Why I don’t say “I am proud of you.”

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I cringe when someone says, “I am proud of you”, to me or anyone else. I have had this reaction for years, not just recently. I hesitated saying it to my children while they were growing up. It just sounds so condescending to me. Like I am saying, I know better/do/think than you and am qualified to point out to you that you are on the right track. I looked up the meaning of the phrase and according to the mass online presence, it means that the person saying it has been through or knows what you have been through to accomplish what you have accomplished. This would involve a very personal relationship to have been developed between the person saying it and the receiver and a very long relationship. In my opinion, teachers, mentors and parents could be included without question. Why did I use it sparingly on my kids, if at all? Saying it made me feel oddly superior and while I know we are superior in many ways to our kids. This phrase made me feel like I was egotistically reminding them of my superiority, like a reminder of your place in the hierarchy of relationships, a putting you in your place with a smile on my face kind of exchange. It took the focus away from the celebrated victory and placed it on my feelings about it. It felt deceptive, a little bit cruel and not at all conveyed the message I wanted to tell them, which was:

You accomplished such a monumentally important thing and I hope you bask in the glow of this feeling as much as I am right along with you.

I seriously rejoice in my kids accomplishments and personally think they are the best human beings on the planet. I also have a decent amount of personal pride in my accomplishment of raising two amazing human beings. I say, “I am proud of you” in the mirror to myself everyday, because, well, I feel superior to myself and need the reminder of where I fit in the relationship hierarchy.

 

Dying Well

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Movies and mythic journeys always talk about “dying well”. When you think about dying well in this instance it usually involves something heroic or being remembered for an altruistic life. Extraordinary experiences of profound impact on others or the world in general are usually what get written down in books or played out on screens. Immortalized character traits that set the bar high for all of us left living to aspire to.

In the Mayan culture a human would  volunteer to be sacrificed to the God’s because it assured them a place in heaven. To be sacrificed was “dying well” to the Mayans. The human sacrifice was thrown into a cenote, a deep dark cave with an underground river and if the bound human sacrifice survived the 60 foot fall, after a period of time they were brought back up and asked what the God’s told them while in the cenote.

In my experience sitting with people that are dying, people die the way they lived. Those memorable heroic moments that happened maybe once and that everyone always associates with the person…yeah, that isn’t what the dying are sorting through in the end. The end brings what one spends the majority of their time and energy on. If it was being fearful, then it is fear gripping you in the end. If it was regret, then it is regret that wafts over you and spills out of your eyes and soul. Our one defining moment is death and it is at this time that our truest spirit is expressed. Not the many faces we live and use daily in life. Those are only needed by the living. Death being the equalizer that it is, brings us to ground zero where our base energy lies…that which fuels our thoughts, desires, needs, and propels us into action. It rarely is altruistic and even rarer is heroic, at least not in historical or Hollywood terms. It is instead that day in and day out, moment to moment, small hum of energy that is not noticed by anyone but you most of the time. That lingering tug at your consciousness as you are falling asleep at night..there, that is what surfaces in the end, like it has been waiting and trying to get you to acknowledge it for a long, long time.

It makes you think about the way you live now. At this moment. If you spew anger and hatred towards your family, if you judge people, if you are jealous or resentful, if you love and respect others, show compassion, are generous… whatever you spend the most time and energy on is what will be staring back at you from the mirror placed before you in the end. And that mirror comes to us all.

And of course no one knows what happens after death, what if we continue on in some other existence based on these very characteristics that we lived in this life? What if this life is step one and our actions in it determines step two? Would you change the way you live your life now to “die well”?

What Do You Eat?

Meat lovers

Potatoes, onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, morningstar farms breakfast links, marjoram, salt, pepper and fried in coconut oil.

This was breakfast this morning. I call it “Meat” Lovers meal because it has lots of texture, and grinding and chewing involved. EXTREMELY satisfying when you just have to masticate. Three months ago I switched from eating a vegetarian diet to eating a whole food plant based diet. To put it simply it is a diet that is based on eating all whole foods and all plants. Processed food out and dairy out. This has been the BEST experience of my life and my body loves me for it. In fact, my skin, hair, nails, asthma, allergies (well my allergies hate it, cause they were eliminated), bones, muscles, memory, stamina etc., etc., LOVE me for eating this food.

