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Posted on: Monday

Spring break has never meant too much to us. It comes and goes each year without occasion, save for the noticeably fewer NYU students downtown. The streets quiet down a bit. You might randomly run into a few old friends who you haven't seen in years, fellow old-fashioned city dwellers who stick around town when everyone else goes away. But aside from that, spring break means business as usual. Or at least it did. Before we had a daughter in school. 

What does it mean now? It means sleeping late, cooking more. Long, slow-roasted meals with fresh vegetables from the farmers market. Strawberries for breakfast. Painting our toes bright colors. Paul McCartney and Beirut and Iggy Pop. It means adventures in the daytime with my brood, weaving through the sidewalks of the village, taking our time, manifesting adventure. I may not be taking my kids around the world, but we discover whole universes here at home. Like our favorite treehouse, hiding in plain site in a magnificent city garden. 

We've been to most of the gardens in the neighborhood, but this one is special- almost wild, and always full of music and wonder.  The plants are luscious and unkempt in a way where you feel not the precision of what man can create but the fury or what nature can. The dirt feels different- it almost pulsates under your feet. The birds sing louder. When you stand in this garden, in the heart of Alphabet City, you're no longer in the city at all. You've entered a storybook. We like to call it Narnia.   

To Narnia we walk, hand in hand like a string of paper dolls, a happy little band of outsiders. Biet is on one side clasping Lou's hand, anchoring him at street lights, leading the way. I am on the other with Levon slumbering on my chest. I pace my steps to his tiny breath and walk with the rounded gait of a woman with child. After three pregnancies I don't think that cloud-like walk will ever fully leave, as if my body now completely expects to always be carrying a child in one way or another, and has compensated with a slightly softer, slower step. Biet cautions us each time we pass an open sidewalk gate. With a devilish grin and quick laugh, Lou excitedly tries to derail us down random side streets. The sun shines warm on our backs and we march south. The garden awaits, with its fresh tulip bulbs and slanted wooden treehouse. Spring is here.

Inside the garden we meet a man who feeds the pigeons and tends to the vegetables. Tomatoes, carrots, basil, we grow it all, he says. The children are enchanted. He looks Lou in the eyes and speaks to him like a man, and then hands him a rake. Get to work. Lou's eyes widen with pride and a grin spreads across his face. He rakes and rakes the patch of dirt he's assigned to until he's worn himself out. I am so proud of him.  The man brings a bag of birdseed and teaches them how to call pigeons. Plumes of seed fly from their tiny hands and fill the air, and suddenly pigeons are everywhere, gracefully spreading their wings above us and perching on the branches at our sides. Biet says she thinks they are beautiful. The white one is her favorite.  

We climb the ancient wooden ladder up into the treehouse for lunch. Laying upon the weathered wooden beams, we share mangos, apples, and cheese. I nurse Levon. I don't even know what time it is now. It doesn't matter. Biet disappears down the ladder and goes wandering, and after a little while of spending time with just my boys, I climb down to find her.  I see her standing stoically in front an empty flower bed of overturned soil with a dusty found pocket mirror in her hand.  A dozen or so pigeons hop about at her feet, combing the stones for rogue seeds and breadcrumbs. Her gentle hands silently tilt the mirror back and forth, up and down, until it catches the sunlight and beams it across the flowerbed, like a tiny golden spotlight coming from her fingertips. She sees me watching her and tilts the mirror up, shining the light into my eyes and blinding me momentarily. She laughs mischievously. The notion that she can control the sunlight is so grand, so otherworldly, that it overtakes her and she excitedly reports, "Mama look! I can make magic!"

My Biet. I love that you believe in magic. I do too. I love that you consider the birds of the city your kin. I love that you dive into your own little worlds sometimes, twirling your fingers in front of your face in spastic circles and crossing your eyes and not giving a damn who sees you doing it. And when I gently ask you what you're doing, you tell me matter-of-factly, "Oh Mama, I'm just making pixie dust." I love that you know that you're strong enough to build anything you dream of and wise enough to always come up with a plan to get it done. I love that you're a planner. I'm one too, you know. And I love that you are the most stubborn person I know when it comes to following through with your plans.  

