Saturday, November 30, 2013

Five Ways to Know You Are "Getting It Right!"

We have plenty of yardsticks by which to measure our success and plenty of failures to drag us down, but what I am learning as a parent, and as someone dancing with being an adult for a couple decades, is that the messiness of life perpetuates even while we are "getting it right."  It's important to step back a little, take an objective look at our progress, and give ourselves some credit.  Here are some simple items to check on the list and know whether you are getting life right.

1.  Things are better than they were.  Maybe things aren't perfect, but how were they two years ago?  If you see any improvement, then you know you are getting it right and making the right choices.  They might not be the choices that someone else would make but, lucky for you, someone else isn't in charge of your life.  Your values and what is important to you dictate how you make decisions, so as long as things are getting better then you are on the right course!



2.  You, your spouse, and your children are healthy and safe.  If everyone in your household is physically safe from harm, well fed, nourished and healthy, then you are getting it right.  If you are dealing with disease of any kind, or any health challenges, these don't indicate you are getting it wrong.  How you are dealing with those issues and whether you are working towards wellness for those that might be struggling change that.  As long as you are taking measures to address it, coping with the circumstances, and putting health and safety first, then you are getting it right.

3.  Your dreams are being fulfilled, even if just part-time or in microscopic increments.  There is no timeline for when something has to be fulfilled.  Taking simple steps, everyday, toward fulfilling the dreams you have in your heart and your gut are all that are needed.  Prioritizing your dreams out of the picture won't work.  Putting them on the back burner is okay as long as you are willing to allow that dream to be given a little more priority at an appropriate time (such as when 1 and 2 are happening).




4.  You no longer doubt your own worth or your children's worth.  If you have begun to recognize your own value beyond income, material indication, and keeping up with the Jones's then you are definitely getting it right.  Recognizing your own worth is imperative to making progress on the dreams you might have for yourself and your children.  Clothes, toys, cars, electronic devices, are not indicators of success.  They might be indicators of debt, or indicators of values, even indicators of insecurity, but in no way are they indicators of worth.  Pressuring children to live up to others' standards don't improve their own sense of who they are.  When you are allowing yourself, your partner, and your children to be amazingly valuable just as they are, then you know you are getting it right.

5.  You are able to help others that need help, even if it's not monetary.  Donating money is tricky if you don't have a lot to share.  But it's not the only way.  Giving and sharing are really things that allow us to be present in the gratitude we have for our own lives and in recognizing how much more we have than so many others on the planet.  Even if it's just a conversation, or a donation of old clothes, giving to others is an important part of our human experience.  Selfishly, it is a ritual of proving to ourselves that we have more than enough.  Compassionately, it is an opportunity to help others make progress on their path, a path that might have started out much further behind than yours has been.

Bonus: #6

6.  When you take time for yourself, you are renewed and re-committed to the path you are on.
If, after taking time to meditate, get a massage, take a walk, or just read a book, you find yourself with renewed energy for the path you are walking, then you know you are getting it right.  And you also know how important that time for yourself is for making progress on that path.  So take more time, be more of an example to yourself of how good it feels to be renewed, and know that you truly are "GETTING IT RIGHT!"


A thousand waves of blessings to you! 

~ Jessica

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's Put the Harvest Home Back into . . . Thanksgiving

Let's get this out of the way:

I decorate before Thanksgiving.

I don't shop Black Friday.

I don't cook turkey.

There.  I said it.

What's the big deal about Thanksgiving anyway?  Isn't it just a pre-Christmas?  I think it's a little more than that for the ritual-deprived, average white American that might not understand their own need to honor the passing of the seasons.  As a nature-based family, we've had our three harvest festivals in August, September, and October (yes, Halloween is a Harvest festival).  As soon as the last bits of begged-for candy are donated, thrown out, or eaten, I'm ready to dig out the Solstice decorations because my sense of honoring the harvest and all that means for us as a family has been fulfilled.  For those that haven't honored the wave of harvests, grain, fruit, and animal, Thanksgiving is their only chance to smash it all together and get it done. 




Originally, there was no specific Thanksgiving.  There was Harvest Home, a harvest celebration that happened in September with the Autumnal Equinox and/or the harvest being brought in.  This was a harvest celebration that most folks enjoyed.  You can read more about that here: http://www.plimoth.org/learn/MRL/read/thanksgiving-history  What is most striking to me about our history of Thanksgiving in the US is that we didn't even have an official day until the 1940s!  And yet, we have all the hoopla over waiting until Thanksgiving is done to start decorating and shopping for Yule and Christmas.  It's my observation that Thanksgiving is a very late holiday for the harvest and that's why many folks are ready to move on even before it arrives.  I prefer to let the harvest concept rule:  we give thanks for the harvest (and all that symbolizes) when the majority of the harvests are happening (August, September, and October).

Do I celebrate Thanksgiving?  Mostly.  I don't celebrate the unpleasantness of our culture's treatment of the Native Americans, and you can read about how many (most?) Native Americans don't celebrate Thanksgiving either here:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-w-zotigh/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving_b_2160786.html .  But there is value in honoring a day that is honored by most of my loved ones.  There is value in giving thanks when my family is also giving thanks, even though every day that my husband, children and I have together we give thanks.  So I guess you could say we "go along." 





We had a quiet Thanksgiving meal with just the four of us yesterday and this is where I admit that I don't cook turkey.  It just seems like a whole lot of effort to me.  I'd rather cook a roast, or chicken, because turkey just isn't my thing.  And today I'm not out shopping for Black Friday.  I'd rather be with my family, even if I'm not wrapped up in the potential importance of Thanksgiving as a holiday.  But even if it wasn't about family, I don't think I'd brave the cold and the early morning hours.  I don't care to dive into the chaos and madness, hundreds, thousands of people going where I want to go, shopping where I want to shop.  No thanks.  And I would much rather support local shops, smaller businesses, and create handmade goods for my holiday wares.

