Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Learning

I'm thankful for the following:

  • The Danish Way of Parenting (Jessica Alexander and Iben Sandhal)
  • Living Well, Spending Less (Ruth Soukup)
  • Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now (Walter Brueggemann)
  • The Fear Cure (Lissa Rankin)
  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo)
  • The Soul of Discipline (Kim John Payne)
  • Goddesses Never Age (Christiane Northrup)
  • Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (David Allen)
  • The Emotion Code (Bradley Nelson)
  • Coyote Medicine (Lewis Mehl-Madrona)
  • Healing Wise (Susun Weed)
  • The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Ayurvedic Healing (Maya Tiwari)
  • Woman Code (Alisa Vitti)
  • Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (Dan Buettner)
  • The Wisdom of Insecurity (Alan Watts)
  • The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
  • Hands Free Mama (Rachel Macy Stafford)

  • Making Sense of Adolescence (Neufeld Institute)
  • Heart Matters: The Science of Emotion (Neufeld Institute)
  • Art of Home Herbalism (Thyme Herbal)
  • Whole Food Freezer Cooking (Heather Bruggeman)
  • The Five Phases from TCM (Larken Bunce)
  • Helping a Child Grow Up (Power to Parent II-Neufeld Institute)
  • Common Challenges (Power to Parent III-Neufeld Institute)

The Danish way of Parenting

I really enjoyed "The Danish Way of Parenting."  It's a book as much about Danish values and living as it is about parenting.  For over 40 years, the Danes have been voted the happiest people in the world.  This book explores a lot of that and attributes the happiness strongly to how they raise their families.  A+
They use an acronym to illustrate the various points: PARENT





No Ultimatums


Those themes are explored in detail and done well.  I might take issue with a few tiny details in how to best help/support children aspect, but the heart of it is still consistent with what I understand.  Most ideas weren't new, but looking at how they're exercised/experienced was instructive and helpful.  For most of my dear friends/acquaintances, many of the ideas would be quite new.  It also brought home to me how easily I might enjoy this culture/society!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Living Well Spending Less

Another popular home-type book: Living Well Spending Less.  It was okay--worth skimming really.  There's lots of descriptive self-disclosure in terms of her addiction to shopping that might help some people realize what that addiction looks like, but after a while it got a bit tiring.  This book was the result of her very popular blog (by the same name).  I know of the blog because she and her husband removed ALL their kids' toys for a while and then added back very few.
She does recount that story when she deals with the holidays.  She said they finally ended up with books, art supplies, a few dolls/lovies, some barbies and legos.  Christmas features a lot fewer gifts, and more of them are things they need like shoes, clothes etc.  They also focus on experiences like trips to the zoo or family trips.  She said they spend a lot of that season doing for others, and their family's favorite tradition lately is to bring cookies to the local fire station Christmas Eve.  They do other traditional charity work around holidays because they're teaching the kids that Jesus taught us to take care of people who can't take care of themselves.

They have no-gift birthday parties where any gifts brought go into the donate box so now friends and family do take them seriously and only bring gifts if they want to donate.

The book has practical advice for cleaning, saving money, couponing, sales etc. also.  They did a month of zero spending (almost--basic food necessities and bills and then ate what they could creatively from the pantry--saved $1,000 that month).  They did that by very seriously looking at wants vs. needs.  That included home repairs, gifts and basic purchases we often make.

Friday, July 24, 2015


 First we collected full blossoms and "almost there" buds and leaves (the youngest) to tincture this Echinacea we have been growing.
 I had some good help with those leaves.  We have to cut and tear everything up so the vodka can extract as much as possible.  I use Smirnoff since it's from corn and won't aggravate any gluten issues.
 Here we are six weeks later--strained and bottled.  I still need more droppers, but we're off to a good start.  Next will come the labels.  Those are fun and take a little thought.  I think for Christmas, these will be part of our homemade gifts.  Vanilla is ready (but not yet bottled/labelled).  We are also currently extracting our Yarrow.  I think later in my herbal course, I'll be learning more things like lotions and salves.  We already planned some lip balm so this should be fun.  (For the lotions and salves, I have been extracting via alcohol and olive oil various herbs that are good for the skin.  A lot messier to strain!)
Another idea was to make some herbal ghee, but I think I have less confidence in that seeming "normal" than some of these other things.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sabbath as Resistance

I really enjoyed Sabbath as Resistance.  Our Sunday School class read it together in the Winter, but I missed out on that one.  It's quite a short read.  What he lays out here is such a different perspective than simply to look at the Commandments as "Thou Shalt (Not)."  I think he'll really surprise you with the way he understand's God's way of living vs. Pharoah's and so much of what has come since then.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

More Neufeld Courses

I finished the Power to Parent series with Class 3: Common Challenges.  What a huge blessing it was!  Our instructor, Darlene Denis-Friske, was magic--she should write a book herself!  I found myself going back and listening to the recordings again so I could hear the examples and almost script my own thoughts for those difficult moments!  If I were going to pick a mentor in this field, it'd be her!

