Author: susantara

What Did She Say to the Flowers?

What Did She Say to the Flowers?

For as long as I can remember – even as a young girl – my mother was a gardener. She wasn’t an outdoor person like I am, but she loved her gardens. For years after we moved out of the house where we spent the first 13 years of my life, whenever we’d drive by the old house, she’d wonder how her gardens were doing. Wherever she once had a garden was holy ground.

My mom tended her flower gardens with great care until the final spring of her life, when she was too weak. I’m grateful she kept a garden because it presented me with a wonderful birthday gift yesterday, nearly two years after she passed on. Normally, the garden is buried beneath a blanket of snow on my birthday, but not this year. This year, the bare ground greeted me with tiny, purple flowers.

Moms Garden-1

What did she say to the flowers to awaken them from their winter slumber just in time for my birthday? And what made me notice the tiny, purple blooms after paying no attention to the garden since the parsley was overcome by frost last fall?

Two years ago, as my mom withered from pancreatic cancer, there was no telling how long she’d stay alive. I hoped she’d at least be able to see the first flowers come up. I looked for any signs of them and began to share the “flower report” with her as soon as I noticed any indications, beginning with the first daffodil shoots outside my classroom windows. When she was too weak to walk around the neighborhood, I told her about the neighbors’ tulips, which meant hers would bloom soon, too. When she was too weak to walk around the yard, I photographed her perennials so she could see how they were coming along. Seeing pictures of flowers made her smile.

We made the most of lilac season that year. I showed her pictures of the first buds on the lilac tree in my yard and hoped they would hurry up and bloom so she could experience them one last time…which she did. I kept her well stocked with lilacs that May – the last month of her life. I put them up to her nose so she could smell their sweet fragrance and kept vases of fresh lilacs close to her to lift her spirits. It was the best I could do.

Now that she is without a human voice, she speaks to me through flowers – and music – because they are what she loved. To see the year’s first flowers in her garden on my birthday was no small thing.

Moms Garden-3

There’s a plaque in my mom’s garden that reads, “Love grows here.” It’s true. Love continues to grow, even after she has passed beyond this world. All the love she put into her garden carries on.

So plant a garden, however you can, if you are so inclined. Plant a garden that will continue to bloom even after you are gone, and fill your loved ones’ hearts with gladness.

Moms Garden-2

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

When It’s Really, Really Cold

When It’s Really, Really Cold

We just went through a really cold spell with temperatures I don’t recall ever seeing before! When I woke up Sunday morning, it was -20°F without wind chill! Over the weekend, the temperature recorded at Whiteface Mountain (a two-hour drive away) with wind chill was -110 degrees!

When it gets that cold, your attention turns to maximizing your home heating efficiency. You notice where the heat is going and determine the vulnerable spots where the heated air leaks out and the frigid air slips in. You figure out which areas are most important and close off non-essential spaces so you can direct the heat to where it’s most needed. You might find yourself placing a fan strategically at the top of the stairs and putting duct take over electrical outlets that allow cold drafts in. When it’s really, really cold, you take a good, hard look at where your heat goes passively out the window and do whatever you can to concentrate it where it matters most. You become more mindful.

Icy River

This morning, I woke up around 4:00 thinking about my work. I couldn’t get back to sleep for about an hour and a half because my mind was busy wondering: How do I make all this work? In the process of thinking, the metaphor of heating a home during winter came to mind.

When we first moved into our current house, the main door was very old and made of wood. In the winter, it let in so much cold air that it wouldn’t have made much of a difference if we left it cracked open. When the cold, winter air set in, it was the first improvement we insisted on, and it was replaced with a new, much more energy efficient door that reduced draft greatly.

Heating our home is a metaphor that can apply to how we use and focus our energy in many areas of life. For example, when money is tight or you’re sleep-deprived, you need to take a hard, honest look and consider how to use your energy most efficiently and effectively. So I consider what activities and influences in my life are like the old door and how I can replace them with better alternatives. Am I investing my energy and attention in reaching people who don’t value my work? If so, then I need to reclaim that energy and put it into a more fruitful channel(s).

