The Greatest Adventure Awaits in 2016!

its time to awaken

And I would love for you to join me!

I am getting ready to embark upon my very own hero’s journey, Joseph Campbell style.  Over the past several years, I lost my mojo.  I was treading water, but not making headway on my goals or dreams.  I had so many “people and things” in my way.  Or so, I imagined.  Being a mom, wife, mid-life aging woman.  The story I was stuck in was not very inspiring and certainly disempowering.

And while I did my best to “write it out” as I am inclined to do, I was not scaling the walls of my well very quickly until I made some incredible discoveries that have radically changed how I feel about myself, my life and everything around me.

I have some BIG plans for my life, on every level, this year.  I invite you to follow along on this adventure as I put insights and tools to the test and seek to manifest my dreams.  While I have confidence in my abilities, I am only human and old habits can be tricky.  There may be difficult times along this journey and I intend to be as transparent as possible.  I also want the accountability. 

If I can do it, YOU can do it, too.  So, let’s get there together. Please click ====> HERE to subscribe to my blog so we can stay in touch.

My greatest passion and desire is to fill the world with light and inspiration through story.  I am excited to be completing FREYA WOLF, finishing the PALE GRAY LIFE project as well as some incredible film projects.

Thank you for subscribing and following along to this point.  I cannot wait to share what I’m working on and offer you first look as well as opportunities to participate in the unfolding of the power of life.  My greatest passion and desire is to fill the world with light and inspiration through story.  Please don’t forget to click the link above so we can stay connected.

Namaste,

Lisa


PS: Please forward my blog or email with anyone you feel would appreciate this work, particularly if they share the passion, power and purpose of illuminating the human heart.

PSS: HERE is the url to subscribe, in case the link above doesn’t work

I Am In Love With My Daughter’s Teacher

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Something really beautiful and powerful is happening in my third grader’s classroom and it’s the brain child of her wonderful teacher, Ms. L.  I have been interacting with teachers from preschool through ninth grade for the past twelve years (at least) and I have to say, I am all shades of crimson love for this teacher.  What is she doing that is so special I have to write a blog post about her?

For starters:

1.  She communicates with parents weekly in email.  I’ve never had a teacher communicate expected classwork and homework for the week with such diligence and flexibility.  Granted it’s third grade, but even teachers in higher grades, at more elite schools, have never done this.

2.  She implemented “cross fit” strategies for her students from day one, having them do wall squats while stuck waiting in lines or simply relays to burn off the wiggles when stuck inside.

3.  In our parent teacher conferences she quickly demonstrated to me her perceptive compassion about not just my daughter, but all of her classmates.  Rather than jumping into test performance or skill matrices, she focuses on the student’s sense of self and wellbeing.  She asks all of her students what their own goals are for the year.  I love that.

But the really big, amazing five star slam dunker is her latest effort to help teach the children emotional intelligence and team work.  There were many conflicts on the playground, particularly among some highly competitive football playing boys.  My daughter had mentioned to me several who were so hot on each other the fights did not end in the classroom.  Our amazing teacher came up with a brilliant response.

Here is the email I got from her last week:

Hi All,

I just wanted to let you know about the community/leadership-building program I have been implementing with the kids for about the last month. *I have combined what I learned from leadership training in ROTC/bootcamp, chats with our counselor, observations at recess, and in class experience with your students and what they need.

Every morning we play a team-building game (that can only be won by everyone as a whole group).We practice communicating without using our words and helping each other make smart choices. We also practice not placing blame on one another and practice thinking ahead for other people. This usually takes about 15 minutes. We have created signals for “this is okay with me” and “I’m taking myself out of the situation.” I have seen our students use these strategies on the playground this week.

Every Friday we spend an hour doing a team building exercise that usually involves getting over some obstacle course around the room with a team under a certain condition: i.e., limited time, limited equipment, teammates, no talking, etc. Then we spend a good amount of time reflecting on what we saw (the good, the bad, and the great).

We have also been writing frequently and having class discussions about what it takes/means to be a team player/member and we’ve focused on what we are good at, and where our friends help us strengthen our weaknesses.

I’m just sending you this email to inform you that I have seen great and wonderful progress in peer-to-peer communication. I am so proud of this group as I feel they have truly turned a corner this week and have begun thinking more as team and more about others.

