On Feeling Inadequate as a Parent

As I watch my sweet oldest boy turn more and more into what some might call an angsty teenager – I recall mySelf at his age.

Not so long ago, I was his age….and not long after that, I was pregnant and giving birth to him.  I was 18 the year he was born.  The only child of only children, I’d never been around kids, never babysat.  I only ever held a baby once, briefly and awkwardly, before I held my own precious child.

I tried my best at the time, but I knew I felt deeply inadequate for the task I was up against – raising another human being, when I had barely even begun to become my own true Self…

I comforted my completely befuddled teen-mom-self with thoughts like, “At least when he’s a teen, we’ll get along great, cause I won’t be so out of touch with him like my parents are with me…  It will be great – we’ll bond over music and I won’t force him to do things he hates, and I will welcome his friends…and I will have peace then, if not now.”

Not only did I miss the point of Living in the Moment, then…but I recognize now, how so absurdly naive it was for me to think that way:

Again and again, every moment, every phase of development – I realize more and more how very little I know.

How presumptuous of me, to ever think that I could “learn it all in time”…

But also, I’ve learned that It’s Okay.

His path is not mine to control, whether by threat & force, or by leading him with stifling, sugar-coated coercion down the road that looks most promising…least painful. I have to recognize, the older he gets, that his path may very well include a foray into what, in my opinion, looks like dire misery – but his lessons and his choices are not mine, and do not define me as a person.

I can lead him, guide him, love him so much it hurts – but I cannot ultimately make his choices for him.

It doesn’t get easier as they get older.

I dunno who made up that lie.. You trade diapers and sleep deprivation for much deeper, more profound, less tangible worries, the older they get. You have to make peace with who they’re becoming, and realize that so much of it is out of your hands, by the time they are 10+ years old. The million moments of babyhood and toddlerhood, whether you manage to keep the exasperation out of your voice as you read The Runaway Bunny for the 30th time…they add up to huge things, somewhere down the line.

But we can’t know what, or where.

Our kids know us better than we know ourselves, and sometimes that in itself can trigger us. As they grow, they might have memories of profound, pivotal, defining moments in their lives….that we are unaware of. What seems insignificant to us might be Earth-shattering for our child – and we won’t always be aware of it.

So if you’re feeling unprepared for this huge, monumental task of parenthood – feeling like nobody told you exactly what would be required of you….feeling often, like you’re not quite up to the task? Well, that’s good. Nobody can ever prepare themselves for parenthood “enough”.

There is no such thing as enough.

You give it your all, and then, incredibly, again and again – you find that more is required of you – so you discover more of yourSelf, and learn and grow alongside your children.

They don’t need you to be perfect – they just need you to be real, and willing to grow alongside them.

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Parenting is the most immense personal growth journey you can embark upon, in my opinion.

You just have to be open and willing to let it transform you.

Inspired by my friend, Cherise.

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Part 3 – My Journey to & Beyond Vegetarianism

So in my last post in this series, I was feeling very unsettled and confused because wheat, the major ingredient in my diet, was suddenly being implicated as unhealthy, and the cause of my husband’s Celiac disease.

This Celiac thing turned our world upside-down.

At first I approached it like a random allergy, as if he was allergic to strawberries or latex:  “Bummer!  Sorry you can’t have this pasta….”

So we bought gluten-free pasta–which is expensive–so we would just make two separate types of pasta…  We soon realized just how much pasta we ate!

Now, my husband had been mostly vegetarian for most of the time we’d been together thus far–meaning, he would have meat when it was available, but for the most part ate a vegetarian diet with the rest of us.  He’s the chef in our home, but he didn’t want to frequently cook something that only he would eat.  Also, meat is inescapably expensive–even when it’s the hormone-injected “cheap cuts” at the big-box store.

  • One of the major caveats with having limited funds is that your diet is one of sustenance rather than health-promotion.  Ideally, we’d all eat foods that healed our bodies and supported optimum health–not just survival….but I digress.

