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Hills Around the Cabin Last Fall 2008

Hills Around the Cabin Last Fall 2008

I’m waiting like a child at Christmas for this scenery.  Day 20 of my 40 days of commitment passed this weekend.  I’m doing pretty good with it though the last week it felt like I was not.  It was the kicking the caffeine thing.  The only thing I’ve dropped from the list is goal five.  I can’t possibly keep a 10pm bedtime and still spend time with John or have the “me” time I need.  So, I modified it to “rest when I’m weary.”

In church Sunday, we had a lesson on loving our brothers and sisters.  It wasn’t only about loving Christians (I am firmly against bigotry), but loving everyone – absolutely everyone – including those we are tempted to hate.  The lesson discussed what love/hate is, and what it looks like – that love is not words, but exists in action and truth.  But, what really spoke to me is that love requires time, and for most Americans today, time is a huge sacrifice.

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Hills Around the Cabin Last Fall 2008

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

– Jesus (John 13:34)

Whether we are looking at Jesus as a spiritual or historical figure, as do so many religions across the world, it is hard not to acknowledge that he showed ultimate love in laying down his life for those who despised him.  He commands his followers to love like that.

I think about how that applies to me and what I love, and what I feel like I am called to do in my life.  The things that, if I had them all squared away, I give most of my time to and thus the things I love dearly are…

  1. My Creator and my spiritual life (my study of religious texts, prayer, meditation, yoga, and fellowship with other folks of faith)
  2. My children/parenting/homeschooling
  3. My husband/our home/homesteading
  4. My family and friends
  5. My homeland – Appalachia
  6. My writing
  7. supporting natural childbirth and breastfeeding

I believe the first three to be perfectly tied together.  My marriage is a spiritual commitment and therefore keeping it strong also keeps me in need of a close relationship to the Creator.  Being a mother is the ultimate example of a spiritual duty.  I am responsible for raising a child who begins life so connected with the natural world and spirituality as she eventually comes into awareness of humanity and helping her make sense of it all, be confident enough to make her own choices in life, and to love others.  Man!  It never stops flooring me to think about it.  And this particular part of my life is where that lesson on love really hits home.

In yoga and mothering circles, we often say – “this too shall pass.”  It will.  Now, is the only time I have.  I want to be present for my children, my husband, and I want to know myself.  If I begin there, then I can be a better lover of my family and friends.  I can volunteer and speak for the issues facing eastern Kentuckians.  I can write, and I might even have time (at some point in my life) to help the women of my region with their birthing and breastfeeding goals.  I will be able to do those things without stress because I’ll know my responsibilities to the family I created are taken care of.  Not only that, but I can take care of these responsibilities from a place of joy.

Early Morning Right from Bed - Fall 2008

Early Morning Right from Bed - Fall 2008

I rocked Ivy to sleep tonight, and used that as my meditation time.  I have come to believe it is a time that God has given me.  I tried to be like her, completely dependent, still one with me.  I sang my chant Sa-Ta-Na-Ma, and she drifted off.  It was lovely.

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Lars - age 10

Lars - age 10

I bought the October Guide from Little Acorn Learning.  With all the wonderful festivals and holidays approaching I wanted a little help with ideas, and some help organizing myself.  Nothing beats having it all in the palm of your hand.  Our theme for the week is birds, and another great thing is Little Acorn includes a sort of weekly virtue in the theme.  They even provide a caregiver meditation to remind you to take time for yourself.  I love that!  The virtue for this week is showing kindness.  Not only are we to help create awareness of the need for kindness in our children, but we are challenged to become aware ourselves.

Mondays are “cooking days”.  This is where the girls help me with a cooking project.  Today’s project from Little Acorn was creating a homemade pet treat.  Our pet is a dalmatian whom I’ve written about a few times here.  His name is Lars.  John and I bought him as a two month old puppy the month before we were married.  He is ten years old.  Lars was our first baby.  He shared our bed.  We took him on special trips and bought him special treats.  Lars destroyed our couch and my collection of pewter figurines (yes, the dog demolished a soft metal with his teeth!) and we still allowed him to remain in the house.  We were over it in less than a week and carrying on as normal.  Unconditional love.

Then, came along Deladis.  Despite the fact that I had balked at the thought that becoming a mother would change my relationship with Lars, it did.  There was little time to snuggle with him on the couch.  He was so rowdy it was impossible for me to walk him while Deladis was with us.  His little shenanigans became more of an aggravation than something clean up and look over.  Keeping Deladis from eating out of his food bowl was a challenge.

