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Friday, January 27, 2017

Time Bandits: How Kid "Stuff" Steals a Mother's Time


There is no task quite as Sisyphean as cleaning up a home with children in it. As one of my friends puts it, it’s like brushing teeth with Oreos. Getting your house “clean” just doesn’t really ever happen. 

Still, I try. I have a strongly held belief that the child’s environment is a silent teacher, and as a homeschooling mama, I don’t need a “teacher” that is at cross-purposes with what I want for my kids: simplicity, serenity, beauty, gratitude, focus, spaciousness and calm. In short, I want my kids to have the physical and mental space to think, feel and create.

I consider myself a minimalist. I buy very little, and I try to buy only what is useful, necessary and hopefully beautiful and long-lasting. The world I inhabit, generally, is not in accord with this modus operandi of acquisition; instead, the world seems to be awash in materials that are frivolous, extraneous, unsightly and quickly disposable. As such, great waves of this worldly flotsam and jetsam inundate my home ceaselessly. It seems to be almost as inevitable as the tide washing great rafts of tangled seaweed ashore.

The key in that last sentence is “almost.” While it will never stop, we, the adults, are responsible for what comes to reside in our homes. I’ve done the KonMari method on my own things, and Marie Kondo is right: Once it’s “clicked” for you, you will not relapse. I am so much more intentional about my possessions than ever before.

However, that doesn’t mean that everyone understands the burden possessions place on us, and especially on mothers. I want to help them—the spouses, the grandmas, aunts, uncles, well-meaning friends—to understand what it means when, unasked, you buy my children something, anything.

That gift you want to give to my child? It might or might not bring them delight (which is more often than not fleeting), but the one thing it is guaranteed to do is this: It will steal my time.

For as long as it resides in my home, it will have a claim on my time, the one resource I have so very, very little of.

Because my children are young, it falls to me to care for that item. I must clean it, wash it, put it away, make certain it isn’t lurking somewhere so the baby doesn’t find it and choke on it. I must gather all the pieces to make sure it isn’t rendered useless or non-functioning, I must make sure the younger child doesn’t break it, I must make sure that the child learns to care for it, not get it wet, not let it dry out, not grind it into the upholstery. I must sort, store, carry, and put it away, day after day after day after day. Eventually, in the fullness of time, I (or someone) must also dispose of it, somehow, somewhere.

As a stay-at-home mother who homeschools, freelances occasionally and makes all the meals, not to mention does much of the housework (even though my husband is very modern and helps out a ton), I do not have a lot of free time. Really, no mother in any circumstances has a lot of free time. It’s just not part of the job description.

That’s OK. But the next time you think about giving a child in your life a gift, think of the mother first. Do you like her? Are you OK knowing that you are literally stealing not only the time she has for herself, but also the time she could be spending on reading to her kids, cuddling them, playing a game with them, pushing them on the backyard swing?

To put it another way: what you are giving with that gift is the gift of drudgery. Drudgery that will be conserved: never diminished, never extinguished, until that item leaves the home. Or at least until the child takes over its care. (Ha ha ha ha! I must pause here to consider this implausible scenario and laugh-cry.)

Actually, my seven-year-old is beginning to care for his things, and so I do know that it will get a bit easier on the mother. And I’m not advocating for an empty house. But I want to know that the things I spend my time caring for, washing, putting away, storing, etc., are worth it. Gifts can be wonderful, of course. Some toys, clothes, books are the stuff of memories, hours of play, and great beauty and use. And of course sometimes gifts are wonderful because they are truly needed; when the baby grows out of his pajamas, he will need new ones. When something beloved breaks or is lost, by all means, replace it.

I guess what I’m asking you is this: Is what you’re giving something to be treasured or gratefully utilized, or is it cheap, extraneous crap?

Though this post might persuade you otherwise, I am truly so grateful, always, for the love people want to show to my children. Really, I am. I’m just asking you to remember to show love to the mother, too, and to be mindful about what you’re taking when you give.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yes, I Use My Brain

A dear friend, happily childless by choice, came over a few weeks after the birth of my third baby to bring me some food. Years ago, we worked together and became good friends as we navigated the absurdity of government employment.

She has not a mean bone in her whole body, but when she asked me if I still did freelance writing and editing, and I responded that I did, she said, "It must be so nice to be able to use your brain!"

Now, I know she meant no harm, but it is a commonly accepted notion that mothers of young children don't get to "use" their brains. Now, it's true I'm more distracted, more sleep-deprived, addled at times, and certainly the case could be made that I've lost my mind in some sense of the phrase, but let it be known that I most assuredly use my brain!

When my children get a fever or a rash or any ailment, I begin a triage: what was their exposure? viral or bacterial? how is their demeanor--restless, lethargic, in any other ways worrying? how shall I treat the symptoms? what can I do to minimize exposure to the others in my household?

