A Journey Within Journey's
Sometimes when there is a topic my heart feels a deep urge to write about and I avoid it, it's a pretty clear indication that there is catharsis and medicine to be found through that writing and sharing. This is exactly that. To write about this meant to delve honestly in to my own emotional process around a topic that runs deep and close to my heart. I am sharing to both update and to open myself further to the process; peel back the layers, be seen in the midst of the authentic detangling which is rarely linear and usually shared only after its been tidied and airbrushed. My own tendency to play small or sit off to the side is part of an old story I have been deconstructing and so, in this way, my writing is part of the healing process.
The Best Lay Plans Many of you are aware of the relocation journey my daughter Taryn and I have been planning for a couple months now. For those who want just the straightforward timeline you can read the GoFundMe update [HERE] When we make plans and they don't unfold as we has intended, this is not meant to be seen as a failure but rather a re-routing; a recalibrating process that factors in deeper needs, longings and visions and if we are willing to listen consciously, puts us in greater alignment with the path most suited to the wellbeing of who we are becoming.
Such is the process I have been simmering in. Recently I remembered the very first moment that Taryn came in to existence; the very first moment I knew I was pregnant. I had recently returned from a solo two-month long, cross-country trip and her dad had waited patiently back home while I followed my call to travel and explore. I returned feeling somewhat conflicted between my hunger to travel more and my love for her dad and the sweet life we had begun to build. Then one day it came to be that this new life was growing inside me and I knew in my heart that she was meant to come in to this world. So I chose her with love.
The Thread of This Mothering Journey As I've been reflecting on this, it's as though I'm sitting at the other end of a long thread that extends back in time to that very moment; as if all of the years between then and now find me nearing the completion of a full circle. I've realized I'm sitting on the cusp of an even deeper process that is unveiling itself through the recent changes in our plans and circumstances. Growing up, Taryn had a spirit like wildfire and was in many ways was a challenge to raise. Partially because she was incredibly sensitive and everything she felt, she felt it one hundred times stronger than most others.
As a young mother I didn't understand that then, I just focused on trying to make everything work and it required a lot of blind navigation. Not only was I a young mother (emotionally and physically) at 24, I became a single mom when Taryn was just 4 years old and with that came a lot of lessons to be learned and a lot of barriers to break down. As a child, she didn't respond to the popular parental advice and tactics I received from well meaning friends and experts. I took her to countless therapists over the years, hoping for some answers and guidance in supporting her journey in this life and in my role as her mama. We never lasted long at any of them, they seemed to be reciting the same textbook jargon and she just needed something.... more...something deeper.... I didn't know.
What I did know is she was happiest when she was in nature, having quiet time, reading books, building fairy houses, playing with crystals and gems. She spoke to her imaginary friends - as she called them spirits - all the time...."Mom! Its not my imaginary friend, they're spirits!" She has always been very keen intellectually but absolutely hated the structured school environment from day 1. For a sensitive and highly intelligent kid the cold, impersonal and rigid "one-size-fits-all" environment of the public school system was an incredible challenge for her. Unfortunately, I could not afford to send her to a Waldorf or Montessori school but I often wished I could. Looking back I realize that may not have even been what she needed; I believe that like any kid she needed someone who was willing to listen and be on her side no matter what. Society presents few options for those who don't fit into 'the box'.
The Magic While there were challenges, there were also so many sweet adventures! Growing up we took a lot of day trips, wandering and exploring new places in nature all the time. One summer I managed to save enough to take us to Monhegan Island for a long weekend and it was pure wonder and magic. I believe that each adventure held it's own unique medicine and in it's own way planted seeds we would both harvest later in life. During this time Taryn also discovered her first true love - horses. She has always had a special connection with animals, they gravitate to her and the horse connection was no exception.
The Dark Days Things ebbed and flowed and for many years the horses brought a much-needed source of nourishment and focus, however once she reached early teens everything began to change. She fell away from her friends and even the horses as she plunged deep in to her Goth phase and deeper into some dark place within her that I couldn't reach. Taryn gradually descended into the darkest time of her life, plummeting into self-harming and an eating disorder that would shake me to my core and bring her to rock bottom. I'm not entirely sure how I sustained through that period of time. I just followed my intuition, which repeatedly told me - "Just love her. Love and accept her as she is and don't try to change her and just trust" So that's what I did. After all this wasn't about me, this was her journey and the last thing she needed was to be drugged up and tied to a hospital bed. I trusted in my heart that to fully heal she needed to want to heal and turn her life toward a brighter vision. As parents we so often make our kids' struggle about US - how it inconveniences or challenges us - but they are on their own unique path just as we are. I believe when we choose to have a child, we sign on as their guide for life. Period. How we all navigate that is personal and individual but there is no one-size-fits-all. It was a dark time and there were a lot of sleepless nights and incredibly rough mornings. By the time Taryn reached 9th grade she attended for 2 weeks and it was shockingly clear that her health and emotional wellbeing really needed to be the focus or else she may not make it. Everything else had to take a back seat.
Un-Schooling and Healing The school environment was toxic to her at that time and so I made the decision to take Taryn out of school and homeschool (eventually un-school) her. Most people didn't understand my decision at all but my heart knew it was her only hope. Gradually, things began to shift and slowly, Taryn began to come back to life again. I can't describe the feeling when the color started to come back in to her face, she began smiling more; It was an incredible feeling of relief.
