Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Getting out of the line

I was talking to Ari on the way home from the library tonight about my choice to not listen to my intuition. I asked her what she thought was in my thinking that would drive me to do something that was obviously not healthy for me. What she had to say was astounding.

"It was like you were a horse in a line. All the other horses started to walk and then started to run so you ran too. You were afraid that the horses would leave you behind so you kept running, even though it was making you sick. What you really needed to do was just get out of line."

Have I mentioned lately that having a conversation with this highly unique person is like having a conversation with my wise old grandma.
(The wisdom and playfulness of children are possibly two of my greatest joys in life.)

What is really going on here...

" A lot of parenting difficulties come from seeing a problem, seeing a solution and turning the solution in to the new problem." Joyce Fetteroll

Awhile back I posted this quote on my FB and asked people to replace the word parenting with other words as I saw this as a quite pervasive life mistake. Today the idea of focusing on the problem, or what you think is the problem and then solving it has really charged in to my awareness. Let me back track and tell you the sorted details.

I have been sick for most of January. I caught a cold early on that morphed into ear infections. While I was still on antibiotics for the infections I caught a nasty four hour flu. The combination of the flu and the atom bomb to my gut that is antibiotics led to digestive issues. The digestive issues have been lingering and unpleasant. I will give myself some credit here for not panicking, but then I have to take most of the credit back with what I am about to say next.

I sat with myself and had a little Q and A about the state of my health. I thought, " What changed in January." Then my intuition quickly informed me that the health issues went much further back and I was ignoring the trail of them. Lets see there was the cold sore in December, the massive asthma attack in October, the strange and pervasive rash in August and then it gets all blurry. But then it hits me, that last time I felt vibrantly healthy and whole was when I was regularly doing yoga. By regularly, I mean every day for about an hour.

I sat with this information for awhile. Why did I ever leave yoga in the first place? I started running. Why did I start running? I.DON'T.KNOW. Add to this that in January I started walking on the treadmill regularly but honestly my body did not want to do it. My body has been giving me clear signs for well over 6 months that I am not doing what is healthy for IT.

I did yoga last night and felt like I had come home. So far today, stomach happy. Not just calm but happy. It has not even been calm for probably 2 weeks. I guess the question that remains is why did I choose to start something and keep doing something that obviously was not good for me? What thinking drove me away from my intuition that my body wants yoga and not running? And why was I so willing to suffer through it, I mean really suffer, with not feeling good and also the backlash that serves up in my relationships and everywhere else in my life?

The big piece of credit I will give myself at this point is that I did not go into my regular pattern of attacking the symptom with fury, throwing every thing I have at it. I really have patiently waited for the stomach issues to subside, tried a few things here and there, and all the while had a sense that a piece of the puzzle just was missing. I might have been able to solve the stomach "problem" only to find it somewhere else like I have for the last 6 months.

(This is my coffee face. See what happens when the kids get the camera, I go all crazy eyed.)

Monday with Mina

Mina reminds me of the characters from the Laura Numeroff books. The characters in her books are very busy moving quickly from one thing to the next. Yesterday I got out some crepe paper for her to make a craft. This craft.Which she glued together in less than 5 minutes and had moved on to the only logical thing she could move to next, dressmaking.

I think the cat next to her is relieved she is not making him a dress.As you can see, the crepe paper wrapping went on for awhile and with every color at her disposal. Then she started running around the wall between the kitchen and the livingroom yelling, "This is the longest dress ever."
Next she took scissors and carefully cut the whole dress off of herself. Making a nice pile of what she called "leaves".
So of course the only logical thing to do next is to get your mom to bury you in the leaves.
And then throw the leaves at her.Then Ari came in to the room and they decided to try and make her a dress out of the leaves.
Which did not go so well, I think crepe paper will be needed today for further clothing making.

Along with crepe paper play we also finished a catapult today- this thing took forever because I broke some of the dowels and had to find replacements.

Then we had to get out the spitballs to use with the catapult. Ari wanted to know what would happen if we rehydrated the entire bag. And this is what that looks like.

