the Flu

cow2It’s weird to come in here and see that my last post was on February 1st. Man. We got sick. Everyone in the house. It takes a while to fully come through all of that grossness. What does getting sick do for you? I find it to be a really bizarre head space, especially when my kids get sick. When Liam died he had had a normal kid cold. I don’t think that’s what killed him, ultimately, but it was there. I remember. And that’s hard to not think about when I see my kids sick now. There’s this helplessness. So much–not always rational– questioning (why do I let them eat sugar? why did we go to the Y? blah, blah, blah, why?). So we get the flu, I hear on the radio that Wisconsin is only second to Texas in pediatric deaths due to the flu this season, and I try to take care of everyone (just like every other parent does).cow1And we’re fine! We’re all fine. It wasn’t even that bad now that I’m on the other side of it. But while it was on, man, it was on. I wasn’t well enough to go anywhere, I cancelled a lot of stuff, and my house began to look like it had the flu as well. In the middle of feeling bad I got an overpowering urge to knit a hat. That’s usually how it works for me; it’s almost as if I become fixated on the creation of an item and I can’t do anything else until it is complete. So I stayed up late a couple nights with a head cold and an orange cat and knit myself a hat. I love knitting. It’s no wonder that I decided I needed to do it when I was feeling so perfectly bad for myself.cat4We do eat sugar. I’ve been trying to limit the intake, but it’s not gone or anything. I find that when I set extreme limits the limit itself causes way to much anxiety or stress or guilt. If I’m feeling those things because I’m trying to be healthier then I’m not getting healthier. Let’s talk about that for a minute. There are a lot of different belief systems around food. Like, is sugar poison? Is gluten making you ill? Should you go Paleo? I don’t know. I think that each person has their own unique body that functions best when fed in its own unique way. I try to pay attention to how I feel after eating some grub. The more I realize I feel not-so-good after eating certain items, the more I know I don’t want to feel that way, therefore it’s easier to not eat said item. It’s not so much about rightness and wrongness, it’s about finding what works best for you. If eating only organic food helps you feel your best then eat organic food. But if it stresses you out because it’s expensive and you can’t afford other things…if it stresses you out because you are super hungry and you can’t get to the co-op…if it stresses you out and you can’t think about anything else…well then, I don’t know, what do you think? What is your balance?cat1So, speaking of sugar, my two-year-old turned two over the weekend and I made him a cake. I call it the Catty-cat Cake, because that’s what he calls it and because it’s fun. I really enjoy baking and cake construction. I made this one when the three-year-old turned two. I like the challenge. I like that it’s edible. I like that it’s a cat. And even though it’s made of sugar and white flour it brings me a the little people a great deal of joy and that is not stressful, that, I think, is healthy.cat2

Lotion

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I have heard this a few times: I would go to therapy, but I feel like it’s selfish (?). And I’m here to tell you that it is.

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It is 100% indulgent, all about you, don’t-look-at-anyone-else time. For a lot of people that can sound kind of scary. It can lead to thoughts of, “what about the children?” or “what about the dogs?” or “what about my book that I should be writing?”…what about all of these things that I should be doing instead of going to therapy, right?

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As it turns out, the more we take care of ourselves, the more space we free up for the other people/animals/interests in our lives. You gotta take care of your brain, dude, there’s no getting away from it. No matter where you go, there it is, still inside of that big ol’ dome.

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Taking time to do things for yourself feeds your brain, body, and soul. It declutters and reorganizes which then, for me especially, gives me greater energy to direct at other things, like my kids. So instead of deflecting them I am able to engage and read a book for the seventh time, without wanting to scream. Or maybe I still want to scream (let’s be real), but it’s without resentment. I find I have time for homemade lotion. Freeing up this space makes room for other things you care about. 

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This lotion is kind of indulgent. I have to take time out of my day to make it. But it makes me so happy when I smear it on my hands. I love to grease up my kids after the bath and know that I’m not putting chemicals on their bodies. And it’s not complicated. You don’t have to make lotion, but when you start taking time for yourself (therapy, exercise, good food), you might just want to make your own lotion.

Homemade Lotion
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup olive oil
  2. 3/4 cup beeswax
  3. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  4. 20-30 drops essential oil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Fill a sauce pan about half way full with water and place it on the stove.
  2. Put the heat or flame around medium.
  3. In a glass jar (I use an old peanut butter jar), add olive oil, beeswax, coconut oil and essential oil.
  4. Place lid lightly on jar.
  5. As everything melts, pick up the jar (careful of the loose lid!) and swirl it around.
  6. When everything has melted pour it into your vessels of choice (I like the half pint Ball or Mason jars).
  7. Allow to cool, then dig in! Food for your skin.
Notes
  1. My favorite smell at the moment is 20 drops of lavender, three of patchouli and three of vetiver.
Adapted from Wellness Mama
Adapted from Wellness Mama
Melissa Fannin http://melissafannin.com/

Mindfulness :: Scribble Directive

The Scribble Directive. I used paper, a pen, and water colors.

