Have you ever ventured to do something totally and completely outside of your comfort zone? What’s your default response? Do you freeze, procrastinate, give up before you start, make an excuse why you won’t be good, or do you just jump in headfirst and hope the landing doesn’t hurt too much?
This is it. Right now. Writing this blog post about myself is totally outside of my comfort zone. Before I got started I was running through the reasons why I shouldn’t do this. You know, really giving myself some good self-deprecating shit just because I can…
Lady, you didn’t even graduate high school. Don’t even attempt this.
You’ve been a mom for 23 years and now all of a sudden you’re going to be a writer? Just turn back now before you embarrass yourself too much.
This is my favorite one:
Why would anyone even care about who you are or why you’re here? No one wants to hear this. Go pour a glass of wine and watch Outlander.
Don’t you just love what we put ourselves through in our heads when we feel insecure? Yeah. Me too. It’s awesome.
If I actually stop the shitty narrative that’s going on in my head and sit with who I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m (hopefully) going. I actually think I am a pretty cool chick and that I have some real pearls of wisdom to offer up to other women (mamas in particular). So let’s just jump right in.
Do I go for the obvious, the external? Or shall I dig deep and give you all the woo-woo (because that’s where I’d really love to go with this)?
Let’s just start with my name: Melissa Rae Irish-Miller, but everyone calls me Missy. I am a mother, wife, friend, daughter, granddaughter, sister, ex-wife, photographer, doula, cook, housekeeper, high school drop-out, teacher, artist, some may say I’m a bitch and some may say I’m an angel. I am all of these, and I am none of these.
I say ‘I’m none of these’ because although the logistics of who I am and where I’ve been having certainly shaped my personality (and the lines on my face) those details ultimately have nothing to do with “me.”
I have always had a deep knowing that I am more. So much more than just the sum of my parts. I am of the stars, I am a child of God (yes, I do believe in a Power outside myself but you can insert Universe if that makes you more comfortable).
Since I was a little girl I’ve known that I was put here for more, not that I believe I’m better than anyone, it’s not that. It’s a knowing that we are, all of us, meant for more. That we have only scratched the surface when it comes to what we are truly capable of. One of my favorite all-time quotes from Shakespeare says this much more eloquently than I will ever be able to.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Maybe I’m naive. If so, I’ll accept that. I really do believe that life is full of mysteries and magic. Which leads me to how I got here…
Life led me to this moment but my 17-year-old self could never have imagined being a co-founder of a women’s movement. I dropped out of school my senior year to marry my high school sweetheart who had graduated the year before.
Our love was young, passionate and all-consuming.
We had planned to wait a few years to have children but one month after we married my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I panicked and went to the worst case scenario: my mom may die and she’ll never meet my children. So, I got off the pill and was pregnant before you could say, “Girl, you’re too young.”
I was one month shy of 19, it was 1996 - all my friends were going to Pearl Jam concerts and had just gone off to college and there I was: Giving birth to my first son in our 800 square foot home late on a cold February night.
My mom was not only still alive but she was thriving and was in the room with us the night he was born. Josiah was my mom’s first grandson and he was born on her birthday.
My entire world shifted the night he was born. I became a mother, nothing would ever be the same. It was glorious.
My mom’s journey with breast cancer was the beginning of my introduction to living a more holistic lifestyle. Watching her work with naturopaths and acupuncturists opened my mind to a whole new world of what medicine could look like.
I made a very unconventional decision in choosing home birth for my first son (and for the 4 who came after).
I switched from eating like the average American to doing a complete flip and focusing on whole, organic and unprocessed foods. I still have a vivid memory of cleaning out my pantry and repopulating the contents with their organic & natural counterparts.
Getting back to the basics and living a healthier lifestyle became a passion of mine thanks to my mom’s journey.
Two more children and almost 15 years later, I found myself at another turning point in my life. My high school sweetie and I were getting a divorce. In the last few years of our marriage, I found myself with a deep sense of loneliness and a cavernous void between the two of us that just couldn’t be crossed. Even though leaving was my choice I was still heartbroken.
Let’s get real for a second… divorce fucking sucks. End of story.
