gratitude

Today I saw a quote.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of the past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

I saw this quote on the wall at the office of our cranial-sacral therapist, Angel.  I think I will post it on my own wall so I can read it every day.

That I saw this quote at Angel’s office is rather fitting; she is one of the people I am grateful for every day.  I met her three years ago, weeks away from giving birth to Anna.  She helped me with pelvic pain, getting Anna into proper position for the birth, and helped me connect with my baby.  She helped me build my confidence and believed along with me that I would have an easy and uncomplicated birth. She told me before Anna was born that Anna was detail-oriented and cooperative.  Those words stayed with me; I wanted to see if they would hold true.  They have.

Anna has seen Angel every few months since she was 3 days old.  Angel can connect with her in a way nobody else can.  She knows if her ear canals are inflammed and can help heal them; she has helped with latching problems and with teething.  She helped Anna get her coordination back after she had an semi-serious accident; she tells me of natural treatments to use when we are sick.  She fully supports and embraces the way we parent and raise our children, right down to the unschooling, and she is an incredible source of information on these topics.  Angel can read Anna’s emotional and physical states and can help her resolve any tension or conflict, and give me advice on how I can help her at home.  Anna trusts Angel with her whole heart–a trust that was built before they even met.  After a treatment with Angel, Anna is calm and content.

Mia sees Angel regularly, too, and I see her from time to time. We love her as much as Anna does.

She is a gift in our lives and I am grateful.

a lovely gift idea for the holidays

For the third time I had the honor of photographing a few of Erin’s beautiful soaps. They smell almost good enough to eat.

Here are photos from previous years, and more here–although I am not sure whether these products are still available.

These will be for sale in her Etsy shop this year, along with many more lovely handmade items.

Erin was my midwife’s apprentice for Anna’s birth.  She is also a doula, an herbalist, and creator of natural, handmade bath and beauty products.  She is an amazing person–an independent and creative spirit.

Please visit Erin’s website here.

a bad day.

After this post, my goal is to get to sleep and put this day behind me.

I made the decision to try Invisalign to correct my bite, which my dentists have been pushing me to do for quite some time.  My teeth are shifting as I age, and the way they are shifting is causing stress to my jaw.  So because I wanted to do the right thing and be responsible for my health, I went for it.  Even though it cost an arm and a leg and I had to find a way to get that arm and leg to pay for it because I didn’t have any.

So I got more hours at work and I worked extra jobs all summer to make the down payment of roughly $1500.  Then for the last two months I have put most of my earnings from my regular part-time job of taking care of my sweet old lady (I love her and the job) toward making the monthly payments for my Invisalign, $378 to be exact.

I love the way my smile has already changed and how quickly my teeth are moving.

But now I have to quit.

Because I had a reaction to the plastic, and the reaction got progressively worse.  I was feeling poisoned, aching all over, painful joints, fatigue, blisters in my mouth. I didn’t realize the Invisalign was making me feel this way until I saw my doctor a few days ago.  (He is not a “real” doctor, of course, but better than a “real” doctor because he can find the root of my problems.)

Two hours after removing the Invisaligns, my symptoms were nearly gone.  Until that moment, I hadn’t fully realized the effect they were having on my body.

A little internet research revealed that reactions like mine are more common than Invisalign chooses to report, and that the FDA has issued a warning to Invisalign for improperly reporting adverse reactions.  Although rare, adverse reactions DO HAPPEN.

My orthodontist thinks I had the flu and wants me to wear them another two weeks to see if I get sick again.  I have never heard of a flu that lasts 6 weeks, has no fever or respiratory symptoms and is gone as soon as the Invisaligns are out of my mouth.  I think she thinks I am crazy. I think she thinks it’s impossible for me to have an adverse reaction to these plastic things that are in my mouth 24 hours a day, constantly leaching pthalates into my bloodstream.  I think she has no concept of health and how all systems in the body are connected.  And that makes me feel uncomfortable and trapped and totally out of my comfort zone–because that is not how I roll.

So I will put my health first.  And I will lose out on the money I sank into these poisonous retainers.  The orthodontist won’t put the money toward regular braces even if I want them, which I don’t.  She will take my money and run.  I want to run, too–away from that office never to return.

I am sad.  I feel like a fool.

