Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feeling Hopeful

Sometimes I receive forwards and links that bring a surprising amount of joy into my life. When I first clicked into a YouTube video link called "Free Hugs", I wasn't sure what I would find. But suddenly, I found my heart expanding with a sense of goodness and hope as I watched barriers between strangers soften and dissolve. I had the same poignant feeling about a year ago when I bought (for my daughter) the DVD set of the first season of Little House on the Prairie. I hadn't watched it in years and we promptly sat down and watched 4 episodes in a row.

Observing the purity and love of the Ingalls family, their close-to-Earth lifestyle, and fierce familial loyalty literally warmed me from the inside out.

Another link I recently discovered through my friend Meghan is for the upcoming film Pregnant in America. There's an interiew with Ina May Gaskin (author of Spiritual Midwifery)and it looks like it will be an intriguing inside look into the over-mechanized, hospital-based, birthing "industry". It focuses particularly on the US medical field, but relates to some of what is also happening in Canada.

I feel hopeful when I glimpse efforts toward reclaiming humanity to live as we were created to live.

(photos: www.flickr.com)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lenten Beginning

by T S Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow,
for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

And this morning, while I was cleaning off my desk, I came across a quote I had cut out a few months ago. It was a gentle reminder to me today, of what Lent is about.

"We must not think that our love has to be extraordinary. But we do need to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. These drops are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being quiet, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. They are the true drops of love that keep our lives and relationships burning like a lively flame."

---Mother Teresa

(photo: flickr:papabear1949)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Our Cherished Ones

This is one of my favorite shots of Soul-Baby and Alley-oop. It was taken on the back porch of my parent's desert home in Tucson, Arizona.

I love how they are heartwarmingly loving and affectionate with one another. I told my husband this morning, that sweet Alley reminds me of a sheep dog. She is always concerned with Soul-Baby's needs and she circles round him, protecting and moving him along, connecting him to what we are doing. Whenever I offer her a snack or to read her a book, she looks up with wide eyes and asks "What about Soulie, Mama? Can he have one too, can he come with us?" And Soul-Baby loves his big sister and watches her every move. I've nearly dropped him because of the force with which he whirls his head around to follow his sister as she dances or skips from room to room.

The other day as we were eating lunch, Alley looked up and asked, "How long can we keep Soulie, mama?" My eyes immediately stung with tears as I explained that he is a FOREVER gift to us, that he is a part of our family FOREVER. I was amazed by how fiercely I wanted to say the word FOREVER again and again. I was overwhelmed with love for this little angel in our life, who asks the questions that remind me of my essence, my priorities, my desire to live out FOREVER vows with my husband and my family.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Our New Addition

In an earlier post, I wrote about our car situation, how we've driven our 1985 volvo station wagon into the ground. It has been a long year of waiting and searching and saving up money to buy a car that would be safe and reliable but would also fit our outdoor-loving and large-family aspiring selves.

This is a fantastic automobile! It's a Toyota Landcruiser PRADO. It's diesel, 4-wheel drive, has adjustable shocks/under clearance for rocky terrain, fog lights, a roof rack with clamps to hold skis and big enough to carry Diesel tanks for long off-roading trips. And the clincher for us: it seats 8! Although we are a family of 4 right now, we would love to add to this number in the future. And we are excited that this can accomodate that desire. ALSO, we can carpool with friends and family more easily. I find it funny when I want to head to the beach with a friend and we end up driving the trek in our separate cars. Now we can fit, kids and all.

As far as I know, PRADOs are not available in the states. They are made and sold in Japan and Canadians have found a way to import and resell them in Canada. This makes for some interesting aspects. All imports are "right-hand drive" and the instructions on the mirror, glovebox and control panel are in Japanese. It trips other drivers out to see the steering wheel on the opposite side and we get a lot of "double takes." But I love the right-hand drive! I can sense that I am more conscientious with my driving, because it feels so different. The new perspective heightens my awareness.

A great website to check out is www.japanoid.com . It's full of pictures of funky-looking Japanese imports that are now available in Canada.
Come visit us and we'll take you for a ride--

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Growth Toward Green

For a few months now, I have considered "compacting" along with a growing number of families who desire a simple, "calm-pact" life. The Compact has several aims more or less prioritized below:

"To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.