They are incredibly fun to play in and launch with the catapult. Fortunately, all of these fit in to a big plastic freezer bag where they will stay nice and hydrated until we launch them or until the girls find some other use for them. Ari wants to buy and hydrate enough to fill the bathtub and then sit in them but I don't know if we are headed that direction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

3D felt hearts

For years I have made the same paper craft around Valentine's Day. It involves cutting heart shapes out of paper and then gluing them together to make 3 dimensional hearts. When I thought about making this particular craft earlier this week I realized I only had red cardstock. I also have made a comittment to myself to buy absolutely nothing I do not need to and knew I would have to find another craft or another method. The alternative became felt. I had felt in pink, white, and red just waiting for me in the craft room so I set out to translate the paper craft in to a felted craft, it was fairly easy.

Here is the finished product:

Start by cutting out 3 felt hearts. They should all be the same color felt- my first prototype had 3 different colors and it did not look good.Next take two of the hearts and se them together along one side.
Notice my stitching isn't even. If you are really concerned about having perfectly even stitching I suggest practicing. Where I am hanging these no one will ever notice.
Now, open up the joined hearts along the middle, take your third heart and attach it to the unsewn edge on only one of the other felt hearts.
You can see how I have pinned it here, I actually pinned each edge before sewing. I did not want to get down to the point and find they were off but if you are experienced with felt it might not be necessary.
There is only one remaining side to sew but first you will need to insert some ribbon. The length of the ribbon is not important, mine was about 22 inches and it was that length because that is what I had sitting in my ribbon supply. :)Place the ribbon down through the top of all three hearts. You want to make sure that when you start to sew your last side, you catch the ribbon with your needle and thread as many times as you need to so it will be securely fastened to the felt hearts. My ribbon was tiny so I went through it twice before using the same thread to sew the final remaining side.
This is a nifty little trick I learned from a sewing class. It is called burying your thread. You push your needle through just one of the sides, pull tightly, and then cut. Then it looks like this:And you are done with one felt three dimensional heart.

The second heart was added on the fly and while I was on the phone so there are no pictures. The only thing that is different is the ribbon comes all the way up through the bottom before being secured at the top of the second heart.

Happy crafting!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Z is just the beginning

When Ari was little I used to watch her with a sense of amazement and curiosity. I still do. Sometimes I would wonder what she was thinking or what the world looked like to her. I would do things like pretend I could not read and try to see letters as mere shapes on pages or passing billboards. There were times the lyrics from the song Veronica by Elvis Costello would come in to my head, "Is it all in that pretty little head of yours? What goes on in that place in the dark?" I soon realized that as much as I might wonder I would never know what the world looks like to her. Actually, few of us even know what really goes on inside our own "place in the dark".

This week I had a moment of grace. A moment were you really see yourself, you see what you are thinking, you see what is driving your thinking, and you can no longer hide from the truth of what you see there. I learned that my mind is busy filling in details, making up stories, and proclaiming judgements and the rest of me is often along for the ride. I saw that the stories I make up center around one prevailing theme. I saw in some instances I am very busy looking for a culprit, so I can lay my moral outrage on them. I found that my head did this on its own, with very little information and lightning fast.

Its a funny feeling when you realize you can no longer trust your own perception. When you sense the filters you have are welded to the frame of your mind and that possibly the best you can do is keep noticing that you are not seeing reality but rather your filtered, skewed version of it. I suppose I should be a little more uncomfortable with the idea that my own perception is obviously tilted, but I have known this on one level for quite sometime, just not on the true seeing, feeling level that I have now.

Once you see yourself, see what your mind is up to, really see it, you can't un-see it. And this is where my next work begins. The work of being vigilant to notice my filter, not for purposes of shaming myself but so I don't throw shame at others.

(My two girls, this picture makes me want to snuggle them)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Y=Yucky Joy

The past day has had its challenges. The details are all story. The realities are, our family has lost a friend and on the heels of that I witnessed something that terrified me, confused me, and sent me roiling down in to my issues. Last night, my all too human self, spewed my inner turmoil on my husband, in front of our kids. When I was done, I found enough calm in myself to circle back apologize to my husband, inform our children that my behavior was incorrect and that I spoke to their dad in frustration in the midst of my own turmoil and that I was human and had made a mistake.

This morning, I was still sitting with a range of emotions some of them escalated. I knew on an academic level that the moral outrage I was feeling and the judgements I was making were partially driven by how confused I was by the things I had seen. But there was more to it and I did not know what.