The sun is getting low in the sky and we say goodbye to the man. The birds are fed and the soil is raked, and it is time to say farewell. We plan to come back tomorrow, and every day of spring break, to tend to our garden. Next time we will bring seeds. 



Posted on: Thursday


Soon after my first baby was born, I found myself floating in a sea of old friends and cherished memories. Amongst the singles and couples, artists and parties, and same glorious world of the downtown set that had become my everyday since moving to New York City, I floated. But now, I was there with a baby. I'd birthed a beautiful little girl in the pink-tiled kitchen of our railroad apartment on second street, and now had to learn to navigate the murky waters of our new world. As the first of our friends to have a child, we knew nothing, were willing to learn everything, and approached our new roles with as much gusto as two sleep deprived first-time parents could muster. It wasn't easy. Then again, it wasn't too hard. But more and more often, we found ourselves floating, still part of the same NYC that we knew and loved, but at the same time, in brand new, unfamiliar territory.

And so, I went to the place where I feel most at home- within my words. I began to write. 

I shared my birth story and for the first time, I was met with reactions that were empowering and accepting rather than judgmental or skeptical. Instead of giving me a look of bewilderment or taking two steps back when they heard that we'd birthed our baby at home, women were emailing me and asking "What was it like?" or chiming in, "Me too!".  It was the very beginning of an online community. MY online community. It was a glittery little lifeboat filled with new friends, and it was raw and honest and uplifting. I became passionate about telling my stories, and motherhood began to make sense.

The words flowed and the blog grew. Online friends became real life friends. With the birth of my son, I became a mother of two. My world, and my days, became more and more full. Then came sponsorships and social media, and the blogging fortress that I'd built and which rested so near and dear to my heart became my actual job. I was so grateful. But I watched as the online worlds of many writers slowly became bigger and more powerful than their real-life worlds.  I watched as online personas and branding overtook individuality and authenticity. Trying to fit into this new ocean of blogging, my words began to feel forced. That's when I knew that I needed a break from it all. I needed a sabbatical. 

I continued to write privately, cultivating my ideas and reflecting on gratitude and change. I focused on slowing down. I cooked more. I dug in the dirt with my children. I traveled to California. I developed my photography. I became pregnant again and birthed my third child at home in our new apartment in an unassisted home birth. I lived life. I gathered stories. And I knew that when the time was right, I would once again tell them to the world. 

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
 — Howard Thurman

The passion to write, to connect, swelled within me. I was busier than ever, with three children under five, a daughter in pre-K, a newborn, a thriving photography business, a pitbull, and a husband (who told me daily that he missed reading my blog).  But if motherhood has taught me one thing, it is that we are truly capable of anything we put our minds to, and that the more we do, the more we can do. 

And so, I write. 
I try to connect.
I tell my story. 
And I want to read yours. 

I have this theory that having kids forces us to abruptly reach our full potential (more on that later!), to take those risks we always wanted to, and to live as authentically as we can for our children's sake. If you had told me five years ago that today I would be sitting here at my laptop, writing (my then brand-new blog) at a fever pitch into the night, while simultaneously planning my daughter's fifth birthday party and my older son's third birthday party, and nursing my four-month-old son, I would have laughed boisterously. "Never in a million years!", I would have told you.  

But your gut has a funny way of steering you in the right direction, and my gut says that it's once again time to connect, to make my voice heard. I have so much to tell. I have so much to hear. And thank you so much for listening. 


(I'm seriously looking for new blogs to read and friends to connect with, so please let me know via email or comments if you know of any spectacular writers out there. Let's uplift each other in this community together. Peace and love, dear friends!)

Images via my photo project with I Dig Denim

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