Sunday, July 20, 2014

Health and Wellness Flair

Hi Everyone!
As I expand my own definition of Health and Wellness in my own life, I wanted to invite you guys to join the Facebook group Health and Wellness Flair (click link to join).  Before you decide if this is something you want to do, I want you to decide if this is something that you want to be a part of based on the group's working definition of wellness (which adopted from the World Health Organization):

This group is about sharing ideas, recipes, etc on all thoughts regarding food and overall wellness. This group is for those that appreciate using food and wellness approaches to living and being well. By well I mean, the World Health Organization's definition of wellness:

"Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.

"...a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." - The World Health Organization.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On Anger and Loving Kindness

There is a real monster inside of me that is hard to love.

She follows me around as my shadowy self

Showing up on even the brightest, sunniest moments

She is impulsive

She is selfish

She worries, endlessly, about the things that she cannot control

She gets irritable and frustrated at those she loves the most

But yet

All she wants is my attention

She wants to be acknowledged and loved

Despite her dark feelings

She wants me to know that her feelings of anger matter

And that she doesn't want to be angry but that she deeply feels

The pain of the World

And Others

She desires to feel metta

And to be deeply heard

And understood

By Me.

When this happens,

 Then she will

Be free

And whole

Inside of me.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Headphones On Our Heads

A writing from last week's Metta Writing Class

The head phones that we wear connect our  head to our hearts with the fast beats of the Clash and the Cars rushing quickly between the 18 inches that exist between our head and heart. The fast beat and rhythmic sounds cancel out the decaying mixtape that is often times repeating itself in our heads  The headphones are an auditory reminder that we have to listen to sounds outside of our own mental beats in order to embrace the new sounds of loving kindness that come from the heart and into the head. These euphoric and strange sounds remind our hearts that we have the power to *choose* to listen to new sounds of loving kindness that come from outside ourselves and tells us we are beloved.

With  Flowers in our hands, a smile on our faces, we are reminded that we are like flower seeds in different states of blooming.  We sprout pedals when we learn to love those that do not know how to love back (yet). Our hearts and brain grow a few more inches when we decide we are worthy of own respect and loving kindness with no need to harbor subconscious anger from the past.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Going Gluten and Dairy Free for Jesus (with reluctance)

I have been asked by several people, including my therapist, to write out a narrative of our family's dietary changes.  I am also in a summer writing class that focuses on the Buddhist practice of cultivating Metta (or loving kindness) in our lives.  So in the weeks to come, many of my posts will probably have that theme running through it.   So, it's Sunday afternoon, the kids are sleeping and I am in the mood to write it out. So here we go...

When my daughter’s occupational therapist recommended that both the kids and I go on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet, I thought she must be talking to a capable, granola mama sitting behind me.  When I turned around and realized no such woman was there, I realized she was speaking directly to me.  And then I wondered if I could just fake the whole darn diet thing altogether. Maybe the OT would just *think*  I was doing the diet and I wouldn't have to change a thing.  Yes, that was my initial thought to the recommendation. Pretty ludicrous, right?

At the time, I was adjusting to my increased dosage of ADHD medication so I was already feeling like I was going through an adjustment period.  However, after my daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, I wanted to give her every tool under the sun to help her learn to succeed in a world that wanted her to sit still and be a “normal” kid.  Her occupational therapist and doctor assured me that many of our mental health and gastrointestinal battles were due to increased inflammation in our stomachs and brains.  In order to help my daughter, I was going to have to learn to actively love myself on a much more intimate level.

It wasn’t that I thought our health practitioners, whom I trusted, were lying to me.  It was more that I never saw myself as the sort of mother that checked the contents of every food label I handled. To be honest, I remember several instances talking to my friends skeptically about such parents.   But here I was, facing a decision that would greatly impact the way Luke and I parented, loved our kids and ourselves.
After calling all my fellow health and wellness friends on the phone all over the country, looking for one of them to tell me that such a move was not that important and not receiving a single answer that I was personally hoping for, we reluctantly made the choice to put myself and both my kids on a dairy and gluten free diet.

Shortly into this new adventure in food and nutrition, I listened to a sermon by the pastor at our church.  In one of his sermons, he challenged those of us listening to “let Jesus change the way we think.”  I remember sitting in the church pew feeling like God had just shed light on my own ignorance.  Maybe our family was actually going gluten and dairy free FOR JESUS. 

Three weeks into this process, my self -perception began to change.  What if I actually was capable of making big changes for myself AND the family at the same time?  What if my reluctance towards this change was actually me protecting a false image of myself? What if this false image was a character I fabricated to accept unskillful, irresponsible behavior as ok?  Either way, I am fairly sure Jesus was sick of this act too.  Frankly, I think we both were.

I think it imperative that we begin to invite Jesus into some messy areas of our own psyche. What if we truly began to love ourselves in the same way Jesus loved us?  Would we accept our same status quo behavior that made us feel stuck in our depressive ruts? Would we more capable of loving the people that are hardest to love?  Could we become more aware of our own behaviors that hold us back from feeling completely loved by God and ourselves? 

For me the answer to all these questions is a unanimous, YES! 

What about you?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Photography as Loving Kindness

Photography as Loving Kindness

Photography is my way of receiving and expressing Metta (Loving Kindness)
My camera lens acts as a mediator between the world within me
And the external beauty connecting
All of US

I rejoice in the opportunity to capture the true physical and spiritual beauty of people
In my portraits;
I rejoice in seeing people visually captured as true fine art
For the First Time

When I photograph old city buildings and their rich textural layers of brick
And Mortar,
I contemplate the infinite layers of my own psyche,
Digging deep for authenticity

When I photograph the loveliness of the community gardens in My City,
I feel tranquility
In knowing that all the flowers and the seeds fully understand the rhythms of their
Own lives,
Because  the Garden does not question the Gardener
When it is time to Harvest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nashville Through My IPhone

We took a quick two day jaunt to Nashville as a family to get away during my week off work! Nashville is the perfect  blend of our family's love for food, art and blue grass music.  There is talk of taking a road trip with a few of my lady friends this autumn.  Can't wait!  Until then....we're saving up money to hit up Asheville, NC for a couple's trip!!

Here are some visuals from our recent trip:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Learning to Surf

Mindfulness quote: "We cannot control the waves but we can learn to surf them." -Sitting Still Like a Frog

We are born with the purest of hearts

We inherently live in each moment 

As children

But then the Waves of anxiety begin when life presents

It's darker side





No one taught me how to surf these waves

No one taught me at this young age

That these waves could be my greatest 


In Life.

The Waves could teach me to surf

By learning to observe the movement and size of the Tides

The Trigger Points.

The Heaviness in my head when the Waves hit.

In knowing

Their pattern

I become a Master Surfer

Of my own mental waves
And heal

By breathing

Noticing the feeling in my head

And picturing surfing each wave as it comes

Staying afloat.

No capsizing.

For my daughter,

I will teach her

To Surf

At age four.

She and I are not The Waves.

We are the Surfers,

Learning to love the The Waves and all their Lessons.