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s a good use of my time and energy to wake up at 4:00 in the morning consumed with how I’m going to make it all work. It would be more beneficial to get rest so I can wake up with the energy to keep doing the creative work I love to do while also learning about the “other” piece. Staying awake at night thinking seems like spending frigid days in an uninsulated room and attempting to heat it with a space heater, whereas sleeping is like installing insulation or moving to a room that holds the heat more efficiently.

Realizing this, I called on the angels to guide me – turned it over to them. Then I fell asleep for a couple hours and woke up feeling rested. As I slept, I had a dream in which a little song came to me. The words were: Do what you love without worrying or wondering. It all will be alright. In the dream, I was tapping it out musically, over and over, and then a friend joined in on a hand drum. I was awakened from the dream by the sound of a text from my sister. It seemed that kind of repetition and turning the words into a rhythmic song was necessary for me to remember them upon waking. And the text alert was perfectly timed because I woke up in the middle of the musical repetition.

It seems the angels always deliver when I call on them for help.

Today the temperature is expected to reach 50°F. Above zero. Go figure. But the brief snap of frigid weather provided a new metaphor. And when I find myself becoming impatient with the pace at which things are moving, I look out the window at the river that appears frozen solid and am reminded that, down below the surface, things are moving along just fine.

Bones of Winter

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

100 Things in 2016

100 Things in 2016

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been working with a new and inspiring tool: Leonie Dawson’s  2016 Create Your Shining Year in Life workbook. I carry it with me everywhere and have been using it to brainstorm goals, set intentions, and map out my year. It’s an incredibly motivating resource.

One of the most powerful features of the workbook is the “100 Things to Do in 2016” list. This is a list of things large and small that I would like to make happen this year. Although it was a little intimidating at first, I managed to come up with more than 100 ideas and could have kept going. But I decided it would serve me better to limit it to 100, so I moved some off the list and onto the back burner for future consideration. Some of the items are things I’ve wanted to do for a long time or am curious about. Others are activities that will force me to stretch out of my comfort zone and say yes to things I’ve been resisting all my life – things that don’t come easily to me at all. I’ve already accomplished some of the goals on my list and feel the list helps me to live a more amplified and creative life in greater alignment with my true self and really gets the energy flowing! 

Throughout January, I worked on creating my “100 list” and mapping as many items as possible into my 2016 planner. I find that mapping it prevents me from trying to take on too much all at once. When it’s written in my planner, I can take a deep breath and know I will get to it in time. And with a few different balls up in the air, mapping it out ensures I will attend to seasonal tasks (such as developing summer workshops/classes and creating inventory for my Etsy shop) without missing the boat. There are other, smaller items that I couldn’t pencil in right off the bat but will revisit at the end of each month to consider whether the time is right to add them to my planner. For instance, this month one of my “fun” goals is to take a tai chi class – which I haven’t done in nearly 30 years!

A lot of work went into creating my 100 list. In the process, I:

  • Brainstormed by filling out workbook sections for creative, soul, mind, relationship, family, body, house, travel and adventure, finances, community, self-care, and support goals
  • Created “magical mountain maps” for my two biggest goals
  • Went through my Pinterest boards to find intriguing ideas I haven’t tried yet
  • Was inspired by other women’s lists and ideas shared in the Facebook group of (mostly) women who are using the workbook
  • Drew upon resources including: notes from presentations I attended, lightning flash inspirations, advice from my spiritual guide, and inspiring materials I came across in the process of purging household possessions
  • Recalled things I’ve been wanting to do but never got around to.

After creating my 100 list, I grouped the items into categories, prioritized them, and wrote the most important and/or urgent ones in my planner. In addition, I broke down two of my biggest goals into smaller steps and wrote each step in my planner. It probably sounds like a great deal of work – and it is – but I find great value in doing it because it helps me to:

  • Really take inventory of my dreams and desires and map out a course of action
  • Remember what is most important to me – and make each day count
  • Challenge myself to stretch out of my comfort zone and grow
  • Keep life juicy and inspired
  • Brainstorm and notice what resonates most – and focus on that
  • Stay on track and get the work done to manifest my goals.