But every once in a while everyone gets a kick in the pants.  I know something good will come of this; if nothing else, it will leave me more the wiser.

Sometimes you have to try and fail.

insomnia

This happens to me at least once a month or so.

By this, I mean having a racing mind that is trying to sort things out, planning, processing, or worrying.  And by this, I mean being unable to fall asleep after trying and trying.  For hours.

Sleep is very important to my wellbeing and especially my mental health–and especially sleep before midnight.  But tonight, like so many other nights, I can’t seem to get my much-needed dose of good sleep no matter what I try.  Even though the last two nights I almost didn’t sleep at all–because Mia and Anna were sick with influenza–I just can’t seem to get into sleepland.  (They are better now.  Thank goodness.)

So what is on my mind tonight? Maybe if I write about it I can get my mind calmed so it can fall into rest mode.

Raw foods.

Juicing.

Detoxing.

Orthodontia/braces/my appointment tomorrow that I am nervous about.

Raw animal foods.

Cow’s milk vs. goat’s milk.

My burning desire to have a small farm.

My burning desire to grow my own food and be as self-sufficient as possible.

My worry about going over budget this month on the grocery bill and wondering where the money will come from to make up for it.

My worry about money.

Pondering the idea that on a global scale, we are among the richest people in the world.  And it feels ironic that so much of that money has to go toward our basic needs–because of the way that we live in our rich and abundant culture.  Richness is relative.  If we lived more simply, we wouldn’t need so much money for basic needs. Sometimes I would like to live in a grass hut in Africa and sometimes I feel like this kind of life is the richest one there is:  life without electricity or gas or television or shopping.  Sounds nice sometimes.

Trying to figure out the endless confusion about what a healthy diet is and questioning my beliefs and whether I am doing it right or not. Right now I am so very confused.  I’ve been following the Weston Price principles for years, and it makes sense to me.  I have healed and feel well, but maybe there is more to this than I thought.  I’ve realized that I haven’t eaten enough raw foods, and I am feeling drawn to eating more raw foods and to juicing.  But then there are those people who believe you shouldn’t eat animal foods at all, and then there are those people who believe you should eat only animal foods.  When I get confused about this, I always think about the traditional Eskimos, who are among the healthiest people in human history.  They ate only animal foods, but they ate their animal foods RAW.  And they did not have blenders or juicers and the frozen tundra did not produce many plant foods.  The way they ate is different from what I am doing with all of my meat (cooking it), which many people believe causes cancer.  Maybe there is not one right way; maybe there are many ways.  Kind of like everything else in life, right? Well, at least I have my raw milk and raw eggs yolks for now.  Maybe I will try making steak tartare or sushi one of these days…

Goodnight.

Is a full-fat diet better for your health?

After spending most of my teenage years and twenties as a vegetarian, I surprise myself a bit when I look at what I eat these days.  I think I would have fallen off my rocker if I’d had a glimpse into the future and see what I eat now.  My fat-phobic self would have likely been rather disgusted.  But that one-upon-a-time version of myself has been put to rest.

My staples are pastured meat, full-fat raw dairy, cream, eggs, butter,  lard, fermented foods, coconut products and fermented cod liver oil (and a few vegetables and fruits here and there–I really could use more) every day.  Every single day of my life for the past few years, this is what I’ve lived on, with variations in the theme as I’ve learned and adapted.

I might have been less disgusted and converted sooner had I known that the diet I follow these days would heal my severe acne, cure my depression, strengthen my weak immune system, smooth those darn flaky heels and remove my need for moisturizer, and best of all, give me nails that are as strong as nails and are bright white and smooth at the tips (nails are a good indicator of overall health, in case you didn’t know).

But I was younger then. And more arrogant and idealistic and cared more about the lives of chickens than my own body.

Teenage arrogance aside, nobody ever told me about this diet.  My parents tried their darndest to uphold the traditional wisdom they knew from their childhoods (which was a good bulk of the diet I follow now)–and we had cod liver oil, liver, rye bread, homemade yogurt and whole milk cheese for as long as they could make us eat it.  But eventually I succumbed.  I gave in to our cultural obsession with unhealthy eating and sold my body to grain and sugar and skim milk. Thanks for trying, mom and dad.  I appreciate your efforts, even if it’s a bit overdue.

“Look back.”

