"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Sunday, December 2, 2012

St Jude's Marathon

Wow, this experience has been nothing short of astounding. I was surprisingly calm before the race. John and the kids walked down with me to the starting area. It was wonderful to have them with me. People milled around and chatted. It was all relatively peaceful.

I don't know exactly what came over me but right before I went into my corral I knelt in front of Hannah, took her by the shoulders and said" "Hannah, momma is running this for you. I am running this to be strong for you. I am running this so you will know you can be strong too." 

With a slightly dazed expression, she said okay mommy. She was probably wondering when exactly mommy had gone completely crazy. But she kissed me, hugged me, and told me she loved me.

I started well. A huge mistake of beginning marathon runners is come out of the gate too hard, too fast. I wanted to keep my first 3 miles at a 10 minute pace and I did. I felt strong.

Then we ran through St Jude Children's Hospital.

I am so glad this happened early in the race. The people were amazing. The stories of heartbreak and hope told in simple pictures were overwhelming. Pictures of beautiful babies with big eyes and no hair. Some signs simply said "Thank You", some had dates of lives that were  cut far too short under any circumstance. Families were yelling thank you while some just quietly cried. They told us we were heroes because we were running for their children. I must disagree. Those parents and children were the true heroes, the real warriors in this fight.

I had to take my first walk break early. Tears were streaming down my face and I was right at the point of sobbing. I had to catch my breathe. After you have hold your own baby in your arms, this hits far too close to home.

The signs are always great. Funny, encouraging, and with this particular race, poignant. The one that stayed with me was of another gorgeous child, no hair, and eyes that had seen far too much pain. It said:

Diagnosed: Age 2.5
Prognosis: 2 years
11 surgeries
26.2 ?? Yes, you can. 

At the 12 mile mark we split for the half marathon. It is a sudden change at that point. It quickly becomes much quieter. People no longer chat. This is serious. This is where the hard work stars. Everyone has their game face on. I was feeling pretty amazing. I was running a full marathon and I was going to do it!! Yep, I felt pretty darn pleased with myself.

And then out of the blue and for no apparent reason, I totally wiped out. I am talking sprawled out, flat on my face on the ground. Two amazing women stopped to help me up. They washed me off a bit and guided me to first aid. I was completely dazed. I looked down to see both knees and hands tore up with blood streaming down my left knee.

The guy asked me if I was good to go on. Here I was at my moment, I told my daughter I was strong. I have told both my children that I am a warrior who would never "go gently into that good night" I would always "rage, rage against the dying light." (No, they are not Dylan Thomas fans yet, but its all about exposure, you know?) So I told him, I am running on. Help me do that. Water was dumped over my wounds and Vaseline put on them to try to stop the bleeding and protect them. The I ran off in absolutely soaking wet shoes and socks, yippee!! My socks are wicking, but c'mon.

I have to admit, riding the endorphin and adrenaline high was strangely fun. Giggling, probably with a touch of hysteria, I thought just finishing would be even more impressive now that I was sporting my cool battle wounds.

The rest was hard. I am not going to lie. It was warm, I hurt, and it IS a rather insane amount of miles. Also, much to my delight, I had earned the sobriquet "Oh! You're the One that fell!! You poor thing, are you okay?" from a significant number of my fellow runners. Oh well, at least I was memorable. In the end, I ran into a cheering stadium, saw my family, and found the energy to spring across the finish line.

4:51 was the time it took me to experience one of the most amazing events of my life.

Thank you St Jude's. Your work is miraculous and I am honored to have been a small part of it.

"No child should die in the dawn of life." Danny Thomas

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Thing

So I have this marathon coming up on Saturday. It is for St Jude Children's Hospital. It is an amazing cause and I have trained long and hard for it. Don't get me wrong, I am excited about about it but in the immortal words of  Eliza Dushku in Bring It On, "If you ain't got it by now, you ain't got it." In other words, I don't see the need to dwell. It will make me nervous.

My mind and soul is now looking beyond to the next thing. I am really excited about this new pathway in my journey. I am eager to really explore artistic expression. I cannot wait to try out painting in several methods, drawing, writing, learning a new instrument, whatever. I am longing to decorate our home with art. I have a gorgeous bronze statue of Degas' Portrait of a Fourteen Year Old Dancer my amazing husband bought for me at the beginning of our marriage. I plan to learn mosaics just to create a beautiful surface to place her upon. Oh, and I am definitely taking my hoop dancing to a new level.

I want to explore art, explore me in art, explore me, however it all comes together really. As I grow older I find myself bound by fewer restrictions and I am releasing self imposed bonds one by one. I think this journey is going to just shatter of multitude of chains. Through art I know I will find greater freedom and clarity. My soul dreams of just that and I shall pursue it.

Why? I mean it could sound like a lot of self obsessed narcissistic navel gazing. I don't think I take myself that seriously, but it is possible. Beyond the reasons I stated above, it is for my children. I want my children to know, to understand they can do or be anything that want to be. But I also want them to understand that self knowledge is truly the keystone to any dream they wish to pursue. Self knowledge will help them not be timid people pleasers terrified to go against the social norm trapped in their own mediocrity. They need to understand in an honest way their strengths, weaknesses, desires, secret greed, all of it. I will set an example for them to follow. I am not sure how capable I am when it comes to teaching what I do not live. I don't think I have it in me.

I have already started in some small ways. I took a watercolor class. That was much fun. I jumped in with the enthusiasm of a 2nd grader. I posted my finished work on the refrigerator  I don't think it is necessarily wonderful technique but it is mine, it came from deep inside me. That made it important. I have begun a nature journal that is just blowing me away. Since I have more natural affinity for writing, I choose a format that focuses more on drawing. I find myself absorbed with cuttings from my garden as I sketch and color them. All of this just feels so very right in my gut.

I think we all need art in our lives. Art provides the extra beauty, the spice I think most of us crave from a life lived well. Art brings us face to face with nature, our mortality, our legacy, so many things that truly matter in the grand scheme of things. It makes me feel as if I belong but I an not the most important thing. And that is alright, in fact, it may be even better.

So that is what I am doing or getting ready to do. Saturday I will run 26.2 miles to support an amazing charity and on Monday perhaps I will write about it. That would be a great bridge between the rabbit trails of my life, don't you think?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in the Woods

This year we escaped to the woods for Thanksgiving. We went to an all inclusive resort not too far away from the house for 5 days. I was so unbelievably excited. There were so many amazing things to do. We could hike, go to campfires, watch fireworks, learn archery, visit a pioneer Christmas village, just so many things. We would also be without television or computers. This is difficult. The children and I have some screen issues we are all dealing with one day at a time. Some are a  little more willing than others.But it would still be great.

I pride myself on not setting up expectations. I fully believe it is a fabulous way to ensure disappointment. Go ahead and build up anything in your mind and I promise you, you will see it fall short pretty much every single time. Add in a couple of lively, headstrong preschoolers and you can add epic to that fail. I set up experiences and just see where it takes us. I am usually pretty good at this....usually.

Our first full day there started out beautifully. I ran around the lake just after dawn. The sunrise coming over the hills was breathtaking. I was energized and ready to watch this adventure unfold. I ran back to the room delighted to find the kids were happy upon waking and excited to get going with our day. It was going to be great.

You know, looking back there were a myriad of things going wrong even at that point. The food serve was SAD (standard american diet) and we do not eat that way. Heck, I am a vegetarian that tries to go pretty dang low in the gluten and dairy departments. Also there were only three meals a day. This is perfectly understandable. I do not expect someone else to cater either to my diet or frequent eating habits. But the children and I eat closer to 5-6 meals a day. We are grazers. I have no idea why I didn't bring our own food. I always do. The kids were also in some deep screen withdrawal. John has had some hairy trials and schedules lately and the stress was still emanating off of him. In short, we were a bunch of petulant, pouty, silly whiny pants for at least 1.5 days. I will openly nominate myself as Queen Pouts A-lot. So not cool, but there you are.

So there we were in this glorious natural setting bickering and picking at each other like toddlers desperately in need of a snack and a nap. (Pretty close description, actually.) John is the one who finally articulated our dilemma. We went to the store to load up on fresh raw fruits and veggies and other snacks we love to eat. We slowed down our schedule and allowed room to rest more. Most of all we realized it was okay to be out of sorts and all discombobulated. We have never taken a vacation with the kids outside of visiting family. Not surprising, we had some rough patches.

In the end it was great. We calmed down and truly enjoyed ourselves. The kids rode horses galore. Hannah learned archery. We star gazed and watched fireworks over the lake from our window  The kids became almost obsessed with hand dipping candles. It was a great time. We laughed a lot, took naps together, and enjoyed Logan's "shows" he put on each evening to entertain us.

But you see, there was something else. There was something I did to set us all up for failure. I had expectations. Even though I swore I wouldn't and was determined to let the whole thing unfold naturally, I still did it. I pictured how this amazing family bonding experience would be and then had a mental temper tantrum when it didn't happen how I envisioned it.

