Updated Packing List

Today I updated my (1-human) packing list and removed references to photocopies, travelers’ checks, and digital cameras that use floppy disks. (You heard that right. If only I could find that relic!) Bringing the packing list straight from 2003 up to 2017.

Q&A, you’re up next.

See packing list updates below….


: : : Packing List, for 1 Single Traveler

Wondering how to pack everything you need into one carry-on?

Some people find this process stressful, but I rather enjoy the challenge and simplicity of sorting through what is essential enough to qualify for space in my carry-on. Learning how and what to pack from the process of trial and error might be a rite-of-travel-passage, but if you want to skip ahead of that costly learning curve, here’s a basic packing list of some recommended gear.  My travel style is minimal, high-quality, active, techie, and mom-friendly. So proceed if that resonates with you. 🙂

Here are a few options and details on some of my personal favorite travel items:

Daypack: A small daypack or backpack is a necessity. Something that you can use to carry a book, camera, water bottle, and poncho on short outings. Remember to sling shoulder strap bags across your body and to turn backpacks to the front in crowded subways and busy streets. Osprey makes my current go-to day pack. It packs down to AIR, so I can store it right in my carry-on if I don’t feel like carrying two bags.

Kindle PaperWhite: My bedside table at home has no less than 15 books stacked on it that I rotate through based on my mood. And ADHD reading is not a travel-friendly addiction. The Kindle solves the problem. But the Paper White: Have you seen one!? It does NOT feel like an electronic device (which is my biggest problem with e-readers). It looks exactly like a good old fashioned, finger-turning, paper page. Technology at its simple best.  The technology is intentionally (?) outdated enough to ensure there’s no room to wander online or get distracted by pop-up instant messages. Seriously. Just like a good old book, but palm-able. Get your hands on one and try it out. You’ll see what I mean.

Travel Journal: Use it for everything: travel expenses, journaling, scrap book, photo album, poetry, sketching. I tape/glue in old tickets and extra spectacular postcards and encourage new friends to get artistic. Bring a couple pictures of your home, family, kids, and best mates to share with new friends who you meet (gasp!) offline.  My journals are my most prized possession from each of my trips and I look forward to reviewing them in my rocking chair when I’m 80 (somewhere on the French coast if you were wondering). I’m a big fan of the Moleskin line for my journals.

Travel Alarm: Use your phone or buy something cheap and replaceable to help you hurdle time zones.  In general, I don’t buy or travel with fancy watches or jewelry. Most of my top travel destinations involve minimal decoration; sandy beaches and precious metal do not go together. Leave your valuables at home for the weightlessness of peace-of-mind.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural sleep aid that helps the body adjust its sleep cycle when jumping time zones. (If anyone knows if I can use this with my kids, please let me know.)

Camera: I’m currently (2016-17) travelling and experimenting with a Panasonic LUMIX mirrorless. The jury is still out.

Stored Images:  Take phone photos of your passport(s), drivers license, maps you want to quickly access upon arrival, etc. Store the digital copies somewhere secure and accessible in the case of theft or loss. Put a passcode on your iphone if you don’t already have one.

Money: FYI, travelers checks died in 2016. Register your shock and move on.  So don’t forget your debit card (accepted virtually everywhere), some hard cash (in small denominations) and a credit card. My husband is a business owner, so our family flies almost purely on award tickets earned from our United Explorer Card.  That’s a winning tip if you have a lot of expenses (ie. children), and feel comfortable putting everything on a credit card and paying it off every month.