There was no late night scramble to get the decorations up after our meal yesterday because they were already up.  There was no worry over whether we had stuffing and cranberries because we did all that back in September.  And if it were up to me, I'd say lets put the Harvest Home back in Thanksgiving!

Blessings to you all!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Our Wooden Homeschool Calendar

I spent a lot of time mulling over just how our homeschool calendar should be, most of which involved planning how I could avoid having to cut wood.  Using paper and a cork board was always in the back of my mind, but I wanted something with wood, something that would express the nature of our "wild" schooling.  In the end, I went with using the materials I had on hand, and letting it be imperfect so I could make progress and actually get it done.  I'm super happy to share the results. 




This was a simple process that I'll walk you through:

1.  Cut the wood to size.  Ours is small.  This is a 12" x 16" board (give or take). 
2.  Prepare, stain, or paint the wood to your preferred color.
3.  Measure out the calendar grid.  I used a ruler, making seven days, a spot for the year, month, season, weather, moon phase and left a spot for creating an image that will represent the month or season.
4.  Paint your grid.  I used a gold paint pen.  Once the grid was prepared, we added a nail for every place we'd need a number, season, weather, etc.
5.  Write your days of the week with something like a sharpee (this is a mom-only task in our house).
6.  Prepare your numbers.  This will involve writing your numbers and adding any kind of color that you choose.  I wrote the numbers with a permanent marker, and then traced over them with a beeswax crayon for a little depth.  Next we drilled small holes to fit over the nail and then I added glitter spray.
7.  Don't forget your holiday, weather, and moon phase pieces.  For September, we have a spot for the Autumnal Equinox.
8.  Last is the month, year, and seasons.  I used torn kraft paper for this.  I did a double glued layer for a little more stability and then used a hole punch for the holes.

And now you're done!

A few things to consider adding would be a spot for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, pockets to hold the extra numbers, months, etc. or a place for emotions and each kiddo to pick how they are feeling that day.  In the end, I am happy that we have a calendar that will last beyond our elementary years and become a perpetual calendar for our family that matches our d├ęcor and expresses a little of who we are.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beginning the Journey with Nettles

I am not a person with a lot of the fire element in my constitution.  I'm more of a water and earth, slow to make progress, slow to embrace change, vulnerable to the moving, hard knocks world around me kind of girl.  An herb like Nettles just might do me some good, but I have not yet made friends with the spirit of Nettles.

Traditionally, Nettles has been used for a variety of issues, including allergies, for UTI's, and for it's high mineral content.  You can read more about the nutrient content of Nettles at Botanical.com:  A Modern Herbal and at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Susun Weed recommends drinking a quart of Nettles infusion each day and while I have attempted this a time or two, my palate is squeamish and untried.  The taste is a definite deterrent!

I find myself wondering just what I need to do to join hands with Nettles and sing a little Kumbaya. 

Appealing to the spirit of Nettles in a respectful and humble way might help.  Yes, this is esoteric.  Why not just sweeten it?  Why not add herbs?  I have, and still, I am stumped.  So in the spirit of shamanic herbalism, I send a quiet plea to Nettles . . .



Wild Nettles
Let me embrace you.
Wild, fiery Nettles
Let me desire you.
Wild, fiery, protective Nettles
Let me learn from you.
Wild, fiery, protective, nourishing Nettles
Let me take you into my body and blend easily with your nature so that I may heal those parts of me that will only heal from you.
Wild Nettles
Let me be wild with you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Do You Really Need a Curriculum?

This is our second year of homeschooling and one of the things I have been most indecisive about is whether we really need a curriculum.  The short answer is no.  We don't.  We are perfectly capable of gathering what we need in order to prepare our child for the skills and knowledge that we view imperative for progress at their age. 

Obviously, if you are unschooling, there is less strain with this decision, but if you are anticipating that your child will be in a conventional school setting at some point, this issue might have other emotional layers for you.  So how have I managed without a curriculum?  I've had the advantage of checking with my sister, a retired kindergarten and first grade teacher, but I have also just dug around the internet looking for things that would clarify just what my child needs to know.  Below is a short list of options on finding the information you need.






Where do I start?

Your state education website likely has criteria and explanation for each grade level and subject.  In Texas, these are called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills).  Even for a teacher, these can be heavy on the professional jargon and are really, really wordy, but it's an excellent place to start.  When we lived in Arkansas, there was something called "refrigerator curriculum guide" which was basically a list of what was expected to be mastered by the end of the year.  These were for parents of public school kiddos, but convenient for homeschool parents too! 

Other options:

Google Search:  I have found a lot of success with doing a Google search for "First grade curriculum map" (insert the grade you want, but make sure to include the word "MAP").  There are a large number of schools all over the country that have accessible documents online in various formats.  Some of them are more lengthy, but they are all likely to be less cumbersome than the state education website information.  Many of them even break down the skills to be covered by each session, semester or six weeks.

Curriculum Sneak Peaks:  Checking the "skills covered" lists of different curriculums that are for sale will be useful.  They obviously aren't going to give you the lesson plans, but most of them offer a sneak peak of some kind to prove to you that they are, in fact, covering what you want them to cover.  It's easy enough to translate that into a list of skills that YOU can cover with your child.






Workbooks:  Buying workbooks can be handy.  It's all in one place and you don't have to think too hard about it, but if you would prefer to do hands on activities you could still use a comprehensive workbook to guide the skills you cover.

