Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Change of Plans

I must apologize.  I had planned on a 10 day challenge of insight and intrigue for the first 10 days of 2015.

Unfortunately, mother nature had other plans, and I came down with the flu on the 1st.  We did manage to stick to whole foods the first day, but I didn't want our challenge to be colored by my illness, so I asked him if we could reset and start when I get over this and he agreed.  He had his hands full enough with our toddler without also having to make sure everything was whole food.

So I am just now beginning to feel better.  I will report back soon with our new start date.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A new year, a new challenge

Typically in years past I have posted a detailed account of my previous year with a few musings along the way.

This past year has been a crazy one, but I think I'll keep that part short and sweet.

Events of the year include: Colic, 2 parents having open heart surgery, loss of a few friends, birth of a great niece, my son's first crawl,words, steps, tooth, and birthday.

All of these things were memorable and impactful, but right now I'm very focused on the future.  Here's why.  My husband and I have decided to take the 10 Days of Real Food Challenge.  It may seem a bit out of left field to some readers, as I don't tend to blog much about food ( I have a friend who does a better job of that than I ever could anyway).  But just because I don't blog about it, doesn't mean I don't think about it.  In fact, I think about it A LOT!

While I have often leaned toward the more natural side of things, I never really took it seriously.  It's just too easy to give in to temptation, namely for me: chocolate.  I think having two parents recently have open heart surgery really made me re-evaluate how I was treating my health - as a low priority.  While both parents (my father and my MIL) are doing well, they had a huge wake up call, not to mention some really stressful times for their loved ones. 

I take a step back and think, I'm so glad western medicine was there to save my dad's life, but preventing it needed to start much earlier.  It needed to start years ago, when he was, say, my age.  I look at my toddler son and I think, if we continue on this path, what does he have to look forward too?

So, back to the challenge.  This is my idea of the healthiest way of eating, it is not necessarily the most scientifically researched, the latest fad, or even well known.  Real food is a way of getting away from the processed food of today's world, and sticking with food as nature made it, with minimal cooking or manipulating.  The whole idea just makes sense to me.  I think closer to nature is a good thing in all aspects of life, so it just makes sense here as well.

 I plan on blogging more about it over the next 10 days, but this will make the next year have a very different beginning.  Off to bake some whole grain muffins for breakfast tomorrow... Day 1.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Merry Winter Solstice to You

Merry solstice on the longest night of the year!

This was an interesting holiday season at our house.  We are an interfaith family if you will.  Though not in the conventional sense.  Both my husband and I come from Christian families, so we will partake in typical Christmas style celebrations with our extended family.  We've always done well with it, and then we've kind of done our own thing beyond that.  However, this year added a new twist.

With our son being 1 year old, we felt it was time to include him in some traditions of our own.  This is an additional challenge, as I identify as Taoist, and the husband as Pagan.  We are lucky in some ways, because these two integrate well, in identification with nature and new beginnings.

We opted to open our gifts (modest yet fun) on December 21 and spent the day focusing on gratitude and merriment.  We lit the tree in the morning and just tried to create a happy atmosphere.  Wee one is a bit small for explanations of what the holiday means, so husband and I spent a lot of time in the evening discussing it ourselves.

For the next few years, we would like to add a few traditions of our own (feel free to offer suggestions) that may or may not be specific to yule/winter solstice.  It can be difficult because there is no real guideline for observance.  Yet, this can also be freeing, allowing us to create something unique and tailored for our little family.

I hope you all had a nice observance of Yin in it's highest form.  Time to hibernate and rejuvenate.

I would love to give credit for this glorious photo, alas I have no idea where I got it in years past, if anyone knows, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Positive Thoughts

My first introduction to Taoism was through a book written by Wayne Dyer called Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life.  In the book, he gives his interpretation of the Tao Te Ching.  Now I have since learned so much more about Taoism, and realize certain potential shortcomings in his interpretations.  I know many on the Taoist forums that don't care for it (don't get me started on dealing with Tao-Trolls), but as my entry point, I can't help but love the book and feel it has a lot to offer me.  Because of this book, Taoism and positive thinking are irreversibly linked in my head.

Recently, my family has been through a lot, much of which I have posted about previously.  On top of it all, my mother-in-law recently underwent open heart surgery, throwing an already crazy life into more upheaval.  I'm happy to say she is home from the hospital and doing well, but we are still reeling from the emotional roller coaster. 

A few nights ago, I found myself overwhelmed.  Little one is teething, and not sleeping well, or eating well, he's pretty fussy all the time really.  Hubby was gone (understandably) and I was lost in what seemed a never ending spiral of crying, clinging, screaming, and fussing. 

