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Archive for April, 2013

Dedication

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Three years ago today, my daddy died in a hospital in Marietta, GA. I have since worked through his decline and death in my mind, and I know that those ten days (from April 20 – April 30, 2010), as awful as they were (for me and unborn J), helped me become the person I am today. I lost most of my faith in Western medicine during that time period. Hospitals run like institutions, and I respect that they do the best they can to save lives every day, but I think that in many cases, they sorely miss the mark. Their lack of comprehensive, personal, and holistic care is astonishing. I have very dear family members and friends who work in the hospital system, and I am thankful hospitals exist (I actually wouldn’t be here without the one in which my dad died – it saved my life when I was 2), but overall, I believe their negative qualities equal or surpass their positive impact. If I slice my leg in half with rusty metal, please, take me to a hospital (and have my homeopath meet me there!), but if I’m ill with a virus, or even cancer, keep me far, far away.

My dad was an alcoholic. A mostly functioning, jovial, lovable alcoholic, but an alcoholic none the less. When he entered the hospital on April 20, 2010 (with difficulty breathing, and a tumor discovered in his lung), no one had any idea how much he had been drinking recently. We guessed as best we could, but none of the staff seemed to take us seriously. No one treated him like an alcoholic. None of the doctors or nurses thought twice about the fact that in one day he went from drinking all day, every day, to laying in a hospital bed with no access to booze. His tumor didn’t kill him. Alcoholism killed him, and fast. Would his liver have failed if he were left to his own means? Yes, I’m quite certain it would have. But it would have taken much longer than ten days, and it would have been on his own terms. At home. He would have been aware for much longer.

He asked to be taken home. He was scared, but he wanted to get out of that hospital, and if I were to go back and do things differently, I would have discharged him. I wasn’t yet the confident, researching, find-the-alternative-answer woman I am today, and the hospital swallowed me (and my family) whole. I hardly ever spoke to a doctor. One came around about once every twelve hours for five minutes. They all seemed to have dismissed my dad’s case from the get-go. The nurses gave us minimal information and didn’t seem to know much more than what was obvious. He was sick. He was losing consciousness. I later learned that his hallucinating was due to DTs (or delirium tremors) that occur during alcohol withdrawal. At the time, I thought they were temporary. I thought he would come through to the other side, sober and with months to live (due to lung cancer) instead of days. I thought he would at least get to meet his grandson and that we’d have time to prepare. To conclude his life. To say goodbye.

We had no such time. And I didn’t know that he was dying until a doctor finally asked to talk to my brother, mother, and me in a private room. She pulled us aside and told us it was time to start making decisions about whether or not to prolong his care. He was already gone. He was being kept alive by machines. After we knew that, the decision making process wasn’t hard. We knew he didn’t want to be kept alive artificially. That’s not a decision one makes lightly though, so we took a while to think about it. I went to talk to my dad. I told him that although I knew what he wanted, I wasn’t sure if I could pull the plug.

After spending some time with him, I went out to get some dinner, and as I was driving my mom called and told me to come back. He was declining. By the time I made it to the ICU, he was gone. There was no decision to make.

Everything happened in a flash. One moment he was being admitted, talking about the start of baseball season while coughing and hacking and grasping his chest in pain. The next moment he was building trains in the air and repeating himself constantly. Then, before we knew it, he was on a ventilator, unconscious and hooked up to more machines than I could count. A moment after that, I was planning his funeral.

I still think about him often, and I’m sure I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. As a man, and a husband, he had problems. He was depressed, and he drank himself into a hole. He isolated himself. He lived hard. There are many ways in which I strive to be different than he was, but there are also many ways I aspire to be just like him. Despite his issues, he was an amazing dad. He was caring, and passionate. And he was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I never really grew out of the my-parent-is-all-knowing phase, because my dad really did know everything about everything. It was annoying at times, but it’s also why I’m a self-learner now. And it’s the reason I question everything. Knowledge is power. (Although, over-thinking is also a handicap, but that’s for another post…).

I wish I knew more about my dad’s life before I came along. It seems that his childhood was tainted with abuse and fear, but I’ll never know exactly what being a kid was like for him. He never spoke about it to us, and there are only a few people alive now that knew him then. Maybe I don’t want to know. How he became the parent he did is beyond me. Somehow, he abandoned his models and got in touch with his instincts. He wasn’t perfect, but he did the best damn job he could.

