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Daisy tells a graphic birth story.  You have been warned.

Well dear readers, Fern has had herself a Baby Boy.  As of this writing, he is exactly 48 hours old, 6 pounds and some change, and he looks like a pink Mr. Magoo with long hands and feet.  I’m totally his favorite.  Fern and her Honeyman are busy adjusting to life +1, so I shall unfold the tale for you….

In the wee, wee hours of Monday morning (or late, late Sunday night really), Baby Boy let Fern know it was time to be born.  So Fern and the Honeyman set off for the birthing center, calling cowgirl M to join them.  The predawn hours were spent in the first stages of labor, sleeping when possible, singing and breathing when sleep wasn’t possible.

I, meanwhile, was sleeping peacefully, then having my usual morning of coffee and cats and chickens and Little Boy and getting the Herban Cowboy off to work.  Just before 8am, M calls me and tells me Fern is 6cm and progressing nicely, so I have another cup of coffee and read another chapter of my book.  At this point, I assumed we had hours and hours and hours, so I casually dressed Little Boy and we finally dragged our butts to the car and headed out the door.

I called M as I left, wondering if I should go let Fern’s chickens out on the way, but the urgency in M’s voice dispersed all other thoughts.  “Um, I think you need to come right now and hurry.  She’s at 10cm.

“What?  Already?  Ohmigod.  I’m on my way.”  Pedal to the metal.  I decided if I got pulled over, I’d stick my belly way out and tell the cop I had to get to the birthing center to have a baby (technically that would not be a lie).

I was the last of the birthing party to arrive.  Back in the birthing room, Fern was in the whirlpool tub with her Honeyman behind her, supporting her.  I joined the midwives, M and the photographer, who documented the event.  The lighting was dim and the only sounds were the whispers of the women and the bubbling of the water in the tub.

And that was what astonished M and I the most.  Here was this woman, with a baby’s head pushing past her pelvic bone, and she squatted quietly in the water, occasionally moaning with her breath as she pushed through the contractions.  Um, wow.  M and I shared giggled confessions behind our hands at how much we had screamed and cursed as we’d pushed our children out of our bodies.

And Fern was so beautiful!  And not in an “oh isn’t childbirth beautiful” kind of way.  I mean literally, truly, powerfully beautiful.  She is a slender woman anyway, and her pregnant belly only added a graceful curve to her middle.  Her skin was dewy and unblemished, her chestnut hair piled gently on top of her head.  I couldn’t stop staring at her, naked and laboring, every part of her perfect and gorgeous.

You know a woman’s true self when she gives birth.  Y’all, when it happened to me, it was awful.  I was a fat, sweaty, naked, angry animal with a puffy face and frizzy hair.  I screamed like a Viking during every contraction, cursing and belching and crying in between.  There was so much sweat and poop and blood.  At one point, I even begged Death to take me.  There was no such drama for Fern.

After more than an hour of coaxing the kid towards the light at the end of the tunnel, the midwives got Fern out of the tub and into the bed to move around and change positions.  We tried a few different ones, everyone taking turns holding her up or squeezing her hands.

Standing?  No.  Hands and knees?  No.  Laying over a yoga ball?  Um, no.  Finally, Jill (the midwife leading our team) says in her thick South Georgia accent, “Well.  I hate to do this, ‘cuz usually the mamas hate it, but let’s get you on your back honey.  I hate to do it, but sometimes it’s just the magic you need.”

So we flipped Fern like a pancake and propped her up with some pillows, the Honeyman snuggling beside her in the bed.  Sure enough, not long after that, Baby Boy’s head starts coming out.

Okay.  So even though I’ve actually had a baby this way before, and I’ve seen pictures and videos, I have never actually witnessed a live human birth.  And that right there Ladies and Gentlewitches, is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

Jill said, “Somebody get the mirror.”  Ooh!  I’m on it.  I can do that.  I grabbed the big hand mirror and held it up between Fern and Jill, angling it so Fern could see all that was happening.  And Fern, who had had her eyes closed the entire time I had been there, suddenly opened her eyes wide and watched.

The waves of the contractions crashed bigger and bigger, each crest bringing us closer and closer.  With each push, Fern saw more and more of the baby she’d been growing inside her.  We held her up, we murmured our encouragement and love, we watched in agony until finally –

POP!

