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Archive for June, 2013

Sweet rain

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I love the way the sky looks right before it rains. Beautiful, moving, and dark. Heavy, and so expansive. I feel lucky to have witnessed many calm-before-the-storm moments lately. We have had a wet few months.

Life has been crazy here recently. I go back and forth between loving life and wanting to escape from it. Today was a great day, and I’m thankful for that. This morning, J and I spent hours gardening, blowing bubbles, and playing with a friend and her son, and this afternoon we had a playground date with some awesome people. We ended the day with a trip to our favorite local restaurant and some chocolate. Not so bad, I do say. 😉

My thyroid has decided quit working once again. My symptoms are back full force, even after increasing my synthroid dose. I have not been a happy camper. I went off sugar (fresh fruit only) for 2 weeks, while taking herbal supplements in attempt to help re-balance my gut, but I’m feeling worse. It could be a detox thing (although I am not sure of this, and don’t want to detox while nursing!), but I have felt awful. I ate sugar tonight, and spent several hours outdoors, and lo and behold I feel much better. Hmm.

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*
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself
27. Maximize gardening potential*
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify*
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room
32. Make technology work for you
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH*
36. Create shrines*

I am learning how to control my thyroid symptoms.

I am thankful for days spent surrounded by people.

The other day, Julian opened a piece of junk mail and said, “Look Mama! It’s a present for you! It’s words!” 🙂

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Screen time

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J loves fire trucks. And trains. And excavators. And any other kind of big, powerful moving vehicle. Before giving birth, I was convinced that boys who loved trucks were most likely socially conditioned and gender typed to like “boy” activities and objects. I was wrong. I have in no way encouraged J to play with “boy-appropriate” toys (he has dolls, jewelry, and pink items as well as trucks and trains), but he is most often drawn to the “boy” items (although, he loves pink – color is a whole different story). We bought a new truck book yesterday Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – and we have read it about twelve times already. 🙂 We also took a trip to the fire station yesterday (and today!), and J “drove” a fire truck for the first time (pictured above). He was in little boy heaven.

Along with this love of trucks and trains and things that go vroom, comes a desire to watch videos of trucks and trains and things that go vroom. This is something I was not exactly prepared for. I have many mixed feelings on the subject, and I am sure I’m not the only parent who struggles with the idea of “screen time” for young children, so I thought I’d write this post to a.) help myself gather my feelings and thoughts on the matter, b.) help those reading see one parent’s point of view, and c.) open a discussion with anyone out there who might care to join in.

First, I have two clashing points of view:

1.) I believe screens can be harmful for young minds (and old ones, for that matter). There is a lot of research to support this idea, and my Mama gut sends out panic signals when I watch J “veg out” to fire truck videos on my iPad.

2.) I generally parent without limits. I believe in J’s ability to regulate himself. We don’t have rules, and when I say “no” to something, it is generally because it crosses a personal boundary for me. For example, “No, you can’t throw my phone in the toilet. It’s my phone, and I want it to work.” (He hasn’t tried to do this 🙂 – and actually, I probably wouldn’t say “no”, I’d say something like. “Oh, I see you want to throw the phone in the toilet. Do you want to see something splash? Here, let’s throw the boat into the bathtub.” But that’s beyond the point…). Him watching videos doesn’t really cross a personal boundary for me.

Second, I am easily triggered by him watching YouTube videos. I don’t know why (I’ll have to delve down deep to try to figure out why), but I get very angry. After a while, it makes my skin crawl, and I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that bothers me so much. He gets sucked in so easily, and he becomes almost numb. He won’t respond to my questions or comments, or even acknowledge my existence. I know these are common complaints, but it drives me up the wall, and I become judgmental and disapproving (two adjectives I hope to never describe myself as when discussing J’s interests).

So, I see several possible arguments. I could:

A.) Get rid of screens altogether. This would eliminate the problem (one of my resolutions this month! – automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire help), but it’s not a realistic option. We have no TV, but we have two iPhones, two iPads, and several computers that live in Husband’s office. 95% of Husband’s work involves screens, and I use them constantly for messaging, calendar, Facebook, recipes, etc., so banning J from any use of screens would be hypocritical and mean, in my opinion.

B.) Decide that screens are only tools. This option involves limiting their uses, and making sure whatever J is doing on a screen is “useful”. I see several problems with this option. One, I would be judging what is and is not “useful”, and that’s not something I want to do. I’d also want to model the usage I want for J, so that would mean no “un-useful” usage for me either.