A lot of things begin to happen when you change your diet, any diet but two big things that changed for me had to do with digestion. Digestion is where the money is people. If your digestion is not working well, it doesn’t matter what you eat. Digestion is where all the nutrients get taken to the rest of the body and the yucky stuff discarded. There is a lot of information out there on this and I wish I had time to recount it all here but I don’t. What I will tell you is where I began.

Mind you I have to tell you that I grew up hating vegetables and water and ate macaroni, potatoes and hamburgers. Then I also continued to eat all carbs and processed foods as a young adult. Drinking a V-8 or eating some canned corn was my definition of eating vegetables. I began eating fresh vegetables by cooking vegetable soup. I love soup and I bought some really good broth like knorr’s vegetable broth and I made really good soup that had vegetables in chopped really small so the taste was not too noticeable. I ate it everyday. I batch cooked it on Sundays for the whole week. Whenever I needed something fast to eat, instead of reaching for the frozen bean and cheese burrito I had a bowl of soup. When that didn’t satisfy, I made stir fry with brown rice. So something amazing happened with my digestion. Increased vegetables and taking a daily probiotic, my fiber was increased and my body was no longer starving for nutrients that are not present in processed food, I began to really feel alive. Feed your body living food and you will feel alive. The two big things that changed for me was nutrient absorption and elimination. If these two things are taking place in your digestion then you are golden if not you are starving and stagnant at the same time. A clogged up system is no fun. You don’t feel like part of the cycle of life that is for sure. Nothing cycling through you except when forced. We were made for greater things than that image presents.

I do still feel the need to masticate and 95% of my diet is whole food plant based the other 5% is whatever in the hell I feel like eating. I NEVER deprive myself of anything I want to eat. Sometimes I have pizza laden with cheese or a donut or my big love, Denali Extreme Fudge Ice Cream. I used to eat something in the 5% everyday, after awhile you eat it less and less as you reap the consequences. It just loses it’s special feeling. But the key is to keep a balance, our lives and bodies need a balanced existence between “good” and “bad” too much “good” can be just as detrimental as too much “bad”.

Fruit lovers

This was breakfast yesterday morning when I wanted the comforting numminess of hot oatmeal. I threw in some strawberries and blueberries and eating a bowl of grain loaded carbs became healthy. See what I did?

People ask me regularly, “what do you eat?” and in the beginning of the change I had my moments where I thought I would starve for lack of options. It gets better and easier. Make your old standby, mine was soup. When that gets old, make another old standby, my second one now is a wonderful black bean quinoa loaf, I always have one in the fridge for a quick protein. When you bump up against cravings, ask your body what it wants and then listen. My body regularly tells me when it needs protein, fat and carbs. Some days I eat sprouted whole wheat bread four times and other days I eat nothing but sweet potatoes. I eat according to my body and I feel terrific. By the way, oven roasted sweet potatoes mixed with coconut oil, marjoram and salt is better than candy!!

Some of the many benefits: rosacea disappeared, allergies disappeared (no longer take allergy med), asthma symptoms under control, skin blemish free, weight began dropping, skin tone improved, tons of energy, memory fog gone, vision improved, all joint aches gone, bloated abdomen gone, water retention gone, mood improved, hypothyroidism gone. I am medication free. All previous sensitivities to my environment are gone. My body has reached homeostasis and can react to environmental toxins normally and repel them.

Not going to lie, it is hard to make changes to your diet. Our diets are so wrapped up with emotions and memory and we eat for so many reasons and it is so personal. There will be times that you give up and eat whatever you want but that is okay, when you are ready then get back to eating what makes you feel good. I never think of those times as failures they are the 5% when I eat whatever I want and that makes it that much easier to not ever give up eating what makes me feel good.

Up next…Water our very foundation and eliminating chlorine!

 

 

Your mileage may vary

This is a great message for all…young, old or in-between! Go for the dream! Always go for the dream, everything else will work itself out.

Piaggia Del Giuggiolo

Libba Bray

Recently, I received a post that really got under my skin. It’s from Fiona (Hi, Fiona). I started to dash off a reply and then I thought that it required a much longer, more considered answer. With her permission, I’m reprinting her original comment below followed by my response. My response is lengthy; I apologize. But it is from the heart.