We all gasped as his little face appeared.  M and I began quietly sobbing with joy (such a strange feeling).  And then with an unceremonious mmmmbloomp, he was out.  Jill wiped him off and put him on Fern’s chest to be kissed and cooed at and fallen in love with, while the rest of the team sprang into action, cleaning up various fluids and baby’s first poop (mmmm is for meconium!), delivering the placenta and finishing the paperwork.

With the hand holding part over, M and I decided to make a graceful exit.  We left the happy new family in the bed, Baby Boy already a champ at latching on and nursing.

So that’s it kids.  Our newest little Herban Cowboy has arrived.  Fern has requested no visitors or phone calls if possible for this first week.  Facebook messages are fine, since she can get to them at her leisure.  If you are one of her friends and you are dying to be helpful, bring food!  Visitors are overwhelming, but food is necessary.  M and I are doing our best to keep the new family fed, but more help is always needed.  You can always call me or M to find out what you can do.

Thanks to all who have breathlessly awaited our new arrival.  And in the coming weeks, Fern will emerge from her New Mommy Cave to tell us her story herself.  And post pictures.

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fern considers the fine art of listening

well, folks, we are in the final stretch.  just 6 days until my due date.  wow.  really?  have we come this far already?

i have been blessed by an outpouring of support from so many kind and generous people in my life.  especially by my cowgirls.  with aida, daisy, and the wise and wonderful M, i have managed to find my own space to learn and to grow with my child.  the wisdom and support shared by these amazing women help to ground me in my intuition, into my own innate wisdom.

i think one of my favorite things about sharing with the cowgirls is that each of us genuinely listens to each other.  we share our stories, we bless our homesteads, we aim not to judge, and we flow.  this leaves a sacred space for sharing, and for finding our own way, however different or similar it may be to the witch beside us.  we honor that which is sacred within, while appreciating the variations that make us individuals.

each witch has her own brand of wisdom to share.  daisy leans toward the practical, giving books and nourishing food and good humor to us all.  aida shares her pain, her dirt, and her physical and emotional strength.  the wise and wonderful M shares her heart, her warmth, her gentleness.  and we all share our hands and other tools for helping when we can.

in addition to sharing wisdom and resources, the cowgirls put no demands on one another.  we assist when we can, knowing that the day will come when we may need a helping hand, or four or six, in our gardens, our homes, our births.  we share without the thought of reward, yet we find security in knowing that our own needs will be met when it is time.

never in my life have i had friends like these.  we are sisters, women, mothers and guides.  we weave a web of life, of growth.

simple gifts- mint, sage, and thyme

i have been seeking a kind of network like this for goddess knows how long.  i was seeking before i knew i was seeking, before i knew what i was missing.  somewhere along the meandering path, i set my heart’s compass to love, and i have continued to stumble into the most beautiful and enlightening situations.

that said, i have learned in my young age to be careful of the kinds of help i accept.  the cowgirls don’t call ourselves ‘helping’ one another; we prefer to think of it as simply doing what we do, what feels right for every creature involved.  often, we enjoy the doing as much as the person in need enjoys the assistance.  and we always, always have a good time doing it.

too many times we fall into the trap of self-sacrificing.  many of us have been raised with the judeo-christian mores of self-sacrifice, with the notion that this makes us somehow better than others, better than even our selves.  and while, yes, it is good to shed some of our selves from time to time and give forth to someone else who may be in need, to force ourselves into a state of ascetic piety doesn’t really help anybody.  plus, it makes us not fun to be around.

gifts that keep giving- mabel and esther

i got a lot of flack from my sister about throwing my new family a party in lieu of letting her plan a baby shower.  she griped and complained, “when will i ever have another opportunity to do something for you?”  yet, as i discussed my wishes with her regarding food and guests, she met my requests with contempt and sarcasm.  so much for doing something for me, huh?

recently, two high-school girlfriends also wanted to do something for me.  i acquiesced, still feeling quite satisfied from the anticipation celebration.  i asked that my sister and mother be included, since they hadn’t had the “opportunity to do something” for me.  they agreed, and asked me about my needs here in the final two weeks of pregnancy.  i told them the truth- we were well stocked, and that all we needed now was cloth diapers.  we set up a registry for them, and intended to add a little money as we made it, or to ask others to contribute to our fund, until we had enough to get a good supply of diapers.

