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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Embracing Winter

I have never liked winter. Actually, I have actively despised it. It comes within a hairsbreadth of the H word for me. (That word is hate. A word I feel should never, ever be said lightly). My body aches and I have a problem staying warm. Throw in a delightful seasonal bout of SAD and wow, I just don't like it.

But lately, I have really been thinking about cycles. There are so many cycles affecting our lives, isn't there? Whether you are a man or a woman, I believe we have monthly cycles of high and low energy. The moon cycle affects the tides so I tend to believe it affects us as well. There is the cycle of life, the cycle of parenting, cycles cycles everywhere. There is a reason for these patterns. If we learn to key into them and adhere to them, we can find harmony. When we flow with them rather than resist them, we find peace.

So the cycle of seasons is a pretty dominant one. Now I adore the other three seasons. I really do. I can find beauty and reason in each of them. I joyfully celebrate their unique qualities. But oh, the cold, gray season of winter. What can it possibly be good for?????

Well, one thing it is good for is a very big lesson for me. Many years ago I stepped out of the rat race. I no longer glorify busy. Instead, I name it for the soul destroyer and precious time waster it is. I refuse to be yolked to it any longer. Even without busy, I am an active person. I am a doer. Yoga and meditation is slowly teaching me to be more of a be-er. It is hard for me but the rewards are great. I have come to the opinion winter may provide some of the biggest rewards of all.

Now this may be fully obvious to many of you but I was seriously astounded when I cobbled together the thoughts that perhaps, just perhaps, winter is a time to significantly slow down. Reverse those engines and reside in be-er mode for most of the time. What if winter is a time to rest??? fully rejuvenate??? dream new dreams taking this adventure of life down wild and wonderful paths???

Well, I think that is just what winter is and I am committing wholeheartedly. I have brought projects and new endeavors to a screeching halt. They are always such a fight to get done when my energy is low. Spring will come and if I am especially well rested, the will almost accomplish themselves. I am taking this time to curl up with a good book and my babies. We snuggle on the couch and laugh together. My daughter is such a deep thinker. These warm times wrapped up with a blanket is giving her the space to open her heart and talk to me about things so well thought and beautiful it takes my breath away.

I am doing maintenance to keep my seasonal depression away. Vitamin D supplements along with a daily vitamin helps. Rich, warming foods delight my senses and bring joy. I maintain a 3x a week workout schedule. I have no desire to increase or improve, just keep what I have.

I am still struggling with some aspects of winter but really, that is my ego, my desire to be in control. This time is teaching me to let go of even more control and submit to the whims of the seasonal cycle. It is a hard lesson for me but I think in the end it will prove to be one of the most wondrous.

Stay warm my friends

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Managing Depression

This is my story. This is as authentic and vulnerable as I can probably get online. I am not writing this to tell anyone how they should do it. Nope, this is how I did it and continue to do it. If there is nothing here for you then please walk away from it and know I send you all love and peace. If something here helps you, that is wonderful.

My entire life has been an exercise in dealing with mind numbing, soul destroying clinical depression.  From the time I was very young I felt different from everyone else. I felt things deeper. I couldn't let things go. I often saw life as a bleak, dark, despairing place. I managed to hide it from most everyone but beneath my facade a pit of turmoil and heartache lurked. For years I suffered from depression.

Everything came to a head in my mid 20's. I honestly couldn't take it anymore. I was having waking dreams of killing myself. My life was spun out of control. I made horrible decisions. I am somewhat surprised I made it out of the consequences of some of those decisions alive. It was bad. I knew if I kept on the path I was going to die and soon. I wanted to live. I checked myself into a mental ward. It was the hardest decision I ever made.

That was a turning point. It was in that secured facility I discovered a glimmer of hope. I realized in a rather hazy, nebulous manner I could have control over my life. I could take action in this war with depression. It was very vague at that point but it was there.

The next two years was the beginning of the climb out of that cliched pit of despair. I took anti-depressants. I was beyond lucky I found a psychiatrist who was rather different from the norm. He believed not everyone who used anti-depressants had to be on them forever. Instead he told me I could use  them as a stop gap measure, a calming agent that would allow me to learn coping skills and behavior. It would also help me have the strength to face my stuff.

Oh my friends, there was stuff to face and it sucked. It was so hard. It was uncomfortable. I took me to places of terror and fear, shame and embarrassment. Many times I said, "This is too hard!! I can't do this." But each time, sometimes after many months even over a year, I came back and got back to work. I did not want to be at the mercy of this condition. Cognitive Behavior Therapy turned out to be the best thing ever. Imagine, I who had been at the mercy of my horrific thoughts could learn and train my mind to actually choose the thoughts I want to have. I didn't have to obsessively  worry and be upset. I could learn to choose to let it go. Amazing.

The years following were hard work. I was no longer suffering from depression. I was now struggling with depression. I had a modicum of control. Don't get me wrong, in those early years control was easily wrested from my hands but it was there. I was learning and growing.

Through years of practice, falling down, and starting over I have finally come to the place that I am now managing my depression. I know my triggers. I know when I have to batten down the hatches and get back to basics. My husband has been taught the signs that mean he needs to intervene. But for right now, for many years now, I have managed. I have maintained during job losses, the tragic loss of my brother and the upheaval it caused in my family, child birth, a husband travelling all the time with two babies, in short, life.

These are the keys I have found enable me to manage. I follow these with devotion and diligence. If I don't, I know the chance is extremely high I will spiral and I do not want to live like that ever again.

1. Food- I cannot stress how much what we eat affects us. I eat a wholefood vegan diet. I think the most important part is whole food but the vegan is really important to me as well. I eat very little sugar. What do I do for holidays, parties, etc? Well, I pretty much abstain because a "treat" isn't worth starting the habit that can lead down that road.

2. Exercise- Endorphins are your friend. I run 3x a week and do strength training 3x a week. These practices keep the daily stresses swept away.

3. Yoga- I have a daily yoga practice. It has been life changing. It has taken me to a whole new level of peace.

4. Meditation- This practice both clears my mind and helps me access whatever "stuff" I need to deal with. Stuff happens. It is life. Learn to deal with it quickly and efficiently and don't let it fester.

5. Sleep- I get 8-9 hours of sleep at night. I don't watch much tv and yes, I miss out on things but it is not worth sacrificing this integral component.

6. Toxicity- I refuse to deal with toxic people. I flat out refuse. This doesn't mean I turn away the dear friend who is having problems, not at all. But if you are a gossip, a chronic complainer, or any other kind of energy vampire, I have no room for you in my life.

7. I say no a lot. I put me and my immediate family first. I am not responsible for other people's feelings or emotions. I strive to live my life in a loving and compassionate manner but if you are angry because I won't do or act how you want, then that is your problem. This one actually gives me the energy to do more for others in the end.

I think that is about it. The holidays are here and that can lead to extra problems with depression.  This is my story. I reclaimed my life. It was hard and messy and I do not regret a single step. May harmony and peace find you my friends.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lessons and Nurturing

One of the most important lessons I have been learning is how few things actually matter to me. Some time back I began to simplify my life. This manifested in a physical way as we started the process of purging our home. It has been reflected in a less tangible way through cutting back on commitments, people who are rather toxic to our family, and most importantly, a shift in perspective and priorities. Recently, these particular areas have been streamlined even further.

I find I now have two main areas of focus. The first is to take care of and love those people I hold most dear. This includes myself as I am one of the people I hold most dear. The second is to live in peace. I am finding not much else matters to me beyond these two priorities.

The first is rather broad. it extends past the obvious to keeping house (in a loose way), protecting the environment for my children's future, etc. The second one is what I have really been focusing on lately. Living in peace. I want to live in peace. What does that mean?

