Me.....being grateful for every thing, every breath, every day of this life

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We Have a New Home!!!

Please come see the new home of the Mom Art Yoga Babe blog at All future blog posts and corresponding will he here: Don't be a stranger!!! Much love, Namaste xoxo Becca

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Letter & Meditation For Smokers

Beloved, I know why it is that you smoke cigarettes. You smoke because you need something to do with your hands instead of fidgeting with your fingers or biting your nails or your lip or on the end of your pen. You smoke because you need something to cool you out behind the wheel of an otherwise boring and monotonous drive to work and keep you occupied while sitting there dealing with all the idiots on the road and the never ending traffic lights. You smoke because you feel blissfully in love with that smooth deep breath in and while blowing that soothing silky breath out. It calms you. It helps you think. It relaxes you and stimulates you at the same time. You smoke because it feels like the perfect dessert after a wonderful, big meal. You smoke because it feels like being with an old friend, warm and familiar. You smoke because you originally picked up your very first cigarette in the excitement of doing something you know you shouldn't and your uptight, old and square parents think is naughty. And that feels like amazing freedom. This was one of the first choices you made on your very own, no matter what the consequences. This is true independence. And that freedom memory and sensation is addictive, not necessarily the nicotine so much. You smoke because sometimes you need a minute to yourself, alone, quiet, just inhaling and exhaling. And what other way is there to logically and normally do that without sounding like a total ding bat or a bad parent? "I need some time, just 5 minutes or so, to myself, outside, away from everyone on a rather semi-regular basis, to clear my head." If not with a cigarette, then people would think you were crazy!? You smoke because when you waitress or serve or work in a retail shop, as a stay-at-home Mom or small office, there is no other acceptable way to go sit outside, away from work and everyone, for a break and enjoy your seat, your quiet and some new air. You smoke because it is an enjoyable ritual in your daily life and it creates a bonding connection between you, and other smokers from strangers to your loved ones. You smoke because it is easy, always there for you, accessible at any gas station should you run out or run low. There is no thought required. It gives you a break from life. It gives you peace. It gives you the nourishment from attention paid to yourself, you alone and you don't have enough of that so you need to give it to yourself. Smoking is your life line and you want to never be without it, not for a movie in a theater or for an airplane ride, you want it with you all the time. You wish you could still smoke in restaurants and you wish that no one ever gave you a hard time about it. Your smoke is a veil of protection, a bubble to you where certain people, judgmental people are kept away and calm, laid-back people are welcomed in. Smoking is your release and security blanket. It means no children can be around. Only quiet. Solitude. Peace. Chill. Settled. Still. Here is the cool thing I can tell you for sure: one of the only differences between smoking and a regular meditation practice is that somewhere deep, very deep down inside, you know you should NOT be doing it and you know it controls your life and you know it is hurting you, the world and those around you. But otherwise, I propose for you to consider, that a steady, recurring meditation practice can totally be your replacement. It is, in many ways, EXACTLY the same as your relationship with smoking. Why is it that some bosses, co-workers and employers, even the ones who are non-smokers, think it is perfectly alright for someone who is a smoker to constantly take breaks to go have a cigarette? I propose for the world to begin to shift a little. If an employee of yours wants to go have a quick walk around the outside of the business or a sit down, alone on a nearby park bench, or a moment in the restroom not to go, but to REST periodically throughout the day, as much as a smoker would be allowed a smoke, LET THEM. Or if you are not a boss of anyone and simply are walking down the street or on the beach and you see someone sitting in a meditation do not pay them any mind and do not judge them as though they are some crazy Buddhist or nutty hippy. They are simply clearing their minds and giving themselves a much needed re-charge and dose of self-respect. The world needs to change the way they think of other people and their habits. So then, my lovely little smoker, if something inside of you is battling deep down to finish the never ending struggle with cigarettes or nicotine, then I tell you, with a complete promise: you can stop, with complete success. You can. You can harbor a practice of a different kind. You can. You can replace your unhealthy habit with a healthy one in a very, very similar way. I promise you can. Though you cannot close your eyes while driving, you can count your breaths with the radio turned off. You can track your inhalations and exhalations with positive affirmations. Example: I inhale more independence. I exhale the need to hold onto unhealthy habits. I inhale growth and positive change in my life. I exhale tension and aggravations. I inhale patience with people. I exhale judgments of myself and others. I inhale a new day, with new habits. I exhale the stale stench of smoky self abuse. I inhale new possibilities. I exhale feeling stuck. I inhale abundance and new forms of income. I exhale old beliefs and debt. And now you have suddenly found yourself 2 more miles down the road of your otherwise boring commute when you would have usually been smoking without really even enjoying it. A lot of times you may smoke and not even notice you are doing it. It becomes mindless, so you are hurting your body without even receiving any rewards. The difference with your new meditation practice is that you will get so much more out of those 5 minutes rather than losing something. It teaches us to be mindful and in the present moment fully rather than smoking away our life mindlessly. You are not alone. You are not the only one who struggles. If it is not smoking it is food, or drink, or drugs and sometimes for some of us it is all of the above. How many ways can we count and create NOT TO FEEL? I eat so I forget. I drink so I forget. I do drugs to go somewhere else. And on and on and on until you are at the end of your life. Either ready to die or ready to give up. No motivation. No inspiration. One or the other. And it can all change. When you replace your smoking with meditation, your body will, here and there, tell you this is stupid. I just want my cigarettes back. I just want to be easy and mindless and effortless and free again. But. The promise I can make with 100% of my being, every cell, is: that someday, with diligent practice, the ease and joy you THINK you have from your habit will be squashed totally in comparison to the joy and bliss and ease and celebration that you find in your daily life when moving toward a more responsible and healthy habit. Meditation is the gift from Divinity. We get a chance to look at a deeper place that is not obvious in the daily grind, mindless, unconscious living. It is very simple and very profound at the same time. Sometimes when you smoke, you get your best thinking done. It is the same, if not better with meditation. Though, often you are guided in meditation to NOT think, it is within a deep meditation where the most inspired ideas come into your thoughts and then reality. You can change your life. I am no doctor, psychotherapist or psychologist. I am a simple, regular, run of the mill person like you. I am person who struggles. I am person who has suffered through death, loss, pain, hurt feelings, poor self-esteem and anger. But I am telling you with all sincerity, that life can be a magic place of vitality and wonder in every single day. Just put your struggle to the side and sit in the middle of the possibility. The possibility of miracles. And breathe with me. You are not alone. And all of a sudden those miracles will become a very real part of your life. I promise. You can. It will. I promise. Start dreaming and stop smoking. I love you, Rebecca