I carry my “manifestation tote bag” everywhere. It is my magical tool box that includes:

  • My workbook and companion diary planner
  • Colored Sharpies, including special metallic ones
  • My gratitude journal
  • Sketch book (because some of my goals are artistic)
  • An inspirational book I’m reading

I also keep two highly inspiring audiobooks in my car to listen to as I’m driving around: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer.

I keep all these resources close to me at all times because you never know when ideas and inspiration will visit! The workbook is also a great source of support because I took the time to reflect on:

  • How I want to spend my time (and use it more efficiently)
  • My personal mottos and affirmations
  • My strengths and “amazing habits”
  • My sacred word for the year and ideas for embodying it
  • My medicine bag of what I can turn to when I’m low on energy or inspiration
  • “Things to do when everything sucks”.

Workbook3collage

In addition, I created an “attunement lantern” (which I sell in my Etsy shop) around the theme of abundance (my sacred word for the year)

Attunement Lantern Miracle

…and a dream board that helps me to remember my dreams and intentions every day. (I keep it next to my bed so it’s the first thing I see when I wake up and then bring it downstairs so I’ll see it during the day.)

Dream Board

I also created two vision boards on Pinterest that I can keep adding to and changing around as I feel inspired. One is a general vision board, and the other is a photography vision board. And I keep labyrinth art in sight to remind me that sometimes when it seems like I’m far from reaching my goal, I’m just about there – so keep going!

As you can see, I’m serious about transforming my mind, energy, and life by surrounding myself with resources and reminders of my goals and intentions! When I hold them in my awareness, I have more energy and attract all kinds of clues, insights, possibilities, conversations, serendipity, and magic moments that I might not have noticed or encountered otherwise. My intuition is supercharged and at the wheel, and I am having a full-blown love affair with inspiration that makes it easier to deal with the stuff that isn’t so fun or doesn’t come easily. Life feels much more expansive than it used to, and I place my trust in that.

Although it may sound corny, I wake up in the morning and wonder what I will learn, create, and accomplish today and where I will find beauty and inspiration. That motivates me to spring out of bed ready to engage with intuition and curiosity and see where it leads. It gives me the energy to take action and go to the places that scare me, fueled by gratitude and intentions and supported by a community of kindred spirits. So far, I have discovered that the combination of inspiration, intuition, curiosity, and gratitude is magical and transformative and takes life up a notch! This is my year of experimenting with Alan Watts’ question: How would you really enjoy spending your life? 

Before sharing my 100 list, I want to share two videos that have inspired me greatly. The first is narrated by Alan Watts

…and the second is a presentation by Elizabeth Gilbert: Flight of the Hummingbird: The Curiosity Driven Life (click on title to view video).

And finally…

Here is my categorized

LIST OF 100 THINGS TO DO IN 2016

Creativity

  • Complete my book (multiple steps – mapped in my planner).
  • Have a photography exhibit.
  • Photograph:
    • Northern Lights
    • A sunlit, frosted willow (Winter)
    • Snowflakes (Winter)
    • Really creative scenes featuring the full moon and a person and/or prop
    • A spectacular sunrise or sunset over the ocean
    • Pink water lilies
    • Hot air balloons (Lake George Balloon Festival, September 22-25)
    • [My daughter] (and other pregnant women)
    • [My daughter] (and other new moms and babies)
    • Hospice patients (capture the light/essence that shines through as the physical body becomes more transparent)
    • Orbs
  • Video:
    • Ocean waves (production quality)
    • Fireflies in the back yard
  • Write a poem inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem, “Gratitude”.
  • Write about moments when I wished I’d had my camera.
  • Practice calligraphy.
  • Make a mandala from natural materials (Danmala for inspiration).
  • Collect pressed flowers and ferns for art projects. (May-August)
  • Create beautiful papers with acrylic inks and plastic wrap. (January)
  • Make photo candles.
  • Create zentangles.
  • Decorate rocks with Sharpie and/or acrylic paint (and inspirational words).
  • Record a guided meditation.