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Okay, I can’t take credit for the actual scribble, that was done by the little person that snuck into some of the pictures. The Scribble Directive is great for practicing mindfulness. It’s great if your working on living in the here and now. It’s great if you want to paint something. Here’s how this went for me this morning:

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Find scribble (you can make your own).

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Practice breathing while child joins in on the action (take notes on how child stays in the moment).

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Add paint.
As you can see this is simple stuff. Paper and paint. Some inspiration from the bluff I can see out of my window. This is about movement, clearing out the brain, and simply allowing whatever wants to happen happen.

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As ever, check out what’s happening through the process. Be an observer of your thoughts. See if you can stay in the present. When thoughts creep in you can acknowledge them and then simply ask them to leave. Practice being here now.

Self-talk

Goodness. Half-way through the week already. How’s your self-talk? Your inner voice. The critic. The devil on your shoulder. I call my inner voice, the super chatty I-have-something-to-say-about-everything voice, the terrorist. And for some reason I also refer to him as a he. As a him. Whatever. This guy reeks havoc on me. He is seriously the biggest meany, jerky jerk. And he’s me. And I’m him.
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Beyond that, he’s a liar. Like, clinical. He lies to me all of the time. And pokes and pokes and pokes. An example: the other day I was at yoga and class was pretty full. The owners (or at least the people I think are the owners) of the yoga studio set up their mats right next to me. So I’m thinking alright…yeah…you know…I got this (in my head it looks like I’m at the gym about to lift something heavy, jumping up and down, working out the kinks in my neck, flexing, but really I’m just sitting on a yoga mat zen-like) and then the terrorist joins in and starts saying crap like THEY ARE LOOKING AT YOU THEY THINK YOU SUCK THEY CAN TELL YOU’VE NEVER DONE THIS POSE BEFORE YOU SUCK DID YOU HEAR ABOUT HOW YOU SUCK and so on. I know, deep in my core, that he’s full of crap, but I still can’t help but feel that feeling. Fear. What if they kick me out due to sheer suckiness? What if they don’t like me? What if…? Fear makes us put our heads down, ball up, and cease to exist. We step back and stop participating; stop singing, painting, playing, writing, dreaming, living.
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I fight my terrorist in a couple different ways. One, if I’m by myself, I will yell–out loud–not a word or anything, just a long yelly noise to drown him out. It’s like I startle him (me) into closing (stopping) his (my) mouth (thoughts). And it works, interestingly. It works better when followed by some deep breathing, maybe a count to ten, maybe some self-forgiveness. There is lots of breathing in yoga, so I was able to process through that negativity pretty efficiently and then I was able to say I forgive you, Mel, and I love you. Saying those things to myself doesn’t stop the terrorist, but it gives me a really sturdy feeling in my core. That sturdiness is a knowing…and I’m guessing you probably know what I mean. You just know.

Dyslexie

You have to check this out:

A font (Dyslexie) designed for dyslexics, by a dyslexic, Christian Boer. Go to the website, learn more, and even download the font. Meaning, you have the ability to read everything in dyslexie. After you download it, of course. And it’s free. Free! What a gift.

PB & Honey Granola

Here is my first recipe of the year (and ever), with a goal of no refined sugar–a general rule–and an overall goal of being healthy and delicious. I’ve been making this recipe consistently for a few months and it still wins. Like, I don’t spend time searching “best simple granola” anymore. No sugar, just honey. Go for the local, raw stuff for extra points. Healthy fats, peanut butter and coconut oil. Oats. Simple and good.

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I like to eat raw food as much as possible. One, as I’m sure you’ve heard in your lifetime, uncooked food is more nutritious. Two, I’m lazy. It’s way easier to eat a carrot than to cook a carrot and then eat it. You know? When it comes to this granola I often chop up an entire apple, throw in a big handful of almonds and pecans, and top with granola and milk.

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PB & Honey Granola
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Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  2. 1/4 cup coconut oil
  3. 1/4 cup honey
  4. 3 cups rolled oats
  5. Additional tastiness: apple, banana, berries, nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, coconut...
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 340.
  2. 2. In a saucepan over low heat, stir the pb, coconut oil, and honey together until combined.
  3. 3. In a large bowl throw in the oats, dump in the wet, and stir everything together.
  4. 4. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  5. 5. Bake for 15 minutes, stir (don't skip this part!), bake for four more minutes or until golden brown.
  6. 6. Allow to cool completely, right there on the pan.
  7. 7. Eat. I like mine with an entire apple, chopped, a big handful of almonds and pecans, and milk.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Melissa Fannin http://melissafannin.com/
 

Fail

Click play. Read on.