it’s funny how people seem to think they know what is best for you.  i loved all of the gifts i received from the women in attendance- i got adorable clothes, shoes, blankets, and yes, money (going straight to the diaper fund!).  i even got a gift certificate for homemade baked ziti!  but oddly enough, from the two women who wanted to “do something” for me, i got exactly the opposite of what i needed, or wanted.  i feel a little guilty for thinking this way, but i can’t help but wonder what about my requests seemed to them to be not in my best interest?  one friend spent a considerable amount of our time together casting doubt upon my birth choices, and the other spent a crazy amount of money on items we already had or did not need in the first place.  while i felt touched initially at the thoughtfulness of these women “doing something” for me, at the end of it, i felt a bit slighted and a little angry that my wishes had been so easily dismissed.  now i have two large bags full of items i can’t use that i have to take back to target, and still no cloth diapers.  at least now i’ll have a store credit when i’m in a pinch, or at the very least, items to re-gift when my next friend gets pregnant.

the cowgirls never cease to inquire honestly what each others’ needs are, and then listen, consider, and thoughtfully give.  i appreciate the books, herbs, chickens, bathrobes, mobiles, food, and rituals shared by these women during my time of need.  but most of all, i appreciate their commitment to the fine and delicate art of  listening.

the most sacred gift of all- space to grow and discover

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Time slows down

Fern gets the boot.

Well, dear readers…  this earth mama is in the final stretch.  Eight days to go until my due date.  Of course, any intuitive mama knows that baby comes when baby comes.

It helps to have a timeframe to focus on, even though I am not a time-conscious person.  Especially these days.  Nighttime is when I toss and turn and walk around and eat, daytime is when i sleep, eat, and cry.  Sometimes it’s the other way around. I forget which day it is.  Dishes pile up, and dogs and rarely get fed before noon.  Teeth go unbrushed for hours some mornings, and as I type this, i am still in my nightgown (perhaps the only comfortable clothing I have left), and I’m trying to remember if I showered 2 days ago or 3.

To add to my frustration, I have managed to injure my left ankle.  I saw an orthopedist yesterday who thinks it could be a stress fracture.  It seems that between the added weight, and a pregnant woman’s bone density, I could have a few hairline fractures in my precious and longsuffering foot.  This not only causes me to walk with a limp, but is now causing stress on my right leg.  And as you can imagine, my poor back is crying out for relief from both the baby and the awkward postures.

So the doc prescribed me one of those funny boots.  Which takes a lot of pressure off of the foot, but causes me even more back pain.  After the baby comes, and my lady parts have begun to resume their natural shape, I will go in for an X-ray.  Ugh.  I figure at this point, my back is more important than my foot for labor, though I had planned to move about as much as possible.  I’m applying ice packs regularly, which temporarily relieve some of the inflammation, and trying to still do some yoga to keep my spine strong and balanced.

Come around and visit me if you can.  You will find me sitting in my glider, reading and crying.

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Fern touches on a sensitive subject

In these final days of pregnancy, I have been doing a lot of resting.  Of course, I do my exercises and swing my hips as often as possible (lordisa, do they hurt!), but I must admit I have been spending a lot of time off of my feet.  This has facilitated me doing something I don’t really do- watch TV.

A large part of our meager income is thanks to the honeyman’s graphic design skills.  While I am not typically a TV watcher, honeyman likes to have it on while he works- being from the Big Apple, he works well in chaotic and noisy environs.  So, of course this means that as I am sitting on my big butt, I, too, have been watching TV.

It’s worth noting that we do not have cable.  Which means our choices are blessedly limited- cable TV can make a person batshit crazy with all of the inane choices available.  But this also means that even when we don’t want to see them, there are some pretty heavy, fear-mongering shows on network TV.  Shows such as CSI and others like it can’t seem to go five minutes without uttering words such as “rape” and “sexual assault.”  There was a time when I would have felt compelled to watch such shows (many, many moons ago), but since life is scary enough, these were the first to go when I stopped watching TV more than 10 years ago.  In addition to the crime-dramas, there are the readily available news shows, also heavy with the fear.  And it is one of these shows that has inspired this post.

This past Friday evening, the honeyman and I rented a movie (the A-Team was awesome, ya’ll!) and made some pasta for one of our final date nights as non-parents.  We turned on the tube while we were waiting for dinner to finish, and set up our little nest for comfortable action-movie-watching.  The show that was on was a news show featuring the Peace Corps.  As we watched, a story unfolded about a lovely, idealistic young woman who was murdered while teaching in a foreign country.  She had discovered that one of her fellow volunteers had been sexually assaulting some of their young female students.  An email and an information leak later, and the young woman was found dead in her hut, after letting her dog out.