Creativity: Technical

  • Learn how to use the video function on my camera.
  • Take a Lightroom and/or Photoshop course. (January-February)
  • Finish reading the book about my camera.
  • Attend presentations at Exposure (photography guild).
  • Purge photo library.

Creativity: Business

  • Create awesome résumés.
  • Compose a really great Artist’s Statement.
  • Connect with TB regarding photography biz.
  • Learn all I can about wedding photography. (February-March)
  • Buy a screen and another strobe for portrait/indoor photography. (February-March)
  • Enter a photography contest.
  • Get my photo coasters into stores for tourist season. (May)
  • Apply for and receive an artist grant. (August – Community Arts Grant seminars)
  • Participate in a craft fair. (September: SSPL Maker Faire)

Online Business & Social Media

  • Redesign my website, and add a shopping feature.
  • Boost social media following and mailing list dramatically.
  • Master Instagram, and post daily.
  • Sculpt Linked In presence.
  • Share blog posts and images on Pinterest.
  • Purge and migrate Flickr photos to a new platform. (Behance or Zenfolio?)
  • Make branding consistent across all social media.
  • Connect with JL about selling art online.
  • Create and sell 100 calendars. (October-December)
  • Have a giveaway to build my mailing list.
  • Offer spirit lanterns via my Etsy shop.
  • Explore passive income opportunities (including stock photography).

Teaching

  • Provide creative classes/workshops based on mini courses I’ve already developed, “the best of” my classroom activities, and what I am most passionate about.
  • Create a course menu with descriptions and price ranges. (February)
  • Re-establish a relationship with [a local independent school].

Finances & Prosperity

  • Complete the Money Manifestation course (January)
  • Make a habit of feeling my “Thriving Creative” money persona.
  • Create a filing system for business expenses and record keeping.
  • Resume my full student loan payments, and pay off Sallie Mae loan completely.
  • Get into the habit of searching Craigslist for opportunities.

Spirit

  • Float monthly in a float tank.
  • Go on retreat at Light on the Hill. (September)
  • Do all the experiments in the E-Squared book by Pam Grout.
  • Make a photo album of magic moments and serendipity.
  • Make a gorgeous and inspiring physical vision board.
  • Make and maintain a Pinterest vision board.
  • Maintain a list of inspirational quotes to pair with images and share online.
  • Practice leaning into and ventilating thoughts that arise with an emotional charge rather than getting hooked or resisting them.
  • Discover and walk new labyrinths.
  • Have an astrological reading with Rick Jarow.
  • Experiment with tapping.
  • Take a tai chi class.
  • Participate in a drumming circle.

Body

  • Take yoga classes at the YMCA and/or online (Yoga with Adriene).
  • Whip up a batch of body butter.
  • Obtain a Comfort U body pillow.
  • Have a gift massage from [a local massage studio].
  • Buy a pair of hiking boots to replace the pair I had to discard.

Exploration & Travel

  • Go to the beach.
  • Visit [relatives] in Vancouver/Sunshine Coast. (May or August)
  • Visit [friend] in Wyoming/Yellowstone.
  • Visit Watkins Glen State Park when the fall foliage is at peak and photograph waterfalls. (October)
  • Hike Cascadilla gorge.
  • Hike Robert H. Treman State Park trail.
  • Visit The Wild Center.

Home

  • Purge SO MUCH STUFF. If I don’t use it and it doesn’t bring me joy, let it go! (January-February)
  • Create a home workshop/office space.
  • Clean tarnished jewelry.
  • Grow an herb garden. (May)
  • Obtain a larger, comfortable bed.

Family & Relationships

  • Take [my son] to visit Ithaca College.
  • Attend and photograph Ava’s birth.
  • Write a love letter to Ava.
  • Watch Downton Abbey with Dad.
  • Obtain a baby sling(s) for [my daughter].
  • Use Hilton gift certificate.
  • Make a meal for someone who could use it.
  • Have a garage/estate sale.

