We’ve been trying to keep things light and simple around here lately. Life and schedules can quickly get complicated. I am guilty of being seduced by exiting plans/activities that make our days as thick as the very best peanut butter. Like the very best peanut butter, which is delicious, if you eat too much, too rich. Days become so tight, we lose free flow time. When this happens, we all get restless. There has to be a balance, and right now, for us, that means picking our most important activities and keeping time for chilling as a family.
One way we’ve been keeping it simple is by choosing basic, open-ended activities, where there is no specific outcome, the activity unfolds as we go…a hike, a snowy hill, some dirt, paint etc. We like finger paint. We put out all the pots of color. The kids empty them with their fingers one by one, and smear the colors on paper, blending, scraping and filling the space.
The pots are empty now. We hope to mix up a batch of homemade finger paint.
Little J goes to Kindergarden full time this year, and we miss him terribly. We had him signed up for karate that met 2-3 times a week and swim lessons. This didn’t seem like much compared to my friends and their families, but it was too much for us. We sometimes, take care of other kids, I work 3 evenings a week and some Saturdays. We also try to fit in exercise, date nights and managing the house…laundry, cooking, cleaning. All this combined made us feel like we were in fast forward and increasingly estranged from one another. So, we dropped karate, I’m being careful to not over schedule us with extra kids and unfortunately, the blog has taken a hit. Stepping away from the computer during family time has been a great thing for us.
When I started blogging, I had 2 small children all day. They napped, I blogged. It was a creative outlet, a way to socialize, but now, I need to carve time out of my day to make it happen. I can’t always afford the time, especially when it involves keeping up with and learning a technology, managing its quirks. Sometimes, instead, I choose to run or take a yoga class or have a sit on the couch with my hubby, or joining my kids in their play without a camera or a bloggy agenda.
For now, my posts will be sporadic.
We’re still having lots of fun making messes and will share when it’s a good one.
Comment if you can relate.
Jena @ HappyLittleMesses
Having boys is like having puppies…you’ve GOT to take them for frequent walks, in all weather.
Winter in New England can be long and cold.
Taking a walk outside can freeze you thoroughly and fast.
But if there is snow, it changes everything.
Taking a wintery hike is a seasonal sensory experience; crunchy, impressionable snow.
Crunchy, brittle ice, some white, some clear, all of it slippery.
We don’t run or jump onto the ice because we fall hard.
We’ve had some unusually warm days here, mixed with the regular NE weather, so there’s lots of ice and snow. We find the edge of a lake today, on our wintery walk, and break off pieces to throw onto the frozen lake. The thrown pieces of ice shatter like glass and slide across the slippery surface like they’ll never stop. This project, involving breaking ice, pulling it up and throwing it, keeps the boys employed for about an hour.
I have a great soundtrack when I run.
It’s like a cheerleader in my ears.
One of my favorite tracks is a slow song, go figure,
a song that might be normally considered a ballad, Holding out for a Hero by Ella Mae Bowen.
The song is from the (most recent) Footloose Soundtrack. But my inner feminist dedicates the song to me.
Sorry in advance if you are offended by my taste in music.
Take it to task…make a self love soundtrack to yourself with your own music.
Some of the best self love advice I’ve received is to dedicate a love song to yourself.
So here is a self love soundtrack, for all of you.
Gimme That Girl by Joe Nichols
Fix You by Coldplay
The Scientist by Coldplay
Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys
I Feel Pretty/Unpretty by the Glee Cast
The Way I am by Ingrid Michaelson
True Love by Pink
Holding Out for a Hero by Ella Mae Bowen
Turn Your Love by Jack Johnson
Look at Me by John Lennon
Firework by Katy Perry
Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons
Wonder by Natalie Merchant
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Titanium by Madilyn Bailey
Black beans are a staple in our home.
I am Cuban, I am made of the stuff, had it almost every night for dinner when I was a kid.
It’s oober healthy for the kids, and they mostly love it.
They go through phases when they say they don’t like it.
Here’s my recipe y’all:
1 can of black beans with liquid, my favorite is from Trader Joe’s. It’s low sodium.
My grandmother’s favorite is Goya, “Lista para comer.”
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 pepper, chopped
(I cut up a whole bunch of onions and peppers and store the extra in the freezer)
clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 can of water
Small sauce pan on the stove at medium heat.
Add oil until heated.
Add onion, pepper and garlic
Saute until golden
Add cumin, tumeric, salt and saffron
Add can of black beans and 1/4 can of water.
Mix and heat until boiling.
Turn down the heat.
Simmer for 45 minutes with the cover on the pot.
Serve on top of rice.
The MOMS Club has set up their outdoor tree for the Annual Scavenger Tree Hunt, organized by the Conservation Committee in town.
