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Momentous Occasions

3 Aug

We’re rapidly approaching a highly anticipated date. August 11th is the date of my very dear friend, Jaclyn’s wedding.   Jaclyn and I went to college together, graduated the same year studied in the same major, worked in the same field in the same with the same highly interconnected clients… but we didn’t really know each other then.   We met a few years after college.   Jaclyn was my ultimate partner in crime in the days when downtown Santa Barbara after 10pm was like my second home.   Though I had many partying pals, Jaclyn was my most dependable trooper.   I can’t even remember an occasion when she bailed on a late night plan, or turned down a last minute idea.   We drank margaritas on balconies, danced till the clubs closed, danced on the street after the clubs closed, noshed on veggie dogs and chili fries at 2am, and generally tracked down any excuse to postpone ending each night, regardless of what the next day would bring.   Now this isn’t always the case with downtown buddies… but luckily, Jaclyn became one of my most treasured friends, irrespective of our extracurricular activities.   Other words, this was not a friendship that ended when the crazy party days ended. Be it coffee dates, long weekend trips, unexpected babysitting gigs or stolen minutes on the phone while she’s running late to work, we still try and cling to any excuse to postpone the end of each time we spend together.

She’s brave and she’s clever, she’s deeply perceptive and endlessly compassionate.   She’s beautiful and filled with strength, sensitive and sweet, and she has one hell of a shimmy on her!  She’s marrying a lovely, wonderful man who, without hesitation, can provide you with a list of dozens of reasons why she blue him away from the moment he met her.

We’re excited to witness this union, excited to spend time with friends, excited for a mini vacation (and excited for Mason’s first solo sleepover with the grandparents)!

 

And I also have to say… this day is momentous for another reason… the six month, super strict period of my elimination diet ends this month…

So after what is sure to be a gorgeous and love filled ceremony…

I get to eat absolutely whatever I want at the reception buffet!!!

Meat… cheese… desserts galore.

Oh, how I am counting down the days!

Integration in ((slow)) progress

30 Apr

I’m integrating over here.  Trying to integrate, anyways.  Or maybe halfheartedly and distractedly trying to integrate.

Do you ever reach a point, where your head is just swirling with so many interesting, pointedly poignant, ideas that really feel very integral to living, that you need to pause for several beats and integrate?  Give all those ideas a chance to soak and resurface.  For the flavors to melt together and clarify a bit before you can keep inputting.  I’m there.

I’m mentally suspended amongst some recent conversations with friends.  Some are reflecting on life as it is, some are headed on new adventures and some are going through tough times.  I have words from all of them floating through my head.

I also have the habit of reading several things at a time – multiples of books, articles, blog posts, and audiobooks.  For instance, right now I’m at varying stages in a novel, a book on baby’s brains, a book by Osho on Creativity, an audiobook by David Whyte, and just finished one by Anne Lamott.  This isn’t including the various blog posts and online articles I dip into.

And most of the time, I like it this way, because I have different books I pick up depending on my mood, or the amount of time I have when the reading bug strikes me.  Different conversations I examine further when I have a moment.  But eventually, it gets to a point where the information has all converged and assimilation is necessary or else more words and ideas will just get lost amidst the rubble.

But assimilation requires stillness.  It means I have to reel in on the information input.

Maybe I should do the dishes… or take a shower… isn’t that where everyone says that the ideas that are colliding tend to calm and part?  Smooth themselves out?  Presence + Space.

Notes From the Universe

6 Apr

sleeping eyes

Dreams.   I’ve always been fascinated by them.  The subconscious, while you’re sleeping kind.  I’ve always felt like they were definitely our subconscious’ way of trying to clue us in to something we were missing in our waking life.  Or the universe’s way of sending us messages.

I’ve had a few recurring dreams that would happen for months or years at a time throughout my life.  You know… running from dinosaurs, climbing mountains to escape tidal waves, ghosts in a long dark corridor… real uplifting stuff.