Community

  • Hold gatherings for making spiritual, season-inspired art with other women.
  • Leave positive, empowering messages in public places.
  • Accept invitations from female friends.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

The Splendor of Newborns and Snowflakes

The Splendor of Newborns and Snowflakes

In the final weeks of my daughter’s pregnancy, she seemed delighted that I would wear three hats during her labor: mom, doula, and photographer. The morning after Ava was born, I was eager to return to the hospital. Although my role as doula was done, my role as photographer had only begun. By the time Ava was born, I was so sleep-deprived from three consecutive nights of compromised sleep that I forgot to play around with my camera settings and do what needed to be done in low light, handheld situations without flash. Now that I was rested and had my photographer wits about me again, I yearned for another chance! And of course, there is no joy like holding a newborn!

I was eager to photograph Ava before she left the hospital and became adorned with the fashionable layers of this world – clothing and props that would cover her essence and make her look more of this world than a sweet mystery just arrived from who-knows-where.

Before leaving, I glanced at the living room window and noticed snowflakes floating down so gracefully, glistening like diamonds. It reminded me of a tear that ran down Ava’s cheek soon after she was born. From a particular angle with the ambient lighting as it was, it looked like a silver river trickling down her cheek. That was my instant association when I noticed the snowflakes glistening so silvery and bright in the morning sunlight.

I went outside to head to the hospital, and when I got to my car noticed that the snowflakes landing on it were well defined. It was an ideal time to photograph snowflakes!

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I watched one snowflake fall from the sky and land on the frosted car window and wanted to photograph it instantly, before it was affected by its surroundings. When a snowflake comes in contact with other snowflakes or a surface kissed by warm sunlight, it quickly changes and loses its pure form. I wanted to photograph snowflakes right when they landed, before their lovely mandala essence dissolved.

And then I realized how extraordinary it was that this was happening when I was on my way to photograph a newborn baby. Could there be a more perfect visual analogy? Gazing into the windows of a newborn baby’s soul and observing the exquisite, six-pointed mandala pattern of a freshly fallen snowflake evoke a sense of awe and wonder. Both are sights to marvel at.

I had attempted to photograph snowflakes for the past two winters and never had such a rich opportunity. What a gift to wake up to such delightful snowflakes that morning! And what a gift to hold Ava and look into her eyes, which were like dark, infinite pools. Cradled in my arms, she looked around as if taking in the great mystery that surrounds her and wondering: Where am I? What am I? Meanwhile, I was beholding the great mystery I found in her eyes, wondering: Where did you come from?

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For a moment, I imagined her passing through a veil of forgetting before entering this world. But mostly, I surrendered to the mystery. Held it in my heart and let it fill me as I floated in the peaceful pools of her eyes.

And that’s why there’s no joy like holding a newborn.

(happy sigh)

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Birth Stories

Birth Stories

Over the weekend and for the first time in my life, I had the privilege of being present for the duration of a labor that was not my own. After a marathon labor of nearly 60 hours, my daughter gave birth to 7 lb., 10 oz. Ava at 11:50am on Saturday, January 23. It was an awesome experience, and I am excited to share some magic moments and a few gems of life wisdom I unearthed in the course of witnessing and participating in the powerful process! Even if the topic of childbirth doesn’t interest you, I hope you will stay with me because the end is quite amazing – as in goosebumps.

It’s interesting: A while back, Jasmine asked family and friends to predict when Ava would be born. I predicted the 23rd. When her water broke in the wee morning hours of the 21st, I joked that the baby is so considerate and wants to come before the snowstorm that was forecasted for the weekend. When the sun rose outside the hospital room on the 22nd, Jazz was sitting on a birth ball managing contractions, and I thought, “Today’s the day!”