To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-or).

To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)."

There are many ways to do this and I thought I would list a few of the things I am doing and would like to WORK on doing more consistently.

***I use cloth diapers & cloth wipes. I (in the summer/spring) hang them outdoors to dry. During the winter, I try to hang them indoors near the wood stove on a drying rack.
***I use cloth or reusable bags when I grocery shop.
***We heat our home with a wood stove instead of electric heat. When we need to use electric heat, we turn down the thermostats at night.
***I sometimes (would like to more often) cook and boil water on our wood-burning stove.
***I often bring a coffee thermos or mug when I go out for coffee or try to avoid a "to-go" cup by relaxing and enjoying my brew in a cafe mug.
*** I buy many things bulk and store them in large glass jars at home: peanut butter, oats, flour, rice, nuts, honey, syrup, baking supplies, dried fruit, beans, pasta...
*** I buy very little *new*. I have a running list of "needs" and some "wants" in my purse and I peruse local thrift shops and consignment stores once a week. Besides food, I find MOST
everything in great condition at used-stores for a fraction of the cost and waste. And I have a
blast! It's a treasure hunt everytime. I have learned it is easy to still over-buy in thrift stores,
so I set a limit on the amount I budget.
*** My husband and I read (and own) a fantastic book called Clean House, Clean Planet:Clean your House for Pennies a Day, the safe, non-toxic way. by Karen Logan. We are in the process of changing all of our cleaners to homemade, non-toxic combinations. The book is full of simple recipes for great-smelling products that clean just as well, if not better.
*** We have grown a decent-sized garden for the past 3 years. We would like to do it entirely organic but in the past have done about 80% organic.
*** I'd like to get a baby seat for my bike and bike around town more often.
*** I try to buy organic or at least locally grown. We are at about 80% organic. There is a great link to "the dirty dozen" that I found through a blog I enjoy. Reading this list has encouraged me to *always* buy organic for certain things.

This is a major focus in my life right now. I will revisit this topic often. In the meantime, I will share what I am learning and would love comments about tips and topics along these lines. Feel free to comment, in fact, please do!

(photo: www.flickr.com)

Monday, February 05, 2007


My husband and I have worked into our family routine a monthly day of solitude for one another. The first Saturday of the month, I enjoy a mother's sabbath during which I spend the day alone, doing whatever will bring me rest and refreshment for the weeks ahead. And on the third Saturday of the month, my husband is free to do the same with a father's sabbath. This month for his day, he spent 8 hours at an urban retreat center. And for my day, I enjoyed journaling and sipping a frothy latte at a local coffee shop for the morning, a drive across the valley singing to Tori Amos at the top of my lungs and a leisurely peruse of my favorite thrift shops for the afternoon. We both returned home from our solitude with renewed vigour. The parent at home likewise enjoyed a special unstructured day with the kids.

While I was at the coffee shop, I settled in beside a wall hanging of the Desiderata, meaning "things to be desired (Latin)". One of my favorite lines in this reflection is: "Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. " On many levels, this sums up my present focus. There are many areas of our life where we are stiving for wholesome (self) discipline and in the midst of the striving, we want to be gentle, to hold the changes with nurturing hands, knowing that small choices toward change will require larger choices toward change down the road.

In mid- January, my husband transitioned from a stressful, and largely unfulfilling 9-5 job to start a business from home. We have spent the last month working together to establish new patterns for our days together. He has an office downstairs he does most of his work from. And he takes 3 breaks a day, lingering to wrestle with the kids in the few minutes between.

With him at home, I feel more "at work" at home and find I am more efficient with my time. His need for consistent breaks (and FOOD) creates a rhythm for my day. And since we share a car, and he no longer needs it to commute, I have a more organized week of small errands rather than the previous "one-day-a-week-BLITZ" we were used to.

Besides the daily chores that keeps our household running, I have tried to work in one "deep organization" task each day. Today I re-organized the tupperware drawer and threw out a few kid's books that are ripped up or unexciting. Each time I do the laundry, I reorganize the clothes that the kids have grown out of and I either put them in my "give" box or fold them away into the appropriate bin of sizes in our downstairs storage room.

These are the small bricks that comprise the building of our "wholesome discipline" in this season of life.

(photo: www.flickr.com)