The show went on to feature other women who had been assaulted and raped while on duty with the Peace Corps.  It was gut-wrenching to watch, but I wouldn’t stop.  The honeyman kept checking in- was I sure I wanted to watch this?  I nodded, and remained steadfast. As I listened to these women tell their stories on national television, thoughts of my own fears and experiences began to surface.  I went to the places in my heart that for so long I had ignored, suppressed, pushed down, way deep down.  It’s only been in the recent present that I have begun to accept and deal with my own experiences with such an unfair and atrocious reality.  And I, like so many women, must answer to these memories every day.

There was a time in life when I thought that I could erase the things that had happened to me.  I could numb my fears with alcohol, with food, even with sex.  It wasn’t until I found some compassion for myself, and began to tell my own story, that the healing began.  And it’s funny- it’s still only beginning.  Not a day goes by when I don’t remember it, when I don’t feel it.  It never stops happening.

I won’t patronize you with numbers and statistics on sexual abuse and it’s prevalence in our culture and others around the world.  Statistics don’t heal, they don’t comfort, they don’t understand.  Instead, I encourage you- hell, I demand you- to tell your story.  Tell it, and tell it again.  Find your tribe.  Dance to your pain.  Look it in the eyes and laugh at it.  Own it.  Wear it on a t-shirt, make art about it, have a party to celebrate it.  Make it yours.  You will find others like you.  And as much as it hurts to know that others have endured something like you have, investigating your pain earns you strength, resilience, and best of all, love.  It’s not magic, people.  But it kind of is.

It’s taken me a lot of time, effort, crying, sharing, walking, dancing, tree-climbing, singing, screaming and other sorts of unorthodox therapies to come to a place where I can face my demons.  It hasn’t come easy, but it has come abundantly.  I now have a loving tribe, women and men in my life who listen in earnest and share healing love energy.  It’s taken a lot of sorting through the rubble of acquaintances and experiences to find my true friends.  I am continually astounded at what I discover about the women in my life each time we share in ritual.  I find more strength and loving within myself, and I see it reflected in the faces of my tribeswomen- and in the men in our lives.  I see the faces of the oppressors, of the barbarians softened into faces of respect and protection in the man I love and the men who love the powerful women in my life.

I’ll never stop holding out hope that one day such stories will be something we read about in the herstory books and we try to imagine the horrors of, like we do the Holocaust.  But until then, I will delve down deep into my own pain, and while I am there, will take the hands of the women like myself, and smile, as we walk our paths to a place of healing.

Peace, peace, peace.  Ferocity and love to all who have been hurt in this way.  May we find each other, embrace, and dance on.

Following are some suggestions for how to find your tribe, how to protect yourself, and how to nurture the love within.

–       First and foremost, share your story.  Whether it’s through a support group, a dance class, an herbal lecture, or a sewing circle, find a group of women, and start talking.

–       Get out in nature.  Breathe in the air, put your bare feet on the ground, feel the life in a huge tree.  Reconnect with Mother Earth.  She has infinite healing powers.

–       Take care of your health.  You will feel better and have more stamina for the healing work when you feel and look your best.

–       When you are out and about alone, walking, biking, running, skateboarding, or whatever, navigate well-lit and well-traveled areas, and always let a trusted girlfriend know where you’ll be and when you expect to be home.  It may sound goofy, or even dependent, but knowing someone has your back is empowering, and let’s face it, it’s just a damn good idea.

–       If you live alone, consider getting a dog.  Preferably a medium-sized to large one.  Yes, it is a big responsibility.  But a dog will be more loyal to you than any gun, knife, or taser, likely won’t be wrestled from you and used against you, and will be a deterrent before any need arises to use force.  And there are trainers who specialize in pairing guard dogs with women specifically for this purpose.

–       Make art and journal.  Be as messy as you can be when you create.  Life is messy and erratic, and abuse gets on our hands and hearts.  When you can see your fears and your dreams come alive in color and texture, they will be more easy to recognize in real, waking life.  The power lies in awareness.

–       Finally, love your Self.  I cannot stress this enough.  No matter who you are, what you’ve done, where you come from, or what you think you look like, be your most beautiful and loving Self.  Be your own best friend, laugh, and forgive.

Wilddog Ollie and the Bulldozer- home security systems, personal trainers, therapists, and potential weapons of mass destruction.

Healing blessings to all.

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Fern dishes about her obsession with food.

