Power Quote: “Recognizing challenge as the ever-present gift for growth.”
Personal Intention: My hope is that by reading my story, you will feel the connection to your centered core and the desire to come from that place of health within, while supporting your child’s place of wholeness and connection.
Ignite Story Title: The Cultivation of Life is The Practice
My best is good enough...
What I first realized about becoming a woman, is the deep capacity that women have to not only nurture human beings, but to cultivate the entirety of growth and understanding. Birthing life into creation was the moment in my life I recognized the truest capacity of women. The amount of energy given to nurturing a human being is remarkable. The focus of energy necessary to cultivate healthy life is immeasurable. Herein lies the first new balance as a mother. How much is enough? How much do I give to the other? How much do I take care of self? Will my child be okay?
Before giving birth, a wise woman explained to me that contractions during childbirth was the inside of the uterus, twisting itself, like a small wet towel you twist, to remove all remnants of liquid. The purpose of the wring out is to pump all the nutrients from the baby’s growing greenhouse, through the umbilical cord to the baby. Without this surge of life nutrients, the baby would be unable to make it through the birthing canal. From the moment the zygote arrives in the womb to the advent of a mini-human, the temporary baby-rental-space quadruples in its square footage.
By the time I moved to an organic farm, seven months pregnant, I was in search of the calmest, most ‘back-to-the-land kind of transition to mothering’ as possible. As I sat staring at the grassy hillside, I felt the direct Californian sunlight on my face. This was the first spring-day where no winter-chill was left in the air. My view from the bluff over the creek bed, was spectacular. There was a cow’s skull hanging on the fence. This same view had, some years earlier, showed me a mountain lion gracefully walking along the far creekside. It has shown me many full moons, starry nights of wonder, planets aligned with slivered moons, hawks and one Christmas morning, a momma cow crying over her dead calf. The land gave me the deep connection I was always looking for, just in time to have the most monumental experience of conceiving, growing and birthing my first and only child.
Contraction–Expansion; Inhale–Exhale; Life force–Pranic breath; Expand–Contract…
Once having a baby and embarking upon the journey as a parent, it was clear that every human was once so new, so vulnerable and needing to be cared for and loved. Becoming a mother humanized me in a way I could not have imagined; building compassion for all beings as an intricate part of the greater community.
Your best is good enough.
I grew up running to the beach as much as possible, escaping the Southern California suburban life. I remember yearning for the kinetic energy of the ocean, almost addicted to that recharge my system felt from nature’s fullness. The beginning of my fascination with the natural world, only magnified after child-birthing. How could existence be so deep? What is this thing geologists call ‘deep time’? How could we be caught up in the shallows? How is it all interconnected? The world of nature is wondrous, producing geometric patterns consistent throughout all of nature. I began seeing the interweaving of these natural implications in the growth of people, society and culture.
Fumbling through sleep deprivation and grieving the loss of familiar freedoms, I was playing constant catch-up on developmental stage changes. Learning how to raise my child embarked me on the journey of re-raising myself into wholeness, through the love and guidance of motherhood, with the best co-collaborator of my life, my son Benjamin.
He pees, I freak.
It wasn’t until my son was almost two years old that I realized the depth of the issues underlying my anger, trauma, upset, hurt, failure, immaturities and shame.
I had casually tried to place my son aboard the potty-train. Sick of diapers, ready for my son to enter underwear-land, I began to discuss peeing on the potty. I heard from friends with older boys, that starting them too early could backfire. A few days later, diapers were back on and I had moved past it for the time being. Benjamin, however, had felt my desire for independence, my hunger for past freedoms, my abnormally strong drive for success, my avoidance of failure, and my push….
This slight push literally lasted less than three days. A week and a half later, I threw up my hands in complete surrender to a rushed illusion of recapturing any ounce of independence. My previous self had vanished, and I wanted it to return desperately. Like most first-time moms, the surrender of childrearing was challenging, the result however, is the capacity to be beautifully present while providing mind, body and soul guidance to another living being, the greatest gift of all; Transition into Motherhood.
The expectation and forceful energy backfired, and its shrapnel penetrated my chakras. It was so dependent and yet so independent; such quick development and growth. Then more independence and dependence. My goal for both of us was, and still is, how do we find the homeostasis of interdependency, knowing we are forever changing? And knowing that my job, as a mom, is to understand my son’s developmental stage accurately so I can meet him there.