Ultimately for me the meaning is coming to fruition by much less confrontation. Truly, I despise confrontation. I am actually quite good at it. I can stay very focused and have great mental clarity. I can center in the moment and not be flustered. Nonetheless, I truly despise it. It leaves me feeling grimy and less than what I should be.

The practical outcome of living a less confrontational life is just letting so much more go. I honestly believe this is the best way.If you really think about it, you probably aren't going to change someone's mind on something in confrontation mode. People have strong views on organic food, war, public breast feeding, vaccines, health, really this list could go on and on. You can fuss, fight, argue and debate. In the end most people will still hold the same views and your souls will be a little more tattered. There is no purpose. If you really believe something, just live it out in your life daily. Trust me, people will notice and they will ask you questions not to fight but to learn. It is in that moment you can change minds and change the world in at least a small way.

I will still deal with confrontation if something threatens my first focus. You aren't going to mess with my kids. You aren't going to bully my best friend. You will not hurt my husband. There are times to call up the fiery dragon sleeping within all of us. We should still remain kind and compassionate. We can take care of our own and be loving and firm.

I went to an amazing yoga workshop with Thomas Fortel yesterday. He said, "Sometimes you need to be the warrior and sometimes you need to be the healer." The idea just struck me as real truth. I think most of the time we would benefit, as would the world, if we chose to be a healer.

That brings me to the nurturing part of this post. I have been going to this workshop each winter for 3 years now. Yoga is such a micro-movement practice for me. My progress is so slow, I don't see it from day to day. Even though it is slow, it is steady. Each day I progress a little more. These yearly workshops serve as bench marks for my progress. It is amazing to see the change from year to year.

Yesterday I did indeed see that I am moving into each asana with more ease and strength. That is wonderful but for me my progress in other areas matters more. Pranayama breathing used to be so hard for me. It honestly gave me a headache. Yesterday our breathing exercises filled me with energy and rest at the same time. It was amazing. However, the most important thing was I am letting go of ego. This letting go will be a lifetime of practice but yesterday, I took a couple of baby steps in the direction. My performance mattered much less. Just being there. Just learning. Just soaking in the energy from the room of yoga students was far more important. It was powerful.

Many people thing a three hour yoga session must result in a very zen state. It does but what you don't realize is that deep of practice can actually bring up some more problematic feelings. It is okay. They need to come out so you can be free of them. But it can be unsettling.

So today we are home.I am cleaning and tidying the house because it gives me great joy. I may bake cookies with the kids again because it brings us great joy and much laughter. I am not going around people. My soul is just a little worn thin which means my empathetic nature will be open and raw. The lack of boundaries would be harmful for me. Today I am nurturing myself. I am taking care of what needs to be taken care of. I am happy. I am growing. Life is very, very good.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Where I Am Today

I see it has been a long time since I have posted. The truth is my 108 Days of Mindfulness has been going extremely well. It has been a time of great growth, painful realizations to face, and a lot of reflection.  This post will probably be a bit rambly and will serve as an overview of some things I would like to write about in the coming weeks. There is much composting of thoughts and experiences going on in my brain right now. It is really a lovely time. The following are some things emerging from this experience.

My relationship with alcohol was starting to slide to a place it was becoming a problem. This was a surprise because truth be told I drink very little compared to the average American but the why I was drinking and what it did to me, well let's just say it has given me a lot to think about. 

I was allowing many not very important things to interfere with my connection to my husband and my kids. Because I was allowing these things room in my life, I found myself to be detached and distant to those I most love. I want my children's life to be filled with love, guidance, and wonderful modeling. This was not happening. 

I need a community. I need a tribe of sisters filled with women wild at heart and free of spirit. I also have some commitment issues. These two things were not working in harmony. I am working on the second to achieve the first without falling back into the I can't say no to anything mode. 

I have been overworking in my workouts and putting undue stress on my body for far longer than I realized. My own efforts to be strong and healthy were sabotaging my overall well being and health. This also led to the burnout and resulting detachment to my children and husband. 

What I eat is absolutely one of the biggest factors of my overall health, happiness, joy, peace, calm, harmony....are you getting it is rather important? 

I am on the right path simplifying my life. It is working and progress is being made. Each day I can breathe a little easier as I shed possessions,  commitments that do not enhance my life, and attachments. I am living a wild, beautiful life and it is filled with extravagant joy and abundance. 

I am continuing this commitment until January 9th, 2014. I suspect many of the changes will become permanent. I truly hope so because the result has already been wonderful. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

108 Days of Mindfulness and a Year of Nature

Recently both of my children ran to me faces glowing with wonder and excitement. It seems the sky was full of color. My 4 year old son said, "Momma, there is pink, purple, blue, and gold. Come see right now!!". We all ran outside to marvel at a stunning sunset. I love when my children grab my hand and drag me to see a luminous full moon or a delicate flower they spotted among the over grown flora. I love that they notice. It is incredibly important to me to pass  the importance of mindful detail to them.

We homeschool. Yes, it is good to teach them to read, understand math, and even how the universe works but it is more important to me to teach them how to truly live the moments of their lives. I want them to understand the true meaning of life is found in mundane details. I want them to take a quiet walk and see the life flourishing around them and be overjoyed they are in the presence of such awesomeness.

Recently I have turned a corner in my own growth. We have come through some challenges as a family. I find I really want to both celebrate and savor my beautiful, amazing life. With that in mind, I have undertaken a path consisting of 108 days of mindfulness. 108 is a sacred number to both yoga and other dharma based practices. It is in honor of the growth I have found in yoga I have chosen this number of days. This runs from September 23, 2013 through January 9, 2014. So yes, this is day 3 but I was busy being mindful the last two days.

Nature is also a huge influence on me. I can quickly become nature deprived. If I do not spend enough time in a nature setting I become easily irritated and angered. My love of the natural world is another gift I would like to give to my children. I have embarked on a mission to spend at least 1000 hours outside with my children in the coming year. I will admit, I have no desire to become mired in tracking every minute but this challenge will urge us to head outdoors more often.

Today we combined these two new facets of our lives and went on a walk in our neighborhood. It was magical.

I had to lie very quietly and very patiently to get this shot. It gave me the opportunity to really see the bees and flowers in intricate detail.

This picture captures the peace and tranquility of the park.

We are very curious about seeds right now. We looked for them on our walk. The children are just fascinated with them.

Those are hands from both of my babies.

It was truly a magical afternoon. We quietly enjoyed each other's company and took the time to really see the world around us. Oh, and we swung together on swings for the longest time. I am so grateful to have this opportunity, this life. I am so blessed with abundance. It is awesome.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour

-William Blake

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Am Beautiful...and That Is Good For Me To Know

This is me. I am strong, beautiful and fierce. I love how my arms look. I am completely holding up my own body weight and can do so for quite some time. The strength in my lovely shoulders, chest and back coupled with my powerful core enables me to do this. I love looking at this picture.

Perhaps my glowing terms for myself make you uncomfortable. After all, we women shouldn't really think so highly of ourselves, should we??? I mean come on self criticism and flagellation are almost to an Olympic level in our society. It seems to be expected we will totally run our appearance down and so many of us comply. I complied. Not only did I comply, I had full blown body dysmorphia. When I was more slender than the above picture, I saw a fat, bloated, ugly woman looking back at me in the mirror. I have pictures that I more resemble a skeleton than a healthy young woman. At that time I had a very small measure of relief when size 0 did not fit me because they were too big. But 5 little bitty pounds would send me into a frantic, self loathing spiral.

I am beautiful. I can say that now. I can believe that now. I embody that now.

