Being Mom

The experience of emotional pain is not one that’s alien to me.   When reviewing my past pain history, there are two moments of profound pain which stand out.

Pain Experiences

  The first one was the pain on separating from my first husband after a short marriage. The separation which was initiated by me was not made less painful because I wanted out.  The pain of losing a dear friend, as well as the anger, self-loathing and shame I piled on myself knowing I was causing pain to someone else compounded the feelings even more.  

Shortly after, I tattooed a rose over my chest to serve as a reminder to never seek my happiness in another person.  After being with my now husband for over 22 years, I can more wisely say that those close to your heart will always have a large factor in the level of your happiness, but I know it always starts with me.

The second moment of the worst emotional pain I have ever felt was the loss of my dad about seven years ago.  His illness was not prolonged by some standards, but to me felt like the longest seven weeks of my life marked by anger, confusion and fear from my dad who knew, but didn’t know he was dying and confusion, fear and then anger by myself who didn’t know he was dying until the last few days.  It was an emotionally painful time which I wish I could do over and make it a more peaceful and beautiful rather than the nightmare it still feels like.

Gut-Wrenching Pain

However, these two intensely painful events in my life weaken slightly to the worst pain that I have ever felt, ever will feel and fear feeling again and again…the emotional pain of seeing your children in emotional pain. 

I’m not talking scraped knees, unkind people and lost treasures.  I’m talking the pure raw emotional pain of dealing with things that leave marks on your soul and you’re never quite the same person again after the experience.  The mother in me wishes I could absorb all that pain and carry it for them until like heavy smoke it dissipates.  I wish I could shelter them from pain like that because I know how excruciating it is.  I know what it is to open my eyes in the morning to the nightmare flooding back, to the heaviness settling in.  I wish I could take it all from them.

But I can’t and there’s even a voice that whispers that it is not the best thing for them if I could.

Supporting

So, I do what parents do for their offspring and do what I know for the human beings I know so well.

I hug often and hard.  I transmit sympathy and love though every touch.  I warn them that spontaneous hugging will be the order of the day.

I discourage them from crying and suffering alone as much as I can.  I sit with them for no reason at all other than to let them know that they’re not alone.  I am sensitive to give them space, but not too much, not too soon.

I make sure they’re not alone at night.  I sleep on the floor or the couch.  Nighttime is when the bogymen of the mind come out to play, and it’s torture.

I make sure they get enough sleep even if it means a little melatonin.  Lack of sleep is the enemy of an unsettled mind.

I feed them.  Not their favorite meals as I don’t want to ruin the meal for them forever, but platonic energy sustaining meals, meals that give them a hug. 

I make tea.  Tea really is the drink of comfort. 

I distract.  While sitting with the pain is part of the healing process, too much time with one’s thoughts only leads to ruminating.  Ruminating is an endless loop which needs to be broken, so I take them for walks or employ their assistance cooking.

I listen.  I talk as much as they want to talk.  I stop and be silent.  I am careful with my words knowing that the wrong words will imprint with indelible ink.  Less is more….hugging is better.

In Time

And slowly, slowly, I see them come back into themselves little by little.  The goal here is not to erase the wounds (that’s impossible) but create well-healed scars.  Unhealed wounds have no choice but to create walls of protection and a hard heart stunts growth.

You cannot keep your children wrapped in bubble wrap.  I look back on my own suffering, and even though I would never have chosen it, I am a softer, more empathetic and kinder human despite it.

But for today, I’m just a mom making tea, doling out lots of hugs, watchful for signs of healing and doing my darndest to soften the impact.

Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open. – Steven Aitchison

Hibernation For The Soul

Feeling Low

Sighing, I sit down to work at my computer after a couple of weeks of intermittent work and brace myself for diving back in.  I’m irritated by Facebook finding it difficult to celebrate others’ successes and reading between the lines my own sense of failure. I’m sulky with friends who haven’t contacted me even though I’ve made no attempt to contact those friends either.  Meditation is a constant battle of focus, and my gratitude list takes longer to assemble.  There is no logic to my state of mind, and it happens every year…I’m feeling low in spirit.

