About Oona Hays

Oona Hays is an educator, designer and artist. She is a Waldorf teacher at Wild Spruce Homeschool and also gives art and language arts lessons to children. Oona worked as an architect for ten years and recently, together with her husband, Josh, designed and built a house in Seattle, where they live.

Overlooking a Cliff

Wonder by Alex Grey

I look into your fifteen-month eyes,
blue opals of swimming water.
In them my soul bathes herself.

Each day you bring countless
smiles to my lips.
Each day you push me to feel my edge.

Overlooking a cliff,
I have choices:
I can soar.
I can plummet.

In the first I find the sky. I face
life, enveloped in lightness. The blue air
tingles on my skin. I am present to each moment.

In the second I trudge in coarse gravel.
A weight pulls me down.
My patience is tried.
I feel sorry for myself.
I react impetuously.

Each day I witness the mystery
of your little body growing.
I see your uplifted hands,
the pink softness of your feet.

I secretly want to take small bites from you.
Maybe because you suck life, in milk
out of my body. Just nibbles.

I hear you forming new words. Each sound
a puzzle piece for the communication
forming between us.
Language, is another marvel.

I tend to you with tireless
limbs. I stay present
with all my strength.
Expanding waves ripple
from my heart.
A love so large it is
nameless.

Sing into your light

 

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Sing into the deep December darkness.

Sing into your light.

Walk, one footstep at a time,

into your heart.

Feel the pulsing beat.

Know that you are alive.

Smile because it’s a gift.

Skip because deep down you

still are a child.

Look up, see the moon, the stars,

the forest, the mountains, and the ocean.

Thank them deeply: they are a part of you.

Embrace all of creation, every being,

every human, and animal.

Soothe your caustic tongue.

Walk deeper and past, out of anger.

Feel the love, the deep appreciation,

the belonging of one and all.

I think my heart and everything surrounding it has gotten bigger

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I cannot think of a day as a mother when I am not tired. When I don’t have some major overpowering worry or doubt that freezes me stiff, or seizes me in a bout of anxiety. Just yesterday, the baby came in on the babysitter’s back, her forehead leaning in, pressed into a wool coat. As she came up to look at me, I saw red and white clouds drifting across her countenance: a dance of splotchy spots. I assumed it was the pressure of raw wool on soft skin. Yet, four hours later, the marks were only redder, deeper, angrier. The baby looked flushed, and her innocence of what to me looked like some terrible disease, made her even more endearing. I fluttered into a chest paralyzing fear. What could this be? How could this have happened? All my questions had no good answers, except perhaps a reaction to kiwis. My mama soul ruffles into a protective swan, neck arching defiantly, wings outstretched.

I think my heart and everything surrounding it has gotten bigger. There is a fine-knit, and enhanced, cloud enveloping my being, my ears, my eyes, my sense of smell, and simply all my senses. They are all on their tiptoes alerting me of their surroundings while I pour myself into the role of mother and care for my young child.
Some days I wish I trusted my intuition more deeply though. For if I pay attention, it is there, within me all the time: an energy that only need be woken up carefully and paid heed to, like a special voodoo doll guiding me in my pocket.

I can hear through walls, and up stairwells, detecting even the faintest of sighs, cries, or sneezes. Through the stillness I am clued in to that particular silence that is foreboding of mischief or danger. Like the day I looked over while chopping carrots and saw the baby content sucking on the i-pad charger, with a look mixed of pride and innocence.

My heart is on high alert when an ambulance goes by, or someone raps loudly at the door, lest the baby be woken. I can see a wobbly foot leading to a fall, sense danger looming around the corner. I simply know when the baby is sick, or when she is in a good mood; when it’s time to go home and she has had too much of even a good thing.

Some days I pray to our angels to protect us. Some days I envision myself gently wrapped into the mantle of Mary. The indigo folds tucking me in warmly, while the golden leaf stars twinkle in the dome above my head. In her arms I rest like a lamb. Some days, I imagine —for lack of a better name—my mythological mother coming to me when I call upon her. I smile to her. She gives me strength. She knows how to support me. She listens me.