Several years ago in the middle of a chaotic storm of metaphysical and emotional angst I threw up my hands and screamed, "ENOUGH! I do not want to live like this any more!!" I wanted to change and be happy. I want to truly know joy. Most of all I wanted to find peace and allow it to flourish and grown in my heart. Much of that journey consisted of, and still consists, of good nutrition, vigorous exercise, yoga, and meditation. I love to talk about those aspects. But there was a deeper, darker part.

I truly felt in my heart of hearts that I was an ugly, horrible person. I truly thought I was unworthy. I thought I deserved all the hardship, heartache, and yuck that filled my life. I was paying penance for a person I perceived myself to be.

I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.

I stepped back and really looked hard at who I was. Slowly I peeled away all those horrible, wrong messages laid upon my heart by a myriad of sources. I sorted through experiences and began to look back at the person I had been with grace, compassion, and love. I grieved for all the self imposed heartache I had put myself through. I cried for the destruction my self hatred had upon my precious, delicate soul. Thankfully souls are made of sterner stuff and mine was battered but still strong and hopeful.

Over the next years I learned to see myself with compassion and love. I began to treat myself with grace and warmth. I began to fall in love with the good person I was. Yep, I finally saw that I was a good, loving, and compassionate person. I was worthy of all the amazing things in my life. All of that abundance was well spent on me. I saw the beauty and wondrous nature of my soul. It was incredible. It IS incredible.

I treat myself very differently now. Yes, I still very much have flaws. I am impatient, prone to self focus, and the one I like least, I sometimes gossip. I really don't care for that one. But it is okay. I embrace the person I am right here and right now. That perspective urges me to work on those issues and grow as a person. I work on those with joy now, eager to be better and to do better.

The ability to embrace myself just as I am has given me the ability to accept others just as they are. Well, most of the time. I still struggle but it is so much easier for me now. I am more apt to see the beauty and amazing qualities of others. I see what is lovely far more readily than I see what is not as lovely. I focus on the joy and thrill of life, all life.

Then one day after avoiding the mirror for so long I looked into one. It took my breath away. For the first time I really saw that I was beautiful. Just gorgeous really. It stopped me in my tracks because it was so alien to my former way of thinking. The most beautiful thing is I can see the beauty of my spirit coming through.

I hope you see your beauty. I see your beauty. It is there. I see your goodness and how very worthy you are of joy, love, happiness, and peace.

Yes, peace lives with me now. It is always growing and expanding allowing me to deal with things in a new and more fruitful way. The coolest thing is, it can reside within you too.

May harmony and peace find you my friends.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do I Really Mean It?

Yesterday out of the blue my husband lost his job. This came after being out of town and away from us for a week. It was the proverbial blow to the solar plexus, I must say. We have too much debt, no savings to speak of, and my grocery bill has almost doubled in the past year due to rising prices. It is scary. I am not going to lie.

But it is also an amazing opportunity to truly find out how deeply I hold my convictions and beliefs. Do I really believe happiness is choice not tied to material possession and circumstances? Do I really hold in my heart that it is better to wish good things for those who would hurt me and mine rather than to wish them ill. Have I really cultivated the peace in my heart necessary to traverse this rough and tumble storm?

Well, it is very early in this game but I think the answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes. That knowledge alone causes joy to fill my spirit and gives my heart flight. It an an amazing experience.

I am not saying I don't have those opposite thoughts. Nope, still very much human over here. But what I have learned is I have the ability to choose to not linger on a thought filled with hate and resentment. I can let it go from my mind and choose instead to focus on a gratitude. I have so very much to be grateful for each day. Even now. Especially now.

We have talked about the absolutely worst, worst, worst case scenario. The worst thing is we could lose every material possession we have. Now the likelihood of this happening is infinitesimal but hey, let's really look at the bottom line. The bottom line is, so what? So what if we lose all material things? We have our family. We have our friends. We have the skill sets and ability to care for our young children. Heck, waiting tables pays the bills if you are absolutely against the wall. Ultimately we will be just fine. Our relationship is strong and because we are both on the same page mentally, I don't see it getting anything but stronger.

I find the peace in my heart is growing rather than being depleted. I find the more I focus on joy and gratitude the more it builds. I didn't really now it worked that way. It is remarkable.

Now let's talk about the big one. I am not going to lie, I am not happy with how my husband was treated. He is a good man and the whole thing was wrong. But where do you go with that? What do you do with the situation at hand?

"Holding on to anger is like 
drinking poison and expecting 
the other person to die."

Those words are just so unbelievably true. If I allow those feelings to fester within me it will only damage me and those I love. Anger, bitterness, and resentment do not help. They only destroy and leave chaos and tears in their wake. My family deserves better. I deserve better. 

Besides, I find I truly want good for these people. I really do. They have a lot of employees under them. There are really good people there. I want those people treated with compassion and dignity. But more so, and I am going to be honest I find this surprising, I want good for those actual people who treated my husband in such a shabby manner. Why? Well because I think we have all been there. We have all been so mired in unhappiness and misery that we don't treat others well. There is a saying and I am not sure the original author but it says, "Those who feel badly act badly." Isn't that just the truth for all of us? But I have learned to have true compassion and love for others. Well, I am still learning but it seems I have learned enough at this point to apply it. I want the best for them because I want the best for all people. I want the best for all animals too but that is a different post. 

So here we go on an adventure. I have no doubt we will look back and be utterly grateful for this bump in the road. I know what we learn and where this will take us in our lives will be so worth it all. 

So yes, I guess I do really mean it. 

May harmony find you my friends. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

What If They Don't Deserve It?

Due to recent economic factors there are many people struggling to make it financially. More people are going to food banks. More people are falling behind in bills It can be rough for people who made it just fine a few short years ago.

My family is exceptionally blessed with abundance. My husband makes a good living and his work is steady.We feel the squeeze of  increased food and energy prices but with a few cuts, we are doing okay. I want my children to understand we live a life of abundance. I am gently teaching them not all families have the privileges we do. They are learning not all families can even cover the basics.

Compassion, love of others, and doing good where we can are important lessons in our home. I don't care to raise obedient children but truly loving children. We talk about these things a lot. My 5 year old is quite perspective and insightful. She gets things. Her ability to sense underlying currents recently led to an crucial lesson for us all.

There are many people on the road ways with signs. They are say they are hungry. They say they have nothing. Is that true? I have no idea. I am not comfortable giving money for a variety of reasons. I have meant to put together some bags containing toiletries,granola bars, nuts, gloves or sunscreen (depending on the season), etc. but well, I haven't. I have two little kids and sometimes getting everyone's teeth brushed is a victory to be celebrated. So I will go to a local fast food place and buy a value meal with the condiments on the side to give to the person we saw. This is a great opportunity to talk to my children about generosity and caring for others.

Normally the food is received with gratitude and thanks. Recently, we had a different experience. He didn't want the food. He wanted money. He was insistent about it. Why? I don't know and I am not going to even go there if I can help it. I told him, I don't have money but I have food. Take it or don't. He grudgingly took it and we left.

Hannah was....concerned. She understood something was not normal. Why didn't he just take the food and say thank you? As I sat there fighting with the anger and resentment trying to take over my mood I realized it was an amazing opportunity to teach her something important and to remind myself. I believe that what you put out there is what you get back. I believe in what comes around goes around. I believe in karma.

So we talked about sometimes people don't appreciate or don't want the generosity we are offering. Maybe they just want what they want. I also told her that charity can be really hard to accept and some people act poorly because they are sad and embarrassed. But most importantly I told her none of it matters. Our karma is what we do. Their karma is what they do. We are responsible for our own. We see a need and we try our best to meet it with the best of intentions. That is all we can ever do. How it is received is out of our control. No matter what, we need to learn to have a peaceful heart and continue on to the next opportunity to do good.