When my children are distraught psychologically, I research the most effective strategies for lessening anxiety in children, or how to teach mindfulness to the undeveloped neocortex of a 5 year old. Or, I determine, perhaps this just needs a hug and a kiss from mama.

When I homeschool my eldest and he wants to know about the largest prime number ever found, and how to perform prime factorization, I'm learning right along with him (and retaining more math education than I ever did when I was in public school!) When my daughter asks "Where did the first people come from before there were people?" I'm challenged to consider this and explore big questions alongside her. When my baby son cries for me, I think: does he need to nurse, is he tired, or does he simply need to be picked up and held? Is he developing normally and when will he be ready for solids?

What's the right chemical to get out this stain? How do children learn morals and ethics? How does a pressure cooker work, and what are the healthiest ways to cook for 5 people? How can I start a book club for me and my friends? What are the logistics to consider when camping with 3 children?

I could go on and on. You get the point. It's not all intellectual (though some of it is), it's not all academic (though some of it is) and it's not always important (though much of it certainly is), but every day, and much of every day, I am certainly using my brain.

If we are human, cognitively able and unimpaired, and alive, we are all using our brains. Let's stop, parents and non-parents alike, from perpetuating the idea that parenthood (and especially motherhood) is a state in which brain-use ceases or terribly slows. It's not true, and it's not helpful.

I do have a sense of humor though--my thoughts are often interrupted by my three handicapper generals (see Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut) and I do feel distracted beyond measure many moments of the day. But to be a good parent, to be a mother, means to engage my brain in more areas, subjects and times of the day than I ever experienced before parenthood.

And now to tend the fussing baby! (What does he need? A diaper change? Is he hungry? ...... )


Sunday, January 8, 2017

January Inspiration: "Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived."

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived." -- Joseph Campbell

With three children in my house, my blogging time is so very short! But this is how I will begin again, and so short it is for right now, for this season. :-)

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. Let that sink in for a bit. I am certain that this is a deep and inarguable truth, and yet we all live with an eye toward the problems, rather than an orientation toward the mystery. Of course, we all experience problems, or simply circumstances that require our action and attention, but we have overall become extremely short on contemplating and living the mystery.

So as we begin this new year, I invite you to look more deeply, to recognize the mystery. In my own home, I have a 5 month old baby, and nothing is quite as good at reminding you of the mystery as a brand new person. So find something in your home, your life that can serve as a reminder of the mystery that we are here and alive. Solve problems, yes, but do not forget that we are here to live joyfully, deeply, consciously.

Love to you all, and happy 2017!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Starting Anew


In more than one sense. Not only do I hope to return to blogging more regularly, but I hope to write more than I ever have about the topics that have engaged me since I became a mother almost 7 years ago. I'm also literally starting over as a mother, as I'm expecting my 3rd child any day now. I haven't had a baby in almost 4 years, so I've got a lot to relearn!

Still, I have been feeling a real desire to reach out and share what I've learned, what I'm doing, what I'm thinking about and to see how to send these experiences and thoughts into a larger domain, where I can both give and receive support, especially in my homeschool/unschool journey. Nothing has been more transformative in my life than my decision to become a mother who intends to opt out of the mainstream educational path. I'm passionate about this path, while at the same time muddling to figure out exactly where the path is leading us as a family.

I will likely ramble at first as I search to find my voice and the topics that most engage/interest me. If you're here, thank you. If you want to know what I need most, it's just kindness and support as I return to writing after a very long hiatus. I'd also love to hear your experiences and thoughts if you feel so inclined. This is a bit scary to begin again, so I appreciate your patience as I loosen the rust and attempt to return to this space on a regular basis.

Thanks, and lots of love.
Tiffany

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Experience with Red Raspberry Leaf Tea after a Miscarriage

Today's post is for all the women who come to this blog to find healing and hope after a pregnancy loss. I'm so sorry you're here--I wish you weren't--but since you are, I hope to offer some empathy and support and peace. 

After my miscarriage in 2011, I did a lot of research on what I could do to nourish my body and care for it. Mainly, I wanted it to come back into balance so that I could feel good and strong and healthy, and so that I could be prepared for another pregnancy, since my husband and I really wanted to try again for a pregnancy that would result in our second healthy baby.

I've talked about this elsewhere on the blog (see this) but the first thing I did was to change my diet and go Primal /paleo. It was October of 2011 that we ditched grains, legumes, refined sugar, processed foods and rancid vegetable fats, and I've been living that way ever since. That has been a huge success, which I'll cover in another post, but today I want to talk about the tea.

One of the reasons I suspected I miscarried was that my hormones were off due to nursing. I don't really know if that's the reason, and I'll never know. But when my son reached two, I decided it was time to wean him so that I could focus on healing and conceiving again.