Pimsleur Language Audio Lessons: I personally believe that language is the front-door key to unlocking the magic and mysteries of a place and people. I also think it’s an act of basic respect to introduce myself and offer greetings in the language of the country (so kindly) hosting me. So I never leave home without investing in a month into language study first. Pimsleur is an audio language course that gets that job done effectively. It’s mom-friendly in that it only requires 20-minutes a day. And it offers instant oral building skills that ensure confident and correct pronunciation.  I’m such a fan, I’d infomercial Pimsleur for free. I’ve worked through the full Pimsleur Spanish and French courses and introductory Portuguese, Indonesian and Mandarin. I’m back to working through my Spanish course again if that gives you any hint of where I’m going next. Pro-tip: Language study sharpens mom-brain and staves off dementia. Savings Tip: I use my backlog of Audible credits to purchase the lessons.

Money Belt: 20-years of travelling, and I still take my money belt. I rarely wear it, but I like having a discreet pocket for cash, passports and cards that I don’t take out for the day.

Leatherman Tool: It’s an insult to call a Leatherman Tool a “pocketknife”, but for lack of a better word I’ll use the term. They are the best and highest quality multi-purpose tools on the market. Get a StylePS for your pocket (which is TSA approved!) and a Juice CS4 for your checked bag. This is THE travelers’ tool – by which all will swear. Full Disclosure: My brother is the CEO and President of Leatherman. But my recommendation is fierce regardless.  Subtext: super proud of my bro.

Super-Absorbent Travel Towel: You can get one of these towels at travel stores or via Amazon. These special towels are super-absorbent, very lightweight, dry in an instant, and come in handy often. If you’re staying at hotels/houses, skip this.

Silk Sleep Sack: If you’re travelling through particularly warm climates or utilizing beds where you might prefer your own sheet, you should have *or make* a sleep sack. For those on a budget, you can make one simply by sewing two sheets together or you can pick one up at any travel store. Many hostels charge you for renting sheets, and you can save cash by bringing one of these. They also keep you safe from “suspicious” sleeping quarters.  I have also jumped in mine on overnight trains, while sleeping in stations/on ferries and stuffed it as a pillow on bumpy busses and the like. My starchy cotton sleep sheet worked well enough, but it didn’t keep me particularly warm and took up a lot of space in my pack. Solution? The Silk Sleep Sack: Silk insulates you better, cleans easier, takes up NO space at all in your pack…and FEELS like butter. Yes, it’s about 40 bucks more than the cotton one, but if you’re doing serious traveling, it’s worth the cost for the extra comfort and added space in your pack.

Shoes: Shoes are heavy, hard to pack and stink when wet.  Again, pay the extra buck. Comfort counts here more than you’ll ever know. Here’s what I take (as of 2016-17):

    • A pair of super light-weight trail shoes like these New Balance WT10V4.  For planes, running, hiking, mud, chasing littles. Clean up and (hang) dry in a minute. Take up minimal space in the bag. #winning
  • A pair of Chaco sandals or other utility sandal. They work for beaches, showers, mountains, caves, rivers, oceans, monsoon, etc.
  • Your favorite pair of style-sandals or all-weather boots, depending on where you’re going.

First-Aid Kit: Make sure to include: Band-Aids in all sizes, bug repellent, scrape ointment, mini sewing kit, Tylenol, a couple days worth of cold medicine, antimalarial meds *if needed*, all your prescriptive allergy medicine and birth control. Infections never heal abroad, so take care of your scrapes.

Glasses: Sun AND prescriptive. Make sure to bring a sink plug if you wear contacts.

Bathroom Bag: Get one made especially for traveling. The best are the ones with the hook on top so you don’t have to lay it down on any wet or suspicious surfaces. Put all squeeze bottles in zip-lock baggies during flights. Do bring a package of wet wipes to clean up hands and face when you’re waterless. Bring soap — liquid for the shower and a laundry bar for your clothes.

Ziplock Bags: In all sizes. Things will leak, explode, get wet and smell. But the Ziplock gods will spare you many of these messes should you pay them homage at the supermarket pre-trip.

Iphone Battery Case: I use my iphone less when travelling, but I also charge it less. A battery case offers you an extra full charge in your pocket. Which can be priceless. On that note, also don’t forget your international travel adapter plug kit.

