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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

zen parenting at Christmas time

Zen parenting.

At Christmas time.

It's kind of antithetical really. Like. Direct. Opposite. Incompatible.

Can we blame the constant presence of candy in the house?

The lists which seem fun at first and by mid-December, with nothing marked off, seem plain mocking.


I have had the ingredients and the tab open for how to make salt dough Christmas ornaments for more than a week.

Yes, that's right folks, I am solidly into my annual Christmas I-Don't-Get-Enough-Cookie-Baking-And-Christmas-Crafting-Done-I-Am-A-Domestic-Failure breakdown.

I mean. It's tradition, right?

So. What do I do?

My solution this year (besides the occasional glass of wine at 3:38pm), to become extremely, incredibly, moment by moment myopic. Well, maybe that is the wrong word. According to the online dictionary myopia also means shortsighted, as in lack of imagination.

And dude, we need imagination in this. This thing called motherhood, especially at this time of year.

So, let's just be moment-livers. Extraordinarily so. Moment-livers and Moment-lovers. Every second. So right now, babies bounce around to cheesy Christmas music, whilst watching Curious George Christmas special on my phone (the baby screams MY PHONE MAMA and I hand it over. HAHA)

A few minutes ago the below was my moment, and I claim it for the day as my zen moment. I was supposed to be at a meeting at 11am but this happened instead. And he has been sick and his little voice is so sad. He will be two years old in just a few short months and moments like this will be done forever, watching my 11yr old gel his hair every morning before school I am keenly aware of how the years fly. Oh this baby boy. So yes, claiming it as my moment, lest the Christmas tree hunting venture up the mountain this afternoon turns less than picturesque, as often happens, I can have this moment.

And then the day winds down, and the sun sets fire to the ocean, and the lights on the lanai will shine, and the new tree will be up, and the babies tucked in, and so much, so much is glorious.

Maybe not always zen. But glorious for sure.

the best christmas parade ever the other night...

Hello zen lanai. Ahhhhhhhh....

Monday, November 27, 2017

traveling mercies

I know, I know. An amazing book by Anne Lamott. However. Also my mantra for this trip to Norway with baby and my mother to teach at a little youth camp way up north on heavy issues like social justice and trafficking of humans and our responsibilities and the intersect with faith and belief and how can we see such things and still find hope in God.

All of it.

Jet lag and kind strangers on airplanes and eating whale at a smiling Norwegian home and seeing gnomes pop out of moss covered trees (I kept expecting) and a toddling determined baby drawing circle after circle in crayon on torn up magazines and the Northern Lights dancing across the sky stretched taut from one end to the other (as I also felt stretched) and insanely stressed phone calls home and juggling kids ipad account updates from thousands of miles away and way too much coffee and not enough chocolate (NEVER) and storage lockers in Minnesota full of memories that make me sob on my knees and trying to grapple with an altogether different generation (I am old) on the power of the dollar in our changing of the world (yes, where you buy your clothes can make a difference!) and images of children bought and sold like merchandise and not enough sleep and tears at 4am and sitting on the warm floors (infloor heating is a dream) listening to the wind whip around us as we talk about Netflix shows with amazing leaders trying to change lives of the next generation of youth rising up in a blessed but depressed region of the world and the moutains rising up above and the sun a mere memory as it skirts behind them barely bringing glimmers of light to the uppermost peaks and more chocolate still and still not enough sleep and wearing beloved boots and sweaters again remembering the drudgery of dressing babies for the cold and hauling a toddler around a city, wind whipping at our faces, grateful for free museums to duck out of the cold, photographs from the 1960s of polar bear skins drying in the sun and smiling blond boys racing down snowy hills with thick wool sweaters and shorts on and what is this world but just a short air flight away to such a different place yet so the same still and mothers chiding me in public play spaces, dont worry if your baby snatches a toy from mine, that is how children learn and I pause my defensive nettled reaction in time and realize how much I have to learn even as I cry for refugee children trapped in camps on the islands of Greece as yet another winter sets in on their misery, the world quite forgetting them.

And back again. Home. To sunflowers blooming and enthusiastic kids (when did you get so tall?) making Christmas lists and decorating for Thanksgiving and eating too much and bottles of wine and sunsets off the lanai and the smell of roasting coffee wafting up from the farms around us and how different it is here. And yet the same.

