March 29, 2011


I will start this entry as I have many others by saying I had no idea when I started this project where it would lead. I am beginning to lose track of when it was “this project” began or even what I mean when I say “this project”.

It is not possible to condense what I have experienced since that surf contest in January into one entry. Geographically I have been in over 10 states and 3 countries since then. I have travelled with my family, alone and with other travellers. I have travelled by plane, collectivo, bus, taxi, foot and in the back of a pick up. I have met so many people that my eyes fill with tears and my mind spins to imagine all the beings filled with so much light that I have touched and been touched by. It has been one heck of a wild holy ride!

I can not explain in any linear fashion the events of the days since the 11th of January 2011, but I can give you some highlights.

The first that comes to mind is meeting an elder who I accepted into my heart. I made this known to him by making a tobacco offering. I have been on a spiritual path my whole life. I was quiet about it in my youth when I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t explain it to myself much less to others. As time went on though it became my way and I began to live it out loud in my every day. I called it my “solo path” before I knew that such a term existed in new age circles. I dedicated myself and trusted. Yet there were many times I longed to not be so alone. I found many to walk with for a time, some are still here nearly 18 years later but this was not enough. I wanted an elder, a guru, a person to follow and rest. On January 23rd I found him, his name is Oso Blanco.

I had written in my personal journal some months earlier that I longed to sit at the feet of my elders. What I didn’t know as I knelt before him, tobacco bowl out stretched, streams of tears spilling down my face asking him to be my elder, was that my sitting would be done from sun down to sun up on the day of his death.

Oso blanco died 3 days after we met. He died after giving me the gift of a rattle, the one I had used in his inipi. His inipi was where we sat in sweat lodge the night before he died. I sat next to him at his request because he “needed my help“. I didn’t know what this meant but knew that when the time came I would know what to do.... and I did.

That night in the inipi I held him as he shook and cried, as he begged the grandfathers to give him the strength to make it through this difficult sweat lodge. I simply petted him, like he were an old bear. He murmured “thank you” over and over again. It was one of the most intimate moments of my life.

I left the sweat lodge that evening knowing something grand was about to happen and pushing away what I suspected was coming. The next morning as we drank coffee before breakfast, just as we had every day since we met, he explained why he was giving me the rattle and why I had been entrusted with it in the inipi the night before. He explained what he saw in me, how strong my energy was, and what it was I needed to do. I felt seen in a way I never have before. He was adamant this morning that he and I go into ceremony together. He told me continually, “It will be hard on you, but it is going to be harder on me”. I trusted him and was quite frankly desperate to complete this ceremony which would break a bond which I believed at the time I could not sever on my own. He and I then went into ceremony together only it started as he began to die. I did the ceremony on my own as he transitioned into the ether. At first I pleaded with God, looked into the sky and cried “I don’t know what to do?!”. I heard a steady internal voice say. “Yes you do, you have been doing this your whole life... just go into ceremony as you always have, following what is.” ... and so I did.

Later that evening I sat at his funeral which was to last 4 nights. I was guarding the north door of the inipi which meant sitting on the ground in the cold night with his feet pressed up against my kidneys. His body had died less than 12 hours earlier, I could feel his life force still pulsing.

This was the first of 4 nights of honouring my elder, my guru, the first and only in 37 years, my whole life. He came to tell me that I am doing wonderfully all on my own. He taught me that while I AM walking a solo path, that I was doing it alongside many beautiful beings with the same commitment. He taught me about being together alone. He taught me to love myself, to trust myself, to believe in myself, to understand that there is no self, that we are all one.

There were three things I not only heard Oso Blanco say but SAW him LIVE that made me decided to choose him.

First he explained to someone as I listened that the love between a man and a womyn when both fully honour the other is the most powerful force in the world, that when we come together in love it has the power to heal the world. That those of us who know this are here to teach others who are still working to understand.

Secondly he taught that learning from ones “youngers” is as important as learning from ones “elders”. That womyn and children are to be respected in action not just words. Of course, so are the men, but that we are still dealing with a repression on Goddess nature so in this way the power imbalance is still playing out.

Third, like a true Grandfather he assured me that I am on my path, that I am doing an excellent job and that I should continue to follow it exactly as I have been. He reminded me of my own glory, that I needed nothing more than what I already had.

I left the mountains of Nayrarit after 3 days of knowing Oso blanco in life and 4 days of knowing him in death. 7 days.

The event where I met him is named 7:7:7:7. I found it on facebook through my friend Steve. I chose to attend because I had a miscarriage which lasted 7 sevens, 49 days. I follow this simple numerical symbol, trusting its importance, to a gathering in Mexico. I trusted that I was being led. This is the magic that brought me to spend 7 days with my elder, Oso Blanco... or you might just want to call him Steve, which is how I was introduced to this man who changed my life forever by reassuring me I needed no changing, that I am evolving perfectly.

Since then my many journeys have blended one into one another.

I swam at the birth place of a magical azul river , a place so sacred I believed it was heaven. On the way back to my hostel I saw a garbage pile as high as a 5 story building. It was beautiful and horrific. A swarm of birds, hundreds thick, dove en masse into this plastic sea, picking up treasures while filling the air with elated screeches. I learned that Mexico is everything it isn’t and isn’t everything it is. Mexico is a magical land of contradictions.