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Birth Story

My prenatal Yoga instructor in Savannah, GA would collect birth stories from her former students to read to her current, pregnant students. It was a lovely thing. And I would love to share mine with you now.

I had a baby about 9:20pm on May 9th, 2011. Her name is Iris. She is the most recent, precious addition to our family. Our birth was nothing short of amazing.

After my first experience with labor and delivery with my older daughter, Mirabelle, you would think I might never want to have another child. Nothing terribly dramatic happened. But labor was over 38 could have been more, but I lost count on day two. I labored my little heart out. I was unfamiliar with birthing and what to expect. Though we had a doula, though I had read some awesome books, though I had watched several thousand documentaries and Discovery Health Channel deliveries, you never know and cannot perfectly prepare for what to do with your body during your very first labor and delivery. I did my best. But after about 30 hours, I caved and allowed my husband and the hospital to push me toward an epidural. I regretted that decision for years after. For me (the only person I can speak for), it stalled my labor. Everything stopped. The medical team around me grew concerned for Mirabelle because she had been in the birth canal trying to come out, with no success for so many long hours. I was minutes away from a c-section. But then, water broke, about 10-15 minutes of pushing and there she was. Perfect and in my arms at my breast.

I had such a long and uncomfortable labor the first time for so many different reasons, I did not know how I was going to do it different this time. I was just sure of that one fact, it WAS going to be different this time.

I felt labor begin about 2:30pm the day Iris came. I was not sure if I was in labor. I had had interesting sensations and feelings all over my body all day long. I thought it was just 3rd trimester pregnancy stuff. But around the late afternoon I lazily called my husband and told him to be ready to possibly be hearing me labor that night after he got home from work...and told him, maybe do not dilly dally or go to the store on his way home...I was feeling early labor pains, I thought. Sweet as he is, he came right home anyway, just to be with me. He left work early and thank God he did!

I wanted a natural labor and birth. I just didn't want to have to think about any meds, drugs, chemicals, complications. I wanted to have the strength to go through this experience the way (I think) God intended. Should there be any concerns or risks evolving, of course I would trust the military hospital and go along with the medicinal or surgical plans they have to save me or the baby any unnecessary suffering or danger. But I just had the feeling that if I breathed and trusted myself, my higher guidance would kick in and all would flow perfectly. I was so determined for this to happen, I doubted myself greatly. A silly little voice that I know a lot of people have, like me, came out all the 9 months and I stupidly thought, I want this so bad there is no way it will happen. Because nothing ever works out.

