Living naturally, most of the time.

What would “success” look like

Today I was challenged to define success. This was at the end of a networking meeting, and I was spinning my wheels about what I’m trying to achieve with Mindful Healthy Life vs. what seems realistically possible given the commitments I have to my health, to my family, and to my community. Well, that was what was in my head. What was coming out was really about money, that I want to at least earn enough to pay back what we (read: my husband) invested in the site: site design, lawyer fees, ongoing site maintenance, marketing materials and any other money I spend in the name of starting a business or being a writer, like conference registrations and membership in networking groups. These are things people don’t do if they are content being a career volunteer or health enthusiast, but they do do if they hope to build something that will be … successful. So what does success mean to me? It’s a great question. At the time, I answered it as someone who wants a career beyond mothering. I want to write a book, novel. I want other people to read that book of fiction and for it to enrich their lives. I also want to share information and insights and to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. This I can do, if I do it well and have a “successful” site that people actually go to. And that “success” – eyeballs, clicks, ideally ad/sponsor/affiliate income – would reflect positively on me and on my prospects for selling a book. (A book I would have to somehow find the time to actually write.) These lovely women also asked about whether managing a team was something I really wanted to do, and if I could be clearer about my expectations of others. I explained that I have enough loose ends of my own to make it hard for me to expect other people to tie theirs up neatly in bows. But why is that? Because I just don’t have enough time? So maybe when I will have more time, they started. I cut in with the truth I resist: I will never have more time. Sure, I act like I will. I tell myself every day that if I could just have a few uninterrupted days or a weekend away or a weekend home alone with the kids gone, then I could get done all this writing that I honestly really want to do. And I could make the space...

Bring it, Fall!

In the past two days, I’ve actually done two things I really wanted to do and done them with joy. I spent the day at the Natural Products Expo East where I talked with some truly inspirational people about amazing products. And I talked with moms and other local leaders in the holistic parenting community at the Beloved Yoga Love Your Baby Health & Wellness Festival. The fact that I felt well enough to do both things back to back is something I am meeting with gratitude. I am not deluding myself to think there is not still healing work to do, and I’m still itching to write a recap of all the changes I’ve made since January. But I don’t want to let this happiness go by without thanking it in the moment! I’m grateful to all of the folks who have believed in me and my vision(s!) over the years and especially to the seven incredible women who are coming on board as contributing writers for my website, Mindful Healthy Life.     Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on Facebookshare via RedditShare with StumblersTweet about itSubscribe to the comments on this...

To me, with love

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. *** When I read the call for this post, I first thought I would write to my younger self, warning her of all the health perils that lay ahead. It is tempting to think that if I had a little angel on my shoulder, maybe I could have avoided getting so ill by not engaging in unhealthy behaviors, especially in my teens and twenties. But that’s a crock. As Cheryl Strayed has written in probably several places but at least in Tiny Beautiful Things, who we are today is all an amalgam of where we have been. Fatigue or not, depression or not, I wouldn’t wish away my children to have spent more time detoxing before getting pregnant or even wish away my health struggles. Those struggles and my experiences parenting — even through challenges — are part of me. My health issues are not the only thing I am, but they have led me to where I am, and there is no sense in hating that. That is a recipe for a life of regret. So I turn my thoughts toward the future me. I can’t assume she will be healthier or happier, though I’d like to imagine so. I do know she will probably have forgotten a lot of what life was like at several moments. I know because the me I am now has already forgotten things that she is surprised to find in writing and in photos! Even things that happened last week! So I’ll draw with broad strokes imagining what might be useful to hear over and over again. Dear Jessica, You may or may not remember what a roller coaster you’ve had since A’s birth in 2010. I doubt you will forget about the digestive troubles and the intricacies of your special diet. But please do not forget about all the cool stuff you’ve gotten to do, with your kids and also without. Regardless of where this finds you in the future, I have a hunch these thoughts might be useful to you at some point. Please remember that linearity is a myth. Things go up and they go down. Even if you think you...

Happier at home … by staying at home?

The more I channeled Happier at Home author Gretchen Rubin this morning, straightening up and dealing with clutter, the more I started thinking about ditching the chance to see her speak tonight. Talk about shooting the messenger. She didn’t exactly say the words “don’t do anything that doesn’t make you feel joyful” in what I read of this book, and in fact she suggests tackling things that make you uncomfortable so that you will feel more comfortable. But I do think the spirit of her work, as far as I can tell as a newbie, conveys the idea that you do not have to do everything all the time, and that focusing on what is important is the most important thing of all. Or so I’m going to tell myself. So why not go tonight? I don’t wanna. I did, but the more I read her book, the more I struggled with envying what I call her “wellness privilege.” I’m sure it’s been plenty discussed that she benefits from white privilege and economic privilege, but what I cannot stop seeing as I read her book with the eyes in a body that requires lots of care, is how little she seems to need to care for her body. There is almost nothing in the book about food. She talks about holiday breakfasts and about abstaining from candy (and oh! the freedom that brings when it’s not a health necessity!), and she mentions that her kids told her they’d like something besides cold cereal or peanut butter toast for breakfast. But that’s it, as far as I saw. For me, home and food are inextricably connected. I cannot imagine undertaking any kind of happiness project without food at the center or at least as a key component. Not because I am a chef or anything, but because I don’t have a choice. In my world, cooking and cleaning up from cooking take probably at least two hours on a normal day. Although I’ve made a lot of progress since I started the GAPS diet in 2010 and then since I resumed eating some carbs in 2013 when things shifted with my digestion, I still have a gut that needs me to make all my food from scratch. That is, if I want to enjoy optimal wellness and only pleasant experiences in the bathroom. My kids are healthy but need to be gluten-free too and do best also dairy-free. They came from my body, which was decidedly not a perfect beginning, and...

Not so serious

My husband and I have both been seeing a holistic doctor who prescribes homeopathic remedies and other things to address emotional energy patterns and blockages. There is a brand of sprays (by SafeCare Rx) for which he tested to need “Serious,” and I tested to need “Grief.” I can’t speak for him, but I do think my remedy and others have helped me to feel better and enjoy more of what is in front of me. My little daughter always wants some of whatever anyone else is having and asks for a squirt if she sees us taking one. But, despite occasional temper tantrums, she mostly just loves life and needs nothing of such darkness. She drives us crazy and hurts our ears but is great to have around when we forget to take those sprays. Everything we need to know we forget before kindergarten Leave it to a toddler to remind you that joy needs no logic. A diaper change is cause for opera and giggles. A new pair of socks can stop tears dead in their tracks. And anything placed on your head is cause, at least, for a surprised gasp, and usually sheer delight. Leave it to a toddler to remind you that joy needs no logic. ———— After casting aside my poetry hat for far too long, my NaBloPoMo plan is to write a poem — and to take and post a photo — every day in November, spending less than half an hour on both. The hope is to drill down, to focus, to look for and create beauty. Previous Posts: Day 1: Eleven One Day 2: Shoreline Day 3: Damage Day 4: On Parenting and Sunrises Day 5: When will we? Day 6: Voting Line Day 7: What I want my children to learn from me Day 8: Haiku Day 9: Reminders Day 10: Routine Day 11: Lux Esto, in moderation Day 12: Family Photo Shoot at (nearly) 4o Day 13: Siblings Day 14: Point of View Day 15: Background Day 15: Greener Grass Day 16: Journey Day 17: From two to twelve Day 18: Baggage Day 19: Mothering, now and later Day 20: Expectations Day 21: Blank canvas Day 22: Closing in on December Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on Facebookshare via RedditShare with StumblersTweet about itSubscribe to the comments on this...

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