing how to dress up your confidence every once in a while (even if that’s including mascara or red lips). My mom and Mimi always told me that beauty is as beauty does, and I believe my actions correlate directly to the beauty in me.

While hitch hiking and hiking up the west coast from spring to autumn of 2009, my dad came out west and together we embarked north to Eugene, Oregon to visit his sister and brother. While I had the Anderson’s together and we were laughing so hard we cried, I remember my uncle Bill telling my dad how proud he is of him, for raising such a beautiful daughter. I looked at my pop and his siblings and told them my beauty was often a reflection of the beauty around me. My pop generally has loose tear ducts, but this really made them unlatch.

Have you heard of noble speech? I can’t begin to tell you how often words–like water, pour and overfill–are unable to take back. I studied Vipassana meditation during a ten day course at eight months pregnant with Willa, there I learned of speaking only kind words. How novel, that what my mother said so long ago rings true today: if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. And how kind are our lips, then? I find myself enriched and celebratory in my kind words, in practicing noble speech daily, and in using forethought in my language.

What do you think about beauty of the spirit as beauty of appearance? Do beautiful thoughts/actions/words equal beautiful in your world?