MEET KENNY:   THE BEAUTY, THE HUSBAND, THE BEST-FRIEND

Kenny and I met in high school, and it was one of those stories where I saw him, I spent a little time with him, and I immediately knew I was going to marry him. It was this very surreal deep knowing that this person was absolutely familiar to me, and that I had known him forever, and that we would be together for a very long time - and I had really only just met him.  We were sitting next to each other on the couch at this party, and I looked down and noticed that we were holding hands, I didn't notice how it had happened, and he didn't either, it just happened.  Now that I look at it, it is like a beautiful little metaphor for our life  - for LIFE in general I should say - I don't know how these things come together, they just do. And there you are. Life snuck-up on you.   That's how our son snuck-up on us too. ;)

Kenny is a beautiful soul, and he is the kindest, gentlest, most loving heart. He came into my life and allowed me to see myself in a way I had never before been able to see. He loves me so much and I have never doubted that for one instant in the entire time we have been together, and that shocks me, but that's how it feels. His love opened a door in me, and it held that door open over the years, even if just a crack, through all my years of hurt. It was that loving that made space for my own return to myself, and I can NEVER pay him back for that incredible gift.  Kenny is strong and wise, and he is also a very simple man. Nature is his god, and fishing is his meditation.

You won't catch him reading spiritual books or spouting inspirational quotes, and you won't catch him touching a computer EVER (though he is getting pretty handy with an iPhone).  He free-dives for abalone and fish at the North Coast, and he grew up spending weeks at a time in very remote locations in Mexico, spear-fishing and free-diving with his family.  He plays guitar and he loves Zeppelin and classic rock. He climbs and trims trees for a living, and on any given weekday you might find him 100+ feet up in a fir tree wearing 50+ pounds of climbing gear and saws.  He works for himself, and we plant a tree (through plantabillion.org) for every tree that he has to remove.  Kenny is different from me in so many ways, but he's the same as me in ALL THE WAYS THAT COUNT.  His huge heart, his kindness, his loving way, his connection with life - that's where we meet as one.

We have been together since we were 17 years old, Our (surprise!) son was born when we were 19.  We didn't get married until we could afford to, so we were married in 2003, and our then 6 year old son Haelon was the Best Man. ;) (The pictures are adorable)  We are one of those rare cases where something like that worked out and we actually still love each other and are closer than ever.  I feel beyond blessed for that experience!  And beyond blessed to have this angel called Kenny in my life. He pushes all the right buttons and makes me look at myself where I don't want to look, our partners, just like our children, are here to teach us! If you find your partner sometimes infuriating, then you are living with your Guru, they are giving you what you need for your own enlightenment.  It's between that balance of love and infuriation that we find ourselves. Partners give us that. Isn't that great? To know that both ways are serving our highest good? I personally just love that. (even when I hate that) ;)


 

MEET HAELON:  THE BEAUTY, THE SON, THE FREEDOM-FIGHTER-EXTRAORDINAIRE

If you look up stubborn-streak in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Haelon there.  Since the day he was born, he's been having it his-way or the highway.  Beginning with pregnancy.  For example:  I had been a vegetarian (and a very eating-disordered one too by the way) in the years prior to my pregnancy with Haelon, and by some miracle I had stopped all those behaviors when I got pregnant with him and was trying to eat super-healthy, but was generally still stressing myself out a ton, of course.  In my 4th month while walking through a mall with Kenny I suddenly burst into tears, he sat me down at one of those benches off to the side and asked what was wrong and I blurted out sobbing…" I...I...I...I want a cheeseburger so bad. (sob sob) and I'm not supposed to want that!"  followed by a flood of tears.  He hugged me and promptly took my hand and walked me into the nearest burger place and ordered me one as I stood there terrified like I was about to murder someone.  I don't remember now exactly what he said, but it was like he was acting on my body's and on Haelon's behalf in that moment, wordlessly implying that "I know you have all kinds of internal fight about this rightness and wrongness of food, but this is not about you anymore, or about what you think is right or wrong - just eat."  He didn't say that, but that's what I see when I look back on it.  And I see that Haelon was in there saying "hey, excuse me lady, I don't know what your issue with food is, and I really don't give a damn mama,  put some freakin' meat down that pie hole!"  Because that's how it felt, it really didn't feel like a choice.  I would later become a vegetarian again, and I am currently, but that is not my IDENTITY, and to believe so would be a trap created by ego, so I'm honest that that could change at any moment, I just don't know.  *Entirely off-topic, but felt that was important to note.*

