Dreams Come True

Tomorrow I start a new job and potentially a new direction to my career. I’ve participated in non-profit and human services leadership for 14 years, both as the primary support to leaders and as a leader. I’ve served many communities, as there are a multitude of causes that call to my heart. But the one thread that ties everything I’ve done together is leadership. I’ve learned so much about the power of leadership.

It’s leadership that decides whether an organization succeeds or fails. It’s leadership that creates the culture in which everyone operates in an organization, which is important because it’s where staff are spending 1/3 of their waking life (or volunteers are choosing to spend significant time). How we feel when we are at work is vital to our quality of life. How we feel when we are volunteering defines where we are willing to give our time. Creating positive, empowering, supportive cultures in our organizations allows for the collective to thrive because all of the individuals within it thrive.

Yet most organizations don’t really think about conscious leadership on a daily basis. It’s considered a time sink that no one can afford to invest in. Most of the people in shame based cultures (see Brene Brené Brown) and power-over cultures are miserable. They complain. They don’t give their best. They have difficulties at home because going to work is painful. They are bullied, insulted, neglected, or feel as though they are a cog in a machine. Work = misery.

Our organizations don’t honor the fullness of our humanity. We are expected to leave our personal lives and our emotions at the door. It’s institutionalized repression and it runs deep in our culture. It’s a big part of why so many people are turning to entrepreneurship. They refuse to be repressed and don’t see any other options.

I’ve chosen to stay in the organizational work world because I desire to change it from within. I desire to bring healthy leadership and acknowledgement of the wholeness of humans, both employees and consumers, to the work world. I desire to help leadership honor the emotional domain and learn how to thrive by doing so.

This job, should I do well during my two week working interview, could lead me to leadership coaching for organizations and executives. One of my “benefits” is free access to all of their courses, and I assume mentoring by the other coaches. I could take everything I’ve learned in my “leadership boot camp” (as I affectionately refer to it) and use it to support others in creating positive cultures and organizations with healthy leadership. There is also the potential for personal coaching, supporting individuals in become the best of themselves. I couldn’t imagine any greater honor.

This has actually been a calling of my heart for years, but I couldn’t see how a single mom on limited income in a rural county could get from where I was to where I wanted to be. Fortunately I didn’t have to. I just followed my heart and the Universe took care of it for me. I in awe and ever so grateful. This is a gift and I intend to make the very best of it.

Celebrating Liberation

Rising from the AshesLast Thursday, a day when the frustration of joblessness was getting to me and I felt powerless, I did a Tarot reading. I haven’t taken out the cards in a few years, but I was in a funk and the cards called to me as a way to shift my perspective. I also needed motivation to do another round of resumes, cover letters, and applications…with enthusiasm.

I took some time to reacquaint myself with the cards, looking at each and every one. Then I pulled three specific cards to reflect on: Death, The Queen of Cups (my significator), and the Ace of Wands (which speaks to rebirth and big creative energy). After the reading, which spoke good things to my soul about the transformation I am living, I put up the Ace of Wands with a note to myself:

“You are a Phoenix rising from the ashes. You have the power to shape what comes next.”

With the reading and other inspiration from FB writer friends that same day, I came back to center and the realization that I am still in the midst of becoming someone new. I am still in the chaos of burning away my old life while simultaneously building a new one and it is ok that it still feels messy and hard some days. This process of big life change isn’t just a matter of changing cities. I am taking new shape as an Amma, as a partner in life with Chris, Jennefer and Jillian, and as someone who consciously contributes to my community and our world through my work. Every aspect of my life is changing.

I am liberated from the old confines of obligation, poverty consciousness, and the idea of choicelessness by circumstance. I am free to chose who I become and how I express myself in this new life. I need to remember every day that I am powerful and can shape my new life with choices based in love, abundance, and freedom.

Five days later I received a call about a job, possibly the perfect job, one that I didn’t even have to jump through hoops to get (speaking of hoops – I had just received a ridiculous request to write out answers to 25 questions for a different position). The opportunity came through a recruitment agency and all it required was a resume, my references and a brief conversation with the recruiter. They haven’t met me yet, so I’ll be on a temporary assignment for two weeks, which I was told I should consider a working interview. I will “sell” myself through my work and personality as I work side by side with them for 10 days. I have no doubts that I will knock their socks off.