What I didn’t know then, is that with each changing stage, a different expansion and contraction begins in mothering. In order for me to meet my son where he was, whatever age he may be, I first had to clear the hurt, the pain, the shame and the fear of my own experience at those ages. Next, I needed to clear the lineage before me - those who had not healed their traumas before raising children.
At the time, I had no idea this was at the root of my upset. Loss of self, someone taking something from me, an imbalance between giving and an expectation of receiving. My son must have felt all the pressure I place on my own accomplishments and therefore, his peeing on the potty. A week of difficulty with night-sleeping, nap time rituals, eating and putting on shoes followed. The basics of our once functioning system were crumbling as my internal defense-systems of safety began to crash like a thick whiskey glass. A slight chip here and there before realizing I needed to, in full trust, drop it from the highest point I could reach on this earth, to its demise. It would take many more years to keep shattering that glass. It is still underway. I will keep you posted.
That day, the Groundhog Day of sucking-it-up, seven loads of laundry, struggling for gratitudes, dashing to be outside in nature, cooking, cleaning, was just another day. I finished the housework, preparation, laundry and all the fresh new bedding for my tempurpedic bed, my therapeutic topper mattress, my Restoration Hardware down-comforter. I love my bed. I also had just finished bathing my cutie-pie. The one who had been resisting me for days. I placed him naked on my bed. Through all my tidying up, I had forgotten to bring the after-bath diaper into my room. I said to him, “If you have to go potty, just scoot off the bed and go to the potty, I will be right back.” I grabbed the diaper like jumping-jack-flash and when I returned, he had peed on my bed- through all my hard work and comfort. I got the most cross I had ever been with him. I banished him to his room and through gritted teeth explained that I was very angry.
The next day we fell apart, only to be put back together in a way I never could have imagined.
A brand new day, wiggle your toes. We woke with the sunrise, per farm-life usual. Dad went to work and the resistance against eating was stronger than ever. I was lucky enough to have a dear friend living close by on a ranch. I drove with my son, past California rolling hills and total beauty, to her house and resigned as mother for the day. I handed the job over to her and sat in all my emotions. Emotions too big to understand. Feeling so rich and full, I thought I may explode from the intersection of love and pain. The expanding and contracting I had felt through child-birthing felt like the physicality of the same expanding and contracting I was experiencing now, emotionally. Somehow, I know it was growing me, growing us, though it felt devastating. I watched, I breathed, I surrendered, my control fading. I witnessed my son be fine with no food. I allowed my resistance to our schedule to wash away. I had done my best and it was good enough. Not only could I not control outcomes, I didn’t need to control anything, and I decided to be okay with all of that. The spiritual practice of accepting what is.
With my invisible energetic acceptance, he returned to the natural rhythms of being. My son finally ate when he was so hungry, being super picky was now a thing of the past. My son finally fell asleep, when he was tired enough. The time and space continuum started to synchronize and recalibrate.
Once asleep, I picked him up and put him in my arms, reclaiming my motherhoodship. We returned to the farm. He slept on my bed for the remainder of his nap. I continued integrating the contraction and expansion of the experience, knowing that this process, coupled with surrender was the only way back to presence and center. It is always the breath that leads to moments of grace.
Birthing is a metaphor for life. There were many moments throughout this memorable day, where my breath returned me to me. In all honesty, it was the only thing I had left. Within this cross-section of duality, the practice is the oneness. I drifted off into my practice and landed on a thought plane as my son continued to sleep. My birthing experience was the flight that my mind decided to ride on. It was, clearly, our beginning. I used to talk to him while he was inside me, sharing with him that we are a team and our learning to work together will dictate our experience of life with one another. Birthing was our first go-round. We did good. Because of my practice, I knew deep down that this broken potty-training train was another experience for us to find our togetherness, our team strategy for life. For the duration of my mental flight, I explored regions of cultivating a healthy life from far east Buddhist practices, to western freedoms of individuality. How do you achieve these states of being with the ever-flowing contradiction of human and soul, other and self? I had finally answered for myself.
Love is always the answer. But how do we love when we are fearful? How do we love when we react from hurt? How do we not evoke trauma when we have been traumatized? How do we parent through our children’s resistance? How do we heal our own fear-triggered resistances? Being truly alive is the cultivation of life itself.
