Monday, December 26, 2005

so i'm a litttttle behind....

ok I admit, I have not sent out most of my Christmas cards yet. Yes I know it's a day after Christmas, but what can I say? I have them sitting on my coffee table, I wrote my yearly newsletter and printed it out and everyone's card is labeled and stamped - but I need to write each card still. I like to add something personal inside each one. I also did not buy any Christmas presents this year except for the kids, I boycotted Christmas! I did make gifts with the kids for their grandparents this year but again... we're a wee bit late on getting them out. Ah well, we had a good one!

This year, I did not put any gifts under the tree before Christmas as I normally do. Sam had expressed how cool it was in movies when the kids wake up and all of a sudden there are all these presents under the tree and the tree is all lit up, so I decided I'd do that for the kids this year. Their presents happened to be fairly large this year so they awoke to a lit-up tree and lots of shiny big presents under the tree. It was fun. They do not believe in Santa Claus - in fact we never told them about Santa Claus because I would rather keep it real. Christmas to me is about Jesus Christ's birth, and although Christmas is also very much a cultural tradition, I don't like the idea of telling my kids something untrue as true that I know they will lose faith in. I think it's hard enough to have faith in God on this planet for many people, so I don't want my kids to think that the story of Jesus is - like some do say - like believing in Santa Claus.

So on Christmas Eve I made a big dinner then we went to church, and on Christmas day we opened presents and then I made whole wheat banana-walnut-carob chip pancakes with maple syrup and we made a gingerbread house, created beaded snowflake ornaments, then later went to see the movie Cheaper by the Dozen 2.

In line with my recent foray to New Mexico and my thinking about making purchasing and lifestyle choices in line with my true goals and priorities (environmental and personal impacts of daily choices), and also for concern over my future health as I head into the second half of my thirties, I have decided to change to use more natural products and organic or natural foods. I've started the big switch - I got natural deodorant, Tom's Toothpaste (I used this as a kid at my dad's!), castille soap body wash, and bought some Burt's Bees natural facial products.

I've been off coffee and Diet Coke for 2 days now - switched to sea salt, organic turbinado sugar, and bought a bunch of bulk foods: buckwheat, spices, flax seed, psyllium husks, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, Brewer's yeast, whole wheat flour, as well as some organic chicken and free-range eggs. I am going to try the Ayurvedic Master Cleanse which is a lemonade with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper and after that do a general detox diet that consists of a lot of veggies and whole grains. Lucky for me, I actually like a lot of this kind of food - thanks to my dad's cooking when I was a kid - and just need to do it. I bought glass jars and love the way my cabinet looks with all the bulk food items lined up. I'm trying to buy organic wherever I can, but just going as natural as possible because organic is expensive...

I haven't yet gotten natural cleaners but that is a next step. I also want to get fluorescent lightbulbs - saves energy and better lighting - and install a reverse osmosis water filter. I plan to get E Magazine's Guide to Green Living from my Christmas present money! It feels good to see these more natural products around me - knowing that the products I put in and on my body are more natural than the ones I was using before, and the companies more aligned with my belief systems and priorities. I will upload some holiday photos soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

oedipus complex

i admit i always thought the idea of a freudian oedipus complex was quite weird and gross even. but i was reading about it in new mexico in Peck's book "The Road Less Traveled and Beyond" and he relates it to wanting something/someone we can't have. that really struck a chord in me and i had never ever heard it related in that way. i love learning new things. it's only when we learn things about ourselves that we can change them.

i learned something cool from one of my nature writing students that has me fascinated - that in new england the squirrels used to be so abundant as they fed on vast quantities of chestnuts they would travel in packs. i don't know why but i find that so interesting to picture these roving bands of squirrels. I even told my kids about it. i mean squirrels are pretty abundant now, but can you imagine a forest packed with them in such great quantities like the buffalo or the passenger pigeon? i mean they may not have been quite THAT abundant but still. its just something i had never heard, i just get to thinking how much we humans have screwed up this land of plenty i can just imagine what it was like when european settlers first arrived - the bounteous wildlife they encountered! it breaks my heart it will not ever go back, because we have just used up too much land to ever get it back that way

Sunday, December 18, 2005

woo hoo and kangaroos

So here is an update on my Best Two Weeks and Best Christmas Ever. First of all, I think it's impossible to have the kind of Queen Latifah-movie adventure unless you have an unlimited supply of money. LOL. We tried to make garlands but the string was too skinny and its really hard to string marshmallows.... Too sticky. Eww. So we gave up on that for now. We are making a puzzle and other things. I got the kids their own tree for the first time ever.

