Category Archives: Parenting

ISO Our Tribe

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Step 2, maybe should’ve been step 3, but this is the order in which it happened for us.

tribejourneyWe had our values list and now it seemed only rational that we seek out how to be more in alignment with our values.  We started researching like crazy.  And when I say ‘like crazy’, I mean it became a small obsession.  Every waking, free moment was spent researching.  We watched documentaries.  We read articles.  We purchased off-grid magazines.  We stocked up on library books.  We began to learn the language of alternative communities and to understand the differences/similarities between ecovillage, co-housing, off-grid, co-parenting, intentional community, permaculture farm, communal living, co-living, communes, Tribe, nomads, raw foodies, gypsies, etc etc.  We began challenging our own limited viewpoints and stereotypes.  We began visiting and engaging intentional communities across the country.  We interviewed people we know who have lived in intentional communities.  We emailed. We called.  We read.  We visited.  We observed.  We educated.  We questioned.  We processed late in to the nights.  We wrestled with what it was we truly wanted.

We were longing for change and a community with shared values.  We were longing for intimate, authentic relationships.  We were desperate for a community that would further our growth.  We were looking for a shared workload.  We were looking for communities that valued independent thinking, shared resources, environmental awareness, maximizing individual skill-sets, and a sense of responsibility for our shared environment…both communal environment and global environment.  We were looking for communities with sustainable practices.  We were looking for communities with gender, age, cultural, and religious diversity.  We were looking for communities who chose equality and harmony amongst its members rather than hierarchy, patriarchy, or guru heads.  But above all else, we were seeking a community that really understood the value of family and children…meaning they had families and children actively participating within the community environment.

This search led to many heated debates between Adam and myself.  Fear-based debates I might add.

“How can you be okay with living in one house with so many people?!?”.
“How can you be okay with the fact that three women are openly sleeping with the top dog of that community?”
“Can you not see how much ego is wrapped up in this community?”
“Why can’t you be more open-minded?”
“Is this really about the kids’ needs or is this about you?”
“Are we subjecting our children to a life without a future?”
“Why can’t we just be happy where we’re at?”
“Isn’t what we have good enough?”
“Are you really okay with subjecting us to a life of poverty?”
“What if that’s a cult and we missed the signs?”
“What the hell are we doing?”

We entertained and/or visited communities from North Carolina to New Mexico to Arizona to Missouri to California to Oregon to Texas to New York to Ecuador to Belize to Costa Rica.  We wrestled with the idea of co-housing.  We wrestled with the idea of living on $1/day and being completely removed from the matrix.  We wrestled with the idea of selling everything and becoming an RV family.  We wrestled with the idea of living completely off-grid.  We wrestled with the idea of buying our own land and beginning a community of like-minded individuals.
AND
We met fascinating individuals.  We met people doing huge things in their communities on very little money.  We witnessed communities who were artistic and creative and caring.  We witnessed people who were tent-living or living in buses and completely content. We followed and engaged families who were unschooling and traveling the states in their RVs.  We questioned how a heavily advertised “green community” could be green without the simplest of  green tools such as composting and recycling?  We witnessed communities who had definite hierarchies, who were openly polyamorous, who were hallucinogenic based, who had gurus they revered, who had lost their voice, who were completely falling apart, who were overrun with battles of the EGO, who were nothing more than a rich subdivision with a community kitchen who met for meals some nights of the week, who valued profit over people, who sold a lie

We Need Oneover the internet, who touted families but only had two children, who touted sustainability but were clearly starving, who had more drama than a tween television series, who made brags about their community harvest which was nothing more than 3 bananas per family.  We met with communities that had great ideals but had never gotten off the ground.  We met desperate communities and thriving communities.  We found so many communities to be so outrageously priced and others to be inexpensive but somewhat destitute.  We met communities with loads of lovely individuals who just quite hadn’t mastered how to develop a clear, shared vision causing for a bit of divisiveness.  We met communities just attempting to launch and others that had been trying to launch for years.  We invested money in a community that online looked wonderful but in person was clearly a full-blown cult.  We found that so many communities were either full of 20-somethings still trying on the latest fad or full of retirees settling for the cheapest way to retire.  Families were nowhere to be found.  We honored the choices of all of these communities as each person has a different path to take in this life,  but for our path we felt the communities were too rich, too poor, too young, too old, too fanatical, too lackadaisical, but nothing just right (for us).

