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Plant Teachers: Marijuana and Tobacco

I remember the first time I smoked marijuana. Under amazing stars in Vermont when I was 18.  Of course there was a boy involved.

He was a redhead with long, sweet smelling dreadlocks. Something about him made my knees weak. His fluidity, his calm.

And the way he carved his board effortlessly through freshly fallen snow.

That was 20 years ago.

After that, marijuana and I had a long, complicated relationship.


At first she was my escape from everything life handed me that was challenging, then she became my life.  Then I felt I just couldn’t live without her.


Until I got hives.


And panic attacks every time I tried to smoke.


And then it was obvious we were done, over, that our relationship had become toxic and I was actually afraid to ever smoke again.


My love affair with tobacco started at exactly the same time.  After meeting the red-haired boy, I flew to Germany again to stay and work before heading to college.   All the kids there smoked hash, passing joints around with it crumbled into tobacco. My days as a smoker began.


I struggled with tobacco addiction for close to 10 years until I quit with my pregnancies, but as years went by I learned a newfound respect for tobacco when I began participating in ceremonies within the Native American community.  It was in a sweat lodge that I learned how to pray again after a decade of being pissed at God.


Nowadays I keep tobacco nearby for offering as a prayer, because this tradition entered my heart and made an impact on me.


Some people are saved in the name of Jesus, I was saved by connecting to my heart and to the Heart of it All.


In my mind all that matters is not what saves you but that you are saved at all. By love.  That you never feel alone, and that you find a connection that matters to you and opens your heart.


Fast forward another 10 years.  I am a single Mom to 2 kids, making it through by the hair of my chinny chin chin, and scraping by.  I am mostly stressed to the max, overwhelmed, panicked, and frazzled.


After an especially hard week I get it in my head that I need to smoke some weed. It’s been too long.  I need a fucking break.


So I smoke.  After so many years of not, the medicine is pure bliss.  I am in love all over again.


I feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders and I can breathe.  I can laugh!  What is that sound --my laughter?


It seems it has been so long since one carefree moment existed for me.


Within this space I remember what it feels like to just be myself.  No stress.  No obligations.  No fear.  No self-doubt.


Just playfulness.  Fun.  Laughter.  Oh, how I‘ve missed you!  The carefree girl who loved to have a good time, who could relax and forget about the pressures of life.  Now things are so serious and arduous --and in contrast, getting high felt fabulous.


The next day I woke up with the profound revelation that I no longer know how to let go and have fun, and what a damn shame that is!


But if you can’t remember that you ever felt differently, then how can you know how to?


Thanks to the medicine of the herb, I was able to remember that there is life beyond the walls of responsibility and obligation, and that lightness and laughter are literally just a breath away.  One need not smoke to access it, but sometimes when you are lost, there are plant teachers that can help you find your way back to your authentic self.


They don’t want you to rely on them, but they do want to assist.


Tobacco is also powerful medicine that can support us in connecting to spirit, soothe our pain, and cleanse our environment.  As with most medicines, it can be beneficial in small doses and deadly when used incorrectly or abused. It has only been in the last 100 years that its medicinal properties have been mostly ignored.


Now, I am not encouraging anyone to go out and start smoking anything, and I am certainly not about to make it a habit.


I just know that when I was lost in the demands of life, I got this message from an old friend.


Slow down, she said.  Take it easy, hun.  

Remember you have laughter inside you that needs to come out.  You used to be fun, you used to be free.  I am here to remind you to let go, enjoy life, and love the hell out of this world.


I got the message, and I intend to cultivate freedom in my mind from now on, without relying on anything but the memory that yes, I can access relaxation anytime.


It is just a breath away.




I Wish I Could Eat a Rainbow

I wish I could eat a rainbowI wish I could eat a rainbow, Mommy.I would grab it in my fingers and slurp it like spaghetti, rainbow juices dripping down my chin.

What would it taste like?, I asked her with a smile.

It would taste like clouds and sunshine and mist and M&M's, lemonade and cherry with strawberries and whipped cream. It would taste like flowers and the green of spring-- maybe for you the purple would taste like wine, but not for me-- for me it would taste like grape popsicle. It would be very filling.  My belly would be full from eating that rainbow.

I wish I could eat a rainbow too, I said.

You can, Mommy! There's one for you, grab it quick before it flies away!

And so I closed my eyes and reached up, pulled the rainbow to my lips, and tasted a miracle.

©Heidi Howes 2012

What would your rainbow taste like?  Let me know in the comments below...



On How I Never Wanted to Be a Mother and Why it's the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

MotheringWhen I was young, I never wanted to be a mother.  As a little girl I was a tomboy, worshipping my older brother and following my dad around. I don't think I ever even owned a Barbie doll or a babydoll.  I wanted to climb trees, play baseball, wrestle, and I never wore dresses.  Dresses mortified me.

Looking back I see the complex reasons why I wanted to associate with the male persona more, reasons like freedom and    going shirtless in the summertime (though that was forbidden after I was five).  Even as a child, especially as a child, I sensed the limitations and the lack of respect towards mothers held in our society.

Most of all I didn' t want to have my own children.  No, I wanted to travel the world and follow my own dreams and the message to me in my childhood was loud and clear that children are a burden and they keep you from your dreams.  Children limit you and hold you back and make you incredibly exhausted and disappointed.  No room for dreaming once they come along.