We're watching my kids' friends from school this weekend and so today we all went ice skating. It was a blast! I've been many times and my kids have been 2 or 3 times before. It was the friends' first time but they did great! I went to the middle and did spins. I don't know how really but one of my favorite things in the world is to hold out my arms and spin around and around until I'm dizzy. So I did this at the middle of the rink and then you pull our hands in and you start to go faster. And it was fun to skate and yell woo hoo! That is my favorite word I think. I love it because it's so ridiculous to be an adult and say woohoo but it is literally just the most fun thing ever. So I love to do it. We call my son and his friend Macaroni and Cheese so it was funny to go around saying hey macaroni and cheese! My daughter is in an age where she gets embarrassed by some things I do, but the younger girl is like me and so is my son so I kept asking if they wanted to jump up and down like kangaroos, so we did this going down the stairs in the mall. Secretly I think Savannah likes it - sometimes. When we got to the car, we all 5 jumped up and down like kangaroos too. It's quite fun!

After skating we went to get a DVD movie and stopped into Radio Shack to play with the totally cool RoboSapien robot. We played with it for about 20 minutes, and Oh my gosh this thing is so so cool. It costs like $200 but it talks, moves, and even dances and raps. You can train it to do cool things. But the most hilarious thing was that there is also a RoboDinosaur thing, and at one point the Dinosaur - which stands about as tall as the Robosapien's waist, ran into the robot's crotch and the robot said "Whose your daddy?" Oh my gosh, we were all DYING laughing!! I literally started rolling on the floor. Well ok, not rolling, but I did lie down on the floor I was laughing so hard! Then the robot says "I hope nobody saw that." Oh my, it was so funny. I HAVE to get one.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Live Like You Were Dying

Inspired by Daline's birthday joy-giving, I have been thinking of how I can give joy and get back into the whole "Best Year of Your Life" thing I'm doing. It's funny because I have these printed labels that say "This is the best year of your life!" around my house and I looked and I was like, bleh, this is not the best year... (though it has had some highlights!)

So as I soaked in my bath-by-candlelight I thought, well there are 2 weeks left in the year, how can I make these 2 weeks the best two weeks of my life? I saw a preview for a movie with Queen Latifah where she finds out she has 2 weeks to live and she goes all out and has a blast doing all kinds of things. Well financially I can't do that but I can stop using money as a limiting excuse. I was kinda making the kids feel bad by telling them they aren't going to get much for Christmas etc & I decided to heck with that - I'm going to tell them they are going to have the Most Marvelous Christmas Ever!

So I have been thinking besides the utter necessities, I am not going to slave away day and night on work on my computer like usual (I do love working!). I sent off my proposal today, so that is a huge sigh of relief - woohoo!!! So I am going to teach my class, finish my couple of assignments, and then do things that will usher in a grand new year: a Budget, and Decluttering and Simplifying.

And besides that, I'm going to spend time doing holiday fun things with the kids: making a gingerbread house, baking cookies and giving them away, making a popcorn-cranberry garland, making ornaments, decorating the house in the most elaborate beautiful way ever, maybe Christmas caroling with our church.

There is this little book I got last year, "Live Like You Were Dying" which was inspired by Tim McGraw's song (which I have not heard because I don't listen to country music) but I love the book. It as some beautiful poetic passages, and I decided one day during the holidays with the kids and/or Daline I am going to go out and spread joy by giving away little fortune-cookie sayings from that book. Maybe with a flower or chocolate. We need to do something to make people laugh. Joy. Give some away today!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I think I've been having a bit of culture shock returning to suburbia. I was going through Wal-Mart today and just all the aisles and lights and clothes and "stuff" and people, and I was just like bleh, what am I doing here? The other day I was thinking I want to get some more green products and create a more environmentally friendly home. I don't know exactly what - just some things that are cool, functional and environmentally-friendly like things made with recycled content or soaps and cleaners that are green or who knows. Just visible reminders or who I am and what I believe in. Any ideas? Post a comment!