I highly encourage you to share in conversation with them at home about the things they learned about teamwork and effective communication! We will continue this program for the rest of the year.:) I would be very interested to hear what they have to say independently.:)

I asked my daughter about this program and she said, “Oh, yeah…We do it every day…it’s helping everyone a lot.”  My daughter does have an unusually high EQ already, but I am thrilled to see an environment where these instincts and skills are nurtured to contagion.  She told me that several of the “wild boys” are particularly enjoying the focused team building.

This morning, we got an update:

HI All,

Just wanted to let you know some of my observations from my team-building experiment:

– Today at recess I saw smiles and laughs and a great effort to share from a few who normally struggle with that.

– Instead of a football game students elected to play a sport that highlighted another students strengths.

– Students that typically did NOT participate with other students before, were in the middle of the game and being cheered on.

– Students who sometimes struggle to use their words first used one of our classroom strategies to find their words and prevented a “blow up.”

Next things:

– On Friday I’ll be doing another leadership exercise with them (hopefully in the gym)

– Tomorrow we’re still practicing trying our level 2 of our morning ball game. Hopefully, they can tell you what that means.

I hope you don’t mind but a private conversation with a couple students led me to share a current event I read about: a boy who brought a certain backpack to school was heavily picked on because of his choice of backpack.

We wrote letters to either the bullies, the friends watching, and or the boy. This led to a wonderful discussion about how we can support someone in that situation without actually confronting the bullies (which many of us admitted to being afraid of). Please ask them about how they could spread support and kindness!

See why I am in love?  Please share this story with all the teachers and educators who love your kids.  I have heard that our amazing Ms. L is working on a book to share her ideas with others!

Happy Spring Equinox!

ellesiggy

Related Links:

Boy Heavily Teased for BackPack

Whole Lotta Estrogen

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Our household is beginning to feel like an estrogen tsunami with two teenage girls and one pre-menopausal mom.  While I’m not yet experiencing any troubling symptoms related to menopause, I have several friends who are.  I found this hysterical video today and wanted to share it with all the amazing moms who follow this blog.

I have had a few symptoms (possibly) but nothing very dramatic.  I really adore Dr. Northrup when it comes to women’s health.  She is so incredibly wise and sensitive about commonly taboo or embarrassing subjects.  On the “wisdom of menopause” she says,

“Although women have been taught to dread menopause, this life stage ushers in the springtime of the second half of life and is often accompanied by surges in creativity, vitality, newfound ambition, and the need to be of meaningful service to the community in a larger way. During perimenopause and beyond, our goals and behavior become more motivated by the demands of our souls, not just those of society. We quite naturally seek answers from deep within instead of looking for approval from the outside.”

I love this healthy, positive perspective on the natural and inevitable changes our strong and loyal bodies are going through.  I have every intention of nurturing my body even more through this next decade, not taking a moment for granted.  Often times, symptoms of menopause are exacerbated by underlying auto immune problems.  I am eating clean, exercising and doing regular detoxing and fasting regimes to help support my entire well being.  Mindfulness helps listen deeper to my body intuition.

How are you feeling and handling this stage of life?  Have you discovered a wonderful resource or method of managing the funny or annoying realities of mid-life?  Please share them!

I was interested to find out that men also experience hormonal changes similar to menopause, though more gradual.

Enjoy!

ellesiggy

 

 

Interesting Reads:

1.  Doc, Do I need a Juice Cleanse? from Wall Street Journal (imho, YES!)

2.  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Northrup

3.  Accidental Cures:  Extraordinary Medicine for Extraordinary Patients by Dr. Yu

One More Day

I wrote this song in 2008 as an anniversary present for my husband.  I asked my friend Rick Hardin to put it to music.  Nothing quite like having your words put to music.
ONE MORE DAY

I had a dream the other night
You were no longer here
I ached and reached out to pull you near
Just then I imagined all the things I would do
If I had just one more day with you

Now I know that love is free
Without fear or need I am here, I am here now
My heart is burning in my chest
Expanding every breath I am here, I am here now

Because for one more day, you are here
For one more day, you are here

We all make the mistake of letting our egos take over
Forgetting moments where the love is discovered
I am filled with gratitude cause I’ve got you