Ivy came along.  We found out that Deladis was allergic to dogs, and we moved back to our mountains.  We could finally keep Lars safely outside, and we chose to do that, for Deladis’ sake and for the fact that dalmatians shed 24/7 all year around.  Their hair is not only white, it is fine.  I know (even with him outside) I will be sweeping his hair up long after he is gone.

With Lars outside, it has become even easier to not interact with him.  I shoo him out of the compost where he likes to visit and eat egg shells.  I peek out the door when he barks.  I make sure his food bowl is full.  Every now and then, I will pat his back.  But, mostly, he’s just there and I’m just here.

Lately, I’ve been doing more thinking about this because I know it won’t be long until he won’t be there anymore.  Though he gets around much like an adolescent dog, he has started falling through the cracks between the porch steps and gets stuck.  I have to pull him out.  I know he has lost hearing in one ear that stays infected most of the time despite our efforts to help him.  I’m pretty sure he has cataracts because he has started barking at us when we approach the house until we are right up on him.  When I see his legs shake beneath him, I know he has arthritis.

He doesn’t complain.  He isn’t sad.  He loves my children, and still follows me on walks and around the yard ready to protect me.  He lets Ivy mount him like a pony.  He cuddles with Roy (our rooster) on the front porch.  He is nothing but sweet, gentle, and kind, in spite of my not giving him the attention I once did, and being displaced by our “real” children.

When we gave Lars the treats we made, he wagged his tail like he did when he was a pup and we gave him the gourmet treats from the Three Dog Bakery.  Deladis gave him the first one, then, Ivy.  I gave him one as well.  Then, as I was putting the remainder away, he was standing in the door, and I couldn’t resist letting him have a fourth treat.  I’ll be sorry when he is gone from my doorway, drooling over my cooking.  I don’t think I’ll ever love another dog as I have him.

A part of showing kindness is recognizing the finite state of our bodies.  Realizing that we are all here only as long as the miracle of life continues to allow us to take another breath.  The time for kindness is now.  The time to release our fear and stubbornness is now.  There is no other time.

…patience which is the first condition of real Love. In Love you give without attention to all the mistakes of another as the sun gives light and warmth to all people…

– Yogi Bhajan (on the Shabad Kriya)

I’m finding it harder and harder to even come from that anxiety driven place anymore.  It is becoming easier to stop myself from riding the waves of stressful emotion.  When you truly let go of expectations, extensive future planning (within reason), and begin to focus on the now, and your blessings, it becomes more difficult to be selfish enough to be impatient.  And yet, we are all human.

Kindness is a huge thing.  I think in the modern way of life it is too easy to avoid even the simplest acts of kindness.

In religions all over the world the number 40 is significant.  The Buddha took forty days to achieve Enlightenment.  Muhammad is said to have been 40 years old when he first received revelation from an angel.  Many Hindu prayers consist of 40 stanzas or couplets.

As a Christian, I am very familiar with the number 40 being prevalent throughout scripture.  There are the Old Testament Bible references.  The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.  It rained for 40 days and nights while Noah and his family was inside the ark, among others.  When I think about the significance of 40, I can’t help but to focus on the life of Jesus.  Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days where He was tempted by the Devil before His ministry.  He was whipped with 40 lashes before he was placed on the cross.  Jesus walked the earth again for 40 days after His crucifixion.

It seems that the number 40 marks a time of trial – a time when a person is tested to their limit.  It is often a time that is followed by renewal of spirit.  Today marks the beginning of my own embarking with the number 40.  I am tired of attempts that I make at various things being marked by my moods and a schedule that is as up and down as my fleeting thoughts.  Today, I begin the journey of dedicating to a few areas in my life and their improvement.