Today I am celebrating liberation. I am celebrating my ability to change my life by driving from one state and city to another. I am celebrating the freedom of choosing adoption and co-parenting with three others. I am celebrating the freedom of choosing work that feeds my soul in addition to my bank account. I am celebrating freedom to build alternative definitions of family and life.

I fought hard for these freedoms. I fought the conditioning of my childhood and the dominant culture. I fought for more and better opportunities to slowly build my career and my income as a single mom. And I fought myself – my resistance to parenthood, my poverty consciousness, and my beliefs that I was choiceless and powerless. I fought hard for 20 years, won every one of my battles and now I’m here.

Rising from the ashes.

Shaping a new life. 

Poem: Ours

Yesterday I felt the rapture of aliveness.
Today I feel heavy, muted, dark.

This is what makes me afraid
of talking or writing.
I utter a few sentences about my grief
and it creeps up from the depths.
What first appear to be tiny tendrils
lead to heavy ropes to untangle.
Strands of Melancholy.
Jealousy. Anger. Guilt.

I am frightened of what lies in the darkness,
wary that it will shadow the beauty of this family,
anxious it will hurt the people I love.

The underbelly of this experience
has yet to see the light of day.
This is me trying,
trying to find the right words
after ages of silence.

I am vulnerable. Always so damned vulnerable.
A piece of my heart is living outside of me,
in someone else’s care.

My baby.
Whose big brown eyes are reflections of my own.
Whose rosebud lips are a family inheritance.
I see myself in his fierce independence,
in his quiet people watching.
He is mine.

In my arms this moment,
in hers the next.
Mine and not mine.

My son.
Her son.
Their son.

Our son.

The “our” in our son makes my heart sing,
nearly every time I say it.
I craved this sharing all my life,
for my babies to be ours.

Yet I’m angry that when I finally get the ours
I waited an eternity for,
it demands giving a piece of myself away,
the ultimate sacrifice for a Mama.

I delight in the giving.
Generosity is my bliss.

And I feel the heartache in losing.
Every single day.
I have to accept
that it could always be this way.

This is a new kind of aliveness.
A deep stretch into a new kind of loving.
Mine and not mine.


April Cheri – 2014

I Live for Ecstasy

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Joseph Campbell

Rapture is Ecstatic Joy.

I often hear,
“I couldn’t do what you’re doing.”

Whether single mothering or
sculpting vulvas or
producing “sex” parties or
giving my son for adoption
and living with his Mamas,
it seems my choices are difficult to understand.

They wonder how I can willingly invite
big emotions into my life –
especially grief.
People are terrified of grief,
scared they will break.

I make the choices I do
because I know grief cannot break me,
whether it comes from a death or a birth.

I make the choices I do
because I am awake to my search
for aliveness over meaning.

I feel the rapture of being alive
each day that I face my choice
to give my son to another woman.

I feel the rapture of being alive
every time our son giggles
as any of us play with him.

I feel the rapture of being alive
even when jealousy rears up
because he seeks out his Mom instead of me.

I feel the rapture of being alive
every moment my Mama-Partners’ faces
are alight in love and joy.

I feel the rapture of being alive
in every gift of my Heart to another.

I feel the rapture of being alive
with every loss that comes with giving my heart away.

This is what my soul is ravenous for.
This is what my life is for.

I live for ecstasy.

The Only Game We Play in this Life is Love Wins

Falling In Love Again“Women don’t go on a solitary hero’s journey. Our journey is relational, so we find God in the details of ordinary life such as nursing our children rather than on a journey to some distant place. Women as nurturers worship God by creating safe, warm places in which other people can grow and flower. This is a daily activity that we perform for people we care about. Our flights of mystical union are born of the practicalities of living.” – Joan Borysenko

I am becoming aware of how people who don’t know us can’t wrap their heads around how the Mamas and I can share our son and live all together without suffering on somebody’s part. Most people assume that I must be suffering because I am the one who has let go of being his Mom. How could I give away a piece of myself and experience that separation every single day without big heartache?