She began to spend a lot of time in nature, we would go to museums, watch documentaries and talk about different aspects of the world. Home schooling and un-schooling, is about letting life and experience become a constant learning experience. When kids are given access to their creativity and daily connection with nature and being able to get the sleep they need and move with natural rhythms, it’s amazing how much growth takes place emotionally and spiritually. It was around this time that I found myself facing a health crises of my own - one that set me out on a journey that would change me forever - and so in a way we healed side-by-side in the ways we each needed at that time. Over time we both healed and Taryn began to incorporate yoga, meditation in to her life, she recovered physically and the emotional piece took a little longer but she did it. Since then she's been on a powerful spiritual journey and I always knew her path would be a unique one.
The Magical Sweet Summer This past summer was by far my favorite as things aligned in such a way that we took a lot of adventures together, from day trips to the mountains, to weekends at music festivals running around barefoot and laughing, taking yoga classes, implementing a regular earthing practice (bare feet on the earth), lots of live music and dancing, it was a gift to share this time with my girl after everything we'd come through. Over the last couple months it’s been clear that things are shifting deeply. We've reached a pretty powerful turning point in each of our lives, where she is being called in a new direction and my own life also yearns for a fresh start.
A Different Kind of Relocation A couple months ago after parting ways with my job of 5 years and feeling like I needed to hit the road, Taryn and I decided to relocate with our cats to Ashland, Oregon. We both felt deeply pulled to Oregon and grew increasingly giddy over this new beginning. So we planned, started donating all of our belongings, applying for jobs and apartments in Ashland. I dove in 100% and was beyond excited for this cross-country adventure with my pal, especially because I was pretty sure once we arrived, it wouldn't be long before she would be off doing her own thing.
As plans continued to unfold I sensed that something wasn't totally in alignment; something was shifting. Finally we talked and hashed it out and it was clear (and continues to become clearer) that ultimately what Taryn is feeling is not just about geographically relocating, but a deep, resonant call to go out on her own and figure out who she is. After everything. After all of it. After all the years and the struggle and the triumph. The words I've shared here don't even begin to convey the depth and expanse of what we've each been through and now, as Taryn sits on the cusp of her 18th year, she feels called to find answers beyond mainstream society.
Trust She is seeking a truth that runs deeper than hash tags and holding down a job or going to school and running up a pile of debt. She is seeking answers that only her experience can provide and she's finally old enough to do so. It's become clear that while relocation is definitely happening for each of us, its not happening in the way we originally thought. And that's ok. For Taryn, the transition to independence is a huge and vastly important one. My own transition at 18 years of age was a deeply unpleasant one and I've always wanted more for Taryn. She is supported no matter what and sometimes the best way to support someone is to honor their dreams and let them go on their quest.
A Deeper Adventure Unfolds For me, the transition from shaping my entire life around this human for the last 18 years to looking at cultivating a life apart from that role is epic, emotional, bittersweet, exciting and so many more things. In so many ways Taryn is my best friend and part of that is because she is one of the most authentic people I know. There is no mask there - she won't pretend, she will tell you straight up how she feels and it's not always easy to take. She has always been that way and as a child it was most embarrassing to me as her mom - she didn't put on a polite act; if she liked you she liked you, if she didn't well you felt it! She keeps it real but that is one of my favorite things about her, especially now that she uses a little more care in her communication:)
Taryn is leaning toward WWOOF-ing (World Wide Opportuniites for Organic Farming). This feels to me like a great opportunity indeed. She has also considered getting a shared house with friends but her heart is calling her toward a deeper quest and that's becoming clearer. She is figuring that out and we've agreed to make some firm decisions by October 1st. As for me, well I am still planning my move out west but for at least the winter, there are some loose ends to tie up, resources to build and a clearer vision to cultivate. For the first time in my life I am free to make a move for myself and I've never experienced that before. So I'll be downsizing belongings and seeking an inexpensive cat-friendly place to call home, either in the general seacoast area or Portland, Maine. I feel I am truly done with Portsmouth and will move out of my current apartment by November 1st.
Stay Malleable and Breathe The answers are not all within reach. We don't have it ALL figured out and that is why the best tool so far has been staying rooted in the present moment. We are all so prone to the media input these days and to other people's emotional processes. Society has created a framework for how to live and make money in the world but that is absolutely not the only way to live this life and infact that structure is slowly breaking down. Like Taryn, I am seeking something different than what society has offered and I've seen now, how we allow ourselves (myself a perfect example) to be so powerfully shaped by our thoughts and our belief systems. The path to something new, begins with us; with changing our own stale thoughts and beliefs and a willingness to recognize that just because a whole lot of people believe the same thing, doesn't make it true. We must dive inward, look within and begin to connect ourselves with the pulsating, living, changing force of life itself. When we do this we connect with our creative process and from there, well I believe anything can happen.
I will be growing and expanding my blog and website in the coming months and re-shaping this into a tool that I hope can be a vehicle for positive change in the world of healing, parenting, and living. For now, Taryn and I are each breathing and leaning in to this process and listening for where our paths will take each of us next. No matter what, the world needs more love so please, do something nice for someone today. Loving yew all. XO