When we are finished hanging all the sticks and rocks, we step back, admire our work, and venture off to find the rest of the hidden trees.
We hike about 2 miles and find 13 trees.
It is a long and tiring hike for a 3 and 5 year old. It was cold, but we kept moving, saying, “never give up.”
We’re going on a tree hunt, we’re gonna find a beauty, what a beautiful day, we’re not tired.
What if you decorated a tree on local trail for people to find? That’s be fun, right?
We will be sending the pics of the boys and trees to the conservation committee, and entering to win a grand prize of movie tickets.
I woke up on the “poopy” side of the bed this morning. I was busy being mad at myself for not getting up early to fit in a run, busy preparing my tea, getting little bodies dressed and bathroomed and brushed, busy with the dishes, making breakfast, packing lunch, in the mood to worry and over-intellectualizing my behavior, my kids’ behavior and overwhelming myself entirely, all while still in my pjs.
What’s best for me in these overwhelming moments? to center myself, breath and “be in the moment.” Find joy, laugh at myself.
I tend to get tired of this phrase, “be in the moment,” because staying in a given moment can seem like so much work.
These are the instructions in my brain for being in the moment:
find a quiet place
close my eyes
sit up straight
quiet the mind
find my inner self
get distracted by thoughts
let them go
sit up straight
quiet the mind
swipe a piece of hair out of my face
think about what to have for dinner
remind myself to clear thoughts
sit up straight
Kind of sounds unpleasant and labor intensive, kind of like beating myself up…I’m trying not to do that.
Sometimes, I can find that quiet place.
Most of the time, the house if full of kids and I have a full sink of dishes and a washing machine full of clothes and I’m due to some other place in 5 minutes.
Every time I really think about what it means to be “in the moment,” I understand the concept a little better…maybe. The huge effort I think it takes to “be in the moment” is really the opposite.
It takes almost no effort.
In times of feeling overwhelmed, I tend to try to find a mood booster, usually just keeping myself really busy.
When I think of what really makes me happy, I come back to no adgenda time outside.
The outdoors provides for my family, a natural tranquilizer.
I forget that sometimes.
We forget, so we can remember.
So Little K and I go out to the playground / beach in town, with a bucket, shovel, dump truck. We fill the pail and tip it over to make sandy mountains. We collect pine needles and decorate the sandy mountains. We read some books in the sand. We spend 2 hours in the sun and fresh air, hearing each other. We gather sticks and decorate some more sandy mountains.
As we walk to the car to go home, we gather more sticks in our bucket. “Maybe, we can use these in our sandbox at home,” we say. Little K says, “what’s this?” holding up a small ball of wet dog poop. I freak out…”OMG! If you don’t know what it is, you don’t pick up! That is so gross! What are we going to do?” There is no bathroom, there are no wipes or napkins in the car. After he wipes the poo on his pants, ugh!, we wipe his hands and pants on the grass as best we can and put his mittens on until we can disinfect his poopy fingers with very warm water and lots and lots of soap.
So my day makes a full circle from poop to poop. But, I am in a much better place at the end, poop and all.
(And no wonder kids love potty talk, dude, we’re surrounded.)
Had me some Butternut Squash and Apple Soup at the local coffee shop one late afternoon and it was soooo good.
I had to make it at home.
So I find this recipe from Whole Living. Soup is a smart liquid-meal option that’s also less taxing on your digestive system. Fibrous squash makes this velvety, slightly sweet option satiating. Plus, research shows antioxidant-dense turmeric may boost the liver’s ability to remove chemicals.
I only alter it a little. I add my homemade chicken broth instead of using water and I don’t use cardamom, because I don’t have any in stock.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, grated (2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
Dash ground cloves
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, quartered, and chopped
4 cups chopped butternut squash
Coarse salt and pepper
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, apple, squash, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover partially and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Working in batches, puree until smooth in a blender. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
My kids didn’t buy into the deliciousness of this soup, but the grownups do.
I can’t help myself…
My kids won’t touch soup, but I love this book about a little boy that will only eat soup.
Alvie Eats Soup by Ross Collins.
This is the last IQI post, promise.
“You are fully equipped.” Aruna Nan says this to us as her last words.
This is my list of goals, as I step out of the yoga retreat, and I only remember these goals, cause I wrote them in my journal.
breath through big feelings, ride the wave
meditate, make a space and time for meditation
be a better listener, look in the eye, don’t interrupt with my opinion
green tea instead of coffee
designate a time for technology
meal affirmations, taste my food
make healthier food choices for family and myself
This is how these goals have panned out in real life.
1. I drink green tea in the morning, instead of the IV of coffee my body and mind was used to. I’ve had a couple cups of coffee since the retreat, 3 weeks ago, only to realize that it tastes too strong now, and it makes me feel a little out of control, energy wise. I have trouble falling asleep at night, even when the coffee is consumed before noon.