“I’m in a bit of a dilemma and I made a deal with my father that I would get advice from three people: my high school counselor, my voice coach, and an author. I want to go into the fine arts: writing, singing, composing. My father wants me to go to Columbia, Yale, or Harvard. I’d be fine with these but I want to go to a smaller school and then study abroad for at least two years. “It’s my life and this is a decision that will alter…

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No Memorial Service For Me

I recently lost my gram. This beautiful woman was such a vital part of me and was inextricable from my life. I feel as if a part of me has died with her. I was blessed to have been by her bed days before she left us to hold her hand and tell her that everything would be okay and that I loved her. To which she replied very lucid, “I love you too, I really do.”

I attended her memorial service to be there for my mom. She was the sole caretaker for the last years of gram’s life, while the rest of the family were off living their lives or too busy to care for the dying. At the end mom couldn’t even leave the house to go to the store or get the mail and yet the family still did not call or come to help. It was a great burden and took a toll on my moms health.

Mom and I did not want a memorial service for gram. Gram would have hated it. Another family member who is very much about the “show” insisted. That is what a memorial service is, a “show” for those who need to pat each other on the back and reassure each other that they were important to the deceased. Those who stand up and read a poem to the deceased while choking back tears, but hadn’t seen the deceased in years. Or the person who recounts a childhood memory and claims to be the deceased’s favorite but hadn’t seen or talked to the deceased in a decade. Who are these people to stand and speak out about a person that they had not loved or respected enough to come or call in years? Yet they have the gall to stand and speak as if they were a part of this persons life.

The whole service turned my stomach. I left before it was over. At the graveside I had had enough of the posers. They could continue their small patting of the backs and crooning over their very distant memories as they attempted to convince themselves that they showed the deceased love, comfort, concern and basic respect.

Memorial services are for this very type of activity. A funeral service ritual came about out of the necessity to transport bodies long distances after WWII, when the body needed to be preserved at a funeral home and a service held later at the deceased’s hometown. The booming and lucrative funeral service industry was born. Now it is big business to capitalize on people’s guilt. People that were not there for the deceased can assuage their guilt with the best and most luxurious coffin, service and buffet meal after while they read poems, recite memories from decades ago and make themselves feel better about neglecting to cherish a relationship with an aging person that was inconvenient for their life.

I do not want a memorial service. If you want to express your love for me, do it while I am alive. When I leave, those that were there in the end will have a party and drink my favorite wine, telling stories of our mutual adventures together. When I leave my body, cremate me and spread my ashes in my chosen places. No headstone, no grave. I will live on in the hearts and memories of those that loved me and showed up until the end. No posers allowed.

To my gram:

We said our words in person and there was no need for me to pretend that we were important to each other. We were together till your end and I will carry you in my heart till my end.

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Oh Mother Moon!

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Photo Moon Gate by Tone Aanderaa

Oh, Mother Moon

Oh mother moon, we slither from your womb writhing in your radiant light.

The glow clings to our skin; our fur wet as a newborn seal.

In cycles we are reborn over and over, one with the rhythm of the ocean tides.

But the calendars of men are Poor copyrights as they hold up their tiny fists,

clenched around paper grown in your essence; in a world rotated at your speed.

Yet as we dry and find our feet, our memory of birth fades

and your rhythm becomes something of fairy tales in bedtime stories,

to be read to children and fools who still seek beginnings.

Because to remember would be a harsh reminder that we have wandered

outside ourselves too far and become lost to the light of creation.

But you keep rising and swelling and giving birth

to multitudes of tiny clinched fists

because not to, would be the end of the story.

clstoehr

I Thought This Bending Moment Would Never Come.

2yinyangillIt was always there and I can look back now and see that there were hints of it coming and glimpses of it like a preview to a movie. I was just focused on the frustration of feeling lost and missed the previews. How often do we do that?  Let our emotions consume us and become our reality, focus on the feeling of something and miss the something altogether. I do it a lot. But now that I am more aware of doing it…perhaps I will put emotions where they belong as a side dish to experience.  But I digress…because it is what I do!

