Gratitude is a sure path to grace, so I’ve been told. I am allowing it to exercise itself upon me this bright afternoon.

Slow gesture of color in the descending diffusion of herbs and leaves, the still waters otherwise at rest in the sunshine. Quaking vines and pines, shadows pass over me, a ballet performance, too: a two tipped offering from Uncle Pine, dancing as if with paired fairy legs, each gusty breath of wind sets them aflutter once again across the earthen wall. Cloaked in a nook of yellow leaves, lit up big from behind, I sit, a Writer’s Table my horizontal tableau.

The world is slowly turning, as ever, and with it the deep inhale of lengthening nights. Evenings, we set alight candles, fires, lanterns and songs to keep our eyes bright for meeting the gaze of others. Care is being given to the dusty corners of the home and the rusty, crusty mess of our neglected, work-worn feet. We are listening to hear the earth fall to slumber, our hearts striving to grow and fill this space of darkness with love, light. Hibernating, we dream our way through these early winter nights, trusting the aperture of solstice to work it’s magic one more time.

How are you keeping the personal and familial light within lit this season?





We have shifted from late summer’s wane to early autumn’s chill over this past weekend much as I remember being the case with Liam’s debut seven years ago. Summer sure is fleet of foot around here, but-oh, apples and sweaters and cook out fires and pie. I’ll get by.

Having lived seven years as a mom, my self identifying (mid 30s, educated, white, progressive) is starting to even out in my pulse rather than maintaining it’s early roar of: What Do My Choices Say About Me, What Is Best, Who Will tell Me and What Does The World Believe It Knows of Me By My Choices? I can still remember stomping along the western edge of Central Park after dark, pounding my feet to the refrain, Who am I, Who am I? (Thank you, Yassin Bey.)

Becoming a wife and mother did not appear as well-trodden paths of tradition and culture to my younger self, though as time has gone on, I have noticed more places where my footsteps overlap with my own mother, my foremothers. It felt like I had stepped into a cultural watershed where natural birthing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, co-sleeping, cloth diapering, elimination communication, baby-wearing, etc, etc were just being discovered, rediscovered and proselytized about. This perspective, of course, was part and parcel with living on the edge of Park Slope and Fort Green in 2008.

My choice to attempt natural births while at home has been hard to shine light on since, particularly in relation to the more challenging, medicated experiences of friends, when I want to be a supportive doula friend. The incredulous looks of strangers and family members and my own over indulgence in reading broadly on the internet: essays assuming home birth it as a practice of self harm, self hate or lack of feminism to ignore the choices provided by modern medicine.

And for sure, I have had to unwind a lot of what I got wound up in early on in my process of forging new identity: Yes, mom, of course I want a stroller now or Hell no, I am not making all your baby food, baby. I will however still be the mom asking you what screens my kids will have access to at your house and for how long, just as I will still be cajoling my boys outdoors to take walks and play in the mud.

I want to celebrate what I have experienced, the sheer weight and push of life passing through my body, not just once but twice. I know that if pain medicine was offered, I would have gladly swallowed (or exposed my lower spine as the case may be) and I am so grateful for the sense memory of the work, the labor, my body conducted. I feel the lineage of humanity in my bones for that.

My oldest little boy is seven now and childhood is fleet of foot, too. Already, he is not the one daily collecting gun and dagger shaped sticks by the armload. He did, sweetly, dip back into his costuming phase recently and took up his four year old self’s super hero toys. I wonder if it was a gesture of touching into younger childhood before stepping into the middle years. He is learning to read and write now and be brave in new friendships. He is so, so cool.