My dad was gentle. He was nurturing. He was a quirky man who had an obsession with trains and a severe phobia of chewing gum. He cussed like a sailor, and drank like a fish. He loved music and wasn’t afraid to go a bit nuts when he heard his favorite song on the radio. When we were little, he would pretend to be a bull while my brother and I rode on his back, then flew to the floor in fits of giggles. He read us Wombat Stew, and made up songs about Jr. Birdman, a special sort of superhero. He cooked us pancakes on Saturday mornings, and told us to invite all our friends. He told us he was proud of us. He told us he loved us. He let us be ourselves.

It is because of him (both the last ten days of his life, and those twenty four years I had with him before that), that I am who I am today. And, you know what? I like who I am. So Dad, if you can hear me, thank you. You were one amazing man.

#Resolutions (attempting to streamline – not sure if I like it yet)

Health and Vitality – check
Parenting – half check
Rhythm – half check
Marriage – half check
Home and Hearth – TOMORROW!

I am learning that exercise is one of the keys to my sanity. (You’d think I would have figured this out by now).

I am thankful for the energy I’ve felt today.

Today as J and I were driving Husband to work, J said he wanted to go to Durham to get an “insuree” cookie bowl. Apparently insuree means “a whole lot”.

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First of all, who knew that growing pains were real? Because I didn’t. I don’t remember having them as a child (luckily, I suppose!), but it seems that they’ve taken a hold of J’s legs. Last night was rough, so today I was prepared with a heating pad and massage, but J would have none of it. The heating pad freaked him out a bit, and my massage tickled him so much that he couldn’t stop laughing and flinching when I tried. 🙂 Oh well. We will see how tonight goes, and I’ll sneak some Epsom salts into his next bath.

Second of all, I really love meditation. And Buddhists. I have been listening to Tara Brach podcasts on my phone every day while J sleeps next to me, and I think it’s making a HUGE difference in my day-to-day state of mind. I also just finished reading Radical Parenting, and Brad Blanton has some amazing things to say as well. I am calmer than I’ve ever been, and I’m more aware. If you haven’t figured it out yet (let’s be honest, most people haven’t – and believe me, I’m still working on it), LET THINGS GO. Seriously, freaking out about things never helps change anything. Release emotions, sure. Feel how you feel, but breathe through it, and MOVE ON. Quickly. Sometimes all I need these days is one deep breath and I’m good to go. If you know me well, you might be amazed by this. I’ve never been very zen. This mama is changing, though.

Lastly, (as I’ve mentioned before), April is almost over. I’m not going to make a big to-do over my resolutions this month, because I’ve already reflected on them a bit, but I will say that I feel closer to Husband, and I think we’ve created some helpful habits. We are still showing each other appreciation, picking our battles, and making more of an effort to set aside time for each other. Let’s face it – we’re pretty awesome.

My May is going to be pretty awesome too, if I do say so myself. May is my Home and Hearth month, and I feel like I’ve been gearing up for that over the past few weeks. So, stay tuned for more resolutions!

I am learning that I am more capable than I once thought.

I am thankful for Monday Night Soup Nights.

J amazes me every day, and he is growing and changing so much lately. He is incredibly musical and so so sensitive and empathetic. He also has a thing for churches these days (which is funny, because I don’t know if he’s ever actually been inside one). He loves church bells (tonight, he told us they make him feel peaceful), and he is constantly building churches and “commudiants” out of legos. If you ask J what a “commudiant” is, he will tell you it’s a place where people pray together, but it’s not a church, nor is it a synagog or a mosque. Apparently, J has created his own spiritual home. 🙂

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Late nights

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It’s 12:45 am and J just fell asleep. Luckily I napped with him earlier today or I would not be holding it together right now. 3 hours of Nursing, rocking, and bouncing like newborn. Not sure what the heck is up. He was complaining of his legs hurting, though. Growing pains?

Don’t want to waste any more time writing, when I could be sleeping…

*1.) Take care of your body
*2.) Eat whole, balanced, nutritious foods
*3.) Support your family’s health
*4.) Clean, de-clutter, and increase usability
*5.) Ease your mind
6.) Move your body
*7.) Connect first, connect often
*8.) Be authentic
*9.) Lead with confidence
*10.) Find a bubble
*11.) Apply SALVE
*12) Say yes
13.) Find space for ritual
14.) Capture rhythm in nature
15.) Cultivate a daily rhythm
*16.) Focus on food, sleep, and home
*17.) Find weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms
*18.) Go with what works
*19.) Show appreciations
20.) Touch more often
*21.) Work on projects together
22.) Go to bed together
*23.) Cut some slack
24.) Spend 25 minutes a day together

I am learning to go with the flow.