C.) Limit usage of any screen type. This seems a bit more logical, but of course it involves limiting. I could use my best judgement and suggest that J move on to something else when he’s watched enough fire truck videos. The problem here is that it’s hard for him to stop when asked once he’s started (so I will likely be facing a meltdown), and I’d want to be careful to avoid coming across as judgmental or disapproving. As I said, I often have a difficult time remaining calm when he’s hooked, but it’s very important to me that he understands the reason I dislike him watching videos. I don’t want him to think he or his interests are wrong in any way.

D.) Limit usage of certain screen types. This is basically like option C, but let’s say I would limit YouTube, but not home videos, and games, but not music tools. I could see this option working well.

OR…

E.) Allow unlimited use of screens. This is actually the option I want to choose. Instead of saying, “no more fire truck videos”, I would instead like to offer J a more appealing activity, drawing him away from the video while maintaining peace and trust in our relationship. The problem here lies in my ability to either successfully steer him towards non-screen activities or to be OK with him watching until he chooses to set the video down. It requires me to 1.) be calm and centered, 2.) plan ahead (keeping the iPad out of sight, and having other fun things readily available), and 3.) not freak out if he’s watching videos and won’t stop.

Honestly, I’ll probably end up using a combination of options E.) and D.) – limiting only when I feel it’s truly necessary, but I’m curious to hear from others here. J is a very sensitive child – physically and emotionally – and screens seem to affect him differently than children who aren’t quite as sensitive. Of course, I’m sure he is also picking up on my panicky opinion of YouTube videos, so that doesn’t help. Today, I managed to limit our before-nap video viewing to a replaying of “Mahna Mahna”, the classic Muppet’s skit from 1976. 😉 I figure the less JPMs the better (TV viewing research Jargon! JPMs stand for Jolts Per Minute). I had hoped to add some research review here, but I just don’t have the time to get to it today! (I’ve been working on this post for several days now… about several days longer than it usually takes me to write a post!) 😉

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*
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify*
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room*
32. Make technology work for you
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH*
36. Create shrines*

I am learning more about the equation for a health, happy me. I feel as if I re-learn it over and over again though, and I’d like to stop circling.

I am so thankful for a day spent out of the house on outings with friends and family.

Today was a great day, and my state of mind has shifted largely from where it was two days ago. I needed more me-time (I got a facial today!), and I needed to surround myself with people I admire. J and I had a beautiful time together today, and I know he was so appreciative of my presence. This evening, while sitting in my lap, he looked at me, smiled, wrapped his arms around my neck and kissed me on the mouth. 🙂 He very, very rarely initiates affection like that, and it completely melted me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

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Planning ahead

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On Saturday, Husband and J and I took all three of our furry family members to the vet for their annual visits. It was an experience, to say the least. We were there for about three and a half hours, and spent an ungodly amount of money, but both the dogs and the cat are relatively healthy and are on the road to achieving optimal health. The vet we saw (Dr. Bowman) is amazing, and I highly recommend her for anyone interested in holistic care for pets. We left her office with herbal supplements and a diet-change plan for everyone. She is extremely knowledgable, and she mentioned that with holistic care and the right diet, she has seen plenty of dogs live into their 20’s! Hooray for longevity! After three days of supplements, the dogs already seem happier and calmer.

Since June was originally supposed to be focused on the animals in my life, I suppose it’s appropriate that I’m figuring some of this stuff out now. I’m getting a great head start into August (my new animal-focused month). That month, I will also be signing Lily and Shanea (the dogs) up for classes (with the intention of continuing to agility training with Lily), focusing on playing fetch more, walking more, and cuddling more, and possibly taking horseback riding lessons, or working with wildlife rescue, or something of that sort. I’m really excited about getting in touch with the animal-loving part of me. It’s a rather large part that has been looked over quite a bit lately. I’m sure the dogs (and maybe even the cat) will appreciate it too.

This gets me thinking about other months too. I’m in planning mode these days, so I might as well follow my bliss here. Next month consists of dance-related resolutions (YAY for ADF), September is focused on community, October belongs to spirituality, and November is all about writing. It’s going to be an awesome year. I even have an idea of how I want to continue my project into next year. Watch out folks… The fun doesn’t end! 🙂

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
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself*
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils
29. Simplify and sanctify*
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room
32. Make technology work for you
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH*
36. Create shrines*

I am learning that I get very tired at night these days.