After the holidays are done, family has returned to their respective geographical locations, Christmas lights are removed from our own and surrounding houses and all the shortbread is eaten, I find myself batting a case of “Is this it?”

Energy Distribution

Normally, it is my mission to keep my blogs upbeat and positive.  I prefer to uplift and encourage as opposed to remind us to be stuck.  The world has enough negativity, and I don’t need to add to that noise especially since a case of chronic negativity is more a matter of a skewed perspective.

However, we are not talking about a chronic state of mind here, but a period of feeling low, and all the change of perspective chatter cannot logic us out of it.  Everything feels hard. The only thing to do at this point is to accept that it’s okay to be irritated with others, it’s okay to feel like a failure, it’s okay to be sulky and it’s okay to ask, “Is this it?”  

The real growth here when we feel this way though is where we choose to put that energy.

How We Deal

Do we lash out at our family? Do we post negative comments on Facebook depreciating others’ successes?  Do we bring an aura of negativity to work?  Do we stop meditating and stop being grateful?  Do we let our friends know they have let us down?

The obvious answer to the above is no, but this answer comes from a history of dealing with my low mood by acting out. This by the way never makes you feel better and has repercussions.  Think of having a closet of balloons…once they’re out, it’s really hard, if not impossible, to bring them back again.  Back away from the computer!

However, this is where acceptance does the hard lifting for us.  By not stifling our emotions and accepting them, we can move from “woe is me” to “how can I best take care of myself at this time.”  No explanation required, no excuses, just dealing with what is in the most healing way we can muster.

A Hibernation for the Soul

So, I’m going to do the only thing within my power to do.  I’m going to accept my funk.  I’m going to embrace the fact I’m feeling less than optimal and do simple things that bring me pleasure.  I’m going to go back to basics and get enough sleep, feed myself nourishing food, cut down the sugar and take the dogs for a walk.  I’m going to stay off Facebook and not go anywhere socially for a bit.  I’m going to focus on moving slowly and mindfully through my day bringing my thoughts to the present instead of letting them create negative stories.  I’m going to sit in the middle of the day with an uplifting book without guilt that I should be busy doing something else.  I’m going to keep meditating and being grateful.  I’m going on a hibernation for the soul.

A hibernation for the soul should always involve getting outside

The Takeaway

I encourage you if you’re feeling this way to employ your own hibernation whatever that looks like.  What I have found to be true is the more you fight it, the longer it will last, and the more likely you will lose control of your inner beast and start externalizing your low mood.

If you do, I promise life will look bright again soon.

Money – Grabbing A Vision

The Tug of War

The issue of money for my husband and I has been a big of a gentle tug of war since we first got together.  From my side, I would be pushing for things like updating our home and necessities for the kids (what seemed like necessities at the time), and he would be pushing for paying down debt or putting money away.  So what happens when two loving people disagree on money?  They spend on things they agree on like meals out, family and friend activities and impulse purchases and not on either one’s goals…you know, intelligent things (see Money – My Back Story).

We Try and Try and Try

Fast forward a few years later and we discovered Dave Ramsey.  He was a shining light in our darkness because articulated our distress perfectly…we were feeling sick and tired about feeling sick and tired about all things money.  What followed was an actionable plan of getting out of debt and building up a small emergency fund, and we had many successes and pulled ourselves out of debt. 

Then as in all things, our momentum petered out in the face of life happening again and again.  Money seemed like the perpetual grind….save, save, save, life happens, fall behind quickly in spite of said emergency fund, and it felt like we were spinning wheels to nowhere, and admittedly, I just wanted to stop trying at all.  We did still follow the steps as it was now habit to us, but the goal of accumulating wealth for wealth’s sake was not strong enough. There was no heart in the process. 

In the early days, frustration grew as I perceived all the things I lacked…a nice home, a car that didn’t have some quirk (one of our cars had a trunk that popped open if we engaged the emergency brake), a yearly vacation and an easier life.

Attitude of Gratitude

Fast forward again, the process of working on attitude and gratitude has been a long, far from completed, process, but this is what I have learned so far.

  • A house and a car are reasons for gratitude period.
  • Mindful living is a perpetual vacation.
  • My response to life happening and maintaining perspective determines whether my life is easy or hard (in most things…I generalize cautiously here).