Pinterest:  Go to pinterest and search for your grade level and subject and there will be loads of links available.  This is not as concise as the previous options, but will likely give you a wonderful set of options and ideas!

Your Public Library:  Your public library may or may not have books that would provide you with a concise set of skills and knowledge for grades or subjects, but you are likely to find plenty of information in one form or another.  Don't neglect this option!

Sometimes, I feel like not buying a curriculum is over rated.  I find myself wanting the ease of having someone else make the plans for me.  My teacher training, after all, was for grades 6-12 and anything below that is foreign to me.  But so far I have enjoyed the freedom of doing what we choose, what I know is useful to us, and not investing a large sum of money in a curriculum that I am uncertain about.  Of course, if a Waldorf based curriculum came my way I certainly wouldn't turn it down!

Your turn!  What have you done to avoid using a purchased curriculum? 





Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wildschooling: Our Homeschool Rules!

We're getting  a late start to some of the aspects of our homeschooling year and there are a variety of things I just never got done last year.  Last year, in so many ways, was like working our way through a jungle of unknowns and this year, after a lot of indecision and worry, we're homeschooling again.  Or as I like to say:  WILDSCHOOLING!

Our homeschool rules are actually FAMILY rules, because they apply to all of us.  It's my intention to focus on the attribute we want to encourage, rather than focus too heavily on a list of "No . . ."  It's easy enough to be negative and we are no stranger to that.  In fact, as a family that tends to run more on the emotional side of things, negativity comes easily.  For our girls, we have to consciously work at cultivating optimism and compassion and our homeschooling/family rules are no exception. 

Without further adieu . . . .

 
 
 
 
The sparkle makes it harder to read the rules with a flash on the camera, so here they are without that sparkle:
 
 
 
 
 
 
You'll notice that we do have one rule that starts with "no."  Playing in the bathroom is a sore spot with a grown-up or two in our house, and it has become enough of an issue that it was important to be specific.  We have other rules that we are specific about, such as no hitting, no biting, etc., but most of those fall under the first six rules.  And yes, my husband and I hold ourselves to all seven rules as well.
 
Creating this plaque was simple enough.  I took a wooden box that once held wooden beads (you know how those Melissa and Doug containers become useless at some point . . .), printed our rules on kraft paper, tore the edges and decoupaged it onto the wood.  After some beeswax crayon embellishment, I used some glitter spray.  Much as it is important to be natural in our house, we DO own glitter spray and use it when we need some sparkle.  Wildschooling frequently requires sparkle!
 
How do you handle rules for your homeschool?  Are they different to family rules?  Or combined?  I'd love to hear how you have worked with rules in your own home!
 
Coming soon:  our Wildschooling calendar!  (expect more sparkle!!!!)
 
 


 
 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Tools for Finding Your Way Out of the Maze #1

Let go of what you aren't good at!

I am a non-linear thinker.  My experience of time, structure, and productivity are very different than the linear thinking person.  I'm sure you can relate to that if you are a non-linear person or if you have many ADD/ADHD traits.  Because of these traits, I have found myself frequently lost in the expectations of structure and output that our largely linear society creates.  And it beats down on my sense of who I am like the midday sun of South Texas beating down on the sidewalk.  I absorb it and have a hard time letting it go.

I recently watched a video by Dr. Hallowell, a Harvard trained psychiatrist who has ADHD and is dyslexic.  You can watch that video below:

 
 
 
At one point in the video, Dr. Hallowell talks about how people with ADD/ADHD are great at a LOT of things, but that at some point you have to stop trying to get good at what you are not good at and work on developing the things you ARE good at.

This really struck a cord with me.  How many things am I hanging onto that really need to just be let go?  How many hobbies, lifestyle changes, goals, almost-good-at habits have I been allowing to clutter up my playing field?  NO WONDER I'M NOT MORE PRODUCTIVE!

So today I am making a list of what I will stop trying to be good at.  I might continue to pursue these as a part of our overall lifestyle, but I officially giving myself permission to be bad at them.  I'm giving myself permission to half-ass them!

Gardening is at the top of the list!  Fitting into society and meeting societal expectations is next!  And there are a whole lot of other things after that. 

By letting go of many of these things that I have been gathering around me, it knocks down the walls of the maze and creates a much clearer path to where I want to be.  And as a non-linear person, I don't need MORE distractions.  I need to create a path that is focused, so that when I lose my focus it is still to something that takes me further along the path.

You can do that same.  Find three things today that are extraneous, non-essential and have created struggle.  Officially give yourself permission to suck at them, ignore them, and move down the list of priorities.  Way down that list!

What expectations for yourself have you been holding onto?  Which of these is it time to let go of and kick to the curb?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sensory Summer?

It's summer vacation and while we didn't spend a whole lot of time on bookwork and projects during the year, I'm not quite sure what to do with the girls.  I have ideas.  We have play dates and dance classes.  But the hours seem to go by with little break for me.

And so my solution is, hopefully, sensory play and lots of water.

We live in South Central Texas and the heat has begun to thicken the air as it permeates and makes it's presence predictable.  So have the mosquitoes, and standing water gives them refuge.   Filling our little pool and leaving it isn't an option.

Pinterest has hundreds of sensory play options here:

http://pinterest.com/mamasmiles/sensory-activities-for-kids/

But I would love to hear what you are doing with your kids, homeschooled or not, to keep them off the couch and away from the tv.  Share if you are willing, and help this momma make it through the summer!!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Modern Mother's Dilemma

As we wrap up the end of our first year of homeschooling, the internal debate has re-entered my thought process.  This year was a success in that my kindergartener knows what she needs to know, is alive, well, and happy.  We have loads of social opportunities, managed to fit in ballet and church, and even had a cute little container and bag garden.

