Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Purpose: What is mine?

I have spent so much of the past several years digging, soul searching, trying to find my purpose in life.  Yes, I'm a mother first, and that will always take precedence.  I will never try and pretend like that doesn't give me reason enough to feel like I am on this planet with a purpose, but what happens when I'm not mothering?  I'm never "off-duty", but as my children get older, I discover they don't need me as much as they did.  It used to be every moment of every single day, someone on my heels, someone in need, someone crying, someone celebrating, someone just wanting mom by their side, but now, I find myself alone, a lot.  And I hate it.

I had children young.  I left high school, joined the military and shortly thereafter became pregnant with my first.  I became a mom at 20, and had four children by the time I was 26.  I have NEVER ONCE regretted quitting work and coming home to be with them.  I have NEVER ONCE felt gypped of becoming a professional (although I honestly believed I would be an independent, working woman, perhaps, with no children, shortly before the universe decided otherwise. ;))  I have NEVER ONCE regretted the path I have taken.  But, I didn't really think about what I would do once my children became old enough to not need me every moment of every day.  I didn't have time to think about it.  I was teaching one child how to read while sewing cloth diapers for others, and still breast feeding the last.  There was no time in any part of my days or nights to think I would ever have enough time to actually want to do or be something besides "mom".

Until now.  Several years ago I felt the slip, the inevitable drift of my children as they grew older and more independent.  Even though we homeschool, my children are online learners and do 90% of their work on their computers without needing my help.  Sure, I'm here to help with math lessons, to read over confusing history or science information, but as time goes on, the "mom, I need help" has become less and less.  So I sit, and wonder, what do I do now?  Sure, we have plenty of dishes and laundry and dust and toilets needing cleaned to keep me busy for the rest of my life, but where do I find a sense of purpose in that?!  I've mastered my cleaning and cooking schedules, for the most part, the activity running, the doctors and dental appointments, it's all easy come easy go at this point.  So there is A.LOT.OF.TIME. where I'm doing a lot of nothing.

We purchased a larger piece of property and now I have a huge space to garden (close to a 1/4 acre just of garden space to be exact), but after my seeds are sprouting in the window sill, and my garden plan has been designed, the flower beds have been weeded, I find myself feeling a bit lost again.  I have painted the top 1400-ish square feet of our home, walls, woodwork, bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and more, and I still find myself feeling lost.  And I always come back to this same question...what is my purpose?

I have researched programs to begin and degrees to obtain, I've taken online workshops, and done a multitude of wellness programs.  Education is my obsession, I love to learn and I love to teach, but I seem to be a jack of all trades, a master of none.  I educate myself on so many topics, but I get bored and I move on.  I have become a blogger, a teacher, an artist, a photographer, a business owner, a seamstress, a cook, a baker, a milk and yogurt maker (non-dairy of course) ;), a gardener, a seed saver, a minimalist, a yogi, a wellness leader, the list goes on.  And I'm still searching for more.

Today, as I was sitting on my couch, staring into an empty, silent room, messaging with my husband and a dear friend of mine, discussing this feeling of being in a rut, I decided to go back to one of the first things I began doing when I first started finding time as my children were growing.  Writing.  But first, I decided to search for some motivation, and what better motivation than a Ted Talk (there is always one out there that says exactly what you need to hear).  I found this one, and I was in tears listening to her talk about me.  She, it seemed in my mind, had written every one of these words for and about me, and suddenly, I realized that I am not abnormal for doing so many things, I am not "lost" because I can't find the ONE thing that makes me feel fulfilled, that I am human, and I am not alone.  To embrace the fact that I have this amazing ability to keep on learning, to take on more and more, and to fill my heart and my brain with so much passion and information...that makes me incredible.

So I will no longer call myself a "jack of all trades but master of none".  I will now define myself (I despise labels but will proudly wear this one), as a "multipotentialite". =D  And I have super powers, three incredible ones to be exact:
  • Idea Synthesis (ability to combine ideas at the intersections to create new ideas)
  • Rapid Learning (intense and rapid learning of whatever it is that interests me)
  • Adaptability (always ready for something new, new situations, new ideas).    
And I will love me, for being me...a multipotentialite.