I travelled with a man who was patient with my devotion to seriousness and talented enough at playing that he managed to crack me open. I found FUN Bernice again!

I climbed to the top of ruins which I do not understand with my mind but could feel in my body. Their long holy lineage of both light and dark are something I know in my soul.

I travelled home to my own beloved town of Nelson with the eyes of a traveller. I stayed only 5 days and visited with many loved ones, missing many many more. In Nelson I found a place of healing. While this is not new information I was able to see through layers of the veil to better understand what “healing” actually means.

I learned from a master in a form of dance which I sometimes have to convince myself I have the ability to lead. I sat and listened to him with a beguiling mixture of emotions, respectful of his mystical waysf and frustrated at his human nature.

I slept under a full moon on the side of a mountain during the Equinox. I performed ritual under the stars. My partner used a caracol to honour the sun as it rose at day break into the same position the moon had been just hours before. I honoured the divine union of man and womyn.

I fed my eldest iguana (by accident) and pulled a scorpion off my baby’s back.

I have ridden on buses with men who take up too much room and womyn who take up too little.

I shared meals with men who shine with a new knowing and womyn who are fighting for waves in an ocean they don’t believe is their own.

I have snuggled kids who are vomiting and talked for hours with a husband who I am just getting to know... again.

I am becoming more comfortable with not always feeling comfortable.

I let go of any semblance of a physical home so I could find mine smack dab in the center of my own beautiful being... en mi corazon.

I learned that I trust Eros.

Hasta Seimpre!

January 11, 2011


I woke up early this morning in a funk. I knew that I didn’t want it to continue so I got out of bed with a plan to slip away for some alone time. About 5 minutes later, after some sound negotiating, I left the room with Lily and Rosy in tow... already things were not going according to plan.

We worked out that I would give them money and they would buy themselves breakfast while I wrote in my journal. I made it clear that I needed space and alone time.

While I was ordering their breakfast they played on the beach with some town dogs. Wait... this wasn’t the plan!

I like dog culture here in Mexico, perhaps because by their standards we are very responsible dog owners. Here if you own a dog you collar it and let it roam, I believe it take a village to raise a dog (any of you who have seen Dotty or Dixie wandering town KNOW what I am talking about!) My kids being very used to this mentality of dog ownership did their part, while waiting for their fruit platter, to protect a tiny mangy poodle from a much larger male dog who had taken a liking to her.

When breakfast came I went to find the girls... ya, the plan had basically disintegrated but I was getting some alone time so I didn’t sweat it. I am getting used to plans changing, they seem to change hourly lately.

Breakfast lasted about 2 hours, I doodled, talked with our very cute waiter in my ever increasing vocabulary of Spanglish. During the meal I watched the town wake up. We have arrived at a very exciting time. Just as the winter holiday tourists are leaving, town is filling with pro surfers and spectator. We had no idea upon arrival that we were to be smack dab in the middle of a pro surf event.

And just as we were about to leave Sayulita we were asked if we would volunteer at the event.

Since we are travelling to experience the unexpected opportunities which the Universe places in our way we said... hmmm....HECK YA!! To hang out with pro surfers, get a look behind the scenes at a real live surf event, how cool is that? We are still leaving Sayulita though. The Event is held in the neighbouring artist community of San Francisco, known locally as San Pancho.

While I am excited about this change in plans I have mixed feeling about not getting on the road. I am eager to move towards Chiapas. I love the beach and surfing but there is something deeper that pulls. I am hungry to go feel the ruins, to meet the Mayan people in the land where their culture still permeates.

There is also an even stronger pull to leave Nayarit. I want to distance myself from the temptation of attending the 7:7:7:7 gathering, an event I planned to attend way back in November.

It seemed perfect back then, this gathering based on principals and numbers that make so much sense to me. It was my one scheduled stop on the way to Chiapas. I still feel called to attend but there is a major obstacle to following this call, and for the first time in a long time I don’t know that I can share it here on the blog. This is a curious thing that I have noticed lately, that I feel reluctant to share fully here. It is the reason I haven’t posted in a while. I don’t like it.

As for whether I will be attending the gathering, I don’t have an answer yet. I am sure late registration won't be an issue. It isn’t happening for nearly 2 weeks so I don’t have to know yet. For now we have a surf competition to help make happen... I never would have imagined... isn’t it great how things don’t always go as planned?

January 7, 2011

The Dawning... Water and Fire

Friday the 7th... of course this entry would come at the culmination of the first 7 day cycle in a new Gregorian year.

It came to me today, I am here NOW to experience La Nina, this I KNOW. I came to Mexico while her feminine is running wild, and of course I came to experience it in the land of the sun, the land of fire. I am in town which is struggling to keep its main industry alive despite economic downturn and a recent drop in tourism due to fear of violent crime. As if this wasn’t enough they are being taunted by the unpredictable flow of ocean river and rain, bridges washed out, main streets ripped up, plumbing failing... Aya Curamba!

Since I have arrived the feminine and masculine aspects of nature have finally agreed to work things out, they are my teachers . The moon agreed to allow the suns light to leave her, to be cleansed, made new while full. She became whole, all things at once. The sun became a crescent, softening his edges, opened himself to understanding the moons often overlooked duty as the one who carries light at a time of darkness. Today I understand how these things fit together. Today I went into ceremony.