Travel Guides: Have each travel mate bring a different guide. I recommend both the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide series. I also like to download the PDF versions on the LP website to my husband’s Ipad for offline access.

Update Lists: Before you leave, remember to set up an e-mail list, text group, or mini-blogging platform like Tumblr.  Figure out at least one way to share images and updates with your mom who isn’t on Instagram.

Water Bottle: I pretty much never leave the house without my HydroFlask. Unfortunately, my kids have taken hostile ownership over my straw-lid version. So that’s clearly a hit.

Book: If you do ever get tired of looking out the window of the train/bus, and you’ve already studied the guide for the country you’re going to next, you might want some other form of entertainment and a good book is a best friend. Other travelers are often happy to trade and exchange literature. Here’s a link to my new Reads recommendation list.

Locks for your Bags: I use mini code-locks (preferred over key locks which can get misplaced too easily). They aren’t so much meant to protect as to discourage theft by making you look smart enough to not be picked on.

Essential Oils: I tend to travel with the basics as I have trouble moving around without them. Lavender for skin issues and chilling out the children in the bathtub. Citronella and Lemongrass for mosquito repellent. Frankincense for purification of new (stinky) spaces. And Thieves (by Young Living) for immunity support (which I dab on the kids feet before plane travel).

Clothing: The clothes you pack are highly dependent on many factors, including, but not limited to: destination, weather, activities, season, formality, style, length of stay, washing resources and budget. Here’s some general advice:

  • Stay away from cotton. It’s heavy, it wrinkles, it’s hard to wash and dry and it starts smelling bad, fast. Opt for nylon or polyester blends, which dry super fast, are easy to wash, don’t hold stains and don’t wrinkle.
  • Dark and neutral colors are best.  Ditch the denim also, or bring only your favorite pair of jeans; it’s bulky, heavy and takes days to dry.
  • If you have the cash, the special travel friendly clothing can be worth the money. In my earlier (budget) years, I just brought a bunch of old stuff I knew I could throw away (and did). Now that I have, um, matured in age, I am more opt to invest in the gear with extra zippers, extra air-pockets, special linings, super fast-dry fabrics, fine styling, and easy-clean materials. The designers who make this stuff know what they’re doing. Everything takes up about an inch of space in my pack (think carry-on only) and I am never too cold or hot, cleans up in two minutes in the sink, and survives the duress of travel with the grace of a buddhist monk. If you really want to step up your travel style, invest in a piece or two from Anatomie. I am a huge fan of Anatomie jackets in particular. And I’m saving for a pair of their famous Skylar pants. (Sign up for their emails as they have 75% off flash and pop-up sales!).
  • If you’re going though cities with proper nightlife, you’re going to want to feel incognito (from your tourist status). So don’t forget a lightweight all-black/navy outfit that can dress up or down. And I wouldn’t link to it again if it didn’t guarantee that you’d feel amazing and fit your wardrobe into a carry-on: Anatomie.
  • Everyone packs twice as much as they need (even me, two decades of trips later). Try your hardest to keep your selection simple and remember that you can almost always supplement from local stores on the other side. A commonly quoted travelers’ rule of thumb: “When you’re ready to go, lay out all your gear and money and then repack half as many clothes and twice as much money.”

The Backpack:  Depending on the nature of the trip, this might be the most important investment. Spend good time researching the pack that meets your needs (and each person’s needs differ). Talk to sales reps, guides and friends. Research and shop around.  The added comfort will be worth every extra dollar. My pack and I have shared multiple adventures, I treat it as a friend, and I won’t be the first traveler to admit to talking to it….or rather, “hearing” it calling me from the closet enticing me into my next adventure. And that’s good travel advice to end on: Always listen to your pack.

from the fertile ground

The doors keep opening,
And though my head is still heavy for the pillow,
I accept it as a slamming omen,
To at least write this sentence,
About opening, slamming, sentence-rising, omens.