So lesson learned....again. Don't have expectations, bring your own food, take naps together, and laugh uproariously when your 3 year old decides he is the emcee for the new variety show he has created, written, and starred in, all to make his family laugh and entertain them. Most of all, be so very thankful and love each other.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Losing The Rigidity in Your Life

I am rather excited to be back blogging again. It is such a cyclical thing for me. I have posts swirling and composting my head that should come out soon. I want to talk about the freedom that comes from purging your stuff and letting go.  I would like to discuss living  life of harmony vs. discord and how letting go of those determined to live in land of self pity, drama, and stagnation will greatly enhance that transformation. So many things I hope to write about. But once has jumped to the forefront of my mind. Letting go of the rigidity in your life and becoming more flexible.

I want to present an authentic representation of my life online. It is easy to just focus on the good or clean up the not so pretty so we can give the world a highlight reel only kind of view. I do not want to do that. I want to be honest when I fail, be open about being exhausted or disappointed. In short, I just want to be real.


The truth is, I really am a happy person seeing joy and beauty of mundane life. I don't get too upset when things don't go my way. I go with the flow of my day and just see where it all takes up. And there is one thing that makes this all possible: Intentionally living in the present moment.

I was not always like this. Oh I had such plans and expectations. I over-thought every decision and scenario. A big holiday planned? I had it all worked out in my head how it should go and was very disappointed and angry when it didn't go according to my imaginary plan. You know it never did. I lived in the future trying to micromanage everything. I thought I would somehow have control over everything including other people and especially my children. Who wants to guess how that worked out???

Like so many things, this particular issue has been refined and smoothed due to having children. I remember sitting and crying because my day did not go how I had planned it. I was angry my children were getting in the way of my to do list!! Catch that, did you? Isn't that the most asinine thing? My babies, my beauties were hindrance to mopping floors and extravagant meal planning. Ridiculous or not, it is how I felt.

I am so grateful I found another way, a better way.

I found that by letting go of the past and releasing to future to work itself out, I lived more centered in peace and calm. When you find peace and calm you can find joy. I promise you it is true. I stopped thinking about how a situation would go or even my day. My to do list became things that would be cool to get done, if it works out. I have plans each day but if they don't happen, so what? I mean seriously, what is the big deal really? It is rarely life threatening. In fact, it is our anger and frustration stealing our joy not the change in plans.

To facilitate flexibility I have learned to say no to many, many things Our schedule is much more open and just has the room to be less rigid. The less hectic schedule allows us all to be more peaceful and less revved up all the time. It is that very go go go pace that leads to rigidity for me. How can you finish the 108 things on your to do list if you are not hyper focused and regimented??? I say ditch the to do list. You will be better for it.

So that is where me and mine are. We really just sort of flow through life. I don't think we miss out on anything. In fact, the slowness has enable us to see things and experience things we would have missed any other way.  Throw out your mental expectations, stop your life in its tracks, and take the time to wonder at the sunrise or moonrise with your children, however it works out for you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Inner Peace Juiciness

I love share the amazing effects of living an intentional life striving for inner peace and tranquility. Yoga and meditation are huge parts of this endeavor. I am such a beginning student of both, really, but the benefits are simply amazing even now.

This morning I awoke with a vague underlying feeling of restlessness, irritation, and, not surprisingly  fear. The more I study, the more I believe fear is the root cause for most of our negative emotions. Both rational and irrational fear can quickly pump up our blood pressure and send our mind reeling with anxiety and trepidation. So this morning, fear popped up and wanted to hang out.

Now here is the super cool part, because of my journey to finding inner peace and balance my problem was immediately apparent. I don't know how to describe it. Think of all of your calm, peaceful thoughts are a beautiful pattern of soft muted colors intertwining and overlapping with one another. Fear, anger, jealous, all the emotions leading to disharmony stand out in stark relief as if they are glaring bright red. This enables me to sieve them off the top and deal with them.

But how do you do that? That is the question, right?

Knowing that all was not right with my world I took care of my morning routine and settled the kids to a slightly longer television program. Then I sat and breathed. I begin my yoga routine stretching my mind and my body. Then when I was warm and limber in both places, I quietly settled down into a half lotus pose. I returned to my breathing. (You will find in yoga and mediation you ALWAYS return to the breath.) Then I allowed my mind to gentle open and began to examine my mind that was trying to whirl itself into turmoil.

So what was going on? Well, this marathon training is just breaking me down mentally and physically. I don't feel good in either place. My energy is constantly zapped and I find it harder to be fully present for the joy in my life.  It is almost here and then I am going to indulge in some delicious healing of mind, body, and spirit. But what else? Well, I have not been eating my optimal diet. I am only eating about 50% of what I should be. This affects my overall health in so many ways. Eating a clean, healthy diet is a huge emphasis in my life and priority for me. Finally, we have a couple of trips and Christmas coming up. Expending money brings up an irrational fear of insecurity for me. Then I just finished dealing with a long drawn out dispute with one of our utility companies that will probably never be resolved to my satisfaction.

As I slowly turned each one over in my mind, I was able to look it is head on and it made it much easier to let it go. I could see instantly ways to make it better. The marathon is at the cusp of being over. I can easily improve my diet, etc. I opened my eyes and I find the turmoil of my mind quietly leaving and the calmness returning. Equanimity prevailed.

Now it isn't always this easy. That lovely muted color picture has some challenges not so readily apparent. There are fears so deeply woven into my psyche it will take a great deal of introspection and personal work to bring them fully to the surface. Only then can the be faced and released. But those parts of the path will happen when they happen. There is no way to hurry it along. It is a journey, a journey I am so grateful to be on.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

5 For 15 For November

I am on an infinite journey to improve myself and my life. I truly enjoy making changes that make me a stronger, centered, and happier person. I will be honest, it isn't easy and often it means I have to look some rather nasty demons in the face. It is hard but it is the only way to deal with them and then banish them with my life.

I have been attempting to do this for decades. I failed so much more often than I succeeded mainly because I was a perfectionist and tended to go insane and try to change every single facet of my life....right now. You can probably guess what a resounding success that was....not. Finally 8 years ago I committed to the long haul. I decided to firmly put myself on this path and trudge along slow and steady. Because you see, slow and steady truly does win the race.

In the beginning, I had an unyielding vision of what my life should be. This is what good health would look like. This is what would ultimately make me happy. This is exactly how I would be a perfect parent. Oops, did you see that word? Yep, perfect. Perfect, in many instances, should be classified as a yucky word. The pursuit of perfection and rigid demand of perfectionism we drape across our shoulders like a lead cape is the culprit responsible for a great deal of pain and misery.

Even with these unrealistic expectations, I took the first step and stopped drinking soda. Just a little thing but it was the quiet herald of my new life. Over the following months, I made baby steps such as eating 3  servings of veggies a day, exercising 3  days a week, going to bed at an earlier time, etc. Approximately every 6-8 weeks it was time to assess my life and implement a new change.

The strangest thing happened as I focused on one thing at a time. (Imagine that, keeping my mind present and living intentional made a huge difference.) That burden of perfectionism I insisted on lugging around lightened. That voice berating me for every failure, real or imagined, lay dormant more often. The experience of making these changes had began to teach me grace, self love, and a fluidity of goals and aspirations. I laughed easier, rested well, and true joy and gratitude started pouring into my life.

I am a vastly different person today. My priorities are radically different. My journey is ongoing but instead of being focused on a definite end goal, I am loving the experience of the organic whole. The journey really is the point, I guess.

But with that in mind, I have new focuses for November. I have already started them because I was ready and excited. These changes are a joy for the most part rather than a fearful undertaking so I normally jump into the next challenge. I love the idea of focusing on a few things but in small bites. So I came up with the idea of working on 5 things with a 15 minutes a day commitment. Here they are:

1. 15 minutes of yoga- a sustained yoga practice is a true boon in my life. My kids aren't always cooperative with the hour practice but 15 minutes is workable.

2. 15 minutes of meditation- Meditation has been transformative in my life. I am really a novice at this practice. You really need at least 20 minutes to calm your mind and then everything after is the sweet spot. But see above about those littles. You do what you can.

3. 15 minutes of quality reading- I love to read but since my head was flooded pregnancy hormones I have a hard time focusing on much more than fluff. But I believe this problem is now more a matter of habit. So I will be reading classics, nonfiction, etc. I have a new interest in astronomy. That will be great reading.

4. 15 minutes of reading to the kids- I am sure I don't need to tell you how important it is to read to your children. We do read but lately it has been sporadic. I want consistency in this area.

5.  15 minutes of purging and decluttering- Living a more minimalist lifestyle will greatly benefit the flow, stress level, and quality of life in our home. It will be my version of minimalism but to accomplish this, I must purge and declutter. If it is not beautiful to one of us or useful, it is out of here.

Understand 15 minutes are the least amounts. If the kids and I are reading for over an hour, great. When I have the opportunity to fit in a 90 minute yoga session, you know I will. But these small bites make the habits  more easily fit into my life. That is the key, get them in there and they will flourish either in the natural order of things or in later focuses.

So this is how I do it. I have completely overhauled my life and have come to really love the process. I hope you find a journey filled with joy as well.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blink....and Then It Is Gone

For the first time in over 3 years my children have been letting me sleep until the late, late hour of 6:30 am. On some fabulous mornings, it is been 7 am. Yes, I know I am easily pleased. Only a parent with a poor sleeping child can understand my joy and elation.