I wrote this next piece as a reflection on his birth. Having just reread it, I resist the urge to add, subtract or revise. I include it here as my own gesture of touching back in time:

The Body Decides:

The next day, my Jackie and I hung out, she fresh in from Tel Aviv;
she brought her period and my body responded with cramps, er
contractions. We walked to Prospect Park and spent a lazy day on the
lawn watching clouds, studying for doctor exams and then getting a
breastfeeding support pillow. The next two days, my body continued to
have contractions at random intervals and I walked ALOT. I was really
tired of being pregnant and trying to get the last few details in
order (says pre mom Devon). I felt unsure if this meant labor was
imminent, I did not want to jinx anything!
Wed night I began to have regularly occurring contractions a bit after
midnight and they lasted up until KC woke for work at which point I told
him “hon, I think I’ve been having contractions all night” “you
think?” was his logical response “ok, I’ve been having contractions
all night” (still not ready to own it).
I ate breakfast with him, texted my midwife and went back to sleep
until 11am, awoke to contractions still regular 20-30 min apart and
noticing that my back really hurt with each contraction.
Long story shorter, labor continued through the day, evening and
night. The back pain got increasingly miserable. I used tennis balls
to massage while I was home alone, KC got back around 4pm and took over
the back massage, we walked a bit, I ate a little more. I felt like
labor could go on all night and was unsure about telling my mom and
Jackie to come over at this point. KC started setting up the tub in
the living room (see his story for that part). I spent good time in
the shower with my yoga ball and hot water on my spine. Around 11pm my
vocalizations ranged from whimpers to screams and I was starting to
wonder where the freaking baby was. I found satisfaction in hitting my
wall during the contractions and found it really hard to relax during
them, but took the rest that I could between them at about 7 min apart.
Jackie arrived and tag teamed my back massages with KC and I put them
in charge of calling Kristen (my awesome, awesome midwife) when the
time was nigh. I had no interest in knowing times, measurements, any
numbers, but I really wanted things to progress so I could get to the
other side.


Around 1pm, I got up and made my way to the tub, hoping fervently that
if I got into it, I’d get back out with my baby. I started to feel
like I wanted to push (a strange sensation like, mmm, maybe a head
resting on your cervix). I told KC this twice and he called Kristen
who said she’d be right over. That was what I was waiting to hear! (I
had no real idea of how long it would take until one’s midwife shows up
but, really, what’s she going to do? Watch every contraction for 20
It turned out that she did not have long to wait, she arrived and I
was pretty much bellowing (ahem, vocalizing) through my contractions
while KC kept tremendous pressure on my back and he and Jackie said
nice, encouraging things. Kristen told me I could push and to try to
use some of my breath to push down. Good advice and I finally felt
like I was having productive pain. She told me to reach down and feel
what was going on and I could feel the water sac emerging and beyond
it my kid’s head. All I wanted was labor to end, so I was screaming
and pushing as hard as I could (after she reassured me it was normal
that it felt as though my asshole was going to burst) I could feel the
baby’s head come out, I thought he was biting me (his hand was next to
his face I learned, a true child of teachers, born with a question)
I had to wait a bit for contractions, but I was feeling pretty
hopeful now that I would be able to take a rest in the near future. A few more
pushes, when I heard “reach down and pick up your baby”. He was floating
and slippery, he was a baby. KC and I spent a while in the tub with
him while his cord finished pulsing and I delivered the placenta.


KC and I are very much learning how to be parents and I feel we are
off to a strong start. Breastfeeding was an initial challenge, but
we’ve made a lot of progress. I feel like I need to do more processing
of the actual birth-because it was scary, but it was beautiful and
powerful and I can’t believe I did it at all, let alone at home with
the indispensable help of my husband and best friends. I started
drawing some pictures about it today.
Liam really likes to sleep, just not at night, so that’s our biggest
challenge is trying to get enough rest.
My mom has turned out (not surprisingly) to be the world’s best post-
partum doula and has been helping us and loving us tremendously. Good
family and friends have been bringing us food. My step mom and mother
in law have been tremendous breastfeeding support, calm and
reassuring in the face of a bawling newborn.


Leaf Turn

The leaves are turning, so suddenly, red leaves flowing over the neighbor’s fence and the yellowing of grape leaves in our own backyard. The air is redolent with the smell of roasting chiles, that perfectly New Mexican sensory experience that I’ve carried in my nostrils to the shores of the east coast and back again. Any day now, I hope to be picking apples and stewing them down to sauce.