So, I’m guessing by now, you, dear reader, have estimated that my favorite subject for this blog is food.  You would not be incorrect, although I would say that I have a variety of favorite subjects and thoughts to share here.  Perhaps it’s having a baby on the way, and considering how to get him off to the best start in his life that food is at the top of my list of concerns.  Maybe it’s that I know that what and how we eat is the foundation for all that we do, and often it’s the way that we eat that either hinders or helps us to achieve our day-to-day goals and lifelong dreams.

Truly, we are what we eat.

I come from a family chock full of diabetics.  Nearly all of the adults I am related to are overweight and/or have high blood pressure.  Somehow, I managed to evade these disorders, though I can only attribute it to pure luck, since I grew up eating as they did.  At age 17, I was struck with horrible cramping pains in my gut.  They caused me to double over, and often, to miss school.  Being from a traditional western family, I went to a doctor.

I knew even then that I didn’t eat properly.  I hated fruits and vegetables (I wouldn’t even eat ketchup!), and my diet consisted strictly of fast foods and refined sugars.  There was nothing even remotely natural in my diet.  I knew this was wrong.  I knew that I needed to start eating “right,” but eating vegetables totally made me gag.  (In hindsight, I can probably attribute this to the fact that all of the vegetables available in our home usually came from cans, were seasoned with bones and fat, and cooked to greyish mush.)

So, I had a talk with myself, and decided that I needed to own up to my part in this situation, and tell the doc just exactly what and how I ate, and open up the conversation for him to correct my behavior.  I felt like all I needed was a little guidance, some adult to tell me what I should do.  The fear of getting into trouble was usually enough to get me on the right track with other aspects of my life.  I figured this was no exception.

So, I sat in the good doctor’s office and got my checkup.  At the end of our appointment, I came clean about the dirty foods and I asked him what he suggested I do to correct the problem.  He smiled and said, “You’re fine.  You are a normal teenager.  I’m going to write you a prescription for {blank} and {blank}.”

I felt a bit puzzled.  I was just a dumb teenager, and this guy was a doctor, so certainly he was smarter than me.  As I walked away from the pharmacy counter with those two plastic brownish-orange bottles in my hand, something just didn’t feel right.  Still, I obediently began taking the pills as prescribed.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up around a lot of sick people, but I kind of enjoyed the attention I got from pulling out my pills at school or work.  Now I had something special, something was wrong with me, but these trusty little pills in the bottles with MY name on them were going to make me alright.

Except they didn’t.  I mean, they really, really didn’t.  They made me the opposite of alright.  I found myself crying on the bathroom floor with excruciating intestinal cramps.  Again, I began missing work and school.

So we called up the doctor and he ordered a scope.  I went to another doctor who ran a little light down my throat and checked things out.  Hmm.  It hurt, and I had to drink some god-awful chalk smoothie before it went down.  But I figured they knew what they were doing, so I obediently did as I was told.  The results came in- gastritis, one step away from ulcers.  I was written a third prescription.

Once again, the abdominal pains increased.  I spent more time crying on the floor and holding my belly than most teenagers spend talking on the phone.  I remember sitting on the grimy bathroom floor of the grocery store I worked in, and having a heart-to-heart with myself.  This had to stop.

I quit taking my pills.  I tried to eat the one fruit I did like- the apple- at least once everyday.  I ate applesauce and drank apple juice.  While I knew this wasn’t the answer to the problem, it was a start.  The pains lessened a bit.  I began taking Tums like candy to help with the indigestion I had from the bad foods I was still eating, and to gain some calcium, since I also would not drink milk or eat cheese.

I graduated high school a few months later.  I opted out of the college track, choosing instead to work.  I got a job selling jewelry at the mall.  Everyday for lunch, I’d hit the Chik-fil-a.  I remembered reading that this was one of the ‘healthiest’ choices in fast food, and it certainly was the tastiest.  Usually, my grandma would send me with a coupon for a free sandwich with the purchase of a meal, so I had chicken for lunch and dinner.  I was making my own money now- real money.  So, it was time for a change.

Each day that I went on my lunch break to the food court, I ordered my chicken sandwich ‘meal,’ complete with fries and soft drink.  And then I made a deal with myself: order a salad with each meal.  Eat one bite, and throw the rest away if you have to, but eat one bite.  I drowned it in Italian dressing, and I gagged down one bite each day.  Sometimes I was so disgusted by the taste, I threw the rest away.  Sometimes I took it home to choke another bite down later with my dinner sandwich.  But I stayed committed, and I bought one salad every day.