This goes for so many situations. I run most Saturday mornings with a group. Our route passes by a heavily used food pantry. The people line up HOURS before it opens to get food. I have noticed some of the cars are a lot nicer than they were in the past, nicer than mine, and the quality of clothes are much better. It could be human nature to assume they are cheating the system to get something free. But we cannot know their stories. There is a good chance the trappings of their life are from a former life they can no longer afford. Maybe their high paying job disappeared over night due to the company going bankrupt. Maybe they made horrible choices with their mortgage and are now so house poor they can't feed their children. Maybe they are total scammers and want it for free when they easily could afford.

Doesn't matter, it is not our place to judge. Not only is it not our place, I would venture to say it is unhealthy and detrimental for us to judge. What will it really do? Will it punish them? Nope. Will it make them change their ways? Nope. What it will do is fill our heart with anger and resentment. Those feelings will burn through our good health and well being, scorching the peace and equinimity from our hearts and spirits.

Our karma is our karma. Their karma is their karma. We are responsible for our own.

A lesson I am teaching my children and learning myself each and every day.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Releasing Anger

"You will not be punished for your anger.
You will be punished by your anger."
Guatama Buddha

Today, right now I am angry. This is not a normal state for me but it happens. I have taken a couple of personal body blows. There are a couple of people in my life experiences grief, pain, and hardship.  As an empath, it can be hard to process and separate out my own feelings. Both of my children are in....challenging stages. Long story short, I am angry. It doesn't happen often but every so often I can feel the tsunami of rage building in my belly and anger pouring through my veins. It is powerful. It is intense. It is energy. It is not helpful at all. Not one little bit. 

I am not sure there is ever a good time to embrace anger and rage. It is a fire ripping through your body and soul destroying your harmony, your peace, and your health. Rage quickens my wit and enables me to have the tongue of a viper, fast and filled with venom. I have the instinct to know what will knife someone in their gut. I hurt people in my anger. That is simply not acceptable. I cannot think of any good coming from anger.

There are times to fight for justice. There are times to be sickened by a situation and be determined to to right a wrong. But those are not really filled with anger. If they were it would end up hurting the very people you wanted to help.

But here it is, rage tapping me on the shoulder wanting to come in a play and wreak havoc.

What do you do?

Well, I am making a choice to not let it in. I am choosing a better path.

But how do you do it?

Well, I can only tell you how I do it. Starting tomorrow, I will slow everything down.  I will severely limit if not completely restrict my internet access. I will read things that uplift my soul. I will listen to music capable of making my very soul sing with joy. I will eat extremely clean. I will do yoga, lots of yoga. I will meditate. I will do this the next day and the next if it is necessary. I will do what is necessary to exorcise these feelings from within me.

You see, I believe you really can choose your thoughts and choose your emotions or at least how you will deal with them. I believe I do not have to be at their mercy. It is my choice.

And I choose love, joy, and peace.

May harmony find you my friends and may she find me as well.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Choosing Happiness

Happiness is a choice. I know it doesn't always feel like it is but it is your choice to make. I am not saying it is easy but you can do it. Ultimately, you have control of how you live your life and what thoughts you think.

You cannot control anyone else. You cannot change them. You cannot make them see life as you would wish. You have no control of anyone else. But that is okay because you have complete control of you. You can choose to act however you wish in any given situation. You can ask yourself, what can I do this situation to change it for the better? Again, I am not saying it will be easy. The answer may be you decide to walk away from that person and no longer include them in your life. Ultimately, it is your decision to make.

Choosing happiness in your thoughts is often a longer process. Many of us, especially Americans, have been trained by societal and social norms to be critical, worrisome, and overall pessimistic in our thoughts about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Many like to call it being realistic. Well poppycock. It is simply stinking thinking and it has to go.

Think about it. If you have a situation in which you can do nothing for that given time, what does worrying and fretting do to help?? Nothing. When you make a mistake or fail to live up to your expectations is it really helpful to internally shame and berate yourself? You may think it will help you not do it again. But I guarantee, you will fail again. You will make a mistake. Tearing yourself down will not result in anything other than leaving you and your heart in pieces. When someone cuts you off in traffic or offends you in someway is it beneficial to allow your anger to take over and enrage your emotions?

"Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Buddha

Think about it. You pay the price for that anger and rage. You are the one who is truly damaged. Well, those  and those love because they are most like the ones who will bear the brunt of you tumultuous spirit.

There is a different way. There is a better way. You can chose peace and happiness. You can choose to live mindfully and in the present. You can choose to change your thoughts. It isn't easy and it takes a lot of work but the rewards are simply breathtaking.

So how do you do it??

Begin to replace every single negative thought with a positive one.

I failed again!! I knew I wouldn't be able to do it and now everyone will see I am a failure. I worked really hard. I know I put out my best effort. I will try again next time. It doesn't matter what others think.

That idiot cut me off!! Who the hell does he think he is endangering everyone just so he can be first?? Wow, that was scary. He almost hit me. I hope he slows down. I wonder if he is going through something difficult in his life. I hope he finds peace.

Why must my child constantly demand my attention?? Why can't my child just do what I ask without making an ordeal about every little thing??? I wonder if my child is not feeling well or if there is something wrong. It must be hard to learn how to control your needs and emotions and not have the ability to really express yourself. I will go try to connect and see if I can help.

I know this sounds a little cheesy but consciously replacing your thoughts with thoughts of love, compassion, caring, and gentleness truly works. And no, you probably won't always feel those kinder emotions at the time but it is all about retraining your mind and attitude. It can be a hard struggle at first but over time it becomes easier. It becomes an integral part of your being.

And you start to become a truly happy person. That, my friends, is worth all the work.

May harmony find you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Falling Apart and Fitting Back Together

Friday I was formulating an escape plan. I was going to either Costa Rico or California and I was going to learn to surf. This is particularly funny because I am really quite terrified of the ocean. I was just going to walk out of my life. Okay, so I wasn't totally serious but to be honest, I played with the idea in my mind. I was at the beginning of a meltdown. I was ready to fall apart. 

The past few months have slowly been building with life stressors. We have been busy, too busy. I have not been taking the alone time necessary to remain in harmony. There was a big vacation. My youngest was admitted to the hospital. There were other things affecting me having to do with others I am not open to share. Slowly but surely I was acquiring baggage without even realizing it. My control and discipline was shattering and I was done. 

Thankfully I have the most amazing husband in the world. Seriously, the man rocks. All I had to do was to tell him I was falling apart and he quickly removed all the extra responsibilities and let me have my meltdown in peace and solitude. That is exactly what I did. 

So many people try to avoid this part of the cycle common to many of us. They try so hard to maintain control at all times until a big avalanche of emotion, pain, and desperation overwhelm them. The inevitable collapse leads to a shame and guilt spiral capable of rocking the foundations of life. I have learned I do not want to do this so when I feel the meltdown coming, I accept the reality and allow it to take me where it will. 

The amazing part is those mini-breakdowns can actually result in greater strength and flexibility of mind. Allowing myself to flow with the experience has lead to a clarity of spirit and purpose unmatched by other methods. I understand myself more fully and come back refreshed and rejuvenated. 

The way I see it is we go about our daily life unconsciously collecting baggage and unnoticeable parasites of guilt, other people's issues, regret, petty irritations, anger, dissatisfaction, a case of the what if's, etc. These slowly build up until they are putting pressure on our spirit causing angst and pain. The best way to cleanse these undesirables from our being is to allow everything to fall apart and then put ourselves back together without them. This allows us to fully cleanse any wounds we may have picked up and begin true healing. If we cleanse these wounds early they don't have the opportunity to fester and infect our souls, possibly ripping through us doing untold damage. 