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But then I remembered it was the 22nd, and I knew today couldn’t possibly be the day because Ava’s birthday is the 23rd. It didn’t really have anything to do with my prediction at that point. It felt more like a well-established fact – as if we’d already celebrated birthdays with her, and her birthday was written on my calendar clear as day…and it was the 23rd. But how could that be? Labor couldn’t possibly last that long! Today was the day, right? It had to be. But no, it couldn’t be since her birthday was the 23rd! Anyway, it turns out my prediction and intuition were accurate, but I decided not to share my certainty with Jasmine until the day was done!

From the very beginning, Jasmine’s labor did not go according to expectations. Weeks ago, one of her midwives advised her to think of her birth plan as a wish list – for you cannot control the labor experience, only the way you respond to whatever cards nature deals. That turned out to be excellent, relevant advice – for labor and life in general!

Since her water broke ahead of time, labor needed to be encouraged to reduce the baby’s risk of infection. She was admitted to the hospital 17 hours later for a possible induction the following morning if contractions weren’t coming regularly at that point. By mid-afternoon, her cervix was still only 2cm dilated, which was unbearably discouraging after all that time and all those contractions. Although I’d long forgotten the physical pain of childbirth, I could feel her emotional pain completely because I experienced the same news during my own labor. The difference was that I wasn’t as exhausted as she was at that point and had the physical and mental strength (from my meditation practice?) and pain tolerance to continue focusing on one contraction at a time. I felt so powerless when she hit this wall and wished I could transfer the inner strength I found during my labors, to give her a boost! It took quite a while for her to get into hard, productive, “active” labor, and by that time she was exhausted from two sleepless nights, very anxious about the pain, and absolutely discouraged about her body’s ability to give birth naturally.

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She had approached labor aware of her low pain tolerance and expected she would need some pain relief. However, she was dead set against having an epidural because she had a great fear of any kind of needle going into her back. But it turned out that what she was most afraid of and determined to resist ended up being the saving grace that allowed her to relax, get some sleep, regain her strength, and ultimately push out her baby. It was inspiring to witness her being empowered by facing her fear! How often does fear cut us off from possibilities that might be exactly what we need to take us to the next level?

But Jasmine did not consent to an epidural right away. It took some time. Back when I was birthing my babies, I was committed to delivering “naturally” without any pain relief and even gave birth to my second child at home. However, even I hoped she would consider having an epidural, and it was because I knew Jazz and trusted her midwife, Lisa, implicitly. As Lisa explained the options and likely scenarios given her understanding of my daughter as a unique individual, she took on a transcendent glow as if she were an angel on earth. It’s as if the light was coming through her eyes and words, and her energy felt like pure love. Her message was: I believe in you. I believe in your body’s ability to do this. I believe in your ability to do what is right for you. Here is some information based on my extensive experience that I hope you will consider. And I believe in you. She didn’t push Jasmine into having an epidural. She shared information in a loving, patient manner then gave her time to decide what she wanted to do so she could have as much control as possible over her labor experience. In fact, it wasn’t until several hours later, after Lisa went off duty and Caren had taken over, that Jasmine opted for an epidural.

As I mentioned above, in the meantime when she was refusing the epidural, I felt powerless to help her push through her discouragement and exhaustion and had my own issues to face. It became clear to me that, as a helper, you can only do so much – especially if “doing” is focused on changing the person or situation. You can’t change others or do the work for them. They have to do it themselves. In addition, empathy can only go so far, and there comes a point when other tools become more useful. You become mindful of what is really needed in the situation and dig a little deeper in your toolbox. You let go of your desires and expectations for a person or situation to be different and trust the process. You discern when to step back and give someone a little space and when to lean in. It’s a lot like tending to a plant or garden. You have to work with what arises and know how much to water it when nature doesn’t deliver ideal circumstances.

So I learned something about myself in the role of helper or friend, and the shining midwife modeled so beautifully how to support and empower others without taking on responsibility that is rightfully theirs. It was something I needed to learn, which is why I believe she appeared so radiant to me. It was as if the Universe wanted me to take notice and really pay attention. (In the course of living our lives, I wonder how often we teach or give others what they are in need of, without even realizing it? How often do we act unwittingly as angels on earth?)