Today I finally tasted a Mexican delicacy which I have wanted to experience since I arrived. I found it in a womyn name Alicia... a Goddess as complete and lovely as the moon when she is full and new, and as a sun who embodies a moon to know her soul.

Thank you Alicia. Thank you for being one of my Angels.

“Who are your Angels?” is the questions for today’s journal.


And while water runs amuck here in Mexico, fire has laid his hand on my home town of Nelson, British Columbia. The Kerr, a beautiful old building that housed nearly 50 community members is now a charred stone shell. The night before it burned Chris and I were talking about how Nelson could really use a Plaza. Every Mexican town seems to have one, a natural gathering place in the middle of town where community organically happens. No need for a potluck or even a meeting time, just show up at the plaza to see who’s there. I imagined this plaza in Nelson would have to be close to Oso, which is already a natural gathering spot. I said to Chris that the lot where the Kerr was would be perfect. Imagine my shock when I logged on the next day to see the images of it in flames.

So many people lost their homes, I don’t even know yet if there were lives lost, I haven’t had good enough internet access to read about the grieving. I have heard via an email from my mother that the community is gathering to support the residents of the Kerr. A historic building with a strong shadow side which housed many community members who struggle to make ends meet. A friend of mine was suppose to be housesitting in the building that day, he was the first I thought of. I felt sick until I knew he was ok. It helped me to feel how much I love him, how big a hole would be left if he were to disappear from my life.

A phoenix always rises from the ashes. Cleansing can be painful and the loss of this monument like building will be felt for a long while in Nelson. My hope is that the phoenix in this situation will be a new plaza and open air city block, maybe with two of the walls left standing. I smile as I imagine it filled with benches and trees, a place for everyone. I am sending so much love home to you all, please take care of each other. Be each others Angels.

As for my Angel for today, sweet Alicia. I want you to know I have your mothers manuscript. You left it in your room. I have concocted many stories about why it got left behind. Maybe to cleanse, allow a phoenix to arise from the deaths you have experienced? Maybe it was an accident and I will get to bring it to you in L.A? I can visit my God daughter and you my newest God sister.

You are a bright beautiful light my love. Keep on balancing, in the water, on the snow, in your own heart. Balance is the key to beating 50/50 odds hun. No matter what happens you call if you need help, and I will come. <3

January 5, 2011

Balm for my Own Sweet Self

I received an email from a male friend today, asking for relationship advice. If you are reading my friend you can exhale now, I will not share any of your story... I promise.


Having just ended a deeply loving and troublesome relationship of my own the nature of the email made my heart swell. It was the kind of email that I could imagine being sent by my past lover to a wise womyn friend, one seeking another perspective and speaking his hearts newly discovered truth. I got a little caught up in my own story, and sadness. The rejected teenager in me whined, “Why can’t my love see this?!”. Once I got over myself I realized I had been given a gift.

One of the hardest parts of this break up was how I often did not feel heard or understood. I could not find a way to convey that I could no longer accept how he was loving me and still love myself. I tried to salvage thing, we both tried, but despite our fairy tale worthy love connection it ended. We are both deeply wounded by our loss.

Now I had an opportunity to write back this friend who was saying the words I longed to hear and respond from a womyn's perspective, from my perspective, my heart felt great release. Our situations are different in many ways but the nature of human relationship is remarkably similar no matter the details. We all really want the same things, love, support, understanding, kindness, tenderness, these are fairly universal. So I took the details out and spoke from my heart. I responded to a friend, while putting balm on my own sweet self.

I know this blog is now viewed by a different audience. I saw online that it has been picked up as a travel blog in a couple of places. This entry might be really confusing as 1) it is not about geographical travel and 2) you may be thinking “Doesn’t she have a husband who she is travelling with? Did they just break up or did she just announce to the world that she had an affair?!. The answers are not exactly and no not really.

Travel happens... period. We move forward in time and space always. So while this entry does not include anything specific about Mexico it was inspired by Mexico. And my trip to Mexico is part of moving on. There is some classic advice in the Love section Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat Pray Love about taking a trip to get over a lost love, I took it to heart.

To answer the second part, yes I have a husband, yes I am travelling with him and my children. No I did not have an affair. ”Affair“ insinuates that the relationship was hidden. It was not.

Chris and I have been in an open relationship for over 10 years, though in that time neither of us has had many relationships or experiences outside our marriage. It was a decision we made in order to not limit each others life experiences and potential for growth. I met Michael in July of 2009 and eventually he came to live with our family for a period of time.

During the original 12days2inspire project which was an exercise in truth and transparency, I wrote openly about the experience of living with both my lover and my husband. This blog has many many entries that challenge the status quo of relationships and marriage. I will continue to speak openly about who I am and how I live because it is just easier that way.

With what you now know (or already knew for my lovely faithful reader.. gosh I am grateful for you guys!!!) you may think I am far from an authority on relationships and you may be right. Or maybe it makes me an expert. Ask me on different days and I will give you different answers. My friend who sent me the email looking for support thought of me as someone in the know about how relationships work. I will take this as a sign that someone believes I know what I am doing... and given that my confidence is a little shaky at the moment I appreciate the vote of confidence. Thanks friend for the email today, I needed it, I hope you find some solace in my words <3

"How do you love?"

