Mother // Nature

I wonder what it feels like
to cozy up with my arm and 
entwine with my hands. 
How does my warm body
wrapped around the entirety of you feel?
What is it like to be comforted by the sight and the scent of me;
to watch me leave?

Tell me, does the ocean wonder how her waves feel to the shore? 

Tell me, what is it like to have all of my love?

Mother // Daughter

I am not responsible for every bad mood
Every freckle that appears
(Should have put on more sunscreen)
Every failure and every success.
I am responsible for me
For who I am and the choices I make. 
We are separate 
Me and her 
Different people with different childhoods. 
Though sometimes it’s hard to see the lines between us when
She came from me, through me.
She never walks, only skips.
While other children pop about like dandelions, she’s an orchid –
miraculously beautiful yet meticulous to care for.
I cry because of how hard it is to parent a highly sensitive child,
especially when you’re a highly sensitive parent. 
If only I can remember again why I am here;
to be the earth below the river of her life, 
guiding her to the ocean of herself.
To be the earth below the river of my life,
guiding me to the ocean of myself. 

Garden Whispers

I was always praised for being fast and efficient –
At work, at school, walking, even going pee
Go go go go 
Get married, have kids, buy a house –
Get it done.
Then I stepped into the garden and all I kept hearing was slow down.
This was very irritating.
I’m better when I’m fast
More worthy and certainly more valuable.
But then, 
The wheelbarrow tipped over and I accidentally pulled out a row of beets
I thought were weeds.
Slow down she whispered
Slow down 
Slow down
Slow down
.

More on Braving Joy

Nothing, other than grief, has taken me further from and also brought me closer to myself and the depth of human love than motherhood. I think that’s what they mean when they say, “Yeah, but it’s worth it!”. 

I am someone who relates to the world in a deep, larger-than-life way. My process is to feel and surround an experience from all sides; only then do I understand and move forward. I am learning to let that be, without the internal judgment that I feel too much or that I am too sensitive. I am learning to find beauty in the way I interact with the world around me, even when it’s inconvenient. 

I wrote a letter to each of my girls at 10:45pm the night before we left for a spontaneous trip to Big Sur.  I was an anxious, sad mess thinking of something bad happening to Ryan and I. Nothing makes me consider my mortality more than getting on an airplane with nothing but freedom and impending joy on the horizon.

I went there. I mean I really went there. How Coura and Mara would pretty much have no memories of me if I died. How all of this life we have lived together so far would only be an essence of who they are. No one to recall the exact intimate details, connection and love we shared. The tiny details like the way Mara’s hair curls after the bath, the shit grin on Coura’s face when she’s been up to no good or the brave, determined look when she’s trying something new. The way Maisley laughs and all of her gums show when Ryan uses his Forrest Gump voice. The way she cuddles in when we do special time at night and asks me to draw with her. 

**Of course, I know they would have stories and photos and videos, they would have my sisters who know them like their own kids, their loving grandparents and my amazing friends.**

I would hate for them to read my words or my blog and only see the hard parts of early motherhood. The truth is, they are the good parts.

The first day of a trip is always disorienting to me. My rigidity and fear don’t match the loose seams of wanderlust-ing. Once my body catches up, I recalibrate and can see myself where I am again. When I open my eyes, there I am, in a bright new world with so much to see and experience. 

I hope my girls visit Big Sur when they’re older and come to the Henry Memorial Library for a concert. I hope they remember when their mom and dad went there on a whim. I hope they feel us there, our memories, the magic. Our awe and wonder deep in the forest floor. I hope they call me and Ryan so we can reminisce on the way we cried at the opening ballad of Rising Appalachia, their serene voices traveling through the redwood trees. 

I hope they know this trip was magical because of them. Because I have them to come home to. Both the luxury of a beautiful, full, family and the richness of a diverse inner life of freedom. 

The adventurous part of me was in pure bliss, driving down the California coast, listening to live music, experiencing novelty at every turn. Meanwhile the more fearful part who craves comfort and safety played a little song and dance. When my parts get loud, when they conflict, or mix and match it makes me feel disoriented. Why can’t I just feel joy without fear tethered so close behind? Who do I believe? Which part is true? 

I guess what’s true is that I am neither part. I am something deeper than all of it. 

I am the one who witnesses it all, who disappears into the earth and comes up only to deliver branches of love, truth and wisdom. 

Heart Berry

“Did I ever tell you the story of how strawberries got their name?” my Dad would ask. 

My sisters and I would laugh and roll our eyes. Dad would throw us a friendly nudge. All of us knew that he had in fact told us that story. Too many times to count (though I was secretly happy to hear it over and over again). 

Today we picked blackberries and strawberries fresh from the vine at Stehly Organic Farms in Valley Center. I was sure to stop and tell the girls how strawberries got their name. 

