Five

Five

Dearest Jude,

You turn 5 today and I am so grateful to be witnessing your growth. I truly believe that no other mother out there loves their child quite like I love you…. and you are so loved by many.

We’ve had a really intense year and have gone through a multitude of changes and both processed it in our own way, as well as grew together. We grew, and I have watched you grow.

 

You have grown into your spirit and in love even more than I could’ve ever imagined.

 

Jude, you are my biggest teacher of FORGIVENESS. I observe myself holding onto grudges and then watch you immediately choosing forgiveness towards me when I act out of anger or when a friend at school does. You remind me to be in my heart and you are so wise. You are filled with so much love it brings me to tears.

 

 

 

Jude Jo, my love for you can only expand. You are my comfort, my friend, my source of gratitude and a reminder that being in the NOW is what matters most.

I will sacrifice anything for you always-

You’re a wild-haired blue-eyed spirited thing with the biggest of hearts. You bring me toys when I am throwing up so I can “cuddle” with them and have seen me breakdown in tears at least once a week lately, always to be met with “It’s ok mom. I don’t want you to be sad. Kiss and Hug? I love you. It’s ok.”

You’re misunderstood by many , but also just absolutely adored by everyone. Everywhere we go, people remember you and I, probably because of your Mowgli / Tarzan hair and my tattoo sleeve combo. You are so loved…

 

I cannot even imagine my life without you or how our life path has journeyed so far, and this year we’ve been gifted with Ben and a new wild haired baby to add to our crew. It’s still you and I forever… you are my favorite and I am so grateful to be witnessing the boy and many you’re becoming. So many people remind me that time flies and I will miss these moments with you… and YES but also No.

I love watching you grow. That’s my job- not to coddle you but to accompany your growth with love and patience and acceptance. It’s all such a gift and you are such a beautiful soul.

Jude- I am so excited to see how you evolve with age 5.

You are one of a kind and I will love you forever.

As you say-

My heart to your heart & Your heart to my heart-

Love always and forever,

Mommy

Photo by Natalie Katherine. Wearing Buddha Pants <3

 

Four

Jude,

You turn 4 today. FOUR.

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4 years we have been growing together and morphing into what we are now.

4 years I’ve been sharing my bed with you- a little being who holds my heart outside of my own body.

4 years since I transitioned from maiden to mother, a transformation I was not as conscious about at the time.

4 years since I was gifted the most beautiful gift I’ve ever, and will ever be given in this life time.

FOUR.

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There really is no one like you. You “stick out”. I love it.

3 – 4 years has been filled with huge growth and changes for you dear. You are really growing into a man. I see it.

For me, this growth has also gifted me lessons as well.

I am growing too.

We are still growing together.

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This year, you and I have really bonded during my yoga practice. You express that you want your yoga mat and that you want to do “train” yoga or “car” yoga, depending on the day. Some days you jump on my mat, call my name, strike a pose and say “Mom! I am doing yoga! Look!”. This has brought us together through new connections and I am so grateful for this RIGHT NOW. It may change, and I am ok with that. I love you.

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You and I do a lot together. We go on so many adventures and you are my favorite person to go on adventures with. We end up swimming in our underwear quite often.

This year specifically, you and I have connected on a new level. It’s as if we have become stronger in our bond as a mother and a son but also as friends.

You tell me how much you love me, and when I am sad in front of you, you comfort me.

You approach me, give me a hug and kiss, and tell me you want me to be happy. My heart illuminates , Jude Bug.

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Jude, you are a very resilient and rebellious little man, which me leaves me pretty exhausted most days. However, I am also grateful for these qualities in you. You have a fire within. You are JUDE because these qualities.

You exclaim, “Friend!” , whenever you see someone your size or someone that you like in public. Luckily for us, we live in Austin, and our city is filled with some of the kindest folks in Texas. Kids and Adults both love to be your friend most of the time. Some days, your energy level is that of a bomb exploding, and that means that some days, not everyone wants to be your friend, and that is alright. We talk about it, and you still keep exclaiming “FRIEND!”, when we are adventuring and come across a human you like. I love this quality of yours.

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You are a lover.

You are different.

You are Jude.

I want to call you “mine”, but that doesn’t feel quite right. You are a free spirit, and are growing so independent. As free as you are, we do still sleep together and you still want me to pick you up every day. You still run to me when you get frightened and you still fall asleep holding my hand most nights. I cherish these moments with you.

I love you Jude Bug.

I love you so much.

Cheers to FOUR.