Haelon has been doing this kind of thing for me, for my ENTIRE LIFE with him, fighting my ideas about how things "should" go and forcing me to surrender to life and stop trying to control every freakin' thing.  He is the most beautiful creature, and most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, because he gave me what I really NEEDED instead of what I WANTED. He is constantly giving me the keys to what keeps me in illusion, just by being him and doing the regular kid stuff he does. When he does something that irks me to the core - that's my work. It's my work to find what I am believing and to come back to my own heart and knowing. It's as if he's saying "don't hang your world on me lady, you want to be free? I want to be free too - let's do this!"  Of course he doesn't say that, but the natural way and progression of his life, and all the little "things" that have come up, say that.  He wants to do it himself, he wants to be his own being, he does not want to be told what to do, or when to do it, he bucks the system - big time. He is not willing to "live up to the standards of society" just because others will be disappointed.  He makes no apology for who he is, or where he's at in life, he took my illusion of control and totally obliterated it, and I can never THANK HIM enough for that, because that's all it ever was - an ILLUSION.  I realize this all makes my son sound like a crazy anarchist, but that's actually not how he is.  He is a dear heart and an old soul, he is kind and wise and quite sensitive, but his teachers and most others don't see that when they look at him. He puts up a very good wall and keeps that part of him hidden very well.  He doesn't feel he has to prove his worth to anyone - they can think what they want about him, and I so admire that!  Because that's so much more than I could ever do for the majority of my life.  He has a FIERCE personal integrity, because he's not willing to plaster a smile on, or react to things in the status-quo way just to make others feel at ease.  And that's so brilliant because when he DOES smile, and when he DOES laugh, you know it's REAL and it lights up the whole room. That is the mark of a genuine person and it is because of that that people will come to trust him, and listen to what he has to say, because he KNOWS WHO HE IS. That doesn't mean that because I smile at people constantly and do make people feel at ease, that I am any less than that, it means that's real for me, right now - and his way is real for him, right now. That's personal integrity, that's just one of the great many things Haelon has taught me.

Haelon is also an extremely talented musician, he has been tapping on car doors and dinner tables since forever, and we finally put a drum set in front of him and WHAMO - who knew?  He took to drums like a fish to water.  He then picked up guitar and took to that in the same way.  Then he picked up the Ukelele and did the same thing!  We thought with both of us being such music lovers, he'd probably run the other way, but he surprised us BIG time.  At his 8th grade talent show, he played a drum solo and BLEW the whole school away.  Haelon is now 15 years old, yes 15!!  People gasp when they find out I have a 15 year old, "I was young when I had him" I always say.  Haelon is incredibly intelligent, though his grades do not reflect that, and he is absolutely hilarious.  Although he will argue with me until the end of time on this - he is an excellent writer.  His birthday cards make me laugh and cry at the same time, his school papers have had me literally rolling —  no-doubt he will put these skills into some bad ass song-lyric-writing one of these days.

When I am not believing my mothery-mental stories about what Haelon "should" do or act like, or comply-with, I am in AWE of the incredible force of life that he is.  And I see that he has been saving my life since the day he came into it, again and again and again.  With every blip that comes up because of him, I get a new chance at life, at how I choose to experience my life. To say that I love him, would just not be enough.  He is a gift of the highest order.  Just look at him? Isn't he beautiful?