Now I know that love is free
Without fear or need
I am here, I am here now
My heart is burning in my chest
Expanding with each breath
I am here, I am here now

All that ever was is only now
All that ever was is only now

Because for one more day, you are here
For one more day, you are here
For one more day, you are here

Enjoy!

ellesiggy

We Find Each Other

we find each other

i see my sisters and brothers in spirit and it makes my soul hum a delightful hum.

i know them by the sounds they share,

the ideas that drift above and around them as they walk,

the whispering prose of alignment and recognition,

ages of adventures between our souls,

and yet

we find each other always,

adrift in the turbulent waters of circumstance,

it really doesn’t matter,

for the beauty of eternal wisdom shines through,

the slightest gesture, the glint, the tone, the hue

we find each other again and for a moment

it is home.

~Lisa Merrai Labon

Have a spectacular day!

ellesiggy

My Friend Frank

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@photo by Guru Khalsa

For all my spiritual adventures walking between worlds, seeing, feeling and knowing that our bodies are simply placeholders in the dirt; that our spirits are eternal and dancing among stars like beams of never ending possibilities laced with joyful giddy love…

I feel gutted by the departure of my friend Frank.

Grief is an old story and one I’ve experienced many times in my life. Losing someone we love is hard because while they may be off hopping across the heavens, we are left here without the promise of another conversation, another laugh, another shared moment of discovery.  What was easy and accessible is now a long distance quantum call, requiring access to inborn technologies long neglected.

Certainly I miss his face, his voice, his laser sharp intellect and deep compassion. But what I miss most of all is having another soul on this planet who really got me.  He saw me.  He made me feel part of something bigger than my life. I miss having a kindred spirit among us. I often feel so alone and misunderstood. And here was someone who shared my passion for photography, human rights, honesty and integrity.  Someone who never backed down, cashed in or compromised his ideals.

His physical absence means I have to stand on my own.  It means I have to grow and be in this body more fully.  It means I graduate.  It means I have work to do.  It means now is the time to step forward.  It means I have no excuses left.  It means life is a gift.  It’s fragile.  It’s fleeting.   His life.  My life.  Your life.  It means that he has passed the torch and it’s time to take it.

Frank’s departure came after a long and accomplished life.  He leaves a stunning artistic legacy and very talented family.  I am certain he would rather I dwell on the wonderful moments we shared in the dark room, critiquing negatives, looking at the gray areas, framing the powerful moments and making the next image better than the last.  All the afternoons I spent at his home, talking about life and family and the state of the world…

I remember leaving his house on Terecita Boulevard one afternoon, just before we moved away from California.  I was struck by a wave of grief.  Out of nowhere, unprompted by anything that I could see, I started to sob thinking about not having him in my life.  He was already so important to me, such a rare and special soul, that the thought of him not being around took my breath away.  Even though I was drowning in my life with four kids, I made extra efforts to visit him as this heavy epiphany rattled me for some time.

I Will Be Blessed by Ben Howard

Oh my ghost came by here
Said who do you love the most
Who you gonna sing to ‘fore you go

Oh hey heaven is the place we know
Heaven is the arms that hold us
Long before we go

Why is it that grief distills the irreplaceable value of life and our relationships like nothing else in this world?  The searing loss clears the debris of ego or conflict instantly.  All that is left is the gift of that person in your life.

Frank was the most generous person I have ever known.  He struggled to make ends meet.  Artists are never compensated adequately.  I tried to help by buying his prints even when my walls were full.  What stopped me from paying double for his ask?  I thought of it a number of times but my mind rationalized reasons that might insult him.  I shouldn’t have listened.  He gave me more than I could have ever paid for.  He shared his heart and soul with every student as if they were the most important guest in his home or class.

What if we could use the power of grief to appreciate the gifts of every person still alive in our lives right now?  What irreplaceable quality or emotion do they bring to your life?  Can we celebrate that now?  Can we swim in the power of their spirit now?  What would you say to those you love the most?  What needs to be said before you can no longer say it?  I would tell Frank simply that I love him.

For me, Frank was like a father.  I lost my own father when I was 15.  I missed the elder male guidance, approval and support through my formative, awkward and lonely teenage years.  My brother walked me down the aisle when I got married.  I should have danced my feminist-liberated-self down the aisle but I longed for the familial protective masculine, protecting the gift, protecting my heart from intoxicating mistakes.  Frank became my confidente, my counselor, my reassuring guide.  He always made me feel like I could do anything.  And he expected me to.  When I doubted my abilities as a photographer, he would simply say, “You have a gift.  Use it.”