Luckily, my husband is the master of positive thinking, and once he was home, he pointed out to me that even with all that was happening, it was still better than when we were dealing with colic 24/7.  He was right, of course, an annoying habit of his. 

I read an article online some time ago that aptly described the horror that is colic.  Something only someone who has dealt with it can understand (we're pretty good at spotting each other too, perhaps we don't hand out the cliche's quite as readily as most).  I wish I could find the article again, because it was so good and to give credit, but alas, I can't seem to find the same rabbit hole I had found that night.  This author coined a term we have begun using: Post Colic Stress Disorder.

This is not meant to minimize or compare to PTSD in any way.  I have a cousin who suffers, and I would never dream of claiming to understand his pain.  It does, however, refer the fact that my husband and I both tend to over-react to almost every sound our son makes.  Believe me, if you've ever had to keep a colic baby quiet while in public, you really have to see the fit coming and head it off at the pass (or fly like the wind and get out of there).  It appears to many that we are over-protective, or uptight, (and boy people aren't afraid to tell you so) but believe me, it's a habit formed of necessity, not choice.

It took that moment, being so overwhelmed that day, to sit back and realize, that while that day was bad, the days around it were not so bad.  There are so many ways we are able to enjoy our son now that we weren't when we were "in the trenches" so to speak. 

I am returning to my beginning (full cycle if you will) and reminding myself of the power of thoughts.  If I don't think of all the wonderful things, I can easily dismiss them and focus on the negative or more difficult things.  I hope this is a skill that can help all the members of our family appreciate all that we have, and continue to face the challenges knowing it does get better.

Now off to visit Grandma!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Today is a day to celebrate all the father figures out there.  I am always careful to include not only those who have officially sired children, but also those whose hearts have the capacity to accept and love those sired by others.  The world is such a better place because those men exist as well.

For me, today is a day of gratitude.  First, we are celebrating having our child that the universe took so long to bring to us.  My hubby waited a very long time for the title of 'Daddy' and he wears it so well.  I could not ask for a better partner on this new journey of parenting.

I will consider my job as a parent successful if our little man becomes half the man his father is.

Parenthood has been a greater challenge than I ever thought possible so far, and this amazing man has been there the entire way.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Change Abounds

A reader pointed out to me that the Tao is change.  How incredibly true.  A familiar quote states something along the lines of: The only thing that never changes, is that everything changes.

Well, there are many changes occurring in our household at the moment.

Change #1
My dear husband is home for the summer.  He is a teacher and will not have to return to work for 3 months.  This means drastic changes for this stay-at-home mom.  A little more help and a lot more company just to start.  He has a long list of things he'd like to accomplish this summer, but having another person here makes me feel a lot less alone.  He is even making it a point to give me some time to myself each day to use as I please.  I have amazing plans for this time: cleaning (I know exciting, but so many things have been put off), sewing, writing, working some odd jobs, reading books, doing Tai Chi, meditating, and maybe even playing some mindless games.  We'll see how much of this actually happens, but I look forward to giving it a try.

Change #2
We made the controversial decision to take our little one to a chiropractor.  I had never heard of such a thing, and the initial idea made me uneasy.  Turns out is not as uncommon as I once thought.  Once I began talking to people, I found several people I know who did the same.  We carefully choose a practice that specializes in pediatrics and made an appointment.  I have to say, from the first visit, our boy changed dramatically.  She found that he was "out" in three separate places.  Even that night, we noticed how much more comfortable our little man seemed.  After several visits, he is finally aligned normally, and his demeanor is changed dramatically.  He spends much more time happy, he puts himself to sleep at night, and sleeps for longer periods on a regular basis.  Can I hear a hallelujah chorus?

Change #3
A distant relative of mine just lost their child to cancer.  She was only one and half years old.  I didn't know her personally, but followed her and her family's struggle closely on facebook.  Words cannot describe the heartache they must be feeling right now.  My own heart bleeds for their loss.  It has given me a pretty big smack over the head though.  I have had a rough first 7 months with my son, and I won't apologize for saying it's been hard.  But the difficulty of that journey has paled in comparison to this family's reality.  I'm not normally one to compare my difficulty with others, but I can't help it this time, and I think it's an okay thing.  I can cherish every moment with my son, even the difficult ones, because he his here and healthy, and I should never stop being grateful for that.

So with all these changes, I find myself looking to the Tao again.  Even just taking time to think about it makes me feel whole again, like myself.  For some time, the Tao has helped me to deal with hardship, and even come to terms with the unthinkable.

It is time for that cycle to begin again.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Quick Emergence

I'm not sure whether to apologize for my absence, or simply accept that it is what it is and people can guess why I've been preoccupied.