It came to me in the night.
So it must be true.
A story not yet told in the way it wants to be,
But reaching out for me,
With an obscured and groping hand.

If I write a thousand pages in four sentences, can I please sleep?

My first pregnancy gave me my first child.
My second pregnancy put a makeshift headstone under the lilac in the corner garden.
My third pregnancy pulled my soul up my throat in dry-heaved grief.
My fourth pregnancy seared my wounds with the deliverance of my second child.

Sleep is fertile ground for stringing worlds and words.
With this lazy rational,
I crawl greedily back into bed.


Sweeping the pebbles from the patio,

I feel the threadbare knees of my first jeans,

I grow small in perspective and large in wonder,

Fill with a sense of play in the clean efficiency of my imagined homestead duties,

Playing House.

But with an above-the-crowd howl of the wind,

The sleeping baby inside will truly wake and shatter the make-believe,

And the 4-year will lift his head from the frothy edges of his dinosaur scape,

As his belly rumbles for a snack, and his eyes and ears, always,

Track back to mom.

And my quiet, methodical sweeps,

Like long overdue breaths.

Will shorten back to the task-hood of motherhood.

And I will grow too tall in perspective,

And the broom will become too heavy in obligation.

And instead of the space swept clean,

I’ll feel the weight of the looming hours before-bedtime around corners.

Expanding and contracting in this way.

Playing house. And just House.

The shapeshifting between inner and real child.

The true breath of parenting.



where blue meets blue



a world where stars live in the ocean

those are the boundaries of his Possible

where blue and blue meet

in boundless bardo

and just when I saw it taking shape in the distance

his 4-year old finger points out that it is neither framed nor contained

but a confluence.

“mom, look at the stars in the ocean”

what stars mean to him, I have trouble remembering

and what stars mean to me…

just another story called science.

something passed around by edition,

instead of by campfire,

by grandmother.

What is truly the distinction, the distance,

between that above the horizon,

and below?

one a reflection of light.

the other a reflection of light.

one a perception.

the other perceived.

one white-capped water.

the other white-capped drops of water.

one the filtering of color through atmosphere.

the other the filtering of color through water.

till they meet together,

in blue meets blue

and bleed.


(Sometimes motherhood leaves you with nothing but chicken-scratch sentences. But I’m trying to write like I take deep breaths during the day. That’s my legal disclaimer for the next 40-days of chicken-scratch where I’m meant to be on professional sabbatical but am quite technically still the mother of a 4-year old and 1-year old who has only the hour before sunrise and the lucky chance of a synchronized nap).

The Dualistic Nature of Plane Travel with Toddler (plus pro-tips)

There’s no less than 9 literary journals in my suitcase, but not even my thin and beloved litmag made the top-10 for my carry-on on this family trip. Occupying that precious space, instead, is an arsenal of sly snacks meant to pacify, occupy, and null-cry.  These treats are meant to inspire curiosity and copious amounts of chewing, otherwise known as not-whining, not-biting, and not-screaming. Because the world of travelling-with-toddler IS purely dualistic, where almost every minute falls into the category of okay or evil. If I find a micro-minute of buoyant, observant, equilibrium, it will sound a bit like this in my head:

“Oh my god. The baby has been successfully constrained in a semi-reclining position and is almost closing her eyes. The toddler is hidden, and quiet, in the “tent” underneath our legs. This is it! A moment of peace, descending upon me this very second! Is it truly happening? Has it happened already? Oh no, it’s almost gone! Wait, it’s still here….” img_2546

Then the piercing screech of a near-sleep baby as the toddler pushes the baby’s errant leg out of his way. Needless to say, peace has fleeted.

When the stewardess passes, she dares ask me if I’d like something to drink. I briefly wonder what about my situation looks like it should have a top-heavy, precariously placed, plastic cup (with spiky spinning instrument) on top of it. And then I catch myself being impatient and rude, and politely decline.