I was 19 then.  It took me nearly 4 years before I could eat a salad and enjoy it.  Usually there were chicken fingers and honey mustard on top, but at least I was getting something green in my diet.  I tried this trick with other foods I didn’t like but knew were good for me.  I hated bananas, but found when I blended them into a smoothie, they were tolerable, and even good!  Same went for yogurt.  I continued with all kinds of fruits and veggies, until I began to not only enjoy them, but I actually craved them!  By the time I was 24, I had begun working in fine dining restaurants and was eating all kinds of delicious, fresh, and exotic foods (WARNING- do not ever turn down food from the chef you work for.  He will make your life H E L L).

I discovered that nuts weren’t exclusively for brownies and candy bars; they upped the texture, enjoyment, and nutritious value of my salads.  I learned that bitter greens go great with rich wine and butter sauces and fleshy, fresh fish.  Onions and apples stuffed into a roasted chicken breast?  I’ll have seconds!

At the age of 27, I became a full-fledged vegetarian.  A couple of years later, I was vegan.  Now 32, I have since come back to being an omnivore, though I consider myself 90% vegetarian.  I still crave a lot of the bad indulgences I grew up with.  But now I make little deals with myself.  How bad do I really want that snickers bar?  Bad enough to drink a bottle of water and eat a banana first?  Ice cream craving?  How about a bowl of whole-grain cereal with nuts, dried fruit, and- what the heck- a few bitterweet chocolate chips?  Now, I substitute smoothies for milkshakes.  I buy bars of expensive dark chocolate that are high in antioxidants, and I eat only a square or two, my craving satisfied, and knowing my money was well spent with each decadent bite.  It helps me not to strive for perfection, but instead, to try to do just one better than the alternative.  It’s all about moderation- and patience.

Needless to say, my gastritis has disappeared.

Do I stumble?  Of course I do.  There are some nights when the honeyman and I want to curl up with a movie, and eat pizza followed by ice cream.  But these nights are relatively rare, and we typically offset our fatty foodprint by eating salads and drinking veggie juice the next day.  Our guts usually remind us pretty quickly why we don’t eat this way all the time.  And it’s generally pretty easy to track the culprit anytime we do get sick.  Which doesn’t happen very often these days.

So, dear reader, you now have some insight into why food is so important to me.  I still have some trouble when it comes to family gatherings.  I get picked on for being “too healthy” or just plain “weird.”  And I do my best to explain the reasons for my choices, in the hopes that I can help those family members who complain about their weight realize that the power of our health lies in our own kitchens, and in our own hands.

 

Here are some of my favorite ideas for beating ‘bad’ food cravings, and learning a new eating lifestyle:

  1. Remember that the goal is not about getting skinny- it’s about being healthy (I got ‘lucky’ to be thin- more on that double-edged sword in a future blog.).
  2. Throw out your ideas of perfection.  This is about awareness.
  3. If you absolutely hate something, don’t force yourself to eat it.  Take your time, and introduce substitutions gradually (it’s been 15 years since my nutrition journey began- and I still struggle).  Hate yogurt, but know you need it?  Make your shake or smoothie with ice cream and include one spoonful of full-fat vanilla yogurt (Brown Cow brand is my personal favorite!), until you come to tolerate the flavor; gradually add more as the taste becomes more palatable.
  4. Know that by introducing more good foods into your lifestyle, the bad ones will naturally begin to be less desireable.  No need to go cold turkey.
  5. Don’t watch too much TV.  Big food businesses want you to eat their crappy food, and will do their best to entice you and kill your self-esteem via the tube.  Turn on some music and shake your booty instead!
  6. Have dinner with friends, preferably in someone’s home.  Eating in isolation will only make you feel depressed and you’re less likely to hold yourself accountable for what and how much you eat.  Sharing meals with good friends who eat healthfully will increase your chances of making more sensible choices and of trying something new.
  7. If you have a craving that just won’t quit, try making it at home instead of going out.  You can control the portions, you can add health-boosting herbs and spices, and you will save money.  Inviting friends over will only add to your enjoyment and portion considerations.
  8. Alternately, don’t keep food culprits around your house.  If the craving gets so strong that you simply must have it, walk or bike to the store.  This way, not only are you offsetting some of the negative effects of the food before you eat it, but the extra effort it takes to get it will make you think twice about how bad you really want it.
  9. Substitute natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, dates, stevia) for white sugar in everything from your morning coffee to dessert.  Natural sweeteners each have their own health benefits and unique flavors, and you will end up using less, while boosting you vitamin and mineral intake.
  10. Get out of your shell.  Try a new activity, like yoga or zumba.  You will likely find at least one other person facing the same issues that you are, and who is willing to listen and offer supportive feedback.  Plus you’ll end up feeling so good afterward, you’ll be jonesing for fresh foods instead of junk.

