Dear Mama,

When it seems that I'm hopeless
You say the words that can get me back in focus

To keep me happy there's no limit to the things you did
All my childhood memories
Are filled with all the sweet things you did for me

I appreciate how you raised me and all the extra love that you gave me

There's no way I can pay you back but my plan is to show you that I understand,
You are appreciated.

The Goodman girls. That's what we've gone by since my younger sister was born. Moms, me and Cole. I find irony in being lumped into our father's last name for our family association when it excluded him but that's what we went by and it's been the theme of my life.

I went to college at SJSU so that I could live at home and pay my way through school. The year I transitioned from high school to college, it felt like my world was falling down around me. Not only did most of my closest friends move away but my face experienced the worst acne I had ever seen. I had public speaking my incoming semester and was extremely self-conscious about all the changes taking place. I didn't want to get to know anyone at school because I hated that the first place of communication was something I didn't want people to see. I came for class and left as quickly as possible.

Becoming a recluse for the first time in my life was a gift I didn't see coming. The relationship my mom and I had was changing from Mother-Daughter to Sonya-Heather. We had always been close but my hanging out hours were with my ladies, not my mom. The following years would set ground beneath us where the truths of my high school years would unravel and deeper trust would develop. I loved my mom but now I loved spending my time with her.

She was there for me throughout my first tumultuous romantic relationship and through the heartbreak we became even closer. She could never understand why I was so upset about the things that happened but she was always there to listen. "No one can make you feel anything you don't want to, only YOU decide to feel that way." Devastated Heather couldn't stand this remark but years later I am grateful for her lack of sensitivity that was rooted in realism.

After graduating from college I remained in the nest and couldn't understand why everyone felt such shame by staying at home. I felt it often without knowing if I agreed with the sentiment or not. Present day, living at home with my mom, it's clear to me now that I didn't agree. I didn't want to leave and so I haven't.

I launched Sister Roots this year at the end of January. It started as an 8-week women's workshop which fueled a second 8-week women's workshop and is now preparing for further community involvement next year. The window framed by golden lights and centered with a red heart was a peek-a-boo to those passing by. Within this room some of the deepest, most profound magic was taking place. Circles of women, brave and afraid, tired and juiced, vulnerable and strong, would gather week after week. A space soaked in meditation, thoughtful dialogue, challenging conversations and art projects galore. Does this sound like a dream to anyone else?

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Growing my business in this home, in this way, with my Mom upstairs in her bedroom amongst the countless circles I've led means more to me than any chic space could. I didn't get this in the beginning though. I was embarrassed that I couldn't pay the fees of a space and so resorted to extend our home to the community for the work I believed in. Closing this year, reflecting on all my choices, this was one I wouldn't regret. My mom shared with me how she always wanted to start her own business shaping leadership teams and how cool it was for her to watch me, and Sister Roots, evolve.

Much of the initial work in Sister Roots is profound. Profound because it requires you to look at your roots, what makes you who you are and to discover if you believe the stories you've been telling about yourself. My sister did the first 8-week series and to prepare together we spent a day going through, book after book, our years compiled since birth. Grades, teacher's notes, projects and journal entries. My sister had a clear rebel nature since coming into the world and I was trying to figure out what I was doing. While she was jumping off things, splitting things open and setting things on fire, what was I doing? When I asked my mom, she replied, "You never left my side. You would grasp onto my pant leg or anything you could hold onto."

Has much changed? Yes. Has so much remained the same? Yes. I am still the girl who adores her mother, who hasn't wanted to leave her side, who couldn't imagine a world without her in the near view.

I don't know where I'm headed but it is all for you. Every word I write, every circle I lead, every challenge I overcome. I don't know how you did what you did with your circumstances. I don't know how you loved when it hurt so bad. I don't know how you walk into all that you have and remain positive but I am beginning to find out. I am beginning to realize that plan you started didn't stop with you but continues with me. I am beginning to realize that all of what you are created all of what I am.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but because of you, I am beginning to trust in whatever comes my way.

Happy Birthday Mommy. I love you.

Below are the freeze frames of the small booklet I made for my Mom.

A keepsake for the decades to come.