I gave birth to my first child on November 2nd of last year.

My new found status of mother has not been an easy one.  I cannot even begin to explain the world I've been living in for the last 6 months.  But I can say that the Tao has been all but forgotten.  More to the point, the person I was before has also been forgotten.

Along with the normal challenges of caring for a newborn, I have had numerous other obstacles thrown in my path such as jaundice, colic and a high needs baby.

I love my son beyond measure, but I am in desperate need of finding myself again.  I need the position of mother to be one of the things that describes me, not the thing that defines me.  It will be a struggle, for sure, but my happiness and sanity requires it.

So here's to a new challenge for this blog.  Writing is something I've always found cathartic, so I am going to try my best to venture back here.  I hope no one will mind that my posts will likely be different, because I am different.

But my journey continues...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Life's Little Tests

My online temple had a very interesting discussion last week.  While discussing a verse of the Tao Te Ching, the talk turned to tests that life may give you.

A test of adversity is tough, no doubt about it.  Many turn to faith in these times, and offer support to others in a similar situation.  It's true that for many, their adverse times are truly character building.

What of the opposite though?  The Tao proposes that there is an equal and opposite test we all face (yin yang anyone?). 

A test of prosperity seems like a test we'd all be glad to take.  The trouble is, it may not be as easy as it sounds.  When things are going well in your life, it becomes easy to take things for granted, to get priorities mixed up, and many other unwanted outcomes. 

I feel as though I am experiencing such a test right now.  After almost 5 years of adversity, things are really going well for me now.  It's strange, I almost don't know how to act.  I had almost made infertility a part of my persona.  Now I'm switching that persona to pregnant, and eventually to mom.  It's surreal, as I spent so much time dreaming about it, and here it is. 

I have vowed not to take it for granted.  I am so happy to have my little man growing inside me.  I love him with all of my heart already, and am thankful for his growth and health every day.  I have also continued to reach out to my fellow infertile community.  A success story alone can be a great source of hope to many. 

I am also making sure to reconnect with the Tao.  Focus on the three treasures of compassion, humility, and simplicity.

I have to admit, I do prefer this test of prosperity.  But it helps to take a step back and remember that it too is a test.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Nephew the Chicken Whisperer

Yesterday my brother paid us an impromptu visit.  This doesn't happen very often.  He brought one of my nephews with him this time.  It's the first time any of his younger kids have been here since we got the chickens in October of last year.

Nephew had to stop and say hello to the cats, his mom was a cat hoarder before moving in with my brother so he has lots for kitties.  Then it was immediately, "I want to see the chickens."

We headed outside.  They'd already been on their walk for the day (what we call letting them out to roam free for awhile) but I opted to let them out again so he could really see them at their best.  The chickens were confused but delighted at their second chance for freedom.  They immediately came out and began exploring, offering nephew plenty of chances to interact.

It was fun watching him play with them.  He's older so there wasn't much chasing.  But he would mimic their sounds and they would return them.  After herding them back in the coop, the adults stood around talking about boring stuff like gardens and solar panels.  When we looked back, nephew had sat in front of the coop and had all the chicken's attention.

He was squawking at them and they were squawking back, it was a very entertaining sight.

It strikes me how naturally in tune with nature this kid was.  I never told him how to interact with the chickens, he just started doing it in his own way, and it worked well.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A short rant

I try not to rant to much here on my blog, and instead bring you informed and thoughtful posts that relate to the Tao. I'm afraid this is one exception, I will keep it short, though.

I was asked yesterday if I would be attending my nephew's graduation. This seems like a simple question, what could be wrong with that? The problem is, my nephew is 5 years old and "graduating" from pre-school. I was baffled. I innocently asked, "What was the criteria for them to graduate?" The answer was a simple, "Nothing, he's 5, what do you expect?"

I am all for celebrating accomplishments, achievements, etc. But I cannot imagine sending my kid through this ceremony where they had all the typical graduation ceremony fare. I didn't go, but I've seen pictures. They were all dressed up, lined up and received a diploma, giving their teacher a hug. Perhaps someone can tell me the positives of something like this. My nephew did not have to accomplish anything in particular, did not have to be able prove what he learned. Not a single student failed to "graduate." Some of these parents had parties, gave gifts and did all the typical graduation things.

Call me cynical, but I can't help but think that celebrations like this might be contributing to the bloated sense of entitlement I see running rampant in younger generations. Webster defines graduation as, "the award or acceptance of an academic degree or diploma" and I just don't think this qualifies. What must my nephew think of the fact that his dad recently graduated college?

Okay, I'm done. Sorry for those who love these things, it just bothers me. Now that I have a little one on the way, I wonder how I will handle this type of thing.