Finally, take an honest look at your Self, and smile.  Love who you are, enjoy your body, and be your own best friend.  Remind your Self that you are getting healthy for the long run, and learning new ways to enjoy this precious life.  Be the love you want to see in the world!

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fern ponders the omnivore’s dilemma

food.  these days, i am rarely not thinking about it.  whether i am eating, planning to eat, or reading about eating, food is nearly always on my mind.  and now, with a wee babe on the way (due in 3 weeks!), i can’t help but wonder what kinds of food he will be eating as he grows.

of course, i can tell you what he won’t be eating.  at least, if i turn out to be the perfect mom i plan to be (ok, please stop laughing).  no fast food, no refined sugars, blah, blah, blah.  yes, i will make every attempt to keep this junk away from my precious child, but i am realistic enough to know i can’t keep him from eating at  every birthday party, halloween, or holiday event for the first 18 years of his life.  and i’m not foolish enough to think that we will never, ever have peanut butter and jelly for dinner on some hectic night.  inevitably, he will partake of some kind of sub-par badness that he will probably just love.  then i’ll face the challenge of how to deal with a tiny and tenacious sugar fiend.

so what’s a mommy to do?  well, i guess i’ll cross that bridge when i come to it.  more immediately on my mind, is how to condition his little belly when it comes time for him to begin the transition from boob to solid foods.  i know i have to birth the kid first and all, but there’s just so much to consider…

everytime i turn around, there’s a new diet revolution emerging.  or allergy.  there’s the raw food movement, the primal diet, there’s veganism and good ol’ vegetarianism.  there’s lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance.  and then, of course, there’s the rest of us:  the omnivores.

the honeyman and i are omnivores, vegetarian leaning.  we tend to eat vegetarian at home, and save our meat-eating for special occasions or when we go out.  i know, i know- this is pretty hypocritical.  after all, most of the places we eat out do not get farm-raised, free-range, organic meats.  neither do most of the people whose houses we eat at who cook meat as the main dish.  but since we’re pretty content to eat veggie at home (not to mention, we can just toss out the scraps to the chickens or the compost, and clean up using only vinegar!), we give our consciences a break when we have a date night or are guests in someone’s home.  it can get emotionally taxing to worry all the time, and it’s certainly not healthy.

so now, with the boy on the way, we wonder what kind of diet will be the best for his little gut.  i guess only time will tell.  we abandoned the ideal of perfection early in the first trimester, when money was tight and we had to cut some corners on our organic shopping budget.  we gave ourselves a break  and decided any food was better than no food.  we eat as local and organic as possible when we can afford it, and we cast love blessings upon any food we think is of questionable origin.  when it comes time for the baby boy to become aware of what and how he eats, we will be honest and share with him the ideal situation in relation to the reality.  and, hopefully, as he grows into a young man, he can decide for himself what is the best fuel for his body.

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fern rambles on

well, dear readers, i must say i hope you haven’t missed me.  i hope you have been doing what i’ve been doing- spending time with the ones you love the most.

last month i decided to cut my “social networking” time online down to nil until after the baby boy arrives.  i fully intended to blog regularly despite my virtual diet, but, honestly, it was just so darn peaceful without the glare of the computer screen in my peepers, and with all of the holiday to-do’s, well, i just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to sit down and type.  i do hope you’ll be forgiving.

there has been, of course, a lot going on.  but, when is there not, really?  now in my 8th month of pregnancy, i am slower and yet somehow more motivated than ever.  push a baby out of me?  are you kidding?!  anything else seems like a piece of cake by comparison.

so, i’ve been kicking ass at yoga.  it makes me feel human again, and my body, having been scrunched up around my belly and limited to side-sleeping each night, welcomes the up and down dogs with wide open hips.  warrior poses make me feel ready to face birth with calm and strength, and squeeze this child right on out and into the world.  and any variation of goddess pose, a.k.a. squats, puts me deeply in touch with the eternal mother.  yeah.  i feel powerful.  hear me roar!