I also knew, that come hell or high water I had made certain commitments to myself and I needed to honor those. So I got in touch with me and set out to do what was in front of me to do next, cleaning the laundry room.

I gathered my supplies and my iPod and set about the task at hand. Suddenly, the real pattern in my thinking forced its way into my consciousness. My fear of being alone, abandoned, unsafe, my fears of being neglected were all wrapped up in the things I had seen. They were skewing my perception, distorting my reaction. I began to cry. And then, I was done. My heart still hurts I still miss our family pet. I still miss the other creature whose end I witnessed, completely by accident. But, I don't feel outraged, I don't feel liking shaming anyone, I don't feel guilty or wanting to lay guilt on anyone, and I don't feel pity for myself or these other beings who signed up in whatever capacity to live in an impermanent world that takes no prisoners. And I know that peeling away another layer of my thinking eventually leads to more joy. Eventually.

(Harry, whose first name was Sally until we could no longer ignore the large anatomy proving he was a boy. We had 5 years with you, you awesome little man.)


When I originally started doing the alphabet posts it never occurred to me that this particular letter would be a bit problematic. First, nothing starts with the letter X and second labeling a blog post with the letter X seems a little fool hardy. I mean not to be cynical but the letter X and the internet can add up to trouble and I am not looking for any. So here I am doing a post that has nothing to do with the letter X but the fact that X is the 24th letter in the alphabet and I have something to say about the hours in the day. Well, that just works out fine.

A few days before the end of last year I had a call with my mentor. We talked about what I was planning on doing next. She made a suggestion on some things I could work on that would lay the groundwork for what I want to eventually do with any extra non family involved time. She suggested I do some of my homework by, "Following the trail of bread crumbs."

Something interesting happened. Let me give a little background so this makes sense. I am a highly intuitive person. I make by very best decisions by sitting quietly with myself or being calm and centered enough to let my intuition guide me. I have long struggled with the way we are taught to get things done, usually involving making lists and setting deadlines, and the way my own best living unfolds. Not long after my conversation with Jennie I noticed something happening. I was not making lists, I had no inclination to set goals. But, I was moving ahead more deliberately and methodically than I had ever moved. I have been getting up in the morning and following my instinct about what happens next. This has been mostly cleaning out the house, reorganizing, creating a home that is more easily cared for so I can have more time to do other things. When I am done for the day, I am done. I hold myself back from doing what my head wants me to do. When the energy shifts away from organizing and cleaning for the day, I follow my intuition to see what comes next.

I took a good look at family meal prep and realized it was not something I love. I realized that I had to find a new way to feed our family that took less time and could be more enjoyable for me. I started having less of a plan for meals, creatively combining what we had in the kitchen. I started using the crock pot whenever I could or utilizing leftover ingredients from other things that would take less time and effort than starting from nothing. I am seeing so many more possibilities in how I do the things I need to get done.

Then, just to make it all nice and tied up, I started taking this class. Although, I do not need a why to trust my intuition, this class explained so much of what I was feeling pulled to do in the first place. Creating joyful, easy care, and creative solutions to the things I am going to do anyway can make my life more sustainable. It can make the things I add in to my life more sustainable. And this is a very good thing, because it does not matter if I can get something done once. Most things in life are going to come back again, daily, weekly, monthly and having an efficient way of doing these recurring things helps me have more time for other things.

Perhaps the most profound thing I have learned in the last few weeks, is that discipline does not require strict routines. This is the part that has always failed me in the past. For me, it is not about having a set routine, up at a certain time, doing the same things on the same day. For me, it is about having the discipline to do things, to keep doing them, and to hold myself back from doing them too quickly (which ends up being less precise) on some arbitrary time schedule.

(Perhaps the best reason to do things my own way, is that even with a huge amount of progress made I have had a lot of time to do stuff like this.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

W=Whispering Wednesday

I have been sick for about 5 days now and am going on my third day without a voice. I can whisper very quietly and that is about it. It is a remarkable thing when you can't just do things the way you always have. I have noticed many times in the last 3 days that because I can't speak easily, I just don't, and it really has not been a problem. In fact, if I dare say so, it has been much more pleasant around here with me so quiet.