One morning, very recently, the was a decision made behind my back to revisit the excitement and joy of the 5 am wake up call for momma. I am sure you understand how just delighted I was. I staggered down the stairs in a desperate search for coffee trying to remind myself that these little creatures were not purposely trying to torture me. I admit, I was a hard sell. After walking into a few walls, one of which I am positive I apologized to, I blundered out the door to let dogs out.

And there I found such startling beauty. The predawn sky was a rich black satin filled with an amazingly bright multitude of stars. I could identify the summer triangle and Orion's belt without even trying. The stillness of the morning enveloped me as I stood mesmerized by the pure loveliness of the night sky.

I shook myself and called to my eternal star gazer, my fairy princess, my moon child who often calls to me in the evening to share the beauty of the sky. I called her out into a quiet, still world of wonder. I held her in my arms, her sleepy head resting against my shoulder. In reverent whispers we shared our joy, our amazement of the scene unfurled before us.

What an incredible gift the sky was to me. The fact I was able to share it with my daughter, beyond abundance.

Later in the week, my puckish little boy was tired and starting feel unwell. My jokester was not only not funny, he was not amused. He was cranky and irritable and every thing I did was unpleasing. I was trying to make the beds and he launched himself into another meltdown. Thankfully, I switched my head from chores to seeing what my love needed. That doesn't always happen I am sad to say. I pulled the sheets back down and climbed into bed asking him to snuggle with me. With a tearful, "NO!", he climbed into bed.

There I laid, cradling my youngest, my tired baby in my arms. His sobs turned to snuffles which soon quietly eased away. As I stroked his hair he said, "Momma, I no feel good." I know my baby boy, I know. We stayed there for such a long time, curled in each others arms. My little one quieted down and was able to rest for a time.

There is a lesson in both of these stories for me. Slow down. Don't get so caught up in life you forget to live the moments. It is within the moments the true beauty of life happens. Stop trying to cross off your to do list and start living out your just being.

Because I know this my friends, you just blink... and these precious moments are gone.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How Do You Live Your Life?

In my meditation class we were discussing Right Livelihood. I have to be honest, I thought I was going to get a freebie on this one. I thought this was all about how do you earn your money and is it ethical. Well, I was in the clear, I don’t work outside the home and my husband is one of the most ethical people I have ever met. Cool! Of course not only was that not the case, it is probably one of the more important subjects for me and where I have a lot of work to do.

It really comes down to how do you live your life. How is your time spent? Where is your mind when you are doing….well, anything? Are you using things as an escape to get away from your life? How are you using the very limited precious moments of life each one of us has? Le sigh, lots of work have I.

I think those answers will be different for everyone  I think the distractions and hindrances will be different. It all depends on your motivation.  There is not a hard fast list of rules for anyone and everyone to follow. You know it won’t be that easy.

I have spent a great deal of time really thinking about this subject. What is going on with me and my life? Am I wasting my time? How can I do better?

I know first and foremost the internet, especially Facebook, is a mind -numbing time suck for me. Surprised? No, I am not either. However, I really don’t want to leave either. As far as the computer, it would be very hard to do without it.  Our home school groups, banking, bills, weather, heck since we only do Netflix even our TV needs the computer. Truthfully, I don’t want to leave Facebook. I may be deluding myself but Facebook has given me the means to encourage and connect with some amazing people. These people simply would not be available without it. I honestly believe I have the self discipline to conquer this problem.

There are other distractions for me. Re-reading fluffy books, puttering and doing not much of anything, some mindless tv watching. Let me be clear, I do not think anyone of these things are bad or objectionable in or of themselves, not at all. But if I am using them to escape life, different than relaxing, then they are a problem.

These things may not seem to be a big deal but to me they are. If they lure me away from living a mindful, loving, intentional life then they are a hindrance. My goal is to strive to reach a very high bar I have set for myself. Will I ever reach perfectly? No, but that is okay. It is the effort and journey that matter. They are the true gain.

Ultimately, I am looking to live a life of peace, true kindness, and focus. Now I am aware of the obstacles I can look at the positive things I can do to achieve this life. Meditation and a daily yoga practice are strong factors in this equation. In a very short time, it has become clear my life is far more balanced and I have a greater beginning peace each day with these practices present. They are very important to me.

Nature is also a huge factor for me. The children and I have been hiking a lot. At least once a week and some weeks even more. The moment I step out onto a trail peace and tranquility surround me just as much as the woods. I find my focus clearing and sharpening almost immediately. The transformation is so quick and so strong it almost takes my breath away.

My environment is very important to me. My true nature is empathic. I feel the emotions present around me deeply and fully. Yes, I can raise defenses and keep out those emotions but that effort takes a great deal of energy. I find it so draining. Therefore I have decided for now to avoid situations and conversations filled with anger, unkindness, complaining, and divisive energy. You do not need to tell me how ironic my timing is and how alone I may be considering the hotly contested Presidential election looming! But so be it.

There are so many people I truly love and care for but I just don’t have the energy for their anger and pain right now. I think that is okay. I really do. Perhaps one day I can be help to them but I know I won’t be helpful at all if I don’t get my own house together proverbial speaking. Draining myself completely would just serve to cheat my immediate family and myself of my love, care, and energy. That is not an acceptable sacrifice at this time.

So here I am pondering how do I live my life. I truly want to live each moment as fully and intentionally as possible. Since perfection isn't going to happen, then I would like to live as many moments as I can in a mindfully loving manner. I realize this is my story, my legacy I am creating here. This is the life my children and perhaps others will someday look back on as an example. What kind of example, well that is up to me.

Monday, October 1, 2012

False Humility: Be Gone!!

False humility and self deprecating behavior has been on my mind lately. I am really taken aback at all the women I find who practice these behaviors on a daily basis. I have no idea why running yourself down and not owning up to the hard work you have done is somehow equated with “lady-like” behavior. It absolutely boggles my mind and deeply saddens me. I have heard beautiful, educated, amazing women run themselves down better than a steam roller could have. If I didn't know them better and only relied on what they said about themselves I would think they were stupid, lazy, incompetent, not very bright, oh and of course, fat. This seriously just breaks my heart.

Okay, okay now I think a lot of this might come from the fear, yes the fear, of appearing prideful or arrogant. Did you catch that? Appearing. Not really being but appearing. I have a wonderful fix for that. Let people know the real, wonderful you and then they will know you are not a prideful jerk. Live your life openly, honestly, and with true authenticity, and there won’t be a question. Oh yes, and above all else, Please stop caring what everybody else thinks!! It really doesn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things. Live a life of integrity and exhibit true love, grace, and compassion and let the rest fall where it may.

I wonder, however, if it isn’t from a deeper place for many women. I wonder if there isn't a different fear. A fear of rejection, a fear of ridicule, a fear that someone else is going to say something nasty about us or to us so let’s just say something nasty about ourselves first. Not the best logic, perhaps, but I think this is a highly probable explanation. I think there is a multitude of women who really think they are worthless, deep down inside.

I promise you my sweet, beautiful friend, you are not worthless. You are priceless. You are more amazing than you give yourself credit. You do not need to run yourself down and if anyone runs you down, kick their critical butts to the curb..

There is another factor. If we claim we have done the work or we are ready, then oh my goodness what if we fail?? What will be say?? (Hint, stop caring!!) Okay, so I am training for a marathon. I am putting in my runs and doing all the work I am supposed to do.  I spend many hours running like a bored little gerbil on a dreadmill and many more hours running the same 5 mile loop. I lift. I work out my core. I eat right. In short (I know, too late!) I am doing everything I can do to prep for this marathon. So when the time comes and someone asks me if I am ready, I am going to say yes I am. Because I will be. I did the work.

Uh oh, but what if I fail???? What if I don’t finish or get hurt or implode in a cloud of sparkles??? Again, who cares??? It doesn't matter. I did the work. I was ready but there is still an element of chaos within those parameters. And if someone wants to run me down and talk about me because I didn't finish what I tried to do. then I have to be honest, that person is pretty much the last person that would matter to me. Seriously, that would earn you a trip right outside the circle of people who I care to listen to today or ever. Buh-bye.

I think it is beyond important that we mirror a true assessment of ourselves, both our strengths and weaknesses. I think this is true, this is honest. To be blunt, anything else is actually a lie. It is important not only for ourselves but for our children. Our children think we are the most amazing things in the world. When they are young, we are their world. If they hear us constantly talking about ourselves like we are worthless refuse, then how do you think they are going to feel about themselves?

In the end, it all comes down to fear. Well I say face your fear and find your courage and be the amazing person you truly are.

Oh, and I WILL be ready for the marathon but if I implode in a cloud of sparkles, it would be pretty darn cool.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Life of My Dreams

Yesterday morning I was out running. It was the quintessential autumn morning. The air was crisp and the smell of leaves and wood fires wafted on the breeze. In the distance, I could hear the announcer of an early morning football game. I was running on uneven cobblestones lined with homes any 1950's American family would have been proud to have. (Actually, there are a couple I would really like to have.) As I rounded the corner, I saw families hurrying into the football game with blankets and bench seats.