Love,

Mom

 

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  • Photos by Victoria Grey Hess and myself <3

 

Mind Weather

 

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The mind is such medicine

Our moments, “good” or “bad”… Medicine

Meditation is more than repeating affirmations or trying to “quiet” our minds.
I’m finding that as I observe my thought-formations become quiet or judge mental or swept away in a story, I grow. As I observe what happens I grow.

Not as I make GOALS to quiet my mind or as I aim to NOT have thoughts (what?!), but as I observe, I grow. And through that growth, my mind does seem to be placing less anxiety or anger in my path. Each time I close my eyes and observe the weather within, I grow.

I’ve never owned a Zafu, or meditation cushion. This beautiful green embroidered one is something I chose to gift to myself for my growing “weather watching” within. ☀️🌤🌦🌧🌩🌨☃💨🌪

My meditation practice ebbs and flows. Lately I find that I like to wake up earlier in the mornings and begin my days with affirmations, but after my car accident last month, my shoulders and neck have been in a state of healing.❤️
This Zafu is a really sweet reminder to elongate both downward and upward, to find my center, and to let the sweetness grow when I close my eyes.
I found this one from BareFoot Yoga and absolutely love it. Have your ever used a Zafu? I’d love to hear your experience too

(I am a big floor dweller, so this pretty cushion is definitely getting some love so far!)

 

My current favorite guided meditation is “The Mountain Meditation” by Dave Potter which can be found at http://palousemindfulness.com/disks/mountain.html

 

"Through it all, the mountain just sits, experiencing change in each moment, constantly changing, yet always just being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another and as the weather changes moment by moment and day by day, calmness abiding all change… "
“Through it all, the mountain just sits, experiencing change in each moment, constantly changing, yet always just being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow into one another and as the weather changes moment by moment and day by day, calmness abiding all change… “

It’s a sweet inner journey and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Lots of love,

lots and lots and lots,

Amanda Jo

Why Women NEED to LIFT Each Other Up Over SHIT Talking Each Other Down

In my early years a young girl I realized I was “different”. I remember feeling like an outcast on multiple occasions and that feeling never really went away.

There are a few women I connected with through my adolescence that gave me space to be myself and loved me as I was, and I am still connected with those few <3, but I think I developed this idea that I connected more with men than woman during my adolescence because women were SO DAMN MEAN. It seemed to me, that when women gathered, it was for a creation of negativity such as shit talking.

I remember that feeling of disconnection with femininity happen over time, and little did I know that by disconnecting with the feminine essences around me, I was also disconnecting with the feminine essences WITHIN me.

I think we have finally reached this time in our world where women are being heard as they are rising up and yelling their truth- WE NEED TO LOVE OUR FELLOW WOMEN AND OURSELVES TOO!

It is such a beautiful an amazing time to be alive during. I can see it springing up in communities all over the world. I see more and more women talking about Moon gatherings, and women’s circles, and even phone conference women’s circles. (I am actually in a phone conference circle of recently and cannot express enough joy and comfort and gratitude over what this weekly call circle has brought into my life!) I see that in my homeschool co op, the mothers are wanting genuine connection with each other – woman to woman- and I am so filled with gratitude about this because when we strengthen our bonds as individuals like this, our children will thrive too.

When women gather and support each other, we truly feel our divine innate sense of feminine self blossom. I think that one of the most beautiful things that we can do woman to woman, is to hold space. We can listen to each other and receive each other FULLY just as we are. We can reach out and connect with women all over the world now through social media platforms. (How AMAZINGLY beautiful is that?). We can nurture each other through consciously being with one another. And I think that is the main point here- CONSCIOUSLY and INTENTIONALLY allowing our fellow women to blossom and holding space for each other to do so.

I used to think that my relationships with women would always be tainted due to my feelings as an outcast from a young age and the verbal abuse from my ex stepmother as a young adolescent, but I have to say that is not the case anymore. I decided I wanted to connect to the feminine essence both inward and outward, and I have come to the belief that when we make that bold choice, that the universe or God or whatever power you feel called to believe in, will provide.

When we connect to ALL of what is within us, equanimity illuminates. We must honor both our masculine and our feminine, all parts of ourselves- the parts that feel blocked, the parts that feel scary, the parts that feel SO unknown we cannot label them. I believe that when women choose to uplift and honor each other, we give the gift of allowing a woman to honor all of herself, to love all of herself, to be all of herself.

I would like to send some gratitude to all of the powerful women in my life, for without you, I would not be truly honoring all of myself. Thank you. <3

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Photo with Victoria Grey Hess <3

“We can use our lives, in other words, to wake up to the fact that we’re not separate: the energy that causes us to live and be whole and awake and alive is just the energy that creates everything, and we’re part of that.” –Pema Chodron

 

 

 

Sitting with it

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In my last blog, I wrote about letting things go that don’t feel right to us. This is an example of a “problem” in our lives that we can find a solution to through tapping into ourselves and our feelings. However, what do we do when there isn’t a solution to a certain issue?