Last night, yoga class was jammed like so many beach blankets. Often, my wandering mind will drift to New York when I am in a Friday evening yoga class. In my Brooklyn Teacher phase, that was where I landed after a week of work and striving, to begin a weekend of camaraderie and rejuvenation. Filing out from this recent one, I was transported to a crowded yoga studio in Manhattan, where people are accustomed to dodging others’ bodies with some combination of instinct and peripheral vision, hopefully a tad more mindfully post-yoga.

Hey now, hey world, this is what my post partum body looks like. It is work for me not to envy mothers whose bodies have retained waistlines and slim profiles. My Mad Men obsession and Betty Draper are not helping, either. In my yoga practice, I am accessing deep core belly with great intention alongside of promptings to relax the pelvic floor in strong poses. I am noticing that I can have a strong and capable core and continue to have loose skin on the top. I am able to do more with my body the more effort I make. This is the body imaging work that I am joyful about conducting.

It’s possible, I may have found my core on my own, without having born children, but as it stands, busting wide open with the weight of the world was my path; a direct link to knowing and engaging those muscles, drawing them back to my midline, supporting the weight of baby, toddler, stew pot. The world as it is each day, always needs a bit more holding, tending, stewarding and I have shown up in this noble lineage of foremothers.

So, the work: enlivening through the deep primal core belly rather than doctoring the outer, social belly. Practicing forgiveness and laughter, when one’s gaze wanders down my lines and a mouth opens to wonder if I am expecting. I am learning, slowly, to dress myself in a way that de-emphasizes my pooch and to stand up tall, of course. It is really too much for me to ask of myself to say no to things that taste good and rich for more than a little while. Sometimes, I fondly hold my belly and call it my beer and ice cream baby. When my husband has been away for a spell, he approaches me with his love and his hand always lands upon my center.

Last night, before the hallway traffic jam, we rested in Svasana, or corpse pose, the final piece of an asana sequence. My head touched the floor and the thoughts spread out-“here we go, mind wandering time!” Rarely, do I put such a quick, firm brake to that. I had time to unwind, a real gift. The contours of my life and body are so hemmed in by others needs and hands these days, I recognized that I was safe from being stepped on, drooled upon, requested, needed, desired by anyone or anything for those precious moments on my mat. I guided myself to release one area of knotted energy at a time: new gifts like cues to allow each vertebrae to relax and spread all the way up my spinal column, the hemispheres of the brain letting go of one another and old favorites, allowing the gums to release their grip on the teeth, eyes softening in their sockets, follicles relaxing their grip of hair. Having worked my way up body from my toes, I let the crown of my head release for a few beats and then moved into the organs as time continued to unfold. To touch internally, these spaces, my ovaries, my heart, my liver-like so many old friends that I regularly neglect to notice.

The social female body, it truly is one part of my puzzle. I thought this form was my own, but the shape of culture infects my perceptions. There are pulses of critique that are not my own, but live in me nonetheless. Self-awareness, being a wife and a mother has shown me that my physical being provides many gifts to those I love. My body becomes my own, again, on my mat, on my bike, on a mountain trail, in water and too, when I loosen the thoughts to appreciate this moment. When I can carry and dance and laugh all at once. As a fifth grader from Bedford-Stuyvesant once told me, “Don’t hate, appreciate!”. Indeed.

How do we love ourselves, let me count the ways



Fortunate am I in having had a mid-day’s excursion to Coney Island this summer that is passing so swiftly now (and did you know its name comes from the many rabbits that used to populate the dunes? It’s true). For me, it’s an easy delight to drift from the subway station onto the boardwalk and sand, walking in reverie of days imagined and gone by; the Cyclone still creaking terrifyingly along, women in their woolen bloomers walking the towline into the sea to bathe up to their shins and now, I, fancy free to do what I will for the day.

This exquisite summer day, the beachfront was packed with modern type folk of all shapes, sizes and dispositions, though, upon reflection, the Williamsburg set maybe ought to take up the 20’s bloomers look sooner than later. Looking back at the iconic rides, the faint trill of barkers on the boardwalk, bodybuilders showing off on the metal bars, Frisbee players kicking up sand sprays, shirtless, older men with metal detectors, countless children running with abandon or fright into and out of the surf, bikini clad young women necking with girlfriends, families with hugely elaborate set ups to lug across the sand, old men escorting much younger women staring at their phones, a full spectrum of color and possibility. The world comes to Brooklyn and it’s as seductive as anything I have ever seen.