 

And, thus, by the end of December 2017 we were absolutely spent and questioning whether what we desired was ever to be had.  Or maybe we just weren’t ready.  It was time to regroup and figure out exactly what it was that we wanted and how we were going to find it.

Stay Tuned for what comes next…

 

 

 

 

 

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The Road to OZ

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The Road to OZ

It’s been 2.5 years since I last sat down and gave attention to this blog.  Since I gave attention to the writing I love so dearly and the tool in which I most effectively process life’s shifting landscape.   The tool that allows me to bring connection to my circles.

In these 2.5 years, I have been wrestling with purpose, passion, values, self-worth, belief, and a loud inner critic that has invited me to play small.  I bought in to the lies of that critic.  The lies that it doesn’t matter if I write my stories.  It doesn’t matter if I share those stories.  It doesn’t matter if I stop bringing you in to my world.  It doesn’t matter if I live in alignment with my integrity and values system.  It doesn’t matter if I shave off a little edge of my authenticity to help people digest my life’s journey.  I bought in to the lie that in order to stay safe, to survive, I had to shed a part of me that others may not appreciate.  I chose silence.  I chose complacency.  I chose to don the masks.

At the beginning of 2017 (my 40th birthday), I began to tame that nasty inner critic.  I got clear on my values. I stepped back in to alignment.  I started creating visions of all that I wanted to manifest and I threw caution to the wind taking a trust fall straight in to the arms of the loving Universe.  I had Absolute clarity that it was time to quit playing small and it was time to step in to my power.

So it turns out that it DOES matter if I share my stories.  It matters to me.  And when I flow from that place of alignment, that place of listening, my stories stir something in others because we are all connected.  We are all taking this life journey together.  My story is your story or the story of someone you know.   I hope my sharings will inspire, push boundaries, cause you to listen to your universal nudges, step in to alignment with yourself and your 2017-07-13 07.56.57values, take risks, spark imagination, and if nothing else, help you to connect to the world around you.  Sitting here, at my desk in the Costa Rican Rainforest (more on that to come!), letting the words spill out of me, I have this elation.   I’m semi-giddy with excitement.  I’m hopeful the story munchkins will forgive my 2.5 year denial of their existence and visit me often going forward.   I’m fully committed to honoring the words whispered to me in the night, and on my runs, and any time they smack me upside the head singing in their munchkin voices, “This world you are experiencing is just SO magnificent.  Share the wonderment! Follow the yellow brick road.”

This blog will continue to cover a vast array of topics that will include family adventures, travel, living in Costa Rica, nature-inspired learnings, and general sharings of something that lights me up or makes me go hmmmm.  I will continue to spill the thoughts of living a freethinking, open-spirited family life.  I will have a secondary wordpress blog at SoGoodSoPure (coming very soon!) that will cover topics related to my Coaching Business.  There you will find topics geared toward women who are wanting to shed shame, learn vulnerability, find their authentic voice, step in to their unique power, and begin sharing their gifts with the world.  Both blogs will continue to be intimate and sometimes raw in their content.  Not all stories are happy stories but that does not lessen their need to be shared.  Life is messy and in the messy is where we feel most alone. Sharing our stories can be the catalyst of connection and ease our loneliness.  This is what I seek to do.  I fully believe that a life unmasked, a life untidy, is a life worth living. And the more we show up authentically in this big big world the more the world will heal.

That said, it weighed heavily on me as to whether or not I should go through and deleteyellowbrickroad the old posts in this blog as some are controversial, some are angry, and some are misplaced, and some I no longer identify with.  I concluded that those blogs are the bricks that paved my yellow brick road.  The stories, releases, perspectives, and feelings were necessary and are NOT meant to be erased in order to appease an audience of readers.  If you aren’t a fan of the journey I traveled to be where I am today, no problem.  Maybe instead, appreciate that the journey brought you the content you are reading today.  These new sharings of my life experiences/observances are the next yellow bricks in what is certain to be a lifetime of brick laying because I’m not certain one ever reaches OZ.

Journey On, Readers.   Journey On.

These Present Moments

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IMG_2354Time is elusive.  Moments fleeting.  I know that this is true because I sit here listening to water falling from the mountains in a force so powerful it carves its own path to the stream below.  The water is proof of time.  Proof of forward movement.  I recognize this moment as a moment of awareness.  Awareness of time and of life in motion.