It is good thing to step out of life and reflect on what is going on. It is a good thing to take a moment and think, wow that hurt or that experience really scared me. How can I deal with these things in a positive and nurturing way? How can I nourish my being at this time? What do I need to grow from this? 

I believe all things happen for a reason. I believe the willingness to flow with what life brings ultimately fulfills us far more than fighting that particular part of the path ever will. Each experience has purpose and is a window to understand ourselves in greater detail. Do not run from this opportunity. Embrace it and sit down and just cry if that is what you need to heal. You will be stronger from your release.

Namaste my precious friends and may harmony find you. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I Can Do

The stories from Oklahoma are rolling in each minute. The tragedy and heart break is just stunning in their horror.

I am not reading a single one.

That is right. I am not. I am not reading, watching, listening, or in anyone absorbing as much as possible. It is not that I don't care. I care so deeply about such things it can be crippling. I will not allow myself to completely shut down. My children need me.

This is my common modus operandi. I avoid things concerning child abuse, the sex trade, animal abuse, and in general just people acting horribly to one another. Also, natural disasters are on that do not pay attention list.

These things cause me such pain I can feel it physically. I find the weight of the horror to be too much to bear. I will slowly start shutting down and detaching from reality in self preservation. I will cut off the world in order to make the pain go away. I am of no use to my children, my husband, my friends, or my community in  that shape. I am pretty much useless. So ultimately, there isn't a point.

But there are so many things I can do. I can look to what needs to be done right here in my world. I can donate to animal shelters. I can give food to local food shelters. I can organize a drive to gather self care toiletry bags for the homeless. I can run through a drive through to pick up a lunch for that man standing on the street corner with such desperation and humiliation. I can deeply listen to someone grieving. I can be a shoulder to cry on or a shopping service for a new mother. As the children grow older, I hope to do more and more to help those around.

I cannot change all of the terrible things happening in the world. It is not within my power. But what I can do, what you can do, is live a life each day practicing as much compassion, love, kindness, gentleness, and charity as possible.

Perhaps my actions will start a chain reaction that will someday change the world.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Strength and Lessons

This is my gorgeous boy. He is very much his own person. He follows his own path and does it with courage and joy. This past weekend we had to rush him to the emergency room and then admit him to the hospital. It was a nightmarish experience with tubes into his stomach, catheters, IVs and invasive tests. Our hospital was amazingly good but it was rough to say the least.

But like all experiences, good and bad, I believe there is something to be learned. Here are a few things I learned.

I am one strong bad ass chick. It was HARD to see my baby in so much pain and undergoing such extreme procedures. It made me want to run away. Instead I chose to stay right by my child the entire time. I stayed calm for him. I promised him I would not leave his side and I didn't. He cried and I remained his rock even though my heart was being ripped apart moment by moment. I stayed. I stood witness to his experience, to his pain.

Living in the present really is the best way to live. I remained in the moment. I didn't worry about the future and what might happen. I refused to berate myself for the past and not seeing the signs sooner. I stayed right there. People would ask what is next and I would reply, I don't know. I just know what we are doing right now. Remaining in the present, in the truth of the moment enhanced my strength. Refusing to play the what if game enabled me to surpass the limitations I thought I had.

Even though I have been sloughing off the tyranny of the urgent, there was some still hiding. This experience taught me there is almost nothing that cannot wait until later. It also streamlined my priorities even more. There were things I was still treating as if they really mattered and they just didn't. Love matters. Compassion matters. Family, both blood and chosen, matters. Peace and joy arise for these things. The rest just isn't really that important.

We are home now. I am so grateful for this episode. He is now on a treatment plan that should ensure this doesn't happen again.We are far more knowledgeable about his condition. I am far more knowledgeable about myself.

I am so incredibly grateful for that wisdom.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Perpetuating a Legacy

About eight and a half years ago we bought this house. The moment I walked in the door I felt this beautiful feeling of home and sanctuary. It was strange because the house was rather neglected and not in the best repair. I later found out the home had belonged to a lady well into her 90's. Her husband had built this home for her when she was a young bride. The feelings of family, laughter, and love were imbued into the walls and  expressed themselves as a tangible presence if you would quiet your mind and let them touch you.

The garden was a tangled mess. It had been years since anyone had really tackled it. But there were hints of its past. At one time loving hands had nurtured the plants and flowers gracefully guiding them to express the beauty they possessed. At one time someone who loved to garden had reigned.

We knew nothing of gardens but we jumped in with both feet. We made mistakes. We managed to get sweaty, bloody, dirty, and exhausted and usually all on the same day. Slowly but surely we have made the garden ours. My dreams of a wild English style perennial garden has finally come to fruition. My roses have taken hold and our flourishing. Wild and beautifully rampant Russian Sage fills in spaces and adds to the back drop. We have planted what I have a sneaking suspicion will be a HUGE edible garden along with a couple thriving blueberry bushes.

But you see, her garden is still there. Intermingled with our efforts are the result of work done perhaps decades ago. Not long after we bought this house, during the early attempts when we were pretty much just flailing out there, her daughter drove her by her old home. It came to me through the proverbial small town grapevine that she was pleased a young, energetic couple had bought her home and was taking care of it. That truly touched me and drove me to salvage what we could.

This is what we have saved.

These irises were bound mess. They were maybe producing five blooms because the rhizomes were so grown together. After years of determined care, nurturing, and possibly some strong frustrations, this is the result.

We didn't even know what this bush was. It was a mess. Many times we considered just ripping it out and starting over. We persevered and here is the result.

I find it beautifully symbolic to have this glorious Bridal Lace in my back yard. She came here as a new bride and so did I. There is a connections that binds us, strangers, in place and time.

I think we all want a legacy. We want to be remembered and know our work will have lasting effects. For my personal story, I have learned I can only do my best and let the rest come about in its own way and in its own time. But I can continue her legacy. She has now passed away but her work from long ago lives on in my garden.

This is my thank you to her. She provided the home filled with warmth and comfort in which I now raise my children. We make memories in the structure she and her husband created. She provided me with an amazing backdrop and palette to work with each day. I never knew her. I hear she was a lovely woman. I think one of the best things I can do in my life is to make sure her legacy lives on.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just Enough

This was written just before we left on vacation last week. I will tell you, this worked wonders. I have never arrived or returned from a vacation more relaxed or refreshed than I did this time. 

We are preparing to go on family vacation this week. It is, for all practically intents and purposes, the first destination vacation without visiting family. We need it. We need the break with just us. Time to relax, reconnect, and just enjoy our family. I think I have my expectations under control. Another positive of living in the right now, my mind isn't off creating fantasies we can never actually create.

But this week could be the downfall of the whole thing if I let it. It is quite possible. I could stress myself out trying to prepare for our vacation. I could have myself so tied up in knots that I will have to use my vacation to decompress for self imposed stress rather than taking a much needed respite from daily life, It is of the utmost importance I do not do it. Therefore I choose to practice "just enough" this week.

I will do just enough each day to enable us to leave smoothly. I will do just enough this week to get us out the door and off to family fun. This is not the time to clean the house from top to bottom. The de-cluttering projects can wait until we return. I love coming home to an organized house but there will be time for that later. Each day I will straighten a little and pack a a smidge each day. We have chosen to buy our food when we arrive rather than trying to guess our needs.

I am attempting to streamline what is needed for the four of us. Instead of preparing for every situation, I think I going to pack light and hope for the best. I can always buy something if we need it.

As the children grow older, we hope to travel more an more. I hope to travel with them by myself. We obviously would like these trips to be memorable for the amazing memories rather than how badly mommy melted down trying to get ready. For the sake of peaceful travelling, I am learning to practice "just enough".

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Journey Thus Far

This picture represents the past four years of my journey.