As time went on, I read and researched more about Celiac.  I have prided myself on my continuing nutritional knowledge base since I went veg as a teen, but here I was being presented with a glaring discrepancy and confusion.

I didn’t understand how it was possible that large numbers of people could be allergic to something that’s widely promoted as staple of a healthy diet.  I mean, even in my impassioned vegan years, I’d never heard of a “meat allergy”!  Yet there are so, so many people with Celiac–and even more with wheat intolerance.  Some estimates claim that as much as half of the American population is sensitive to wheat!

My oldest son, who loves to critique and analyze the world, likes to ask me about nutrition pretty often:  “Is this good for you?  What about this?  Which one is better for you?  Why?”

When he asked about pasta, “whole grain” bread, rice, cereal….I never had an answer that I felt confident of.  My nutritional knowledge up to that point left me with the weak conclusion that whole grains were “just okay”–i.e, that they didn’t have loads of nutrition but weren’t supposed to be “bad” for you, either.  But what exactly did that mean?

Interestingly, the WIC program advocates “healthy whole grains”, and only lets participants choose certain cereals with “high whole grain content”.   However, a “food product” that’s as processed as dry cereal cannot be a health-promoting food, and so should be eaten moderately, if at all.  Anyway, Dora cereal is one of the allowed “healthy choices”–and if you’ve ever seen that stuff coagulate in milk, you’ll know it isn’t healthy just by looking at it!

I have been a fan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman since before his books were published, and I still very much agree with his central premise that the bulk of your diet must be whole, natural foods in order to be health-promoting.  Ideally, he promotes a vegetable-based diet instead of a grain-based diet–which is sound advice.  However, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t implicate whole grains as BAD–just as grossly overused in the typical American diet.

  • I knew there was more to the story than just processed/refined grains versus “whole” grains…but what was it?

As you might know, when you turn your attention toward something, it grows within your consciousness.  Law of Attraction and all that..  Gradually, I realized that several of my other friends were avoiding not just processed grains, but grains in general, and I started asking them why.    I checked out Mark’s Daily Apple and bought The Primal Blueprint.

Also, another friend of mine began a journey of her own, called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is a very regimented diet that’s designed to heal your gut.  I asked her about it, and the only thing that stuck in my mind–other than it was often the best prescription for Celiac patients (!)–was that it included an awful lot of meat!

Meat in a diet that is designed for healing??  This grew stranger and stranger, I thought.

Yet another one of my friends lives on a farm, and she’s quite healthy.  It occurred to me that she and her family eat plenty of raw, unpasteurized dairy products, butter, eggs, and yes, meat.  Organic, grass-fed meat from animals that had been gently taken care of, allowed to roam free, and were slaughtered as humanely as possible.   If you know anything about the factory farming operations that most of America’s meats come from, you’ll know that this is about as opposite as you can possibly get from the family farm.

As I started unraveling the hidden mess of questions beyond just vegetarianism-or-not, I learned that even my beloved tofu wasn’t safe.

One of the major fallacies of the vegetarian and vegan movement is that it’s possible to eat so low on the food chain that you’re not impacting the environment at all.  Most vegans I know (and the vegan I used to be!) still eat processed foods that have just as much of a negative impact on the planet and sustainability as the foods they are so diligently avoiding.

  • So what it began to look like is this:  Foods–ALL FOODS–vary widely in their ability to promote or detract from our health, depending on how they are farmed/raised/created.  

Now, if you’re familiar with energy work and the quantum view of the universe, that is so obvious and simple–yet complex.

The positive energy that’s put into raising your own garden, or raising chickens for eggs, or even lovingly preparing a meal (as mentioned in my last post), affects the quality of that food, and carries the positive vibrations with it as we ingest it.  Similarly, mass-produced, over-processed, ready-to-eat, “dead” foods that are regarded mainly in terms of some CEO’s profit margin, carry those vibrations as well.