The greatest gift Frank gave me was the understanding that what really matters in this life, is not what we accomplish, or who we know, or how materially successful we become, it’s how we make people feel.  Frank made me feel like the most talented, intelligent, capable woman in the world.  He would heartily chide me when I showed up with just a roll or two of film, asking me why I short-changed the world?  He always expected me to grow and blossom.  All the while never making me feel like I had a deadline.  “It’ll happen.  You’ll see.”

Frank, what happened is that you were here.  You impacted the world.  You influenced thousands, maybe millions.  You mattered in so many lives.  You mattered in mine.  And I am deeply, profoundly grateful.  I miss you.  And while I’m lonesome without you, I accept your gifts and will share them with everyone I can.

Love you always,

Lisa

Frank is among the greatest documentary photographers and teachers our country has ever known.  Please visit his work and support his legacy and his amazing, devoted wife Marilyn by acquiring his wonderful work:

Frank Espada Photography

Mirasol

Pacific Skies

I Want You To Fail

Explorers
@ photo by Lisa Labon

I promised my daughter I would write a letter explaining why I think she ought to finish the ski season despite her frustrations with her performance and a litany of other insults in her life.  I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t share it.  It’s a work in progress.  As am I.  I hope I’ve made the right decision, to insist she finish the season and honor her obligations.

Here it goes…

—–

Dear Bean,

You turned 13 in December.  It isn’t easy to be 13.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13.  I didn’t have very good friends when I was 13.  You’ve lost far too many of your closest friends to school and town moves.  Without a close BFF, I can see that you feel like Tina Fey without Amy Poehler, or Cagnie without Lacy (you probably have no idea who they are), or Thelma without Louise, or Agent Ashburn without Agent Mullins (the Heat).  Strange that we don’t have more female buddy pairs to reference.  I couldn’t find one female superhero pair.  That’s just not right.

So right now, you are feeling a bit like the defeated super heroine.  All alone.  No one understands.

Your super power is art.  When you were just four years old your English teacher at the Lycee, who was also an Artist and teacher of art, raved about your natural talents at every parent-teacher conference.  You continued to show this ability throughout your primary school years.  At every student art show your work would stand out as miles ahead of your peers.  You were drawing unusual perspective when others were still drawing profile.

In the last year or two, you’ve doubted your talents and withdrawn in your classes.  Your current art teacher is mystified because he knows you have amazing talent and yet you are busy chatting and leaving your work unfinished.  The self-doubt has a hold of you in a way I’ve never seen before.

Self-doubt is part of being a teenager.  I get that.

And yet you’ve used this superpower of yours to communicate with me how you are feeling right now.  I found your comic strip message on my desk.

“I love skiing but I hate ski team.  I don’t like my coach.  I don’t like waking up early.  I miss my friends.  I miss free time.  I hate “sucking at everything.”  I hate that “everyone hates me.”  I hate being afraid of everything and everyone.”

Well.  That does suck.  No way around it.  And I can EASILY counter every single statement with a very different reality that I see and hear from your teachers, coaches and peers.  I get that you don’t feel it.

Here’s the thing.  Your feelings are yours.  You have every right to feel how you feel.  But you are your own worst enemy.  Your kryptonite is not your coach or your homework or your overwhelmed brain.  Your kryptonite is believing life should be easy or that you can’t handle challenges.  Your kryptonite is thinking you are a victim of your life.  Your kryptonite is resisting the rite of passage that you are facing – maturation.

You are being stretched across the precipice of childhood to adulthood.  And it’s not a whole lot of fun.

I guess every teen goes through this somewhat.  It might be worse now because the media+culture images really sell this carefree life where beautiful people sail through.  It is very alluring.  Absolutely.  Many adults are up to their ears in debt and misery because they still cling to that illusion.

But here is the truth.  Every dream is an intoxicating drug.  It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, stretching our creative problem solving muscles and stimulating every nerve ending to reach and grow.  It’s what is known as the “call to adventure.”  The call comes exactly when we need it, when it’s time for us to go into the wilderness and claim our birthright, our gift to the world that only we can share.  It comes because our journey is an active, evolving experience of testing our boundaries, our beliefs, our perceived limitations.  Our reward is often more than we imagine when our adventure begins.  We may begin for one reason and end up finishing it for another.