There’s a balding man in front of my husband’s seat who clearly has no children, nephews, nieces, neighbor families, or pets. While I’m not the type to pass out prim packages of ear plugs with thank you notes, I am exceptionally aware of and sensitive to the discomfort of those around me and am quick to put on my extra friendly and apologetic game. But this man has turned his head around ten times before the plane has even departed, in suggestion of his disgust with the not-silent and not-still children behind him. My children are standard-bad, but not more than that.  “Yes!” I want to shout at him. “They are caged beasts desperately in need of free-range play! That’s the very reason we’re going to an island for six weeks: to unleash them!”

Rant ranted. Let’s get practical:

Airplane Toddler + Baby Pro Tips:

  • Mantra: “I’ve got this.”img_2613-jpg
  • Emergency Only: For instant, emergency, 5-10 minutes of quiet, keep these on hand: YumEarth Organic Pops. They literally require a shut-mouth to work.
  • Something new and pocket-friendly (for the toddler):  Schleich Mini Dinosaur Set. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Winking @ all the mommas of 4-year olds out there.
  • Ipad & Kid headphones. There’s a time and place for screen time, and this is it.
  • It flashed on me during this trip that an airplane seat travel harness makes a lot of sense for the under-two crowd if you don’t have a carseat with you.  Not for safety, but because lock-down mode inspires sleep in the way a carseat does. #prioritiesstraight
  • On the above note, ENSURE your car seat is airplane-friendly. It needs some kind of FAA approved sticker. I had no idea. And they (#$@%@$) made us gate-check our carseat. Learn from our pain.
  • Kindle PaperWhite: This is on my personal, single-person, travel packing list. But I recently discovered that you can download kids books for free as well onto it! Huge bonus on a quiet day when your preschooler just needs a NEW book. Downside: black and white on the Paperwhite. Hard to navigate. Not even easy to download or organize. Upside: A cache of never-read books in the palm of your hand. And we all know how far new goes.






The Inheritance of Travel (in response to the prompt: How did you get here?)

There are stories in my body that I could tell: Of the hip sway I found in the lead of a grey-haired woman with a sign on her Antigua door that read, “salsa lessons.” Of my left palm touching my right forearm when I outstretch my hand to receive change, a show of respect acquired in the Himalayas that I still offer to the cashier in the Rockies today. Of the scars left from volcano-esqe mosquito bites erupting staff infection before I feverishly limped into a Thai pharmacy and was sent to bed for a forgotten-week. Or of the way my pores flushed one Senegalese summer as the son of a Sufi chief and I cross-compared cultural parables until the intersecting storylines merged as one. Or of the blisters on my heels pierced with hot needles and colored thread, one of a hundred pilgrim secrets whispered in my ear while walking 1,200 miles across Europe. But when I put my pen to paper, my hand is inclined to curl the script into a different story as to how I ended up here.



My mother once said to me, “You know we’re the same? When I was 21, I had all your same urges and inclinations and had I the option to fly into dark skies and wake up in inconceivable places, with a eye on the landscape and pen in hand, I would not have hesitated….” She continued, “…but it was not within my realm of consciousness. I was in the first class of women allowed at my university. In 1962, that was pushing the cultural boundaries. The day I graduated, the world cheered, “Congratulations! Now you can get married and have children!”

So I got here by a cadre of boundary-pushing great-great grandmothers and great-great-aunts and great-great intrepid strangers. An ancestry carried luggage and loads to the homes and hospitals where they birthed the potential to take the story a chapter further, to this one, where the pages flip furiously in the choosing of own-adventures. An army of explorers took timid first steps onto boats and planes and over borders, and each of those paths in some shape, stone, or step, contributed to mine.