You don’t need a psychic to tell you that a commercial slaughterhouse is a place that’s thick with the vibration of fear, death, terror.  Animals feel–they are sentient beings, and those residual energies and hormones are present in the animals’ bodies at the time of slaughter, and become part of the meat you eat.  (That’s in addition to the toxic compounds and mega-doses of drugs they inject them with in order to keep the animals alive in such crowded, filthy conditions.  Can we say antibiotic resistance?)

However, vibration and energy go on to give further meaning to another argument that most people like to use to poke fun at vegetarians:

       “Plants feel pain too.”

I used to get so frustrated with people who would say that to me.  As if the “suffering” of a cabbage plant is somehow equivalent to the suffering of a pig or cow.  Absurd, I thought.  Of course those people were just trying to be thorns in my side, saying nonsense to goad me…  But actually, I’ve come to believe that they have a point.  (Yes, really.)

Plants are alive too, but more importantly, everything is energy.  The suffering of an animal is more evident to us than a plant’s because we are biologically more similar, more able to relate.  But to say that killing plants doesn’t matter is to reject the energetic, divine nature of All that IS.  In the quantum view, a rock IS a leaf IS a cow IS a person IS the sun and stardust…

The veg movement is focused on getting people to extend their compassion to non-human beings…but why stop there?  

I was starting to realize that that obnoxious song by Tool, about the carrot holocaust, was not so far off the mark, after all…

  • Life feeds on life.  The solution is not to remove yourself from the equation–that’s impossible.  Everything is energy.  You are responsible for the mark you make upon the cycle of life.  No matter what, the fact of your existence creates suffering in other forms.

You must strike a balance, there is no opting out.

~*~*~*~

So, what does this all mean??  I’m honestly still chewing on that.  🙂

The short answer is, I’m regarding my food choices with a lot more conscious thought now than ever before, and I’m realizing that mindfulness and energetics are essential to my diet.

I’m still learning so much–about raw dairy, fermented foods,  how to brew kombuchaurban homesteading, and raising our own egg chickens, eventually.

I think, lately, that labeling one’s eating habits as vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, etc, is misleading, limiting, and not focused on alignment with one’s body/health/Self.

Eating intuitively, seeking out high-vibe, consciously grown  foods is where I’m at right now.

It means that I’m not really interested in wrapping my identity up with vegetarianism anymore.  My diet still happens to be vegetarian–but the description (and stereotypes, and assumptions) of “vegetarian” is no longer all-that-pertinent to Who I Am…if that makes any sense.

My relationship with food is evolving…rapidly.

consciousness.  _shift_

Here are the links to Part 1  and Part 2 of this series…

My Journey to and Beyond Vegetarianism, Part 2

So in my last post in this series, I left off at the point where I was a complacent vegan who felt “pretty good” about my choices from an ethical and a nutritional standpoint, and was more or less satisfied with my diet for the time being.

Then, gradually, I lost passion about veganism.  Now, I was never one of those street-corner supporters, denouncing the evils of flesh food to anyone who would listen–but from the start, I had been quietly passionate about lessening animal cruelty and helping the environment–and being vegan was the most tangible way I thought that I could effect positive change.

Somewhere along the line, I lost passion for most other things in my life, as well.  I was in the grips of a deep depression.  I realized that I wanted out of my marriage at the time, and felt that I was trapped in a vortex of negativity and fear.  It took monumental efforts to shift my thinking and move forward from this dark place.  Naturally, things that were not of the utmost importance fell by the wayside during this time.

As I picked up the pieces, slowly, I started to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have the finances to return to the way I had been eating before, when I was “healthier”.  I talked a lot about my vexing relationship with food at this time in my life here, over a year ago.

Truthfully, we ate pretty well after we mastered the learning curve of having a very strict budget to contend with.  But it was a far cry from my previous, convenient, “fast-veg” diet.

That year–the year I got remarried and had my third baby–I learned to cook spaghetti sauce from scratch, and to cherish the feeling of a full stomach.  I had to re-train myself to eat things that I had worked so hard NOT to eat, or want, or even like.  During that year, I think what kept me on the path of vegetarianism more than anything else was that it was cheap.