January 4, 2011

Movin Along

Turns out San Blas was NOT the perfect place to celebrate the new moon. We arrived just before dusk to find a community which has seen better days. The main street had been torn up possibly due to a flood which hit this area in September. All the places we found to park the camper were terribly overpriced. There is an entry for San Blas in our Lonely Planet travel guide, the place I was most excited to eat at seems to have vanished, the other have increased their prices dramatically. This town is not affordable, the beach is far away and not particularly safe for swimming. So we decided to leave. It wasn’t that we didn’t like it, the plaza was beautiful, the beach long and fairly uncrowded, but we only have 5 months left in Mexico and it makes no sense to stay anywhere we don’t love.

We found a place we love. Sayulita, Nayarit.


We left San Blas early and drove for less than 2 hours. It was a short beautiful drive which brought us to a bustling laided back town filled with locals, surfers, hippie, expats and a fair number of tourists. We are definitely here in high season but this town is small enough, and far enough from an airport that it has the perfect blend of exciting and chill.

Our whole family fell in love instantly. Well Ayla fell in “like”, which is all that can be expected of a teenager. We found a place to rent for a week. Actually Chris decided within minutes that we should stay a month but I reminded him that Chiapas and Guatemala are calling me and that there are MANY wonderful places with a delicious vibe here in Mexico.

Tomorrow the family is going to take our first surf lesson. We found a place with good WiFi so Ayla can catch up on her school work. There are Spanish lessons at a bookstore nearby, which is great because we all desperately need them. On the way here we nearly ran out of gas. Luckily I spied a place by the side of the road with huge bottle of gasoline, and Chris knew enough Spanish to determine if they had diesel as well. Two gentlemen siphoned 2 big jugs into the tank. We were down to fumes and prayers by the time we found these angels. If you know anything about diesel engines you can imagine how bad a situation running out of gas would have be. How does one arrange a tow to a diesel mechanic in a foreign language anyway? Yes learning Spanish is a darn good idea.

So my new moon ceremony this night will be in Sayulita. I am typing this entry while sitting next to Ayla. We are seated across the street from the local plaza. There are vendors, locals and not so locals roaming the streets. Live music is coming from a number of different restaurants and the food smells delicious so I am going to finish up and go eat.

The intentions for my ceremony tonight are becoming more clear. To find many beautiful places that I love along the way to the land of the Maya, to enjoy the journey while trusting the destination as my compass point towards truth. It is my intention to have fun along the way; to continue to trust my mending heart and KNOW that I will continue to find love.

“How easily do you change your mind?” is today’s question. I am glad I was able to change my mind about San Blas, although it wasn’t easy. There is something I left out. There was one thing about San Blas that I really wanted to stick around for. Someone I love very much is going to be there soon. I would have loved to see him again. I also know I need to follow where I am lead. Being led away from there was likely a sign that I am not meant to see him yet and as much as that hurts I need to trust my healing heart.

January 3, 2011

The Beginning of a New Ease


Tomorrow we are to witness another magical celestial event.

There will be a new moon, a partial solar eclipse, mercury is finally direct again with all other planets moving forward as well... what a relief! Enjoy this one because we have earned it! Did I mention there will be a meteor shower too? Amazing.

We in the western hemisphere will have to feel the eclipse rather than see it. Those in Europe, Central Asia and Africa though will be treated a beautiful crescent son. The sun mirroring the nature of the moon as she comes new, when she is at her most vulnerable. I take this as an omen, the beginning of a truce, a reconciliation between the feminine and masculine and a flowering of Divine love.

I am not sure yet what intentions I will set, but I will surely be informed by this beginning of a new age of co-operation between the sexes.

This will be my first New Moon ceremony below the Tropic of Cancer, where the cycles of the mother is more subtle. I am so connected to the rhythms of my home, how they mirror the rhythms of life. I only had to look outside my window to understand the significance of the many cosmic wheels which turn brining us this fabulous life. I miss my home.

AND... I am happy to be here in Mexico, learning. About what I am not sure yet. I just know that this is where I was led. I will understand it all soon. I know to head towards Chiapas, which is what we are doing. For now though we are going to kick back and enjoy San Blas, Nyrait. Which is where we are headed tomorrow.The perfect place to be this new moon, I know because everywhere I am in the perfect place for me to be.

Blessings to you all on this night.

“What intentions will you set this new moon?”

January 1, 2011

Day and Night, Noche y Día

It is New Years Day... in the wee hours. I can’t sleep.

I had a wonderful time with my family in Old Mazatlan. There were people dancing in the streets, the Plazuela Machado was filled with hundreds of Mexican families dressed in their finest to celebrate.


I was there most of the time. Some of it though I was off in the past remembering last New Years.

This day last year fell on a full and blue moon, a celestial celebration! That night Ayla and I danced while Michael drummed in the New Year of 2010... what a year it was! While the Eve was a delicious one to remember, New Years Day was an unexpected day of mourning. Anniversaries can sneak up.

I sat in the hot tub earlier today. I felt so alone despite being surrounded by hordes of people. I was the only English speaker, I am getting to experiencing how isolating this can be. It was more than that though. I felt just awful. Eventually I clawed my way through the gloominess and put into play some of what I learned in 2010. I closed my eyes and felt into what was going on inside. I didn’t try to push any of it away, rationalize it or explain it. I didn’t go into stories or judge myself for what I was feeling... I just let it float up to the top to make it conscious.