It was at that moment I had one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. It was at that moment I realized I was living the life of my dreams. Even better, a life that was better than I had dreamed. And I never thought I would. Amazing.

You see, before I had children I was a very different person. I was stressed. I was overweight. I was exhausted. Truthfully, I was neither a very nice nor a very fun person. I had myself firmly ensconced in the rat race of corporate America and I HATED it but I had no clue there was another way. I really didn't.

There was no miraculous moment. This has been an amalgamation of small, seemingly disconnected baby steps that finally came together to form this life, my life. I quit work when we had children and truthfully, we really couldn't afford it. After many missteps and some hugely lucky breaks, we were on track to doing okay with the finances. Then the hard work began.

Okay, see here is the thing. I knew that I would be the biggest influence on my children. I knew the words I saturated their waking days would some day be the internal dialogue that would replay in their heads. This scared the hell out of me. I didn't like who I was. I didn't like what came out of my mouth. I didn't like what I spent my time on. Ack!! I was going to ruin them. Then I took a deep breath and started the long process of change.

Here is the weird thing, I wasn't as much change who I was as I was peeling off the layers I had put on in order to fit into society's expectations. I was wearing so many masks, I didn't really know how I was anymore. That is who I wanted to be. That is who I wanted to mother my babies.

Here is a quick run down of what I did:

I started saying NO...a lot. Not to myself or my immediate family but everyone else. Whether they mean to or not, people will run you ragged if you let them. I grabbed our social calendar and started gutting it. At first it was to give me time to think and figure out who I was. Later, I just like the freedom and ability to spend time with just the family.

I started eating really healthy. It started out small but now I eat things like chia and drink green smoothies. I eat whole foods and leave the processed junk alone. This step is just huge. I cannot tell you how huge it is. Point blank, you eat crap, you are going to feel like crap. It is that simple. Learn what healthy food is.

I really reduced the stress in my life. You may know I love yoga and meditation but it is more than that. I don't do drama at all. I don't care if is a friend or family, ain't no drama queens allowed up in here. I just walk away. It is simply not worth the price you have to pay.

In relation to the above, I strive to really live in this moment. I don't fret over the past and I don't really worry about the future. It is here and now. I retrained my brain by constantly and gently bringing it back to the moment.

I exercise, I love it. This is another huge stress reliever and it makes you look great. Now that, of course, is not supposed to matter. (yeah, right) but I guarantee you will feel better when you look at your workout self in the mirror. Also, I love feeling how strong I am now. It was quite a lovely surprise.

I no longer multi-task. I focus on the task at hand and give it my full concentration. Yes, this is damn hard with young children but I work at it and I succeed most of the time. If you are so busy you cannot do this then perhaps you need to let things go. You cannot do everything.

I no longer care what "everyone else" thinks. I don't care if you agree with how I parent, what my house looks like, if I mop often enough to suit your sensibilities, if I wear nice enough clothes, none of it. I really don't. Caring about all of that was just layering other masks upon me that were suffocating me. I will have none of that. I like who I am too much to sacrifice myself.

We have made our home a sanctuary. We are extremely picky with whom we allow in our home. Argumentative or divisive people need not apply. I want our home to be a place of warmth, laughter, love, and safety for those who live here and for those we invite to share it. It is our refuge when the world starts turning to fast and crazy.

That is really just a mishmash of stuff that happened in starts and stops. It wasn't smooth and there were bumps and dead ends along the way. But I think in the end what truly makes me happy is that I am choosing this life of mine. I am not allowing any group or organization to decide my priorities are. I choose my priorities. They don't look very much like the norm and I am perfectly okay with that.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Life Changes

Recently, I have found my focus has shifted. I have been clearing away layers of social expectations, ideas not my own but others, and other pieces of flotsam no longer serving me. I want to peel back until I am looking at what is basic and necessary, what really matters in life. It is through this path I discovering meaning and purpose in my life. Pursuing this end has brought my passions to the surface. Although the process is hard, it is apparent it is making my life much easier.

One of the ways I have followed this direction is a daily yoga practice. I am not formal nor am I strict with myself. I have two little kids. I often stop to refill a juice or settle a dispute. My morning practice is often host to preschool visitors who practice with me a couple minutes here or there. One of my favorite “interruptions” is sitting in my final meditation with my 3 year old son quietly, peacefully curled in my lap.

But rather than proving to be a hindrance, these conditions have taught me a great deal about living and practicing yoga in the real world, on and off the mat. There is no perfect place nor a perfect time other than right here and right now. If you wait for all the stars to align then you are just not going to have a yoga practice and you will miss out. I am growing stronger physically. There are so many things I cannot believe I can do now. But the true growth in my practice is my mental strength, my sense of equanimity, and most important, my humor and refusal to take myself too seriously. It has turned into an AMAZING practice.

The next practice I am pursuing with great diligence is meditation. I have now meditated most days for several weeks now. This has proven to be just life changing. Again, I don’t have a great deal of time and just forget about perfect place. No, my meditation is normally done downstairs while my husband baths the kids at night upstairs. It is often loud and filled with laughter or tears, the kids not me so much. But again, it has taught me to seize THIS moment and just live it for all it is worth.

Since starting an earnestly sought meditation practice I have noticed my words and thoughts are softer, kinder. When I speak harshly or think unfairly, it is as if a great spotlight is shined upon the unkindness. Rather than beat myself up about these transgressions, I treat myself with love, grace, and compassion. I find the more I treat myself in such a loving manner, the more I treat others the same way. It has been just an astounding experience. I will not even begin to speculate what the future will bring with this but I find the idea just exhilarating.

I find myself more enamored with unschooling each day. The kids are just flourishing with this approach. They are so curious and their questions keep me busy enough. We wouldn't have time for a set curriculum. We “study” whatever they are curious about.  We follow rabbit trails of information and engage our imaginations. Most of the time, I just let them get on with the very important work of playing. It is more important than anything I could ever dream of teaching them.

My view of life and our home schooling paradigm has us spending more and more time outside. I do not regret this at all. In fact, I wish we lived closer to the forest so we could tromp through the underbrush daily. I find that after spending time outside we are all more centered and balanced. Our moods are better and there is an abundance of laughter and fewer episodes of tears. Nature has a way of connecting us with something deep inside ourselves, perhaps something primal. I don’t know what it is exactly but I know it is important and should be cultivated at every opportunity.

So that is what we have been up to lately. I hope to post here more often. I feel like I have rounded a corner and I find I have something I want to say again. I want to share our lives and experiences. I hope you enjoy them. We sure do.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Long Time, Huh?

Wow, I see I have not blogged in a very long time. Summer can be like that I think. This summer in particular was time of fairly heavy internal change. It was a good thing. I find myself rather different. The need to explain myself to others, my inner workings, appears to have subsided for the most part. The desire to be understood and heard, well it just isn't that strong anymore. I think I have come to a place in my own self confidence I don't need it anymore, well not as much anyway.

So really I haven't had a lot to write about. It has been more a time of being and doing rather than thinking about it.

This autumn feels different. It is a time to explore relationships, spirituality, well-being, many things actually and to think about them. It is time to dig new directions and let them mentally compost so to speak. I think I would like to share this journey here.

Ultimately, I strive to live in balance. The truth is, that rarely happens and I don't think that is a bad thing. If you were able to maintain balance and sameness, stagnation would quickly occur and there would not be growth. Growth is extremely important. Not so much how fast or how much just that it continues.I am growing in a multitude of ways.

I am an avid health nut. Working out, eating healthy, living well, all of these things are truly important to me. Right now I am training for my first marathon. Talk about an intense experience. Wow, I am pretty sure nothing will challenge my determination and mental toughness as much as this well. But this training is coinciding with the realization I have been putting too much time and energy into this whole thing. It has been robbing other parts of my life very much deserving my time and attention. Don't get me wrong, I am still eating really healthy but instead of constantly trying to find amazing new ways to create dinner  I am satisfied with a simple veggie stir fry. Simplicity. I have also cut back on working out. I do love to over-train if given half a chance.

The benefits to backing off have been immediate. I feel better and have less stress. Therefore, my family and friends get more of me and more quality time with me. It has been a great change.

I have incredibly bright children. They are amazing. The things they pick up and the imaginary worlds they create leave me speechless. I almost fell into the trap many parents with smarty pants kids fall into to without thinking: Pushing them academically rather than to trust the organic process of learning. Which is rather silly because it is that very process that has produced these results. So I backed off quickly. Our focus is to play and do that outside as much as possible. We read. We play puzzles. We pull out the workbooks when THEY ask. Otherwise, I leave them to the very serious business of playing. I thank one of John Holt's books for reminding me of this way of learning and living.

So there we are. Our journey continues. We make mistakes, corrections are made,  beauty is created, and most importantly, live is lived. .

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Food for Father's DAy

Happy Father's Day! I must admit we are not big on holidays such as this. We are rather cheap about spending money on ourselves so it is a great excuse to buy stupidly expensive running clothes for each other. Other than that, not so much. But we love food and I have been promising some recipes to a few of you. So here are a couple of John's favorites

Honey Nut Maple Granola

2 Cups of Oats
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of pecans
1/2  cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2  cup ground flax
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil (or other light tasting oil)
2 Tablespoons of real Maple Syrup
1teaspoon of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients. In another bowl combine all the wet and the cinnamon and whisk together. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake for another 8-13 minutes are until golden brown. This granola is the bomb. We eat it with my homemade yogurt and then I feel all domestic and stuff.