2. I am making an effort to breath through big feelings, where before, I actually hold my breath when I’m upset.
3. When I wake in the morning, I meditate or make my tea and sit quietly for about 10 minutes, instead of jumping right out of bed and onto the computer or into rushing about the morning routine of getting kids ready for school. I also try not to eat my breakfast over the sink or while on the computer. I sit at the dining room table and taste my food.
4. I try to minimize the drinking of wine and other adult beverages by saving it for the weekend and then, trying to have only 1 or 2 glasses.
5. Big K and I have tried the co-listening thing, but the intensity of staring and listening so intently scares him a little, so I try to look someone in the eye when they share a story and I don’t interrupt with my feelings and opinions.
6. The biggest change has been getting off a medication that I didn’t want to be on in the first place. This medication was supposed to help me have more control over big feelings, but instead the medication numbed my feelings. I’d like to own my feelings and not temper them because society says I’m not allowed to be mad or sad. I think watching and realizing and not judging myself is the way to go.
This off the yoga mat experience has not created perfection in me. I still check my phone obsessively at every red light and lull in life. I still sit at the computer when I’m avoiding household chores.
The IQI has inspired a subtle change in my life that I will carry with me and around me…watching, realizing without judgement, and in seeing myself where I am, I can create positive change if that’s the road I’m ready for.
…And if I say ride the wave to Big K one more time, he just might strangle me.
This is the sanctuary, where all the magic happens. Yoga on and “off the mat.”
In a nutshell, IQI is like a year’s worth of therapy in three days. (I thought this description of the IQI was so brilliant, and then, I googled IQI and got the same words to explain the experience from other bloggers…at least it’s accurate.)
We dance and move, we are read to: poems, prayers, funny stories, we connect with others in the workshop, dialogue with the whole group, in dyads and triads, we discuss intensions, ride the wave, center ourselves, meditate, breath…we do a lot of ommmmmmm-ing, a lot of sharing, a lot of crying, and we experience an abundance of acceptance, joy and laughter.
There is so much substance to the weekend, that I couldn’t possibly begin to describe it all without changing the whole concept of this blog and going on for a quite some time. I’d like to get back to the fun artsy fartsy kid stuff at some point, so I’ll share a few of the most meaningful aspects of our IQI work.
Co-Listening is a huge part of the inner quest. There are guidelines and specific questions / ideas that we are asked to explore with partner dialogue.
At first, choose one person to be the listener and one to be the speaker.
The speaker begins to share, not filtering any thoughts or feelings, merely allowing a stream of consciousness to flow from the mind out of their mouth. The words do not have to make sense or follow any order. The speaker has about 10 minutes: you can choose to time it if you wish. There can be spaces of silence during the course of the share.
There is no processing, interpreting, problem-solving, analyzing, helping or judging during or after the co-listening process. The listener allows the speaker to have their clearing experience.
Then, the listener becomes the speaker.
Every dialogue begins with the same clearing question:
What do you need to say to help you be present in this moment?
Then the question / idea to explore:
What do you wish to get out of IQI? Why are you here?
Do you hide?
Talk to your partner as if they are a person with which you have unfinished business.
Talk to your partner as if they are you at a young age.
Talk to your partner as your adult self as if they are your inner child.
What did you need as a child?
What do you wish to take home from the IQI?
Write a letter to yourself from your “angels.” Read it to your partner.
And, every dialogue ends with the same closure:
Share anything that might help you to feel concluded with topic.
Another very important part of the workshop is music and dance and movement. There is a fabulous soundtrack that is exquisitely paired with the activities through the whole weekend. We stomp our feet, move to the music through the space of the sanctuary with our eyes softly closed, we hold hands with strangers and connect with our inner selves using our bodies and music.
Here are some of my favorite songs played that weekend:
Help!, Howie Day
Look At Me, John Lennon
Calling All Angels (with Jane Siberry), k.d. lang
The House That Built Me, Miranda Lambert
Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
At length, we discuss an IQI concept called, “Riding the Waves of Sensation.” It’s a practice. The basic idea of “Riding a Wave” is this:
*An Incident, Life Occurs, could be road rage, could be an argument with a spouse, could be nerves or worry: any big feeling.
*Sensations build. When these feelings become uncomfortable, we use behaviors (addictions, food, sleep, technology, cleaning, running away, suppression, etc.) that get us off the wave. Instead of getting off the wave, hang in there with the experience.
*Practice Being Present: Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow.
*The wave crests, a timeless moment. Transformation is happening.
*Integration, the learning moves from the unconscious to the conscious level. Ah Ha!
*Commitment and Practice.
We spend a great deal of time meditating. This was my favorite meditation, the one that resonated with me the most, the one I can remember with ease and take home with me when the retreat is ended.