 

 


 

MEET THE REET-PETITE  { A.K.A. - KITA }

No disrespect to the rest of my family, but here is the love of my life. (I kid - kind of.)  Kita is roughly 5 pounds of furry goodness that has been my source of unconditional love, and unconditional friendship, for 10 years now.  He is a long-haired chihuahua, and when we met it was like when I met my husband - it was like only me and this little fur-ball existed in the world, he was mine and I was his - it was a done deal. :)

If Kita had a theme song, it would be "I'll Be Watching You" by the Police.  "Every move you make, every step you take, I'll be watching you"  Kenny always jokes about that because Kita has to know where I am and see me and be with me at every second or he'll go into his bed-cave and hide until I come home.  He, like Kenny, was that source of love that allowed me to begin to see myself in a different way, he is a holder of space in my life, he is unconditional presence and he has no judgement about anything I have been through or am going through. He's THERE.  He is a snuggle-buddy and a warm spot in my lap.  We are attached at the hip.  Like the rest of my family he is such a gift to me.

Kita enjoys begging for table scraps, having a dysfunctional relationship with his own food (I wonder where he gets that from? - sorry Kita.)  licking the cats ears, rocketing around on the very small patch of carpet we have in our house, barking at the door bell,  standing on the front of the Kayak in his tiny life jacket like a hood-ornament, stopping at every rock, tree, bush and blade of grass when we take a walk, and tinkling in random corners of the house when we're not looking (yes, STILL at this age).  And I love him that way.  There are a lot of rule-busters in my family, why would I expect him to be any different?

Kita is also the cutest thing you've ever seen. At least he is to me. The only reason I think it's not just my bias is that when we walk by people on the street they can't stop staring and all I hear is "awwwwwwww!!!! and  oooooooohhhh!!!"  as they pass.  I think it's brilliant how oblivious Kita is to this, he's just living his life, happily lifting his leg for the umpteenth time to pee on a tiny weed.  They could walk by and say "oh my god that dog is hideous" and he would still be just as happy. That's the beauty of NO MIND, NO IDENTIFICATION. What they think of him is their business, not his. He is also my greatest teacher.

 


 

MEET THE C.C.R.C.   { a.k.a. The Curious Collection of Random Cats }

Confession time:  I have a debilitating weakness for homeless kittens.  Every one of our beloved cats was a rescue of some kind or another.  We currently have 4 cats, yes 4.  Our first cat was full-grown female whom I named Mabel, that I got from the local shelter. She had had a litter of kittens and had been abandoned.  She died a few years ago, but she was a beautiful girl and sweet thing who drooled when you gave her love. The below are our current cats, I'll post their baby pictures for now, until I can get them to hold still for an adult-shot. ;)

 

MEET LENNY:  { a.k.a. - "El Gatto Negro" }

Our second cat was actually a mama and a litter of 6 kittens that I went and rescued from a house where they could not take care of them or feed them.  I got them all fixed and got them all homes, and kept 2 of them - Lennon and Wookie. Unfortunately when they were 5 months they got some super-rare disorder and Wookie died suddenly, and Lennon was at the vets for 4 days with a 108 fever.  He lived, but he now goes by the name of Lenny - because my son and husband loved calling him that, and because, well, frankly we suspect quite a few of his brain cells were fried during that fever.  ;)  He is clumsy and sweet, and black as the night. His eyes are a beautiful jade green, and he sleeps more than any other cat I've ever seen.

 

MEET FIN: { a.k.a - "Fin Beebee" }

Fin was a more traditional kitten-getting, but it wasn't my fault! I mean she practically begged me to take him. She told me he was going to have to go to the shelter if I someone didn't take him from that box (at my sons daycare at the time) - I mean look at him - really - did I have a choice?  Fin is a dog-cat, he is super warm and friendly and will come to greet you when you pull up to the house if he's outside.  He loves everyone and he's super mellow.  He's also grown quite chubby in his older age, and although we're not feeding him more, we suspect he's made secret friends all over the neighborhood and is subsequently being fed multiple times a day. He's clever like that.

