'A woman's role is to have kids.' My dear, perplexed cousin told me this, as he can not see an alternate as of yet. I have dedicated my life to be a mother to the world in different ways, and Shanti Roo happens to my daughter-dog. I'm a 39-year-old woman who has very proactively chosen to not have children throughout my three marriages. The reasons are solely my own. Yet it is common for me to receive information on fertility specialists from 'concerned-and-helpful' acquaintances, even students. I'm now breaking my politeness-barrier of smiling and nodding out of shock at their blatant breach of privacy to be bluntly non-apologetic for my choice. As a child, my grandmother and mother filled my heart with adventures-to-be-had, knowledge-to-be-gained in travels around the world, and learning who I am out of my comfort zones. My mothers gave me permission to not have children, to focus on defining myself through interconnection, to embody the changes that I pray to see in the world, and to taste the sacredness of bringing new life forth if that is what unfolds in my heart. I can absolutely grow and thrive with my own children; this I undoubtedly know, as I am surrounded by Goddesses and their beautiful ones. But still my choice remains. I honor the now-being-forgotten history of birth control and the stories of the brave women who sacrificed their social reputations and often their lives to uphold what was right for them. As women we must support each other because the only 'shoes' we can walk in are the ones we have. We must lay down our assumptions, our judgments, our definitions. We must break down walls of slander and shaming and end the modern day witch hunt. So hold my hand to celebrate the Path Carvers, the Sacred Mothers, the Wild Women, the Kali, the Sexy, the Baba Yaga, the Peaceful Sages, the Lone Woman, the Candidate, the Sacred Self. When we are mothers and gardeners to our own hearts, we are Mothers and Gardeners to the Grand Everything. Be Nourished.

Lily Kessler