It is dream acts like these that allow me to move forward. Acknowledging the power of being alive, despite days on days of sleep deprivation. I move into the heart of being a mother. Each day a little deeper. It is the most important life lesson I have learned to date. It is a 24 hour-long meditation (just pause and press repeat each morning) involving patience, compassion, pure love.

Of course there are those moments when the thought of throwing in the towel lumbers across the screen of my mind. I see it coming like a freight train with no brakes. Then I hop off.
I see my baby trying, with every fiber of her being to stand up, holding on to our bookcase; the back of her downy head covered in fine blonde hair; her short arms flailing and waving, as her legs wobble, and she does a flamingo dance, aiming to hoist herself upward.

My thought abdicates. My heart, my widened mama’s soul, takes charge, sending all other sentinels to lunch. It fires me into a rosy love that extends to the outer posts of my existence.

Gratitude Prayer

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Today is one of those sparkling sunny days that makes me feel slightly drunk on life.

It’s also the day before Thanksgiving. Selina and I went grocery shopping this morning. I thought to myself how crazy it was to attempt that the day before the major eating holiday. I also was a bit afraid: of the crowds, of doing this with her, managing stroller, cart, loads of food, etc. But it turned out to be a pleasant experience. I would even venture to say an adventure that we shared together. She ate slices of pear we had brought from home, and pointed at things making that guttural sound that all children who can’t yet yell “I want that”, make… a sound that used to frustrate me. Later we placed the food in the car and went first to the playground by the lake and afterward to the library. As soon as we got there she shouted: “Anna, Anna, Anna”. Anna is her doll, that my friend, by the same name, made for her. I looked around and all I saw was a humongous monkey sitting on top of the bookshelves. I think my child calls all dolls, including huge stuffed animals, Anna. That elicited an ear-stretching smile from my face.

It may be trite to feel an overwhelming dose of gratitude today, but that is the case with me. It hasn’t been an easy year, this first of being a mother. First, going through a difficult birth left me with longtime healing to do while I had an infant to take care of immediately and all the time. It’s only recently that things have begun to shift, to feel smoother, softer, less difficult. I realize how long physical and emotional healing can take. I notice how much being a parent heals me also from ancient wounds. It re-parents me.

I feel gratitude first and foremost for my daughter. She brings a smile to my face every day. She is the hardest and most beautiful thing I have ever been responsible for. There are simply no words for the sentiment I feel for her. Then to my husband Josh, who is always there for us, standing with integrity, compassion, and wisdom. Always. To my mother, Milena with her love and unflinching support. To my many friends, and teachers. To the rest of our family of blood lines and chosen. To my doctor who told me that I have the tools to stand my own ground. To refuse the omnipresent voice of stress, and worry that surrounds our time.

I choose to stand in the light and in the love. I move forward, even in these dark times, toward the solstice, knowing that the light shines within me.

In the words of poet Robert Frost:

The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean –
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.

The happiness I feel when I see Selina

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I feel so happy I could explode. (Sleep is a miracle that works wonders).
The happiness I feel when I see Selina:
Her nose scrunched up in a smile.
The light in her eyes.
Her expression of delight mixed with a touch of roguishness.
One hand pointing: “MMMM” (Gimme that) she shouts.
Back-a, BaBa, DaDa.
A dialogue in many acts.

We nestle and snuggle in the morning, after the long night.
We play and explore in the afternoon.
She splashes in the tub in the evening.
A wave of love connects it all together.
Her heart to mine.
A conversation that spins tapestries of meaning.

Connections woven by her imagination.
She pretends she is drinking from a cup.
The cup on her head becomes a hat.
Her left brain naming, labeling, compiles information, sounds, shapes.
A bus pulling up and lumbering to a halt.
An ambulance wailing by.
A motorcycle puttering.
A plane flying overhead.
Crows cawing.
The bark of a dog in the distance.
Her right brain sings and wallops back to the left in exultation and recognition.
It layers longing, imagination, fondness, attachment, sense of self, and other.