I admit I shop at Wal-mart regularly and I have no rabid opposition to them unlike some people I know. But on the other hand they don't represent what I am and what I believe in, which means supporting companies that do positive things and create products that actually help people as opposed to just creating cheaper stuff so we can all have more stuff that we don't need. On the other hand the one thing that I do "need" is candles. And maybe flowers... When I moved out into my own apartment I promised myself I'd create a home that made me and the kids feel safe and at peace, a haven from the world. I knew I'd need it. I love fire, so I decided I'd burn candles again regularly because I like the way the flickering flame reminds me of the light of life. I also like the scent of candles. Anyway so I bought some candles today - even though money is super tight, there are some necessities... It may seem an odd choice but it's a commitment I made to honor myself and the shelter I'm trying to make our home.

Part of my melancholy of late is fear. I talk about fear a lot and it's not like I'm sitting around "scared" - by all means, no. What I call fear is a primal feeling that is semi-conscious. It's the feeling that we cover up with busy-ness, or that manifests as anxiety, or that people cover up in various ways - I try to be vigilant of the fear so it doesn't sabotage my life by my denial of it. I try to address it head-on. I believe it's in everyone. I laughed when I read in Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, "The absence of fear is not courage. The absence of fear is some kind of brain damage."

Anyway my fear today comes from my little girl growing up. I just got home from her birthday party. I have a close relationship with her, but I also see the seeds of struggle as she starts to grow up. As a tween she is back and forth between wanting mommy and being fiercely independent. I see her as so intelligent, so gifted, so wanting approval and so wanting to be herself. It's a tough role to be a mom. I have terrible, terrible fear of her growing into a young woman. I know from experience what an awful, horrible time that was for me and I pray so much she does not have to go through what I did. I mean, I had the most traumatic teen years I can just about imagine. Well I can actually imagine worse, but not to underestimate, it was full of hell and drama and denial.

I want so much to believe I can help my daughter live a life where none of that bad stuff happens, but I honestly don't know for sure I can. I know I'm not a perfect mom and yet I feel I'm a good one. I don't know what my daughter will think when she grows up... :) When I get scared, I sometimes want to just run away and live in a cabin... I love to be alone. I love my children so fiercely and sometimes I feel I have failed them so much by my inability to be more present with them. It seems no matter how much I try, I just keep saying when I make more money or things settle down or I finish this project... but it keeps getting worse in terms of the busy-ness factor. There's less money so the pressure to work feels constant. I think I need to time-budget...

Anyway so I was talking to Daline and this is what I need to do - to get my financial and time budgeting in line with my real priorities. This will be my goal for next year.

I mentioned a few days ago what Daline did on her birthday - here is a post she made to the random acts of kindness foundation page. Read her story - it's so cool!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Have been inundated since my return. I went on some explorations with my friend/colleague nature photographer Laurence Parent - Went to hot springs in Truth or Consequences, NM then to Elephant Butte Lake in NM, hiked in the Black Mountains and the drove to El Paso, TX and took the Wyler Aerial Tram up the Franklin Mountains to an amazing overlook of El Paso and neighboring Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Here are some photos. I will update later...

Sunrise at Elephant Butte Lake, NM

Elephant Butte Lake, NM

The night lights of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez from a view accessible by the Wyler Aerial Tram/Franklin Mountains State Park in TX.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Goodbye Owl Mountain

Today is my last night at Owl Mountain. I'm leaving early to go on an exploration of some hot springs of New Mexico and hiking and to meet some friends. I will post photos when I get home as I will not have access until then.

I went for a hike around the hills and rock formations around the cabin. It was really beautiful. The soil and mountains here are so soft, and everywhere there are pathways where water has rushed through carving valleys through the soil. The temperature was warmer again today and it was so nice to be outside in the fresh air.

One thing I have really enjoyed about my time here is my ability to just sit outside. Going outside is so "easy" because its just a one-room cabin - you just open the door and there is the great outdoors all around. I will have to find a way to make my outdoors a little more work-friendly at my home. I have mostly sat around in my pajamas and slippers many of the days. Every few days I get stinky and take a shower. I enjoy cooking my healthy food and sitting outside - glass of tangerine juice and a pan-fried bean-and-cheese-and-salsa burrito. Mmm.

I have found my stress level heightens when I just sit at my computer and work-work-work and it lowers when I go for walks. I didn't get everything done I wanted to on my proposal, but I made significant strides, got some excellent feedback, and it is getting close. I did nearly everything but the sample chapter and I'm pondering on that one. My solar batteries are all run down and I'm not sure how much juice I have so when it dies I'm gonna make a fire and stare at the stars! Love and peace to all!

Goodbye Owl Mountain! Sunrise 12/02