I developed a really rotten philosophy about food.  It was arguably necessary at the time, but it’s not easy to just reboot your internal programming and change your diet back to a healthy one after eating addictive crap for over a year.

I also learned a lot about how I regarded food.  I was never a good cook, and mostly I didn’t care about how my food tasted.  For all my high-minded idealism, I mostly just ate whatever was convenient that fulfilled the label of “vegan”, to shut my stomach up when it complained.  When I met my now-husband, however, he showed me a completely different way of thinking about food–one that I am still struggling to embrace after all my negative conditioning!

My husband now is an excellent cook.  He has a passion for good, fresh food.  He’s respectful of vegetarian and vegan diets, but he’s an omnivore.  One of the first days we spent together, he cooked me an unbelievable feast.  I thought, when I met him, that he might end up as a star chef one day–and I still do.

Ironically, the foods that my husband prepares are sometimes full of dairy, fat or sugar–but I feel differently about them.  His intentions of what he is trying to create–something beyond simple sustenance–cause a sort of alchemy to happen to his food.  He is able to infuse the food he cooks with a sort of energetic vibe that makes it fortifying and life-affirming, in spite of what the nutritional facts might say about it.

So I reveled in things I had never allowed myself to try before–like cream cheese, white sauces, homemade spring rolls, and more.  As money became less of a problem, we enjoyed our food even more.  Cooking a big dinner for the holidays has become joyful and amazing–instead of a drudgery, or even something to avoid altogether, like when I was a child.

However, as time went on, my husband’s health issues got worse and worse, but not in the typical “you eat the standard american diet” ways.

Then I met Catherine.  Catherine is my very best friend–and a cancer survivor.  She is passionate about food, but in a slightly different way than my husband is.  She describes her diet as “clean”–and it was very impressive to meet someone who ate like she did, especially to me.  Mostly organics, fresh fruit and veggies, nothing with more than six pronounceable ingredients on the label (yes, really!).

Although, I admit that I felt very uncomfortable when I saw that she ate organic dairy.  Oh no!  Dairy is so unhealthy for a cancer survivor!  I thought.  I never considered that there was a reason beyond that she wasn’t hungry, when she politely declined the pasta I fixed when she came over to visit.  But Catherine blew my mind when I learned that she regarded grains as unhealthy.  What???  That’s the foundation of my diet!  And you try not to eat them at all??.

She told me about Paleo and Primal diets, and I had never heard of such a thing.  Previously, I had considered the diet options of man as being on a sliding scale or continuum, with from least healthy/enlightened to most healthy/enlightened–and you moved up or down that scale mostly related to how much meat or dairy you ate.  Raw veganism was, in my mind, the pinnacle of dietary health, and something that mere mortals like myself were mostly incapable of.

Then we started putting the pieces together, and we found that my husband has celiac disease.  He is severely allergic to wheat, among other things.

Whaaat??The foundation of my diet was being implicated again!  I still had a lot to learn.

Here’s a link to Part 3 of this series.

My Journey to and Beyond Vegetarianism–Part 1

I’ve been a vegetarian for about 17 years–but I’m currently experiencing an inner earthquake of thoughts on health, ethics, nutrition and more–and I need to write about it.  The next few posts are going to chronicle my thought process and dietary evolution up to the precarious, interesting point of view I’m at now.

I first went veg as a teen, along with my mother, who was becoming veg again for the third or fourth time in her life (she had a habit of not staying true to herSelf in the face of ridicule or opposition from those closest to her).  I remember wanting Long John Silver’s chicken strips, and fish sandwiches from Burger King (we ate out a LOT), and then feeling so guilty after eating them.

I had collected a bunch of propaganda buttons with animal rights messages on them:  “Go veg!”, “Animals are our friends”, “Love animals, don’t eat them”, and so on.  I had one that was black and red with big block letters proclaiming “Meat is MURDER”.  I wanted to use that button too, but I felt like a filthy hypocrite every time I’d cave and eat meat again.  I knew I’d be inviting scrutiny of my choices by going “public” with my belief in a veg diet, but I didn’t care.