And once I did, wonder felt so horrible! I found serious self doubt. Fear of my life returning to a way it had been in the past, a way I was deeply frightened of repeating. I found a fear of losing control of my body, either gaining or losing weight again and not being able to stop it. I had deep tragic thoughts of not being enough. Again the idea of my breasts being not enough to make me a womyn. I found fear of not being loved the way I want to be and under it all I felt a deep fear of loss.... yes there was a deep fear that I had lost something dear to me.

I reminded myself that the moon was just coming new, a natural time of self doubt especially for womyn. I reminded myself that these feelings would pass, that the stories I had attached to them were there so I would pay attention, these feelings were acting out because they wanted understanding. I coached myself to keep perspective, not let my fear create a downward spiral, especially on this night when there was a huge fiesta planned. My moon is due in a few days, maybe I am just experiencing pre moon sadness? But where was I to put my focus and self love. There was something so deep that I could quite figure out...

And there is was, an anniversary that I had forgotten came to the surface. I lost a baby, one I didn’t even know I was pregnant with until it was all over. It happened on New Years Day 2010, it was the first of two lost last year.

The rhythms of life, the cycles that orchestrate all things from our smallest cells to the furthest planets, are always at play. We all have our place in these spirals and they can not be escaped. I imagined that maybe being this far away from the frozen ice and snow, I might have been able to trick my body into passing this anniversary over. But the body remembers, my body remembered. Eventually my mind finally did too, and though it is painful I am grateful. Knowing the root of my murky mood, making it conscious and then letting myself mourn the loss (again) allowed me to move through the grief with grace. Loss needs grief. It needs to be felt as grief and so it can become praise. All that is beautiful dies and to honour it with grief is to sing praises to God. This was taught to me by a friend last year. I had to learn it many times to really get it.

Knowing where this pain was coming from I could NOW rationalize, see clearly that I will not go back to a past I fear, the idea is actually absurd. I am enough and God knows this, only I ever doubt it. My body being controlled is what brought me the pain in the first place! I can let go of wanting to control this beautiful body of mine and let it flourish. I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.

By the time we were counting in 2011 I was happy, dancing in the streets with my girls. Though the loss was still with me, I will never get to dance with the baby who flew away January 1st 2010. I love all my babies, those who dance in the streets and those who dance in the ether.

2010 was certainly a fertile year for me. I am so very excited to see what 2011 will bring.

Feliz Año Nuevo Everyone!

“What did you learn last year that really sticks out?”

December 30, 2010

Senor Frogs, One Hopping Joint!

Well if yesterday was the shadow, tonight was the light!

I went with my whole family to Senor Frogs. Yes... touristy to the max!! And you know what? It was SUCH a good time. This is their business, if these guys can’t take a grumpy family and put smiles on their grouchy faces then no on can! It definitely worked for us. The only part that sucked about the evening was that we didn’t bring a camera so there is no photo to aid your trip with us to one of the most touristy joints in all of Mexico.


We walked in to this loud, obnoxious establishment and were greeted by a peppy hostess who delivered us to our waiter. His name was Aldos and he was dancing to “You Can Leave your Hat on” by Tom Jones while performing a Full Monty style mock strip tease. He then brought us name tags.

Ayla was “Brittany Spears”
Lily- “Lady Gaga”
Rosy- “Dennis the Menace” due to the fact that as soon as her drink came she accidentally(?) spit juice on Aldos.
My mother in law AKA Omi was “The One who Pays the Bill”
Chris- “The Man”
and I was “The Boss”

Given how tough last night was, with today not being much better,THIS was just the stress reliever we needed.

I use to “not drink”. This changed the minute I entered Mexico. I have taken to drinking tequila because well you know what they say about Rome! With fermented agave running through my system I made the rather unorthodox choice of ordering two platters of deep fried Mexican party food.While we waited a talented man made us balloon all hats. Yes that is right, each and everyone of us scarfed down battered shrimp, quesidillas, tacos and deep fried cheese while wearing elaborate and suggestive balloon hat.

There were employees whose only job was to pull practical jokes on customers. Rosy was constantly entertained and high as a kite on sugar and grease.

While we were waiting for dessert (wait... when does my family of conscious eaters EVER order dessert? Oh ya right, when mom is drinking tequila and ordering in partial sign language over blaring cheesy 80’s videos) a handsome young man arrived at our table to perform magic tricks. This kid was GOOD! I could detect the slightest slide of hand, and I was watching like a hawk! Daniel, our magician, was a gem. He had fallen in love with Ayla and addressed Chris as his “future father in law”. Ayla turned many shades of pink but was having a good deal of fun with the attention. Daniel’s father arrived half way through his performance, he motioned that he would be just a few minutes longer.

I have found it somewhat difficult to deal with the ways of Mexican culture since I arrived. Most Mexicans have a well practised poker face. In the beginning I misunderstood this as grumpiness. I have come to understand that all I need do is initiate, say “Hola”, smile and I am usually rewarded. To let Daniel's father know how much I appreciated him I put my hand to my heart and pointed at his son. He smiled wide and nodded with what I imagined to be pride. And he has reason to be be proud. Daniel is very good at what he does. Not just at being a magician, but at connecting with customers in an authentic way. He was brilliant with every last one of us.