Many heroes refuse this call and end up footnotes in their own lives.  How many times do we feel the rush of adrenaline as we are tantalized by the possibilities of something grand and exciting?  We feel in our bodies the pulse of creation, manifesting something with our own imagination, creativity and action.  But it’s not enough to imagine.  We have to get up off the couch and move into the world.  That’s not always easy.  Not every one moves beyond the daydream.

The first and hardest act of the hero is to begin.

Just like in your favorite stories, often the heroines get a supernatural push: a vivid dream; a phantom tap on the shoulder; an insight during history class; the lyrics on the radio.  Here is a little nudge from the radio ethers…

Wake Up Time – Tom Petty

“You follow your feelings, you follow your dreams
You follow the leader into the trees
And what’s in there waiting, neither one of us knows
You gotta keep one eye open the further you go
You never dreamed you’d go down on one knee, but now
Who could have seen, you’d be so hard to please somehow
You feel like a poor girl, a long way from home
You’re just a poor girl, a long way from home

And it’s wake up time
Time to open your eyes
And rise and shine”

Eyes wide open, the dream pulsing through our bodies, the heroes get to work. She is often afraid but knows that her destiny is at stake. She must cross the first threshold. It’s often a road filled with trials and obstacles. Even if she fails each trial, she can move forward with insights and tools for the next test.  If she’s lucky she will fail often and miserably.  Because in failure, we learn.  We find out what doesn’t work so that when it counts, we are prepared.

You’ve heard me say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become excellent at anything.  No one is born skipping this critical process.  Those you see excelling have worked hard to gain those skills.  They may have some natural talent, like you do in art, but that talent languishes without time spent failing.  Over and over again.  Your struggle is your ultimate gain.

You feel like you are failing at everything:  school, friends, ski team, art, conquering ADD, your own health goals.  You are in the midst of a perfect storm.  You are learning more than you realize right now.  Adrift in your own life, you are seeking out anchors, allies, assets to help you continue through this difficult period.

You are a beautiful failure, my sweet daughter. 

While I worry about you as your mother and friend, I know that through this intensely difficult time, you are forging inner strength and wisdom about what makes a true friend, being true to yourself, taking responsibility for your obligations and commitments, being honest about and facing the consequences of your own actions, as well as learning the hard lesson that not everything in life is fair.

Like the pearl in the oyster, the diamond in the coal, struggle and determination forge the assets that will make this journey more splendid, above the peaks of mere mortals.  Nothing can be honed to perfection without opposition, friction, and pressure.  Whether the pressure comes from outside or inside, our journey demands sacrifice.  The trial of initiation must weed out the pretenders to the throne in order to call forth the true heirs, the noblest of the contenders, the purest hearts and fairest of the warriors.  The battle will not be easy and to be won, our heroine must answer the call with all her heart and mind.

If the dragon just gave up the treasure, how valuable would it be? 

The heroes and heroines of this world do not roll out of bed without a care in the world.  They are motivated to create change, to challenge themselves and others, to carve into the flesh of mortality a divine influence.  People who try to just coast through their days generally do not get much farther than the old sofa in the basement.

I want you to fail.  I want you to get knocked down.

I want you to feel like your dreams are impossible, because in those black caverns the seedlings struggle to find the light.  Through this dark night, you will have to battle your own demons.  Those negative voices telling you that “everything sucks.”  Those voices that tell you to quit and that you are worthless.  Those voices, as hard as they are on you (and me because I love you so much), are your first test.  Will you let those voices throw you off course?  Or will you see them for the sirens on the rocks?

At 13 you are far from the end of your journey.  You have many trials left before you reach the treasure and claim your greatest prize.  My hope for you right now is that you will see around you the visible and invisible arms of love and support.  While you feel so very alone and misunderstood, you are loved so deeply. I realize that it doesn’t feel like love when your parents give you boundaries and requirements.  It would be far easier to rescue you and keep you in childhood where you needn’t risk yourself in the world.  When you are sobbing and wailing we question our resolve because we do not like seeing our children suffer.  But we love you so much that we must be strong in the face of your torment knowing from our own travels across the abyss that this is a journey you must take.

