How you got your scars.

Sometimes the past catches up with the future and makes you catch your breath…. This was written five years ago, unpublished and stored away in the farthest corners of memory for safe keeping. Those months are a faded blur now, and indeed here she is, riding horses in Mexico.. 💖


On December 22 2010, you were born through an “emergency cesarean”. The midwife said it was a true emergency because you were entangled in your umbilical cord. They called it a bandelaro cord, because you were wearing it over your shoulder like a gun belt.

When I finally got to hold you, you were perfect. The doctors checked your hips. Somehow they missed it. A few days later the midwife checked your hips again, and then again three weeks after that, and nobody said a thing. We left your sweet baby legs alone.

When you began crawling, you used one foot and one knee. The doctors said that all babies crawl in their own unique way… It was normal, they said.

When you turned one year old you started walking. You started out toddling then developed an awkward gait, favoring one leg. We thought you would work it out in time.

By the time you were two, you stood on your toes and would not put your foot flat. You always walked on your toes on one side. We thought you had an injury. A splinter, twisted ankle, banged knee… We lived on a farm, maybe a goat stepped on your foot. I took you to the doctor but they didn’t see anything. A month later I took you again and they x-rayed your ankle. Nothing. It did not improve.

Several months later you began stumbling more often. We returned to the doctor for another series of X-rays. Foot, ankle, knee, leg lengths, all revealing nothing. Frustrated, I began asking around and researching more. We went back to the doctor, again, requesting a hip X-ray. Then it was obvious.

We were three weeks away from boarding a one way, life changing flight, moving our family to Mexico. Your dad’s whole family waiting to meet you…

This was not part of the plan.

Sitting in that windowless room, florescent lights humming, I received the news. You, my tiny curly girl, just shy of your third birthday, needed an operation. The serious of x-rays finally revealed severe hip dysplasia. This means re-shaping the bones. This means a body cast for three months. We will likely revisit diapers, though you have not worn them in half a year. This means we will be here, in our house, all winter. You will be in your bed all winter. No more trampoline. No more doughnut store. No more Mexico. At least for now.

We left for Seattle children’s hospital well before the sunrise that day. You were so brave, so tiny, so unaware of what was coming. You have two scars now. This is how they reached your bones. You will be able to walk now until you are an old lady. You will be able to ride your horses in Mexico.

When you woke up, in your cast, we tried to distract you with the suitcase of pink princess presents we had packed for you. The time went by slowly. We stayed two nights in the hospital before we could bring you home.

Then we had to relearn everything. When you think you know, something will come along to remind you that you know nothing. Nothing is for sure. This was it for us…

So this is your story. This is how you got your scars.


Dia de los Muertos

✨💀✨… And Suddenly it makes sense to me in a much different way than it has all these years…. This was our first year celebrating Dia de los Muertos in public spaces in Central Mexico. All of our children were dressed as calaveras~ the classic Mexican painted skeletons. It was the telling encounter in the plaza that reminded me so deeply what is out and about this time of year as the veils are so thin….. We stood there in front of the large ofrenda~ a colorful altar for the dead~ taking in all of the energy and beautiful visual art displays. We wound our way around to a giant paper mache statue of a skeleton and stopped for a picture in front of it. As we stood there, a shadow flew past us, unseen by almost everyone present. It was quite large, with a hunched back, shifting face and long trailing arms that swept the floor. As we all smiled for the camera, this shadow searched for something to eat. My tiniest calavarita, just barely four months old, began violently vomiting. She was not sick previously, or in distress in any way before this. She was on my front, in the baby carrier. I felt her belly lurch and roll like a heavy earthquake. She empried her belly all over me and the sidewalk. It was bizarre and scary. Then all at once it occurred to me…. The people dress up as ghouls and ghosts and calaveras to fool the ones who cross over at this time of year. It is an earthly attempt to become invisible to the hungry ghosts who cross the veil at this time searching for food….. They are starving for your alive-ness, the creative moving force that propels the human body through the density of the earth plane… the sparkle of living that they have lost. The dressing up is so much more than a trick or treat, or a tribute to a dead relative. It is a disguise. A protection. A ritual of the living amoung the unseen dead…… Here in these mountains of central Mexico, the reality shifts in different ways than it ever did back home. There is a tangible intensity that soaks into your bones…. That’s why we wear a set on the outside during these dark days when so many spirits roam the hills……. 💀✨💀✨💀