Getting Myself A Vision

In August of last year, I curled up on the couch with a book that I had randomly ordered from the library. I have a habit of ordering books on a sudden whim and then bringing them home to look at them wondering what I was thinking at the time.  Usually, I could pinpoint what event precipitated the ordering of the book…bad parenting day – books on raising resilient children, tax bill – books on sustainable living, having to attend a social function – books on making conversation.  This particular book though I could not figure out how I got; however, the title and the warm, happy cover made me peruse the first few pages on the couch one afternoon with a cup of coffee. 

I could not put it down.

This book gave me what had been lacking in our financial plan since the day we joined bank accounts…a vision.

Meet The Frugalwoods

The book was called Meet The Frugalwoods written by Elizabeth Willard Thames.  In my own synopsis, it detailed a couple’s journey from working (not by choice) and living in between to living and working in between (by choice) and introduced me to the concept of financial independence (FI).

I had heard about people who retire early, but thought that it was a combination of luck and high incomes and that these situations were anomalies, but as I started to dig, I realized that there are whole communities of people dedicated to the concept of financial independence.

There are smarter people than I who can provide tenets of financial independence, and I will point you to these sites: Mr. Money Mustache, Frugalwoods and JLCollinsnh for more details, but the essence is to reduce spending, increase savings and if you can get your savings rate at 50% or more, you could possibly look at retirement in 10 years while at the same time creating the life you want (and it’s not a life revolving around stuff!!!).  Again, this is a brief synopsis.  There is more in terms of simple investing that you need to understand, but I would just like to share our story.

The Vision

Flash forward to today and I feel we have a vision for our money.  One in which neither of us has to work, but we can spend our time contributing to our world in our own way (blogging so much more…think what I can inflict on you with more time!!!) without money entering the equation.  The road ahead will be long, but we’ve been working towards it for the last few months and have made more progress than I had thought was possible…often that’s how a vision (shared) works.  My spouse is still skeptical about this being possible, but he is extremely supportive in both words and action so I will vision for the both us right now.

So what is the vision?   

Retire in 10 years

Retire in 10 Years

Is it doable?  Yes!  Are we late to the party?  Absolutely, many financially independent people have reached independence in their 30s.  We will be in our 50s, but it is never too late to strive towards vision.  A clear vision tends to attract things into your life which support your vision.  Will we have to live cheaply?  No, we will have to live frugally, but if these years of money struggles have taught me anything, money and stuff does not determine your happiness.  I have been grateful, yes grateful, for our struggles with money.  It has taught me what I need to live a beautiful whole life, and it doesn’t look too much different than the life I live now, except with the choice to not work and more time.

It is important to recognize that money is itself not the happiness. Money is just the vehicle that enables you to explore the lifestyle that is going to make you happy. – Liz from Frugalwoods on BiggerPockets Money Podcast episode 11.

I encourage you that if you’re floundering financially either with excess spending that does not feel fulfilling or large debt, get yourself a vision…a big one…one that allows you to align to your life purpose.    Vision points you towards your purpose which allows you to shake away those things that don’t align. 

And read Meet The Frugalwoods.

Note:  I do not receive any money from the above recommendations.

A Clogged Drain and Mindful Living

“Mom, the bathtub is plugged.” 

Appreciation that it was not the toilet was short lived. 

I consider myself to be pretty tough in terms of gross stuff.  During an ugly flu that rampantly infected our family, three vomiting children, who somehow would never be able to make it to the toilet until they reached the age where they were involved in cleanup of same, would not affect my appetite in the least.  I considered this a point of pride until I realized that my husband who flew to the bathroom with sympathy symptoms at the sight of vomit had neatly found a loophole for avoiding being on the cleanup crew.

So, when my son told me about the bathtub, I treated it like any other household issue, donned a pair of plastic gloves, grabbed a coat hanger and went to work. 

My gag reflex is alive and well.

Without going into too much detail, wads of hair and conditioner seem to be able to render me nauseous like nothing else.  Vomit…ick, no problem.  Poop…disgusting, but fact of life.  Wads of hair and conditioner…gagging as I type.

