A Dedication to My Daughter, A New Mother

In the heart of every loving parent, there lives a secret wish. It is a deep wish that when the time comes for our children to meet their own rites of passage they will be able to do so successfully. For a parent this is bearing witness to a shedding of a skin that initiates their child into adulthood. For the adult child it is a firm step over a threshold to claim one's personal and natural power.

I had the privilege two weeks ago on Super Bowl Sunday, Feburary 1, 2015 to experience my daughter Irisa enter motherhood. She brought into this world with her partner Ryan, a healthy little baby girl who will be known as Sophia (the wise one). Witnessing her committed focus, grounded strength, impressive calmness and a confidence that defies her age but not her soul, I experienced Iris fully embody the characteristic qualities of true feminine wisdom and power in action. 

It is during moments when the thin veil of life and death are so closely encountered that our primal instincts are intensely heightened and reality comes into sharp focus. Nothing else is present except the NOW. Although birth is the most physical natural act a woman can ever experience, it is simultaneously, mind altering too. It demands her undivided attention so that every aspect of her feminine power is distilled. 

Her reproductive gate keeper ( the cervix) is required to thin itself away and respond expansively in proportion to the life that passes through. While a woman's body endures the challenge to stretch beyond what her imagination allows, emotionally, she becomes transparent with no place to hide; psychologically, her stability is on the line and she needs to find her own touchstone; spiritually, she may have psychic awakenings that give her channeled inspiration. Her need to surrender into the muscular contractions that manipulate her baby through the final descent of her birth canal, connects her to her feminine body like no other sensual, sexual act ever could. A birthing woman's body quakes while her internal tectonic plates shift and involuntary, rhythmic pattern of oceanic waves build upon one another. Her body made of clay, air, fire, water and spirit changes rapidly to meet emerging new life. If she is lucky, she will find some inner connection with each contraction that allows her to surf through sensations and come to her inner shoreline. There she may enter into the most unusual, fleeting moment of a deep state of rest. While it only lasts a minute, she is aware that she this hallow state of peace exist for her. Every story of labor is unique to each woman. For some, it may be short, for others it last hours or days.  When the mysterious cosmology of time finally arrives and the newborn moves close enough to the sphere of entry governed by space, gravity and time, the mother's urge to push is undeniable and non negotiable.

While every woman enters the natural childbirth process with the greatest hope for a successful outcome, it is the hand of fate that often determines what unfolds. Regardless of how a mother brings her child into this world the act in and of itself bonds them for life.  Anyone who is privileged to be present before a laboring woman is truly touched by the strength, fortitude, courage and passion a women possesses. I have been asked to accompany the birth of three women in my life, including my daughter. Each birth was powerful and completely different. In two of the three, the end result was life. In one situation, a dear friend labored her child out of her womb knowing that he was already stillborn. The initiation into motherhood is always full of struggle, risk, joy and fate.

While we know as women that there are no guarantees, we continue to believe in the procreative power of life. Every birthing mother is a feminine warrior. She surrenders her body to this final act of creation and whether she goes natural or has a caesarian is irrelevant. Her body unites with this relentless, primordial force of nature coursing through her. She becomes a co-creative goddess birthing creation itself. Her blessed body is forever anointed as a vessel of creation offering life. 

Iris had confidence in herself, in her body and in those she surrounded herself with for support. Her partner Ryan, her midwife, her nurse, her doula and me, her mother. Today, I pay tribute to my daughter Irisa who is blessed with a new family. I also pay tribute to all Mothers as they are warriors. They put their own lives on the front line to bring life into the world.  Mothers are madonnas. From the fountains of their breast they share the nectar of sacred nourishment for the welfare of their child. Mothers are wisdom carriers. They learn to listen to their bodies, cultivate instincts and intuitions that allow them to trust and respond to the sacred messages that are vital to their own and their child's wellbeing. Mothers are virgins. They lay naked and vulnerable before Spirit and Mother Nature while they offer their bodies as sacrificial birthing vessels. Mothers are sisters. They share an initiation that changes their lives forever.  Mothers are lovers. They are invited to practice for the rest of their lives the spiritual path of unconditional love. Mothers are daughters. They belong to us all.

 Thank You Irisa!



I know i am running on mother's love while thoughts, feelings and sentiments course through me well past midnight and I need to share them in print. I am still winding down from giving my daughter Iris a baby shower yesterday that became a thoughtful, collaborative, creative project over the last several weeks.

When Iris and I first spoke of her guest list it became evident that the whole concept behind this was to gather very special women who have held a particular place in the history of her "becoming" who she is. She has always been a child of the universe, with a village of wise women she has adopted along the way. As her mother, I vowed to guide her and not block her from being herself. I learned this through the transmission of my mother's wisdom to me.