Finally, the summer after I turned 14, I succeeded with staying veg.  I felt so proud of myself–like I was really making a huge difference in the world.  I even went out with flyers and distributed leaflets a few times.  I organized a library display for our town, highlighting famous vegetarians–and drawing the connections between environmental, ethical and health concerns.  The next year at school, I was made fun of for my new choice, but I didn’t waver.  I also met a few other veggie kids, which really surprised me. I even organized a protest when the school’s science wing installed a new exhibit:  a real-life, dissected, spread-eagled cat.  I had to walk past that thing to chemistry twice a week, and it bothered me deeply.  I collected signatures and got the school paper to write a piece about why we felt it was unethical, and that we wanted it gone. We succeeded in getting it removed.  I wrote a piece on vegetarianism for my school paper, and also got a letter to the editor of a national magazine published that year.  The topic?  Animal rights.  Of course I included vegetarianism as an extension of that concept.

I initially tried to go vegan, but being an already-thin person who had a very sensitive palate, that didn’t last long.  I’d restricted my diet so much that I was hungry all the time, but refused (or couldn’t deal with the textures/flavors) of many healthy vegan foods.  I made peace with being an ovo-lacto vegetarian for the time being, and enjoyed many processed meat alternative foods along with lots of fruits, veggies, pasta and rice.

By the time I was 21, I had read loads of vegan ethics and nutrition books, and I decided that it was time to get serious about my health.  My animal-rights zeal that prompted going veg was now a shared focus with health and proper nutrition.  I decided to cut out milk and cheese (which I already ate only in limited quantities), and eat more raw, whole foods.  While I still ate processed foods without thinking much of it, I felt that my diet was congruent with my ethics, and I also felt that I was eating really well.

This was the status quo for about 2-1/2 years.  What I wasn’t yet aware of is that comfort is sometimes a form of complacency–and mine was about to get disturbed profoundly.

Here’s links to Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

Evolution of a Homeschool Family–One Year Ago…

I wrote this about a year ago, at the end of one of my more zealous attempts at “traditional” homeschooling. I found it amusing and wonderful to realize how far we’ve come since then.

So at the moment, shocking as it sounds, we literature-based homeschoolers are taking a much-needed respite from all things “schooley”.

Several weeks ago, I managed to have what I considered an uncommonly good, productive, well-rounded homeschool week–but by the end, the kids were fighting, cranky, and acting like next Monday’s lessons were so abhorrent as to have already ruined their weekend.

Burnout had struck. Even the most seasoned homeschoolers have to recognize that burnout happens with kids too, not just parents. What to do? Well, I am older and more mellow than I was, say, five years ago, and so I didn’t agonize over how to get them to focus on their Shakespeare (or worse, try to force them to do it arbitrarily)–I just quietly told the kids that it was clear to me that we all needed a break from schoolwork for awhile. My analytical oldest child pressed me for more information: “How long of a break? Do we still have to do math? Can we watch Netflix tomorrow morning?” and so on. Now, I am much more of a “ride-the-waves-of-inspiration” type of person, and so I didn’t want to set an arbitrary “back to schoolwork” date.

Instead, I tried to shift my focus toward joyful, cooperative living as a family, and figured we’d hit the books again once it no longer felt oppressive. I realize this is probably where some readers may see my non-Christian viewpoint peeking out from under the piles of books. Shouldn’t I be cultivating a respect for authority and creating deadlines for my kids to adhere to? What if they never want to think about math again, and gorge themselves mentally on “junk TV”?