After spending a period of 20 minutes clearing the drain, a test run with hot water ensued.  The clog was still present.  Multiple jugs of hot boiling water were thrown down the drain as the kettle was now part of my drain-unclogging arsenal.  Still clogged.

Admittedly, household stuff is a challenge for me in my journey to mindful living (see Himalayan Mindfulness).  The inconvenience itself is frustrating, but as I have trouble staying on top of the surface stuff like housecleaning and heaven forbid improving my asset to any degree, a step backwards in terms of fixing the status quo is infuriating.

Time for chemicals.  Ordering from a very optimistic supplier of chemical drain cleaner that promised both to unclog my drain and be good to the environment felt like the next good move.  After four days, my package arrived, and immediately, the powder was poured down the drain with the requisite hot water.  A positive (in my mind) puff of smoke emitted from the drain plug and a rather potent smell.  Good things were happening down there.  Enzymes were devouring hair and conditioner (gag). 

Twenty minutes later, time for the moment of truth.  I poured hot water down the drain again and watched it swirl down the drain and then back up again.  Clog still present and enduring.

The second attack was an overnighter, and a second powder treatment was applied to the clogged drain.  Enzymes once again got to work eating organic material.  This was not a fast food job, but a dining experience for my little enzymes. 

Flash forward to this morning, hot water again swirled back up the drain…still clogged.

After a period of meditation, the realization hit that acceptance and mindful living are easy when life is going well.  It’s the bumps in the road that really show your commitment to the process.  Apparently, mine is need of some work.

I’m okay with that though.  I would be insufferable if I was not a work in progress.  I am evolved enough to know that I would not wear perfection well or humbly.

While I’m working on acceptance, if you have any tips or tricks for unclogging a tub, please feel free to share.  It’s now between a plumber or purchasing a drain snake…to be discussed with husband…done with suffering alone.

Update:  Plumber came and conquered.  A good plumber is truly a gift.  Now back to mindfully watching the water swirl down the drain.

Money – My Back Story

My journey with money up to the last 10 years or so entailed a lot of optimism, naivety and avoidance.  All describing words you would hear from someone has achieved financial success (please insert sarcastic tone here).  Still believing it was the world of my parents, but with nicer home décor choices, I made decisions from my heart, but very rarely from my head which when you fail to combine the two often leads to either cold, logical choices or warm, foolish ones.

These are the foolish things I believed:

  • We could be a one-income family and have a pretty good standard of living.
  • Slowly-mounting credit card debt was fine, I could pay off those extra credit card charges next month.
  • I was good with organizing money, and I could do it better than my husband.
  • Nickels and dimes didn’t matter.

These are just a few of them.  There are many more, but some are too raw to unpack right now.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

How wrong I was. This is what I have learned to be true:

  • One-income without a financial plan is unfair to your partner and your relationship.
  • Credit card charge left unpaid is bad news and means you should not have a credit card.
  • I am terrible with organizing money.  I’m a pleaser.  Pleasers should never be allowed to manage money.  We just want everyone to be happy, even if that definition of happy is completely skewed.  My husband is way better at saying no, therefore, way better with money.
  • Nickels and dimes do matter.  If you have a handle on the nickels and dimes, you have a handle on your finances.

So, why am I even bringing this up?

My husband and I have been in the process of embarking on a new kind of financial journey which makes me excited about all things money. 

I want to blog about how much fun I have with money now, saving it, not spending and how the goal posts in my financial journey have changed from avoidance to fully embracing and celebrating my painfully-acquired wisdom.  Besides, blogger by definition means a writer who is too cheap to pay for therapy, so walk with me and let me get it out.

Note: It is not my intention to provide money advice.  There are others far smarter than I who are offering this.  Rather, I prefer to have coffee conversations and exchanges of anecdotal wisdom…really continue in the fashion of my past posts.

So, consider this the foundation laid.  Let the therapy begin.