Perhaps all good mothers/fathers/and wise adults come to this realization along the way. Learning to nurture, protect and support the natural developmental growth process of a child allows a child to become comfortable in one's own skin.  Years ago, I heard or read that  If a child can see one's own reflection through the clear eyes of the nurturing parent, then the child will grow to recognize and know his or her true self.  It is through the self becoming aware of the self  that keener senses are awakened . In time, these senses come into sharper focus. This is how one learns who and what to trust. 

Bringing all these wise women together yesterday to celebrate, bless and honor my daughter as she comes into motherhood reminded me of this truth.  People say she is glowing. I know she is. Her light comes from both within her as well as from those who were present. Each wise woman brought their own light and clarity as well. Some described the day as magical. I saw that each one present was a star that glowed. The women gathered into constellations with their light shining around her.

Imagine how the world would be, if you and everyone else accepted an invitation to be a clear reflection for another.

Imagine, how you would be, if you and everyone else were fertile with possibilities awaiting to be birthed and that what was required was your dedicated support, nurturance and attention and a constellation of support..

Imagine that you vowed to get out of our own way and let yourself manifest your destiny.

Imagine that everyone is particpating in the birthing and rebirthing of our human consciousness all the time, and perfecting the bearing and labor of love.

Imagine this is happening whether you imagine it or not. 



For months now, I have been wanting to sit down long enough to write and share the internal process that I experience when I challenge myself to tackle activities that require clearing out the old, discovering anew and reclaiming the value found in the abandoned or forgotten spaces. These spaces I speak of exist, both inside me and outside me, in my home and in my environments. There are the closets, the archival attic, and the weeded, tangled corners of my mind, as well as my outdoor property, that have spaces and places that need attention.

Although to most, I am considered a pretty organized person, not a pack rat, life never stands still while I sip my coffee and take five. I can hear the weeds growing in my garden, so what do I do, but turn up the music louder.  I am convinced that there are just some days, weeks, months and now years like that in our lives. While we have to accept that our motivations wax and wane like the moon cycles, karma never forgets. There is always that one day when we have to face our spaces, our places. Unless of course, you are like my mother who just left it all for her children to inherit. It still makes me wonder what kind of karmic debt she carries in her afterlife? I have the feeling though, she got one of those monopoly game cards that said "Go Free and Collect $200". 

Recently, while wrestling vines in the backyard that were strangling trees and flowering bushes, I discovered that I could weave those menacing flexible, pliable vines around my door way into a textural, sculptural arch. It was to my surprise and delight that 24hrs. later, a pair of morning dove selected this as a perfect nesting site; shortly after, my moon flowers and morning glories began their ascent too. I was reminded that transformation is a creative process that emerges out of the willingness to address the ugliest of situations. Being a therapist, I have been witness to many profound healings that began with difficult and painful histories. I was also reminded of the teachings of Dr. Carl Jung, an Austrian psychiatrist, analytic seeker of metaphor and the collective unconscious, who spoke to the essential birthrights and evolution of man's consciousness to carry the creative archetype of the Magician. It is this alchemist in us that knows how to  turn the unhealthy into health, the dark into light, fear into love and backyard messes into beauty. 

My latest task at hand, as a Magician, is the arduous process of clearing out a thirty year attic of family memories. I am reminded of who I was as a young woman, mother, spouse, student, entrepreneur, healer and therapist. I am also reminded of who I am not any longer as I attempt to squeeze into my old pair of leather, hip hugger, bell bottoms! The love letters, postcards and photos I discover force me to review the naivete, idealism, impulsiveness, willfulness, adventurous, romantic and visionary person I was. In these moments, as I stand in the sweltering heat of the attic before my personal heaven and hell while the sweat pours down my face, I become choked up.

I am feeling my life before me. A life that could not have been more passionately lived. A life that was bold with beliefs and convictions that carved out my destiny. A life that was blind to understanding my own parts in sabotaging happiness and acceptance. A life of unconditional love visible in the tattered remnants of hand made items, valentine cards and children's toys. A life that always asked questions and always sought answers. A life lived with doubt, pain and sadness. A life of laughter, playfulness and wonder. A life of dreams that came true in expected and unexpected ways. A life lived unafraid to know the truth.

The questions that I carry down with me as I descend from the steps of the attic, are full of their own cobwebs and the light of day will help bring clarity to answer them. Who am I now? What in me remains the same? How have I evolved or devolved? What within myself have I forgotten or stored away until now when I can better appreciate its value? What do I want or still need to reclaim from myself, if anything?  Doesn't it come as no surprise at all why we postpone facing the spaces, the places, that we call home?





Yesterday, my friend Nancy Bellis was speaking about some pets that she has known that lived far beyond their years. They defied statistics and her only resolute was that they knew how to "live on love". This comment got me thinking again about the power of love as the unmeasurable variable that can heal and nurture creatures and humans alike to live well beyond expectation. This L factor coupled with a strong will, which we humans possess, can create astonishing results. 