For us, it’s strange to hear people’s reactions to our situation because this feels natural and normal to all of us. Context is everything. There are many puzzle pieces to me and the incredible relationship I have with Jen, and our partner Camille, that one needs to understand in order to grok why this is possible. Although each of these deserve their own full exploration, I want to give an introduction to some of the reasons why this works.

* The Partnership

There is a magic chemistry between Jen, Camille and I that has been there since the day we decided to work together to lead the Impropriety Society 6 years ago. I’ve actually felt chemistry with Jen since the first time I saw her at a Club Risque party 15+ years ago. She was playing in the dungeon with a dear friend and giggling at what I would consider painful stimulation. I had never seen someone laugh during a scene before. The pure joy that bubbled up from her into the room was mesmerizing. From that moment I felt drawn to her. At first I thought I had a crush. Then I volunteered to help her with a big project and realized I enjoyed working with her. I loved her passion for learning and giving to the community in various ways. I loved her energy and extroversion – something I am often attracted to in my friends because I am so introverted. And I loved that though she tended to be quiet about it and wasn’t spiritually oriented (or woo-woo as we call it), she had a path to becoming a conscious person.

After that project ended, she invited me to join the Board of Directors for Humboldt Pride and we worked closely together for a year before deciding to take on the Imps with Camille. The three of us had the healthiest and strongest working partnership I’ve encountered. While we are all very different in our personal expression, we share many of the same values – striving to always to work from love, generosity, beauty, inclusion, and transparency. We became emotionally intimate through meeting nearly every week for 4 years, not just getting down to business, but sharing dinner and our lives with each other. We held each other in the big emotional complexities that came with leading an all volunteer organization based on sex and relationship and comprised of our lovers and friends. We also held each other through major life transitions: job changes, financial difficulties, relationship beginnings and endings, illness and death.

In the business relationship, there was a power in having three. There was never a battle of will over decisions. We all agreed from the outset that while everyone would be heard, majority ruled. We honored each others gifts and weaknesses. And we had good communication. We are all transparent and opinionated. We weren’t afraid to get loud when we had strong feelings in our disagreements (which isn’t the same as yelling at each other). In our five years of working together, we only had a few big hard relationship moments where someone(s) got hurt and forgiveness was needed.

This is the foundation of my relationship with Jen – we’ve already been healthy, strong partners and family for five years. We’ve learned how to be intimate, honest, and work through our hard stuff together. Most importantly, we know we’ve got each other’s back no matter what comes at us together or individually. Love Wins!

* How Being Poly (Past or Present) Contributes

All of us have experience in being polyamorous. We are open to different kinds of intimacy with different people, not always involving sex. We all came into this with practice in overcoming starvation economy conditioning, open communication about our needs and desires, and doing our best to own our feelings and hold each other in the hard moments.

This is a polyamorous (many-loving) relationship in its own way. We are all sharing relationships with our son and building a life with each other based on that shared love. Love Wins!

* These Are My Forgotten Dreams Come True

I spent the first 10 years of single motherhood desperately dreaming of  sharing life through co-parenting and intentional community. I dreamed of co-housing, resource sharing, living simply and sustainably. I dreamed of homeschooling or unschooling my children because I had studied to be a teacher and understood how public education often kills children’s spirits. I didn’t get to have those things for reasons I won’t go into here. I eventually let go of those dreams, accepting that I was destined to parent alone. Now, everything I wanted for my first two children we can give our son because there are four parents instead of one.

And it’s not just about our son. Since we will be co-housing and sharing expenses, we will be able to support everyone in what they desire to be doing. Jen is preparing herself to be our son’s teacher through the unschooling method. She went to school to be a teacher and is realizing that this is a different shape of that dream. She was also just invited to work at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, which is perfect for giving her the social stimulation she needs. Jillian is starting school online for computer programming and Chris wants to get his cosmetology license. With multiple incomes coming in, lower expenses due to shared resources, and the sharing of parenting and home responsibilities, everyone can be supported in what they want to do because there is enough money and time. My greatest passion in life is supporting people in their dreams and evolving to their best selves. Knowing that I can support so many of my loved ones makes me really happy. Love Wins!