That was, for us, relatively painless. He was down to two nursings per day anyway, and so over the course of about two months, we just tapered off until we said "bye bye to milkies." It was a very emotional process, but it was the right decision and it was ultimately pretty gentle for both of us.

For years, I've charted my menstrual cycle with the method outlined in Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Even after weaning I noticed that my luteal phase was too short. I also noticed that my menstrual cramps since giving birth to my son were waaay worse than they'd ever been in my life. I knew my cycle was off.

After consulting Dr. Google, I decided to try B6 supplementation to lengthen my luteal phase. After two cycles doing that, I noticed that I was having mid-cycle breakthrough spotting, and I didn't like that. It had never happened to me before, so I knew the B6 was not helping, and was possibly hurting.

I stopped taking that, and that's when I did some research on the balancing and fertility promoting properties of red raspberry leaf tea, which I'd heard about from my doula, but never really looked into.

You can read a lot about what it is supposed to do here. This story even talks about boosting goat fertility!

I used the Traditional Medicinals organic tea bags. I brewed 4 bags in 4 cups water in a big Mason jar, and then stuck it in the fridge so I could drink it iced. (I only drink hot tea in the dead of winter, and the taste of RRL is better iced, IMO.) I drank 3-4 cups a day, every day.

I knew it was helping when I noticed a significant improvement within the first cycle. I had a longer luteal phase, much better EWCM, almost no cramping at all when my period did come, and I just felt more balanced.

In my second cycle of drinking the 3-4 cups of tea daily, I conceived again, and this time the pregnancy stuck. :-) My daughter is now almost 11 months old.

Now, I want to say that I don't want this to come off as a "If you do this, then you will conceive" kind of message. I know intimately the fragile state of a woman who has miscarried, and the even more fragile state of a woman who has miscarried and is desperate to conceive again. It is very easy to want to control everything and try to "do" something. The last thing I want to do is send anyone into a tizzy of "I need to order this and this and this." Because, just as I don't know why I miscarried, I don't know why I conceived again when I did. I have my suspicions. But I don't know.

I have my little anecdote, and if it is helpful to you, or you think my story sounds similar to yours and it might help, I don't think trying RRL tea can hurt you in any way. It will cost you a few bucks. (And, full disclosure, the links on my site are Amazon affiliate links to help support my writing, but I want to just put that out there so that you know I'm not trying to sneakily earn some money off anyone's pain.)

But your body is unique and if it is healthy, you could probably do nothing and still conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. And it is my most fervent wish that you achieve your heart's desire. I guess what I'm trying to say is that only you know what you need.

I listened to my body, watched its signs and realized that I was out of balance. I did a bunch of things (including using Pre-Seed Lube in my fertile window and also undergoing Mayan abdominal massage and regular Swedish massage) to try to help me to conceive, and maybe they helped, maybe they didn't. It's in your heart and hands what you can undertake and what you can handle in the quest to have a baby, especially after a loss.

It's so, so hard to be in that spot, and if you're reading this, I'm so, so sorry that you are. I wish none of us had to go through the pain of a lost pregnancy. It's such an awful grief and sorrow. But, sisters, I offer you a hug and some hope that you will be well again.

With all my love,
Tiffany

Monday, September 16, 2013

How to Practice Conscious Wanting

Something I've learned is that it is normal, if you are alive and engaged and enjoying the gifts the world has to offer, is to want.

I'm not totally clear on the why of wanting--why it seems to be written into the very fabric of human DNA--but I am clear on the reality of it.

I've seen how natural it is in my own two children. My 3.5 year old sees what the world has in it, and he just wants some of that goodness! My baby, only 9 months old, is already grasping and taking and holding whatever she can get her hands on.

And it's not a good thing or a bad thing, as I've also learned. It just is. We are alive, and we want. I've spent a long time passing judgment on wanting as a negative thing, tinged with moral decay and poor spiritual health. As though the state of wanting is a one-way ticket to hell. Jeez, did those Puritans do a number on me from across the centuries or what!

That's not to say that wanting can't send you to a hell of your own making. Just that it is actually neutral. Wanting is like money in this way. Money is just a means of exchange, a currency. What meaning you attach to it and how you habitually relate to it creates your experience and your enjoyment or suffering. And so the same goes for wanting.

Wanting is just a part of our nature, as pervasive and eternal as hunger. Any problems that come with wanting are related, I think, to a deformation in some other aspect of our lives--and then we begin to go beyond wanting and either move into envy or acquiring, depending on our means and our character.

Just as our drive to eat to satisfy hunger can be healthy and normal or disordered and a sign of an underlying dis-ease--physical or mental/emotional--our drive to want can be healthy or it can be disordered.