Glacier National Park has provided me a moment that has become moments that have become space that have become experience.  A string of single moments strung together to ignite a sensory explosion so breathtaking that its existence is hardly fathomable.  Hence the need for awareness of time.  The proof that these moments have existed.

There was the moment when I stumbled across an older woman wading in the icy waters of IMG_2166Lake McDonald.  That moment inspired by this female pathfinder became a moment turned moments turned experience.  I took a chance and joined her.  I stripped down to my skivvies, climbed to the front of my kayak, became encouraged by my boys standing on the shore chanting, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”, and leaped.  Jumped right in to the ice cold waters.  Fully immersed in the icy waters and vowing to last more than just a few seconds, I had to remain focused on each individual breath.   Each spacious moment.  I swam to the woman who had inspired this jump and I learned that she was a spry 72 years old!  Her spirit and energy filled me and we swam together for a span of nearly 20 minutes or more.  Her moments inspiring my moments.  My moments inspiring moments within each member of my family who all joined in the experience for a few seconds or a few minutes.  If we allow ourselves, we find we are all pathfinders.  We are all both inspiring and inspired.

I was fully empowered and alive, simply because of a moment turned moments turned experience.  A bunch of tiny moments strung together to become part of me and my story.  Time both present and moving.

There were many other pinch-worthy moments reminding me of life and progress and the enormity of time and space.  Moments that I grasped and followed in to experience.  When standing in awareness, fully awake, only then does one become fully immersed in this journey called life.  I’m thankful that I’m finally seeing the moments presented to me and no longer sleeping through them.  May you too, reader, become more present in your moments and find in those moments a variety of experiences.

Just for my recollection, when many other moments want to take the space that these moments occupy, I want to jog my memory with these bullet point reminders:

* The most serene campsite in which daily deer would pass through and even the occasional black bear.
* Observing Marmots in play.
* 9 Blissful Days of family unity and zero electronics.
* Watching a mosquito feed on Adam and instead of finding annoyance in its need for blood, appreciating the awesomeness of sharing life and observing a belly fill with nutrients. Appreciating all life.
* Listening to each of my boys lead their first family meditations.  The perspective of  a child is something we can all learn from.
* Hearing what words the campfire and trees spoke to my boys.  The boys are still open enough to hear nature and that encourages me to keep listening and practicing mindfulness.
* The day G cried because he had hugged a tree and felt a connection so deep he grieved leaving the tree behind.
* Hiking for 3 miles with the boys and at the end stumbling across a landscape of waterfalls and vegetation that cause you to believe you could really leave your life behind and live in the wild.  The forest somehow feels more natural than returning to city life.
* Nights under the stars with your best friend and lover snuggled in a hammock made for one. Knowing that all is right with the world as long as you are together.
*MARSHMA……..LLOW!!!!
* A bike ride up the Going to the Sun Road when the road is closed to vehicles.  Just you, your boys, countless waterfalls, a river, and the occasional deer.
* Laughing hysterically when it rains so hard on that bike ride that you are not even able to see straight ahead.  Knowing that you are alive and you are teaching your boys to laugh when crying would be easier!
* Introducing the No Trouble Bubble.  Looking at the father of your children and laughing because what is being said in the bubble is both hilarious and frightening and the bubble confirms that as parents we are succeeding.
*  Meditation in a place isolated enough to believe that you are no longer human…in fact you are water.  Transitioning, fluid, and unbreakable.

 

Time may be elusive but I am determined to be present for every moment possible.  May you be present as well.  Journey On.

 

Breakthrough Moments

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P1030753Our oldest is adopted and is honestly one of the most beautiful human beings I have been privileged to know.  He’s kind, sincere, thoughtful, empathetic, funny, giving, smart, hard working,creative, introspective, and just a cool person to know.
But he’s also severely misunderstood.  He’s often socially awkward and sometimes kind of moody.  He’s super sensitive.  He cries and says hateful things when asked to do homework or if overstimulated.