And so I lived for myself, for my own devices, going from thing to thing until one day I was 26 and suddenly I felt THE CLOCK.  Nothing so overwhelming as the urge to have a BABY.  It was a strange occurrence I never could've seen coming, until it was there smacking me in the face.  I had found my mate and it was time.

There is so little to prepare us for the complete life-alteration that is parenting.  The journey is mind-blowing to say the least, and sometimes I think so chaotic and insane that only in retrospect can we see how amazing it is.  My children are 8 and 5 respectively now and just as everyone tells you from the minute they are born (and man is it annoying how often people say this) it goes by so quickly, so painfully and heart-wrenchingly quickly.

Because I never rehearsed as a little girl nor dreamed of the children I would one day have, perhaps I bloomed late into my embrace of mothering.  But embrace it I do.

My children are my opus, my everything.  They are my reason for waking and my reason for collapsing.  I want to hold on to every second of their lives and remember, remember, remember.  This moment, gone.  That moment, so sweet.  A series of moments tied together by this rushing river of unbounded love.

How could I know?  Was I so naive to think there was any other miracle meant for me?

So if mothering these two children is the biggest thing--the only thing--I ever do, no matter how imperfectly or awkwardly, if this is my great body of work in this world--I am 100% at peace with that.  If I never write that book or screenplay or finish the album I feel compelled to record, I will be just fine.  If I never see Africa or South America, I will be fine.

Why is it the best thing that ever happened to me?

Little hands.  Sneaking into my bed to sleep next to me.  Laughter.  Screams.  Swinging in sunshine.  Playing for hours.  Pretending.  Seeing for the first time.  I love you, Mommy.  Little feet.  Bathtime.  Learning to read.  Prayers for strangers.    Why Mommy?  When Mommy?  Where Mommy?  Candy. Treasure Hunts.  Legos.  Spontaneous dancing.  Jumping on the bed.  Skipping.  Hopscotch.  Bedtime stories.  Lullabyes.  Backrubs.  Hugs.  Kisses.  Snacks before bed.  Climbing trees.  Sleepovers.  Playdates.  Skipping rocks.  Throwing ball.  Picking up from school.  Walking to the bus.  Waving goodbye.  Running to greet me.  Kisses.  Hugs.  Good morning.  I love you, baby.



The Daughters of Spring

Don't Mess with Mama Bird by

You are now three and my struggle is rushing , remembering to hold on to your tiny words, pulsing between my daydreams of pressing thoughts and the image of your silly faces in the rearview mirror.

You make me laugh, sing along sweetly to the radio, tell me a story about how Winnie the Pooh dies and then goes to jail. I am supposed to drive, steer, pay attention to the road stay between the yellow lines, and make enough money to fill this damn tank-- not to mention all those dishes in the sink at home.

I try to fit it all into this drive to school, so afraid to lose or fail, and when we arrive, when you flit from the car and float, fairy-like, to the curb you are not looking forward, only into this moment, the blossomed petals on the concrete.

Your eyes sparkle up towards mine and quick as a wink you wave your hand into the pile of  ivory petals, fling them into the air so they drift in the breeze and swirl back to the ground.

My heart rips open like a seed who knows spring is here, right now, and we are her daughters.



The Impossible Dream

One day in March I had an impossible vision. In my mind's eye, out of the ether I saw myself packed into my silver Toyota wagon, my two beautiful kids in the backseat, with only what we could fit in the car. We were driving to an unknown destination. Permanently moving. Away from Wisconsin.

I laughed at the thought then because it was clearly not going to happen. Not even in the realm of remote possibility. Their father and I were recently divorced and our agreement was to share the placement of the kids 50/50. Which meant I would be living in Wisconsin for at least another 14 years because I knew there was no way in hell he was going to move. And on top of that, I was wearing the engagement ring that was given to me by a cowboy twice my age. It was all set.

But the feeling I had in that vision was hard to shake. It was as if I was floating in an alternate reality while time stopped. I smiled in my heart as the lightness of the departure spread across the screen of my mind. It was liberating. Dreamy. Downright SCANDALOUS in its audacious freedom.  But then the record scratched.  The image was gone as quickly as it came and I succumbed to reality, scoffing at my improbable, silly daydream.

Now it is June 29. 3 days ago I drove away from Wisconsin with my two beautiful kids and our chocolate lab, Simone, headed for the exciting adventure of a new life in Ohio near family. We sold and gave away everything except for the necessities in clothing, toiletries, and my children's most beloved toys, packed up the wagon and left. Singing the whole way.

The best part about letting go is that the more you let go of, the closer you get to flying.

To be continued . . .


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Heck yeah!   Is that possible?  I am super pleased to be partnering with the awesome mamas over at the  My Mommy Manual community.  As a practicing yogi of over ten years myself, I am really excited to be a part of this project and have contributed exclusive previews of three songs from my soon-to-be released album, MotherSongs.  Please take a look at what they have put together, it is fabulous -- I have already gotten to do many of the lessons myself as a tester, and I am amazed at the content! 

For details on how to pre-order my new album, MotherSongs, scheduled for a May 2010 release, please go HERE .  Here's the awesome cover art, done by my soul sistah, Lisa Kattenbraker. (thanks, Lisa!)

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