We live in an age in which many of us have become over- “problem solvers”. Whenever a problem comes up, many of us begin the process of micro managing its remedying almost immediately. We think, “Oh man! So and so doesn’t like me, how can I fix this NOW?”, or “Oh my goodness this anxiety within me needs to be pinpointed and executed NOW.”

Now, some issues should and can be remedied (see my previous blog if you havene’t yet HERE ), but a lot of the time, things come up in our lives that really don’t need fixing or things that we CANNOT fix. In fact, I have been finding more and more that by just simply thinking or talking about the issue with someone who has earned the right to connect deeply (more about that from the amazing Brene Browne HERE ), the problem can be gifted mindfulness and mindfulness is the solution.

I struggle with anxiety from PTSD, and it comes up at seemingly random times in which no single point or event triggered an anxiety attack. It just happens, and it can be so debilitating if I sit around attempting to problem solve it. Rather, I have just been acknowledging that anxiety has come into my home, and I sit with. Maybe I will call or text a friend who I know can hold space for me. Or, maybe I breath with it, I think about inviting in some love to sit with as well, and then I just let things be.

That is the real point here, can we allow things to just BE sometimes?

Less doing, more being. <3

 

 

A Note About Yoga Asana

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I remember as a child, the first time I tried to do a handstand I literally fell right in my face. I saw this happen to my son Jude the first time he tried to do one as well and it totally brought me back. Not everyone comes to their practice as a gymnast or a ballerina. (These backgrounds do not translate into less work by any means though.)

I came to my practice as a former soccer player and singer during my adolescence, an addict through my young adulthood (I remember laughing my way through a yoga video I checked out from the library) and as a new mother at 21 years old the first time I decided to commit myself to my mat.

I’ll never forget that immediate soothing and release that yoga brought me. I felt like I had taken off some glasses I didn’t even know I was wearing.

This practice is not linear, it is not a building of skill that just keeps getting you higher and higher. Rather it is like an EKG of a heartbeat, at least for me. The practice of yoga asana ebbs and flows depending on your life moments at the time. When we dig our talons into certain poses, it takes away the softness. I know because I’ve been there and still get into that mindset at times.

Recently, I’ve had this building tension in my left shoulder. It’s so intense that when I lay on a tennis ball (for myofascial release), I am immediately brought to tears. This very noticeable asymmetry and hardness in my shoulders has made jumping into handstands hard and filled with some anxiety for me. Wheel pose has become difficult in a new ways and I can easily accidentally push it too far right now. I’m hoping to work with a body worker and healer soon but right now this is just where I am. I can either come to my mat angry about the tension, or I can allow my body to flow as it does rather than how I may have had planned.

 

When you see an un bloomed flower, how do you react? Would you immediately attempt to tear the bud open or would you wait over the course of however many days or weeks for the flower to begin slowly blossoming into the beautiful creation that it is? Respect your body and mind. You are a flower too. 🌷🌹🌺🌸

When WE flow

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Photo by my very talented friend Victoria Grey Hess (can be found at @victoriagreyhess on Instagram)

 

 

 

I had a friend give me advice once, a simple statement of,

 

“If what you are doing doesn’t feel right, then stop”.

 

This isn’t the same as, “If what you are doing is hard, then stop” or “If what you are doing is too challenging for you, stop” or “If what you are doing doesn’t give you results immediately, stop.”

This statement holds true because it is in reference to our intuitive abilities to FEEL if a situation isn’t for us. We are constantly bombarded with SHOULDS and SHOULDNTS from the media, our friends, our family, and loved ones, even when given with good intention, these totally overload the system. Only YOU can truly know what is best for your self and your body.

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Austin has the coolest graffiti throughout the city. This one is by @This_Bird_ who can be found on Instagram. 🙂

Before my son came into the world I was training to become a hair dresser at a pretty expensive school. About half way in, it began just not feeling right. I didn’t feel healthy and my level of anxiety hadn’t dissipated. I woke up one morning and finally realized I needed to get off the path. I left the school financially drained, with friends and family encouraging me to keep going, AND I left feeling like I did what was right. These all came together, but what was most important was that I followed my intuition. Little did I know, two months later I would become pregnant with Jude, start taking yoga classes, fall in love with the practice of prenatal yoga, and begin a teacher training at 36 weeks along to go down a path I was ACTUALLY passionate about.