The Inner Quest Metta Prayer
May I Be Healthy
May I Be Happy
May I Ride the Waves of My Life
May I Live in Peace
No Matter What I am Given
Affirmation to My Body
I recognize you are the temple
in which my spirit and creative energy dwell.
I have created you from my need
to have my spirit manifest on earth
so that I may have this time
to learn and grow.
I offer you this food
so that you may continue to sustain
my creative energy, my spirit, my soul.
I offer this food to you with love,
and a sincere desire for you
so that you may remain free from disease and disharmony.
I accept you as my own creation
I need you
I love you.
The four of us, weekend away / yoga retreat ladies, fall into line as we arrive at 2pm, check in, leave our bags in the luggage room and grab our first cup of herbal tea. There are no labels indicating what kind of tea it is, but it is warm and earthy. I add a little slice of lemon and let it warm my throat and belly as we wait for whatever will come…the official workshop doesn’t start until 7pm.
We take our first of a series of wonderful, gentle yoga classes and report to the cafeteria at meal time. There is a buffet the size and quality of a king’s banquet. All the choices are healthful and lush. Salads, vegan pastas, pesto chicken, hearty breads, sweet breads, panini station and more.
The program begins.
Our first “undisclosed meal,” is light. Remember the sense of timelessness, there are no clocks for us to see and the meals shed formal tiles. We walk into the cafeteria in social silence and see that all but one section is emptied of choices. It’s all Basics Bar for us, Baby.
My journal entry from that day:
“There are lots of simple whole food choices, some not typically considered breakfast. We are asked to be mindful of eating and to start the meal with a affirmation to the body. Each person has a candle and small quote in front of their plate setting. The choices are a steamed broccoli / kale mix, raisins, nuts, steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, boiled eggs, apples, oranges, corn flakes, soy milk, brown rice, Indian yellow rice, miso soup and veggie broth. It was a quiet meal, put down the fork between bites, tasted my food and it was good.
I wouldn’t normally prefer or choose these simple, healthy, whole foods in everyday life because I have so many choices.”
Breakfast, or the first undisclosed meal of the day, is by far the best meal because of the fresh fruit. Fruit has never tasted so sweet when paired with such basic foods. Later that night, when I go to sleep, I find an apple stashed at the foot of my bed. We’re already turning into squirrels.
Our second undisclosed meal: tofu, brown rice, lots of veggies, carrots, salad with a basic oil and vinegar dressing, cabbage, peas.
“The tofu was good, reminded me a little of steak. I broke social silence and whispered this to my neighbor at the table. She said, girl, you are just really hungry.”
“Dinner was similar to lunch, rice and beans, tofu, steamed veggies. Not much along the line of salt or seasoning. You taste the food for what it is. I clear my plate. We’ve done a lot of work today and my body is telling me I’m hungry. I’m starting to notice the people who don’t like the food and aren’t really eating anything. One woman put her chin on her fist the whole meal and was near tears.”
But Dude, if someone is cooking food that’s healthy for me and I don’t have to do the dishes, I’m happy. Simple.
Second meal on Day 2:
“Lunch was quinoa, Sagg, apple, orange, kale, broccoli and for dessert, ahhhhhhh, a glass of vanilla soy milk. To this lady, it tasted like melted vanilla ice cream: affects of sugar detox.”
Last undisclosed “dinner”
“whipped yams, brown rice, curried veggies, green salad, apple, miso soup, more vanilla soy milk. The social silence is becoming more challenging, especially at meal time, because the group is starting to bond. We giggle through the meal. I catch Heather putting an orange peal in her teeth and turning to Jill who sits behind her at another table.”
Saturday and Wednesday are dessert nights at Kripalu. All day we smell cinnamon wafting through the windows from the bakery and kitchens right below us. That night, the facilitators ask us to close our eyes. When we open them, there is a big basket of oatmeal cookies for us. I’ve never savored a cookie as much as I did this one. I tasted every single crumb.
Last undisclosed “breakfast”
“boiled eggs, grapefruit, rolled oats, raisins, nuts.
After the weekend of the Basics Bar, Heather says to me, I won’t be eating rice for a very long time.
“Feeding yourself is an act of self love.”
“As you begin to chew, chew consciously and with awareness.”
“Ask yourself if you can feel the prana, the life force in your food, feeling the warmth of the food as it travels into your body to nourish you.”
“Chew well and chew slowly. Chewing well reduces cravings for sweets and allows enzymes in your saliva to mix well in your food and begin the process of digestion.”
“Simply observe any thoughts that may arise, not needing to change your thoughts, just returning your awareness to chewing, tasting, breathing.”
“Eat with joy and entitlement.”
“Release past experiences with food and eating. Let this experience be new and pure.”