I am thankful to have a constant snuggle bunny.

This afternoon, I ruined the dosa I was fermenting by accidentally cooking it. I got pretty angry, and J said, “Everything is OK Mom. What happened?” I replied, “Thanks babe. I ruined the dosa.” J responded, “Well, how are we going to work that out?”

This kid constantly amazes me.

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Back to restless

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Well, it only lasted a day. I’m back to feeling restless. Thinking of taking a spontaneous weekend trip to the beach. Anyone care to join?

I’m going to sift through my thoughts here, stream-of-consciousness style, so bear with me!

I m searching for simplicity. I want rhythm. I want people around me. I want to feel free, joyous, and light-hearted. I want to be authentic. I want more time doing creative, adult activities. I want there to be no separation between art and life, between work and life. I worry that I’m becoming an itchy, self-involved, somewhat annoying, happiness-seeking bore to be around, but I feel like I’m on the verge of a big shift. My consciousness is opening, I’m delving deep inside myself, and I hope to come out on the other side, confident, compassionate, and satisfied. Satisfied. I am hardly ever satiated. I long for more – bigger, deeper, broader, different. Perhaps I can find a balance in my longing – a way to be satisfied and fully present, while always striving for more. The word potential comes to mind. I want to live up to my full potential, and life happens now, right? This future I long for might never happen, so the time to change and grow and live is now. Yet, I want to be experiencing the now, living simply and peacefully, and not experiencing so much longing. Ah, the juxtapositions life presents! Playing barefoot in the creek as a child, with my toes squishing mud and my laughter flowing over the bank, I never could have imagined life being so complicated. Maybe it’s not complicated, and that’s my problem. Maybe I complicate life.

I am learning to meditate. If you can imagine what it’s like in my brain, you might conclude that this is a difficult task for me. It is. But it feels great. I love encouraging my mind to be still. It’s as if the world stops spinning for a few minutes, and the birds outside my window are all that exist. I always seem to see purple when I meditate, or experience reike. Purple is the color associated with the crown chakra – the gate to higher thinking and a higher being. I wonder if this is significant.

I finished reading my Circle of Simplicity book yesterday, and today I picked up Everyday Blessings by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn. I love Myla’s name, and I love the book so far. I’ve read the first few pages about a dozen times, but for some reason, I haven’t been able to continue until now. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. This book jumped out at me this morning, so maybe I was sending “ready” vibes.

There is so much TO-DO here at home that my head spins just thinking about it all, and I wish I could find a way to minimize the tasks at hand, or at least their appearance. Because maybe it’s not as much work as it looks like when written out or sprawled out in front of me in the form of a hundred Lego pieces. I could make a schedule, and maybe that would help, but the rebel in me says, “NO!!! Rhythm will emerge on it’s own!!!” Rhythm did emerge on it’s own during my week on the beach. It was quite amazing. And a rhythm exists now too, when I really look for it, but it’s weaker and frayed. There’s too much to fit into one day. Too much for one person. I don’t want to live like that any longer. I want to simplify. The problem is how.

My patience is thin these days, and I’m not sure exactly why. It could be a side-effect of me giving up sugar for two weeks. I’m on day 5, and I’m actually really impressed with myself for sticking to it this long. I have had NO sugar. No honey. No maple syrup. No dried fruit. Only stevia. The veggie burger Husband made for lunch yesterday (his once a year cooking adventure ;)) had a tiny bit of brown rice syrup in it, but that’s the most I’ve had. I’m going to get my gut healthy, dammit. Someday, I will have no thyroid symptoms, whether it’s taking synthroid or not. My blood sugar is under control, and I have finally been diagnosed correctly (I believe), with Hashimoto’s, so that’s a start. Yay for auto-immune diseases.

Well, if you have followed me this far, I appreciate it. 🙂 Not sure I made any progress here (or any sense), but I feel a bit better. Maybe I can get back to being grateful now.

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*
25. Learn to sew*
26. Make it yourself*
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify*
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room*
32. Make technology work for you
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH*
36. Create shrines

I am constantly re-learning that I have a strong need to be surrounded by people. I’m not sure how I can forget that.

I am grateful for this Friday night.