Here is the Ted Talk I was referring to.  It is beautifully spoken and I highly recommend it for anyone seeking their purpose.  This won't give you the answers to what or who you should become, but it will allow you to stop beating up on yourself for wanting to be everything.  <3

Emilie Wapnick: Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling

Have a beautiful day!  And to all of the women out there, keep on fighting!  Happy Women's Day!  xox

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "no poo" challenge!!! I made it 2 weeks, and then some...

I saw this interesting challenge in one of my "hippie" sites/blogs I follow...The "no poo" challenge.  Once I realized I was no longer going to need to spend $8 for each of my bottles of vegan shampoos and conditioners, I was intrigued.  I'm all about simplifying my life, not having to buy crap that I don't need.  I'm not a materialistic person and the luxury of having all these separate bottles for each part of my body seems so over indulgent.  Needless to say, I was ready to go!

I told all my friends/family I would try this for a couple weeks.  So far, I've made it the two weeks and then some.  I'm a month in and going strong.

The strangest part of all of it...I have only washed my hair four times in the past month.  WHY?!  Because my hair isn't full of shampoo and conditioner residue so it stays clean for a whole week (probably more but that's the longest I've gone).  It doesn't get oily, too dry, smelly, itchy, ...nothing!  It's healthier, easier to comb through, my natural curl frizz I love dealing with is no's utterly amazing!!!

Here's what I'm doing:

I take 2TB baking soda as well as 2TB apple cider vinegar in mason jars to the shower with me.  When it's time to shampoo, I fill the baking soda jar with water and use it as my shampoo.  I scrub my scalp just as I would with shampoo, and while I was waiting for suds the first couple times, I finally let go of the notion that I needed bubbles.  I rinse well, then do the same with the apple cider vinegar jar.  Be careful of the eyes, and it tastes less than desirable, but it really does condition the hair.  No, you will not get that slick coating of chemicals on your hair that makes it feel like it's truly conditioned, but I guarantee it will be easier to comb through after your shower.  My hair does not smell like vinegar (believe me, I've asked so many people) and it looks SO healthy and clean.
I have a spray bottle with a little tea tree oil in it that's watered down that I spray in my hair for a little bit of a scent, but otherwise, nothing.

Here's how it looked at two weeks:

And at about four weeks (it's only getting healthier, softer, less hair falling out, etc):

I'll keep everyone posted on the progress.  I have heard people say that at around one month they start seeing their hair getting brittle and breaking off easier.  I'm hoping that's not the case but am willing to be the guinea pig for all. ;)

Try it for a couple weeks.  If nothing else, just do it on occasion to strip your hair of all the buildup we all get from all the store bought shampoos and conditioners.

The money facts:  The best part of this whole process, it's costs me $.04 to wash my hair and $.11 for the conditioner.  $.15 for each hair washing!  That's with regular sized boxes and bottles of soda and vinegar (imagine if I purchased larger/bulk?!?!).  ;) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bald Eagle Release - May 2014 - Audubon Society

My family and I were witness to an amazing and beautiful event this past month.  An injured bald eagle was released after going through rehabilitation at the Portland Audubon Society .

She was found on West Hayden Island, appearing to have been injured by another eagle during a territorial fight.  She was discovered by a hiker who called the Audubon Society to come pick her up.  Upon further examination, they discovered that she was previously shot by a pellet at some point in her life, and also had a fracture to one of her wings, on top of the puncture wounds on her feet and nerve damage to her other wing by the recent fight.  The worst of all discoveries, she had sustained injury to one of her eyes and only had partial vision.  As a bird, this is typically "the end" of their life in the wild.  However, upon further examination they discovered that this was an old injury and she had been surviving in the wild with it for quite some time.   She was an amazingly strong bird and seemed to be fit to return to the wild after rehabilitation.  You can read more about her story here:  Rescued Eagle

We arrived at Kelley Point Park which is just across the river from West Hayden Island.  She was a nesting bird on the island and had a mate prior to her injuries.  They chose to release her at the park across from the river to allow her to regain her bearings.  They weren't sure if she would fly when they opened the crate, but all that were surrounding her to see her back in her natural habitat were hopeful.  After speaking about her a bit, giving us a back story, we witnessed the release:

You can imagine how pleased everyone was to see her take off right away.  She headed in the direction of the island and at that moment, we thought we'd never see her again.  The crowd of people started walking towards the path she had just flown.  We soon discovered that she was up in a tree, next to the river, taking in her surroundings.

