This week, my wonderful, dynamic, and inspiring friend Ashley Johnson weighs in on what Turtle means to her.

In Native American teachings, Turtle is the oldest symbol for planet Earth. It is the personification of goddess energy, and the eternal Mother from which our lives evolve. Turtle indicates Earth harmony, and draws you to all that is whole and good and abundant. Make haste slowly.—Jamie Sams and David Carson

In May this year I found out that I was… pregnant (surprise!) with our third child. The irony is that we got pregnant on the trip that my husband and I took to celebrate our freedom. Our children had turned six and four years-old and could easily stay with grandparents for a long weekend. It has taken me five months and a lot of soul searching and tears to finally surrender to and accept my new reality.

I am always fascinated with the ways in which I can create suffering in my life where in reality there are only blessings. You see, I was already off to the races again. My kids were finally both in school four mornings a week. They can feed themselves, wipe themselves, dress themselves, and sleep through the night. With all this free time, I was gearing up for the next big shift in my life—back into action! I was going to audition for a local dance company, open a restaurant, and start recording some of my music. I had big plans. But this is what  I was left with: a puddle of tears on my bathroom floor while holding a little white stick that crushed all of my big plans. I had been demoted back to diapers, milk boobs, and sleep deprivation. And the worst part was my own internal dialogue that continually shamed me for having such a negative response to what so many would consider a blessing.

So what does this story have to do with the topic of Turtle? I sit here now in my fifth month of pregnancy feeling abundant and happy and whole because I was finally able to shift out of my frantic striving to redefine myself as something other than “mother” and surrender to the miracle of my life’s unfolding. This shift was actually catalyzed by a entry that I read on this blog back in June about a book called Sacred Pregnancy. I followed the link which led me to a site where I found this song by Nina Lee. (Stay tuned for the link on Friday.) I listened to it over and over again praying for these words to sink into my bones. “Creater of life I am. Abundantly divine I am. Rooted in source. Powerful life force. Surrender and Remember. I alone hold the key to this ancient mystery.” This song transported me out of the perception that time is limited and returned me to the great eternal Mother consciousess. From that place I knew that there was nothing to do, nowhere to go, just simply to BE. To BE with the miracle of life growing inside of me, to BE with my extended path of mothering, to BE with my children, and to BE with my fears.

Stone HeartArmed with this new mantra and a bunch of frequent flyer miles, I took a much needed mama vacation to Kauai. I wish this for every woman and mother on the planet. My husband cared for the kids and I went with a girlfriend for five days of paradise. Before I left, Elizabeth had asked me to write on the Turtle card which, of course, was perfect. And so the theme of my entire trip was to surrender, simplify, ground, and harmonize. I woke up each morning for sunrise. I prayed. I sang. I walked slowly up and down the beaches letting the sand massage my feet. I floated in the warm ocean water letting myself cross over into the world where my new baby lives. I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired. I rested with the full moon and stars and listened deeply to the profound silence. And this has been the greatest gift I could have ever imagined for myself and my family. I have returned home nourished and renewed. I have slowed down. I have let my children slow down. My nervous system has been calmed and I have re-established a relationship with my own internal rhythm and the cycles of nature.

This pregnancy has pointed me back to what is truly important in my life. I was so ready to run out and leave the often mundane and tedious tasks of mothering for a fast paced and exciting quest for purpose and success. Instead I have returned home to myself and my family full of gratitude and praying that I will be able to hold the wisdom of the turtle close in my heart in the months and years to come because I have truly never felt more whole, abundant, and peaceful. I will close with a piece of wisdom that was just shared with me by a 70 year old Tai Chi Master from China. He said, “The past is spread out in front of us so that we can learn from it. The future is behind us where we cannot see. And so we better stop our frantic running around here in the present, else our future might never catch up with us.”

May your autumn days be filled with long slow walks, deep breaths, quiet moments with your family and the gift of tuning inwards.