All we can do is help you pack your bag and insist that you go.

Learning to Fly – Tom Petty

“Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

[Chorus:]
I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing”

My hope is that you will hang on to the steely core of your being, the fire of hope and faith in your destiny.  You are all that you need to make this journey.  You are strong and brave and smart.  I know you don’t feel these things which is why I must nudge you out the door.  If I allowed you to stay here, sheltered from the storm, you would never know the distant shores of courage that await you.

When you fall asleep tonight, dream of your kingdom, the place where you conquer every fear and every dragon guarding the secrets of your soul.  Your destiny calls you there.  The universe awaits her Queen.

Returning Home

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After some time experimenting and gestating, I have decided to move my blogging urges back to Life On Purpose.  Some of you know I’ve been keeping a blog at Posy Fyre and even started one on ADHD as I have been trying to figure that enigma out for one of my kids.  I am still in the editing phase for the FREYA WOLF novel.  Though I have a fancy “professional” website, it never quite felt like me.  I’m in the process of consolidating all my energies and hope to have a clear plan shortly.

In the meantime, Life On Purpose has a new home at lophome.net.  I plan to blog here on all the issues that interest me and hopefully you as well.  I’ll move Posy Fyre content over as that encompasses the passion of our purpose.  Here we’ll tackle health, healing, family and finding our potential in a crazy world.  I welcome your requests, ideas, and feedback.

See you soon!

Elle

Going Slower

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We came screaming into summer from the hard pressing world of competitive life, aka systemic schooling and sports.  It’s a collision most parents know too well.  Some react by preempting the collision with back to back camps to ship off their wired progeny so they can continue to pay the mortgage (and save for college) without suddenly having their home and yard trashed by unsupervised hooligans and their stealthy sniper friends.  Some parents are all too happy to release the tight reigns and schedules which catapults burned out children like flaming termites into the support beams of every house and family who failed to preprogram the summer schedule accordingly.

Fast food is so entwined with that life.  I wasn’t sure how our unprocessed food challenge would go off without french fries and granola bars. The kids complained way in advance of getting here.  The fridge and pantry doors were slamming with huffs every hour on the hour a few weeks ago.  I have heard it only a few times today.  Energies are slowing down, habits shifting, tastes expanding.  The flower and promise of spring is ripening.

 Speaking of slower moving lifestyles, Bolivia, one of the “poorer” countries by Western consumption standards has all but shut down McDonalds in their country as they prefer real food cooked with love.

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Because we spend our summers in a pretty low key place I have no real camps nor anywhere to hide while our children come down off the harrowing white knuckle ride past the late homework bin with all of it’s blinking red lights and poison darts if you miss.  Parenting is not a part time hobby.  I don’t know why anyone thinks it ever can be.  Even if you have your children in the longest school day or day care possible, the moment they are failing at school or suffering socially, your life stops and you insert yourself into the framework of how, why and what.  And if you are heavily invested, volunteering and hovering in type A helicopter style, you watch the unraveling of one or more children in slow motion, grasping in the wake of forces often way beyond your control, though you might play a game of intervention anyway.

I have been walking around in my kids’ holograms for months now.  Four totally different souls;  three experiencing all kinds of glitches in their Earth suits.  And two average loving parents staring at the lot of them like aliens from another planet.  Did we feed them too much?  Too little?  Did we feed them after midnight?  Do they need a different type of water?  What other kind of water is there?  Is it the system?  Are they having an allergic reaction?  Where does this discontent arise from?  Is it contagious?

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Raising a child is bloody hard.  They come out fully formed but need others to feed, touch, love, interact, guide, soothe and generally push them along until they can toddle off into their bright amazing lives all on their own.  Except this lovely promise is often a nightmare of uncertainty and dark alleyways as they enter pre-adolescent and adolescent years.  We are slammed from both ends dealing with all sorts of “terrible teen” trauma (poor grades, attitudes and self image) AND a wild boy child who can do nearly anything except keep his hands (or colorful vocabulary) to himself.  I adore our spirited children but this past spring I had far too many academic and social fires and not enough brain matter to decide whether I should go full court press or back off and trust.