Looking back in time is the solution to all of our food woes.  I mean, like 100 years ago or more.

100 years ago, nobody  ate cold breakfast cereal or commercial skim milkThey didn’t eat Smart Balance or soybean oil or modified corn starch, because it did not exist. They ate real food.  They did not have type II diabetes or heart disease or attention deficit disorder. Most of them produced the food themselves, took it from the earth and ate it. Some of them ate too much white flour and sugar and their teeth rotted out–but learn from those who didn’t. We have something to learn from these people.  We have something to learn from looking back.

A dentist by the name of Weston Price traveled the world and studied remote cultures and their traditional foods.  He compared their health and physical structure to their counterparts who had moved into modern culture and began eating “white man’s food”.  The results were incredible, and the pictures speak for themselves. Take a look (scroll down a bit).  This traditional wisdom is what my diet is based upon; it makes sense to me.  It is what has sustained humankind since the beginning of time.

Ailments I’ve overcome in the past few years through this diet (and other non-drug therapies where applicable):

–Adrenal fatigue (not completely, but still working on it)

–Hypoglycemia

–Chronic ringworm infection

–Severe cystic acne on face and back

–Chronic constipation/diarrhea/bloating/digestive pains

–Environmental allergies

–Frequent colds and flu

–Severe depression and mood swings

–Nightmares and other sleep disturbances

–Chronic swollen lymph nodes

–Chronic tonsillitis

–Aches and pains of unexplained origin

–Peeling heels

–Brittle nails

–Dry skin and lips

–Inability to tolerate bright light/sun in my eyes

–Migraine headaches

–Severe PMS and menstrual cramps

–Excess belly fat (there’s still some there, mind you, only less)

–Inability to cook anything that doesn’t come out of a box

This diet is a work in progress.  And there is more to healing than diet; it all comes together when the time is right and when your heart is open. I have been learning and adapting for a long time, making changes as I was ready to make them.  My next step is to incorporate liver into our diets and begin taking butter oil.  I want to get more serious about daily yoga practice and meditation and live my days more mindfully. I want to make my own sourdough bread from home-ground rye.  I’d also like to have an ongoing supply of fermented mayo and fermented vegetables going.  One thing at a time.

I do not worry about my cholesterol levels.  The lipid hypothesis is flawed, but mainstream media hasn’t taken hold and most people are still in the dark.  Heart disease is caused by chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation has a variety of causes, a few of which are high-glycemic diet, vegetable oils, and trans-fatty acids. This is the reason that people who follow low-fat diets still take Lipitor and their health continues to degenerate–even though they think they are doing the best thing.

In case you may be wondering about weight gain: on a diet like this, maintaining weight is easy (unless you eat gobs of nuts, avocados, grains, sweeteners, and/or olive oil–avoid doing this!) High blood glucose levels and toxins in the body cause obesity.  Eating traditional foods will make you feel full, healthy, calm, satisfied, and best of all, thin.

Essential internet reading for understanding traditional diets:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects

Weston Price Foundation

Nourishing Our Children

Politically Incorrect Nutrition

Recommended books:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price

Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

2 years, 4 months and still nursing. Here’s the story.

(Disclaimer: My views on breastfeeding go hand-in-hand with my deep respect for parents of adopted children and those who are unable to breastfeed.  In no way do my views seek to undermine how you feed and parent your children; there are many ways of raising babies with love.  At the same time, I am an advocate for babies who have breastfeeding available to them and believe that mothers who are able to breastfeed become informed and empowered enough to do so.)

Anna is a toddler now (and a big toddler).  She is healthy and happy and strong…and strong-willed and energetic and chatty. She is completely wonderful.

Anna still nurses.  And nurses and nurses.  She has never used a bottle and refused a pacifier (we tried, but I am grateful now that we failed).  Yes, it is exhausting at times, and yes, sometimes I need a break–and then I take one.  But nursing my toddler is wonderful, and I highly recommend it.

We’ve have always nursed whenever and wherever we want, discretely but not secretly.  Most people don’t seem to notice, and those who do tend to give a warm smile.  There may have been a few uncomfortable glances here and there, but I haven’t taken them to heart.  I think that may start to change now.  Nursing toddlers in public in America is an unusual sight.