But the question continues to enter my mind, "Would we be happier if the girls were in school?"

Would we be happier if the girls were saturated with the social experience?  Or if they had the classroom dynamics (the herd) to influence cooperation and willingness to do structured learning?

Would we be happier if I got more time to myself?  If I had a greater sense of value as a professional?

Would we be happier if we had more money? 

Would my girls be better served with a mother who was living a vibrant professional life, influencing the world in some way?



The feminist in me worries about this last one.  How will I teach my daughters to push beyond the walls of sexism and gender limitations if all they see me do is take care of them?  And what if I raise them to be these amazing, strong women who sit in their own power, go out into the world and become master's at whatever they choose to study . . . will they then sequester themselves into the isolation of homeschooling, leaving behind their higher learning and resigning themselves to the burdensome task of raising and training children?

It is true that in a primal society, we would share our children with the tribe, trusting in the grandmothers to take care of our children when more independent work was necessary.  But they were not the random strangers that we have to extend trust to now.  They were not in schools overburdened with problems and teachers over-worked with too many students to manage.

And on most days of the week, in a primal society, our children would come right along with us doing whatever work needed to be done until they were old enough to fend for themselves.



The flaw is not in keeping our children home and becoming limited because of it.  The flaw is that our society isn't designed to allow professional growth with our children sharing in the experience.

We, as a modern society, know so much about the brain, learning, and the innate need to experience the world through creativity, nature, and personal interest, but somehow our schools are still missing the boat. 

The flaw is not in avoiding an opportunity for learning in a group setting, but that the group setting isn't set up to allow children to freely learn as they choose.

The future is ever unknown, so I will keep allowing my children's preferences to be my guide.  And I will keep building my business around that, knowing that I am the richest woman in the world for having these two amazing girls and a life that allows me to be with them.

And to appease the feminist in me, I'll cast my votes as I choose, take them with me to march and rally, and give them the freedom to grow into who they truly are.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Contemplations

A few things I'm thinking about today . . .

1.  What five things can I do everyday of the next year that would lighten my carbon footprint, reduce waste, and improve the health of our household and family?  (like walk to church, buy eggs locally . . .)

2.  What things have I been touting to be doing, but that I just can't seem to master?  (like not using paper towels . . .)  How can I find a functional way to succeed at those things?

3.  How can I buy less plastic, and fewer things packaged in plastic?  (I think this is a bulk item issue, and a DIY issue!)

4.  I read an article about the oceans today.  At the bottom were comments from naysayers about climate change.  And to them (and myself, you, whoever) I say that even if there is no catastrophic end to the ways humans have learned to live, even if the oceans don't rise and the temps don't rise and the hurricanes don't increase, what we are doing is still raping forests, killing mass quantities of species, and increasing TOXIC waste that is killing us.  We don't need climate change to kill us.  We just need rivers that have too many carcinogens and soil that won't grow anything!

5.  Taking care of the earth is a moral issue.  We are tending the home of our grandchildren's grandchildren.  If we want them to live beyond the age of 35, they need a carcinogen-free world.

6.  Breathe, do what you can, and take it one action step at a time.

7.  How can I help locally with groups that care?

All across the globe, Earth Day has been celebrated and surely, as a whole, we are raising our consciousness about this.  But there is still a need for more things, prettier, shinier, faster, bigger things.  A new pair of shoes when the old ones still fit.  Another jacket when there are a dozen in the closet. 

If you are like me and you sometimes feel like this is a pointless exercise, remember that you are not alone.  You might be isolated, but there are millions, if not billions of other people who care about the same things that you do.  And we are the ones who will make a difference. 

Here is to another year of Earth-minded living!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Ideal Life: You, Me, Living Green, and Intuitively Living

In my ideal life, I share the importance of natural living.  Not just for you and your own wellness, but for your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren and all the children whose parents don't know how important natural living and sustainable choices are.

In my ideal life, I teach the innate value of intuition, both for adults and for children.  This thing called intuition, this inner knowing, has been too quiet, too berated, too overwhelmed with doubt.  It needs to be uplifted, restored, and enlivened.  Your daughters need to hear the voice that tells them no is okay.  And your sons need to hear the voice that tells them to stop. 

In my ideal life, I teach, share and facilitate natural wellness.    There are infinite ways to heal, some of them right at our fingertips and sharing that is a passion of mine.

In my ideal life, the numbers balance out, the dollars add up, and there is more elbow room in my pocket book . . . all because I choose to honor myself and the roles I know I have a deep seated need to fulfill.

In my ideal life, there is enough abundance to donate seasonally to those in need, to those who have been down-trodden and for those who have had hard times that lasted longer than their share.

In my ideal life, my children know the value of goodness, Earth, natural material goods instead of synthetic.  They know their own worth, they know their own strength, and their hearts  have not been wiped clean allowing someone else to inscribe what they believe is right.  My children will trust their own inclinations, professionally and personally, and will not be weighted down with the burdens that I wasn't brave enough to carry. 

My ideal life . . .

is today. 

And so is yours.



Monday, March 25, 2013

Eight alternatives to plastic Easter eggs!

It's that time of year and Spring/Ostara/Easter baskets have lined the shelves for weeks now.  Plastic eggs are being purchased by the millions, (billions?) with nary a thought to where they will end up (in the landfills, in the rivers, in the oceans). 

I'm no saint when it comes to living green, but there are some things that come more easily to me than others.  This is one of those things.  Leaving the plastic eggs at the store is not at all hard, especially since there are loads of other options.  No guilt if you have already bought them, but never fear, there are solutions!