A Contact Lens and True Clarity

Alarm sounding at 4 a.m., I snuggle deeper into my blankets to soak just a few more seconds of comfort and warmth before sending my foot out into the cold, cold world.  On autopilot, I stumble my way to the bathroom where I go though a series of morning routines.  Fortunately for me, my work involves me making my way downstairs to my office, so I can begin my workday in the best outfit ever…my jammies.  However, despite morning commuter freedom, I cannot feel ready to begin my workday without my face on which consists of contacts in, teeth brushed, moisturizer, light dusting of foundation powder, mascara and yes, lipstick.  I come from a long line of properly made up women, and the habit is continued in me.

This morning’s ablutions began like any other without much thought other than looking forward to my morning coffee, when suddenly my contact dropped from my finger.  I went from a woman with sight to a woman with partial sight, and it all happened in a second.  Now with considerably more alertness, I began to search for said contact, and I tell you it is an ironic thing to be looking for your sight when you don’t have it.  Looking with my face about an inch away from whatever surface I was searching and one eye closed, I scoured the sink, the floor, my tee shirt and the counter-top to no avail.  It was clear the contact lens was gone into the same void that single socks from the laundry travel to, but where no toilet roll is every accepted.

If you’ve learned anything from reading my blog, it’s that I can see signs and messages in just about everything.  I believe they’re all just little hints from the Universe to bring us back from the past or the future into the present, and this was no different.  The message…life can change in an instant.

Brain swirling, I was now fully awake and to be honest a little panicky.  This kind of realization never comes with an exciting epiphany of positivity like coming suddenly into money or a surprise party…nope, straight to everything I love and hold dear could disappear in an instant.  To be honest, I was going into a dark place, and from the outside, it was quite ridiculous, but give me the slack that I had just woken up and hadn’t had my coffee yet.  It was like asking a two-year-old in a full-blown temper tantrum to calm down…I just didn’t have those logicking skills at this precise moment.

After what seemed like ages of descending into the pit of dark thoughts (was likely 5 seconds), I eventually pulled myself back together, mourned the loss of my contact lens, popped in a new one (disposable!) and moved forward with my day with a larger than normal cup of coffee, all the while appreciating and celebrating my vision.

The take-away:

Wake up…Pay attention…Appreciate the little things…Don’t focus on the fact that your life could change in an instant but keep that little gem in your subconscious periphery…a little salt adds flavor.

Life lessons from a contact lens…think about what I could glean from an empty toilet roll…ah well, next time.

Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

Undentable Joy

While walking my dog and indulging in my newest addiction, podcasts, I heard a line that stopped me in my tracks…literally.  I had to pause in my walk and immediately jot down what was said.  My dog looked confused tugged at the leash, but to no avail, the wheels of an inspiration had hit.  People drove by silently judging (I used to be one of them!) the woman who was ignoring her dog to be on her phone.  I now no longer silently judge people walking and typing on their phones…might be creative inspiration at work.  They need to be encouraged with padded electrical poles and perhaps a moving sidewalk. 

This particular podcast which I was unable to locate on the website as it was an older episode was discussing Thanksgiving and gratitude (Ologies with Alie Ward), and in the discussion, the words came up “undentable joy.”  A visual image of someone being barraged with negativity with a layer of insulation while they existed in a state of calm and peace came immediately to mind.   Well, Pandora’s box had been opened, and ideas began to flow about what undentable joy looked like and how one could obtain it in their own life.

An aside:

Please know that when I discuss undentably joy I am discussing it in terms of day-to-day life, its ups and downs.  Extreme life events like grief and loss are circumstances where discussing undentable joy seems inappropriate. That being said, joy never travels alone, and while it takes a back seat in certain circumstances, it is replaced by its cohorts of resilience and hope.

Undentable joy is not running around in a state of perma-grin.  It is not exuding positivity inauthentically.  It is the ability to be live in a state of mindfulness and delight that is not dependent on life to be good, but that to live is good.

Undentable joy is a choice, but it’s a choice that needs strengthening.  Thinking about undentable joy as a practice, I began to recognize areas in my life this year where I have been building up my insulation.   Humor, limiting negative social media and news, a good dose of nature and surrounding myself with uplifting books and podcasts have been a few ways I keep myself in the joy zone.   The big two though by far have been a daily practice of gratitude and meditation which I started earlier this year.

Meditation

 You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour. – Zen proverb.