A little over four years ago I gave birth to my son. Even though I had started to make some good changes in my life I was still uncomfortably heavy for my size, rather out of shape, and not very healthy overall. I fought with insecurity, I didn't trust myself or my inner voice, my mind raced, and I worried about what people thought of me, a lot.

A few days after we came home from the hospital I looked into the mirror and said, "Enough is enough." I was not going to slide into my forties fighting the same battles.

Oh the difference of four years.

It has been hard journey. My youngest was sick with acid re-flux and screamed so much for the first 15 months of life. I didn't sleep more than four hours at any given time for the first two years. Despite all my hard work the scale and my body refused to budge for multiple months at a time. But I persevered one day at a time. One step at a time.

Here are a few of things this picture represents in a rather random order:

1. I let go of traditional expectations. I stopped giving a damn of what others thought of me and my choices and decided to listen to my own inner wisdom. My own inner wisdom and intuition is amazing. If I am willing to quiet my mind and listen, it rarely leads me wrong.

2. I started to pursue an active yoga and meditation practice. This step was more important than I can express. Using these two in conjunction imparts a flexibility of both mind and body that continues to astound me. This is what stopped my mind racing. Meditation has enabled me to be in control of my thoughts, emotions, and therefore actions rather than being at their mercy. Many of the positive changes in my life direct stem from these practices.

3.Warrior spirit. This is huge for me. I know now that my strength of spirit and determination is mighty. I know I have the ability to accomplish what I seek to do. During the time of my son's sickness I trained and ran a half marathon. I then nursed my infant son as soon I came off the course. Later I trained and ran a full marathon. After an epic fall, I finished the race a bloody mess. I will tell you, both of these experiences made me realize I was bad ass warrior under my cute, effervescent exterior. Love this.

4. During this time I learned the importance of loving myself. I worked so hard at these goals. I learned so much about myself and what encouraged and inspired me. Sometime in the process I began to fall in love with myself. I found I have great love and respect for my mind, body, and spirit. I see the beauty of me in the mirror. I stopped criticizing myself and started practice affirmation and self love. I am now just in awe of my life, myself, and this journey. I have found it to be true, if you love yourself deeply and unconditionally it will enable you to love others more deeply and unconditionally.

5. Patience and love myself has definitely translated how I deal with my children. I have so much more grace, love, and understanding for them. That is of utmost importance.

6. After some really hard times my husband and I have emerged out the other side better for the experience. It did not drive us apart. We were there together through every step of survival, every day of sleep deprivation, and every moment of desperation and not knowing what to do. We are stronger and closer than ever. It was so hard but it was easier with my best friend by my side.

7. I discovered moderation doesn't work for me. I finally ditched that ever present idea in our society and went completely plant based. I have never felt better in my life. I have never looked better in my life. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

8. My newest leg of this journey, finding my tribe and celebrating and nurturing my relationships with my precious sister friends. To be blunt I never really put much faith in to most relationships with women. I found them to be shallow, gossipy, and too fond of betrayal. When you get what you put out, know what I mean? Now I put out completely different vibes and energies and the results are spectacular. I am finding the most beautiful, honest, and caring women are coming into my life. It is such an honor to be their friend and stand witness to their experience of life.

Ultimately this whole thing comes down to desiring and pursuing a life of authenticity and true love. That is what it comes down to for me. That is what is truly important. I am so glad I looked in the mirror and decided to change my path and my approach to life. In that picture I am 41 years old and my eyes see an amazing future unfolding.

May harmony find you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Wild Within

Within my heart and soul there is a primal, wild spirit. She longs to break out. She yearns to run with abandon through the woods, to dance with wild abandon in the forest clearing under the light of the full moon heavy with promise and possibility. The desire to submerge herself into the mysteries of life and love drive her forward. She is like a stalking panther waiting for the opportunity to break free and fly recklessly through the trees. She is primitive. She is wild. She is beautiful. She is me. 

Yes, of course the two of us are actually just one being. Years ago I attempted to sever her from my psyche. I thought I wanted to fit in and be "respectable". For some reason I can no longer fathom I thought repressing this part of me would make me more acceptable and thought it was important. You see this facet of my spirit can make some people  uncomfortable even scared. Often  people revile what upsets them and attempt to push it out. I thought I cared about that. I thought if I could just curb my wilder inclinations I would be more palatable and therefore accepted. 

I was wrong. 

I no longer care to change for those who would change me. I no longer care to suppress such an integral part of my personality in order to be accepted. I was wrong to think I did. 

So now I am learning to reintegrate this amazingly beautiful aspect back into me. I am letting it crash around and take up residence where it may. It has been caged too long and I freely give it, give me, the room to explode with unbridled passion and joy. 

I will be wild. 
I will be free. 
I will be sensual.
I will be nurturing.
I will be willing to ride out my emotions and allow them to flow will they may. 
I will laugh and dance and sing and twirl wild abandon. 

I will be me.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Importance of Connecting With Nature

Spring has returned to our fair state and the joy it brings me just bubbles over each day. Yes, I love the return of the sun and the warmer weather but more importantly, I reconnect with nature. My physiology does not do well with the cold so each spring is a long over due and heartfelt reunion with a precious friend. I NEED nature in my life. I do. I believe my spirit would shrivel if I could get out into the woods and feel that ancient connection to life that truly walks on the wild side.

I walk into those woods that have been alive for far longer than I have and will hopefully out live me by a long time. There is a connection to the ages to be had if you will quiet your mind, cease your speech, open yourself, and just let the experience wash over you. As I wander in the wild wood the sounds of bird singing and chattering wraps around me and begins infusing me with peace and serenity immediately. Within moments, I can feel my heart slow and my entire being relax. It is mystical and beautiful.

I love sharing this with my children. I have mentioned before I think my daughter may be a woodland fairy child. It is her natural element. She climbs, runs, frolics, and explores. We chase adventure and quietly watch the life of the wood unfold around us. My son loves to find a plethora of sparkling rocks, acorns, seeds, and other things I end up carrying.

We quietly walk through scenes like this:

I swear I could feel the ages upon us. The silence held a gravitas I could not define although it permeated my essence.

We turned a corner to find this unexpected delight:

I find I am not like other people. If my daughter is a woodland fairy, I think she may have inherited fae blood from somewhere in my ancestry.  I cannot be tied to modern technology or the mainstream world for long. Living a fast paced, rat race life kills my very soul slowly but with excruciating thoroughness  It leaves me bereft and desolate. I tried it. I was successful and it damn near successful killed my spirit. I think there are far more people like me than have been realized. I have to wonder if the sale of antidepressants, antacids, and sleeping pills would decrease even a little if people would slow down and find that connection to the natural world I believe is in all of us. I think the results could be significant.

But we all must make our own decisions. I am a great believer in personal freedom. For me and mine, we choose to romp with woodland creatures, play in the woods heavy with memories, and sit together quietly hoping to catch a glimpse of the fairies frolicking hidden around us.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Challenge For My Mindfulness

Living mindfully each and every day is something I constantly aspire to do. Life is so short and so sweet, I want to experience every moment in the fullest way possible. I do not want to spend a single minute of this miraculous life in fruitless worry or anxiety. I mean, I do spent minutes on that, but I don't want to. I strive to spend as few as possible on such worthless endeavors. And trust me, worrying, fretting, and living in anxiety does nothing good for you as far as I can see.

I think one of the most difficult parts of living mindfully is you must open your eyes fully and honestly to your own faults and failings. Then you must take those difficult and often hard to admit findings and turn it in to love and compassion for yourself. You see, if you want to practice loving kindness for anyone else, you must practice it on yourself first. If you don't love yourself, it is impossible to love others with a true heart and unconditional love.