Ancestors speak

✨ Lastnight she spoke to me through cedar smoke, the one who holds everything, she said “It has always been hard, my daughter.” She made a wide sweeping movement with her arms, “Look… Everything you need is all around you…. We never had money before… There is no need to worry…” ✨ Sunrise in the central Mexican Sierra Madres. All souls day. Painted sky illuminating the truth, the good road….. Remember the way. ✨🌽✨

The view from here

These mountains wear clouds like a shawl on great stone shoulders, ancient sleeping women, the backbone of the landscapes. They shapeshift, rise and disappear before most most people ever notice….. But I see them. The broad noses, strong foreheads and round hips. Birth givers. Creators. Potent wisdom keepers. They live in the rocks, the soil and the waters. They whisper the way to those who listen.

Restructuring life again

When we moved to this land in the mountains of central Mexico, there was a bare shell of a house and all the land was slash n burn with the beginnings of jungle renewal. We planted many baby trees that first year. Mostly avocados, but also many citrus varieties, plums, guavas, bananas, apples, peaches and macadamia nuts to name a few. Now we are in the third year and are seeing the first larger harvests from those trees. These are lemons and chiles that I brought in in the hem of my dress this morning. There are more waiting for someone to come around later with a bucket.

This picture with the pink wild flowers is from my house. The field below it actually. I believe that now is time to get serious aboul local foraging, and this is the place to start. Not as a gourmet “eco-awesome” hobby, but as a survival skill. Financials have taken a turn. Lack of community safety net says ‘hurry up and learn what’s available right HERE’. I have so many children that this seems like a monumental undertaking. But here we are. As the sun slips farther into darkness each day, I too, slip down into the underworld, to nourish the roots and see what I can manifest for the next cycle. The old ways are hidden under these rocks… Time to dig them up.

I am finally stepping more fully into truth and letting go of the structures I have been clinging to. I keep hearing the message that I just need to leap into the unknown and trust that the loving, abundant Earth will provide. I am being asked to look in different places than I have been looking and let the rivers and forests carry me.. A trust fall for sure- I have five small children with bellies to fill. But each time I begin to doubt, I hear the sound of the sweet song that sang me through an ayahuasca dream… La Floresta~ The mother, she has everything, everything you need…

Right now, this is my garden. At four months postpartum, it resembles the rest of my life. The fence is broken. The pathways are overgrown and the beds are a jungly tangle of altiplano weeds and the hardiest remnants of life pre-baby, before the garden fell off the short list of priorities. When this baby was born life as I knew it stopped. She cried for two months straight and I existed in the six inches of space between her and myself, I completely shattered and survival mode took over as I struggled to care for myself and my other small children. As rainy season now shifts into a Mexican highland spring, I am beginning to scratch away at the wreckage- both in the garden and myself. With the tiniest one in tow, I clear a little here or there, carefully place a start from the greenhouse into the black soil, nurse baby, bend, squat, stretch… I wish I could work uninterrupted for an hour or a day.… Instead I sit on an upturned bucket holding my baby and stare at the silhouette of the mountains, the green and brown beneath my feet and the layers of work that will happen between now and producing food again. For everything there is a season. Time to get moving again, there is much work and remembering to be done……

The fractured self

The fractured self. The mother splits herself into so many pieces yet still, by some miracle, remains whole. It is the natural law. I am everything and nothing. Complete in my incompleteness. I nourish, wash, nurture, soothe, tie up so many loose ends, find missing pieces, wipe noses and smooth away tears– theirs and my own. I try to find my center. I look for myself amongst the shattered pieces. Sometimes, I find her. In the earliest mornings, the darkest nights and the most forgotten cracks. This photograph was an accident. Not an edit. But it is the perfect self portrait. A representation of my motherhood. This is the way I am, right now. This is sacredness.

The coffee ceremony

Savoring the last dregs of an early morning cup of coffee while baby sleeps. Hot pink sunrise over the usual valley full of lingering, altiplano fog, that settles here this time of year. Cows and chickens singing morning songs, little feet pattering to the kitchen with rumbly bellies and seed sprouts poking out of newly planted garden beds, greeting the new day. All of this and so much more……. Time to rise.