I'm going to do one course this Fall--I could do two, but that might be too much for me.  We'll have to weigh it out!

Heart Matters is the newest course and one that matters so very much to me.  Trying to understand how we work the way we do is always at the heart of helping the girls.  Even just getting the video course might be worth it?

And then there is the Adolescence course which might make the most sense for me to be next (since those are the people I work with every day!)

I contemplated the Intensive, but I don't need that this Fall.  I'm putting it here to keep it present in my mind, but we'll see if I do it in the next year or so.  It'd be brilliant, but my goals are so local.  (It's more geared towards people on a track for doing this work professionally; whereas, I'm a mom and teacher who just wants to keep growing.  It might help me keep growing in the next few years?)

The Fear Cure

This book was pretty good, but I don't know if it's a necessary read.  Some of its insights are strong though.  The fear we hold as day-to-day anxiety especially gives us insight into what to work on personally.  If you don't understand fear or the body's long-term dealings with the Stress Response etc., I recommend this one.  It's really a book about transforming our fears.

If you really want to imagine life differently, there are some interesting people working in the fields of brain development and natural healing.  One is Dr. Joe Dispenza, and he has a few books (which are good).  He also has an intensive workshop, CDs--all sorts of resources.  You might recognize him from What the Bleep Do We Know?.  He is of the opinion that Science is the "new" language of Mysticism and is very accessible for people who are rationally-driven.

I recently mentioned the book The Emotion Code, and I've been working with the ideas there from Dr. Brad Nelson.  I think it will take a while to work through the layers of what's there, but I'm hopeful that it's boosting my body's ability to heal itself.  I also worked with a Reflexologist (and Emotion Code practitioner) who found imbalances health-wise just by dealing with my feet!  (You might be wondering why in the world I'm working with such varied stuff--the Gastro guy can't find the answer to my digestive troubles even after colonoscopy, CT scan etc. so I'm leaving no stone unturned!)

I've previewed The Body Code (also Dr. Brad Nelson) and would like to work with it.  If you have reservations about this "out there" stuff because of your faith, he and his family are very devoted Christians who acknowledge and look to God at every turn for help.  They've seen and been part of remarkable turn-arounds in health for the last 17 years.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up

I read another simplicity/declutter book that has lots of popularity: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo.
There are example stories, but it's not hard to skim when those don't feel necessary.  This is a book you can well skim/scan without fully diving into it like others.  I actually skimmed it twice to get what I needed.  There are some interesting ideas/take-aways that distinguish it.

Most decluttering asks that you look more at utility and how often you use things.  She asks if they spark joy, asks you to intuitively handle each item and be honest with yourself about it.  She doesn't believe we should be surrounded with anything that doesn't.  I'm sure there's room for useful items that aren't exactly joy-sparking, but you get the idea.

She doesn't think decluttering is a big project every year or so.  You go big once, and if you do it "right," you'll have little maintenance to perform that way.  There will always be some (think of clothes especially), but even basic cleaning will feel easier/more pleasant without so much "just because" stuff around us.

She has an order.  You do clothes first (and I mean clothes from every part of your house--got to be faithful to the categories), then books, then papers, miscellaneous (most other things) and then finally mementos/sentimental items.  She even has an order to do the clothes.  If you're overwhelmed by the volume, she recommends that you start with the off-season stuff.  The book goes into detail about all these areas with tips, examples etc.  Eric and I really like her folding ideas for storing clothes--it's amazing how much more we can fit in the drawers (which means no clothing in bins under the bed for me now).

Her feelings about books are that if you have it to read "sometime" it means likely never.  She thinks timing is a big thing with books.  The only ones you keep are Hall of Fame books (that you actually reread) and what's on your plate for now/recent future.  If things are stored on the floor, she thinks that they belong in a closet.  Lots to say on documents, filing etc.  She has an order on the "miscellaneous" (or everything else) category too.

She's not one for big organizing systems--that basically leads to more hoarding.  Apparently shoe-boxes work for most storage.  In terms of why we typically hold onto things, she gives reasons.  But she also asks the reader to consider: are we attached to the past rather than living in the present?  Are we afraid of the future?  Stuff like that.