But a couple nights ago, I had, hands down, one of my favorite dreams yet.

I was living kind of a mystery based life, where there were things I needed to figure out, decisions to make, paths to follow.  Not unlike normal life, just a little more movie worthy.  And the thing that didn’t strike me as amazing until after I woke up, was that I was getting notes from the universe throughout the entire dream.  Literal, written in front of me, directions and guidance on what to do next to get where I wanted to be.  There were times where words would appear, say, on my dashboard as I was driving, unsure of where to go next.  And they would tell me the next step.  But no one else could see them.  I remember pointing them out to someone a couple times, and they had no idea what I was talking about.

And here’s the thing that was really interesting about it.  There would be times when I would doubt the message.  You know, start thinking… no that’s crazy, these messages can’t really be for me, I must be crazy, it doesn’t make any sense, and even if they’re really there, how can I trust them?  And if I let myself start to doubt, spiral down that path… the messages would start to fade.  They’d come less frequently, they’d be harder to see when they would appear.  And my decisions would become shaky, I’d falter and head nervously down the wrong path because I wasn’t trusting.  But when I’d take a deep breath, and a leap of faith that these signs I was seeing, plain as day to me… things would unfold so perfectly and almost effortlessly.  As simply as putting one foot in front of the other.  The more I trusted these notes, the clearer they became and the more I saw them.

I woke up in the middle of the night to nurse a small restless baby.  And I mulled the dream over in my head.

And marveled at the astonishing parallels  between dreaming and waking.

Trips to the Bay

28 Mar

“There’s something about vacations that can reset your pace.  Even if they’re just a few days.  It’s the removal from the normal routine of life.  Distance from everyday crutches, positions, habits.  Although we brought a laptop with us, I felt silly using it when the beach was right outside our door.  So we took long walks at sunset, or in the morning mist, the baby and I, while Mark was in the conference.  We played, I flew Mason around the room on his stomach, sang to him as we danced around on the patio, set him on his stomach and he stuffed my books into his mouth.  And when he napped… I paused.  And considered what I wanted to do next with my time.  I had brought some knitting, a couple books, and a journal.  I ate when I felt hungry, I made some tea when I wanted comfort, I sat in front of the fireplace when I wanted to still my mind.  I had an informational book about baby’s brains for when I felt like learning, and I had a novel for when I felt like being told a story.  And I even watched a couple tv shows, but only when I checked in with myself first.  I did so little out of reflex, or habit… that I realized how often my days just disappear, leaving me frustrated by the end of them, because the hours were filled with activity, but I did very little that I actually felt was nourishing, or productive in the way that I wanted to be…

So this trip… I think it gave all of us a chance to reset.  I definitely become more aware of my approach to the days and slow myself down just enough to make sure I was headed in an intentional direction before I took off.  To remember that word I chose for this year, Attention, and apply it, not just to those special fleeting moments that I want to treasure, but to all of the moments in my day.  In paying attention… to how I’m feeling, how Mason’s feeling, how Mark’s feeling by the end of the day, and what we all need at varying points… those special moments happen far more often.  Because life isn’t just occuring without my participation.”

- from our family blog, Oh Boy!

That was our Half Moon Bay trip.  We just came back from our second trip up north this month.  This time to Berkeley.  This time to a workshop for me!  And one that I have so many words and such excitement brimming about… but now my car is headed south, on another road trip, but a bit more impromptu.  So as much as I want to rave about this past weekend… it will have to wait for one more southern California pause.

hope

Apartment Therapy – Living Room (and book giveaway)

26 Mar

We rearranged the furniture in our main room… which is right off the kitchen and holds both our dining nook and our living room space. Where there was once a wide open middle of the room with couches, chairs and other furniture pushed up against the wall… we moved the sofa to section the room off into two more intimate spaces. They now somehow feel more spacious, and I’m completely delighted by this room now.