Five minutes, five minutes is all it has taken to bring me from constant mind chatter to mental quiet and being present.  I’m not saying I achieve this all the time, and even this morning, I found myself meditating on my grocery list.  When I started this practice, the peace and calm did not come right away, but gradually.  I started to notice things more like the way the wind stirred the autumn leaves and how one leaf drifted down like an elegant Mary Poppins.  My emotions were a little more even keeled and less led by the anxious roommate in my brain.  I occupied the present more than the future.

Gratitude

Every day mentally or in my journal, I list three things I am grateful for.  My gratitude has extended from being thankful for big things like family and shelter to appreciating a simple cup of coffee and fuzzy pajama pants.  Gratitude has a way of weaving itself through the day and taking away reasons to complain.  The size of the gratitude does not seem to matter, what seems matter is where your focus goes. 

Meditation and gratitude have made it possible to stay more often in a state of undentable joy.  Without these practices, I would turn to guilt …I should be happier, why can’t I be more positive and relaxed, but the effectiveness of guilt is demonstrated in my daily exercise regimen (non-existent).

Well, there you have it, my sidewalk musings.  I am curious though, what are some of your undentable joy builders?

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

Simple Things Make Me Happy

Squabbling over some prime sunflower seeds, the two Chestnut Chickadees chase each other around my feeder.  I find it baffling at times how birds can waste time arguing with each other when there is obviously plenty of food to be had by all…. are they siblings perhaps?  Hanging at odd angles, the Stellar Jay calmly dines aware that other than the cat that saunters through the yard on occasion it is the big kid on the block. Chittering away, my yard is alive with all the neighborhood birds that care to frequent my feeder.  Like a soap opera if you sit and watch long enough, you observe little dramas…the little one that seems to have to opportunistically sneak seed here and there, the boisterous one that is the first one to fly to the feeder after they are all scared away and the ones that seem to be prefer ground-level dining (I think they are the organic crowd).

This simple thing makes me happy.

These days, I find myself comparing the price of what something costs to the amount of enjoyment I am procuring from said activity and have come to conclusion that free or low cost makes me happy.  High-cost activities come with high expectations, and high expectations most often leads to a feeling of being let down or lacking.

Peace begins when expectations end – Anonymous Buddhist quote

This week, I watched a cheesy movie with my son on a weekday morning (I felt like such a rebel!).  If I had paid movie prices, I would have been very disappointed. Since it came from the library with the price tag of free, I had no expectations it would be good, looked forward to making fun of the cheese and saw it as an opportunity to knit and hang with my son.

This simple thing made me happy.

My sister, niece and nephew are coming for a visit this weekend, and I get to make my nephew a birthday ice cream cake.  Sure I could buy one as my nephew would not even notice the difference and would probably even prefer the store-bought cake, but I enjoy the kind of cooking where you can throw together a bunch of ingredients and see where they land, and very few things are as forgiving as an ice cream cake to give you that creative license…have you ever heard “Ewwww, too much Oreo.”  I think not.

This simple thing will make me happy.

And happy is where I choose to be.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. – Socrates

Itching for the Environment

Sitting here at my desk writing, a nagging itch creeps up my scalp.  I scratch at the discomfort gently noting how it now moves to a new spot.  Periodically, I check my shoulders for the flaky evidence of my itchy scalp, so far so good.  I’m clear. Still, it will be awhile before I don any black sweaters.

Why, you may ask am I sitting here in discomfort when a quick rinse with the newest dandruff/itchy scalp shampoo will take all my problems away?

It’s all my son’s fault.

Let the revolution begin!

Recently, our city changed from blue bag recycling to one large blue plastic container bin.  Who would have though this small change could have held to an uncomfortable conviction.  With this change, I became acutely aware of how much we were tossing into recycling, and while delighted that our recycling was always more than our garbage, I had a nagging feeling that much of my recycling just ended up in the same landfill as the rest of my garbage.

Then, the youngest member of my crew decided it would be a great idea to show his mom a picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Lesson: Don’t let your kids show you things.

I now had visual evidence of my nagging feeling.

Thus, began my personal war on single-use plastics in our home.  I will list the tenets of my war in another post soon.