My beautiful babies were growing up. Josiah was 13, his brother Elijah was 11, and our daughter Eliana was 9. I remember so clearly how I spent my mornings those first few months after our separation: wake up, put on a happy face, take the kids to school, come home, lay on the hardwood floor in a patch of sun by the window and cry until I didn’t have any tears left.
I worried about messing up my kids, I felt shame around breaking my husband’s heart, I loved him and yet knew I couldn’t be married to him any longer. I worried I’d lose dear friends because they wouldn’t be able to understand why I had left. It all felt paralyzing and terrifying. I did lose friends, and people certainly thought I had lost my mind. Hell, maybe I had.
But, each morning as I would lay on the floor crying, and praying, it always ended with the same knowing. I would pray and cry out to God asking why I wasn’t able to just keep going in my marriage. What was wrong with me?
Every time I was in that desperate place I would hear, deep in my soul: It’s going to be okay, it’s time. So, I would dry my tears and go pick up the kids from school with a fake smile on my face. I have no idea how long this “drop off kids at school cry on the floor and scream at God for answers” routine lasted, months I think. In hindsight allowing myself to really mourn was a huge part of my healing.
Before I knew what had happened we were divorced, he was remarried and I was dating (albeit not very successfully).
Life is full of bizarre changes my friends. My divorce was the big one for me.
Time passed and I began doing yoga every day which, literally, saved me from myself.
I slowly learned how to be still, how to quiet my mind and how to truly live in a moment. This was the greatest gift I gave myself during the transition out of my marriage. I began to touch in with a part of my essence that I had forgotten for far too long.
I’m not saying yoga will save you - but for me, it was the beginning of my journey of self-discovery and it’s how I began to trust myself again.
I questioned all the things:
I read self-help books, spiritual books, and listened to podcasts but above all else, the quiet time of meditating during and at the end of a yoga session was where I touched in with the deepest part of myself in a way I never had before.
Then one day I found myself at a weekend yoga training with a not very tall, handsome, dark-skinned, beautifully brilliant man on his yoga mat, right next to me. I’ll just make a long story short here: I married him.
If you believe in soul mates he’s mine. We fell in step next to one another and never looked back. Now here we are, two babies and 8 years later and sometimes I still swoon at the sight of him. Yes, I said “sometimes.” I’m being real people.
How often do you swoon at the sight of your husband? Exactly. Sometimes.
He is undoubtedly the love of my life, I know with everything in me that he is “the one” I’ll grow old with. He also drives me crazy, pushes my buttons, and is different from me in almost every way. Marriage is hard but, somehow, we just work. We always come back to each other, and to the place where we are giggling about all the day-to-day crap we let get in the way of how great we are together. He sees me and loves me exactly as I am at any given moment, for someone who likes to continually reinvent themselves as I do, this is a huge gift.
Now I find myself here. Writing to you. My preparation for this moment as a Beyond The Red Tent founder is not through my schooling, my profession, or my expertise on a certain subject. Life has been my teacher (still is) and what I have to offer comes from years as a mother, a wife, and a seeker.
I have learned to let go where and when it’s necessary. To respect and trust my intuition, and how to recalibrate and come back to myself when I feel like I’m floating outside of my integrity and core values.
I want to keep writing to tell you about each one of my children, how incredible they are - and how they have been, and continue to be, my greatest teachers - but I think that’s a story for another time.
I want to leave you with why I am here.
I am here for you because I am you. I am here for my daughters and my future granddaughters.
My passion lies in helping to guide women who have lost themselves in motherhood, or in their relationships, towards finding a path back to their true north. I believe, strongly, that women need to tap into a place of deeply trusting our intuition. In order to do that, we have to learn how to listen in a way most of us never have.
We need to become seekers and fall in love with the process of continually reawakening new parts of ourselves.
I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that as you’re reading this (right now, just as you are, no matter where you are in your life, or how lost you may feel) that you are enough.
I am going to say that again.
You. Are. Enough.
You are beautiful and you matter.
For the record, I still say this to myself often because a life of external programming would lead us to the conclusion that unless we have lives that look a certain way we are not enough. That’s total and complete bullshit.
You don’t have to compete with other women or try to prove yourself to anyone. You can show up as your authentic self and hold other women to the same standard because when we actually support and lift one another up we will change the trajectory of the female experience. We are here, Beyond The Red Tent, together and I can’t wait to see what magic we will create.
With Love and In Service,