As he rubbed sleep from his eyes this morning, my son said, “Mama, can we get on an airplane today?” In recognition of the obvious inheritance of my travel gene, I marveled at the canvas of his perfect body, wondering what deserts and waters and landscapes might leave their imprint upon it. Where will I carry my children and what ceilings might I also shatter to break open the world in ways I might characterize to my daughter 30-years from today — as inconceivable?

thank you for humble leadership

I consider it my highest mission as an intercultural educator to foster and encourage empathy, humility and vulnerability in my students. And as it is in both my personal and professional cultures to express gratitude where it is due, I want to say this: Dear Barack Obama, thank you for your humble leadership. For shedding a tear at the podium, for the depth of your bow in Asia, and for going to places (geographically and metaphorically) where no President has gone before. Your humble leadership made me (newly) proud in a world where the revelations of my country’s history within others’ left me red-faced. In 2009, from Asia to Latin America, the word “Obama” became practically a greeting in the universal languages of high fives and welcoming smiles. Speaking for the troops of humility-builders on the ground, I want you to know that — all over the world — something shifted when you entered office: gentle understanding was extended in exchange for your humble gestures of recognition and respect. And when I came back home to the US, I felt I could work with confidence leading from below, knowing you were doing the same from above. In this politically-desolate world, I’ve felt you as both ally and friend; inching together towards a common mission, inspired by your grit to build my own in this increasingly complex world. But I hope you haven’t felt alone. I’m only one of millions, but I want to shake your hand, give you a high five, and (seriously) hug you. Thanks for going gray for us. I went a little gray too. But am ever so grateful for the 8-years of shared journey.






November Watermelon & the Geographical Seasons of Darkness, Shade, and Light

The prompt: June: Historical, Cultural, Personal Memories

Eternal summer. Who doesn’t want 70 degrees 7 days a week? That’s what they say in San Diego. And wasn’t life sunshine. The money flowed. The boyfriend had soccer calves and prince-dimples. The sunsets dripped like honey. And I stayed till it was dark. Waiting for something. That blazing ball snuffed, the revelers had left. They just turned their backs and went home. Why couldn’t I? But I couldn’t stop focusing my eyes on the space in between stars. There had to be more. If I watched, it would surface.  When nothing did, in that waiting space, I whittled away my belongs to nothing. And bought a one-way ticket into that dark sky.

I could see the ground passing through a hole in the floor of the taxi cab. Dust and rocks and pot holes and pot holes and pot holes. Each contributing to the bruising of the jungle of elbows, thighs and heads that paid a meager fare for a meager ride on a meager road. Through a narrow side window from my back seat, I saw something flash green in the desert. Disbelieving, I asked my neighbor: “What are those?!” But I knew what they were. Sweet American summer staple. Checkered picnic spread archetype. Drippy treat of childhood dreams. And I MARVEL: Round, red, wet watermelon. Fields of them. With Tasmanian devil ferrying across the road between them. November watermelon in rural Senegal. Smashing my sense of season and place to pieces.

His tiny 3-year old hands have not yet learned reluctance. And they plunge into the dirt. I have to bite my tongue, as all good parents often do. The child should feel liberated in the garden bed, where my copper toppers with neat handwriting are like road signage in the redwoods or the desert. “Right here, mama,” he says, burrowing two fingers into the middle of the bed. And who am I to care if a patch of rainbow chard comes up in the middle of the carrots? He counts three seeds with the purpose of one who has just made the connection between numbers and objects. He takes another handful of dirt and sprinkles it on top like powdered sugar.  The creases and cracks of our hands lined still with earth, we fall back into a hammock hung for just the reason. Horizontal outdoors, I see the sky for the first time this summer. “Mama!” he exclaims, “there are leaves on the trees!” And indeed, the fluffy little pods have burst and given birth to summer shade. I take immense join in his recognition of the new season. And his perfect moment of presence. We swing, and I think: Blessed season of light, I have finally found you.


Dear Sister, (a letter to she who has miscarried)….