 

MEET HOITON: { pronounced Hoytin - a.k.a "Hoya-Bee" }

Hoiton is long-haired siamese with blue eyes that Kenny brought home as this tiny little white fuzz ball that was covered in brown paint because he had rolled on a freshly painted deck.  Another rescue.   Hoiton sincerely believes he is a prince, and acts accordingly. He is very smart as most siamese are, and Kenny believes he's actually had a conversation with him once. (no, drugs were not  involved. ;) haha.

 

MEET OLIVE: { a.k.a. - "Ollie-BehBeh" or "Olls" }

Olive's story is pretty cute, last summer after I got my 65' Bug I was having some things done to it at a shop in Sacramento (about an hour from where I live) and when I went to pick it up, the secretary at the counter said "do you know anyone who wants a kitten?" and I said, "Oh I wish, but my husband will kill me if I bring home another cat"  and she laughed and said okay, that she had found it last night, it's mama had been bitten by a snake and died and the kitten was the only one she found alive, and then said she had it there behind the counter.  I flinched because in that instant I KNEW that if she showed me that baby, it was going to come home with me, but I asked her to see it anyway. I guess my decision was honestly already made at that point, but I was still trying to hold back.  Olive (yet unnamed at that moment) was in a small laundry basket and was not more than 3 weeks old, she was the size of a very small hamster, and she needed to be bottle fed. I heard the guy on the phone next to her asking someone if they wanted a barn-cat and I knew I had to take her out of there. This kitten needed to be bottle fed and have her little hiney-wiped (like the mother does) every 2-3 hours just like an infant, it couldn't be a barn cat!  So that's how Olive came home with us, it was summer so I took her camping with us and to the coast and she got bottle fed and hiney-wiped round the clock, the good thing about kittens is it only takes about 6 weeks of that instead of multiple years! ;)   She started out as a gray and striped, but she turned into this BEAUTIFUL tortoise-shell long haired cat.  She is stunning and as you may have guessed the bottle feeding made her into quite the lovey-lovey kitty.


 

MEET SUNNI:  { The thread that weaves this story together }

You already "know" me from the about page, but I thought I'd also include myself here since I am part of my own family, and since I'm not what happened to me and my struggles, but a whole host of apparent other things as well. This is a much more traditional type of introduction, but those are nice too right?

THE NAME:  My name came about by way of my full name which is Elizabeth Sunshine Chapman. On the first day of Kindergarten, a 5 year old me dressed in white tights and mary janes, with freshly brushed "first day of school" hair, stood in front of her classroom - partly excited for this next new adventure, and partly freaked-the-frigg-out. My mom knelt down in front of me and asked me if I wanted to go by Beth (which my family knew me as) or by Sunshine.  I mean, c'mon, I was 5 — what would you have chosen?  Not only do I get a new identity for this new adventure, but it comes with the implications of something bright and wonderful in the world of a 5 year old.  So that is how my name came to be, and obviously, it stuck. ;)  During my high school rebellious Sylvia-Plath-reading, darkness-knowing, pot-smoking, issue-ridden-poetess phase I came to despise the name because I would have rather been named something deep and literary-dramatic. But alas, my name would eventually wrap back around, and show me once again, that it is, and always has been, perfectly me. (thanks mom) ;)

THE GIRL:  Growing up I had a warm and wonderful loving family. Which made my descent into self-loathing especially painful and full of shame because - what the hell was my problem?  My family didn't beat me, they weren't cruel - what was my excuse?  Of course I would later come to realize that low-self worth is an old and all-too-familiar story in my family lineage. And I hope that the work that I do unravels a bit of that tale in my family, not just after me, but before me as well.