Baked Kale Chips

1 head of kale washed and very dry
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Couple of shakes of sea salt (it goes a long way)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spread kale in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn kale over. Bake for another 8-9 minutes until crisp. Watch carefully because it will burn.

These chips are yummy and addictive. They go fast in our house and there is no guilt because kale is crazy healthy for you.

So there are a few of our favorite recipes. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cleaning After Sickness, Spiritual and Physical

So this is probably going to be rather rambly. I have ideas dancing in my head but they have not come to full clarity Who knows if they ever will? I will just write them down and see what happens.

The past couple of days has involved a lot of puke in this house. It has been worse than a fraternity house with free kegs. The house just stank. No way around it, it stank something vile. For me the most natural desire in the world was clean it and get rid of the ick as soon as we were feeling better. I think that is rather natural to many of us.

However, while doing this I had a conversation with my best friend. She is the coolest girl evah, seriously. She is really coming into her own and taking charge of her life. I love it. She is releasing herself from "shoulds" and from doing things just because of some tenuous obligation. I love it. I have been doing this process just a bit longer than she has so it is really cool and interesting to revisit it with her.

One of the common side effects of this endeavor is a voluntary seclusion, a stepping out of the world so to speak. It is a very strange thing in a society to lauds extroversion and pushes us to constantly connect on a superficial level. It is hard to stop and have true introspection at the speed of life so pushed by those around us. I am not sure you can have a close look at yourself and who you truly are if you don't eschew society, at least for while. But it still feels weird and feels as if you are somehow doing something wrong.

There was a conversation within all of this that made me realize I am now in a self perpetuating cycle of withdrawing and rejoining and it is very similar to cleaning after a sickness. I have strong boundaries and a strong sense of self but I can only take so much of the constantly battering of the petty manipulations and pressure that has become the norm in our culture. Don't believe me? Look at your local church. How often do you see a few beleaguered women trying to teach all the Sunday School, organize all the dinners, arrange all the flowers, etc because they truly believe the whole fabric of their world will unravel if they don't sacrifice their own needs and health for the "greater good"? So I find I can only take so much before I must withdraw and do a spiritual cleaning.

It is a time to nurture and refresh myself. I only allow an extremely narrow group of people contact during this time. Otherwise, I just isolate myself and my family. After this self imposed banishment, I can rejoin mainstream life and not be batted around too badly.

What is the point of this post? I don't know. Maybe just to say that if you need time, take it. Don't allow anyone to should you to the point of exhaustion. Better yet, don't let anyone should you including yourself. Take the time you need and listen to what your spirit is telling you it longs for.

Be at peace and spread joy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Musings, Loneliness, and the Importance of Things

I have not been blogging as much lately because to be honest Blogger is bugging me. It no longer allows me to put paragraphs in my posts. No matter how it looks before I hit the publish button, as since as I click it bye bye paragraphs. I despise reading run on anything so this is a problem. I should either figure out how to put in paragraphs or just change to Wordpress but I can't summon the energy to figure things out. I am not sure it is important enough to take the time. Besides, perhaps I can get John to figure it out for me. I am not actually very computer literate. This upsets my father because what if something happens to John??? Well, first if something happens to my beloved the fact I have to figure out my own computer stuff would be pretty low on the list. But I could do it if I had to learn. So no worries on that front.

 This summer, this time in my life has been very different for me. There have been many circumstances and things swirling around coming to a culmination. The first, or perhaps most important, is finally understanding I am an introvert. No, I am not shy at all. That is a misconception of what an introvert means. Being around groups of people, although fun, drains me dry. Being alone or with a very small, select group of friends, fills and refreshes me. I am embracing this part of me and learning about it.

 I find it necessary to rethink many thing in this light. There are many layers and trappings upon my life put there by perceived social expectations. How much of my thought process is me and how much are these social traditions and group think I have allowed to influence my life? These questions have led to some very interesting introspection. I believe we should question everything. If our views and opinions cannot stand up to questioning, then they are worthless. Believing things solely on the basis that someone else told you it was true leads to an unexamined life and that is not for me.

 I am learning to be okay enjoying my own company. I am learning to not be on the run all the time. I am learning to stop and relax. I think one of the most important lessons I am learning is to stop thinking all the time. I used to be someone whose mind never stopped. I thought, worried, and turned over everything constantly in my mind. It is not examining your life. It is just burning yourself out with unnecessary stress and worry. I am learning to mimic Scarlett O'Hara and just think about those things another day. To let these things go, to let them just float away, has been nothing short of revitalizing. It is such freedom to not be chained to our own thoughts and concerns.

 Figurative chains and bondage has also been on my mind. Namely, how much do we owe other people? Do they deserve to have us in their lives even when it is draining us and inhibiting our own freedom? Is someone allowed a greater hold of us under the guise of family? I know the obvious answer is absolutely not. No one has the right to curtail our freedom or to bind us with chains of guilt. But how often does this happen subtly, quietly? How many times is the idea conveyed that we must stay in bondage or they won't make it? How often do we assume responsibility for someone when we have no right nor any desire to do so? These are questions and issues I have been looking into each day.

 Besides the undue pressure and hardship we put upon ourselves by carrying another person's emotional baggage, we also do them a disservice and deny them the opportunity for growth. Perhaps trying to figure out what they need and how to help them is actually not a very kind thing to do. I think it is a better thing to allow them to devise a plan and put it into action. Otherwise, are we not stunting their personal growth? Does that not undermine any strength and self reliance they may derive from taking care of themselves? So, this is what has been on my mind.

 There has been much fun and play already this summer. I think it is going to be a great one for my family. But I also wanted to give you a deeper look beyond the adventurers and recipes.

 Oh I hope this post has paragraphs.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things I Love Monday for May 21st

It has been a seriously hard week here. The children have never been this sick before. That is the downside of good health, you are spoiled! Also, much of my support network has been unavailable for different reasons. I have been stretched and thinned but we have come through it. My babies are on the mend and for that I am really grateful. So on that note, I thought I would share the things I love this Monday. 1. Recycled sari wrap skirts- I have really become a skirt and dress kind of woman. I am not exactly sure why but there it is. I love the beautiful brightly colored prints. They are so vibrant and feminine. The silk is so deliciously soft and whispers across my body. They make me feel as if I am dancing with every movement. I love the way in look in them. They make me feel very beautiful. 2. Running- I love running. I need running. I was not able to run this past week and it was not a good thing. I carried tension and stress I normally would have dumped out on the pavement. 3. I love my husband understands my need to run, do yoga, and workout in general. I love he saw the problem and immediately devised a solution even though he was tired and stressed himself. 4. I love this weather. Summer is rapidly approaching and I adore it. Today I took some time to just lie in the sun and soak it up. It was wonderful. The sky has been so blue and the clouds float through the sky forming shapes for Hannah to see. Love it. 5.Unschooling or natural learning- Yesterday John was out with the kids and John numbered the stones 1-6 for the kids per usual. Hannah was insisting it was not finished. She then wrote out 7-10. We didn't know she could do that. Then she and Logan amazed us with all of the letters they could write. It was wonderful. 6. I love Hannah's fascination with growing things. She is enthralled with our garden and the seeds she planted herself. It has been a great experience. 7. My garden- It is really coming in well this year. A couple of years ago we began our perennial, English style garden. It is really coming together and quite lovely. Those are just a few things off the top of my head. Truth be told I am still pretty wrecked from this week. But there are always a multitude of things to love and be grateful for each day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Struggling and Gratitude

Warning, authentic moment ahead. It doesn't portray me in the best light but I think that is the point. We are seriously struggling over here. The kids have been really sick. We have been housebound. John has been super busy at work. We have not had much outside time. I have been fighting off the kids sickness and due to the previous reasons, not working out. Most important, I have not been able to run or do much yoga. This all adds up to some stinky moods and yucky situation. I don't think we all like each other very much right now. But I am determined to focus on gratitude and the bounty of my life. First up, reminders of why I stay home and why I have chose this life.
And this:
Seriously, don't I have the most gorgeous babies??? This week I am sad to say I have lost my temper. I have been irritated to the point of running screaming down the street because of the tired, sick whines of my precious children. In fact, I just had to stop what I was doing because Logan pulled out all the things in the bathroom cabinet and then opened a bunch of band aids. It has not been a parade of my finest moments. But it is life and how it rolls. Bottom line, I am tired, sort of sick myself, and struggling to fall into the shame/ guilt trap of being human rather than a perfect mommy automaton. The best thing I can do is focus on gratitude so here it goes. My Gratitude List for the Moment (by no means complete or in any order) 1.I am grateful I found the mantra, "My child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time." I have said this often and with increasing vigor. 2. We have good, healthy food in the house to boost our immunity. Let's not get worse. 3. I have the greatest husband evah. He has went above and beyond the call of duty in order to make my life as easy as possible. The man is swamped with trials but has consistently put the needs of me and the children first. So Seriously Overflowing with Abundance 4.Netflix. Hours and hours Caillou, Dora, and Strawberry Shortcake. I may be gibbering after all of it but it has helped the children rest. 5. I am so grateful I have learned the lesson of personal grace, love, and compassion. I am working on giving myself room to make mistakes and see them as learning opportunities rather than chances to beat myself up. 6. I have friends to remind me of the above. 7. The weather is simply gorgeous. We should be able to get outside for a little bit today. The mild weather will be great for fresh air consumption. 8. My homemade yogurt is the bomb. 9. The weekend is almost here and I will get a long break. (Again, best husband evah.) 10.It is almost over and we are still in one piece. In fact, the kids still seem to like me and want to be with me and that is a good thing. Ten seems like a good round number. Oh well, let's throw one more in for good measure. 11. Strangely enough, I am glad I am able to stay at home and deal with all of this. As much as I have wanted to run down the street and hide in a ditch, this is better. That awareness stays firmly implanted in the front of mind. I cannot imagine trying to juggling job responsibilities, coverage, or whatever along with sick kids. All we had to do was stop and stay home. It hasn't been the most fun thing we have ever done but I am still grateful we can did it without any fuss. That is my gratitude list. I am holding on to it and the coming weekend with both hands. I hope they get me through and help me have a better mindset about the whole thing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday And The Things I Love