Last week I resolved to blog twice a week and, well, I didn’t. I think we can count that one as a fail. Failures happen. All of the time. And we move forward. Last night, in fact, I had started this blog:

Want to know a really cool antidepressant? Wash the dishes. For real. That pile of gnarly, dirty dishes in the kitchen is a depressant, but as soon as you wash them or fill the dishwasher and press start–boom–a little dose of happy hits the brain. Check it out.

Me? I have dishes in the kitchen right now and I really, really, really, really, really don’t want to go in there and wash them (depressant). Yet I know as soon as I get in there and get it over with I will feel better (antidepressant).

I got that far and went to bed. Didn’t do the dishes. Didn’t finish the blog. Fail, fail. Failure, man, at least it gives a place from which to grow. I don’t expect to be perfect, but I do plan to keep going, just like a human.

Resolutions

All right all right all right.

Last time I was here I resolved to blog at least twice a week. That’s one. So far so good.

Clean language. This is a new way for me to look at language, brought to my attention by Alexa Nehter. I found her website, I don’t know, looking for recipes or something. She’s a yoga instructor and surfer and, what appears to be, a really good liver of life. In a recent blog she wrote, “I learned it’s important to be mindful of my language. No matter what my mind is doing, I aim to remember to speak the language of love and contribution.” The language of love and contribution; it makes so much sense. If the words coming out of my mouth have little daggers on them, it is not a contribution to the environment. I feel a little (a little) like this:

Idea three: reduce/replace the sugar. It’s probably fair to say that I eat a lot of sugar based on how much I like cookies. I like really really good homemade-in-my-kitchen cookies. With dark chocolate chips. And I swear, over the past couple years I have mashed together a few recipes and found what, in my opinion, is the best cookie this side of the Mississippi. The point is, I can eat a lot of cookies. No, that’s not the point. The point is I would now like to challenge myself to find my new best ever favorite cookie that is made without granulated sugar. Food is important to me and I think it should be a part of the conversation when discussing mental health, so I’d like to bring that here as well. I’ll plan on sharing the foodie part of my life (which is basically how to get healthy snacks into my kids, so don’t go getting all fancy on me) soon.

Four: real yoga practice.
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Five: more art. I haven’t figured out the parameters here yet, but it’ll come.

Six (and probably most important): Be seen. Let people see me. Be heard. Let them hear me speak. It’s a big one for me and perhaps at another time I’ll get more into the details of why this is something I need to do.

All right. In 2015 I resolve to blog, speak with intention, bake, do some yoga, make art, and be seen. All of that sounds far too fun for failure, but we’ll see how it works out. So long, 2014, and thank you for the gifts you gave (see example below).

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2015

Hey, hey! Happy 2015! It’s an odd number. I like odd numbers, for no good reason other than that they are called odd. What does this year bring for you? What do you bring to it?

For me? I’ve honestly never really done resolutions beyond wanting to be less sucky at some things and better at other things. Not much room for failure when I set the bar really low.

A month or so ago I was talking to my husband and he said, “why aren’t more people walking around saying holy *&$#, do you realize we’re all going to die?!

Cue the song:

And that’s been stuck in my head. Why don’t I think about that…more?

We’re all going to die. And to continue doing the things that don’t work or make us unhappy is silly. Or worse than silly, it’s destructive, painful, cancer-causing; like that. But we stay where we are because it’s familiar, comfortable, safe…because we know what to expect, even if the thing we expect is not good for us. And change is terrifying. Failure is terrifying. Me, personally, I’m terrified of failing. So I get it. Even writing stuff like this, I feel my own self-judgment (what right do I have to say any of this?). I worry about the judgment of others. I get scared. But I have to push through for my own personal growth. If I want any kind of change I’ve got to get uncomfortable.

So, 2015, one thing I’d like to do with you is feel more uncomfortable more of the time. That means talking on this little platform more often (blog two times a week). And I will fail sometimes and at others I will succeed. We’ll see. Here we go. I’ll be back in the following days to add more to my list of things to suck less at.
Happy new year!

What I’m Working On: A Blanket

blanketI love me a cozy blanket. Feels like warmth and safety and all sorts of comfortable.blanketI made this baby for my cousin as a wedding gift. It’s always a little nerve-wracking, giving a handmade item as a present. I want the receiver to want it, like it, and hopefully not feel annoyed that I didn’t choose something off of the registry. Mostly, though, I feel driven to make something that might be meaningful, because, selfishly, it’s meaningful to me. So maybe that’s what it’s really about. Huh.
blanketCheck out the back of this quilt. Faux mink. And you should feel it. Super dreamy. Faux mink because I’ve been reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series and the characters are always climbing into their sleeping furs at the end of the day. I want sleeping furs. There it is.
blanketI “quilted” it by hand by making little starbursts with this beautiful silk thread that I was able to borrow from one of my best, best friends.