1)  If you have them from years before or have just bought them, don't get stuck.  Just DON'T BUY MORE, and USE THE ONES YOU HAVE.  FOREVER!  Offer them on Freecycle when you are done with them, and make a note of what year you purchased them so that others know if it was before or after the big "lead in toys scare," and keep them out of the landfill.  Finding a specific person to give them to is better than donating them to a resale shop where they may or may not have value.

2)  Try making paper-mache eggs.  That's what we are doing and Lusa Organics has a great tutorial for them.  This took us a while for the first stage, but Jetta was singing the praise about it the whole time we did it.  Thanks to Lusa Organics for such a wonderful tutorial!  But please make note:  if you use a balloon for every egg, what happens to the balloon when you are done?  That's right.  It GOES INTO THE LANDFILL.  Don't use a balloon.  The Lusa Organics tutorial provides other options.



3)  Make sewn, wool felt eggs.  Remember, the felt has to be 100% wool in order for it to be natural.  Poly-based felt and fabrics DO NOT DEGRADE.  They are plastic in fabric form.  Lusa Organics also has a great tutorial for this, but there are others.  One Inch World has a more 3-dimensional version of this.  Or you could support an Etsy shop and buy something like these, at I Dream in Green!




4)  While we're talking about buying things, check out these beautiful wooden, fillable eggs.  Pricey, but long lasting and definitely degradable!

5)  You could try Eco Eggs, a non-petroleum plastic egg that is, according to their site, compostable.  If you have to have something that looks like the plastic stuff, this would be the way to go.




6)  Solid wooden eggs, easily purchased at your local craft store, can be decorated as you choose and used just like any other egg.  You could have a trade-in for candy-- each color could trade for a different treat!



7)  Eggs are the tradition, but these days, isn't candy the point?  So why bother with eggs at all.  Try this non-egg option, which is just as cute!  Thanks Eve of Reduction for your clever idea!  Cooking with My Kid has another version of this that is wrapped in tissue paper.  Just as cute, but make sure you use upcycled paper to wrap it and don't fill it with plastic toys or it defeats the purpose!




8)  My favorite, which is a pretty darn good standby, is, simply, to use real eggs.  And then you could, ya know, eat them.  Chocolate can still go in the basket, or you could trade them in for goodies (no plastic!) and then still have some nutrition at some point!



What are you doing this year to make your egg hunting eco-friendly?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Let's get one thing straight . . .

I read an article about a woman who lost 180 pounds and until I read this article, it had not occurred to me that EVERYONE was looking at me with disgust because my ass is big and because I have to squeeze behind them to get past.  It had not occurred to me that EVERYONE was relieved when I went past them on an airplane, and it had not occurred to me that I was so intensely loathed by all the world around me just because I weigh more than they want me to.

So let's get one thing straight.  I'm fat.  I am most definitely fatter than you want me to be and most days I am fatter than I want me to be.

But do you loathe me?  Are you relieved when I walk past?  Are you so fearful of my flesh that I disgust you?

Maybe.  Maybe you are part of the EVERYONE that is so fearful of their own flaws that you project that judgment onto me.

Let's get another thing straight.  There are loads of things about being fat that really suck, but it's more about convenience and acceptance than it is about the actual sucky-ness of my girth.  But don't you skinny folk have issues too?  Don't all of us have issues?  Don't we all long for approval by our peers and want to be loved for who we are?  If I looked like J Lo wouldn't I just then feel badly because I was only loved for my looks and not my brain, or my innate goodness?

So here is what I have to say about this issue.  Fuck all this shit.  I'm so sick of it.  I'm sick of somebody being disgusted because my hips are wide (and they are!), but I'm also sick of them not knowing that I, too, am disgusted with them.  That's right.  If you can't handle me being fat then you need to remember it works both ways.  We get to be disgusted with you too, and there are a lot of us! So get over it.

THERE IS NO MORALITY TO BEING FAT.  I am not bad, I am not evil, I am not lazy, I am not willfully creating this situation.  It's all bioligical, it's all limiting, it's all cruddy to be in the body that isn't approved of by society, but there is no moral issue about it.

What there is, instead, is fear. 

Fear that you will become like me. 

And so I must be judged, shunned, boxed up and shipped to the north pole?

If you know someone fat, and you have judged them, then why don't you consider the notion that you are really judging yourself.  You are really working at making sure someone else has issues that are worse than yours.  And if that person in your life is fat, try considering the possibility that the multi-billion dollar weight loss industry still hasn't figured out a way to make all us fatties turn thin, so surely, if there was a magic pill we'd already have taken it.

And if you are that fat person, come with me and let all this go.  No one is equipped to accept you in this modern society until you accept yourself and demand respect.  That's just how it is set up.  If you want others to respect you, approve of you, you have to stop thinking they are right for their judgment.  And you have to look in the mirror and recognize your own personal worth, no matter what your size.  You have worth because you are a human being.  And there is only one way to really move into believing that.



Make the choice. 

Make the choice right now to walk past all this shit, and love yourself.  Our lives are limited on this earth, and this might be the one shot you've got to stand up and say "I am fucking awesome!"  And that goes for you skinny people too.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Eco-friendly Markers for Eco-friendly Creativity?

Creativity is something I believe to be essential to my and my children's development.  Creativity unleashes the intuition and gives the soul permission to express itself in a uniquely individual way.  That said, we spend a lot of unstructured time at the table with colors, scissors, glue and fun.




And as we craft and play on this beautiful spring-ish day, I am pondering the question, "How much longer can I keep markers out of my house?"  The girls seem fine without them . . . until they have them.  And then, like with plastic toys, they are little beasts inhaling the food of which they have been starved.  They didn't know they were starving of this novelty, and maybe they really weren't, but when the opportunity to indulge in the forbidden fruit/plastic happens, they go wild.