I have hit another cross road recently. I have followed my intuition to take a break from teaching yoga for about 5 months until further notice. So far this break from teaching has given me so much more time to focus on art and diving into the world of unschooling with Jude, another path I am following my intuition to guide me as a compass on. I have learned a lot and I know I am doing the right thing by not teaching. Despite stress, and some anxiety when I first stopped teaching (If I am not a yoga teacher, then who am I?!), I know that when I dig deep, I see I am holding true to my trust, to going with the flow of life.

What path in your life do you feel like you need to allow yourself to step off of? Could it be a financial endeavor or maybe being too hard on yourself during a yoga class? Could it be labeling yourself with dietary restrictions that don’t actually serve your body or maybe its an area you live in that you just don’t feel right in?

Allow yourself to ponder these questions, but also know that when we exit a path it doesn’t have to be a huge immediate LEAP (although it can be). Maybe your exit is a gradual one in order to allow peace to flow a little smoother.

Listen within to what you FEEL. If you don’t know how you feel, you actually probably do. I tend to think I don’t know how I feel when I become overwhelmed or my thoughts won’t stop going, but when I dig deep or even ask myself “Ok, is this a healthy situation for my growth?”, an answer will usually pop up.

You know so much more than you think you do. I promise.

 

 

 

 

A Love Infused Letter About Jude

He is more loving than I could’ve ever imagined.

Yes, we have many many moments of emotional outbursts and miscommunication with each other and others, more often than not, but, he is filled with so much passion in all parts of his soul.

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Photo by Victoria Grey Hess (@victoriagreyhess on Instagram!)

Today I didn’t attempt to set up any activities or a movie during my yoga practice, I just told Jude I would be on my mat and that he could come get me at any time.

During this hour, he ran over and laid next to me at the beginning of my practice trying to imitate me, he filled the house with wooden block towers and built trains and ships, and he frequently came to my mat to kiss both my shoulders or cheeks or wrists and hug me.

Jude is comfortable in almost any situation (not lightning though, I just discovered this yesterday), and when any child is nearby he will announce “My friend! I want to go there!”.

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Photo by Victoria Grey Hess (@victoriagreyhess on Instagram!)

In this photo, I have no idea who that other boy is, I don’t even know his name. We were hiking out in the woods when we came up near a family in front of us, and Jude immediately grabbed this boys hand and smiled as he walked along side him.

I’m so grateful, that even on days when I feel like I may have not “set the best example” (pffttttt f*** that), or when I myself didn’t manage my emotions with as much love as I could’ve, that my little soul is still living with the awareness of love and connection.

I can see it and feel it.

I see it during Jude’s full range of emotional expressions, that underlying is a sweetness and softness to his “spirited” state.

 

In our journey into unschooling (filled with responses such as “Wow you are so much braver than me!”), I have to admit that at many times it is hard. It’s hard making so many decisions for my son but also giving him the options to make his own decisions at free will. It’s hard to not immediately want to threaten or punish when he is yelling or throws something (because that’s how I believe most of us were conditioned as children).

But eventually, these things become not-so-hard.

It’s become easy to sit on the ground with Jude and communicate person to person about why he is pissed off (regardless of whether we are at home or in the grocery store). It’s easy to give control of our “school” days to Jude where he chooses what he wants to learn about because he is actually interested and we have tons of fun together.

I can’t help but tear up in gratitude over the love filled person Jude is at almost 4. I can see it and feel it, and it fills me with love when I may not be doing it myself. #heartquake -in so hard.

Growth that Hides

When my hair was ear length, and I was growing it out, it felt as if NO GROWTH was happening. It was frustrating, I wanted that growth! I wanted to see it happening and measure it and know it was existent, but if you’ve ever grown your hair out, then you know it doesn’t really happen that way. For awhile it felt like my hair length hit a standstill and wasn’t finding any length at all BUT, one day I woke up and noticed that way hair actually seemed LONG. And it is pretty long now. Thanks Biotin and Kale. 🙂

The realization hit me today that my growth through anxiety and depression feels like the hair growth situation, and it is like it. Many days I feel like I’m stuck, and I’m not transforming and expanding from past lessons, but some days I’ll wake up and all my lessons will reveal themselves and I truly presence myself into peace and love for lengthy periods.

I believe it’s important to remember that GROWTH isn’t always tangible, and life flows in messy directions (it’s not a perfect journey man!) which may make us believe that we are receding, but this isn’t necessarily true. (((I’ve found that I transform the most THROUGH sticky life moments)))

For example, in yoga, we call it a yoga PRACTICE. We don’t call it a yoga PERFECT or a yoga PERFORMANCE, but a PRACTICE. This is life, we grow as we keep flowing with the currents that our spirit is guided with.

Don’t give up, we can’t always feel the growth and change that may be occurring. ❤ Sending out love to anyone who feels stuck.