I am thankful for the sound of rain.

Tonight, during J’s hours of awake unhappiness, I got out my supplements to take, and he insisted on putting each one in my mouth. He was so gentle and
deliberate. “I’m feeding you, Mama.” It was a beautiful moment of bonding in what was several hours of feeling rather unsettled.

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Living outdoors

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Tonight, J delayed bedtime as long as possible. We read books, nursed, read more books, got up to make food, and soaked some beans while Husband napped on the bed. When J finally decided he was ready to sleep, he looked at me and said, “Is it morning, Mama?”. No sweetie… It’s definitely nighttime. 🙂

I think J is just as in love with Spring as I am this year. I can’t remember a Spring this beautiful, or a spring that has lasted this long. I’m not sure if Spring is different, or if I’m different, but either way, I would be happy living outdoors until Summer hits. It could be that I’m noticing the weather more this year because I’ve actually been able to spend a lot of time outdoors. J and I have spent hours each day gardening, and I’m beginning to feel like I actually know what I’m doing.

*1.) Take care of your body
2.) Eat whole, balanced, nutritious foods
3.) Support your family’s health
*4.) Clean, de-clutter, and increase usability
5.) Ease your mind
6.) Move your body
*7.) Connect first, connect often
*8.) Be authentic
*9.) Lead with confidence
*10.) Find a bubble
*11.) Apply SALVE
*12) Say yes
*13.) Find space for ritual
*14.) Capture rhythm in nature
15.) Cultivate a daily rhythm
*16.) Focus on food, sleep, and home
*17.) Find weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms
*18.) Go with what works
*19.) Show appreciations
20.) Touch more often
*21.) Work on projects together
22.) Go to bed together
*23.) Cut some slack
*24.) Spend 25 minutes a day together

I am learning that sometimes I am very restless.

I am thankful for Saturday night fires.

This morning, the first thing J wanted to do was play in his new sandbox. I would say he’s already logged 3 hours of sand time, and the box has only been with us for a day. Happy boy makes a happy Mama.

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Half-post day

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Well, it happened. I skipped a day. Yesterday was my first no-post day since December. You didn’t miss much, I promise. 🙂 I’m a bit OCD and all-or-nothing at times though, so I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the end of my streak!

I’ll build myself back up easily, so today is a half-post day.

1.) Take care of your body
2.) Eat whole, balanced, nutritious foods
*3.) Support your family’s health
*4.) Clean, de-clutter, and increase usability
*5.) Ease your mind
*6.) Move your body
*7.) Connect first, connect often
*8.) Be authentic
*9.) Lead with confidence
10.) Find a bubble
*11.) Apply SALVE
*12) Say yes
*13.) Find space for ritual
*14.) Capture rhythm in nature
*15.) Cultivate a daily rhythm
*16.) Focus on food, sleep, and home
*17.) Find weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms
*18.) Go with what works
*19.) Show appreciations
*20.) Touch more often
21.) Work on projects together
*22.) Go to bed together
*23.) Cut some slack
24.) Spend 25 minutes a day together

I am learning to notice.

I am thankful for a day spent outdoors.

Today, J and I spent most of the day outside in the garden, and then we went to rehearsal together, got some chocolate, ate some dinner at home with Daddy, played in our new sandbox! It was a beautiful day, and J played until it was too dark to see the sand. 🙂

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Kitchen restart

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Today, I cleaned my kitchen.

I never thought I’d be so excited to spend three hours scrubbing surfaces with a sponge, but man was it ever satisfying. J and I both have been a little out of sorts for the past few weeks, and today felt a bit like hitting a reset button. While I obsessed over the kitchen this morning, J cleaned beside me, or played near me. I took breaks to check in or connect with him, but mostly I cleaned. Our kitchen wasn’t that grubby before, but it was definitely in need of a deep scrub. I wiped down baseboards and cabinets, scrubbed the base of the refrigerator, cleaned the dehydrator. I even washed the walls. I’m sitting at our bar right now, while the rest of the family sleeps, and I can’t help but smile at my handiwork. I’ve never had such a spotless kitchen.