What's the big deal?  Why won't I just give them plastic markers?

The purist in me that likes to ignore the mounting pile of gifted plastic toys and desperate purchases I have made for them also likes to envision that we use the real deal and skip all that plastic if we don't need it.  We have beeswax crayons.  We have water colors.  We have color pencils.  Who needs a marker?  They really are just water color in a tube.

But they are also kinda cool.  So I know some time in our future, while making paper and painting masterpieces, my kids will also be demanding markers.


 

There is no perfect solution, but there are, at present, a few options that will lighten the load if you choose markers and want to do it in a way that is more eco-friendly.

1.  Don't use them.  This is obvious, but needs to be stated.  No one NEEDS markers.  We will not die without markers.  There is no "marker imperative" to our survival.  So just skip it if you can.

2.  Choose natural instead of just non-toxic.  You can get natural markers through Clementine Art.  They make and sell beautiful natural products that might just be available in a locally owned shop near you.  But they are still packaged in plastic and are pricey.

3.  Use a marker that is refillable.  A Google search will reveal a lot options, but here is an example of AusPen refillable whiteboard markers:  http://www.auspen.com/collections/refillable-markers/products/auspen-6-assorted-marker-pack

4.  Use Crayola and sign the petition at Change.org to start a take-back program so Crayola can keep all those plastic tubes and parts out of the landfills and oceans.  And then hope for change.

5.  Use Crayola, sign that petition (see link above) and then take it upon yourself to recycle those tubes.  Crafting a Green World has a tutorial on doing just that, though you will want to hand deliver these to your recycling station to make sure they don't get discarded.  They are made from #5 plastic and recyclable, but not marked.

6.  If you aren't up for the messy process of dismantling a dozen or more markers at a time, you could always send them to Terracycle and they will recycle them for you.  Terracycle has a ton of brigades, and I am happy to report that our local Comal County UU Society participates.

There is no perfect solution at this point, and while markers are not a true need in our lives, creativity is.  Promoting eco-friendly creativity is an important part of the process and makes me feel much better for that time down the road when, and if, markers find their way to our creative days and ways. 

Do you use markers in your creativity?  How have you made your creative process more eco-friendly? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pisces Reflections

It is the new moon in Pisces and still Mercury retrograde.  Old habits die hard, but with this combination we're sure to reinvent ourselves or dig up an old project that is ready to be refreshed! 


 

Each month, Rachel and I have a theme for the new moon, a focus to guide us in our journey through body wisdom.  The Body Wisdom Project is what we've dubbed it.  It is an opportunity for us to remember and relearn the wisdom our bodies innately carry and the wisdom we gain from tuning in and listening.

Last month was our Believing Moon.  Believing, having faith, trusting.  And with that new awareness, that new ability to listen and believe what our cells are working to convince us of, we sit with this Pisces moon and reflect.  This month's theme is Reflection Moon.

I am reflecting on what has passed, on what I have learned.  But I am also REFLECTING, being a mirror to the moon and showing the moon her own beauty.  She is doing the same for me.  She is reflecting back what I have not been able, willing or BRAVE enough to see.  She might show me flaws, but she will also show me the wisdom, beauty and strength that is so hard to see about myself.

And there it is, right in front of me.  No reasons to deny it.  No way to ignore it.  Pisces Luna and her water nature cannot resist mirroring what needs to be resurrected, an image of myself that is a Goddess, a powerful manifestation of all that has come and all that has been weathered.  I grow larger than life in the pool of reflection with this moon, and my confidence soars as she smiles with psychic love, basking in this divinity that I mirror for her.



 


And all this is with the sliver of a moon.  Surely this journey will swell as she does!

To keep tabs on our Body Wisdom Project, or to join us in your own Body Wisdom experience, check back here, visit www.creativitytribe.com, or find Rachel on Facebook.

The Ol' Switcheroo

Looks like it's time for the ol' switcheroo.  Back to WildWood Naturals.  Like an old sweater and jeans on a cold morning.

I hope you'll stick with me and hunt me down at www.wildwoodnaturals.blogspot.com!

In the meantime, enjoy the last week of mercury retrograde!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Decision Making Time: Cast Your Vote!

New year, new location, time for official business stuff and I sure can't seem to make myself decide.  So help me out if you happen to stop by and cast your vote with a comment!

The top four business names to make the final cut are:

Hearth Roots (keep it simple and stay with this name)

Hearth Root Holistics (that way the blog address stays the same)

WildWood Naturals (revert back to this, and have the ease of not creating new wholesale accounts with suppliers)

Wild Heart Holstics (a little Stevie Nicks, a little me, a lot of holistics)

Which one, which one?  Cast your vote and help me out!

Blessings and thanks,

Jessica

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

From the Heart

With my Pisces nature, I can't guarantee that the next month won't bring changes, but what I can guarantee is that it will be from the HEART!  So follow me along my heart-felt path of healing, intuitive wisdom, and rooted wildness and we're sure to go far!

My favorite things for this week are:

 
Beautiful handmade paper, cut into Valentines!  You can find this tutorial at www.notimeforflashcards.com
 
 
 
 
I love this gratitude tree from The Nurture Store!
 
 
 
 
I can see some wild, creative and intuitive messages about personal power on these!  Thanks to Abundance Tapestry for this great idea.



 
This collage tree fills me with the wisdom that we all grow with love!  Find it pinned here, but if you find the original link and tutorial, let me know so I can give credit.
 