When 5pm rolled around and my contractions were big and about 2 minutes apart. I was shocked that I didn't feel like I had a 30 hour marathon ahead of me like last time, which I fully expected. So we readied ourselves to go to the hospital to make sure everything was ok. After getting a neighbor to watch over the 3 year old. Contacted the generous Mother in law who was flying over the Pacific THAT NIGHT to "hang out until the baby came." Ha! And after double checking the hospital over night bag, off we went.

I could hardly stand any bumps, stops or starts in the car. I hated sitting. I needed motion in my body, pacing, walking, rocking, stretching. With both labors, that is all I ever wanted. No laying in a warm bath. No massages from husband or anyone. No sitting on birth balls. I just wanted to pace and move and not stop moving until it was time to push.

At 7pm we laid down in triage to check me and sure enough I was over 6 centimeters. Wow, this was going fast. I readied myself to be in labor in a hospital room for the next 8 hours or so. And then the contractions got huger and huger. I was breathing and dealing just fine until the Doctor came in and told me "he really preferred if women would just get epidurals, there was no sense wriggling all over the bed like an octopus in pain." That was precisely when my labor started to hurt and become unbearable. I did not fight with him. I just told him I didn't want that and shut my mouth. I could not talk or focus on that stupid-ness anyway, the contractions were too intense. One nurse and my husband had my back. They both told me I could do it and they supported me.

Then.....I caved.

They had mentioned pain meds that were oral and NOT an epidural earlier in the night. I ignored it then, but at this time, I was so overwhelmed and uncomfortable I did not know how to persevere. I asked the nurse for the pain meds, whatever they were. She said she had to check me first and I could not take them past 9 centimeters, but I was probably fine, she just had to make sure first. She checked me and I was 10 centimeters. And only about an hour and a half had gone by since I checked in! She told me not to push yet, even if I wanted to, she was leaving to get the stuff to ready the room for delivery. There was no opportunity for caving...I was on my own at this point. Just as I had wanted. I have to admit, I was relived I did not have to be the one to make the decision any longer.

The midwife I saw the entire 9 months was supposed to be on her way to deliver the baby. But no one thought I would progress that quickly. She never made it before go time. Everything was so intense, I just sat there and grunted from deep within my throat, lungs and belly. I know I sounded like a man who had been a trucker and thick smoker his whole heavy-drinkin'-women-chasin' life. I had nothing and I mean nothing to do but pray to my most faithful angel, my Grandma. She is who I talk to most often in prayer. I know she is with me. All. The. Time. And I know she was with me then. I really feel like she orchestrated it so I would have an amazing birth, the way I wanted. She did because I asked her to. On my last big contraction, that I can remember, I was on the hospital bed, on my side. I wanted to lay down, but laying down just did not feel right, again. I knew that if I rested, labor would slow. And if I thrust upward, this baby would come the way my body needed it to.
1. Contraction came with a vengeance.
2. I squeezed my eyes shut super tight.
3. I prayed: "Grandma, please, please, please help me!" (I could form no other thoughts)
4. I grabbed for my husband's available hand.
5. I used his strong hand and arm to heave me to an upright, seat.
6. My water breaks and I scream, "go get the Doctor I neeeed to push now!!!!"
7. Chad exits the room faster than a drug dealer runs from the cops.

In comes the nurses and Doc and I am flailing all over the table as he had predicted. The baby came right into the world with MAYBE three pushes. There she was. Iris.

The Doc said the chord was wrapped around her neck two times. But it seemed loose enough where he was not terribly concerned. She was placed almost immediately on my belly. Her crying face looked just like her big sister's. But her hair was red, eyes blue. I felt an amazing sense of relief. I had no pain. I had no stress. I had no numbness. I had no shaking. I had no doubts. I only had peace. Perfect happiness.

I absolutely do not ever judge anyone, ever who does not choose natural child birth. I know that everyone does what they think they need to do and that is perfect. But I do want to tell you, that if you or anyone you know is considering natural child birth, I can say, after having two polar opposite birth experiences:
Trust your body as God's design. It knows what it needs to do and cannot tell as easily what your instincts are asking of you if you drug yourself. I know because I have felt birth both ways. With my first labor, I caved and in came the interventions when labor stalled and one thing after another rolled out. This time, I prayed. I tried. And yes, labor was VERY fast, but I just listened to my body for 99% of labor and made it through just fine.