I have a dear friend and Gestalt mentor Mariah Fenton Gladis, who has outlived a deadly prognosis of ALS by more than thirty years. She learned how to arrest the rapid progression of this automimmune disease with her invincible, wise spirit that drew on the best of her own internal resources, natural medicine, some allopathic treatment and a constant tap on love from all the right places.  Her will to live came from her determination to give birth to a family of two sons and be around to guide and love them through their adults lives. In her book, Tales of a Wounded Healer, Mariah speaks of battling her own demons as well as helping others to do so. In her professional role as a therapist, teacher and survivor her message is clear.  The power of love which includes self love, is the force that can help us thrive beyond survive.

I recall how my father Daniel Gayda survived a massive heart attack that left him with only 22% of a functioning heart when he was only 58 years old. His doctors gave him 1% chance of survival. In his weakest hour, he found the courage, will and love to beat all odds .He later shared with me that Love was his single focus and his will to live followed.  He was aware that I was about to give birth to my daughter and his untimely death would have crushed my spirit. He knew he could not overshadow her birth with his death. What power love has when coupled with will, to defy death! My father's desire to live on love granted him another 11&1/2 happy and passionate years.

There is no secret that surrounding yourself in an environment of nurturing and loving people provides a sustenance that is restorative. It is when these ideal situations may not be present that one really needs to be an advocate for oneself and seek higher ground.  A friend of mine dealing with cancer decided to tell her husband that he had to leave their marriage because the levels of tension that continued to exist between them became a serious distraction for her in her own healing process. In her most vulnerable condition, she demonstrated great courage to listen to her truth and choose what was best for herself.

Living on love is dependent upon being open and receptive to listening deeply to your needs and responding wholeheartedly to yourself.  It is not to be confused with narcissim. Only through demonstrating self love can one also be truly present and loving to another.  It takes a great deal of practice to be vulnerable to love, especially if one's heart, which is a physical muscle, and a physio-emotional organ, has not been sufficiently exercised over the years. Rejection, loss, pain and hurt are real injuries that require special healing. Finding a heart based therapist can be your equivalent to a personal trainer. 

Next time your dog rolls over and wants a belly rub or your cat nestles in your lap, realize that you may be extending their life, one stroke at a time.  Next time you need a hug, your hand held or a shoulder of comfort and strength to cry on, find someone who can give you what you need. Next time your inner voice asks you to respond to a need that only you are capable of giving, do so willingly. Thank those in your life for the love they give you and thank yourself for receiving it. Thank yourself for the love you share with others and give to yourself. Keep love alive by breathing it in and out. Love breathes our life, moves our spirit and our will follows. Allow yourself to live on love. You may just find that you have extended your life or some one elses, for many more sweet days to come.



What's Behind A New Year Resolution?

For many years,  when I considered making New Year resolutions they were usually framed around the urgency of immediate realities that glared at me in the mirror, groaned when I opened my checkbook or shrieked when I stood on my scale. The only solution I had to offer myself back then that could offset the internal pressure I felt was to go on the offensive. I learned to dive into my fears, be proactive, embrace challenges before they could surround me. In other words, I became purposeful, self accomplished, an enthousiastic control freak, very disciplined and someone who used her will forces to avoid becoming trapped in anything. This time served me well as it did others; but, it was not meant to become a way of life.

Only later, did I realize that I was living my life with an unnecessary "hard will".  Although, I was trust worthy that I could get "the job done", I wasn't having a lot of fun while doing so.  I had plenty of purpose, heart and soul but my spirit searched for levity. In time, it became apparent that life did not want more from me, but for me.  I willingly changed.

When i think now about the willful power behind individual New Year resolutions, I am in awe of the potential at hand. I applaud and support everyone who gives their word to a new resolute and puts their passion behind it. I believe that the more our free will forces are engaged in a harmonious way that benefits the greater good of self and other, the more cooperative forces appears on the scene. Ultimately, if you start the ball rolling it will gain momentum and come full circle!

I find myself in this New Year standing in gratitude on a much softer ground. I have learned to allow my footprints to yield into the Earth Mother that breathes me. I relax my body into her receptive state, bring in her feminine energies and accept that I only need to meet life half way. I have shape shifted out of the hard minded, hard bodied self and am living more fully in the balance between the feminine and masculine within. I bring my feminine warrior with me but she bears no arms. She brings only the wisdom of her age and those who come before her.  I have become softer now but not weaker. I know how and when to play between my and others soft and hard will. I am content to meet others also standing on the same middle ground. A sacred ground that can support all of our resolved and unresolved intentions.  In time, I have realized that all New Year resolutions are a conscious invitation to participate in the ever evolving game called self mastery. 

I wish you a Blessed New Year !