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It’s July 10th, almost a month since we arrived.  And only now am I beginning to feel like I’m on any sort of a vacation.  Only now am I feeling the lazy warm pulse of summer days, where there is no schedule, no alarm clocks, no agendas, no meetings.  I am finally sleeping.  Deep and well.

About week three I had an adult mini melt down and made the older children write down their goals for the summer.  One has a cognitive memory program to complete every day as prescribed by a learning specialist after a very dramatic spring slamming into an academic brick wall.  Two need to either get paid work or volunteer hours to help pay for school clothes.  One has a gig and one does not.

Two want to lose weight and get in shape.  Talking about weight and shape with girls is harder than talking about sex.  Believe me.  I know.  I grew up with women who talked about how they needed to lose weight every single time our family got together.  I have made a conscious effort NOT to talk about weight or appearance other than being clean and chic (because style is, well, nice).  But I have always made sure to show a range of shapes and figures and sizes.  Barbies were all but banned forever until a babysitter brought one in.  And then I decided making a fuss about not having Barbie wasn’t much better than full on Barbie kingdom so it became something to notice….how unrealistic and unhealthy she was (if she were a real person her spine would snap in half)…and I would buy Groovy Girl dolls and other ethnic dolls to demonstrate how fun it is to play make believe with all kinds of cool dolls…

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Big Red, the star of Secretariat with my daughter. She is a talented dressage rider. Such a treat to meet him.

Alas, society has more power over my teens than I do now.  Or it feels that way.  And while my girls are athletic and mostly healthy, they are also victims of slow metabolism, not enough regular exercise and too much sugar.  We have tried every angle of subtle and nutritional education, but the human brain is driven to consume sugar in all its glorious forms and make all kinds of excuses for why.

Please check out this new film Carb Loaded.  It explains the food conundrum our kids are facing every day.

Our summer of unprocessed foods is not sans sugar, but we are doing our best to make the sugar that IS here as fiber filled as possible and offset with more greens than they have ever seen in their lives.  As Peter likes to say, “if you eat enough vegetables, it doesn’t matter as much what else you eat.  Just eat mostly vegetables.”

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I’m at the sweet spot where I still have time to enjoy my summer and I’m finally wound down and mellow.  I’m finally feeling like I can stretch out my legs and let my mind wander and my heart simmer while floating on my paddle board on the river.  And I realized that my kids are also starting to mellow out.  The fights are half hearted and sorting out all on their own.  The carefree agenda-less days are flowing and shifting us all.  Meals of raw, local, whole, organic foods are no longer a point of contention but something we all circle around like an art project we share.

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Last night my oldest made vegetarian sushi and raw tacos with her God father, Uncle Ameet.  The tacos are made with walnut “meat”, cashew “cream” and salsa.  Absolutely divine.  I had them for lunch, too.  I felt incredibly light and energized after dinner and have not slept better.

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Today I made a Triple Berry Crisp.  Our bellies are smiling full of sweet nectars topped with loving crumbles of gluten free oats, butter and brown sugar.  If my children remember nothing else, let them remember mom’s homemade crisp.  Nothing compares to real food made by someone who really loves you.

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I will ignore the emails from school guilting me into having them all practice reading, writing and math over the summer.  They each have a book or two at the bed side but I will not hound them to read.  I will spend less time worrying about them reading and actually get to my own pile of books that I never have time to crack.

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By the way, we do not have any cable television available this summer.  We still have laptops, ipads and iphones but I’m noticing that they are slowly finding other things to do when the screens are not available.

The hardest part of being a parent is figuring out what to do when the path is not clear.  Especially when your children are glitching out…and no one else can really tell you what to do because their opinions come from their own experience and perspective and they don’t know your children or family the way you do.  As I have been spending more time in the garden, I’m seeing the parallels.  When a plant is showing signs of stress in the garden, you can consult the books and experts but ultimately your instincts, attention and hands on decisions are what matter.  Sometimes you need to do something drastic, and other times, you just need to keep an eye on things.

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That is the job of every parent – to decide what is right for the little seedlings in your garden.  We operate with imperfect information at all times but we care deeply.  And fortunately, I suspect that is the most important factor in our childrens’ lives.  Whether we do or do not, our intention and attention matters.

Until the next time…

@all photos by moi.  Please do not copy or use them without permission.  muchos gracias.