Recovery was amazing compared to my first birth as well. I felt flu-like symptoms with my first birth after about a week of recovery. I was down and out. No way to bond with a new one. But this time, I was on cloud nine and out shopping 2 days later. It was heaven. Truly heaven.
Thank you Gram.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Community Is Where You Make It and Where You Take It

Around the age of 25 I wrote in a manifestation journal that I aimed to be an active part of a community. I was a nomad. Never settling down as badly I wanted to. I wanted volunteering, a Yoga studio, a neighborhood, knowing people and waving to them at the mall, helping people and a calendar full of activities filling up my life. I wanted roots. A home. A home of my very own with my own garage and all my junk building dust inside it.

So I left a situation where I did not feel any of that forming and I moved to a city where I felt I wanted to create my place in it's community. In Savannah, Georgia, or anywhere one should move, it takes time. There are layers of groups of people who are the fiber to the fabric of the quilt that makes up any old American town. And you have to mingle within all the layers to create your own square and design and this can take years. I was getting there and loving it. Had my core Yoga studio where I taught and had a mini group of regulars. I had my other core studio and favorite teacher who I was hoping would teach me all the many things I had not yet mastered in my craft. I was meeting different parts of the community. Working at festivals. Learning about the progression and progresses of the town. I even found a house I wanted to stay in forever! In the garage was my junk. And then my beloved wanted to join the Army, right in the middle of a war.

Time to dust off and organize my boxes and junk......again. And not just for one move, but for many sure moves in the years to come soon. And then to say goodbye to "my" community along with all my plans for the way I wanted life to be.

Two homes later (and lots of pouting), I find myself in Okinawa, Japan. Far, far from home. Far from English speaking people. Far from my art school, my Yoga joints, my parks, my stores, my friends, my bars, my dog, my cars. And before I knew it, and without even trying, a community emerged. And a community, for me, not just on my island, but on line, on the phone, on the computer, in traveling, by mail, in letters and cards, on Skype, through meditations, on planes and boats, smiles and hugs, tears and laughter, through photo albums and books, and across my laptop keyboard in blogs. I had the strongest sense of community I had ever imagined in my life and it has been internationally.

My manifestation wish.....had manifested and not at all how I intended. That is usually how it happens, right? How we least expect.

I have to say, that the military community was the most surprising sense of love and generosity I have ever felt in my entire life. This is my new Yoga breath. I have been blessed. I am a lucky girl and have had a pretty great life as lives go. But the kindness and giving I have been shown since overseas is absolutely mind blowing. It has taught me how to give from now, for the rest of my days. There is one way to say it, how I will from now on and forever be: A BIG GIVER. We have no family over here, so just immediately become family for one another. You just do. It is the only way. It is the very human spirit shining through rough times. There is nothing as kind as a military wife. I have never met anyone else so amazing.

If you need a hand when you have to go to the hospital, or find directions to a new park, are out of cash or need a lift somewhere, a shoulder to cry on, or just someone to listen, the military community is there for you. And this is how the entire world should operate.

I have become part of a book club, both in person and virtually. I have been given the fanciest baby hand me downs from swings to over priced, like new baby carriers. I have tasted home cooked food, babysat, had folks baby sit for me, had help with child rearing, volunteered at amazing functions, been given my own art show, had help with groceries and auto problems and I have soaked up the huge love and fully intend to give it back as much if not more.

Lately, I see friends and co-workers on line from Australia to the UK, the US and back to Japan. I appreciate my crazy husband so much. After fighting with him for roughly 8 months about his joining the Army, I finally gave in. I agreed to it all when I realized, and for the soul reason, that anything I opposed this much has got to be my greatest opportunity for learning, lessons and growth. Plus he has this unknown chemical, I assume, that makes it so I cannot stay away from him no MATTER WHAT. Bastard.

And it has been my greatest adventure. The past few years have been the best in my life. Life keeps getting better, too. I am so incredibly grateful for the people who I have met. The people who have driven for me, shown me the way, helped me, promoted my art, painted for me, moved my family and our junk, provided for me, loved me, pushed me, supported me, called me and I cannot even see an end to this list.

It is my duty to give back to my community. And the community I have found, is a global one.

Who'd uh thunk?!

Someone up there is dreaming a dream for me, bigger than I could have ever imagined for myself, and I live and bow in humble gratitude.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Whoa! Where have I been? Buddhas, Bellies and Bazaars.

Hey y'all. I have not posted a blog in roughly 13 weeks! My last one was about feeling my first belly kicks from the baby down below. So we have traveled quite a bit together this baby and I ever since the last post. Bout time for a new one. And I am a bit overwhelmed and Mercury Retrograde is either looming, or already here. I refuse to google it and worry about it by finding the exact date of start and finish. It would freak me and my labor plans and thoughts about Japan out. So, I am acknowledging it's presence and moving slowly along. Point being, I am not mapping out a super planned out blog. I am just practicing a brain drain here for those who care to read and connect with moi. And for you whoever you are, I love you.