Well, first off, I think that’s a load of bull. “If I let that kid watch TV, he’d do it all day long.” Math is unavoidable, and sometimes pretty interesting, or pretty, or interesting…..and I bet it’s even on Netflix somewhere. Anyway, what harm can possibly come from trying to consciously attempt to live more joyfully? Everything else must necessarily stem from a place of joy, or else it becomes drudgery–if not worse.
Homeschooled or not, I don’t want my kids to have uber math-whiz brains in exchange for even a week or two of rotten childhood memories. Would you want that? Really? Happiness is the priority, and as important as a good education is, our familial relationships should not suffer for it.
One of Charlotte Mason’s key concepts was that of Habit Training. (For the uninitiated, here’s a brief concept overview) I’m quite sure we don’t do this in the way that other, more religious/conservative homeschoolers might–but the core concept of habit training drives home the point that school time is about more than facts and figures, handwriting and memorization.

It’s about the cultivation of our minds, and the growth and development of our relationships. We are not raising children, but adults–and so when confronted with a problem, be it burnout, or something more simple or serious, I try to co-create solutions with my children, instead of against them.

Today, with no limits or structure imposed, my 8yr old was talking about herds of bison in pre-colonial America, and happily working in a Handwriting Without Tears book. My 11yr old was playing and laughing with his little brother, and yes, we watched some Netflix. It was surely what Charlotte Mason purists would call “twaddle”, but if Hello Kitty brings us closer as a family, I’m cool with that. People before things.

Gasoline, Greenhouses, and Other Consuming Topics of Madness

It’s been a very strange few…days?  Weeks?  Months?  All of those would actually be correct, albeit in different ways.  I have had very little time or inclination for art lately, because of all the odd, busy, and amazing things that have been happening around me.  Every time I think I’ve got a handle on things, some semblance of “what to expect”, life throws me a half-dozen fabulous curve balls…which I am of course accepting with gratitude and love.  (You hear that, Universe??–!)

I’ve been very absorbed with our backyard greenhouse…which is now finished except for a door, and already over 1/4 filled with various plants and seeds.  Here’s a slightly similar greenhouse model, so you can get the full imagined effect.  My husband actually googled for a while, and then made up his own plan, in his head.  He plans to blog about that, and many other topics, in time.

Actually, the greenhouse project is spilling over into the rest of the yard, since we have also been clearing brush, planting flowers and vines, and generally trying to make the yard a bit more habitable for people (and less so for the hundreds of wasps and hornets that were, until recently, holding it hostage!).  The hippie in me was so excited to find a patchouli plant at a really amazing local nursery the other day.  I was having visions of making my own organic oil infusions and perfume solids before we even hit the checkout!  I also have big plans for a moon garden area, complete with a vine-covered bower, birdbath, and meditation bench.  In all actuality, our main goal is really just food production, but, well….you might say I have a tendency to get carried away…

Another thing we’ve been consumed with is the quest for a larger vehicle, and all the difficult trade-offs and concessions to be made in such a decision.  When we bought our MINIvan, we thought it was plenty big, but  fast forward three years:  With six seats, and six in the family, there’s room for little else.  Now, if we were going to stay a family of six, we would most likely press on with our MINIvan, and maybe buy a roof rack for it.  The gas prices are making me wish I didn’t have to own a vehicle at all lately, but in Texas, it’s an unfortunate necessity.  I thought we could hold out for a new hybrid minivan, but alas–they’re still not sure if the American version will have five or seven seats.  America, you lose major coolpoints for being statistically fatter than the Japanese.  Why won’t they make an affordable hybrid for the demographic that needs them most (aka growing families)??  Because it’s apparently not lucrative enough.  *Sigh*

Now, my dream ride is a 1970’s V-Dub bus, which seats 8, and could theoretically be converted to run on biodiesel fuel.  But hamburger-grease-smell-emanating-from-the-vegetarian-chick’s-car issues aside, I just don’t think that’d be practical for our needs right now.  I mean, I have kids–I need a dependable vehicle, not something that might break down and be out of service, long-term, due to unavailable parts; mechanical who-knows-what; or worse.