I find that my ego is never far away. It is always ready to jump in and lead me into the fray. With my ego, there is ALWAYS a fray. Le sigh. My ego is happy to push my most stellar qualities to the forefront. You see I can be arrogant, self absorbed, judgmental, just know I know better than anyone else, impatient, and my favorite, not really listening to someone speaking to me just waiting (impatiently) for my turn to speak again. There are more but that is a good start. My ego proudly displays all of these for the world to see.  Now before you send me private messages about being too hard on myself know I can easily name off twenty things I love about myself at the drop of a hat. This is just an honest and realistic assessment.

But what do you do with this information?? I think the most common things are too either beat ourselves up, berate ourselves, or maybe even explain them all away or manage to blame the whole thing on someone else. But anyone of these options are missing the point. To live mindfully you must be honest AND practice loving kindness with yourself.

I find that treating these antics with and amused indulgence is one of the quickest way to dissipate my ego and allow my true self to return to the forefront. My ego doesn't seem to like being treated like  naughty but amusing child. It would prefer to be treated much more seriously. But how can I when it is acting up like that??

This may not be the "right" way but it is the way that works for me and promotes personal growth. I have found that focusing on the personal transgression does nothing but make the entire situation worse and makes me feel worse. Then there is the whole problem of people who feel bad, act bad. Well I find it to be true.

How does it unpack in the real world? Today I was at a big box store and was not feeling completely on for a variety of reasons. Due to a misunderstanding I snapped irritably at a stranger. Moments after I walked away I realized I had behaved in a very unloving manner and it was a misunderstanding to boot. I could have beat myself up or berated myself about what a horrible, worthless person I was. I could have convinced myself it at all been HER fault. Instead, I thought "Oh ego, you slipped in again." Then I wandered all around the store to find this woman and apologize to her. She was overjoyed. I had made amends. After I explained to my kids, aka witnesses to the mess momma had made, what I had done wrong and how I had went about fixing it, I did the the most important thing....I dropped it.

Then will a smile on my face and with peace in my heart, I went about my day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Showed Up Yesterday

I know that by the calendar spring arrived a little while ago but something forget to tell the cold, gray, snowy weather. This winter has been particularly hard for me. I have really struggled to stay centered and peaceful. Depression has loomed over me like an unwelcome visitor who refused to leave. Yesterday the sun burst through and the sun upon my face was the only anti-depressant I needed. It was blissful. 

This spring finds us in a very different place. We have really slowed down, refocusing our energies and reorganizing our priorities. It is quite lovely to be honest with you. Exactly what we needed as a family. Instead of running around to different museums and distractions in the city you will be more likely to find us stomping in a creek or working in our new garden. Our focus is on family, home, and living a more sustainable life. 

My kids are at an age I just find them utterly fascinating. I cannot imagine a better way to spend the day than the four of us tromping through a stream, getting filthy, and exploring their love of science. I think a lot of nature studies will be developing spontaneously all around us. Some days it is all my husband and I can to keep up with the amazing questions these children think up. I have done a lot of serious research to discover how a month and butterfly are different, what is energy, and the lives of Monarch butterflies. I am much more educated and I enjoy every minute of it. 

I love our house. It is old and needs a lot of work. When the babies were born renovation pretty much came to our halt. It is time to pick up our paintbrushes again. I am bursting with excitement  to pour the love I have for my family and our home into each project. I am excited to paint my kitchen, create a mosaic for my "Portrait of a 14 Year Old Dancer" to stand upon, to draw the flowers in our garden that will become the artwork for our home. I love it. I don't care if my home is fashionable or stylish. No, I just want it to be filled with things we love and reminders of the amazing memories we are making together. 

We are also eager to become less of a consumer family and much more sustainable. Stuff has never been our thing but I know we can do better. We have put in a sizable garden, started composting, and attached our first rain barrel. We hope to learn to reuse and recycle in innovative and clever ways. We want to teach our children the important of cherishing and protecting our environment. We want to foster their already burgeoning love of nature. We want to raise them to leave a light foot print  and maybe leave everything at least a little better than they found it. 

So even though life is quiet, I must admit it seems a grand adventure to me. I am eager to understand my husband and my children even more from just spending good time with them and listening. I am looking forward to see how this much loved home emerges in beauty and personality. I am excited to eat the produce we produce, season our meals with our home grown herbs, and spend hours drawing the flowers in my gardens. It is going to be a wonderful year.

May harmony find you and may your home and life overflow with the abundance of peace, joy, and love. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meditation and Kids: Oxymoron or Way of Life?

Over a year ago I started looking into the practice of mediation. I think once you have an established yoga practice it is natural to at least consider meditation. Through the amazing people at Insight Meditations I was able to get an introduction. After that I was committed to daily mediation for a couple of weeks, until Logan stopped napping. After that it was problematic to say the least.

I decided to abandon my practice even though it has proven to be transformative. I was learning to treat myself with grace and love. Stubbornly clinging to a practice causing more frustration than progress was not a kind and compassionate way to treat myself. Down the road, perhaps years, I would reestablish this most beneficial practice. It was the right choice for the time.

The seasons can change very quickly when you have small children. I soon realized that not only did I NEED  to get back to meditation but I thought it would now be possible.

The whole idea of meditation is to truly and deeply connect us with the present moment, whatever that may encompass. I realized I was waiting for the "perfect" time. I was waiting until I had peace and quiet, until I had space. Then I understood it would be through meditation I could find peace, quiet, and space even in the chaotic time of preschoolers.

But how to go about it?

First, I had to reevaluate how I would go about this whole thing. Early morning was absolutely out. The kids knew when I woke up and joined me no matter how early. This resulted in no meditation and cranky kids. Nope, not good. Evening was out for a variety of reasons but mainly because I was exhausted. Afternoons it would be.

This was difficult because these crazy kids were everywhere! Those of you who are absolutely against screen time please stop reading now..... Did you stop?...If not, you were warned. Yep, I use the tv. I pick something I know will occupy them for a half hour or so. I like them to rest a bit in the afternoons anyway so this serves a dual purpose.

The second thing was I had to release myself of the expectation of how my meditation should look. You know I had this totally serene, beatific scene in my mind's eye. You know it just doesn't work like that most of the time. Instead of timing myself and getting in at least x amount of minutes, I just go for it. What I get is what I get. Pretty Zen, huh? Some days, I get 25  minutes, some days I get 5. Releasing expectations enables me to not get irritated when I am interrupted. You know I am interrupted. I sit in my computer room in my great mediation chair. I can still hear the kids if they need me. But it works, it really does.

This has given me a great opportunity to teach the children about respect. Respect, love, kindness, and compassion are really big deals in this house. I would rather have that than obedience any day of the week. I explain to them what I am doing, my expectations they are quiet and do not interrupt unnecessarily. I explain to them their silence is respectful. They are young so I repeat this pretty much every single times. It has given rise to some great conversations on how we all respect each other. They know mommy is a better mommy if they let her meditate.

Now a quick note on the personal benefits. Meditation has hands down been one of the most transformative things in my life. Even the short meditation I experience each day increases my kindness, my humor, and most importantly, my patience exponentially. I laugh easier. I love more deeply. I connect my those I love even better. It is an amazingly beautiful experience.

I want to meet life each day where it is in that moment. Waiting for the perfect time in my life was an antithesis to that intention. Each day I accept what I get and make the most out of it. And let me tell you, it incredible.

Namaste my friends.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Accepting Gifts

Yesterday in the middle of winter it in the low 70's and the sun broke through the clouds. It was stunningly beautiful. It was a gift that I rather desperately needed so I accepted it without hesitation.

I loaded up the kids and headed off for the Missouri Botanical gardens. We have been members for years. We use the membership all the time. There was no one there so we could wander and run and play like fairy-kin gloriously released from captivity.