Monday is the traditional beginning of the week for many people. It is here as well although we enjoy a great deal of flexibility. But daddy returns to work and we miss him so sometimes it can be a bit hard for us. So I think I am going to start writing a post about the things I love right here, right now. Hopefully I will do it most Mondays but you just never know now, do you?
Above and below are two pictures I took last week. We were at the Botanical Gardens when a storm came in fairly fast. Most people ran to their cars. Instead of leaving, we headed to a gazebo and proceeded to have a simply magical experience. We watched the rain while we snuggled. Logan napped in my arms while Hannah shared a bit of what goes on in her beautiful, amazing mind. It was as close to perfection as I could imagine. It made me realize even more how much I love my life.
So here are just a few of the things I am loving right now. 1. Snuggling and talking quietly in the rain. 2. Hooping under the bright blue sky next to a gently babbling creek while listening to the laughter of the rest of my family playing. 3. Sparkles 4. Pink, in general but especially on my daughter. Couple that with sparkles and it is a joy fest. 5. Watching my husband be an amazing father not only in the fun times but even more so in the times of stress and turmoil. 6. Yoga 7. Metta meditation 8. Doggies that are simply positive I want kisses during down dog (or up dog or cobra or well, anytime really) 9. Flowing hippie skirts that makes me feel like I am dancing even when I am just walking. 10. The love of running 11. Best friends 12. The ability to see the divine in all that surrounds me. It is not a complete list. I hope to never have the time or ability to write a complete list. I send out warmth and love to you today. I hope your Monday and your week will be filled with love, kindness, and joy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April and My Refreshed Spirit

This spring the weather has been amazing. We have ranged from the cool, earthy beauty of early spring to a sneak peak of early summer and back again. These are our irises. They are very, very old. The lady we bought our home from was an avid gardener before she become too aged to pursue her passion. These were her flowers and she loved them. Two falls past we cut, transplanted, and cleaned them up. Last year they lay fallow but this year they are bursting forth with beauty and growth. I am sure there are a multitude of lessons within that little scenario. I know my readers are smart so we will do a drawn your own as it pertains to you kind of thing.

This time of year brings such joy and revitalization to my spirit. I do not care for winter. I am working hard to honor and appreciate that cold, barren time, um I mean that quiet time of resting and reflection, but spring brings life back to my heart and urges me to dance everywhere I go. I love it.

I have been doing the traditional spring purge and clean. It has been bigger this year because we have decided to be done having children and harder with the appearance of early summer weather here and there. We have already been playing (or if you are Hannah swimming) in several creeks this year. All of our fun in the sun cuts into our cleaning time but I seriously do not care. My babies will only be with me like this for a short time and that dirt simply refuses to leave for good. It will wait.

This month we are doing some super cool learning things. We have taken and are taking additional classes at the Shaw Nature Preserve. They are top notch. The next one will be for the whole family. I am really looking forward to it. It has also provided us with some magical, almost fairy land type settings for picnics. Talk about a beautiful experience. The kids and I both have art classes lined up. I am extremely excited to take a beginning watercolor class. I think I danced out of the library when I found it.

That leads into the crafty crafts. I want to turn our home into a warm, snuggly eclectic cottage. I want most of the decorations to be done by me or the family. Today I bought some gorgeous, brightly colored yarn to create an afghan for the living room. I am dying to do this super cool decoupage project but I may have to send the children on a long vacation. We are all going to make decorative stepping stones for the garden.

Then there is the whole-food craziness. I have been seriously cooking some amazing grub in my house. I have been playing with fresh ginger, seed crackers, brown rice syrup, and all kinds of yum. I am looking forward to making homemade foccacia with rosemary grown in my garden.

So it would seem we are all nesty nestiness and comfy home living. This spring and summer will be a time of gardening flowers, herbs, fruits, and veggies, learning new ways to express our artistic natures, and eating yummy food with added benefit of truly nourishing our bodies. It will be a time to play, mess, laugh, love, and grow. We will learn new things and discover more about ourselves and each others.

And that sounds amazingly perfect in all of its beautiful, inherent, and inevitable imperfection.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pigtails and Learning to Be a Man

These are my gorgeous babies. See my beautiful little man? See his pigtails? He wants to be just like the big sister he adores so almost every day, he is sporting pig tails. I love it. Most people we run into think it is adorable and sweet. And then there are the others.

There are some people who think we are being horrible parents by letting him out like this. Or more to the point, I am a horrible mother because they just know my husband would have a fit. I tell them his father happily takes him out with pig tails and sometimes, a tutu. My husband is a 6'2 220lb serious athlete. Strange enough, no one ever says anything to him about it. Hmmmmm

Anyway, the reason for this post is because not very long ago a woman put some rather nasty thoughts into words. She asked me what his father was teaching him about being a man if he was willing to let him go out all gender confused??? (Seriously, her words not mine.) I told her he was teaching him that dads shouldn't be jerks about such minor things. Funny, she didn't like that answer.

But the whole hot mess of a conversation made me think more deeply about it. What is my husband teaching our son about being a man? These are a few things I have come up with so far:

He is teaching his son that a real man is strong enough to be gentle, loving, and kind to his wife and children and everyone else he meets.

A real man bases his thoughts, words, and actions on a deep sense of integrity, love, duty, and ethics, not on the reactionary responses of other people.

A real man is loyal and devoted to his family.

He is showing him each and every day that a real man cares more about the deep down relationships in his life and being authentic rather than the superficial facade others cling to for an aura of pseudo respectibility.

He is teaching him to be kind of man we hope our daughter will someday marry. You see, my husband is teaching our daughter what a real man is too.

I am beyond blessed and proud to be married to my husband. He truly is the best of men. I could not ask for a better partner nor best friend. My children could not have a better father. I have never met a man more ethical and right minded. I have never known a man who loves deeper or more complete.

Each day my son Logan wears his pig tails happily and has to priviledge to once again see a real man in action. So, that is my answer to what his daddy teaches him.

The Day I Became Queen of Healthy Cooking

Okay, so I probably should not get my tiara out of the shop just yet but I am thrilled with the following recipes. Lately I have taken us to a whole new level of healthy eating. We have went from "hey, they eat pretty dang healthy" to "you know, that crazy hippy granola family". I would like to throw in here that my children do not eat all of this. Each one of them eat certain healthy things but neither is vegetarian like momma and there are definately some kid foods still in their diet. I have found healthier chicken nuggets and fish sticks but I promise, they are still in my freezer. I don't think John eats quite the healthy away from me either. Just want to keep it real for everyone.

Here are some of the recipes I have been loving and telling people about. No, I do not have pictures as I am lucky to have have this post. (Hee hee)

The first is my new favorite snack, lunch, whatever. Seed crackers and white bean hummus. The crackers are from the blog Oh She Glows with my personal tweaks. Nope, don't know how to link but it is popular so google it.

1/2 Cup of Chia
1/2 Ground Flax Seed (if you have whole just pop it in the blender)
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1 teas. garlic powder (or fresh)
1 teas. Onion powder (or fresh)
1 teas. sea salt
1 cup of water.

Preheat over to 325. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss everything into a bowl and stir. Don't freak out that it is too watery (um, like I did) because the chia has amazing super powers and it thickens. Stir it up until it is paste like. pour it on the lined baking sheet and press it out until it is about 1/4 inch. Do this however you like but seriously, I found my hands did it the best.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Take out. Use a pizza cutter (or whatever) to cut into crackers. Flip over and bake into the oven it goes for 30 more minutes. Let it cool completely on the baking sheet and then into airtight storage it goes.

Then use these aweseome morsels with this:

White Cannelini Bean Hummus

Can of Cannelini Beans drained and well rinsed
2 teaspoons garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 cup of tahini
juice of one lemon ( please use fresh, makes all the difference)

Throw into your food processor and do like Devo says and "Whip it Good!" Now, you are going to add between 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil to the mix while it blends. The amount depends on how creamy you like it. Stop and check.