I enter slowly; it is a pilgrimage, a home coming, a full sensory experience to show up and inhale. I walk, crawl, skip and hop in my yogi way from dry sand to teasing line of ocean front.  All I have is this time and I won’t be back for awhile.

Resting on the surface of the salty water, my buoyancy was such that I envisioned falling straight up into the sky in a moment of heedless jubilation. My feet sank down and my head back up so that I might peer shoreward, inspecting from a floating distance my backpack’s continued turtle like nature. I had flown in on a red eye from Albuquerque and all my relevant objects were in that one bag; other days it was biking down Ocean Parkway to the beach or driving down the same with a young nephew in tow that necessitated that look back. There are no lockers at Coney Island.

Here, I immerse myself in people watching; the sellers with water bottles in plastic bags, softly rounded women pushing carts of ices, dressed for a cooler season and tinkling with bells, and the miraculous appearance of the Nutcracker salesman and his merrily named, fluorescent colored drink concoctions: “Call a Cab, Kick in the Nuts, Purple Motherfucker”, etc. My people on the ground tell me one can now have a Nutcracker delivery guy for home enjoyment- oh Brooklyn; you have so many wares and all for sale. I rejoice like Whitman at these small ecstasies, the audacity to shout such things over the heads of grandmothers and see bills bob up, fishing for intoxication.

And as I bobbed and floated and swam like the fish I mostly wish to be, I pondered: what if we all are beautiful as is, these supposedly brave or unabashed souls who strut out and let their flesh show so that they might enjoy the day unencumbered, what if we really feel our beauty in our uniqueness and let drop the story lines and judgments against ourselves and one another and just play free?


The Inner Landscape of Beauty

Some days, life feels like a treasure trove-like when six books recommended by friends all show up on the hold shelf at the library and other days, or moments, I can’t believe how quick the shit builds up, like, literally. Both my home space and my heart space need regular sweeping of cobwebs and detritus.

In our home, we have many different gears turning right now as new routines and rhythms are striven for, in order to accommodate new schools, new work and holding it altogether with room, and energy, left for play, connection, and regular exercise (pretty please).

These early school-year days contain just enough time to allow little guy a nap between our work morning and big guy’s afternoon pick up. He has been falling asleep on our ten-minute drive home and allowing me to transfer him straight to his bed and then taking him back out and straight to the car two hours later. This pause is in my otherwise giving, extroverted day is so very sweet. I wish we could all have siesta.

One of the treasure troves I have stumbled upon, since becoming a mother, is the full world of podcasts. Of course, there are so very many out there. I have a backlog of recommendations for friends, so I thought that I would share them here. And maybe you’d like to tell me what you are listening to or otherwise ingesting?

On Being with Krista Tippet is soul food for me; so many of her conversations, across a spectrum of thoughtful humanity, nourish me directly. This recent one with John O’Donohue is about beauty and much more. I have listened to it twice through and probably will again, I would love to talk it over with you, it is very rich. Also, I enjoyed this talk with Rami Nashashibi about creativity, community, parenting and poverty, but really: listen to all of them. Seriously.

The Moth is culled from a radio hour by the same name and consists of people telling their own stories often with some coaching around storytelling. I listened to this one while walking a long walk to yoga class and laughed and cried a lot of the way; catching flying babies on mountainsides, body image and self worth at ten thousand waves, living in the home of Poe in the Bronx.

Death, Sex and Money is a relatively new one from WNYC that I enjoy, particularly these conversations: Bill Withers on being a man and Jane Fonda on being a woman. Oh, and this guy talking about being in the funeral business.

Katy Says is a great one for geeking out over body mechanics, alignment and best practices for existing in human form. My awesome post-partum PT recommended it to me. Also, it feels like eavesdropping on two gals that you might want to befriend because they think about cool stuff and enjoy laughing. Check out the boob show to get you thinking differently about how you attire your body.