THE ARTEEST:  I have been a multi-creative for as long as I can remember. As a little girl I had regular family-room talent shows and scribbling sessions. You could often find me lying on the floor in my room surrounded by stacks of picture books, or singing totally off-the-cuff made up songs about what I did that day into an old fashioned tape recorder.  Sometime after the age of 5 however, I began to withdraw from the world, I began to get very shy and insecure, and a self-doubt and self-loathing started to grow in me, little by little, and more and more, until I was in late adolescence when it really just consumed me entirely.  But after my awakening process began, all of this creativity and that spark of childhood-wonder came flooding right back in.  I mean I was still doing creative things the entire time through my eating disorder, but it was an entirely different experience once that was healed. It was like a flood of expression and it was so much more full of joy - which has manifested in me writing books, and poetry, and creating artworks and collages, writing songs and singing and making little videos, taking pictures, and all kinds of other stuff.  Music and creativity were my life-line for all those years, they held me when nothing else could, but they really just flourished after I didn't need them to hold me anymore. It was as if they were free to become something else.

THE EVERYTHING ELSE: Outside of the arts, I am a huge nature and animal lover.  I have the softest spot in my heart for all creatures, furry or not. I grew up in the mountains and rivers and lakes of Northern California, and so my affinity with water and trees is something that I cannot possibly describe to you.  Especially water.  At any body of water I was always the first one in and the last one out,  water brings me back to myself like nothing else.  That was one of the most painful things in those days of hurting, because I wouldn't go in the water hardly-ever because I was too insecure, and that was so symbolic for me not being able to enter into "my life", I was afraid to "live" as ME, and so I kept me away from that thing that always brought me back to myself.  I just wasn't ready to come back to myself yet. And I can appreciate that now from where I am, that's precisely how it was meant to be. I couldn't jump back into all my loves in life, until I could.  It really is that simple. But it made the coming back to life BEYOND wonderful, it made the whole world light up.  Everything looked different, everything was new!  It was like being re-born into a whole new world.  It was as if I had to start over and learn how to be in the world in this new way, as my entire inner-being had shifted so much that I was like a baby inside, soaking it all up, just in total awe.

THE NOTHING ELSE:  It was very difficult for me to talk to people about this understanding that had happened in me, and for awhile it was almost like I would trip over my words when I tried to talk to people. Having "normal" conversations was really difficult at first, and so a lot of times I would just sit quietly and nod. However, I find that that is all anyone ever really needs. Your presence. When I am quiet and just fully a space of receiving what someone has to say, they can finally hear themselves - and they come right around to their own inner-knowing. I have sat there in a state of appreciation just watching people make a total full-circle in their conversation with me - without any "advice" or anything needed from me but that pure holding of space.  It's not some oogidy-boogidy thing where I'm like "I'll be your space holder" (insert deep serious spiritual voice-over here) - It's just that I honestly don't feel they need anything from me, they already have it, and the best way I can find to let them come to it, is to be still and listen very deeply.  And if words come from that quiet space, then I let them come out, I trust that they need to be said or they wouldn't be coming. There is just not that propulsion to constantly interject my opinion. I should also note that I have ALWAYS been said to be a quiet and a"good listener" so it's not new to me, but the way I listen now - comes from a whole other place. Everything that I hear from someone else, is also for me.  There is nothing anyone says to me that I cannot find in my own mind or experience somewhere, whether it's here NOW or not.

In that way, EVERYONE is my teacher.  Every single person who crosses my path, they show me where to look. They show me what's left to be discovered, they show me if there's any residual ick that I need to resolve, they show me what pieces I still need to pick up.  It makes life such an adventure, I never know what pieces I'm going to get next! And I never know what wonderful being is going to be delivering that to me either. :)  But every single time, I feel closer to home.  Closer to the infinite life that animates all things... closer to Love.

I love that you're here reading this, I love that beneath all these different "stories" of our lives, your heart and my heart are the very same thing. Thank you for being here. :)

xo