of course, there’s also the practical, day-to-day stuff that’s been happening.  i finally got myself on a cleaning schedule.  i know that this is not terribly exciting, but it is liberating to have a clear chart in front of me outlining daily what needs to be done.  i have the daily chores, five in the morning and five at night.  they take me less than an hour to complete.  i have 3 tasks each day to focus on, and they typically take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.  so i end up only spending 3-4 hours a day on housework, and i get to enjoy a tidy and welcoming home.  and even if i have a down day and end up sleeping rather than bathing dogs, the chores still seem pretty manageable when i know there’s just another wednesday around the corner to do it.  not to mention, it takes a load off of my mind knowing that the honeyman can easily check in on what needs to be done during those first weeks of sleepless baby delirium.  which is coming really, really soon.

there have been other wonderful developments.  the honeyman and i have had an outpouring of support and help from some of the most wonderful humans we have ever met.  daisy and the herban cowboy donated their lovingly cared-for carseat to us.  daisy has also gifted me with freezable soup and chili, baby toys, and two crucial books that are going to help me in a big, big way once this mothering gig is in full swing.  not to mention being enthusiastic and available (along with the lovely M) as my labor and birth support mama.  she may be an athiest, but she’s an angel to me!

my prenatal yoga teacher, another blessedly giving soul, is loaning us her co-sleeper (which, by the way, doubles as a pack-n-play!), as well as a baby wrap.  my sweet baby sister, a mother of 4 herself, passed along a gently used baby swing, a walker, bouncy jumper, 2 playmats, a baby chair, and a moses basket.  wow.  and there’ll be boy clothes galore once the baby is out of onesies.  we bought a barely used, bad-ass jogging stroller from my oldest friend at nearly 1/3 of it’s retail cost(which will totally come in handy if these skinny running dreams i keep having ever manifest!).  so far we’ve saved more than we’ve spent!

we opted not to buy a crib, or a changing table.  we found some blogs about the montessori bed method, where the entire room is baby-proofed, and once the kid is toddling around and ready to move out of the family room/bed, he sleeps right on the floor on a futon mattress.  if he rolls off, he won’t have far to fall.  many parents report a calmer, more independent babe.  and i like the idea of spending our hard-to-come-by dollars on something that our son will be able to use for a good, long time.

and if i get half as much post-partum help as i am being offered, i just may be able to get a nap AND a shower!  score!!!

and the piece de resistance?  my wonderful mother, for what may be the very first time in my life, got me the one thing i really wanted for christmas.  oh, trust me, she always meant well…  but being a dirt-loving tomboy, and a messy and creative child, the collectible gifts she gave me every year for as long as i can remember have all been broken.  i gleefully ripped the glued-on wigs of many a porcelain doll(each one valued at $50-$100) to see what dolls hair went best with which painted-on shoes.  fine lace and velvet frocks were lost.  many of the girls didn’t make it out of their trysts and adventures with their hands and feet intact- i think one young lady even lost a nose.  and those were just in the first 14 years of my life.  the bi-monthly moves i made between the years of 2007-2009 sent many of the remaining fractured pretties crashing into the garbage bin(sorry, mom…i tried to tell you i wanted art supplies!).  the few salvageable items i managed to mercy, i eventually gave to my sister- she shares my mom’s affection for lovely, collectible things one can put on a shelf or in a glass case and marvel at how much it might be worth one fine day.

so, i have kept you in suspense, long enough, dear reader.  my sweet mother, after years of exasperation never knowing what to get me, simply asked me what i wanted this year.  my answer?  a juicer.

and let me tell you folks, in these final days of pregnancy, when i barely leave the house (there’s still so much to do!), you can find me polishing up my juicer like some men polish their ferraris.  seriously.  i love the damn thing.  honeyman and i began our juicing adventure on new years eve, and we haven’t felt better.  we now have more veggies in our bellies than ever before, and i worry less about getting good nutrition in those first weeks postpartum (in all of his beautiful ability, the honeyman is not a cook!).  and i get super excited when i see all of that luscious, soft pulp going into the compost to become nutrient-rich soil come the spring.  oh, sure, i could bake with it- and someday i plan to- but for now, the idea of building fertile earth right from my kitchen into my backyard makes me giddier than a soccer mom on black friday.  our garbage, and even our recycling, is drastically reduced.  we make half a press of coffee rather than a full one.  nothing smells in our fridge, and no produce gets left behind- even the things we don’t normally like taste great when juiced with apples and oranges!  the honeyman and i get 3-4 servings of vegetables before we’ve even fried our morning eggs.  and i look ahead to the spring, when the eggs we eat will be from our own backyard, and with a baby on my back, i will sow the seeds of sustainability, right here in my own home.

namaste, ya’ll!

my morning kitchen

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