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The long, tumultuous labor also spoke to me of the value of surrounding yourself with an excellent, trusted support network you can rely on when times get tough, and you feel confused and discouraged. People who will be honest with you and support you in making healthy, productive choices. People who value your work and truly believe in you and your ability to rise to the task and accomplish your goals.

During her third trimester, Jasmine’s growing unease with her obstetrical practice and the hospital in which she’d have to deliver resulted in her reaching out (by expressing her feelings to me), connecting with the right person (whom I referred her to), and finding a midwife practice that was a perfect fit for her and allowed her to deliver at the hospital she preferred above the rest. Acting on her intuition, she drew the right people and resources into her life, and the journey unfolded from there. So when she went into labor, she was surrounded by caregivers whom she trusted completely, who understood, honored, and believed in her, affirmed her ability to give birth, and empowered her to own her experience.

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My favorite advice from the second midwife, Caren, is that we try out different positions and options and see what works. If something isn’t working, we try something else. You don’t stay stuck. You try all kinds of different things to see what works. If something works, you can go with it. But then you can try out something else, too. When something is not working for you or getting you where you want to go, don’t waste your time with it. Another nugget of life wisdom extracted from childbirth.

One night, I slept in the recliner next to my daughter’s bed, and it reminded me of being at my mom’s bedside when she was dying in a hospice house. It felt eerily similar. Once again, the door between worlds was swinging open, but instead of someone leaving, this time someone was entering. How refreshing to say hello instead of goodbye!

I’m saving the most incredible part for last. It happened a few minutes before Ava was born. During what would be the next to last contraction my daughter pushed through, I was holding up one of her legs while the baby’s father supported her other leg. All of a sudden, I felt my mom standing right behind me, as if she had her arms around my waist! Her presence was so strong that I even turned around to look behind me. Then I remembered that the psychic medium I saw in the spring said my mom was going to help the baby come into this world, from the other side. He said it was her spiritual mission! Shivers! So I focused on the warm light I felt coming from my mom’s presence and directed that energy to Jasmine. It seemed that doing this provided her with the extra oomph to push out Ava. The next contraction, I did it again, and Ava was born.

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But there’s more!

My dad showed up at the hospital a couple of hours later, and as we walked back out to our cars, he reminded me that my mom worked in that same maternity ward when she was a nursing student back when my children were young. I had completely forgotten that until he mentioned it. Then I remembered her talking about how much she loved her maternity nursing experiences. My guess is that if she had completed the nursing program, she would have wanted to be a maternity nurse.

Have you seen the movie, Field of Dreams? In the movie, there is an elderly physician, Doc Graham, who had dedicated his life to caring for people. But when he was younger, he wanted to be a baseball player. On the same day in his youth, he both made his major league debut and retired from professional baseball without having the opportunity to face a major league pitcher. He went on to pursue his medical career and earned respect and admiration from the whole community. After he died, he returned to the “field of dreams” and seized the opportunity he’d missed out on during his life.

Similar to Doc Graham, my mom didn’t finish her nursing degree and therefore never became a nurse, which was a lifelong dream. She chose to continue in her established career and after retiring kept her dream alive by becoming a hospital volunteer. Perhaps she was able to fulfill her dream of being a nurse when her granddaughter was delivering her great-granddaughter in a room in the same unit where she did her student nursing. Perhaps she was in the room helping Ava to be born, from the other side. It’s such a lovely thought that brings on shivers and tears when I contemplate it. Maybe she had her chance after all. I’d really like to think she did and that she is sharing our joy.

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Below is our first three-generation picture and my favorite picture of my daughter and me after she gave birth.

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Had this picture been taken about five years ago, it could have been a five-generation picture. But I imagine my mom peeking over my shoulder and my grandmother smiling over Jasmine’s. They remain with us even if we can’t see them – and my grandmother’s last name is now Ava’s middle name.

And so the circle of life cycles on.

© 2016 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

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