* I/We Get It All

I/We get the best of both worlds. We get to co-parent my son in the ways each of us desire to and each have our freedom.

I will experience all of the things I wanted the first half of my life with my first two children. I am emotionally healthy and present to our son in ways I didn’t have the capacity to be when I was young, poor and struggling with psychological challenges. I love watching him evolve, seeing the changes that sometimes come daily as he learns the world around him.

I have intentional community, multiple life partners and co-parents to share parenting and home life. This would be so much harder if it was just Chris and I, especially with my Fibromyalgia. I’m not physically capable of taking care of a toddler full-time. Or a home for that matter. I have tribe that desires to work together to share the work and live sustainably – grow our own food, make as little impact on the environment as possible, etc.

I also have my freedom, as does Chris. We don’t have to get up at 6 a.m. with the baby, we can go out whenever we want, and we can mostly choose how much we participate in his daily care. I do help care for him every day, but it’s often on my own terms and always with 100% willingness. I am more present because I don’t have to meet his every need. Someone else is doing so, because they want to.

Jen and Jillian still get to experience every aspect of being his primary caregivers, both the joyful and the hard, and yet also have someone to share the responsibilities. We can give them freedom that I didn’t have on my own – time and space away to address their own desires and needs in work and in play. All four of us get what we want out of our relationship to our son and our of our individual lives. Love Wins!

* This is Who I Am

Whether I am birthing children, writing, creating art, producing events, or running an office, everything in my life is motivated by creative generosity. That is my genius or superpower or bliss or whatever you want to call it. I am happiest when I am both creating and giving. And motherhood, nurturing the life of other humans, is the most significant creative gift I can give. It turns out, I am so blessed that I can both give that gift to my children and to two women I love most in the world. Two women who are smart, generous, loving, conscious people and incredible parents to our son.

I couldn’t give my son to anyone else. I couldn’t give him to strangers, which is why I didn’t choose to give up my first two despite our circumstances. I love all of my children with ALL of my being. Being a Mother is the core of who I am, which is why I spent the first half of my life making decisions for my children rather than myself. When I told the Mamas that I wanted to give them my baby, I said there was one condition. I need to be an intimate part of his life. I need to help support his evolution and his dreams. And they want that, too. They welcome us as co-parents. They trust the fullness of the gift we have given them. They know that we will never try to get in the way of any aspect of their relationship with him. I brought him to life, but we are all giving him a life and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful. I am happier than I have ever been.

* The Only Game We Play Is Love Wins

This life we’re creating is like nothing you see on T.V. or in books. People expect drama. People expect heartache. People expect suffering and for people to hurt each other. But no one here is suffering. Whatever heartaches come, we feel them and we work through them. We talk about them and we love each other all the more for knowing that this isn’t always easy.

Yes, sometimes there is jealousy and insecurity. On both sides. Sometimes big and sometimes small. This is where our poly experiences benefit us most. We can sit with jealousy, talk about it, without turning it into a monster.

Yes, I grieve. I started grieving at the same moment that I knew I was giving my baby to Jen, only minutes after I found out he existed. After he was born I allowed myself to fully enter my grief by taking time and space away to adjust to not being his Mommy, only seeing and talking to them every few months. They needed that time, too. They needed to really feel that he belongs to them and that he knows that they are his Mamas. We still have big feels, but we are all comfortable enough with them now to sit with them and share them.

No, I don’t suffer because Big Love is my spiritual practice and my mental therapy. Going back to the quote by Borysenko, this is how I experience God in my life. It’s how I deepen my consciousness and maintain my sanity. I love my people. I expand my consciousness by letting others into my heart. I engage in relationships that take us to the deepest parts of ourselves in order to heal my wounds and deactivate my triggers. I connect with people willing to dive into working together with our light and our shadows, supporting each other through our blisses and our griefs because it turns me on. I nurture life and love, on purpose and with as much consciousness, creativity and generosity as I can because it makes me happy.

No one is suffering because this is all about Love.

This works because the only game we play in this life is Love Wins.