Inspiring read!  I used it as a guide for my Summer declutter (just for my stuff--can't impose on the others).

One course that's quite afordable but different is Inspired Everyday Living if you don't want to go so extreme.  They have a lot of great ideas for simpifying and really thinking about the energy of our spaces.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

a few books

The Soul of Discipline was a quick read for me since I did his course by the same name a few years ago--really good, helpful, practical material.  He really treats all the stages well!  I still think Simplicity Parenting was more crucial, but I've also had the luxury of a lot of study and good access to developmentalist thought/courses before this book came out. :)
Goddesses Never Age was a pretty good book too.  She can get a little out there, but there was some first rate health information and suggestions.
Getting Things Done was an incredibly practical book.  Many of his ideas already came into my space through other people, so I skimmed some parts that were already familiar.  I always get into this focus during the Summer since I have the time to actually do things I normally don't get to do.
The Emotion Code is another one of those that might make you scratch your head a bit, but more and more standard medical practitioners are recognizing the effects of these more ephemeral realms.  Some of them  recognize that energy is a real "thing" if they pay attention to the quantum aspect of matter.  They at least recognize things like attitude, the role of nature, placebos etc.  So here is one approach to improved health based in emotions and their becoming trapped in our tissue.  It's also a how-to for trying to help yourself get rid of them.  Lord knows with some of my mysterious health puzzles, I will be adding this to the repertoire.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wraps and Green Sauce

As a gluten-dairy free gal, I've had to think outside-the-wrap a bit.  Some people I know use different greens as big leaves and lettuces.  I haven't worked too much in that realm yet.  (It's coming--I can picture flavored rice and Korean beef or something.)

For now, I order coconut wraps from amazon and do a lot with hummus.  One I like to do has:

-romaine or spinach
-artichoke hearts
-some kind of olive
-roasted red peppers
-sauteed onions (caramelized maybe)
-raw veggies I happen to have around

Today, with the help of what was in my CSA bag this week, I mixed it up a little:

-green sauce (my version)*
-Forellenschluss Lettuce (a speckled Austrian variety)
-black olives
-artichoke hearts
-cucumbers (that have been hanging out in rice vinegar)

It was wonderful!!!!

*I have to give some major props to Mia Moran of Stay Basic.  She has some great recipes available free as a three-day set up she has as a gift on her website.

My version of her green sauce is as follows:
-bunch of cilantro
-half a bunch of green onions
-one jalapeno (seeded)
-2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
-good pinch of Celtic sea salt
-juice of 2 limes

I made some guacamole this week but just adding the green sauce to avocado.  So very yummy.  Even Eric liked it drizzled on our taco bar stuff this week.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Coyote Medicine

One of the memoir and teaching style books I read lately is Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona.  He weaves the world of Western Medicine with Native American healing traditions.  It's a beautiful journey and exploration about really being healthy, healed and well.  I really appreciated hearing about going through medical school, trying to practice allopathic medicine and all the problems with the system and how he couldn't abide by the status quo.  I know I certainly reach my fill with that system and seek alternatives (at least a blend of the best of these different worlds).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wild Spring Edibles and Garden Preparations

Here are some common weeds we harvest from our yard to eat with our salads.  Many people eagerly pluck these out of their way, but we know what kind of nutritional power they pack so we try to take advantage of their Spring time.  It's interesting to note that during Spring is when we need what they offer the most as we strengthen our liver etc.

So about a week ago, I started a TON of seeds.  We felt like they were taking up a lot of the reading room, and every couple of days, I'd uncover them and favor the strong ones etc.  Well, they have mostly all sprouted (three to a pod usually), and I spent the better part of the weekend separating them so they grow and have more room.  Whew!  This is the most I've ever grown--lots of heart and intentions!  Here are the three stations in there:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Numen: The Nature of Plants

We watched the Numen documentary Friday  night--really engaging.  (It was a gift from the Sustainable Herbs Project.)  Lots of well-known herbalists participated, and there was lots of information about healing traditions and the power of plants.  Great stuff.

Healing Wise

Healing Wise (Susun Weed) was a beautiful read.  It looks at three different perspectives or systems of healing (Wise Woman, Heroic and Scientific) and really goes in depth about not just facts but the feel of each.  The majority of pages, however, are herbal allies.
You might expect to have a bit of an encyclopedia, but it's a totally different way of looking at them.  It's just a few with every angle explored.  They are herbs that grow fairy plentifully and are often considered weeds (chickweed, violet, stinging nettle, burdock, oatstraw, three seaweeds).  There are many food-type recipes included as well.  At the end of the book, there is a small guide for different herbal preparations.  This book is a keeper!