Traveling mercies. The journey for us all.

And how I love it all here. And out there too. 

And how grateful I am. For all of it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

farm notes and anxious thoughts

Sometimes, some days, some posts, need poetry by Mary Oliver and lots of pictures of growing things. Kind of my life these days: introspective, grateful, slowly turning around in my mind how to live a life with fulfilled dreams whilst still moving forward in life and still dreaming and still able to get up at 6:15 the day after fall break and pack lunches, find matching socks, do 6yr old hair, and make it to morning school song on time.

It is a conundrum, how us mom's do it. But we do. 

Our farm is a blur of green and mud and fallen guava. Guava jelly seems to be the way to go but canning supplies cost an arm and a leg here so I still havent undertaken the effort. Soon though. 

We have discovered new fruit trees (two more oranges and a starfruit) and planted lots of adventurous things that may or may not work out (pomegranate! moringa!) 

We harvested potatoes a mere 8 weeks after planting and need to plant more. 

Such work though. OY. The callouses on my hand. The constant weed whacking (wacking?? IDK.)

The coffee cherry is ripening. Approximately 1/8th of cherry we inspect appear to be salvageable from the horrible coffee borer beetle that infects our farm. So, do we pick? We decided yes, just recently. Also. Macadamia nuts. Everywhere. I fall asleep at night to wild pigs crunching (SO LOUD) the nuts on our neighbor's hillside across the fence from our bedroom window. SO LOUD.  

The zinnias I planted when we moved in are in full bloom. We should have sunflowers in a few weeks. The mandarin oranges are still green but the crop looks really good so far. I finally got ginger root planted last week and hopefully will get some seeds in the ground soon for cucumbers. MUST MAKE PICKLES. 


Meanwhile I taught at our little university last week. A heavy social justice topic - race and the prison system of the US - and I swear it depleted me like running a marathon. I travel to teach in November. Human trafficking and social justice. We are also trying to get together a group here on island to connect people and passions for more impactful advocacy efforts.

Meanwhile, last week at my doctor appointment I mentioned the heart stopping anxiety I have been having. Some nights laying in bed just spiraling about the myriad things that can and might and maybe will go wrong. 

I am realizing my brain does this as my hormones settle back down from baby days, somewhere around a year and a half old. Which is now. 

I don't have time for this though. In the past I hunkered down, scaled back life. But I have four active kids and an organization to run, a farm full of weeds to pull. The doctor suggested meds. I filled the rx but just dont feel ready to go that route yet. You know? I need to run again. I need to take fish oil. Maybe go carb free. Do all the stuff I know to do. 

This is probably why I barely write here lately. What to say? 

I am anxious CONSTANTLY. I have read some good "thought exercise" ideas though to help. This one, on taming the mind monkey, those thoughts that won't let go, how its a trap for your mind. Another, talking about how its easier to deal with if you can separate it out. "That is anxious Sara, not real Sara, having that ridiculous thought. Let her think it, now get on with life." 

You hear me mamas? Do you know this mind monkey?? 

It is exhausting. I am exhausted.

So I post beautiful poetry here, and photos of our farm and all the pretty things we HAVE accomplished, (we have HOT WATER now!) knowing that all the things that feel they MUST be done, will actually happen, eventually, and I go out and weedwhack (weedwack??) and poke at the ginger root, waiting for the sharp green shoot to come up and out of the warm moist earth, one day soon.

this is a CHOCOLATE (Cacao) plant!

this is moringa!

picking coffee cherry, which he calls guava

i rake up this much fallen guava every two days


Leaves and Blossoms Along the way:

A poem by Mary Oliver

If you're John Muir you want trees to 
live among. If you're Emily, a garden
will do. 
Try to find the right place for yourself. 
If you can't find it, at least dream of it. 


When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, 
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow. 

Anything that touches. 


God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible, 


Some words will never leave God's mouth, 
no matter how hard you listen.  


In all the works of Beethoven, you will 
not find a single lie.


All important ideas must include the trees,
the mountains, and the rivers. 


To understand many things you must reach out 
of your own condition. 


For how many years did I wander slowly 
through the forest. What wonder and 
glory I would have missed had I ever been
in a hurry!


Beauty can both shout and whisper, and still
it explains nothing. 


The point is, you're you, and that's for keeps.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean -
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down -
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver
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