He has struggled with school since the first day he stepped in to that kinder classroom.  By the end of first grade we were confident that he had some sort of learning disorder.  A few specialists later and he was seeing the OT each week for Sensory Integration Disorder, the PT for muscle strengthening, a speech therapist for his spelling delays, and a psychiatrist for ADHD.  While many of these services were really helping him to “perform” more appropriately in the classroom setting they were not getting to the root of his non-specified learning disorder nor were they helping him relate to his peers or manage in loud, busy settings.  As J got older and his peers got older the disparity between them became more and more obvious.  His peers were reading Harry Potter at the bus stop while J was still looking at pictures in board books.  His peers were running around playing competitive sports while J would play quietly alone in the sandbox.  His peers would breezeP1050131 through their sheet of homework each evening while J would take one to two hours to complete a simple homework assignment.  His peers played and joked with other kids of the same age while J would gravitate toward younger kids.  His peers would watch movies with more mature themes while J was still covering his ears and eyes during Winnie the Pooh.  His peers were helping their moms with grocery lists in the store while J would lean against the shelves, climb in to the small space under the cart, or simply lie down on the grocery store floor.

This is still the story of J.  A bright kid with a lot of great to offer the world but a kid who is beginning to see the disparities, who is beginning to hear and understand the harsh teasings of others, a kid who is invited to playdates mostly with kids who are 2 to 3 years his junior.  J, the kid who still cries every time a piece of homework is set in front of him and the kid who is slowly beginning to believe that he might actually be stupid.

Because of these struggles I have fought hard to get him the therapies and specialists and support that he needs.  I’ve fought to put the right people in place to help him be the best J that he can be.  It’s not that I need him to be any different.  Because I don’t.  I truly love him just as he is.   Instead I fight for these services because I believe that for the sake of J’s self worth and for the sake of his happiness, he deserves answers and resolutions to the root issue(s) of his struggles.

As any parent of a special needs child knows, finding that root cause, unfortunately, is not a simple task nor is it for the faint of heart. Over the years we have spent more hours in doctor’s offices than I care to admit.  We’ve invested in so many aids and tools to make his life more manageable.  We’ve fought the school district(s) for IEPs and special services.  We have researched schools and moved to Portland over Seattle because a slot at the perfect charter school for J became available.   And once we moved to Portland I immediately got my two special needs boys on the schedule at the children’s neurodevelopment center.  Something I had attempted in Tucson but ran in to dead end after dead end.  Six months after our move to Portland we were scheduled up the wahoo with testing and therapies.  At one point it was so overwhelming and taxing on me and J that I was ready to throw in the towel, move to Costa Rica, homeschool him and just let J manage his life going forward with the current coping skills he’s obtained.   But something in me told me to hold on.  A quietness in my being assured me that I was on the right path and that I needed to keep fighting.  Keep being the voice that he needs.  Fight the fight for him because he is not able.

In the past few weeks, hope finally found us.  And, my goodness, is she beautiful!  P1050333

One gift we were given this summer was the gift of his OT.  She has a great skill for explaining things to me in a way that helps me really connect with J.  A way in explaining things that makes me not only understand his struggles but allows me to completely empathize with where he’s at.  Her explanations have allowed me to stop being annoyed at things that he does that I don’t fully understand.  Instead of being irritated I see a boy who is working so hard and his brain is working over time for him to just keep him functioning.  This is the way that she explained his Sensory Integration issue:

Amy, imagine it’s around 5pm and you are cooking dinner in your kitchen under a disco light with your radio blasting and while you are cooking dinner the smoke alarm starts to go off because the stove is smoking and three of your kids are screaming and the mailman is ringing the doorbell, and you are trying to talk with the Dr. on the phone, and the dog is barking at the sirens of the fire engine driving by and the neighbor’s car alarm is going off and you are just trying to not go out of your mind.  J’s life is like that every waking hour of his day.  His brain cannot process all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches the way a healthy brain can.  Our brains naturally filter out what is not important to us at the moment.  His brain doesn’t have that filter.  Can you imagine how exhausting that must be?  It’s no question that he is always leaning on you for support.  It’s no question why he’s covering his ears.  It’s no question why he seeks solitude.  When he lies on the floor randomly or leans up against a wall or person, he is trying to ground himself.  To get some sort of footing in a world that is loud and out of control. IMG_0058

Wow!  That is a powerful way to describe his struggle and ding ding ding it all makes sense.  In fact I have changed my attitude so much since she gifted me these words because all I see when I see my son now is a boy who is so beautiful and is so beautiful in spite of how difficult every moment is for him.  So those who don’t know my son may think that my 10 year old is rude because he’s always touching you or because when there’s too much stimulation he stops responding or doesn’t look you in the eye.  You may judge me that I haven’t taught him manners because he’s always chewing gum to calm his anxiety or because I let him sleep where he needs to sleep (even if that place is my bed).  But I, on the other hand, see nothing more than a boy who needs me to go to bat for him, needs me to find the best tools to calm him, and needs me to educate those in his circles who are unaware of his circumstances.  That is the gift of my job.  My job as his mom is to be more than his cheerleader.  It’s to be his voice when he can’t find his.

