Saturday, November 22, 2014

Listening to Our Bodies

Autumn. I can't help but thrill at this time of year.

Sometimes I think my Instagram feed in Autumn is nothing but my feet in leaves!

Southern summers are long and hot. Wonderful in their own way, yes, but there is something so rewarding about being outdoors in Autumn in the Carolinas. We natives often say that Autumn is our reward for enduring the sweltering heat of summer!

And enduring is the theme of today's post. There has been so much going on around here lately that I've fallen behind once again (there goes that reasonable goal of one post a week!) but it is a good kind of busy. I had two college classes come to a close last week, another article published, and a myriad of other things to do and responsibilities to fulfill. All in addition to caring for our home, being a solo parent and working a full-time job and freelancing! So life has been joyous, though a wee bit hectic - the classes I was taking, while necessary and meaningful, meant my free time was not my own, a circumstance I despise to find myself in.

And as soon as they were body reacted. Constochondritis was the diagnosis. I eschewed the steroid route for treatment that would have, in the kind doctor's words, had me 'up and running again' in just a few hours, and opted instead for a mild over-the-counter medication to relieve the inflammation and a couple of days of much-needed rest. Though the costochondritis was painful, I knew that it's sudden appearance was my body's way telling me rest was what it wanted, what it needed after such a busy couple of months. The last thing I should have strove for was to be 'up and running again'  in a few hours.

I needed to just simply sit.



Our work ethic here in America often goes completely against what we know in our hearts is best for our bodies and minds. I, too, used to pride myself on not missing a beat, or a day of work, when ill (cringe). That was the old me. Now I know better.  On the way home from the doctor, I picked up a DVD series I'd been itching to watch from our local library...

Thank you Audrey Eclectic for turning me on to this amazing series!
...and then headed straight home, where I stayed, for two days. Resting. Sitting. Being.

Healing. Slowly, naturally, not an accelerated pace so that I could be up and running again as soon as possible, but at the pace my body required for balance and well-being.

Because I was not contagious, I allowed my son to remain at home with me, where he learned valuable life lessons in what it means to take care of another person when they are ill. He also learned to whipstitch...

...and to make stacked-felt Christmas ornaments for holiday gifting! (Aren't those little trees just too adorable? I have to resist the urge to keep them all! More on our homemade holiday plans in future post!)

And I learned that I'm always learning, and that I need to balance my life a bit more. No more taking two college courses at is simply too much at this time in my life, and that's okay. This is all part of what my series on Setting Reasonable Goals is about!  In the afternoons, when I was feeling a bit better (and a wee bit restless from so much sitting), there was time outside...

Healing time in nature, enjoying the waning Autumn sunshine. Slow walking with much stopping and discovering surprises along the way...

A real hollow log! What lives here, we wondered!
I tend to over-estimate what I can endure, but my body reminds me when it is time to slow down. Sometimes the reminder is harsh, as it was with this illness. I'm grateful now for two months' break before my next college course; the coming holiday season; and that I have a job which allows me to  take a couple days sick leave to rest and heal when I need it. Listening to my body and responding to it's needs, rather than masking pain with medication, truly works for me and promotes better health for me both physically and mentally!

I look forward to bringing you the next installment of Reasonable Goal Setting soon, featuring an interview by ZenHabits own Leo Babauta! A long-time lover of ZenHabits, I'm thrilled to be featuring Leo in this blog series and to talk with him about the pending release of the ZenHabits book, which you can learn more about here! I'm also thrilled that it Saturday, so I'll close with a happy weekend wish to you and a bit of advice...listen to your body, rest if you should, take it easy if you can. Don't push the levels of your endurance. Get out in nature.
Just take time to be, not do...

With love,

Friday, November 14, 2014

Magic Moments

I am required to be at my job site very early. I often grumble about the hour, especially during winter months, but I've found one good thing about having to leave my cozy little home so long before I'm ready.

When I crest the hill at the top of the road, there, waiting, is the sunrise.

Truly a magic moment. I never get tired of it.

Earlier this week, while cutting through the courtyard of our local Arts Center, I did not have magic moments at all on my mind. I was in something of a hurry, my mind filled with many thoughts.

At the top of the steps, however, I stopped, somewhat amazed at what I saw.

Dancing spheres of light created by sunlight reflecting off an installation featuring dozens of small mirrored spheres hanging in the courtyard.


Now, as I head to work, I'm thinking of today, the magical sunrise waiting and the opening of our town's Christmas Village tonight. This weekend will be cold, with lots of fireplace snuggling and reading and coziness and holiday crafting and pecan pie baking...

...and lots of magical moments. I hope yours will be filled with the same!