We’ve been slowly plodding through this book, Apartment Therapy. The book divides your home up into a room for each week. What’s cool about it though, is that it doesn’t just work with clearing clutter, but focuses on things that will bring heart into your home (like buying fresh flowers, or cooking a meal at home). What with the little one, working weekends, and trips out of town, it’s taking us a bit longer than the prescribed eight weeks. But it’s been such a helpful way of approaching our home (which has imploded since we became parents). It feels amazing to be Clearing Space and make it feel more like a home than a landing pad for our stuff.

There weren’t as specific directions for the living room as there have been for other rooms, so I made my own list.

Apartment Therapy - Living Room Checklist, deep clean

The bookshelves have yet to be tackled, as the unchecked boxes show, but I picked out a few books to pass on to new readers. If anyone wants them, let me know and I will mail them to you. I have such a hard time getting rid of books, but they sometimes threaten to take over my house. I feel much better knowing they’re going to someone who will use them.

book giveaway Julia & Julia, girl's poker night, tom robbins skinny legs and all, I like you amy sedaris, a tuscan childhood, aromatherapy, tuesdays with morrie mitch albom the five people you meet in heaven

This book, Detox For Life, takes you through a process of detoxing your mind, body, relationships and home. It’s originally a sale Anthropologie find, so it’s filled with yummy pictures, and a really great thoughtful approach to making space to really nourish those areas of your life.

Detox For Life

UPDATE: The way to enter this giveaway is to leave a comment on this post saying which book you’d like.  If more than one person requests a certain book, I’ll choose one person randomly using a random.org widget.  If a book goes unrequested, then on to Paperback Swap it goes.  This giveaway will close Friday, April 6th, and the winners will be announced and contacted before the end of that weekend.  Thanks for entering!

This Giveaway is Closed

And the winners are….

  • Brooke won Detox for Life, by Josephine Collins
  • Valara won Girl’s Poker Night, by Jill A Davis
  • Ashley won The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom
  • Tessa won I Like You, by Amy Sedaris
  • Marty won Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins
  • Caren won The Art of Aromatherapy

Winners are being contacted via email.
Looks like Julie & Julia, The Art of Aromatherapy, and A Tuscan Childhood are headed for paperbackswap, unless there are anymore requests.
Thanks for playing everyone! That was fun :-)

30 Day Mind and Body Challenge Finale

22 Mar

30 Days Mind and Body Challenge

So it wasn’t really yoga, officially, but I did go to a stretch class a couple nights ago that was very yoga-like.  And although the 30 day challenge officially ended 8 days ago, that was my little nod to the loveliness that it brought back into my life.

It was actually my first yoga class of the whole challenge.  Because of my mommy status and my discomfort with leaving my little one at the gym kid’s corner, it has been easier to do yoga at home this past 30(8) days.

This challenge went through so many phases for me, and I really found myself shifting focus three times throughout the whole month.  I petered out in my yoga practice after the first 10 days or so… and although I continued to stretch far more regularly than I had done before, it wasn’t true yoga, you know?

But then again, I guess I shouldn’t say that.  Because one of the things I’ve learned through this, is that yoga isn’t just a practice you do on the mat.  It’s a state of mind, and a way of being present that you practice in your life.

Either way… around the ten day mark, my family went on a trip to Half Moon Bay.  That trip triggered my shift into the self-love aspect of the challenge, which I had all but forgotten about in my focus on the yoga.  It was there that I remembered how to pause in my day.  To breathe, and consider… what I really wanted out of that moment.  What my body needed (food? rest? movement?), what my mind needed (a stimulating book? a tv show entertainment? the emptiness of just being, in front of a fire, with a cup of tea?), and what my baby needed… because it was just the two of us for long stretches of time.

I realized how much my days at home are filled with activity, without very much consideration for what I really want or need at the time.  I’m playing with Mason, or making sure he’s entertained while I’m doing something else… and then when he naps, I go to the internet out of reflex.  Do nothing terribly important most of the time, while I half-heartedly try and figure out what I wanted to do during that nap.  And by the time I figure out what it is, and rush to do it, Mason is starting to wake up again.  And over again we cycle.