We were told not to be alarmed if crows started attacked her, as once she regained her bearings, she would surely make them her first meal out in the wild.  Within a minute a crow began to attack her, but she seemed to not be bothered by the pest.   The crow would grab branches of the tree and drop them on the eagle, dive bomb her and continuously "caw" trying to get the attention of other birds.  The eagle just sat and watched.

We watched the crow pester the eagle for awhile, and then the somewhat harmless interaction became a little more threatening.  We started hearing the calls of another eagle and an osprey.  Both were coming into the area to see what all the fuss was about.

Before we know it, another female bald eagle is coming in for a landing right near the tree that the other eagle is sitting in.  The osprey is diving and encircling the new female eagle and creating quite a scene, which ends up distracting the crow.  The crow then begins to go after the new eagle and the osprey.  It seemed as though the new eagle came over to help distract and protect the released eagle from the other birds, but that was questionable as the female eagle very well could have been a threat.

The released eagle looked on while the commotion was happening just outside of her tree:

After a bit, the new female eagle took off and took the pesky crow and osprey with her.  All seemed calm as the released eagle sat in the tree, grooming herself, taking in her surroundings.

Not long after the peaceful moments of watching the eagle groom herself and relax for a bit, the crow came back, creating quite the dramatic scene.  Again, dive bombing the released eagle, at one point even knocking her off balance.  She regained her footing and continued to sit while he continued to make his loud "caw" sound.  The anxiety was building in the crowd as we knew this would attract other birds, and it wasn't long after that the eagle returned. 

She circled in and landed on the branch right next to the released eagle.  It was a bit tense as the eagles both fluffed their feathers and made sounds towards one another, keeping their mouths open as you can see in the second pic.  This lasted for several minutes.  We were waiting for a fight to possibly break out, but shortly thereafter the eagle took off again.

We could hear the osprey returning and indeed, it had followed the eagle back to the area the released eagle was sitting:

The second female eagle perched just above the released eagle while the osprey dove towards the tree.   At this point, the group of people watching collectively agreed that it seemed that the second eagle was not there as a threat to the released eagle, but as a distraction and protector.  Several times she had deterred the other birds from the newly released bird and even positioned herself to be the target.  She was a bird from the same island that the released bird was from, but we are unsure of how she may be related to the released eagle.

You can see the osprey through the tree just above the second female eagle.  This interaction continued for several minutes with the osprey diving towards the eagles.

After a few minutes of this interaction, the birds both looked in the direction of some more woods that were over to our right.  The released bird took flight for the second time since being released and they both went in that direction together.   (No photos, however, as I was in awe watching them fly away together. This was the last photo I took of them before they flew off).

It was an amazing experience, being up close and person to two bald eagles.  Watching the natural behaviors of the crow, osprey and eagles was fascinating for all of us.  This was most definitely a once in a lifetime event.  Something none of us will ever forget.  So many tears were shed.  Nature is truly beautiful. 

Be sure to support the Portland Audubon Society.  Volunteer, donate & take a field trip out to their location to see what they do. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reposted from December 2013 - Plank Challenge!!! Join in!!!

Time for a new Plank Challenge!!!   Repeating the one from December 2013 that we had.  This one will still have squats and crunches.  Let's get hot for summer!!! ;)

Our new plank schedule is a bit more gradual than the last.  I noticed my back was getting pretty sore after a couple of the 30 second jumps, so I decided to find a challenge that was bit more gradual.  I also wanted the simplicity of having a single number to remember when it came time to add in squats and crunches (YES, you read that right,...we're adding squats and crunches if you're so inclined to try it out), as my days all run together because of my crazy schedule, and remembering one number is hard enough, let alone different numbers for each exercise.

Please note:  None of the pictures, nor the calendar, are my property.  Everything was found on Google doing various searches for this challenge and for proper vs. improper techniques.