Oh so many years ago I began a journey with massage and I spent twice as long learning it as other students because I had more work to do than just learning massage. Along that journey I fell in love with Shiatsu and energy meridians and chi and clock pairs and anything to do with Chinese medicine theory.  I learned Shiatsu along with Swedish massage and Shiatsu became my passion.  I LOVE  to give Shiatsu to people and welcome opportunities to introduce the rejuvenating energy to anyone. But something seemed missing and I did not settle in as a massage therapist as planned. I resisted setting up a practice or moving forward with massage as my career. I thought I had blocks that needed work, so I worked on myself and I healed many things that needed healing.  I went to my shadow parts and delved into them searching for the key to unlocking some kind of forward momentum.  I found Reiki and spent a little over a year taking attunements and healing myself. I became a Reiki master and had another skill to add to shiatsu massage.  Learning Reiki was a pivotal point in my growth and with this new dimension of healing came new realms of learning and vibrations. I thought then I was to focus my work on providing Reiki to people in need. But something was still missing. I still resisted moving forward with a career in Reiki. Can you imagine my frustration at not being able to figure out why I could not move forward?  It is a ‘tween place. Normally I love ‘tween places…beaches, doorways, dusk, meditation.  This ‘tween place was getting old and I felt stuck for a very long time in a place that I no longer wanted to be stuck in.

For the last two years I have been going to school to finish my bachelors degree. I decided that if I didn’t know what I wanted to do then I was going to do something that might produce some ideas of what I could do.  I basically thought I would eventually stumble across it or in the process work out any blocks I might have or something would click or shake loose or something.  I really didn’t know…it was moving forward in the dark and hoping that you didn’t trip over something on the way to the light.  People would ask me what my major was and I had no answer. I would tell them…whatever my credits will earn me.  In the mean time I took classes that I love about subjects I have always wanted to explore…poetry, drawing, mythology.  The bulk of my classes are in writing and literature and so I thought I might get an English degree and teach at some point. It was a fall back position and I knew it but having it made me feel more secure.

Until a health issue reared it’s ugly head. Without going into detail because I don’t like discussing health issues in detail…I had the medical community stumped on a health issue that began a few years ago and apparently I had the answer inside me all along.  Literally.  I got tired of listening to all the experts on MY body and began to tell them what was going on.  I began to piece things together and using Chinese theory that I had learned in massage school began to study and then I began to get a little irritated at Western medicine and how they dissect everything and every part of your body.  Chinese medicine theory is based on connections. Every thing is interconnected and all effect all.  So I began to tell my Dr’s what I know to be true for my body and the symptoms I am having. I actually got them to listen. Now I am having surgery to correct an issue that has been really disruptive in my life.  Because Western medicine is necessary in this case and both Eastern and Western can work together to heal people.

WHAT?! That is what I am passionate about. Being on the cutting edge of merging healing modalities and enabling people to trust their own wisdom about their own bodies. Bringing healing to each individual at all levels…mind, body, spirit.  Teaching connection to all and thus showing that one healthy body leads to all healthy bodies and then leads to a healthy world. This is my passion.  I finally found my career. After all this time and frustration, the immense joy of realizing it is here!  I have already begun my plan of getting my masters in Oriental medicine.  All the college classesI have been taking have given me the credits to begin at the masters level needed for Oriental medicine.  All the writing classes have prepared me for writing up research findings on the research programs I will be taking part in to further the integration of Eastern medicine with Western. The Shiatsu is a core element in Chinese medicine.  The Reiki is a fundamental understanding of energy or chi in Eastern medicine. All that I have studied and endured and experienced has brought me to this place…this bending moment.  I am at peace with myself and my world.

The End of the Private Era

The Oak KingToday is the 21st of December 2012. It marks the winter solstice, the longest night of the year and the promise of the returning sun, warmth and prosperity that comes with light in the dark. It also marks the end of the Mayan calendar. There have been many interpretations about the ending of the Mayan calendar on today’s date. The one that I like is the one that describes a new era for human evolution. We have ended a time of preparation and stage setting for what is to come next. The last 5000 years have seen vast amounts of growth in technology, agriculture and development for the safety of humans to sustain the race. As we have developed as a race we have come to a place of us vs. them or privatization and exclusion.  This type of thinking may have been necessary to reach the place we are now. It has been beneficial in some ways, for establishing that we can provide for ourselves in many adverse circumstances.  Production of food for instance, we have plenty to feed the population of the world, it is the distribution that is the problem now.  This stage of development comes to a close today, winter solstice, a fitting day for moving from darkness into light.

