December 2019. Gina and Dina take possession of a 1970’s starter home. Three bedrooms, one bathroom, big fenced backyard. The little slip of a garage would have been snug for a Chevelle, but it’s perfect for my Corolla. Dina’s beige minivan (her kids play soccer, to boot) graces the curb.
We are a pair of mama bears who dislike being co-dependent on our children’s fathers. And, since we have found mothering in isolation to be unbearable, we are moving toward a paradigm of regenerative interdependence.
By “regenerative interdependence,” I mean working together with a whole sense of self.
Looking within and around us, we see there is no time to simply survive. We must thrive. No eyes for old stories, no space to play small. We must lean toward our deepest instincts for self-preservation and claim what is ours: abundance, authenticity, creativity, and balance.
37 years old. Chinese, Jewish & Irish. Mostly wants to write poetry and dance in the moonlight but has also agreed, at her ancestors’ request, to take on the task of shifting generational trauma in her maternal and paternal lineages. As the eldest of three sisters, she now mothers three daughters.
35 years old. Egyptian & Lebanese. Exceptionally-fertile mother of two. An Ayurvedic chef and Yoga therapist with brilliant curly hair who creates safe spaces for embodied expression and empowered movement.
Lilyana (age 4), Bella Rose (age 2), Shams (age 4), and Athena (age 3). They are boisterous, sweet, strong-willed, and cute as buttons. They’ve been through some tough transitions, and are healing alongside us.
We signed a one-year lease. Therefore I shall aim to publish something every week, whether it be a blog post, a podcast, or a picture to Instagram. I am also collecting pledges: even a few dollars a month will help our work immensely! Get your friends to pledge, too! (We are able to receive tax-deductible donations.)
Here I sit like a glamping squatter in our empty house. Dina hasn’t moved in yet. Although the rest of the place echoes, feels naked, and nearly shivers, my room is warm.
I’ve slept here for three nights, but this is the first time I’ve been home alone. No kids. For awhile, I didn’t know what to do with this. I ate a salad with an entire container of guacamole. Moved my hanging plant from the bathroom to the bedroom. Looked through bags of packed belongings, tried to consolidate something, didn’t get far—my furniture won’t arrive for almost a week. Finally settled down in front of my computer to write, like I knew I would. Started documenting this lifestyle experiment, like I said I would.
I’m sharing our story.
It is our intention, Gina and Dina, mama bears on a mission, to grow our dream seeds right where we’re planted. It is our intention to live our best fully-expressed lives. To heal and create wealth. Much like ourselves, this old house has needed quite a bit of cleaning, mending, and touching up. And much like ourselves, it responds with great appreciation. It wants to be a loving space. It’s built for connection. It’s happy we’re here.
As for the rest of the neighborhood…well, the other morning I had a meltdown in front of the folks who live across the street. I’ll be dropping notes in surrounding mailboxes soon, for good measure.
Winter Solstice, and it happens to be the day that my stuff arrives from San Jose, and Dina’s stuff arrives from storage! Boxes are being carried in. Doors are being removed to fit the new refrigerator (things must have been smaller in the seventies). Kids are running around with each other’s toys. Friends are here with food and helping hands. There is a feeling of vibrant chaos one can’t help but smile at. Our dinner starts as a picnic on the floor, but within 15 minutes we have a table and chairs. Conversation centers around cultural appropriation and public welfare, temper tantrums and poop.
This day marks a great turning of the tides, both for the macrocosm and our microcosm. As the light begins growing longer again, we embrace new days, and new ways of being. The timing isn’t lost on me, neon-bright symbolism, divine orchestration, sign-posts of an authentic life.
In another stroke of synchronicity, the house next door finally sold after sitting, despondent, for who knows how many months. (Put it this way—we probably could have squatted that house just as successfully as we’re renting this one.) The realtor’s sign came down the same day we took possession. Now they’re beginning a massive remodel, just as we’re settling in and remodeling our lifestyles.
En-vironment mirrors In-vironment.
Establishing new rhythms starts with clarity about what’s out of whack. Like how Lily refuses to put on pants, every single day, and insists that she is boss. Rose doesn’t nap after lunch, which means she is in constant danger of falling asleep in the car around five o’clock when we’re finishing our afternoon outing, pushing bedtime to about 11 pm. All of the kids have a tendency to scream, yell, hit, and stomp over the slightest imagined injustices.
I’m also aware of my own whacky tendencies. Over the holidays I ate things I knew better than to eat, and drank things I knew better than to drink. Right now I feel heavy, sluggish, and disoriented. It’s like I took this quantum leap toward my dreams and then promptly blasted myself to smithereens. What other behavior patterns sabotage my efforts to rewire my life simply because my subconscious mind has pre-set beliefs it doesn’t readily release?
I consider how I’ve just separated from my kids’ father with whom I was bound like a loom for the past seven years. How I’m a tree still holding a few dead leaves, shaking in the breeze this leap created, hair blowing in the wind of change. How I’ve spent enough time in my body to know how it cycles. How I feel my wings unfolding behind me and my spine realigning after holding my heart back for so long.
I consider the house next door. We’re like two strangers who don’t know they’re in step with each other, yet the presence of resonant rhythms regulates both nervous systems. Those owners could have found a newer house, just as I could have. But something in my body said this is the one. This is where the work wants to be done. A place with history, and character, like my body. And now I sit in the peaceful light of my bedroom, DNA detangling as I type, the sound of a power-saw cutting roughly into my eardrums.
Dina and I are quite clear that this new year is all about creating consistent rhythms that function optimally. With open space (and a fresh decade) stretching out before us, we commit to radical honesty, vulnerable self-acceptance, and fierce grace.