For me, lasting change takes time.  If I try to institute change quickly, I quickly burn out, become overwhelmed and give up.  I love the self-awareness that comes with getting older!

The battle began in the bathroom since I was running out shaving cream for my legs. At a farmer’s market, I purchased a bar of vegan soap wrapped in paper as a substitute.  The beautiful-looking bar smells absolutely lovely but dries my skin out.  I will use it up since I refuse to be wasteful; however, I will be experimenting with a locally made goat milk soap next. 

My second project was my hair.  This was hard for me because I tend to get an itchy scalp and have been using dandruff shampoo for years.  Conviction really is the pits.  First, I made my own shampoo which turned out remarkably better than I thought, but with the change in the season and the weather getting colder.  I am now more aware of my scalp which is one of those body parts you’d prefer not to have an awareness of.  I’m giving it a good solid 30-day run though while at the same time researching cures for itchy scalps which may include adding a few drops of tea tree oil.  Any suggestions are welcome.  I may try out a shampoo from a refillable product store which is about 45 minutes away; however, the shampoo cost may be prohibitive.  Stay tuned!

The conditioner was a big of a shock…apple cider vinegar.  The other conditioner recipes were too complicated and involved bringing in ingredients not readily available.  This has been my biggest success in that I don’t come out smelling like a pickle after my shower, and my hair really is nicer for it.  It almost calms the itchy scalp though does not take it away completely.  I will experiment a bit more with it when I re-dye my hair and when I perhaps change shampoos to see if the conditioner works with these.

Sometimes, my itchy scalp (and legs) feels like a high price to pay for such a tiny drop in the environmental bucket; however, anytime I live in alignment with my values, there is always the rewarding ripple effect, be it the fabulous Facebook groups I discover along the way who are 10 steps ahead of me, the local producers who take a little extra time to tell me about the product they are making, seeing your children make a different choice taking plastic into consideration and the many unexpected rabbit trails. 

At least that’s what I remind myself when the discomfort creeps in…just  sec, I have to scratch.

This is just the children’s…Ugh!

Breakfast – The Most Important Meal of the Day

Since hitting my 40s and finding myself with a little more free time away from the responsibilities of “child raising” (Or should it be “parent raising?”  I feel that is the more appropriate term.  They’re still the same people they were when they were little, have attitude, a little gross and sweet, but I certainly am not.  I have less temper tantrums and now put away my toys…. I digress), I find myself now setting up playdates with other women.  This process usually takes the form of coffee, lunch or my favorite…breakfast.  I find nothing gives you an opportunity to assess the possibilities of a new friendship like finding out what they’ll order for breakfast.

Here’s my thinking….

Egg white vegetable omelet – Very conscious about food choices.  Physically active.  Translation: Always be wary when said individual asks if you want to do something fun…could be a 10-mile hike.  Not likely to be asking you out for ice cream.  They will keep me humble.

Vegan anything – Loves animals.  Socially conscious.  Translation:  High-maintenance friendship.  Can’t just call on the spur of the moment and say, “let’s do lunch.”  Must be willing to call them three days before said playdate to properly prep and research vegan options at restaurants.  Their personality makes it totally worth it.

Early-bird breakfast – Financially responsible.  Coupon clipper.  Thrift store shopper.  Translation:  Does not do Tupperware parties, raffle tickets or cash donations, but will always be there with hands-on help. 

Eggs, bacon and gluten-free bread – Bowel issues. Translation:  Minimal boundaries.  I can feel free to discuss bathroom habits and abdominal cramping without shame.  I can get real.

Eggs benedict – Lives in the moment.  Loves butter.  Translation: Kindred spirit. Will do ice cream.

After creating my breakfast friendship-judging formulation, I had the opportunity to take it for a little test run.  A new friend invited me to do breakfast, and you know what she ordered,

Chicken strips and waffles!

This friendship is way out of my league.  I’m not sure I can keep up with her.

Photo by Miguel Dominguez on Unsplash

Note: I do not in all seriousness judge any of my relationships based on breakfast.  This kind of shallowness is the antithesis to everything I believe in…

The important thing to consider is do they have a dog.