Friday, March 30, 2007

more spring details

spring details

Day 120

In the Yogic tradition, 120 days after conception the soul of the child settles in the body. Before this day, the new soul is present, but it hovers around the mother and the child, sort of like an impatient house-owner checking on the progress of the construction of its house. Yogis celebrate the 120th day by offering spiritual gifts to the new soul, things to help it on its journey through life.

When I first read about this, it resonated so much that I decided to do something similar. So this past Wednesday, Marc and I both took the day off and we spent it meditating together, in the forest, among the daffodils. The way in which we were able to make contact with each other overwhelmed us both. We had not ever felt this close, this bonded, this free, this happy to just be in the presence of the other. All day we meditated in silence and out loud, letting our gifts for our baby come to life between us.

We came home and prepared the house, with some flowers and some food; and then you came, and raised what had been a wonderful day into perfection. I have no words for how loved we felt, how blessed with your friendship; the gifts you brought, the love and care and energy that had gone into them was so much we could not have handled it on any other occasion. But our hearts had been opening all day long, and we just drank it in, and are still drinking from it, and will continue to do so for as long as there is. Our common gift to the baby.

Photography courtesy of Marc

Thursday, March 22, 2007

in memoriam

Tanya Reinhart died suddenly last week. If you are interested, you can read more about her political activism and her linguistics here and here. I just want to take a moment, to stand still and remind myself of what Tanya meant to me.

We first met almost exactly 10 years ago, in the summer of 1997, when I was in the process writing my MA thesis and she had kindly agreed to be one of the supervisors. I used to visit her in her Amsterdam appartment, on the Singel, and we argued back and forth about some of the finer points of my thesis. After I had begun my PhD, I took one of her classes, together with Ineke, and we used to occasionally have lunch with her in a little coffeehouse on an Utrecht canal. In 2003, we met again when she accepted to be on the committee for my defense. She came to my graduation party and we spoke for a while, agreeing to meet as soon as I had given birth (I defended my PhD with a belly sticking out all the way to the Vatican :)). That didn't materialize, as I was sucked into baby world, and then detached myself from linguistics altogether. Although we exchanged a couple of e-mails over the last few years, I never saw her again.

Every time we met, she made me feel warm and welcome. She made me feel seen, heard and recognized. She also made me feel, always, that I could do better still.

She was one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I have been figuring out these past few days what it is exactly that I find so inspiring about her. It is the fact that she managed to balance the brain and the heart, to apply her razor-sharp mind to that which her heart knew was true. The fact that she exuded warmth and lack of compromise, all in the same breath. The fact that she had found and was walking with confidence what always seemed to me to be such an elusive hair-fine line. The fact that living as she did from the heart, she retained innocence and infinite joy while dealing daily with the horrors we inflict on one another. The fact of her amazing power of focus.

Tanya is no longer here. I cannot e-mail her, I cannot meet with her. But I know what her legacy to me is. I know that she showed me the way to that thin line which, once you walk it, turns into a wide tree-shaded alley. The path of heart and mind. The path of warmth and steadfastness. The path of truth and kindness. The path of no compromise.

Thank you, Tanya.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007




(I can't get enough of these flowers, have you noticed? And I don't even know what they're called. In French it's 'renoncules'. In English? The colours are amazing.)

(I am also seriously running out of exclamative adjectives, the only ones I ever use are 'amazing', 'incredible' and 'mind-blowing', so if anyone has a suggestion, please to send it in.)

In Jungian psychoanalysis, fairytales are supposed to represent the deep processes of the human psyche. I am a big fan of Clarissa Pinkola Estès, and Women who run with the Wolves is the book I have probably read most often (well, apart from the Forsyte Saga of course). I recently bought a set of her CDs, which are pretty good too (this is typically the kind of spot where the new adjective would fit in nicely), and on one of them she talks about how important it is to remember the fairytale that marked your childhood most, the one that fascinated you, the one you liked best or the one you found most frightening, the one that seemed somehow to stick. Once you remember it, the idea is to try and make a Jungian analysis of how closely that fairytale matches your psychic journey from childhood to adulthood. Apparently most people either choose pretty bad stories and live them full out, or they choose pretty good stories, but for some reason get stuck in the bad parts and can't seem to move on. The idea is that by recapturing the story and its significance in your life, you can either change the ending or live the story all the way to its happy end.

So much for the theory. Off I went in search of 'my' fairytale. It took me just under 10 seconds to find it. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by Andersen's Little Mermaid. As a child I remember having it read to me and then reading it again and again and again. As a teenager, I wrote poems (yes, I know, no comment...) which integrated the imagery and themes of that tale. As an adult I have been ranting about the rape of the story by Walt Disney, while simultaneously telling everyone I know NOT to read it to their children.

Looking at it from the Jungian perspective, however, just knocked me out of my socks. Here is the story of a powerful female figure, in touch with her strength and living in her element, who chooses to sell out all her power (her tail and her voice) in order to fulfill the expectations (or rather the imagined expectations) of the person whose love she craves. In order to gain this person's love, she believes she must become a 'real' woman, which means relinquishing everything that makes her what she is, a mermaid. Not only that, but she chooses to endure horendous pain in the process. And what does she get for all this, I ask you? Zilch. She never gets the love she wanted. Instead, she dies.

