Annapurna Woman: Carrie Bloomston
How do you start your day?
My kids wander out to the living room early and I might shuffle out there to pour cereal–but usually my eyes don't crack open until the hot lemon water my husband has placed on my nightstand has cooled. I drink it and then wander out to kiss my kids and start picking up stuff, making lunches and a quick bath with my favorite Zum Bar patchouli soap to wake me up.
What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?
The paradoxical state of motherhood is that while being a mother can sometimes be stressful, my children are my ultimate soothing, living, soul balm. They are my home. Just snuggling close on the sofa and being with them can regulate me. Our house, like yours, is a movable feast of activities: now we are in this room–now in the tree fort–now watching a movie–now dolls or crafts in the backyard. It is wandering bliss. Mothering is my Flow State. And yet, sometimes my children evoke stress, frustration, anger or confusion for me. So, I need to step away for a few minutes (or hour)or have a quick cry or some space and perspective. Then we talk about it.
Other helpful tools:
- Finding my breath.
- A walk always clears my head.
- Yoga is my temple. If all else fails, I get to my mat.
- Sage (smudge) has been my companion since I was young. It eases the edge and brings clarity and new energy as it clears the yuck.
- And as my mom has always told me at my most stressed-out times,“just go walk outside into the backyard–put your bare feet in the grass–on the earth. She will soothe you.” She is always, always right.
What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?
What are you currently reading?
I joke that I don’t actually read–I just buy books and drag them around with me like paper pets filling my purse and bedside table with their big doe eyes staring up at me. Currently, I‘m dragging around these book pets:
- Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead, Tosha Silver
- The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
- Zag, Marty Neumeier (Read it last week–incredible business branding book)
- Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga, Sally Kempton
- The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence, SuEllen Hamkins, MD & Renée Schultz, MA
- Meet Your Soul, Elisa Romeo
The only book I’ve read cover to cover in 2015 is an eBook called Quit PMS by Lauren Geertsen. My New Year’s Resolution was to finally be done with the fatigue, crankiness and that week-before-my-period feeling of being not quite myself. It just feels out of alignment with what I know to be my Soul and the Divine Feminine. Generally, I honor the hormonal wisdom and phases and accept their offerings–but it was feeling out of whack so I read this. I’m 42 and have had two decades of PMS. My husband can tell you. I just didn’t want my kids to feel it–which is why it was my resolution to help heal it. I talk to them about honoring a woman’s cycle and moon time, but I know that I parent them differently in that phase of the month and it bothers me. Quit PMS is all about eating lots of healthy fat–from coconut oil and grass fed butter and beef. My PMS is 80% reduced. I don’t feel like a victim of my PMS anymore. I’m amazed at what has happened in the past few months.
What are you listening to right now?
Music is my constant … my playlists have playlists.
Holocene–Dosh Remix—Bon Iver
Cosmic Love—Florence + the Machine
This album: Una Mattina by Ludovico Einaudi
What is your go-to simple recipe?
Avocado on earthy bread–with good olive oil, pink Himalayan salt, squeeze of lemon. Boom. The kids LOVE it.
What are some simple things you do for self-care?
For me, self-care means following the small blisses daily. I like to follow my desire.
It is rare after having kids that we leave open any daily time for momentary desire to arise and to wander towards pleasure–because we are often too busy cleaning, working and being with our kids. In a sense, they are our self-care–but we still exist outside of that relationship and we have to nourish our own soul and spirit so as to be better mothers–better women–wives, etc. One day, I might feel like painting a self-portrait–another it might be an impromptu trip to Ikea for new dish towels. I don't judge my urges–I just try to follow them and listen so that I float on a happiness bubble of my own making.
My daily self-care rituals:
- Yoga. My eyes are closed the whole time. My practice, very feminine. I prefer grace to power–flowing to holding. I’m after all the seconds between the poses–fluid transitions and constant connection to my breath. Sthira Sukham Asanam.
- Bathtime–every day. Epsom salt baths with essential oils. Did you know that epsom salt is really good for PMS?
- Chocolate o’clock. It happens at noon.
- Kombucha. My newest bliss.
I really like what Joseph Campbell had to say about creating a BLISS STATION in his Power of Myth interview with Bill Moyers:
“[Sacred space] is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.