Half Moon Bay was a great weekend, for all of us.  And upon returning home, although old habits die hard, I’ve been able to bring more awareness… more Attention to our days.  Which makes me a happier lady, and a more fully present mama and wife.  And when I fall back into habitual mindless activity… I’ve been able to identify it much quicker.

My last shift was another mind, body centered focus… but a surprise one.  A groupon deal prompted a friend and I to sign up for 30 days unlimited classes at The Bar Method.  It feels like an amazing cross between pilates and dance techniques.  And although it kicks my ass every time I go, I feel stronger and more capable in my body after every class.  And the mental lift, energy and sense of discipline it’s giving me are an amazing handful of side effects.

So clearly… i think this challenge was rad.  And although I was enjoying my life as it was unfolding prior to these 30(8) days… i’m so smitten with it now!

Soooo a huge thank you to Laura, who’s amazing blog led me to this challenge, to Betsy who dreamed it up, and to all the fantastically brave women who participated.

I know I posted this video in the last post on this challenge… but it’s just so gorgeous that I have to do it again.

Choosing Thoughts

19 Mar

contemplating

I’m trying to work on controlling my emotions recently. Or rather… being more mindful of my thoughts and choosing to let go of the ones that may send me into an unnecessary emotional frenzy. Feeling rushed… when actually, I have plenty of time to take care of a task. Getting myself worked up and feeling “wronged” because I’m remembering an instance where a waitress was rude to me a couple weeks ago. Things that have no reason to matter anymore, except that I keep giving them power over my mood.

I’ve been thinking about this recently, but yesterday I tried to be really conscious of it. It was a full work day, and we had dinner plans with friends right when I got off, so I was feeling slightly rushed all day. But I made sure that several times, I stopped in my mental tracks and looked at the emotion I was creating inside myself…. and I told myself to let it go, “That thing that happened a couple weeks ago… sure it was frustrating. Yes it was rude. But you’ve had bad days at work too, remember? You’ve let out a condescending tone to an undeserving stranger more than once. Maybe that waitress had a busy day, maybe she was fresh off an upsetting conversation, maybe she’s even had a bad couple of months. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with you. Let it go.”

 

Breathe. And release.

One more time… breathe.

And release.

 

Good.  Peace.  Once more.

 

 

 

Clearing Space

10 Mar

Clearing Space

It happens on occasion… this desire to clear away the clutter.  Weed out the unused and the stagnant.  To clear out anything that isn’t nourishing, supporting, inspiring.  I’m talking about stuff, of course.  But I’m also talking about food.  Thoughts.  Activities and habits.  Anything in my realm that’s occupying time, energy, space, cells.  All those things… my time, my energy, my space, every molecule that makes up my body and that of those around me… are just feeling really precious to me right now.  And the urge to preserve their integrity is so strong right now.  I want to clear through everything in my house, our yard, the car, my computer.  My fridge, and my eating habits.  I want to  spend time and energy only on those things that make my loved ones and I feel brilliant and staggeringly beautiful, strong and so powerfully at ease.  I want our life to support the healthy tension between choice and flow.

I don’t know if it’s because Spring is coming up quickly?  I find that I’ve grown more sensitive to the changing of seasons as the years go by.  Or if it’s a side effect of this new way of eating I’ve been diving into over the past couple weeks… I think the almost dizzying effects of eating real food is starting to set in.

I’m not sure what the cause is… but this is where I am now.  And why I’ve been a little absent from this space, perhaps.  I’m trying to rediscover the areas where I want to remain devoted to.  And redistribute a little, so that my actions are more intentional than habitual.

{this moment}

24 Feb

{this moment} – A SouleMama Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

dragonfly

Gluten free, Dairy free, Soy free, No Animal Products, & No Refined Sugars.

23 Feb

Is it possible to remove any more items from your diet?!

One little addendum…

I will be eating fish, honey, and if I can’t find a gluten free bread that doesn’t have egg whites, then I will, on occasion, have some gluten free, egg white laden bread.

