Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sustainable Fashion in STL and Beyond

I know in the past I have talked quite a bit about clothing swaps, recycling your clothes, thrift store shopping etc.  I have had many people emailing me asking to list out places that do clothing swaps, recycling clothes, etc.  So I am going to do what I do best, make a Sustainable Fashion Resource List

Clothing Swaps:

Perennial is one of my favorite Not For Profits in St. Louis.  They teach sustainable furniture design classes among many other things.  Clothing swaps are just the tip of the ice burg.

Refresh is a fantastic thrift store in Brentwood.  Their clothing swap is organized by my friend Cristina Cousins.  You can sign up for the swaps on the St. Louis Clothing Meetup Site here.  You can also sign up for the kids clothing swap,  The Moppet Swap on the St. Louis  site as well.

Recycling Clothes

I take any clothes that I cannot swap to my local H&M.  They take everything!  Kid's clothes, fabric scraps, stained baby onesies (no joke).  Plus, they also give you 15% off an clothing item for using their recycling program.


Schoola is a new way to trade in gently worn clothes to raise money for your child's school.  I am just learning about this program and seeing how I can get my daughter's pre-school to be a participant.  Please check it out here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On Ferguson

It has taken me almost a WEEK to even want to write about Ferguson, MO.  Mostly because I have worked in this area of St. Louis County for 4 years and it feels odd that the whole world all of a sudden is taking interest in North County, St. Louis, a place that has taught me how to confront my own prejudices as I have learned to deeply love so many parents of children with visual impairments in North County over the course of the last 4 years.  Working in North City and North County has truly taught me how to deal with the most difficult sides of myself.  As one of my friends who works in ministry pointed out today, "when we confront areas of race, we have to look up (to God), look within ourselves and then act out our prayers to everyone (especially the people who live and look different then me).

See, when I started to confront the prejudices and dark places inside of me, I began to rethink my fears towards others.  I have learned over the years that my "fear of the others" in the world is my body's physical and mental response to things it has never experienced or fully understands. So REALLY, what I have learned about facing these types of fears is that it says way more about me then it does the person or place my brain is telling me to fear.  It is a purely biological feeling that may not be true at all.  We needed it has cave men to survive and sometimes that is still the case.  But my radar is  not 100% accurate, especially when it comes to people.  Here is another thing I have learned, "the others" also have this SAME primal gut reaction to things they don't understand. If I show fear to their differences then that fear is felt by them and projected back on to me.  Yes,  I have learned that I truly fear what I don't understand.

Working in Ferguson, North County and the North City has taught me that the initial primal response  to new things is not true fear, it is often times God's urging for me to step out of my comfort zone with people who would in fact become my greatest teachers.

So, if you live in St. Louis, I would recommend that you start hanging out in North County.  You have teachers waiting to teach you about beautiful ways of life that you can only learn in that area of St. Louis,  if you are a willing and humble student.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Places Shame Cannot Exist

Shame cannot exist in the places where I experience sympathetic joy, compassion and equanimity.

Shame disappears in the moments when we are accepting our current feelings just as they are.  

Shame doesn't exist when Natalie reads a poem out loud in our writing class.

Shame doesn't  exist when our family chooses wellness over sickness.

Shame doesn't exist when we are talking about shame.

Shame doesn't exist when Shyla is listening to her headphones, taking fierce actions toward healing.

Shame doesn't exist when I take my ADHD medication

Shame doesn't exist I share my blog entries, even the ones that are not polished and nice.

Shame doesn't exist when I can communicate with accuracy what I am feeling in a single moment.

Shame doesn't exist when I am in my therapist's office

Shame doesn't exist in the farmer's markets where people are buying food grown with love and compassion for the beings that their food will nourish.

Shame doesn't exist when two friends with a long history of their own struggles can laugh together.

Shame doesn't exist during meditation sessions on joy, compassion and equanimity or loving kindness towards my enemies (or really people I need to grow to love from a distance)

Shame doesn't exist when we can move from a place of long suffering anger to empathy and then back to equanimity

Shame ceases to exist when I acknowledge the presence of its existence in my head and heart and then take an action toward...

Shame resiliency...

Intentional Behaviors


That lead me 

back to joy




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?