Tonight (after I wrote this post), we went to Music on the Porch (a bi-weekly outdoor evening of music, kids dancing, and food trucks), and level of aliveness I felt amazed me. It’s nights like this that I think, “OK, I can live with this.”

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Life is good

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Tonight, I was able to go on a date with Husband, eat some very yummy food, and watch a beautiful sunset. All before coming home and nursing my boy to sleep in our new bed. I am one lucky woman, and sometimes I forget that. I often get caught in negative spirals – thinking about what I want to change in my life and how things could be different or better. I want to be more grateful and remember that like attracts like (while maintaining my tendency to strive to improve, as this sentence exemplifies). I have no idea what the future brings – whether we will live in Raleigh, or Asheville, or Costa Rica, or London, or Hawaii, or what I will do all day when I no longer have a child who needs my constant care and attention, but right now life is good. I love my job, and I love my family, and I love my home. The rest will fall into place.

(Now, I need to post this on my fridge so I can remember this thought space every 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*
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room
32. Make technology work for you
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH
36. Create shrines

(Hmm… I need to focus this month!)

I just discovered that my resolutions have gotten a bit more vague over the past few months.

I am thankful that J has someone amazing to hang out with when he’s not with me or his daddy.

Today, J and I put together “the little bed” – our twin-sized trundle that goes under the King. When it’s pulled out, it makes the perfect landing pad for a J who’s flying off the big bed. 🙂 J wanted to fall asleep on “the little bed” tonight.

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Simplicity backfire

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I think my plan for simplicity has backfired a bit. The house is a complete disaster. We have the new bed together, but the old one is still in parts all over the main floor, with the mattress leaning against my desk in the music room. I suppose the road to simplicity isn’t always simply paved.

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*
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself*
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room*
32. Make technology work for you*
33. Organize your digital life
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH
36. Create shrines

I am constantly learning about my power as J’s model.

I am thankful for our long family walk tonight.

J is such an incredibly sweet child, and it’s such a joy to watch him develop. He has learned to validate others – “You want to go outside Mama? Yeah? OK.”, and he shows gratitude freely – “Thanks for making me juice, Mama!”. It melts my heart every time. And he’s funny too (in the way all 2 year olds are). Tonight, he was helping us tighten some screws, and he exclaimed, “I’m really screwing this up!” 🙂

(Oh, and he met a snake today!)

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Change change change

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I need a change. A big change. And I can’t figure out what it is. I could pack up all our things and move our family to an eco-village in Costa Rica, but maybe I will just dye my hair. I don’t like maintenance though, and dyed hair usually takes upkeep. Maybe I should just shave my head. 😉

In all seriousness, my restless soul needs a little help right now. I need more art. I need more soul. I am itching to fly the coup (with my family – both human and furry). So, what do I do?

In my search for change today, I re-wrote my commandments. I have a feeling I’ll keep doing this, but here’s my current list:

1. Be who you are (previously “Be me”)

2. Follow your bliss

3. Be here, now (previously “Be present”)

4. Embrace imperfection

5. Move your body

6. Ride the wave (previously “Breathe through it”)

7. Live consciously and deliberately (previously “Be deliberate)

8. Open and receive (previously “enter into receiving mode”)

9. If you think, you’re dead

10. Cultivate curiosity

11. Remember what matters (Added)

12. Write it down (Added)

I like my new list. We also just got a new bed, so that will be a change. And I’m still simplifying our home. I’m on a quest to get rid of half of what we own, and I’m doing pretty well so far – I’ve loaded about ten garbage bags full of clothes, linens, and crap.

Bringing out all the resolutions again:
( * = followed)

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*
25. Learn to sew
26. Make it yourself
27. Maximize gardening potential
28. Become a master of oils*
29. Simplify and sanctify
30. Think green*
31. Go room by room
32. Make technology work for you*
33. Organize your digital life*
34. See the big picture*
35. Remember AEDH
36. Create shrines* (I realized I have a shrine to health in my cabinet filled with oils, remedies, and herbs) 🙂

Today, I learned how to put our bed together by myself!

I am thankful for impromptu coffee shop dates.

This evening, J and I put our new bed together. Afterward, J took a bath and swam and splashed in the water while I told him the story of our day. I’ve been reading my simplicity book, and I’m really interested in learning to slow down more than I do. My life is 100% slower than it was four years ago, but I still don’t live in the moment like I would like, and I’m still rushing. Why?

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