Eat and enjoy!!

More?? You want more recipes??? Okay.

So we love Cliff bars. We workout alot and they are great for eating and not making you sick while you run. Such a plus. However, I have caught my child feeding these little organic nuggets of gold to my dogs. So uncool. But it did make me realize they may be too expensive so find another option.

Here is my attempt. They have come out like bars of crack in their nummy goodness. Seriously, I may hide them from everyone else. Hey, I am the one who made them, right???

1 and 1/4 cup of brown rice cereal ( I like Erwhon)
1 cup quick oats
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup dried cherries diced fine
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/4 cup (okay, make it heaping) of dark chocolate diced fine
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup
3/4 cup of peanut butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Combine everything excpet the last 3 ingredients. On the stove, heat the peanut butter and brown rice syrup until it is well blended. Then stir in the vanilla. Pour this mixture of the rest of the stuff. Use a spoon at first but then you are going to have to get those hands in there. Mix it all up until it is well coated. Pour into a 8x8 pan than has been sprayed with non stick spray. Use a piece of wax paper to really, really tamp it down. Cool on a wire rack and then toss into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Cut into squares, wrap in saran warp, and store in the fridge.

**I am pretty sure they may be extremely addictive.

You can play with the nuts, fruite, what have you. You should know by now I take recipes to be suggestions at best.

Okay, my last one. My no processed sugar pumpkin bread. My two year old asks for this almost daily.

Pumpkin Bread

1 and 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1teas baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree (seriously, fresh is the way to go here)
1/2 cup oliver oil
2 eggs beaten
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
1 teaspoin of cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat to 325.

Dump flour, salt, baking, soda, and spices in the bowel. You can sift if you want but I just mix it well with a fork. Yep, easy way that is me. What can I say? I don't have dishwasher so the less dishes the better.

Mix the pumpkin, eggs, oil, honey, and brown rice syrup together. Combine with dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts

Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake for anywhere from 40-60 mintues. You have to watch this. Honey burns so you need to get it where a wooden skewer comes out clean but the bread isn't burnt.

Eat and enjoy!!

Okay, there you go. You may not know this but I RARELY share recipes. It isn't because I hold onto them like a closely guarded secret. Nope, I just despise writing them out and since I experiment alot, I don't always know what I put in them. I kept track this time, just for you. Also, thes are really great, yummy, and healthy recipes. I want to share them. Helping people be healthy and live the best life they can is a passion of mine. It was worth the aggravation. (hee hee)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Self Love

I am a beautiful, vibrant woman. Recently I read a wonderful article about authenticity. I LOVE that word. Be who you really are. Amazing concept. This article encouraged me to write a list of things I love about myself. It was great. It made me happy to do it. You see, I have learned to really love myself. My list was long and nowhere complete. I love everything from my impish, naughty nature to the way I move and dance everywhere I walk. I love my heart for others and my willingness to establish and maintain boundaries. I love how I am utterly and completely head over heels in love with my husband and babies. I love my strength, physical, mental, and emotional. I love so much about me. It was really a delight to write about it.

Then I started thinking about all these other amazing, fascinating, and gorgeous women I know. So many of thing would be hard pressed to write this list. If they did they would probably apologize for it. We have been taught subtley and pervasively that self love is wrong, bad, unattractive, and will probably make your hair fall out in your middle years. None of that is remotely true.

So I wrote the one I might just like the best:

"I love I am willing to reject the notion that if I have a good opinion about myself I am wrong and bad. I refuse to confuse humility with debasement and self hatred. I refuse to teach this disgusting and harmful untruth to my daughter. I refuse to live that lie"

I do believe I am humble because I don't think I am any better or any more worthy, or conversely worse or unworthy, than anyone else. I think each person is just as much as I am. I find beauty in every woman I take the time and opportunity to study. I find them to be interesting, mysterious, and just fabulous.

My question to you today is, can you write a list of all the things you love about yourself? If not or if it would be really hard, why? What can you do to see the amazing creature that is you?

It is really worth considering, I promise.

The Month of March Changed Me

So I was implying some big changes happened for me in the past month. Now that it is the last day of March I feel I can talk about it. It has been amazing and I truly feel like a new person. Exciting times, I tell ya.

There were three things I undertook. Two have flourished in my life and the third had to be tossed onto the back burner until the kids are older/sleeping better. I want to share my failures and successes with you because I feel they are probably equally important and we can learn amazing lessons from either.

The first thing I did was to undertake a daily yoga practice. This was not a month's challenge. Nope, I entered into this committment with the mindset it could be for life. I cannot predict the future but I have a strong feeling this was could just stick. It is honestly hard to write about the changes, hard to find the words. I am just so different. I feel me calm, balanced, spiritually less cluttered. The other day at the park I received one of the coolest compliments evah. This lady told me my movement was just effortless. Totally the daily yoga.

It isn't always easy. Remeber I have a 2 and 4 year old in this house. Some morning Logan will join me and you know it is beyond adorable. Somedays they ignore more. Then there are others way more interactive as the play ring around the rosie around me or chase each other under my down dog. It has added a new level of complexity and can be ...interesting at times.

But it has really taught me to just live my life where I am. I cannot wait for the perfect moment to do something. Nope, I grab the momement, savor it, and decided it is good enough for now. It has really brought me a new appreciation for mindful and intentional living. Besides, my kids see me doing yoga all the time. Heck, I pracitice yoga at home before my morning yoga class. I want them to see this.

The next change was my eating. I have really went off the deep end with this healthy eating thing. And let me tell you, the water is just fine. I returned to my vegetarian roots. I am starting to veer more and more vegan but I am not sure if I will ever give up greek yogurt and kefir completely. I have also become even more of a whole food junkie. Seriously people, as I sit here typing this I am munching on some of the sweetest canteloupe and some crackers I made myself with nothing be seeds. You can go ahead and call me a granola girl as long as the granola is made with honey and not processed sugar.

Again the side affects are nothing short of miraculous. I thought I felt good before these changes. I cannot believe how flippin' amazing I feel now. Oh and my skin and hair are gorgeous. I swear I look 10 years younger. I happily go without makeup half the time because my skin just glows with good health.

Now the last thing, yep it was a failure but that is okay. It is all good. Recently I went to a couple of meditation seminars. They were wonderful and the practice is nothing short of transformative. But.....I have littles in my house. The act of trying to create a regular meditation time was causing me a great deal of stress and consternation. So I let it go.

Yep, I just let it go. There will be time for it later.

That is probably the best lesson of the whole month. Sometimes a very good thing is not good for us at the moment. Doesn't mean it will always be that way. Our lives change some often and rapidly. In six months Logan's sleeping could change and enable me to rise early and put a meditation practice in place. When it happens I will rejoice, love it, and savor the changes. But until then I am perfectly content to just let it go.

I am content. I am content in my space, my body, my place in life, in well, everything.

That is a beautiful and wondrous thing.

Peace my sweet friends.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Today, We Dropped Out For a Bit

I am an introvert. It is rather funny but true. Yes, I am boisterous and exhuberant. Yes, I am chatty and rarely meet a stranger. But the reality is, I am a fairly large introvert. All of that living life out loud exacts a price. It often exhauts me and leave me emotionally raw. Learning the proper balance in my life has been crucial. I used to think I was almost 50/50 extrovert/introvert. I have begun to realize it is more like 40/60 or even 30/70.

Then there is another mitigating factor. Sometimes people just get on my last nerve....seriously.

That is where I found myself today, sort of emotionally raw and not feeling oh so friendly and loving to others (my kids and husband are thankfully exempt). So we had a ditch day from life.

Cannot begin to tell you how much of a right choice this was.

I loaded the kids and a picnic lunch up in the car and off we went. We travelled to a park not remotely local. No one knew us there and that was a beautiful thing. The really beautiful thing was the day and the setting. First this weather had been unbelieveable. It was in the mid 80's. That is just phenomenal weather in St Louis in March. But the park was just incredible. There were rolling hills, horses, a playground, and walking trails that twisted and turned through ponds and creeks. The kids had a ball and I relished the silence and peace.

Don't get me wrong, I love people. I really do. But sometimes I just need a break from it all. I don't see this as a bad thing. It is just a me thing. I embrace it and nurture it. Fighting it wouldn't do anything but cause more pain, stress, and suffereing. And what is the point of that???

I am going to start adding pictures to my blog. I think it adds a little something, a little interest. My cord to download has been living in Dallas until recently. We expect it home soon.

I am really excited to share with you some rather huge changes I have made in March. I am just waiting for the month to finish out. It is the whole, I have done this for a month thing. It is good stuff.

I guess this post is about knowing who you are and what you need. This knowledge helps us become better at being ourselves. That is also a good thing. I encourage all of you to play hooky some days and think about what you really need and what your priorities really are. It might just surprised you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Assisted Yoga

No, this is not a blog post on anything technical about yoga asanas, partner yoga (well sort of), or props (again, maybe sort of). What it is, is a post about living my life where I am and starting a daily yoga practice.

I am determined to do yoga daily at home, preferably each morning, regardless of scheduled classes or what have you. I am embracing the idea of no longer expending effort and energy on trying to make life fit whatever mold I feel it should. Instead I choose to meet life each day where we are, intentionally and with an open heart, curious to see what it has in store for me in that moment. I believe this will give a better flow to my life and family.

