Annapurna Woman MaryBeth Bonfiglio

Portrait of the Annapurna Woman is an ongoing series featuring divine women who embody the nurturing spirit of Annapurna Living. Today we are honored to share writer, mentor & activist, MaryBeth Bonfiglio.
Photo by Danielle Cohen

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY?

It’s always changing. One thing I have learned in these almost 42 years is that I don’t do well unless I create the freedom to change things up. So I take it day by day. No rules.

But I always take a big inhale and let out a big exhale. And then I begin. I smile at my husband {if he’s still in bed} and make eye contact. Connect. And kiss my youngest daughter, who may or may not be in between us.

My bed faces a west facing window and on the sill there is a white ceramic statue of Our Lady, Mother of The Sea. I have seen this statue my whole life; it was always somewhere in my house growing up. She was my first image {besides my own mother} of the Feminine I ever saw. I spend a few minutes in bed looking at her, the sun and Mount Hood waking up behind her and I have a very simple practice of saying “Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Forgive me.” These words come from the ancient Hawaiian + South Pacific forgiveness practice of Hoʻoponopono. I make it my own by saying “Thank you,” because I always want to start my day with being extremely thankful for being alive and breathing. A human here on earth—what a gift!

Marybeth Bonfiglio

I used to have a very strict practice of yoga every morning before I had children. I taught yoga for a decade and owned my own studio. So I have this devotion to it. And after kids...if I didn’t practice every morning—alone before anyone woke up—in the way I thought I was “suppose” to, I would be annoyed and I would feel like a failure. What kind of practice is that?

I realized—and I hate to admit it took me longer than I would have liked—that my yoga practice is now my life practice. My spiritual practice doesn’t happen on the mat. It happens in buttering the toast. It happens when we are woken up in the middle of the night by a little girl who had a nightmare.  It happens with my pre-teen and hormonally-inspired daughter pushes me to my edges. It happens as soon as I wake up, yoga or not, and choose to breathe in and out. I have learned to let go of expectations about how things look.  

Living in the rainy Pacific Northwest, most of the year we like to start our day with warm drinks—so it makes sense that coffee is so popular here. It’s delicious. But my adrenals don’t always like it. I run high in the anxiety department and I don’t need to amp that up even more so I make my own warm elixir of raw cashews, matcha {green tea powder}, dates, coconut milk and a bit of honey. Elixir making is a ritual for me that says :: I am this important :: to take up space and nourish myself in this way before I nourish anyone else.

There is a reggae song called “Smile” by The Silvertones that goes “It’s best to rise with a smile on your face, just like the sunshine all over the place…” My partner and I made a pact when we got married that those lyrics would be our morning theme song for each other and for our kids. Even if we just rise with a smile, we are doing something good for ourselves and everyone around us.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED OR STRESSED?

Marybeth Bonfiglio

Besides stuffing my face with chocolate and going against the wall and standing on my hands for as long as I can? {those totally work, by the way}.

The first thing I try to do when I feel the overwhelm and stress creeping up my body… is to validate and practice self empathy. I say to myself “MaryBeth, you are feeling this way and that’s totally okay, I understand why you are feeling this overwhelm, it makes sense.” And then I usually just stop everything and allow myself some space to feel into it.

There are also these simple “steps” I *try* and remember to walk myself through when I feel this way. They help me create alchemy in the overwhelm. I think being with these sensations instead of ridding ourselves of them… is a path to healing.

I commit to being vulnerable. This means giving the sensations a voice… telling people around me how I truthfully feel, writing it out, showing up exactly as I am. Saying it out load, exactly how I feel. Being honest. Not hiding it.

I ask myself “what do you need right now?” and I listen to myself, listen to my body. My body doesn’t lie—none of our bodies are broken. My body might tell me “cancel something” or maybe it will tell me “go lie down this instant” or maybe it might tell me “go take a hike, forget about the work, just leave it all for 20 minutes” or “make art now” or “dance this shit out”. My body always tells me exactly what I need to relieve the suffering of stress—when I practice listening to it.

I stay fluid. The feminine is fluid. The masculine is more solid. So instead of “fixing” {which is more solid} I stay fluid in my stress… and I allow it to become a messenger for my intuition. What exactly is the overwhelm telling me about myself? What is telling me about choices I have made or that maybe I should consider making? We can’t ever be too feminine or fluid or intuitive. Our emotions and our reactions are our compasses to who we are and what we really want. I trust them. Even the ones that don’t feel so much fun.

WHAT GIVES YOU THE FEELING OF TRUE BLISS WITHIN?

I love this question. The first moment of lifting my babies up from between my legs and on top my chest, that divine release of life. Taking long and rambling road trips in pristine and natural places with my family, music blaring, the sunroof open, the ocean on our right. Hot springs on misty Sunday mornings with a thermos of something hot. Live, heavy bass music with unapologetic dancing for hours until I am covered in sweat. Getting to write for hours on end with no interruptions, allowing for raw creation to just be born. Niyama. Asana. Pranayama. Sex. The forest. The salt water. Deeply connecting with nature. Pure communion with my clients. Being on farms. Getting my hands in the dirt. Wild harvesting and making medicine for my family. The perfect pair of shoes that are sexy and comfortable. Knowing that I can do what I want, create the life that I have always craved, become who I am. Nourishing a full table under the stars.

Love. That feeling of love, like in the bones, in the blood, that spans memory, when you get it, on a soul level, that we are only here for a fleeting moment, a stardust on it’s way out, and all that is really true… is love.

Marybeth Bonfiglio

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

*The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch—Lidia is such an amazing feminist writer who tackles the hardest, most painful and yet truthful stuff we carry and turns it into gut wrenching art that must be told.