She is beginning to speak. In English and Italian.
She says “No, no Numa, when our cat, Numa, scratches the couch.
“Adie” (for Grazie) when she hands me the cat’s bowl to wash.
Mama, Daddy, Bye, Bow, Ba(ll), (D)Ow (Ciao). Baby.
She sees a flower.
A bee.
A butterfly.
She smells the lavender and rosemary in our garden.
She is careful not to pull flowers off their stem.
She learns to climb the stairs in both directions.
She sucks the butter and jam off her tiny pieces of toast discarding the rest.
She devours salmon skin.
It’s her favorite thing it seems.

She follows and lopes after me whenever I come home.
She makes the milk sign and indicates her favorite chair to sit in.
When I see her my heart leaps.
I melt.
In love.

The Sun Shines Yellow in my Soul

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The smell of crushed mint leaves lingers
on my fingers, mixing with sweat
and heat. It’s the heart of summer.
Full moon: one lunar year since
you, my baby, were born.

The sun is beating relentlessly, turning
the grass to burnt gold; the earth a fine powder.
Pine needles crackle under my soles.
The dry air redolent of blackberries, spruce and dust.
There isn’t one cloud above. It hasn’t
rained in months. Trees are dying
in the dry summer heat.
Forests to the east of us are on fire.

You and I are inseparable companions. As I carry you,
sweat pours down my skin bin droplets and streams.
I sing, you coo, and point. One finger
extended from a pink hand. Your face in the shade
of your white sun hat. The sky is so blue it hurts.
My toes painted yellow
like ten winking dandelions. Cut off jeans
any shorter would be a bikini bottom.
Hair tumbling in a waterfall down my spine.

Each day brings us to the lake to get in the water.
We feel its mermaid coolness on our skin:
blue-green with mossy branches on its bottom,
algae afloat, willows stooping over it.
You splash and shout with glee, as I lift you in the air,
and back in the water. Ducks swim
and dive under. A dog barks in the distance.
The sun shines yellow in my soul

When I Write

When I Write
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When I Write
I write because it is part of me.
I write because it makes me happy.
I write, because when I do, I feel better. On those days it is as though a cloud lifts, and I see the world with brighter colors.
When I write, sometimes – most of the time – I write poetry. I feel images surfacing. I hear words in my head. I need to write them down. To give them a home in black on white. To see the undulating scribble of my handwriting. I hear the juxtapositions of sounds, the sometimes alliteration, the short and the long, the rhythm of waves crashing on the shore, the allegory, and the symbol.
When I write, I hear bells in my head. I watch raindrops fall on mushrooms. I glide under the lid of my own fantasy, hurled into a sky of rolling clouds. I ride a magic carpet on which I am truly me, more than me and also, at times, petulant me. I let the child me roam. She picks wildflowers . She smells them, and plucks petals pitilessly.
When I write, afterwards, I sometimes discover hidden secrets. I find thoughts that were seeking to be expressed, emotions that begged to be unleashed, feelings that hoped to be felt.
When I write, I oscillate between poetry and prose. I let my pen roll in its own ecstasy on the paper. I am transported to faraway lands; sunset in a dusty red desert, full moon in a mossy old growth forest, populated by elfin maidens.
When I write, I see with my ears, touch with my eyes, hear with my heart. I am called into the House of Language by an ancient muse named Synesthesia. I have been courting her since my teenage years. She is a rebel at heart, yet as old as the hills. She carries me to lavender shores, where monkeys drum, butterflies hum, and mostly everyone else dreams
When I write, I am saved by words. I am purified by the emptiness that follows. I let myself lay on the brink of uncertainty, even fear. I walk precariously on a tightrope that I tried to challenge many moons ago for the first time. Now I yearn to each day. It has taught me to take risks. Within it I see the river flowing. Through it I am shown that no moment is ever repeated. No context can be remembered so accurately that the imagination wouldn’t need to be beckoned in as an ally.
When I write, I write in the present. I write in the past. I write in the future. I write from the first person, from the second and third; I write for all the people. I write to pour myself into all my parts, to fill all my pores.
When I write, I feel my heart swell and get bigger.
When I write, I am me.

