Notes from a Radical Self-Care Weekend

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This past weekend, I was blessed to spend three nights at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in the beautiful Berkshire mountains with one of my closest friends. There is so much to love about this place. The view of the mountains and lake. Dancing to live drums on Saturday (my very favorite thing). Yoga and more yoga. Time for hiking in the woods, sitting at the lake, journaling, and reading. The fourth floor sunroom, the labyrinth. The little things, like filling my water bottle with the herbal iced teas that are available 24/7 and the blankets in the bin on the big front patio, in case you forgot to grab your sweater or want to spread out on the lawn. Oh, and the beautiful, amazing food.

It’s a big place that draws 40,000 people per year. At this point, after half a dozen trips, I feel very much at home there, and at the same time, completely anonymous. It’s a strange yet comforting combination. Continue reading

Do Unfinished Projects Keep Us Comfortably Stuck?

This, my 46th year on the planet, is the year of finishing what I’ve started.

During a trip to Kripalu this past winter, I was introduced to oracle card decks, which are like Tarot cards, only they’re used in a more free-form way. I fell in love with this practice and brought it home with me. “Pulling a card” has become part of my morning prayer/meditation/journaling practice. (I even got my husband on board—we often will each pull a card together in the morning.) Usually, I use it as a general message for the day, and sometimes in response to a specific question I’m asking.

Yes, it’s kinda woo-woo, even for me.

I love my card decks because they give me a little nudge toward the intuitive, creative right brain every morning. By default, I tend toward the left side, so I can always use a little less logic and a little more magic in my life.

Speaking of magic, though, I don’t believe the cards supernaturally arrange themselves to hand me the perfect message. (Although I have a friend who believes this, and some spooky shit has happened, like my husband and I both pulling the same card for days in a row, which has made me wonder for a second.)

What I do believe is that there are beautiful gifts of insight when you find meaning in whatever card(s) you happen to pull. You can also use them as journaling prompts if you want to reap the benefits of journaling but are often at a loss for what to write about or where to begin.

So what does all this have to do with finishing projects? On my 45th birthday last week, I pulled three cards from my Earth Magic deck. The question was simply, “What do I need to know now?” Here’s what I got:

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It was pretty easy to find meaning in the the Childhood (innocence) and Mountain (strength) cards. Full Moon (completion), not so much. Continue reading

Self Care is Lifeblood, Not Luxury

 

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Self care is not a luxury. It took a while, but I finally get it. It’s a necessity, like food and water and breathing.

I’m a midwife and a homeschooling mom of two boys. It’s a life I love, and it takes a lot of juice to keep it up and running. More still to keep it flowing and vibrant.

I no longer expect to be able to pull the energy and peaceful frame of mind I need—for myself and my family—out of thin air. It has to be consciously generated. I’m learning how often, in what ways, and for how long I need to make time for self care and renewal. Continue reading

Monster Mom Meltdowns: Forgiving Ourselves and Making Amends

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Photo credit: Luc Latulippe

I’m a believer in peaceful, gentle parenting. And I’m a yeller. Not from the beginning, though.   As challenged as some parents are by toddler behavior, I rarely felt angry with my children until age around age 4. Apparently, I view toddlers as cute and impulsive little wild animals, and thus have few behavioral expectations at that age.  For my first 3+ years of motherhood, I was so proud of myself for my infinite patience and obvious knack for this parenting thing.

That was short-lived, because boy, can they trigger me now! Continue reading

More on Ritual: 6 Favorites that Make Our Lives Better

In my last post, I wrote about a prayer ritual from my husband’s religious tradition that I do every day. Since then, I’ve been thinking more about the role of rituals in my and my family’s lives. It’s kind of funny that I’m writing about this, because I used to hate the word “ritual.” It conjured up vague but frightening images of biblical animal sacrifice. Or something. Either that, or it was synonymous with routine, which I used to equate with boredom and rigidity.  Either way, I had no use for it.

I love the word “ritual” now. This was a gradual change, and I never noticed or thought about it as it was happening.   Without ever planning it that way, I keep adding rituals to my life one by one, and now they are my spiritual container, my guideposts. Initially foreign and even a little bit forced in some cases, with time and repetition, most of them have become part of me now—as comfortable and familiar as a favorite pair of broken-in shoes.   They are reliable reminders to focus on what really matters. On the harder days, they help me hang in there. On the best days, they create more joy in our lives.   Continue reading

Killing the Clutter Beast. Because in my house, it cannot be tamed.

The kitchen crap pile.

The kitchen crap pile.

“If you take care of the small things, the big things will take care of themselves. You can gain more control over your life by paying closer attention to the little things.” –Emily Dickinson

We went on a family vacation a couple months ago and I was thinking about why it’s so freeing to be on vacation. I only work part-time and I love my job, so it’s not about not being at work. And it’s not like you’re relieved of all your normal responsibilities when you’re traveling with kids. A lot of the moment-to-moment stuff we do is the same no matter where we are—keeping everyone clothed, fed and out of the ER. There are the obvious reasons why vacation is awesome–the excitement and fun of exploring new places, spending time with old friends, and all four of us being together for a whole week. But there seemed to be even more to it than all that, and then it dawned on me. Continue reading

The One Thing I Want for My Children’s Lives

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This spring, Boy 1 (the 8-year-old) will start a new class for homeschoolers. Once a week, he will go to a 12-acre farm and do everything from caring for horses to fort building to creative writing. I was so thrilled to find this opportunity for him. Between activities organized by our homeschool organization and other extracurricular stuff, he already has several short, focused group activities along with free play time with friends.

I was looking for one more thing: a place for him to be with a consistent group of kids for a longer stretch of time working on varied projects—ideally in a semi-structured, nature-based environment with a whole-child approach. Continue reading