“Back in the day, farmers placed hay instead of plastic at the base of strawberry plants to protect the berries from frost and mold,” I shared confidently. “That’s why they’re called strawberries.” 

They didn’t care much about my fun fact, mostly interested in who could find the juiciest ones.

Walking away with berry stained hands and the earth still under my nails, I thought of my dad (I always do). 

I thought of his family who owns Loftus Farms in Indiana. I thought of us as kids planting a garden in the backyard that never seemed to grow. I thought about pulling weeds and doing chores on Sundays, my dad in his white construction shirt, old blue jeans and a baseball cap. I thought of the way he would eat a whole apple, seeds and all, maybe spare the stem. A peach would be cleaned to the pit.


Did you know that strawberries are also known as “the heart berry” in many indigenous cultures because of their shape? Or that the word strawberry comes from the Old English streawberige because the plant sends out runners that look like pieces of straw.

Planted in the hearts and minds of me and my daughters are little seeds of curiosity and the magic of folklore sparked by strawberries. In this place, Dad, you are alive and well.

Not Another Love Story

We tell our love story
like words on the back of a wine bottle
How it all started
How the rest was history.
We smile and laugh at the same parts,
we remember the serendipity and irony of it all. 
At some point the “story” ended and we actually began:
Marriage, a baby, a second baby, a move, a death, another baby
How do you capture such complexity into such a short attention span?
The way we will feel distant for a few days and then always come back together
Or the way grief has polished us like rocks from the tide, into something neither of us recognize 
For better, for worse. 
How do I possibly share the cavernous depth of gratitude and love I feel
or how a part of me stayed behind when we got married and another part when I became a mother.
My wild, my bigness, my longings, my power – subconsciously afraid she didn’t belong.
(When all along, she was the part you fell in love with)
Together is complicated 
Where you end and I begin 
A new love story is slowly blooming
The one where we are living the life we want
not the life we think we should want
The one where I am fully me and you are fully you.


Not Another Motherhood Post

I lay in bed and circle the pothole of guilt
wondering if I’ll step into it tonight. 
Will bathing in the pit absolve me of my sins for the day?
Tomorrow I’ll read more books, meal-prep sooner, do an art project, pay more attention to the middle one, draw with the big one and promise not to make anyone feel bad. 
I’m so cautious with every word I say, aware of all the dollars I’ve dropped in their future therapy jars. 
Maybe they’ll say, I made them focus too much on their feelings. 
I’m beginning to think the next hot parenting method is the one where I just say nothing at all. 
My therapist asks if I’ve heard of the good enough mother?
As my three little birds cry out for something they need,
My inner child also begs, “what about me?!”
I am juggling in a three-ring circus
I am the heroine and the villain
I am a human vending machine 
I am Mother…
But who else am I?

521

My daughters run up the same path I did as a kid; the same one my dad did thousands of times when he was a kid. Free oranges hang over the fence from the neighbors yard, tart and sour, full of seeds, their scent creating a perfume across the yard. Other trees with over 60 years of wisdom dot the large plot of grass that leads to the front door; avocado, persimmon and orange trees. Still offering gifts to the little grabbing hands at their trunks. The corner window is intact, once shattered by a golf ball that was meant to be the magical sound of reindeer landing on the roof. 

Our family and extended family all gather to celebrate my Papa’s 91st birthday. A classic front yard party at 521. The kids make themselves right at home with their favorite toys, while all the “grown ups” enjoy casual conversation and a delicious spread of food prepared by our Aunts. 

Papa has so lovingly maintained this home, keeping intact and honoring her original beauty. I can trust this house, the way she smells and the way the stairs leading up from the entry almost propel you into a slight skip. I never tire of gazing at the old photos in the hallway, in awe and wonder of my dad’s “brady bunch” style family – three boys and three girls – with their silk shirts and long hair. 

The old cuckoo clock immortalizes my Grandma Joan’s playful nature. In quiet moments throughout the day, I can still see her in the kitchen window, hear her whistle that dinner is ready and taste her guacamole with fresh avocados from the tree. The room where we said goodbye to her.

After lunch we all go out to the front yard for games, organized by Uncle Chris, the biggest kid of them all. Wagon rides around the yard, field goal kicking contests, three legged races, and the pinnacle being a game of flag football. As we all huddle together, my uncle flips over his left hand to trace the football play on his palm, the exact same way my dad used to. 

Many things are the same, others are different. My memories are just a tiny snippet of the ones held here. But they are vivid and important, a corner of my heart where all is always well, everything makes sense and laughter and fun are mandatory. 

As we start to pack up for the day, I get a sense that the home feels pleased. Content to again be the space holder for memories, entertainment and joyful chaos.  Sturdy, in great condition, well-loved, strong character, an immeasurable legacy – her dedicated bones are a mirror of my Popster’s. Thank you 521, thank you Popster. See you next time!