As always, I apologize for my absence. One thing keeping my fingers busy is the creation of these grief & gratitude malas. The following is the letter I enclose when I send out the mala that I’ve crafted specially in recognition of the rite-of-passage of miscarriage. I post it in the absence of anything else to post, and in the case it randomly reaches anyone it needs to touch. This mala project (beading, letter, stone research, etc.) is a work-in-progress and posted with a tequila drink in hand.  So please excuse the errors. 


Dear Sister,

There are no words that can rightfully honor your loss. I/we know because I/we are among the countless quiet women who have suffered the same silent sobs, rocking themselves over the same empty belly, feeling the same hollow self. She who you used-to-be, as far away as the moon.

Not that you’ve looked up for her. The loss of a child, no matter how small, is the most downward, inward, and lonely, of all journeys. And exclusive to woman- and motherhood. On that matter, let there be no mistake: Your body has conceived and nourished. Your blood is inundated with maternal hormones (and will still be yet for weeks to come).  Your brain has softened and neurologically attuned with the sharpened instincts of mother bear. Is there any wonder you feel simultaneously fierce and lost and primal and injured and wild? If it is any consolation, you might never again in your life feel so human. And if there is any opportunity in this one, it is to feel the collective heart of womanhood reaching out to cradle yours.

“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.” – Rumi

The only advice that offered me a true hand through my losses were these two reminders: Feel the pain. Cry the tears. In the cavity of loss, your pain is your chisel, and your tears are diamonds. The labor of grief may bury you. Your pain may be the sole remainder of your humanness. So grow it. Shed through it. Surface from it. And cry diamond tears all along the way. Howl if you feel inclined. For there is nothing as satisfying to your woman bones as the vibration of your mourning song.

“Grief is a form of praise of life. You’ve got to love the thing you lost, just like you’ve got to love the thing you’ve got. When you’re grieving the thing you lost, that’s called praise. And when you’re praising the thing you lost, that’s called grief.” – MartĂ­n Prechtel

I have come to call the enclosed strand of beads a Grief & Gratitude Mala. Mala (ma-la) in Sanskrit roughly translates to  “garland from above,” or “heavenly garland” and in this form it is meant to mark your motherhood and loss rite-of-passage. The strand includes a sacred-number of 108 semi-precious stones, each researched and selected in intimate knowledge of the trauma of miscarriage and the healing journey (of mind, body and spirit) ahead. The mala can function as prayer beads should a particular mantra (a word, sound, hymn, quote, reminder, prayer or poem that conjures up a sense of peace) find its way to your heart. You may also meditate on any particular stone as each has a specific healing resonance (which you can reference in the enclosed storyboard/map of your mala).   In one sense, it is sad that I have already made so many of these malas. In another, know that there exists a tribe of women, to which you belong, who have suffered and survived similarly and wear this same mala in recognition of the shared scar. I hope you will feel the hands of your sisters, mothers, and female ancestors when you hold and wear this mala.

“…Carry grief in one hand, gratitude in the other and be stretched large by them…”  – Francis Weller

Trust your body. And trust that little elusive spirit with whom you shared your body and life. Both have great common (all-knowing) sense that we merely-human beings tend to under- and over think. There are some mysteries for which there are no keys. I also cannot emphasize enough the importance of being gentle on yourself. (And gentle on your partner, for whom it is physically impossible to empathize.) Women love shame, but it serves no purpose here. Let it go, with your tears. Take space, and more space. When you are ready for the slow climb of recovery, I found that there was great healing in the first morning rays of sun and the detoxing and rejuvenating effects of getting my hands in the earth/dirt.  Sister, I am incredibly sad for the immediate shock and pain of what you’re going through right now. As much as the loss crushed me, it’s also part of my story, and so I do not regret or wish to live without it. So my ultimate advice is to let your loss be a part of you.

One of many holding your hand,



*Disclaimer: I am a geologist and beader only by hobby and inspiration.