During the early part of yesterday, Ari , Mina, and I sat on the floor in the kitchen. Mina and Ari were eating pretzels and biting them so as to make the letters of the alphabet. Then, Ari decided she would take Mina in to her room with her and sent me to bed. Yep, my 9 year old sent me to bed.

I finally went in to the doctor last night and was not too surprised to find I have double ear infections. Apparently, I can't talk or hear right now. While Ari and I waited at the pharmacy for some medicine, an older gentleman started talking to us. He said something about me losing my voice and then said something to Ari about enjoying it while it lasted. Of course, as I have already said there is an element of truth to what he said but Ari was shocked by the statement. She asked me after, "Why would I ever enjoy my mom being sick?" I told her that everyone sees the world and what happens in it differently. I said I could not be sure what he was referring to without asking but that maybe he saw many kids and parents where the relationship was unequal. Where the kid was supposed to do everything the parent said and the parent used whatever means they needed to to get what they thought should be done, done. In that case, having a parent who could not yell at you would be awesome for the kid. She shrugged and we walked out of the pharmacy arm in arm, with Ari doing all the talking.

(Ari, wearing her multitude of cats shirt, some of the cats even have mustaches.)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Your values will determine what you value. A strange sentence but a perfectly logical statement. Then it follows that what you value should determine what you do with your time. Interestingly, I am finding as I take a long look at what I do with my time, the things I value and the things I am choosing to do are not always in alignment. I have known about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins for some time. I know about his concept of the "stop doing list" but knowing does not always create doing.

Sometimes we have to stand back for awhile, take a long look at our choices, what do we do with our time, our money, our energy, in summary what are we doing with our one precious life? Are the choices we are making minute by minute and hour by hour consistent with what we value and if not why not?

For me, a large overarching pattern burst in to my concious mind. I waste things. Time, energy, money you name a resource and I am sure I waste it. I waste the resources on things that bring me little essence and thus things that eventually give me no value. A stark revelation.

What comes next? For me, I need to have a meeting with myself and determine what are my timeless values. Then, which activities are not in alignment with those values and therefore must be abandoned all together, no matter how much I have invested in them to date. And, I must understand the way of thinking which is driving my choices. This piece is the part that has always held me back. What has changed? I started taking this course, by my mentor and friend Jennie Marlow. The exercises are pushing me to examine my choices and how they are driven by my thinking.
(Panda Sue, whose birthday is today and whose companionship I value immensely)

Monday, January 9, 2012


This weekend John and I were having an animated discussion in the kitchen. The topic at hand, a George Foreman Grill. Ari called in from the living room, "Are you guys fighting?" We responded that no we were not, we just had differing opinions. I told her that I could certainly understand her dad's love for bacon and that was driving his desire for a George Foreman Grill. John said he could understand my need to not have spaces I have recently freed from clutter taken up by an appliance that all he wants to do with it is cook bacon.

Ari said, "Well it sounds like you are fighting and I don't like it." I think we both wanted to respond with some snarky comment about how we get to listen to her and her sister fight all the time. However, what we both told her, was that disagreement was a very good thing. When two people can disagree and still communicate well, things get better and better. No one feels trampled, decisions are carefully weighed, points of view are shared and perspectives are broadened.

Ari's immediate response was that her fighting with her sister was a good thing too. We agreed, in principle. We explained to her that we felt it was our job to teach her and her sister how to disagree well, using ground rules and respect for each other and the ways we all differ. She seemed interested so we told her we thought the ground rules were no name calling, no violence, and active listening. And we welcomed her to come up with other ground rules if they led to productive disagreement.

In this entire conversation, I could not help but think about an article that has crossed my attention at least 4 times in the past week. Teaching kids to have disputes even with parents using ground rules and a desire to understand and make things better is a good thing.

In the end, we still do not own a George Foreman Grill and John and I both agree that a pan and a broiler will work nicely. We both ended up getting what we wanted and because the dispute was settled respectfully, no one is stewing or waiting to throw it back at the other party. Hopefully, the girls can learn a thing or two from their dad and I disagreeing and maybe we need to do it within earshot of them more often.
(John, lover of his girls, bacon, and Warcraft)