In celebration of my decision I set up my yoga mat this morning with Logan running around being two. He was not engaged with anything else so you know with what he would soon be fascinated and engaged! It was one of the sweetest yoga practices I have ever had. He quickly joined me. A few times he tried the pose himself but during Downward Facing Dog he declared, "Mommy that too hard." So instead he happily scattered kisses upon my body coupled with gentle hugs around my waist. Love, just love.

This morning as I moved through my warrior poses a happy, bubbly toddler twisted himself through my legs and played peek a boo while I was in triangle. He laid his warm little body upon my back during extended child pose. Um, bliss! It really helped me gently go deeper into the pose. Finally I finished in savasana with a beautiful baby boy quietly laying in my arms breathing with my breath.

Will this be every experience? Heck no! I am sure many will be difficult, even frustrating. I am sure I will have to stop and try to come back later. It will just not always work out to my expectations. (Ack! See there they are again!) But it is a wonderful lesson and allowing the day to unfold with ease and allowing myself to flow freely with how the rhythm chooses to present itself in that moment.

Love it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rhythm and Routines

Spring is coming. It feels even closer to me because I just returned from a lovely trip south. There it was full-fledged spring. The dogwoods and bradford pear trees were in bloom, the flowers were in full color, and the grass was green and that amazing smell of new earth was everywhere. I loved it. I didn't want to leave. Here in the Midwest, we are not quite there but we are in the brink.

Both the impending arrival of spring and my return home from an extended trip has spurred on my nesting instincts and desires. I have been cleaning, cooking yummy, healthy whole food meals and treats, and refining our routines and rhythms. It is just that time of year and I love it.

Routine and rhythm go hand in hand for me. Routine keeps my sanity. I cannot abide chaos and that is what living without routine brings for me. Things are forgotten, appointments missed, and opportunities slip by without being taken. It upsets my sense of order. I am not into regimentation but I need routines to propel us through the day. Each morning flow the same, we wake up, snuggle, I do yoga, make the beds and tidy, feed the kids, etc. Throughout the day you can find a similar plan ending with our bedtime routine. My kids know what is going to happen and nothing is missed. It creates peace for us.

Rhythm is different but every bit as important. Rhythm keeps me from going into perfectionist mode and keeps us from dawdling until we are running late. This morning I had a yoga class at a specific time. I also needed to do a load of laundry and do the dishes as part of our routine. But the thing is if I accomplished the whole routine, and I could have, it would have made us harried and rushed. That is a sure recipe for crabby mornings around here. So I let it go. I keep us rather lightly scheduled so we can have time to be impromptu and spontaneous AND fit in things that would otherwise throw us into a tizzy. It works for us.

Lately I am discovering a new purpose for rhythm and it is teaching me wonderful lessons. The rhythm of your season in life is what it is and if you fight it and insist it comform to what you think you want, you will make you and probably your family a crazy, stressed mess. Not very peaceful, huh? My youngest child is a high needs toddler. It is who he is especially at this time. He needs alot of my attention, energy, patience, creativity, well alot of ME. Now I have a habit of trying to picture how things should go. I really don't think this is a productive habit because if you narrow things down to how you think it should go, you miss out on allowing them to develop naturally and organically. And letting that happen is usually the better way of doing it. Go with that flow, you know? Logan is teaching me I cannot have things the way I want them, when I want them. He is teaching me ever more each day to go with the flow.

I will admit it has been frustrating. But I am learning to live my life where I am not where I think I should be. Whether it is yoga, meditation, blogging, trips, whatever it is, I have had to learn to make adjustments and deal with the reality of my situation.

Strangely, I find it usually works out for the better.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flow and Learning to Go With It

Today I was supposed to go on a really cool outing with my bestie. We do not have the time to hang out all day for the most part so it was going to be amazing. We carefully planned it several weeks ago. At the last minute, her son became ill. This kid is almost never sick but sick he was and our day was cancelled. Was it disappointing? Yes, but not nearly as much as it would have been even a few weeks ago.

Why? Because I have been learning to let go of expectations and just go with the flow. Go with the flow of the day, the visit, the whatever. Live the moment as it unfolds. I have been trying to just show up and see what happens without having a preplanned script or scenario mentally typed up in my head. Let's just see what happens.

This may sound fairly mundane to many of you but to me, it is huge. I am a recovering overacheiving perfectionist and control freak. Thoughout my life I have had the intelligence, charisma, manipulation skills, and sheer stubbornness to get my way in most things. I could orchestrate and steer a situation to give the desired outcome. But it cost alot. I was not as kind, loving, or gentle as I wanted to be, as I knew I needed to be for my own peace and contentment. Manipulation sucks and does great wrong to others. Also, what did I cost myself in experience? If I had not been so controlling and had let things develop naturally, I think the outcomes may have far exceeded my narrow minded scenario.

Not very long ago, we had some freaky money stuff. Let's just say, it could have been very scary and rather detrimental to our overall financial health. There were two ways of handling it, freak out and worry and see which one of us could manifest ulcers first, or.....let it go. Each day we did what we could to make the best of the situation and then just let it go. It wasn't going to make anything better to dwell and fret. In fact, I can easily see where it would have made the whole thing worse. I am so grateful for that amazing learning experience!

So now each day I wake up and we have our plans and routines but if they don't come to fruition or if something comes up, I am very flexible on letting it go and see where the day takes us. It has resulted in some amazing experiences we would not have had if I had stubbornly insisted we hold course.

I highly recommend this just going with it and see where the day, the moment takes you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Backeward Thinking, Wisdom of Hannah, and the Perfect Ordinary Moment

I find myself with much to say. So much I could easily just start babbling and lose anyone brave enough to follow, or attempt to follow, my thoughts. For this post I am going to stick to three things. Three things this week with profound effects on my life.

First, the meditation thing is going amazingly well. It is so perfectly simple while being incredibly hard. I keep showing up. I am getting in my time practicing "tush on cush". Seriously peeps, this stuff is just life changing and amazing. I had an insight this week I wanted to share. My dear friend and I were talking about meditating and she said, "I need to learn to quiet my mind so I can meditate." In a moment it was so clear. I told her that was exactly backwards, you need to meditate so you can learn to quiet your mind. The things is, you can't get to perfect and then start. No, you have to start exactly where you are, wherever that happens to be and hop on the path from there. Oh, and it seems to be working.

Second thing left me breathless and feeling pretty happy about our parenting. But you must hear me out. Logan and I have not been sleeping. My precious two year old all boy and I do not function well under these conditions. It is imperative for the sanctity of our home one of us sleeps. But it is not happening and we had been battling.

I promised I would be authentic in this blog so understand I am NOT proud of this behavior AT ALL. After a very rough morning, Logan grabbed hold of an open yet full sippy cup and threw milk all over my kitchen. Since I had obviously passed the land of rational thinking, I yelled at him to get out of my kitchen and out of my sight. I then grabbed his hand to take/drag hime out. Of course, he dropped to the ground and I had to let go because I was at least sane enough to not drag him around. He was crying. I was furious. Hallmark moment, you know?

I stomped into the living room and there sat Hannah. She looked at me sternly with not a little disappointment in her eyes. She took a deep breath and said, "Mommy, it is not okay to yell at Logan. It upsets him and it upsets me. It is not acceptable." With those words I came back to myself. Oh I was ashamed. I said, "Hannah, you are absolutely right. Mommy is tired and frustrated and I am taking it out on Logan." Without missing a beat she says, "Mommy, it is not okay to yell and take out your big feelings on someone else even when you are tired and frustrated."

I know many people would have be furious with their child rebuking them. Me? I was thrilled. You see, she was repeating what we have been teaching our children since they were born. It is okay to have big feelings. Happy is not the only acceptable emotion. But we are not to take it out on other people. I was so stinking proud of my brave little girl standing up to her angry mommy and protecting her brother. As ashamed as I was for my actions, I was ecstatic our parenting is working. I was gentle disciplined by my child who has been gentle disciplined. Win. Just win.

Later after I apoligized to everyone I told Hannah how proud I was of her. I told her to never hestitate to remind me of the rules. I wanted her to understand that mommas make mistakes and bad choices but they still must be held to the house rules.

Seriously, that girl rocks my world.

Speaking of rocking my world. I am learning to recognize and savor those perfect ordinary moments. Do you know what I mean? Those quiet everyday moments that hold perfect love and joy. Again, amazing.

The other night we were all dancing in the kitchen to one of my favorite songs, "Dance Me To The End of Love". (Sorry Jen, must be Leonard Cohen and NOT the Civil Wars.) After a bit I looked over and there John and Hannah were dancing together in a world of their own. He held her in his arms and they looked deep into each other's eyes. I cannot beging to do justice to the look of pure love I saw pass between them. They quietly danced, snuggled, hugged, and gave each other little kisses. They just loved each other. And me? I sat quietly and cried with the overwhelming feeling of joy I felt. I was so privleged to catch a glimpse of something so wonderful.

And Logan? I think he was destroying the medicine cabinet reached by standing on one of the dogs.

Perspective, you know?