IMG_0530Enter the second moment of hope.  Last week and this morning J saw a behavioral optometrist to test his vision and to see how his brain is communicating with his eyes.  An hour in to last week’s test the optometrist pulled me in to his office and said that without a doubt J’s learning disorder has to do with the fact that his eyes are not tracking as they should.  He told me what a smart kid he was but that while his vision is perfect there is a breakdown in communication between the eyes and the brain which would make reading and writing extremely difficult and exhausting.  Difficult enough to make a full grown adult quit trying.

At those words I just began to cry (as I am now).  I began to cry because we’ve been searching for answers for years now and we finally had some.  With answers comes hope.   And direction.  Not aimless ticking off of boxes in search of something.
This morning he continued his testing to pinpoint exactly what eye therapies he would be needing.  They tested his eyes on all sorts of cools machines and computers.  They tested his reading ability and I could watch on a computer screen to see how often his eyes lost their place or tracked back over words.  They tested for dyslexia as well.  With every test I got a better understanding and a deeper empathy of this wonderful child that I have been gifted to raise.  The therapist left me with,

There’s absolutely no doubt that J is going to benefit from therapy.  12 weeks of training those brain and eye muscles to communicate and he should jump grade levels ahead in his reading and writing skills.  In 2 to 3 weeks I’ll send you a detailed report of our findings and a therapy schedule.  He’s going to be a whole new kid.

Once more I cried.  Again not because I need him to be different but because we were now on a clear path to making life easier for him.  J asked me why I was crying and I told him that all this testing paid off.  All his hard work had led to this answer.  He smiled real big, put his hand in mine and replied,

I knew I wasn’t dumb, Mom.  I knew it.  I was starting to think that I was but I’m so happy to know that I’m not and that I wasn’t lying to myself because I always believed I was working hard even when people told me I was lazy.  Today’s a good day, Mom.  Thank you for taking me to these appointments.  I’m kind of excited.  P1050163

Heart melted.  Yeah, every moment has been worth hearing those words.  Every painful moment has been worth gaining the deep level of respect and empathy I have for this child.  I will never EVER stop helping him to reach his greatest potential.  And he will never stop teaching me to see the beauty in each and every human being.

Thank you, J, for the gift that you give me each day.  I am forever grateful and I am super excited to see you take this next journey.  Maybe soon you’ll be reading this blog without any difficulty and maybe soon after that you’ll even want to write an entry!  I am hopeful for the first time in so many years and I know you are too.

Journey on, Readers.  Journey on.

From the Mouths of Babes

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Boy 4 (age 6, G):

I volunteered in G’s classroom the other day and one classmate is a vocal know it all.  I must’ve heard her say “I already knew that.  I know that.  I knew that before you.” no less than 10x over my two hours.  And while there are many funny responses, this one came from my child.

They were walking down the hall and she (let’s call her X) says, 

X: I know so much because have a library in my house.  My very own library.  Full of books and so I know most everything

G: Well I know a lot too and I don’t even need a library to know a lot

X: My library is so great that it lets me study so I can know more than you

G: Well I know so much that I don’t even need to study

Then G looks up and pulls my head near him as he whispers,

“Mom, what does study mean?  I don’t even know what I’m saying to this girl!”  And then he laughs.

Gotta love this kid!

Boy #2 (age 6, P):

Lying in bed reading a Cat in the Hat book together and the two kids in the book were left home alone to shovel snow out of the driveway…

P: Where’s their mom?

M: Well she maybe had to run an errand or maybe she works.

P: And she left them home alone to work outside in the cold snow?

M: Yes, it appears that way.

P: What a bad mom.  You would never do that to us.  So glad you are my mom.

M: Yes, aren’t we lucky that if we had to shovel snow we would do it together.  Some people just don’t have that option.  

P: We are lucky.

Ahhhhhh…pulls on the mommy heartstrings 🙂

Boy #3 (age 6, S):

Said at breakfast this morning:

Mom, I just wanted to let  you know that I get milk at school every day with my lunch and I always pick the one that says “fat free” so it doesn’t cost you any money.

Love this!  So damn funny.