Happy Friday,

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reasonable Goal Setting Pt.2 - Clarity

When I began my series of posts on reasonable goal setting, I intended to write post a seemed like a reasonable goal, correct?

Then life kicked in...and I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean that in a wonderful way! I had a new article for The Mother Magazine to wrap up, as well as coursework for college class and all the normal things such as taking care of home, work requirements, preparing for coming winter, and football practice.

Gathering kindlin for firestarting!
So I had to reassess this goal! Is it unreasonable? Not at all! However, Saturday ends my college courses until January (whew!) and so I'll be able to stay more on task with the series. Which I'm very excited about for many reasons, including contribution by Mari of SaimaaLife.

I thought a lot about this series, and how I began it, with the story of my cards. It was a real release to write that post and admit that, in many ways, that goal was someone else's dream, or rather, a dream fueled by someone else's expectations.

There have been many times in my life I've had to 'wake up' from dreams fueled by someone else's expectations.
  • The expectations my parents had for me
  • The expectations my teachers had for me
  • The expectations my friends had for me
  • The expectations men I loved had for me
  • The expectations family members had for me
There are many reasons for why I came under the spell of other's expectations off and on over the years, but more often than not it was self-doubt - believing that others, especially my elders, knew more about what was best for me than I did.

And one of the most freeing things I ever did for myself was learn to break that unhealthy thought pattern, and be clear in my mind about what it was that I truly wanted. Mari has written about this extensively in Saimaalife.

"I think it all starts with clarifying to yourself what are the things that are the most meaningful in your life at the moment," says Mari. "After that we should carefully think are we using our precious time for those things or for some other not so meaningful things? I think this is something you have to learn and do on a daily basis, over and over again, because it's very easy to get distracted."

Like a spider weaving a web, I created situations that were good and productive, but not really what I wanted, because I got distracted by the expectations of others. It took time and living to realize that what I wanted might be different, or even polar opposite, from what I had been encouraged to believe was best for me. As Mari says, it starts with clarifying what is most meaningful in our lives at the moment.

Stop and think about that. In this moment, what is most precious, most meaningful to you? And don't be afraid to be honest with yourself! You might find this to be a difficult question to answer if you've never actually stopped and considered it. And many of us, in the desire to please our parents, families, and loved ones (a desire that begins in early childhood) have never actually stopped and thought long and hard about what we actually want, and need, for our happiness and well-being.

In Mari's series, 365 Ways to Wellbeing, she addresses this in question 3 - How can I find the things that mean the most to me? The answer is provided by a listing of posts that I encourage you to visit; there is a wealth of insight and inspiration in all.  However, she sums it up in this following phrase -  "Finding the connection to myself and spending time in a place where I´m as free as possible from all the expectations and cultural pressures that prevent me from hearing and recognizing my voice."

Finding our voice is the awakening to finding the clarity that allows us to finally focus on what we want. In our homes, in our lives, in our careers, in our daily activities, in our relations with our children, family, and loved ones. No goal is more worthy than another; a desire for more time in nature is not a lesser goal than the desire to change careers. 

Last weekend a friend dropped by to show me some yarn she had purchased at SAFF, the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair, held yearly in the cozy mountain town of Fletcher, NC, about 2 hours north of my home. As I held the soft, beautiful skein of alpaca fiber, hand spun and dyed, I knew that there was something about my future linked to the feeling of home it gave me. A dream I had long ago was stirring again - a genuine, authentic dream that I had stepped away from almost two decades ago. And while being in the moment is so, so important, having clear goals and a long-term ideas of  how to reach your goals are just as important.

My garden - truly one of my own, authentic dreams!
For setting reasonable goals, clarity is essential. Stay tuned for pt. 3 in this series, coming - hmmmm - let's say in two weeks!

With love, readers!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lifeways of North America and a Monarch Moment!

I have been trying for months now to capture a picture of a migrating Monarch butterfly. Wednesday, while wandering the school garden during lunch, I discovered success! An exquisite monarch who was quite content to pose, and after the coveted shot, I was able to just enjoy watching him and being in a beautiful inter-generational garden (more on this later!)

I also discovered something else on Wednesday, too, that I'm bursting at the seams with excitement to share with you! While doing research for upcoming magazine article about incorporating Waldorf educational methods and philosophies into your home environment and family life, I came across Lifeways of North America. 

I gotta tell you, I felt like a 49er who'd just discovered the motherlode!

If you are interested in Waldorf, living arts, or a more holistic approach to parenting and family, please head on over to Lifeways of North America. There you can find an offering of workshops and training opportunities, recommended reading, a wealth of inspiration via their blog posts, and so much more.

I'll be back soon with the second post in my series, Setting Reasonable Goals!