Our life has become so economic and practical in its orientation that, as you get older, the claims of the moment upon you are so great, you hardly know where the hell you are, or what it is you intended. You are always doing something that is required of you. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.”
What does nourishment look like to you?
Nourishment is being in the studio with my whole family listening to the soundtrack from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty–each of us working on a creative project separately or together—the four of us each moving from our own sense of play and desire. Often, I am facilitating stuff my kids want to make—cutting, helping sew, ripping duct tape, pouring paint. But we are all just in that sacred creative space together listening to music and just being.
Date night at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant just the two of us—me and my Love—sitting outside eating Summer Rolls and Pho and talking like we always have.
In the winter, this Turmeric Milk ritual nightly.
Playing in the backyard until dusk—throwing the baseball with my son, playing tag with my daughter and hearing her shrieks of laughter when I almost catch her.
Mainly, nourishment happens for me AWAY from screens and social media and emails and work communications. Time IN my life, with my family and friends and OUTSIDE of the ethernet.
How do you make space for play?
My kids remind me every day. In my book, I talk so much about the importance of play as it relates to creativity and here’s why: when we play we are back in the freedom of the inner-kid, we are free from perfectionism, we are free to fail–to try–to be curious–to make a mess, all of which will help us handle the vulnerability of listening to our heart and sharing it with the world through our creative efforts.
I try to say YES as much as possible—to myself, my kids, to work opportunities and to LIFE.
What are some favorite mantras you cling to?
Kids spell love t-i-m-e.
I am enough.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”—Peggy O’Mara
Please share some words of wisdom you’ve learned as a direct result of soulful and embodied living.
The more self-aware and loving I have become to myself, the more I polish the lamp of my being so it can shine out–so I can connect. In my twenties and even thirties, I was boxed-in and conflicted about all of the many parts of me. I reserved the spiritual part of me for these people, the intellectual part for these, the art part for certain others, and the yoga part here. But each was separate because I wasn't ready yet to step into the fullness of myself and I especially wasn't ready to become a women. I didn’t become a woman until about five years ago–after the birth of my second child–after we had been through a really painful time.
When our son was a baby, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called LCH which manifested in an egg-sized tumor in his hipbone. He wasn't even two years old. He received a year of chemotherapy through a port in his chest and steroids. He was healed. Gratitude kept me grounded through the darkest nights that year. In bed, at night, when the fear would come out to play, I counted my gratitudes, one by one. My gratitude became a panacea, a superhero’s cape, a whiskey, a bandage for my soul. And it worked. It kept me in the moment and away from the fear in my mind.
My husband had both his father and his son in chemo that year–both with ports in their chest–but for two separate illnesses. His father died within months.
And something in my husband was unfastened–unhinged by his pain. He fell into many bottles of Rhone style wine and craft beers and ended up in rehab when our baby girl was only two months old.
And after a lifetime of therapy myself, and with my foot on the starting line ready to run from my marriage, I dug in and did the even harder work–the work of letting go of control–of getting comfortable with the messes–of being OK being seen–of vulnerability. And it was the best thing that could have happened. All of it. We are all made brighter by the fires we have walked through. When we deal with our shame, it removes an invisible barrier that separates us from others and ourselves–so we can connect more deeply with others because we feel good inside.
My husband is 5 years sober and has spent the past 4 years studying counseling psychology. He is now a therapist. His light shines and he uses the crucible of his life to heal others.
As for me, my light has been polished to a gleam–by tears and work and mostly be deep love and gratitude. My designs, writings, teachings are fueled by this life’s work and stepping into deep Connection with self, others, Source, God and family. Things like the Divine Feminine and sewing or painting or yoga all occupy the same place in me now. I am one whole being. And now I hope to help others find that space of self-love through helping them find their way back to their innate creativity.
About Carrie Bloomston
Carrie Bloomston is an artist, fabric designer, creativity enabler, seeker, yogi, mama to two rad kiddos and author of The Little Spark–30 Ways To Ignite Your Creativity (Stash Books 2014). Usually, you can find her attempting some yin yoga on her living room floor … but then she’ll see that granola under the sofa and she’ll probably start vacuuming. Carrie helps people step into the creative, passionate life they have been waiting for through her teachings, writings and workshops. Read more at www.such-designs.com.