This video is for you Daniel. I hope you find me here on the blog. When you gave the napkin with your email address to Ayla saying she should keep it because her parents might forget it due to tequila consumption, you were right! But we remembered the name of the the only electronica song that you like and will end this entry with it... email me here on the blog and I will send you Ayla’s contact... in 4 years time.

If you come to Mazatlan, put aside all culinary restrictions, all ideas of what constitutes bad music, prepare for over-stimulation, and treat yourself to the best touristy dinner in all of Mexico! They took very good care of us and by the end we left as a bonded happy family... thank you Senor Frogs!

“What do you enjoy that might surprise those who know you?”

December 29, 2010

I Bet Frida Would Understand

I am sitting outside the internet cafe of my hotel. I am hiding from passers-by that I am crying... again. I say again because I cry a lot. I have ideas about my prolific crying which are conflicting.

On one hand I love the fact that I cry. I allow my emotions to flow and take advantage of natures method of dumping chemicals produced during intense experience, this keeps me healthy. I feel much better after a good cry.

On the other hand when I am at my most vulnerable, tears dripping, snot bubbling, I judge that I let my emotions rule me.

Why am I crying this time? I am frustrated, angry and sad. I am noticing a pattern re-emerging in my family that I haven’t had to deal with for quite some time. This pattern had pretty much disappeared because I disappeared. I took a year off last year, or maybe it would be more accurate to say I worked part time. I had become so frustrated with how the dynamic saw me either dissolve into a puddle of tears and/or pounce with fangs dripping that I just opted out. I was still there in my home, raising my children and being a wife, but I found ways to always ‘have an out’ so that this dynamic couldn’t rule me.

Well now there is no way out, we are together all the time. We are usually doing things which require planning, organizing and follow through. My frustration comes not because as mother planning and organizing generally fall to me, but that once the organization and planning are in place it is often not respected. Not to mention that the follow through sucks! Worse yet there is rarely any acknowledgement of the effort put in. When I end up in either in tears or with bared claws I am met with looks of stunned silence which seem to say,“What is mom’s problem?!” What is most maddening is that the activities are organized around what everyone says they want! It is not as though I am draggin them along to do only the things I want to do... ARGH!

I can imagine at this point mothers everywhere are nodding their heads in sympathy and aggravation, my story is not a rare one.

I won’t bore you with the gritty details except to say that after trying to rationally and calmly explain a number of times that I was frustrated, I decided to catch a cab back to the hotel by myself.

I wanted to cry in the cab, but the drunk driver who kept asking me if I had a husband likely would have been thrown. Given his state I thought it prudent to not distract him. I would have got out to seek a sober driver but I was miles from my hotel and only had enough for his fare. I considered refusing to pay but that seemed more dangerous than staying the course. I prayed a lot instead.

When I arrived at the hotel I had a bath hoping to bring on tears of release, but I was still too angry. Just as they began to bubble up I heard my family laughing and running down the hallway. They tumbled over each other rushing into the room to get their swimsuits, they seemed to have forgotten about what happened and were now focused on soaking in the hot tub. They wouldn’t make eye contact and got away from me as quickly as they could which many a mother will tell you is par for the course when we get upset. Tell me, am I the only one who feel so hurt when this happens?

In order to restrain myself from tearing their heads off, I decided to go down to an internet cafe in town. I walked out of hotel and was met by an armed soldier so I reconsidered. It is not as scary as it sounds. I learned later there was a government official staying at our hotel, it is customary for the military to accompany him. It is meant to instil a sense of safety. Funny, a man in camo with a big gun doesn’t bring me a warm fuzzy feeling of safety, a cultural difference to be sure.

I then went into the internet cafe at the hotel, only to be told I can not use my own computer there. I swear the universe was working really hard to push me into a Kali moment!


I finally found a place to sit and use my computer. I was too shaken to write so I watched the following video by Chameli Ardagh called The Fierce Face of the Feminine. The tear finally began to flow.

She speaks of Kali becoming intoxicated with anger, how not even Shiva could stop her rage with force. It was only when he showed his belly, lay before her vulnerable and in complete love, accepted her anger as Divinity, that she stopped. It was the understanding of how she come to a place of rage from not feeling heard, when enough was enough and nothing else would stop the injustice, when he gave THIS his presence she was able to regain her own.

I would really like my anger, frustration, and sadness to be met with presence. Better yet I don’t want to get to the Kali place to conjure presence. I don’t want things to get ugly before I am listened to. When it happens this way as a dynamic, as an ongoing pattern we all have to suffer first. There is an easier way.

For now I will just go find somewhere with no family, no drunk taxi drivers, no armed guards, no internet lounge attendants and continue to let my tears flow... I will find presence within myself for right now and trust that it will come from my loved ones soon. I trust that we will find a way to face this dynamic so it can dissolve. That my Kali will rest more often, laying side by side with Shiva cuddling rather than going at his neck with a machete.

I came up with so many question for this entry, but settled on. “What helps you regain presence when you are angry?”

This post is dedicated to my friend Deirdre who cheered me up while I was writing this entry trying.