 
 
Find the love this week, for yourself and others, and grow with that love into your own strength, rooted to the earth, reaching for the sky, and always at least a little bit wild! My heart is yours!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Body Wisdom Project: Believe

It's the second new moon of the year and that brings me to the second theme of the Body Wisdom Project. Rachel, at Creativity Tribe, and I are dabbling with this notion that our bodies hold a wisdom that needs to be heeded.  This time we've chosen the word BELIEVE. 

Believe in myself.

Believe in my body.

Believe in the innate value of my soul's purpose, however inconsequential is may seem at times.

Believe in my body the way I believe in divinity, with prayer and magic and dance and an awe that takes my breath away.

What would happen if I believed in my body the way I believe in the the spiritual experience?  What would happen if I allowed myself to see this flesh as sacred  . . . just as it is?  What would happen if caring for my body became a spiritual process and believing what my body tells me became a part of my religion?

Who would I be without the crutch of doubt, without the inhibiting notions that somehow my body isn't good enough?  Who would I be and where would I go if I believed every word that my body whispered and listened to wisdom it yearned to convince me of?

I'm not there yet, but believing in the smallest part of that, the faintest whisper of truth, is where I'll start. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Waldorf lesson plans and notes link

I've just stumbled up on this great set of PDFs on Wadlorf 1st grade.  If you've been intrigued by Waldorf, but not sure you want to invest in a curriculum, check out the notes, lesson plans and schedule from this veteran Waldorf teacher:

http://www.edutopia.org/waldorf-public-school-morse-resources

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Body Wisdom Project: Listen

In the last few months, I have been emerging out of a confinement of the self where I'd been lost in caring for my children and stuck outside of myself.  Sometimes survival happens, and that's where I've been for a while.  But in the months that approached my youngest daughter's third birthday, some of the dependence she's had has loosened.  The girls are beginning to play differently now that Jade is 3, and while my days are still filled with upset, conflict, meals, messes, and sweet, sweet girls who shower me with hugs and kisses, it has allowed me to look up from the work I've been doing with them and come out of a survival fog.

And it has been through this that I am remembering.   I am remembering who I was before I had children, who I was as a strong woman and teacher of that strength.  I am remembering where the boundaries are between me and others, and between my issues and the power I can choose not to give others over those issues.  And I am remembering my body.

The quiet voice that once was loud is being heard when the hustle and bustle stops.  In those moments of autonomy, both for my girls and for me, the whisperings of my flesh are making their way through my own inner quiet and reminding me that there are still lessons to tend to.  The lessons have flooded my heart with quiet wisdom, and enlisted my mind with a gentle coaxing.  The time to listen, the opportunity to listen, the need to listen to my body again is ripening.

Rachel, at Creativity Tribe, and I have been sharing in this process and the seeds of change are beginning to bloom.  With a monthly moon blog focus, and eventually a website of it's own, this has become the Body Wisdom Project.  A project to remember, a project to renew, a project to re-empower the wisdom of our bodies.  We begin with this new moon cycle and with a focus: LISTEN.

So I am listening.

I am listening with my intuition.  Listening with my cells.  Listening between hugs and meals and stories and homeshooling.

I hear my body, my organs, my muscles, skin, bones.  I hear my arms and legs, my spine, my head.   Even my gray hair is speaking to me.  It is a quiet chorus of chaos, a radio not quite tuned and needing a moment of focus to perfect the dial.  But it's there, beneath the chatter and hustle and bustle of the outer experience.  It's there amid the aches and pains and triumphs and joys. 

I'm tuning in, and I invite you to do so with me.  Turn the dial.  A little this way, a little that way.  Extend your antenna.  Pause.  And wait to receive the stream of the message. 

I'll do the same. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Winter Lesson Plans, The Star Child

We started back with homeschool lessons today and other than a few bumps from my kindergartener who doesn't want to practice writing, it went well.  She is generally a willing learner as long as she doesn't have to use a pencil and write letters, but I suspect she's not all that different from other kindergarteners with her innate need to have a little more time for her brain to develop before she tackles some of the intellectual work that contemporary, American teaching demands.

And so, we have our Wildschooling, Waldorf flavors to guide us.  Keeping things simple helps.

Here is what we're doing this week:

Monday:  Introduce the main lesson, language arts, reading, writing.  The Star Child.
This is a beautifully illustrated fairy tale about a girl who has very little, but finds happiness in helping others.

We started with circle time, the elements on a mini altar (a plate) and the element song.

While still in circle, we read The Star Child, a Brother's Grimm fairy tale illustrated by Bernadette Watts.  This began our main lesson and shapes the rest of our week.

Moving to the table, we did the following:

We chose 5-10 words, Jetta entered them into her main lesson book.
She illustrated those words after sounding them out.
She then spent time drawing pictures in response to the book, while I used the words we chose and wrote sentences to summarize the book.

We took those sentences and made them into a little paper book.  As she reads each sentence, or sounds out what words she can, she then illustrates the page for that sentence.  This will take all week to complete since it's several sentences and most things take much longer than I anticipate.

Before bed, we'll do a little star magic of some kind, reaching out with our hearts into the sky, beyond Sister Moon, and into the depths of space to connect with the stars.

UPDATE:  Our magic time was not quite as magical as I wanted it to be, but we did attempt it.  As we lay in bed, I read a page from Every Day Magick about giving.  Then we closed our eyes, reached out past the moon to find Sister Star, and asked her about giving.  Jetta's initial response was authentic and genuine.  The message she heard with her heart is that we should keep what we need and give everything else away.  After that, it was forced and went downhill (ie:  comments about needing more tv's and dolls), so we said our prayers, sang our songs, including Twinkle Twinkle, and called it a night.