Some days

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Some days

Some days are better than others. They just are. The sun shines in a blue sky from dawn, and you wake up feeling rested. Or at least partially–perhaps an illusion of rest–after a night of nursing and responding even subconsciously to baby coos, babbles, hand claps, and of course cries. Some days you follow your toes. Some days you follow your nose. Some days you might follow your breath, in that one-pointed awareness that enlivens your being. It keeps you in the present. It allows you to check in with your emotions, it kindles your deepest thoughts.

Most days you need to eat, and you cook. You cook three meals a day, plus snacks. You cook for your baby. You cook for you and your husband. All meals need to be quick nowadays. You make scrambled eggs with kale for breakfast, so baby eats the whites as well as the yolks (as well as the greens). You strive to eat protein for lunch, and you get creative for dinner, meaning you think up dinners that have a prep time of under twenty minutes, leaving the rest to the oven, the grill, etc.

Some days you do laundry. Some days you do yoga. Some days you re-organize the house, water the plants, give yourself a much-needed shower. Some days you bake banana coconut chocolate-chip cookies. When it’s ready, as in bubbly and deliciously sour, you pour your kombucha batch into brown glass bottles that don’t let sunlight in. You add a slice of ginger, a mint leaf or two here, a sprig of rosemary, a raspberry or two there to give it special flavors.

Some days you are more tired than others. You try to nap and can’t fall asleep. Then, the second you plunge into sweet rest, a piercing shriek from your baby startles you onto your toes. Some days you cry at the drop of a hat. You just do. Some days you are impatient and super emotional. When your husband speaks to you in his soft voice, you thunder back: “what? I can’t hear you!! And that’s the mildest reaction, you recount.
On all days you are up by seven, minus one, (or sometimes two hours). You get your baby after she calls you. You nurse and change her. Your heart is brightened by her radiating smile when she sees you. You call to her: “Buongiorno Principessa” as you approach her room. You fall in love all over when she says DA-DA, when she claps her hands, when she kisses her bear, or possibly you, in the air.
You look at her and feel so blessed, so grateful. Later you walk together. You walk around the lake, you lie with her in the grass. You see what she sees. You point at what she points at. You watch her grab her feet and giggle. You watch her strive to roll over. As the months roll by she sits, she crawls, she pulls onto her knees, she tries to stand.

Every day, three times a day, you clean the table and the floors from smears of oatmeal, avocado, blueberries. You wipe your baby’s mouth and hands while she screams as though you were sacrificing her to the gods.
Every day you hold her. Your wrists ache on and off. So does your back. Your hips need multiple yoga and massage sessions to loosen. You hold her anyway. You carry her up and down stairs. You rock, and nurse and hum at night. In the day you swing in the swing with her, feeling bliss as her little body presses against yours. You watch her from behind as she swings. You imagine what lies hidden, ready to unfold in her tiny persona. Every day, you still can’t believe it.

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Violet

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Violet, I watch you come to life.
You open outward from a pearly,
bud. The motion of life written
in you, a spiraling, curling beauty;
always reminding me
of the mysteries that lie
in the sacred.

Yours isn’t the linear line dear
to Man and the rational mind.
It is the Mother’s way.
In you Nature shows
her hidden power.

I watch your majestic purple
unfolding over days. You move
as though a creature
asleep; curled in on yourself,
a timid child with rounded fists
hovering over her eyes.

You glisten. Your velvet stem
of emerald and magenta,
has grown fine hairs
that whisper against the light.

Each day you peer
out a bit further.
From your head a cup of leaves
unfurls to protect their golden,
inner treasure. Deep, royal violet,
fresh and cool. In them the thirst
of life moves visibly through veins
of love and hope.

I hear your music. The melody
sounds in my ear, singing
the beginning of renewed life.
In your presence I remain
in awe each day a little deeper.