My meditative flight concluded as I noticed my son waking. We snuggled. He still is the coziest thing I ever did see. As the love-energy coursed through me, potent and visceral, I saw my suffering was not suffering at all. It was clear that my child’s resistance had poked into all of my dark, unknown places. I lay there with my son in the grace of release. As he woke from his rest, I don’t say anything. I show my love through my presence and my physical closeness. He turned and looked deep in my eyes. I ask him, “Are you upset with Mommy because I got mad at you yesterday?”
His “Yes!” – is the beginning of resolution...
I build on his one-word answer, “I am really sorry.”
He put his arm around me, “I’m sorry, too.” He took off his diaper, looked right at me, walked himself to the bathroom and went potty, never to put another diaper on again.
In that moment, in taking responsibility for myself, I realized this experience was the first time where I had to stand still and not run from the resistance of looking deep into my own unknown. In that surrender, in healing, we healed.
A different and deeper gratitude for my son and for the process, were seeds planted that day. Expanding and contracting together, we managed to refine this developmental healthy place of homeostasis. A place where he felt heard, seen and respected because his resistance demanded it and so did mine. A place where I felt honored and where he met my feelings. By accepting and allowing and feeling, I was guided into the freedom of Agape (principled) love, which healed and allowed the release of past pain and trauma. In turn, we rejoined the natural place of human existence. A space of what is, of all being, of peace and of health. This grew our mutual respect and understanding and deep gratitude for our love and its power to transform. I intuitively knew that by continuing to show up in this way, to meet my pain and trauma head on, that once closed void from within, could burst open at the seams. That connection reinforced and assured me that by surrendering, you create what you need.
What I realized is that I had to choose to go inside. The funny thing is, every time I show up for myself, family and community, the resistance diminishes. By surrendering to what is, the next contraction always appears until the life cycle of the trauma is complete. The choice of actually going there creates the expansion, the surrender, the awareness and the growth within, essentially the rebirthing of self. This parental love integrating with self-awareness is conscious parenting.
Birthing holds on to this accepting like a big hug, not wanting to let go, until all the life force and nutrients pump again through the umbilical cord to sustain and create another life. I believe the same is true for growing children and ourselves. There is not one without the other. This becomes the life-cycle journey...
Ignite Action Steps
My gift is a visualization for You to experience:
There was once a girl. She twirled in the sunlight and danced under the stars. She found herself so thankful for the sky and sun. This was the beginning of her presence, her peace with life. She thanked the stars for their appearance. Like musicians on a stage, the stars entertained her and inspired her. She found awe in the vastness of her surroundings. She knew when she was thankful, she was part of the whole, that her peace was the peace of the galaxies, of existence itself. That connection was her connection to self, to all.
She went walking through the stream, feeling the cold water on her feet and the unknowingness of the stream bed under her toes. She had a moment of fear, uncertainty about the unknown. She trusted. She let go of the “un.” Certain, she felt known. She grew. She moved past a thought. A thought can take us on one path or another. Her gratitude for the Earth and her awe of the ethers, allowed her to let her fearful thought float away down the river like a fallen twig from a tree. In this, she was alive.
The girl came to a cliff edge overlooking the valley. A sunflower that had already lived through its prime had scattered its seeds around the fallen stem. She was tired from her day and the hot sun. By taking the time and planting the seeds she was the cultivator. In this she realized her own strength in showing up to participate. She swirled and twirled and ran about, ecstatic about growing her surroundings, until she was out of breath. It took some time, but she found her breath again. In breathing, she felt her lungs fill, air moved through her and calmed her body.
Again and again she stayed focused on her breath, until she wasn't thinking of stars or sunlight, flowers or the growth to come, the space or the view. She was just breathing, not even realizing that without this breath she would have no existence at all. And so, she continued to breathe. In this, she found total freedom.
In that gratitude, she cultivated herself. In that trust, she freed herself. In letting go of fearful thinking, she awoke herself. In that aliveness, she found herself.
Your Full Name: Kara Ann Block
Business Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Professional Title(s): Lead Creative & Process Designer Dakine Creatives, Co-Founder Land of Dreams.
Social Media Handle: @kblockednloaded