This left us considering the potential of one of those 15-seater utility van things–you know, the ones that last forever and are always painted white?  This could be an art project of epic proportion!  Paisley curtains and some green-and-yellow abstract art on the sides, and it might pass for something simply weird instead of plain and *uuuuugly*.  =)  But then the spectre of $5+ gallon gasoline is looming in the back of my mind, making me fear that we’d only be able to afford a grocery trip once every month to offset the cost of gas for a behemoth like that!  I’d be even more concerned with my garden’s productivity, then…!

We’ve even toyed with the idea of “homebrewing” our own ethanol, but again….potentially risky, and potentially vehicle-ruining if you mess up.  Then again….40 cents a gallon sounds fabulous.  I could go visit the mountains in New Mexico again…ahh yes…  Incidentally, it didn’t escape my notice that the article I linked was from 2006.  I just wanted to point that out for salience.

If that’s not enough goings-on for you, I’m also pregnant.  Due 11/11/11.  How’s that for a sign??  =)

Questioning My Purpose as an Artist

So, you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in nearly a month.  I haven’t been posting to FaceBook as often lately either.   While some of you might simply be grateful for the reduction in news feed clutter…  🙂  …there are multiple reasons for this shift, and I think the time’s right to discuss at least some of them.

First, I’ve just been genuinely busier with life lately.  My family now lives in twice the square footage that we previously did, and as any mama will tell you, that’s a major increase in cleaning and organizing!  We also have a yard that we are attempting to garden in.  There’s things to be watered every day, and new chores keep popping up just as often.  To top it off, in an increased effort towards self-sufficiency and sustainable living, we are building a giant greenhouse in the backyard for vegetable growing.  (No really, it’s giant–36 feet long.  My awesome husband designed the plans himself, but this low-cost greenhouse model is similar.)  I’ve also been attempting to eat healthier, and while I don’t always succeed, I am spending more mental energy on these pursuits than, say, my art or my blog.

Also, the passing of my mama, and the resulting improved relationship with my dad, are acting as a sort of directional beacon for me.  There’s only so many years that you have with your family, and childhood goes by in a flash.  I am a firm believer in the importance of a happy childhood, and there’s only so much energy I can divert into other pursuits and interests before I feel that my family might be getting the leftovers, so to speak.  I’m an introvert, and I need to have alone-time to “recharge my batteries” (hence the odd hours I sometimes keep)–but when you have four children, this isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish!  I’m compensating by withdrawing from external outlets to have more energy to devote to my family and home.

Lastly, and perhaps most profoundly, I’ve been sort of questioning my purpose as an artist.  Anyone who’s seen my website or FaceBook page knows I’m a chronic dabbler.  However, I’m not going to continue to do this because dabbling no longer inspires me.  It’s not fair to anyone if I’m not providing the most amazing, inspirational, dynamic art that I can possibly give–and for that, I need to “feel the love”.

I LOVE doing henna art.  I love that it’s never the same on any two people or areas of the body.  I love knowing that I can help someone to feel fancy for a week or three, or that I got the chance to help a pregnant mama really celebrate her belly.  I even love that it’s temporary–to me, henna art rides the wave of inspiration-energy as it was meant to be–dynamic, fleeting and organic.  I also love painting, when I get the chance.  Again, this is less than a simple endeavor with four children–but an inspired mama will try to find the space for joy in her life.

In the past, I’ve created jewelry, and I’ve sewn Waldorf dolls, but I’ve come to believe that just having an aptitude for such things does not mean that I ought to strive to create more of them.  In order to be aligned with Truth, Love, and Power (which is my goal), I need to do work that I feel excited about–work that moves me.  I might have the skills to create certain things, but if my energies are not in the proper place of love and gratitude, I just don’t feel that my work is truly of high quality.

The last thing I’d ever want is to be a “vendor”–someone who just creates and sells because they can, because it’s easy and thoughtless.  I could go be an employee for that experience, and you could get cheaper stuff at a big box store!  That’s the complete opposite of what I’m trying to accomplish with my art business.

I want to do art mainly for the joy of sharing and connecting with others.  To me, art’s not really art if it’s not inspired and inspirational!