We are indeed in a dark time. Food production is at an all time high to the detriment of our natural resources and many still starve world wide because of private accumulation.  Accumulation of money, power and rights.  A small private few. It is not just food production. Technology gave us the wonderful world wide web, a place that connects us to people across the world in seconds, where information sharing is lightening fast and education is at each and every person’s fingertips. It is a remarkable experience to have that much individual power at your disposal. Social networks have revolutionized our revolutions.  People are coming together in masses to support globalization of conscious thought. Privatization is being assaulted on all fronts due to the public knowledge base growing on previous privately held information.  There is literally nowhere to hide information anymore.

A shift is taking place now, today.  One of the definitions of private is ” intended for or restricted to the use of a particular person, group, or class.”  We are now moving into a time where the private will be no longer. This can be good and bad. Exclusion means maintaining a boundary between one and another.  Historically the boundaries have been drawn with wealth.  We have more than you do and so we are better than you.  We  form groups with  people that have the wealth, power and beliefs that we do so we  feel comfortable being around those that are like us.  It is normal to feel this way and want to be with others of like mind, sociologists have studied it for decades. What takes place though with this type of “private” is that power struggles begin to happen and accumulation of more and more power means more and more accumulation of wealth, more and more accumulation of wealth means more production and distribution, more production and distribution means more natural resources being consumed…to the point that we are killing off  the future.  Because no more natural resources means no one gets to be “private” or public for that matter. No one gets to be anything.

Shift from the dark to the light…today.  Think about a world where there are not private groups or classes.  Where no one is wealthier or has a higher status than anyone else. A world where everyone has enough to eat. Where there are no “ism’s” because everyone has the same rights. Inclusion is inherently good. I support inclusion over exclusion. We must begin to change our world view  because this is the future for us. We have finished the “patriarchal” part of our education and are now moving into a more connected and tribal view of a functioning society based on the “Earth Mother” as our center of life.  We will protect and preserve the earth, our bodies, and each other over all, over money, over power. The power will come from our connection to earth and each other.  Wealth will be seen as something to be shared with others by healing each other and sharing our surplus of gifts.  Food will be a public commodity and good health care will be shared by all. Commonwealth will truly be the new definition for our new era.

Making soup for one…

 The heart-shaped bowl may mislead you to think this blog is about being single, it’s not.  It is about the other forever love that we hold close to us; love for our children. Society defines that period of time, for parents, when your children mature and begin to leave their childhood home as “empty nest” syndrome.  I can think of many adjectives or definitions to give it that would more accurately describe the emotions and adjustments that arise from this one simple act of growing up.

My “letting go” period began with a drive to U of O campus, lugging stuff up two flights of stairs and helping my daughter settle into her dormitory. Her new roommate and parents were also crammed into the small dorm room. So as I started to leave, I hugged my daughter and walked out the door into the hallway where no one else in the room could see me but my daughter. Not wanting to embarrass her, I turned around and mouthed the words silently, “I love you.”  She laughed out loud and said very loudly, “I love you too Mom.”  I beamed all the way down the stairs and then I cried.

That was in 2007 and since then she has moved  farther away to Southern Oregon State, back home to live with me, out on her own and is married now. My son, 8 years her junior is turning 18 years old this week. He reminds me of this daily. I believe his independence increases by the minute. I can see it expanding in all directions. Of course he still needs me I tell myself. I still cook for him, clean up after him and check in with him when I am out late.

We went through a period a couple of years ago when this growing and stretching our relationship boundaries began to frighten me. As the last child in the “nest”, I held on tighter and resisted change with an iron fist. As a result he pushed harder against my boundaries and rebelled against my need to hold onto the little boy.

My bending moment came when I asked myself;  When did he get to be this way? Oh…wait, I raised him this way!!!  I taught him to be an independent thinker, question everyone and everything,  make his own choices, not based on other people’s opinions, suggestions or examples.  Whoops. My bad. Or good.

Our job as parents is to teach our children to be independent contributors to our world, to make choices and understand the consequences that come as a result. When we have completed that job, our children, equipped with that knowledge have to go out and test it and learn new knowledge on their own.

So flash to me making soup. It seems that making food is the last thing to change and adapt to being less full, less more. I intend to start small and end up making a big pot of soup. More soup than I want to eat in a week. Soup that I could freeze for later but know that after a week of eating it, I will not want it again until a year from now, at which time the soup will not be any good.

I may never be able to make soup for one. I continue to aim for it. I may just adjust my soup making days to coincide with visits from my kids or friends. I know one thing is certain, my kids will one day face the same challenge of making soup for one.  And so it goes around…