From a worldwide perspective our society ranks incredibly low in breastfeeding initiation, duration of breastfeeding, and social acceptance of breastfeeding.  Because of this, I understand and expect some discomfort when I venture out outside of my safe little world.  At the same time, I know what I am doing is normal.  I know that in order for our society to view breastfeeding (even toddlers and young children) as normal, it has to be seen.  Breastfeeding babies, toddlers and young children is normal.

When we see things over again, we tend become desensitized and accept them.  Although I nurse Anna for the simple sake of nursing her, I know that I am an activist of sorts–I am exposing people to something different and important.  I am changing our society one breastfeeding toddler at a time.

I am happy, grateful and humbled that we still have our nursing relationship.  I have maintained it largely because of instinct.  It feels right and natural to me. It has flowed so easily through Anna’s life stages and kept our lives simple.  My decision to continue nursing has been a logical decision as well; I maintain it to keep us connected, to give her comfort, to keep her immune system strong, and to help her face develop to its best potential.

I come from a long line of breastfeeding women.  To my knowledge, every child in my parents’ families and their ancestors were breastfed.  My sisters and I were exclusively breastfed, and I watched my youngest sister breastfeed on demand until she was well over a year. Given my wonderful exposure and deep sense that breastfeeding was normal, it was never a question how I would feed and nurture my own babies.

I am grateful for how easily breastfeeding came to me and my babies.  I am grateful that I could stay home and nurse my babies all day long. I know many women who have tried and struggled, who have pumped at work, who have suffered bleeding nipples and blisters and thrush. But they have persisted, and all of them succeeded in a way that worked for them. I admire their persistence, and it emphasizes my belief that mothers are amazing and strong.  Motherhood is filled with challenges, victories, and failures–and they all blend together to create a meaningful life.

The following are resources that I wish every mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, friend, doctor, and person would read and learn from–and that have the power to make our society would be a happier and healthier place.  Knowledge is power, and educating oneself is the most powerful form of knowledge that exists.

A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD; discusses proven health benefits of breastfeeding, IQ, and a discussion about natural weaning of mammals

An excellent article about the science of attachment.

How breastfeeding impacts facial development in children.  This is absolutely remarkable to me–and I wish all parents were informed about the importance of breastfeeding in a child’s facial development.  In addition, this information discusses bite problems and related issues and how, if left untreated, can create aesthetic and functional problems for children as they grow. Improper facial development is linked to learning problems, sinus and breathing problems, allergies, amongst other common ailments.  If caught early, these problems can be helped.

The diet of breastfeeding mothers is critical in making superior milk, and this is an example of a diet that creates nutrient dense milk to make strong and healthy babies.  It is very different from any diet suggested by American pediatricians and doctors, but based upon hundreds of years of traditional wisdom.

To see what ideal facial and oral structure looks like and how modernized foods impacted our health, beauty, and dental health, look here.

Take care, my friends.

I am still here. I just quit using the internet (almost).

I like to do crazy and drastic things sometimes, just shake it up and see what happens.

This drastic thing came partly out of necessity and partly of curiosity. I had an inkling that it could be a really great thing. And I was right. Turns out, the computer had become the centerpiece of our lives and it didn’t feel right. So I gave our borrowed computer back to my dad and cut the cord with Qwest.

Five years ago, we got rid of our tv because of the same problem. We had a few tv-free years and they were blissful. Mia soon turned into an insanely creative, calm and independent kid, and still is.

Then a couple of years ago, Alan “surprised” me with a nice little flatscreen tv that now hangs from the wall in our playroom. I was mad at first, but I like having it now. We use it for movies but don’t have commercial tv access on it.

Life without internet has left openness and quiet. My mind can think and wander about whatever it wants. It isn’t obsessing about Facebook or email or blogs or news. I am not worrying or feeling nervous or inadequate anymore (at least not all the time).  Creativity is taking hold of me again. I want to make artist books like I did before I became obsessed with the internet. It feels great.

I’ve moved from the chair in front of the screen to the couch–where our family life happens. I am reading books. I am painting with my girls. I am (trying to) knit a mitten. I listen to Alan play guitar while Mia sings.

I’ve been able to fall asleep at night and stay asleep–something I have been dreaming of doing for years. Turns out, the blue-light screen was messing with the sleep center in my brain.

There’s more to tell, but I’ll leave that for another time at the library.
Goodnight, friends!