INTRODUCING, our 2014 Plank (and crunch AND squat) Challenge calendar:

Looks easy, huh?!  We'll see how it goes!!!  ;)

Since I'm the one instigating this challenge, I want to be sure I cover my butt by first saying, if you have any injuries or problems with your neck, back, hips, shoulders, ankles, etc etc etc, please be sure to check with a professional before starting this challenge.  If you decide to do it regardless of what a professional (physician, therapist, etc) has to say, please, please, please, stop doing the challenge if you're feeling any pain, soreness, swelling, etc in any part of your body.

Here are some samples of the proper and improper ways to do the planks, squats and crunches.  Please be sure to check your technique and make sure you are doing them properly.  No good will come out of doing them improperly, and you will sorely regret not taking the proper precautions.  Believe me, I know from experience!!!!

Here is a proper plank:

Note that the arms are at a 90ยบ and the elbows are directly below the shoulders, there is no sag in the back, the feet are slightly apart, the head is looking down and slightly forward.  Alternative plank styles are out there as well (if you notice your back getting sore, try the modified one at the top of this next photo).

Level 3 is unnecessary...unless you're just rocking the planks and want a challenge.

Here is the proper squat:

Note that the upper portion of the legs become parallel to the floor and the arms are also parallel to the floor.

Here are some improper ways of doing the squat.  Check in the mirror to be sure your back, legs, etc all look the same as the picture above, and not like the ones below (other than the correct one below, of course):

And finally, for the crunches:

 Note that a crunch is just that, a crunch.  We're not bringing our head to our knees.  Focus on keeping the lower back on the floor, and be sure to not allow your hands/arms to add strain your neck.  One of the things people tend to always do is pull on their neck to help raise their back.  This is horrible for your body and can do more damage than you think.  Keep your abdominal muscles tight and just focus on using those muscles to raise your head/shoulders, whether it's an inch or several inches.  But do no more than your body allows.  NO STRAINING!

And just to show what the straining looks like...again, don't do this!

Let's have some fun with this and support each other through the full challenge!!!  Looking forward to 30 days of working hard together!!!   Enjoy tomorrow!!!  Day 1 will be here before you know it!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Challenge - The Tank Top Challenge!

Today is the last day of our Squat/Crunch/Plank challenge, so it's time for us to start another one!   Congratulations to those who stuck with it and made it to 150!  150 Squats, Crunches and a 150 Second Plank!  I NEVER would have thought I could do it!

This time we'll be working on maintaining the strength in our abs (we did work awfully hard to get our strength up), but we'll be adding more arm work in order to get our arms in shape for tank top season!  I, for one, can't wait to see the changes as I'm addicted to tank tops and would love to have some beautiful guns to show off while wearing them. ;)

So, without further ado, here is our new challenge!
(Please note:  I borrow all of my challenges from other websites so be sure to check out the websites I get them from and give them the credit for the changes we're making!)

The Tank Top Challenge!

It's a 30 day challenge, so we will be starting Saturday, Feb 1st and completing the challenge on March 2nd.

As you can see, each day we will be doing 2 sets of the numbers listed (day 1, 2 sets of 5 push ups, 15 second planks, and 5 chair dips, and so on).  Once we reach day 16 and on, we will be doing 3 sets of each.  Looks easy?!?  Yeah, so did the squat, crunch, plank challenge. ;) 

BUT, I'm not leaving it alone with just this challenge.  We'll also be adding Burpees into the mix.  So, as well as completing your 2 or 3 sets from the chart above, Burpees will be completed to the number based on the chart below.

And look, I even found two challenges that have rest days on the same day!!  Yay!!!

So, now, the disclaimer:  Please check with a professional before performing these challenges.  If you feel any pain or discomfort, do not continue.  Be sure to check your form for every exercise and check back with this blog regularly to ensure you are still doing the exercises correctly.  

Last but not least, have fun, encourage one another and don't give up!  Even if you miss a day or can't do the full amount, do what you can!  Anything is better than nothing!!! 

Proper form for each of the exercises:

Push ups with or without knees down:

Proper plank (if you did the former challenge, you should be familiar with this one):

Proper chair dip form (start with knees bent and if you can, work towards straightening legs more):

And last but not least, the burpee: 

Drink plenty of water, breathe and have fun!!!  You're doing something great for your body!