This American Life, a radio program that will keep me from getting out of the car, issues a podcast. I faithfully download and fail to listen to the majority of them. They recently ran a two-part segment on the state of American education today entitled The Problem We All Live With and I intend to find some time for those soon.

The Longest Shortest Time is a great, primarily, parenting oriented show and the creator is really striving to foster a sense of community through sharing stories about how ridiculous parenting can be. I appreciate her vision and enjoy listening to what she brings together. She recommends one called 99% Invisible which is about design and I am sure that will be another portal of listening that I would like to step into.

I got started on podcasts with Zencast, a mindfulness gateway drug if there ever was one. Listening to Tara Brock and Gil Fronsdal or Jack Kornfield as I trooped up and down Eastern Parkway, a little bundle strapped to my chest, on my way to or from quality pizza on the other side of town, might have actually saved me in my early parenting days.

Lastly, Storynory is a definite go-to for those of you with littles who could use some freshly updated, well recorded stories, classic and modern, to listen to on car rides, for resting time, etc.

I went on a long deserved vacation this summer with a dear, old-school friend and I was delighted, though not shocked, to find we listen regularly to many of the same programs. And, I know some more of you good people who already do. Here, I am trying to convert the rest of you; these recordings are springboards to support the good conversations we are already having and let us take them deeper, quicker. I need all the paths to value correlated positively with effort that I can find!

Oh my, now I want to hear them all again. Let me know if you indulge and if you are subsequently moved. Happy nourishment through story, everyone!

Remember the links are the blue text, which you can click on. I can’t quite manipulate the internet to make them less subtle on the screen. 

Crushing It With Grapes

Right now, my hands smell like chives and parsley and it has been awhile since that’s been true.

Gardening can look like a poor metaphor when my glazed eyes are surveying this year’s small attempt at growing food; three years in New Mexico has taught me that it is a true endeavor to eek sustenance out of the red soil. Locally, I am captivated and appalled by this sad ending of Gaia Gardens; an amazing exemplar of how to do just that.

My time in fertile parts of the country and my penchant for staring at homesteading blogs in my early years of parenting has kept me trying, but this year I have scaled way back on my ambitions. Lazily, I have flat out refused to water for stretches of time, trusting in rains that only fall by whim and chance to provide for my plants.

So, rather than expecting groceries to emerge from my patch of earth when for three years I have been witness to withering and dying by sun, drought, insect, cat and benign neglect, I tried to keep it way simple. Carrots and basil planted alongside my boy, greens in the hoop house, experimental melons and squashes, sunflowers for fun, oh, and potatoes, because I never have.

My ability to tend is all used up most days before the plants make the list, but one of the sweetest times of day is just past bedtime, just past sunset, standing in the yard. This year, as a gardener and landscaper cum woman of the earth, I have most relished trimming back plants, ripping out weeds, digging and yanking out roots and food plants gone to flower to soon. This is why I smell of parsley, and chives, right now.

All I really want these days is for my children and myself to have the opportunity to eat directly from plants rooted in the earth. I don’t need to be the one to sow and tend them directly, but simply to recognize and honor them while they are enjoyed. I want to be part of the village, rather than trying to be the village.

Most of what I planted this season is now suffering along the spectrum of Failure to Thrive and I fall back into gratefulness for those who do the planting and tending for me. The real metaphor in my gardening life is to do what I can and do it well, in time.

The other evening, I was able to reach up from my lazy, midnight hammock ride and pluck a grape right into my mouth, late summer sweetness is all around.




One Summer

There was a time when I rode a Greyhound bus from the Port Authority in New York City straight through to Medora, North Dakota. I cannot remember if I carried a cell phone way back then, but I do know that my sister was carrying my nephew back on Long Island and the journey lasted about three days and as many nights.

I saw Milwaukee brewing establishments from the window and sprinted down a sidewalk in Madison as far from the bus as half my time allotted. I must have been all of twenty four.

I had never been to Medora, nor heard of it, to be honest. This was during a time in my life, just after college, when I experimented with different short team, seasonal, data collection jobs for various scientists. In those days, I was able to name myself a seasonal, migrant worker and that did cause some of the more genteel folk I came upon to startle.