“I write about myself because when I am alone I hear the voice of God and because I am the subject I know best”
~ Bernice Raabis

(a rip off on the Frida Kahlo quote and my friend Deirdre’s facebook status)

"I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."
~ Frida Kahlo

December 26, 2010

After and After

I am still having a blog identity crisis, I am not sure what it’s purpose is.

I don’t feel called to continue the 12 day theme, but then I wonder if the title of the blog will be completely confusing? I don’t want to start a new one, you all know how to find me right here, and to be honest I have no interest in going through building a new blog or buying a new domain... BLAH!! I like to write, to share myself, I do not enjoy techie site building stuff. So until further notice I will just be posting here when I feel called to. The blog feels more like a travel blog than anything else, since this is my fodder most often. Still I can’t ignore that it is most often about me and my thoughts, it is still very personal.... We will talk about this more later, for now I have two things I want to share.

First the fun stuff. We went zip lining today! It was my first time. It was a present bought for our family by my mother in law. We are in a tourist area so when in Rome do as the touristy Romans do! I am not exactly sure what I expected of the tour but there always seems to be a heavy emphasis on getting us to into a gift shop to purchased overpriced souvenirs. I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case at Huan Coa Canopy Adventures. In fact other than tee-shirts there was nothing to buy! The staff were super friendly and really good at their job which is really important when guiding something as potentially dangerous as zip lining. Our main guide Jonathan was great with the kids and had a quirky dry sense of humour which meant people were serious about following the rules. We had a blast and it was great to get away from the diesel fumes and hustling of the Golden Zone. If you come to do the resort thing here in Mazatlan and want to take a tour, this is the one. You can walk Old Mazatlan on your own and while we haven’t been to Isla de las Piedras (Stone Island) yet I am told it is better done by yourself. Flying above the canopy like a Crested Caracara on the other hand is most definitely not something you should attempt without guidance!

Ok Second, and this is the part of the blog which is personal, it’s time to talk weight again. I am working on streamlining the facebook side of things. I want to be able to upload lots of pictures but not have to post them here on the blog out of respect for my poor friend Katherine (HI KATH!) who may still be on archaic internet. I plan to upload pics month by month to document our travels as an amendment to what is written here.


Last night I uploaded my first photo album of the trip and held my breath as I included a picture of me in my bathing suit. I know most womyn can relate to this. I have been body conscious my whole life, though now it has taken on a new flavour. I have never been a big person, even when I was at my biggest right after giving birth to my last two babies I was still fairly little with a lot of curves and softness. I didn’t see it this way then, I saw cellulite and folds of skin under my arms that I didn’t like. I use to say to Chris that I just didn’t feel like me.

Starting about 4 years ago I began to return to my pre-baby size. It was slow at first. Then last year when I had stopped trying to lose I shrank considerably. Eventually when my metabolism really sped up I had to work to keep weight on. I spent many a entry last year fretting, explaining, defending and pondering my weight loss.

I would like to tell you that the blog entry which brought the most traffic to my site was one where I waxed words, spread enlightening knowledge which challengd people, eventually changing their lives forever. The truth is it was the one with a shot of me in a bikini. I suspect this was because I used the words “before and after” in my tags (word which search engines search for), I will use them again and see if this one also gets hundreds of hits as well.

We live in a weight obsessed culture. I know I personally have spent more hours than I can even stomach thinking about my weight. What I never expected was the way I would be treated when I became as thin as I am today.

I still have issues with my body. Specifically it can be hard for me to feel womanly with breast as tiny as mine, especially immersed in Mexican culture where most womyn have these gorgeous curvy bodies, sexy hips and bodacious tattas! My mother in law asked me the other day if I have ever considered getting implants and suggested a surgeon. I had to leave the room to stop up my tears and avoid further painful conversation with her. Yes I KNOW I am “perfect just the way” I am, so please keep your medical referrals to yourself! Ugh

As I suspected the picture started off a flurry or comments which began with “Bernice, you look hungry” Again I cried. I replied, going into my spiel about how I eat butter and full fat yogurt, honey, and... and..... Chris gently reminded me, that I needn’t fall into the trap of explaining myself, that their comments were about themselves, their own weight issues, their projections. He encouraged me to save my energy, know what I know about me and send love to those whose path I have walked and understand well. And so with compassion for myself and others I offer this.

I am sorry. Sorry to any of you who I have judged because of your weight or body shape, no matter your size. I am sorry for the times I allowed my misunderstanding of the sacred nature of my own body to become a projection, one I made about you.

Tobias, that beautiful man who helped me create Ayla a little over 16 years ago, use to call himself a Fatist. He openly discriminated against overweight people and it use to really piss me off, partly because I judged myself as overweight. I now have been the target of discrimination based on my weight at the other end of the scale... and it hurts. I take this lesson to heart and thank all who have helped me to see that we all suffer from one form of self judgement or another. It presents itself in many forms. Under it all we want to be loved and excepted for our glorious beautiful selves and that love begins right here inside our own beautiful corazón.

I think I still want to do the question thing here on the blog... that part of the old project was really fun... so here is today's question. “What do you love about your own body?”

December 25, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

This is my second Christmas below the tropic of Cancer. Both times I had a white Christmas but it was white sand rather than snow. The first was 16 years ago. Ayla was tucked warm and snug inside my belly, I was completely oblivious to her existence at the time. I celebrated the holidays with her biological father Tobias. I remember being home sick. This time around I did not miss home in the least.