As hard is it is for me to believe, April is soon coming to a close. I realize I say this almost every month, but time really does fly. For this reason, I have had a hard time focusing on my relationship with Husband this month. There just never seems to be a lot of us time. J isn’t comfortable being away from me at all right now, and while he’s sleeping, Husband and I are either sleeping or working on whatever we don’t want to work on while he’s awake. You know what, though? I still think we have improved our relationship greatly this month (and over the past year in general). Our minds are more geared toward each other. Toward deeper compassion and understanding. We have made each other more of a priority. And you know what else? We are secure adults. We know that over the span of our relationship, the years spent focused on parenting tiny children are not many. J deserves all the energy and focus he receives (and probably more). There will be many years of childless bedtime cuddles and silence, and I can guarantee we will look back and miss the chaos. So, yes, focusing on our relationship and setting aside as much time as possible for the two of us is important, but so is looking at the big picture and shrugging off all the days we have to put couple time on the back burner.

I would say there are three things (two of them resolutions) that have helped improve our relationship the most lately, none of which require a lot of uninterrupted time.

1.) Show appreciations
2.) Cut some slack, and
3.) Increase awareness

Awareness is something I’m working on a lot in general these days, and in a relationship, becoming aware (of your thought patterns, of your style of arguing, of your habits as a couple, of the big moments in your relationship) can change so much. It increases empathy and can help you take a step back and see problems from the outside. This, along with showing gratitude and picking our battles wisely has helped us grow as a couple. Have we fought this month? Sure. Have their been rough days? Definitely. Overall though, I think we are stronger and are on the road to understanding each other more deeply. That’s what marriage is all about anyway, right? Knowing another person on a deep and intimate level. Well, that and compromise. 🙂

*1.) Take care of your body
*2.) Eat whole, balanced, nutritious foods
3.) Support your family’s health
*4.) Clean, de-clutter, and increase usability
*5.) Ease your mind
*6.) Move your body
7.) Connect first, connect often
*8.) Be authentic
*9.) Lead with confidence
*10.) Find a bubble
*11.) Apply SALVE
*12) Say yes
*13.) Find space for ritual
*14.) Capture rhythm in nature
15.) Cultivate a daily rhythm
*16.) Focus on food, sleep, and home
17.) Find weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms
*18.) Go with what works
*19.) Show appreciations
*20.) Touch more often
21.) Work on projects together
22.) Go to bed together
*23.) Cut some slack
24.) Spend 25 minutes a day together

I am learning that awareness is the key.

I am thankful to be sitting in a clean kitchen.

J is still going through a mama-only phase right now. For some reason he wants absolutely nothing to do with daddy. 😦 Tonight, J and Husband both came to rehearsal with me again, and J danced around the studio with the other dancers until he had had enough and wanted to leave. Poor guy has been feeling some really strong emotions these days, over many different things. Just this morning, I decided to turn his breakfast (tempeh and dosa) into a little man on his plate. I ate the man’s torso, and J sobbed. 😦 I love my sensitive little guy. He may be as, or even more, sensitive than his mom. And that’s saying a lot.

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I want to spend more time with my dogs. They deserve much more from me than they’re getting right now.

Ian Dunbar on dog-friendly dog training

I seem to have lost my focus. If you happen to stumble across it, please send it my direction.

Today, J went on another car strike. He was exhausted, so we walked home from where we were (luckily only about 1.75 miles). The weather was gorgeous, though. And we ran into a neighbor we know, so we had a pretty good time. It’s been an interesting few weeks…

*1.) Take care of your body
2.) Eat whole, balanced, nutritious foods
3.) Support your family’s health
*4.) Clean, de-clutter, and increase usability
5.) Ease your mind
6.) Move your body
*7.) Connect first, connect often
*8.) Be authentic
9.) Lead with confidence
10.) Find a bubble
*11.) Apply SALVE
*12) Say yes
*13.) Find space for ritual
*14.) Capture rhythm in nature
15.) Cultivate a daily rhythm
16.) Focus on food, sleep, and home
17.) Find weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms
*18.) Go with what works
*19.) Show appreciations
20.) Touch more often
21.) Work on projects together
22.) Go to bed together
*23.) Cut some slack
*24.) Spend 25 minutes a day together

Life is constantly teaching me to stay on my toes.

I am thankful for Spring. Spring, please stay around as long as possible!

Tonight, I asked J whether he liked Raleigh or Asheville better, and he answered without hesitation: “Asheville. Asheville has Juna in it.”

Ps. Above is my first successful attempt at sidewalk vandalism. I was ridiculously excited about it.

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