When you sit on a Greyhound bus for days and nights on end, there is a blurry quality, you hope, to the experience; no person or persons being too loud, no experience too jarring, just a serene land-based excursion across the hinterland. So, I wasn’t sure how I would know my stop as distinguished from all the other small towns, except that it bordered the National Park where I would be working which was named after Teddy Roosevelt and contained North Dakota’s badlands.

The road had been flat for quite some time and then to the right outside of my window the plains seemed to break into swiftly falling cliffs and ravines of many colors and just as I observed this and registered it as a land that might be called “bad”, I heard my stop called and I swiftly alighted from my diesel steed.

Medora was (and I presume is) a small town and with that, a cast of characters. I walked an easy half block to a timber built bookstore (where I would later be lucky to be both employed and surrounded by excellent literature native to the plains) and after inquiring from the owner, learned that the parks’ housing I was seeking were a scant three blocks further on away from the main drag and towards the Park.

I lived in a small house, first in a row that looked across the pavement to the park itself. I shared it with my field-mate, a very nice young man and that first night we affected nonchalance at the idea of bunking together in a shared room; twin beds separated by an average sized nightstand, when our only slightly older employer gave us the word.

This part of North Dakota, in the summertime, is unlike anywhere else I have been. Wild horses and buffalo were about the land. Wildflowers, rattle snakes, biting flies without a doubt and mudpuppies once or twice in a proper pond. It is quiet and beautiful, the heavens are bright.

Our job was to collect data on the area’s amphibians; eggs through adults, location and frequency and the like. The land there is often dry and the little guys were likely to breed after rains, we would hunt out the footprints left by buffalo where a puddle might form long enough for eggs to be laid.

The plains break, so I learned to call it, and colored layers thread horizontally through the broken parts, looking like birthday cake and letting us stare down the years.

One friend worked in the town’s bike shop. At the end of this summer, he would pack my bike and ship it to Brooklyn, where I would quickly be relieved of it after falling to lock more than my front wheel at the Botanic Gardens; swift teacher, that Brooklyn.

The Maah Daah Hey Bike Trail ran nearby and there was some passion for off mountain biking in the area, including amongst my set of friends. I made some evening forays on my own, because I have never been cool enough to ride with reasonable abandon off road, up and down small stream beds, past wildflowers, to the river and it’s swallow-built nests and smooth, cool stones.

Another friend, who grew up outside of town, up on the higher lands, brought me to ride horses. The horse stepped on my combat boot shod foot, I shoved and she stepped off and it was all right. We rode and rode west and then she pointed further on and told me, “That’s the Breaks up there” and then I knew what to call them. Later, I’d learn that Brooklyn comes from “broken land”, too.

The main saloon in town sat adjacent to the railroad tracks. We drank there and urinated off the other side of the tracks when it got late enough to warrant such behavior. One night, extra young science collectors in town, we all emerged from the saloon into a drenching rain and played football in the street. It felt emblematic in the moment and I have never done that again, to be sure.

My field mate and I spent long days traipsing over the land, employing compass and GPS to visit our froggy sites and mark newly discovered ones. My uniform was galoshes, mud caked pants and my aunt’s old button down shirts with a sun hat to top me off.

One day with a cool breeze and a strong sun, we came upon a group of wild horses eating from the grasses and we crouched behind boulders to gaze at them, time slowed down to a near stop. That was the time when we most nearly held hands and I felt ashamed that I did not know if I could do so for just that magic moment and not feel beholden ever after.

Too, we played at bowling where the rocks were the size of bowling balls on pedestals of softer, eroded rock. We went bowling for real in a bigger town, near the Walmart, due east. It was there I felt ambition rise: to see my name on bowling alley walls across the land for high score, another as of yet unrealized dream.

It was a simple summer, ice cream cones, bbqs and work without direct oversight. The Iyengar Way came in the mail, from a NM friend, and my outdoor yoga practice, under shade cast by cottonwood trees, began. I contemplated a job in the Florida Keys, monitoring the fall hawk migration, but instead returned home to Long Island to await the birth of my nephew and wait tables for a spell. I’d like to go back.