Now this, up to a point, is the story of my life. Of my childhood in any case. Of my teenage years. Of most of my young adulthood. Of all of my life in fact barring the last few years. The most amazing thing for me is the fact that what the little mermaid sells to the witch is her tail and her tongue. I have been doing Bio-energetics therapy for the last three years (there, all my secrets revealed) and from the beginning the recurring theme in my therapy has been my legs and my voice. The way the loss of psychic power has expressed itself in my body for most of my life has been through my inability to feel my feet, to feel my legs, to carry myself, as well as through the sheer impossibility of using my voice. I cannot open my mouth and scream, because nothing ever comes out. Now seriously, is that mind-blowing or what? (This is another good spot for the new adjective).

Now I just had to do some serious rewriting. I think the little mermaid is perfect the way she is. I think the prince fell in love with her on that beach, when she sang so beautifully to him. He fell in love with her voice, and he fell in love with her strength, the strength of that tail of hers which allowed her to swim him to shore and save his life. He fell in love with her sheer mermaidness.

And if he didn't he's a big loser who deserves the boring wife he got and on whom not another drop of ink shall be spilled. Anyway, it's the mermaid who is the heroine of this particular tail/tale, the mermaid in her full magical glory. In the water. Right where she belongs (did I mention my love/hate relationship with water?).

And who says she was little anyway? She's as wide as the sea. As deep as the ocean. And her voice touches you right there, at the hair-thin crack in your heart.


Technically speaking, i didn't really need to buy these. There are exactly 18 large garbage bags of baby clothes waiting in our walk-in closet. The child 'on its way' will not have to go naked. And yet, on another level, I really did need to buy them, because it is a new life and a new life deserves its own new shell. They are pure silk, and so tiny you wouldn't believe it. So pretty. So soft. So innocent. And marked down to half the price.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Happy 8 March!

To all the women I love, and all the women they love, and all the women they love, ...

"White-Shell-Woman, she moves ...
Before her all is beautiful,
she moves,
Behind her all is beautiful,
she moves."
- Navajo Song

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The imagination of a three year old knows no bounds

... and requires much explanation. The hairband on her head is not in fact a hairband when worn at this angle. It is a crown. For the hairband to be a hairband, it must be worn in a more traditional style, just above the ears. The blue thing on her right hand is the mouse's dungarees, doubling as a special type of bandage for fixing fingers that have fallen off (the trouser legs fit one's fingers perfectly, and the blue colour works to stop the bleeding). The box of Tic Tacs in front of her is in fact her baby's medicine, in the form of a collapsible lolly. The mint tea can only be sipped through a straw from a Moroccan mint tea glass. And that thing on her face (I don't even know what it's called) is not as you might in your innocence believe used to prevent oil spattering out of frying pans; it is a fishing net for catching multi-coloured fish in the Corridor Ocean.

I rest my case.

Oh, she has also redecorated the oven with elastic hairbands.

On feeling better

Reading my ‘not’-ness post, I find it simply unbelievable that I could come from that place to where I am now in just a few short weeks. That dark grey place seems so unreal. And yet I know I really was there because there is an echo of it in my body, because the undiluted joy and power I feel now are a function of how deep into myself I was able to reach in those difficult days.

I feel a need to record for myself how I have moved from there to here. Partially, it’s the yoga. I made a commitment to myself to do yoga every day for 40 days, no matter what. If I miss one day, I start again at the beginning. We are now on day 19 and what started as a 15 minute work-out in-between loading the dishwasher and browsing internet has now turned into a full one-hour (on workdays) to two-hour (weekends) dawn session. I actually get up at 6 am every day so that I can do yoga before the day begins. It is an unbelievable experience, an incredible gift to myself, this serious commitment, this focus on what I know is good for me.

Partially, it’s having put it down in writing here. Openly acknowledging fear is the only way to make it melt. Things that live in the dark don’t like the light. So thank you again for your help in voicing it all.

Partially, it is simply reaching the second trimester. Yesterday, I found this quote in my beautiful new book:

“The fist hundred and twenty days are given to us as a time to strenghthen the foundations of our lives, in order for us to be prepared for the seismic shift which comes with having a child... each birth gives you a new opportunity to penetrate your understanding even more deeply and grow in your love and wisdom.”

Wish I could have read this two months ago. It would have helped a lot. Not with getting out of it sooner, but with accepting it more.

Whatever it was, it made now possible. I have never felt stronger, I have never felt more centred, more focused, more sure of my power to conquer whatever comes my way. I have never been happier. I have never been less afraid. I have never been so free. I have never been so ready to welcome a child into my life. I have never felt so blissful. Or so blessed.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Another thrifting miracle

Thick silk cotton mix, beautiful beautiful beautiful... 1 euro for 2 yards!!!!!! And, of course, not to forget, a beaded reggae belt for my little gipsy queen...

Beautiful Use

I participated in the Beautiful Use Swap, and this week the most amazing goodies arrived from Reva. They are over at Flickr, but I couldn't resist showing off here too. First there was something for the doll-house, and the future inhabitants are already fighting over it, which one can hardly blame them for...

Then there was something for Isabelle. After only a brief spell of wondering how to wear it, she figured it all out and Alice Alice has never slept better.

Finally, the best part, there was something for me, including four of these beauties

and the most yummy chocolate bar ever, dark and Belgian, and with bits of real raspberry, and 10% of the proceeds going towards helping endangered species, so it's real clear conscience chocolate too...

Thank you Reva!