Color me crazy?

my poor eczema babyOur little boy has terrible eczema.  Our little four month old baby has cheeks that have gotten so dry and cracked over the past month and a half that they have a half inch spot on each side that is raw.  Our little sweetie, who has had been sleeping 10, 11 or 12 hours each night since he was eight weeks old, has been waking up anywhere from 3-10 times a night for about a month now.  He’s teething too, so we thought it was just that at first, but he wakes up scratching at his head, at his face, at his legs.  We didn’t realize it at first because he wasn’t coordinated enough to scratch yet!  Isn’t that terrible?  To be so unbearably itchy all over before you even have the hand-eye coordination to scratch!  It’s been breaking my heart, and we’ve tried so many different lotions and oils, that have barely done a thing.

Then I started looking into diet.  My sister Kelley’s two youngest kids have also had pretty bad eczema, and she gave me a book several years back about diet and allergies that has basically eliminated the problem for them (depending on what they’re eating, of course)

I tracked down this book and read it cover to cover in a couple of days.  ((Don’t be too impressed.  It’s only 66 pages.))  It pointed to animal products, dairy, refined (wheat) flours, and refined sugars as the biggest dietary culprits behind most allergies and skin conditions.

I had been mulling this over for the past few weeks, and had finally decided to go for it at the start of March… giving myself till the end of February to wean off these MAJOR parts of most mainstream diets.

However, we went to our pediatrician appointment this past Tuesday, and she took one look at his poor dry skin, listened to all the things we’ve tried already, and started talking to me about diet as well.  (yes, she’s so fantastic)  She added all wheat, and soy to my list of “No’s” as well, as possible allergens.  She expressed shock that I was willingly removing refined sugars from my diet, and concern over my protein intake while abstaining from meat.  I feel pretty confident that I’ll be alright on the protein front… even though I won’t be able to rely on tofu for it now.  Beans, grains, nuts, seeds and veggies can pack a pretty mean protein punch.

Now… just to be clear… I have NEVER dieted.  I have NEVER restricted myself from ANY kind of food in my entire life.  (Except alcohol while I was pregnant)  So this is quite a switch for me.  But hey… I feel like my life has been doing 180′s for the past couple of years.  I can handle pretty much anything at this point ;-)

So, I’m not sure how long I’m going to be doing this for at first.  It’s an elimination diet.  So the point is to be really strict about it for a period of time, to detox my system (and the little one’s), and then one by one, start adding certain foods back in to see if we have a reaction to them (did I mention I’m breastfeeding? I’m sure it’s obvious, otherwise, why would what I eat make a bit of difference to him, right?).  The book recommends six months.  I’ve heard other recommendations from various sources… so that part is up in the air… but hey!  I’ve started!

I’m actually pretty stoked about it.  I love being creative with food, and I don’t know if I’ve ever met a food I didn’t like (well… there was a quail egg in a Vietnamese restaurant once… and I’ve tried sea urchin at a Santa Barbara cafe. Ugh to both!).  So I’m excited to put my pinterest recipe boards to good use and bust out some new yummy cooking (and quick snacks too of course!)

I have high expectations for this diet!  Because really… there’s nothing else left that could be causing this!  So we’re on day two.  And hopefully the results will be glorious.

In the meantime, Dr. Hamdani gave us a hydro-cortisone prescription for his little cheeks and it’s helping them to heal so much quicker.  We have a little mixture of olive oil and sandalwood essential oil (from my dear friend Jenna’s doTerra line)  that is helping balance out the rest of his skin, and a half teaspoon of baby benadryl to help him sleep at night.  Two appointments with a dermatologist and an allergy specialist, and a follow up with our own doctor… phew!  We’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this one.

Like Dr. Hamdani said right before she ended our appointment, “We won’t stand for this!”

((pieces of my last meals… turkey taquitos & Crushcakes cupcakes))

taquitosCrushcakes cupcakes

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