I am so excited about a web site of mine that should be done about May-ish. My "lifestyle web site." It will harbor all of my passion, love, tips, networks, people I admire, things for sale, art, detailed vital nutrition info, possibility and growth all in one place. That will be found here: like I said, in about 2 months.

I went to Tai Pei, Taiwan! I got a clear vision in my mind's eye, of great Buddhas and mountainous deities and me with them and marveling at them, when my husband came home from work in Augusta, Georgia one 2009 day and announced "we are moving to Japan." Little did I know, the Japan I experience has little to none of this deity action!!! Sure, I am betting mainland has these statues and great stone temples like those I learned about in Far Eastern Asian Art History class in college. But, Okinawa, not so much. There is actually a huge void of spirituality here. They pray to their ancestors and the family tombs are everywhere and quite inspirational. Some of them look like this:
(these are called Turtleback tombs)

But I cannot connect with, enjoy, or at all feel a part of this spirituality. I cannot really connect to the spirituality I saw in Taiwan either, but at least it was a site to behold to be standing at the foot of a mountain and witness a shrine the size of Ohio. Or be able to see how certain sects meditate and pray with incense.

I have recently learned and fully understood the argument that Buddhism is NOT a religion. It is a philosophy alone. I think many people like to call it their religion when they don't seem to want to become a part of any particular group, church or label and they connect with the majority of ideas of Buddhism. And that's great. It seems to be a heated debate. Stated well here on this link, even though I don't fully agree with everything this author wrote (her opinion highly guiding the article, which I think should be left out), it still is a good example of the discussion at hand:
There seems to be a rich religious following of Buddhism in the newest part of Asia I have started to explore and it was really refreshing to see. I feel a bit sorry for the Okinawans sometimes when they seem so empty of faith of any kind. There are Buddhist temples here and churches but not as much as anywhere else I have ever been. But I am also quite sure I have not fully understood the Okinawans yet and hope to by the time my three years is up here...which is coming rather soon! Either way, I prayed and prayed hard at the welcoming shrines we visited where they offered to teach us how to make a "wish" to the shrines. And each prayer was for my health, the health of my growing baby in the belly and for the health and success of my entire family. Oddly, this is starting to sound quite like a far Eastern auspicious wish. I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning......

Another reason for the lack of blog was the art show!!! I was asked to participate in a crafty Bazaar for the USO. Japanese and American vendors sat side by side all selling their wares, art, pottery, instruments, furniture, jewelery and on and on. It exhausted me, even though I had great help setting up and sat on my butt in a chair the entire weekend. It exhausted me. I do not regret participating in it. But I did learn that this sort of networking is not really for me. And lessons are always good to learn. Needless to say, my large inventory of matted prints for sale are still very much for sale if anyone is interested in some great art prints already matted to frame and hang in your home, Yoga space or office. Another great reason for my web site launch. No, I did not sell much. but the people I met brightened my life. And that was invaluable.

More on art. I am now working as a contract, freelance illustrator! Did you hear that Dad, who so kindly paid for my college, and favorite Illustration teacher Traci Haymans, who has, since my graduation, sadly passed away?? Did you hear or read what I just wrote???!!! I recently found this in memory of Traci, my favorite teacher of all time, really: (she was my absolute favorite art teacher and died way too young)
Yea, so I am working, working and so grateful for it. I never, ever, ever thought I would be a military wife. Ever. Just so you know for effect how much I cannot believe it. And I never, ever thought I would be a professional illustrator either. But the Universe works in mysterious ways. God is good. And what we do, our talents, our desires, they come out. No matter how hard we try to deny them. And if we try hard to deny them, we might succeed by starving ourselves to an early walking grave of a life. We may succeed. But what are people going to talk about when we are gone? What we ever did that was strong, or a gift. So it comes out again. Eventually. So don't struggle, I am saying. Your path is laid out. Your gifts, given to you at birth. They are there. They will feed you. You just have to believe, weather you understand what they are or not, that they are there and each of us has a purpose.

I am eager to teach my new daughter about all of this! All of my travels, things I have learned about money and gifts, working with people and for yourself. On and on. And all of this I have learned and gelled together since she has been growing in my belly. So I cannot help but believe she is an angel coming to meet me and teach me, her Daddy and big sister. I think she will have something to show us all. She will be a pearl of wisdom and beauty. And I feel so grateful for everything around this pregnancy, my lucky travels, my healthy family and for the work that I find myself engrossed in these days.

Namaste everyone.
Keep the faith.
More soon.