  1. Daily Kundalini yoga practice of the same set each day.  I am starting with a set for Detoxing and Destressing with Maya Fiennes as it deals with the first three chakras mostly, and that is where I want to focus my work for now.  These chakras deal with the human talents of acceptance, creativity, and commitment, as well as the shadow emotions of resentment, guilt, and anger.  I figure that’s as good a place to start as any.  Start with the base of most problems.  The set on this DVD also throws into the mix some work on the thyroid, parathyroid, and the adrenals.  This is where most of my health problems lie.
  2. To pay attention to my emotions and become less reactive.  I want to make a conscious effort to stop and assess my feelings before riding them and allowing them to take over my actions.
  3. To work through Heaven on Earth and take my time with it so that the useful things I glean from it will become our family culture.  I will be beginning with rhythm in our home, starting with bedtime.  I am making 8pm the regular bedtime for the girls.  So, far it’s kind of okay.  Deladis is asleep.  Ivy, I rocked for twenty minutes, laid her down asleep, and as soon as I started typing here, she trotted into the living room.  She is rolling around next to me on the couch as I type, singing.
  4. To acknowledge, grow in, and embrace more fully my role as a wife and mother in the home as being my most important job.  To go about my homemaking with gratitude and joy instead of a rushed resentment that housework is in the way of the things I’d rather be doing.  I’m making it my only thing to do during daylight hours.  Also, making my homemaking and homesteading my big projects that I can immerse myself in and have fun doing.
  5. My bedtime is 10pm.  I have to work on my issues with fatigue and adrenal fatigue which affects everything else I attempt to do.  I will also be working my way through weaning off of coffee from my now 4 cups every morning.  I go back and forth with the feeling that I can give it up to that there is no way I can.  We’ll see how that goes.

There is so much packed into those five goals, but they are all interrelated.  I’m beyond excited about what might result.  I know change is so very hard for me, but I’m ready.  I will breathe through it and rely on my Creator to mold me.  Above all I’ll be seeking my God and His guidance through everything I feel to be right for me and my family and these goals.  I’ve not been the best at that.  I like to be in control of things.  Why?  I’m starting to wonder that myself. 😉

Psychologists say that a committment of 40 days is a good start to breaking old habits or making new ones.  I’m hoping for the best here.  40 days doesn’t seem like a long time, but with my interests and focus skirting all over the place, this will probably be a challenge.  I can wait to look back over my blogging after the 40 days are up.  How much can we grow and change in 40 days?

I wrote yesterday a little bit about my finding my way to yoga.  I’ve been toying with yoga for about ten years.  I’ve never really had what I would call a “serious” practice in that time period.  That is if the criteria for “serious” is incorporating all eight limbs of yoga.  I practiced more as another variation on the word “exercise”.  The closest I ever came to really doing yoga was during my pregnancies with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa and Shiva Rea DVDs along with some studio classes.  I was more about tuning in with my little beans than tuning in with God or my inner self at that time.

I really enjoyed the Gurmukh DVDs during my pregnancy, and when I realized that the type of exercise I was doing (high intensity aerobics) was exacerbating my health issues (thyroid, stress, and exhaustion), I started with her.  The type of yoga she teaches is called Kundalini yoga.  Kundalini yoga is the most ancient form of yoga and was introduced to the west by Yogi Bhajan in 1968.  Kundalini yoga suits me very well because while I need restorative exercise, I really like to exert myself.  Kundalini yoga allows for both.  It is appropriate for all people in all types of conditions and age ranges.

I’ve been exploring the different aspects of yoga and doing Kundalini and Vinyasa styles.  In my search for an authentic, traditional life, I place great emphasis on doing things the way they were meant to be done.  I have been researching the “real” way to practice yoga.  I have found that it stand aside from religion, and I have found it extremely helpful in reconnecting me with my own spirituality.  I’ve been using my yoga time as prayer time.  I am a Christian, and the original mantras work so well for me.  My favorite right now is Sat Nam – truth is my name.  It is such an uplifting thing to repeat as praise, a reminder, or a prayer.

I have bred in me an unrest.  I see impatience in many members of my family.  The impatience leads to worry and stress.  It has really affected my mothering.  I am so impatient with the girls.  For over a year now, I’ve been trying to beat this troublesome attribute with not much success.  Yoga is teaching me how to go about ridding myself of it.  Many of our problems come from alienating the various parts of ourselves.  We think of physical, mental, and spiritual parts of our being as different and often conflicting.  Yet, one part can’t work properly without the other.  We can’t know our full potential in this life without working to connect them all.  We can’t rely totally on ourselves either.  There is much more to life than us.

Gurmukh says something that I used as my mantra during my savasana time today.  “Let go and let God.”  As I heard John caring for our girls in the background, instead of wishing for peace and quiet, I embraced what was going on.  I let go of that impatience and I let God take care of me.  I can tell you right now, I was in much better hands.

* Update: I wish I could let it go everyday.  That will be a never ending goal.  Today has been a trial.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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