*I am about to embark on reading the book of Revelation in the bible. I haven’t begun yet, but it’s sitting there, waiting for me. It sounds crazy. But I feel there are some really interesting connections between the major arcana cards {the archetypes I work with in mentoring women} and this mysterious book in the bible and I want to connect the dots.

*The Shakti Mantras by Thomas Ashley Farrand—This one is always there, I read it daily and chant from it daily.

*Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack—this is another one always near me. I love this teacher’s stories around the archetypes and base so much of my own personal style around what she’s taught me.

*On Persephone’s Island by Mary Taylor Simeti :: I am currently writing a book on my own bloodline, a tale of uncovering my native spirituality based in Sicily and preparing to take a pilgrimige to the temples of my grandmother’s land.

*Jambalaya by Luisah Teish—I’ve had this on my bedstand for almost 13 years now.

*All kinds of archaeology magazines + articles. I am obsessed with what we can unearth to clarify our truest his.her.stories. Right now I am reading an article about an advanced Feminine Lunar/Underworld Cult that prospered in Illinois in 1100 AD and am blown away by the lunar technologies this society had.

Marybeth Bonfiglio

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

  • Busy Signal
  • Early 80’s hip hop + reggae
  • King Tubby
  • M.I.A
  • Santigold
  • Bob Dylan
  • Neil Young
  • Wild Belle
  • Nina Simone

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO SIMPLE RECIPE?

*An onion, garlic, a couple zucchinis, tomato sauce {fresh is best}, pre-roasted potatoes—all sauteed up together. Add black olives. This is an old family recipe and it’s the easiest, most tasty thing ever. Totally rustica. If you eat bread, serve with crusty baguette and really dry red wine.

*Also, a sliced tomato spread with goat cheese and a basil leaf on top + salt and pepper.

*Kale + fried eggs with hot sauce are my no-brainer.

WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE THINGS YOU DO FOR SELF-CARE?

I take my time. I try not to put unrealistic deadlines on my visions.  I trust my creative process fiercely. I make sure I walk in nature as much as possible. Unplugged. I read books made from paper. I put Shiva Rose’s rose oil on my face daily—it is such a luxury and one of the only “products” I use for my face. I wear my mala beads everywhere and when there is a space and a feeling, I chant to Lakshmi at red lights or at the market or while standing in line somewhere. I make sure I only say yes when it’s really big yes. I take long drives alone. Some days I say the hell with it all and lay on my couch and read and write in my journal for the entire day with my phone off. I dance daily—it’s part of my most truthful spiritual practice, my hips thank me for it. Weekly sauna trips. I rub my body with oils. I sleep. I have a hard time sleeping because I was always taught sleep was for the weak! So I am healing that and allowing for sleep to be my ultimate statement of self-care. I eat foods my body asks for. I do not do things that don’t make me happy anymore.

Marybeth Bonfiglio

WHAT DOES NOURISHMENT LOOK LIKE TO YOU?

Fresh air. Clean water. Fed bellies that span this entire planet. An ocean with abundant life. Glacier-fed springs. A culture that adores and celebrates the unknown. Serving others with an open and full heart. A warm bath. A comfortable bed with endless pillows and linen sheets. Taking the time to sit down and eat, and not just eating, but telling stories over the food, slow stories, spending hours at the table in union with loved ones. Spending the day at the farm. A big jar of raw honey and all our fingers in it. A small and intimate circle of friends that uplift you and see you. Taking an entire day to make ameal with music on and the fireplace raging. My altar cared for. Fresh flowers in a jars all over the house.  The action of living in gratitude for all this abudance.

WHAT ARE SOME FAVORITE MANTRAS YOU CLING TO?

Be kind. To yourself. And to others.
Be still and know you are God. Breathe in gold, breathe out gold.
Om Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha
Listen. Listen. Listen.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace.
Fuck it.

PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’VE LEARNED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF SOULFUL AND EMBODIED LIVING.

Be exactly who you are with no apologies. And remember the feminine is a a million different things in one day, sometimes in one moment. Allow for that to be felt + seen if need be. Don’t hide the full expression of your heart, of your wild,  to make others comfortable. Don’t be scared to be a threat. Or be radical. Or even be silent. Burn the ideas of being manic or too emotional or too sensitive or insane. Show up without explanations. You do not own explanations to anyone. You can be you, fully 100% you, even if that is ever-shifting + quaking. Show up in your truth, as you are.  Say no when people expect you to be anyone but you. Be flexible, give yourself space, expand into space. Trust your voice. Trust your voice FIERCELY. Your voice is your essence.  Your voice is the divine speaking, moving, shaking, rising, imprinting through you. Your voice is what changes the world into the beautiful place we know is being born right now. Be you. Please be you.


Marybeth Bonfiglio

About MaryBeth

MaryBeth is a writer, mentor, activist and intuitive guide. Her passion on earth is generating powerful connection through Voice—may that be through writing, art, worship, movement, business. She’s the co-founder + publisher of Amulet Magazine; leads online courses in intuitive writing, voice cultivating, and tarot archetypes; and teaches and speaks at workshops and events all over the country. She is a life long student of the mysteries of the divine feminine and her vision is to remind all women that they can rise, tell their stories, and re-define their relationship to the divine, that there is nothing to fear. She is also embarking on the journey of writing a book about honoring her bloodline, tapping into her roots and ancestry—what is remembered and what isn’t. She believes when we honor the dead through rites, ritual, storytelling and connection, we can heal generations past and foward, and most importantly we can heal ourselves.

She is the mother of a three daughters and partner to her true love.  She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

You can read her work at www.marybethbonfiglio.com.