Lost & Found

If my body had a “presence” notification, like an iPhone does for weekly screen time, what percentage of the day would it show that I spend in my body versus lost in the ping-pong of my well-intentioned mind?

Stillness is illusive. For so long the present moment has felt scary, unproductive, unsafe, angsty and not stimulating enough. I am able to relax for a bit and then without consciousness, I am reacting on an impulse or a thought to text someone back or listen to a podcast or call or scroll or clean or…

Even the act of reading a book to my daughters can bring up some heaviness in my chest. Despite parts of me feeling unsafe in the present moment, stillness and embodiment are all I’m craving. 

I recently began looking at the experience of my dad’s death from a trauma perspective and suddenly so many of my “symptoms” and shame-inducing triggers have started making sense. As my trauma coach nodded in affirmation and explained the nervous system in full detail, I cried tears of relief.  She explained all about the different states, how we move up and down the ladder and how our bodies hold memories we don’t consciously understand. I am finally starting to pick apart and reframe the stale narrative that “something is wrong with me”. 

My protective parts are holding me close, working to keep me safe while I do things that used to be simple or less turbulent before my dad died – like going to the grocery store, feeling big feelings, working out, being in big crowds of people, traveling alone, being alone, Ryan leaving on a work trip and so on. 

Something about these experiences remind my protective self of a threatening time, an inkling of danger and she lights up my nervous system like a Christmas tree. She feels afraid, overwhelmed, helpless and out of control. 

This loving part of me, she is so good at her job. Her memory is as excellent as an elephant’s. She will lay herself down in the middle of the road, throwing an epic tantrum to protect me from going down a path she perceives as unsafe. 

She distracts me with fearful, looping thoughts or no words at all, only attention-grabbing sensations like dizziness, tingly hands, upset stomach, shallow breaths, tension, electric energy in my limbs, etc. 

Not always, not everyday, but sometimes always and sometimes everyday, she gets looped into these same cycles of anxiety and fear, edging grief into trauma and PTSD, a different category all of its own.

Rather than automatically confronting my protector with frustration and shame, pushing her away, I am working on honoring her, nurturing her, and regulating her with words and somatic embodiment tools. Showing her that we are safe and that I will never leave her side. Proving to her that we are resourceful and can handle whatever comes our way.  Giving her validation for how big she feels.

And without lingering or getting lost in the feelings for too long, I come back home to the present moment, to my body, to God. I try and fail and succeed all throughout the day. And I think that’s what it means to be healing. 

When she is resting and well cared for, when my protector has left her fighting hands to rest, I can so vividly see and feel my softer, true essence, like a ribbon of silk and love, patiently waiting to come out and play.  Everything flows. A grand canyon of peace, rivers, hot air balloons, blue skies and lush trees. An entire expanse of truth and beauty. 

Of all the places we could travel, through the depths of the Earth, the present moment is the place with all the answers, all the secrets, all the peace; the most mystical state of all.

The owl calling in the middle of the night tells me so. Answered prayers in the quiet meditation of a rosary. Song lyrics appearing during a contemplative shower: “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die”. 

Thank you for protecting me. I have permission to live in the present moment and not figure it all out.  Everything is right with me. Right here and now. 


I pause for a moment as I write this. Here I am today. Sitting in my tiny office decorated with everything that I love,  looking out at the eucalyptus trees, my feet folded beneath me. I am remembering that while these words reflect my hardest and darkest points, I am still laughing, singing, dancing, running and connecting with friends. Depending on the moment or the day, these words about my suffering and challenges are either too much or not enough. This feels important to say.

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)” – Walt Whitman

Who You Are Now

Whenever I get moving a little too quickly during bedtime routine,
Coura demands that I “brush her hair like Poppi did”.  She remembers me sharing how you would gently take the brush around the curve of our ears as we sat in front of you watching Sports Center. 
Maisley tells me that you painted the sky during a perfect sunset.
You are a  bedtime story, 
and an urban legend.
You’re the passenger in my truck and a runner right beside me. 
The brightest star in the Big Dipper. 
You are so present in Mara’s eyes that I sometimes have to look away. 
You are everything human and everything spirit.
Your humanness is undeniable when I see your collared shirt still hanging in mom’s closet. 
Other times it’s your spirit that wins over like when I ask you for some help right before trying to fix a bike ailment, and you deliver right away in intuition. 
You’re a verb; can you “Poppi” this orange for me?
A sturdy, evolving, life-giving tree at Balboa Park.
I crossed my arms over my chest in yoga and gave my shoulders a hug. Instantly I felt you in the comforting grip of my hands. 
When I feel doubtful or down,
I remember,
I am Jeff Loftus’ daughter. 
That’s always who I am.