Chris’ father died on Christmas Eve 4 years ago. Since then the holidays have been a struggle. The sadness mixes with Yule time stress and leaves little room for celebration and good cheer. This year I believe we broke the spell. It was an amazing Christmas. Here are a few of the highlights.

This year we awoke to find presents under the Christmas Piniata!

“Rudolpo the Deer” as he was called in the Hotel Activity Program, was there with a lot of energy considering his late night.

Yes you are seeing this correctly... that is Santa Clause parasailing in... I wonder if his sleigh was in for repairs?

And when he arrived there were presents for all the kids... even the naughty ones!

And no Christmas dinner is complete without entertainment... yes that is Elvis you see in the background, can you see the dreamy look in my eyes? He even came into the crowd and gave me a scarf... I quiver just thinking about it :oP


It was a rather unorthodox Christmas and it was so perfect <3

This is just a smattering of the photos from our White Sand Christmas... If you want to see more pictures click here and it will take you to the 12 days 2 inspire facebook group, from there just click on "Photos".

"How do you move on after experiencing a loss in your life?"

December 20, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

Tonight the moon will be cleansed by darkness as the earth passes between her and the sun. She will slip away from the light so that she may be new while she is also full; she will walk on both sides, or float I suppose, lucky celestial body that she is. As we watch she will turn blood red. We will feel the magic as Monday (moon day) becomes Tuesday, as the 20th day becomes the 21st day. We will be exactly 2 years from the fabled day of December 21st 2012, the day predicted by the Mayan calendar to have significance beyond that which I can explain. It is Yule, or Solstice, a holy day for me and many others. Part of the reason for this half year trip to Mexico is to better understand the significance of December 21st 2012.


Last night I couldn’t sleep, my monthly ritual as the moon becomes full. I lay awake contemplating my animal totems. Rabbit, the one I have such a hard time accepting was right there next to snake, who scares me silly, this brings me back to rabbit. Rabbit medicine is fear, this medicine is strong in my life . While I can often appear fearless, those who know me well know how I live intimately with fear. Bravery is not the absence of fear but the willingness to act in the face of it.

This morning was my first time I attempted to walk out into the Mexican streets on my own. I admit to being affected by the collective fear that has been brewed via news reports of Mexican “civil war”. I was warned by many well meaning friends not to go out on my own, they feared who I might meet. As it turns out I met God in the face of a handsome elevator repairman. As I waited to board the elevator the doors parted and there he was. He politely directed me in broken English to use the stairs. I went the wrong way. I returned to the elevator confused and slightly frustrated by my inability to speak Spanish. This is when he invited me to ride on TOP of the elevator. I peered inside to see the old bricks of the elevator shaft, the mechanical workings on top of the box, and a handsome man inviting me for a ride. Seeing the dark cave and imagining entering into its darkness with a man I do not know and could barely communicate with made my rabbit fear jump, my heart began to thump wildly.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I was scared and didn’t know how to express this, which made it scarier! On the other hand I had been invited to experience something new by a beautiful man, this was was exciting, it made me blush a little. I have not been flirtatious for months, I liked felling this part of me stir again.

I have struggled since arriving with how to be a beautiful married womyn (who is in an open relationship) in this traditional Catholic culture. I can feel how my femininity attracts attention and Mexican men often do not hide their interest. This is a dance I can navigate when I am able to communicate verbally but without the language I am left with body language, eye contact and rudimentary hand signals. Not knowing how my eye contact and body language will be interpreted I feel a little like a peces out of agua.

There were so many reasons to say NO! , but I knew there was a lesson from rabbit in this. We are in a resort for the holidays, this was not some roving predator, he was there to fix the elevator. I made a decision, steadied my nerves and stepped inside the dark shaft. I looked him right in the eyes and said “I am scared”. I owned my feelings, took my rabbit medicine and saw my fear for what it was, a tool to protect me and a reminder to consider all factors. I also listened to my other instincts. All things considered I knew I was safe.

The doors closed as the man put one hand gently on my waist to steady me. My body came alive and I felt everything. I was acutely aware of where his fingers made contact with the tight bands of muscles which run down my abdomen, how his pinky brushed against the softness of my belly. I was begin supported by this large strong man and it felt divine. In the total darkness he whispered gently, “It’s chill” in a heavy Mexican accent. The elevator descended very slowly towards the ground. I was taking my trip down the rabbit hole.

When the doors opened on the first floor we were half a story up. The man let my waist go and jumped to the ground outside. I had such a strong urge to forget my feminine grace and jump like a child to the floor where I could scamper away. I remained composed, waiting for him to get into a position where he could lift me from under my arms safely to the ground.

I turned to the man who came to teach me trust and said “Gracias” with a smile which said so much more.

I am a self assured womyn filled with all manners of medicine, snake, owl, lynx, antelope, bear, fox and of course rabbit. Together this strong medicine has created a graceful womyn who can feel fear, honour its truth, and not let it rule. I walked out into the streets of Mazatlan alone and thanked God for this day which would bring me a blood red moon by its end. Tonight I will step over and walk on two sides, rabbit and snake, side by side.

“What animal totems do you relate to?”