The Linnean Greenhouse is one of the oldest continually operating greenhouses and it sits as you first come into the garden. It was wonderful to be greeting with a profusion of color and blooms.

But outdoor nature was not be outdone.

There were hints of color to be found in trees just beginning to awaken and berries still hanging on the bushes.

The moss greeted us with the lush green reminiscent of an early summer's day.

But there is a stark beauty within winter waiting to take your breath away if you will but notice it.

I think the point of this story is to be willing to accept the gifts given to you when they are presented. Don't be so caught up in your agendas and schedules that you allow an unexpectedly perfect day to slip though your fingers. Do not focus on the good at the sacrifice of the amazing.

And know that every season has its time and the sunlight and warmth will return to our lives before we know it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Changing the World: The Secret Agenda of Self Love

The other day I was at a homeschool event held at a local gymnastics gym. It is fun and laid back with an emphasis on chaos and noise. The kids, of course, love it. I spotted my handsome little 3 year old man as he stood behind a cute as a button two year old girl by the foam pit. With a cock of his head, he straight armed that little darling right in to the pit. I saw the moment of comprehension roll over his face. I think he was just being very 3 and impulsively wondered what would happen. Well the result was bigger than he imagined.

I fished the wailing child out of the pit and found her mother. Now this woman is absolutely a genuinely nice person. I explained what happened and apologized. She immediately accepted my apology. But then continued to reassure me....and continued. She almost became hysterical trying to convince me that it was fine and I was not a bad mother. Then the truth came out....because that is what she would think of herself if the situation was reversed. I calmed her down and assured her I was okay.

You see, she was absolutely wrong. I did NOT think I was a bad mother nor did I care what any other parent in that place thought. My son did a very 3 year old thing. I made amends and dealt with my child over the situation. There was no need for self recriminations on my part because I have pretty much silenced that self loathing, constantly criticizing, let's us just be honest, bitchy inner voice. Yep, she doesn't talk to me hardly at all any more. Why? Because I love myself dearly and deeply. I honor myself and my needs because they are worthy of my time and attention. I give myself great respect and love. And I will tell you the coolest thing, I am a better person because of it.

Huh? Isn't all of that selfish?? Wrong??? Dear goodness gracious what will the neighbors say????

None of the above.

Self love is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, your children, your husband, all your loved ones, and really, the whole world. We treat others how we feel about ourselves. Think about it. When you are down on yourself, do you really treat those around you with the love, respect, compassion, and patience they deserve? You see that person spreading hate and derision wherever they go? I guarantee you they have a deep self of self loathing to go along with that misanthropic demeanor. Our actions and words to others are a direct extension to our soul and how we truly feel about ourselves.

My friends will tell you I preach self care like it is my job. I constantly encourage the women around me to acknowledge their needs and honor them. I do want to see these women achieve greater happiness and satisfaction. I want to see them experience deep and resounding joy. But I have more subtle motives. ( I feel like I need to twirl a sinister mustache. ) I want the world to be a better place for me and mine. Since changing some long held beliefs and experiencing a paradigm shift, I have found the world full of beauty, love, and laughter. I really have. But I want more. I want there to be more peace, more joy, more love. I know the best way to encourage such amazing growth is to encourage more people to love themselves.

When we love ourselves our heart softens. When we stop the internal berating, we become more patient and considerate of others, including our partners and children. When we realize that we are worthy of a deep and reverent respect we can begin to understand that all life should be held with the same depth of respect. When we understand we are truly and eternally beautiful, we will begin to experience the beauty of life permeating everything.

So basically what I am saying is if you want to build a better world and a brighter tomorrow then you need to realize you are pretty awesome just the way you are.

Much love my sweet friends.

Finding Beauty in Winter

I may have mentioned I find winter to be difficult to get through. Depression finds me fairly easily and I must be vigilant to keep it from taking hold. This winter I am looking with an artist's eye and I truly believe it is helping.

I have always thought of winter to be bleak and filled with unrelenting gray. But I have found I was wrong.

Nature provides color through all of her seasons if you will just take the time to seek it out.

There are moments of beauty only present for a short time in these cold months. Temperature rising just a few degrees higher destroy the delicate beauty of ice formations never to come exactly the same way again.

Learning to be present is teaching me to deeply admire and study these fleeting scenes. Rather than allowing my thoughts to drift to the expectation of the season yet to come, I am focusing here and now. Each moment, each season, even the ones I have trouble embracing, are filled with lessons, beauty, and the opportunity to be filled with wonder and amazement.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Legacy of Slow

This year I am focusing on slowing down even more. In the past years I have working on releasing myself from perfectionism and the unending drive to achieve and produce constantly. The results have been nothing short of transformative. I took a harried, exhausted, rather pissy attitude filled life and watched it re-emerge from these changes as a life of peace, joy, and beauty.  I used to think I valued, a perfect home, a look-everyone-how-much-I-can-do life, the unending need to be the best at everything, always. Now I realize those things were never my soul desires but expectations I put upon my over-burdened shoulders because unconsciously I was listening to the desires and demands of others. Walking away from that which did not stir my heart's passions, I have discovered those things I truly want. I want deep connections, to be present, truly and fully present, as much as possible, the freedom to explore my creativity and imagination. Ultimately, I desire to walk my unique and very personal path with freedom, confidence and sense of levity and adventure.

Achieving these goals has led me to slowing down even more. You are more likely to find me intently focused on a clipping from a dead plant, furiously sketching its likeness than scrubbing a toilet. I tend to eek out screeches and mistakes on my new soprano recorder rather than fixing my face up with makeup. I have traded in a multitude of social commitments to have the freedom to romp wildly through an open field with my children in a unplanned excursion. Life is very, very good.

But I found a side effect I never really expected, my children are following my lead and it is amazing.

The other day I took my 3 year old son to the zoo. He is everything your mind might conjure up when you think 3 year old boy. He lives with wild abandon. He throws his arms around your neck with love overflowing but you better be aware a truck may fly when his temper is sparked. He is a gorgeous hellion filled with a love of life and zest for living unmatched, to my knowledge, in any other soul I have met. But he has been affected and changed by this new life path we have chosen.

It was our day, just he and I. We go to the zoo with such regularity the docents and food service workers know us. We rarely have a plan or agenda and I was happy to follow his lead. His lead took us on a journey filled with quiet contemplation and wonder.

Two stops exemplify this best. The first was a visit to the Eastern Lowland gorillas. Due to the weather they were inside. I could not believe what I was seeing. For over 20 minutes my 3 year old son quietly sat by the glass and studied the apes. He spoke to them softly. Every once in a while he would break his silence to ask a questions or politely ask others to be quiet in the gorilla's home. Hey, there were signs all over asking people to do just that. Otherwise he sat and raptly experienced those moments. His intensity and focus amazed me.

Before we left for the day we went to visit his favorite animal, baby Kenzi. Baby Kenzi is in the above picture. We have followed her story and visited her with regularity since she was born last spring. When we arrived at her habitat we were excited to see all the female elepants out together. Once again Logan hunkered down to really study and savor those moments. He commented on the elephants behavior. Kenzi is getting feisty and plays quite a bit with her big sister. Groups and families stopped behind us, looked for a few seconds and moved on. I remember one woman said after about 20 seconds, "Well, we've seen her, let's go." All the while I sat and watched my son really engage with the moment. It took my breath away just a little bit.

I set out to break myself of the instant gratification habit and fixation. I wanted to walk away from the chaotic world filled with noise and busyness for the sake of being busy and find a life filled with idea and experiences real and authentic. I believe I have found that life. What I didn't realize is the amazing affect my choices would have on my children. I am even more committed to this way of life now that I know these consequences.