Tuesday: Math and Star Crafts

We'll meet in circle time after breakfast again with our elements, element song, and sing another song or two about stars, probably to include Twinkle, Twinkle. 

This time we'll recall the story before we read it, remembering the course of plot, and the items Mathilde, the main character, gives away.  Then we'll read it again and move to the table.

We're counting stars and counting how many items Mathilde gave away. 

We'll  make a "star bag," a paper bag with stars on the outside.  Then we'll make stars and the items that Matthilde gives to others.  We might do some basic addition with these items, sorting them first, then adding them together in a number sentence or two in Jetta's lesson book.  And then we'll have enough stars that come out of the bag to replace what she put in that will stretch Jetta's knowledge of numbers.  With each star she takes out of the bag, she'll put another number on a page in her lesson book (this is about number recognition and quantity).

We will also introduce the science lesson from A Year of Hands-on Science which covers the night sky and a little star gazing.  This will mostly be brief and we'll return to this on Thursday.

If time permits, we'll attempt making this beautiful Waldorf star lantern.  This lantern will go on our post-holiday Winter table.

UPDATE:  After watching this tutorial on the star lantern I have decided this is much too complicated for my kiddos (and me) right now.  Instead, we'll stick with some kind of paper, hole punch lantern like this

Wednesday:  Library, Play Group, and Social Studies

Our library day used to be on Tuesday, but when we changed days for playgroup, it made sense to also switch days for the library. We don't get much done before leaving for 10:00 am family story time, but in my ideal world, we'd have time for circle time before we left.

Our social studies lesson will be brief and likely over breakfast and dressing.  It will pertain to havnig compassion for others.  This page will add some framework for what we do after library and over lunch.

After library, we have lunch at home, and then head up the highway to meet for playgroup.

When we are done with this, the girls are worn out and usually need a bath right way, so other than attempting star-gazing, there won't be much else for us to do that day.

Thursday:  Science, Clock, Crafts

We start with circle time, songs, and the elements.

We'll do an actual lesson on stars and one of the activities from A Year of Hands-on Science

UPDATE:  The experiment we did from this book was tons of fun.  At bedtime, we got out four flashlights, two for each child.  We turned them on and pointed them to the ceiling while the lights were still on and talked about why we couldn't see them and why we can't see the stars in the daytime.  Jetta was right there with me, knew what was going on, and really enjoyed the discussion.  Then we turned off the lights to see what happens when the earth isn't facing the sun.  Lots of fun!

We'll likely make a wooden peg Star Child of some kind, make cloth stars for our nature table, and finish up that book that Jetta needs to illustrate if it hasn't gotten finished yet.
UPDATE:   The wooden ped Star Children were super cute and the girls loved them.  So simple and sweet, easy for them to do with me!

Friday:  Computer time, Unfinished Work

We start with circle time, songs, and the elements as usual. 

On Fridays we spend time on Starfall.com doing reading and basic math/geometry lessons.  Jetta is very receptive to this learning medium and because of that it is very efficient.   We indulge it and let it be a part of the process.

If there is anything we haven't finished from the week, we'll wrap it up here, though our science lessons will continue through the month.

If it's warm enough, we will get outside for a walk through the neigborhood, and save hiking at the local trail for Saturday, when my husband can go with us.


Our approach is not true to Waldorf education in that we are not delaying reading and math until age seven.  It is, in many ways, Waldorf inspired, but I am more concerned about including the elements, making things natural and intuitive, and honoring the spirits of my children.  I want to keep what is wild, delay what is imposed on us by society, but prepare them for the possibility that public school might happen at some point.

I'll update this throughout the week as we complete things and have images to go along with them.  I'd love to hear how your homeschool week is going!!!

UPDATE:  This was a great week, but we got busy.  Playgroup got rescheduled for Thursday and we lost our groove with the routine.  We managed to complete almost everything, but it took us through the following Monday to do it. 



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy New Year!

We have been busy, as I imagine most everyone has, and it's nice to begin settling back into our routine.  Err, do we have a routine?  Sort of.  Mostly.  Yes, definitely, but it's not quite as full or consistent as I'd like to be.

It's many a parent who is working on scheduling their second semester of the homeschool year, and I am definitely testing the water in the process.  We're still sticking with our eclectic approach while Jetta avoids the workbook at all costs.  We're considering dabbling a little with Oak Meadow next year, but admittedly I am reluctant to spend the money.  I'm also not sure I want to hang back on some of the things we made progress with, and I'm not sure I don't want to cruise ahead on the other things we haven't addressed.  In the end, I tend to overcomplicate things no matter what, so whatever is not the easiest is likely what I'll choose.

This is also the time of year for me to decide where I'm going with my massage practice.  I have some limitations on location, and some ambitions on how to flesh it all out, but it's hard to know just how to integrate what I'm hoping to do here and what I'm hoping to do holistically.  The path is ahead of me, but it sure feels like I'm blindfolded!

Regardless of where it all goes, I know there are some exciting things coming my way.  Rachel, from Creativity Tribe, and I are working on a project for tuning into the wisdom of the body.  I'll let you know when this is up and running so you can join us in your own adventure with your body's wisdom.  I mentioned not long ago that we are also teaching the Whole Woman Workshop, which will be in Corpus Christi, Texas in February at the Southwest UU Women's Conference and it's sure to be a powerful time.  Scholarships are available through the SWUUWC, so if you have any interest, don't hesitate to look into those.

With our holiday decorations packed away and a bit of cold weather treading lightly for our South Texas region, the beginning of this year feels like it is in a bit of  limbo.  Or maybe that is just how I feel about the things I need to accomplish.  The water doesn't feel quite warm enough to jump in, but I guess the sooner I do, the sooner I'll get to swim!

Happy New Year!