If you are looking for distraction, or self-worth, or a feeling of security, your wanting can lead you to acquire what you don't need or can't afford. If you don't have the money to acquire what you think you must have to create these feelings, you will find yourself either envious or discontented or worse. If your character allows it, you may even find yourself using deception or outright theft to acquire what you want but can't purchase.

And that's just for the things that money can buy. There's a whole other order of wanting that can cause even more suffering for the very fact that money can't buy it: love, friendship, freedom, relationships, family, etc.

Another manifestation of disordered wanting is that you deceive yourself into believing that you, unlike every other human on the planet, don't want. This generally is accompanied by a pretty healthy dose of self-righteousness and a good deal of self-convincing. This one is harder to spot as a disorder, as it doesn't make itself as obvious--no debt, no clutter, no addictive behavior.

Indeed, you can't necessarily look at someone's bank statement or home or possessions or Facebook friend list and know whether that person has a healthy relationship toward their instinct to want or not. You can really only evaluate your own relationship to your wanting, and decide if it's healthy or disordered.

You probably already know the answer, but here are a few questions to get you thinking if you're really not sure:
    1.    When you are in a state of wanting, do you begin to fantasize about a certain outcome or feeling you will have when that thing is acquired? Do you tell yourself a story about what will happen in the future when you get that thing?
    2.    Do you feel pangs of jealousy, envy or judgment when you see others possessing what you want but do not have?
    3.    Do you tell yourself that you don't need x, y or z because wanting that thing is stupid, selfish, invalid or some other dismissive, negative judgment?
    4.    Do you see your desire and wanting as a force in yourself that you're either ashamed of or wish would go away? Or, even more extreme, do you believe you actually don't want anything?
    5.    Do you spend more than you have or pursue unethical/illegal behaviors to get what you want?
    6.    When you do get what you want, do you have feelings of guilt, self-loathing or sadness?
    7.    How do you currently feel about the things and people in your life? Do you value them, or do you barely notice them now?

Don't panic if you find yourself answering these questions and finding that you're uncomfortable with the answers. I think, if you are a normal human being, raised in the culture of consumerism, that you will find that you have misused your instinct to want to try to generate feelings that comfort and soothe you. But, you're an adult now, and you get to decide if you want to want in a more conscious way.

What follows are some guidelines that I've found helpful in my own life for handling the wanting in a thoughtful, compassionate, and authentic manner.

    1. First, you have to acknowledge the wanting. It does you and no one else any good to pretend that you don't want. I actually think those who remove themselves to a mountain top or a monastery may appear as though they don't want what the world offers, when it is actually an inability to practice their spiritual path while being tempted and finding no other way to control the impulses but to detach fully from the world. Incidentally, I'm not judging here. If that is what works for you, it is what works. However, I, personally, prefer to remain in the action of the world, with all its evils and temptations and challenges. It is where I, personally, find my path. So, bottom line, acknowledge and accept. You are human. It's OK.
    2.  Practice gratitude for what you already have. I've said it before and I'll say it again, but there is no more powerful foundational practice--meaning it will underlie all your other practices, spiritual, relational, emotional, etc.--than that of gratitude. The more you appreciate the gifts and blessings in your life, the more content and satisfied you will be. This will begin to take the sharp edge off of that hungry, devouring kind of wanting.
    3.    Celebrate, don't covet, what others have. OK, maybe for a split second you can say to yourself, ah, that looks so nice--to have a magazine-perfect home, or to have a charming family, or to have a healthy relationship with a spouse, or to have that shiny new sports car. But, once you've named the thing you are wanting, celebrate it without judging. Appreciate and generate feelings of generosity--that house is so beautiful--yes, that's awesome! Or, how amazing that people create and people buy beautifully engineered, gorgeously designed sports cars! Or, I am so happy that she has a beautiful, healthy family she gets to enjoy--the world needs more happy families! Envy and covetousness does you no good. Celebrating, on the other hand, improves your relationship to things and people, and leaves no guilty aftertaste.
    4.    Eliminate sources of "wanting influence" in your life. For me, this means advertising, magazines, shopping in stores and online. Yes, you will see ads, magazines and you will need to shop. No, you do not need to invite those things into your home. Cancel cable, or DVR your favorite shows so you can skip commercials. Don't shop for recreation--shop only to replace or purchase what you need. Cancel magazines that make you feel inadequate--that's really what most of them exist to do: tell you you have problems that they can solve.
    5.    Get clear on money. As I've said, for me this means "counting" as practiced in Julia Cameron's The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of "Enough" Evenually I'll get comfortable with this practice, and do a budget. Once I know what money flows in and out, I will know when it's okay to spend, how much to spend, and this will eliminate some of the emotional energy that surrounds money.
    6.    Don't berate yourself for wanting. Negative self-talk never, ever gets you anywhere but a one-way ticket to Guiltville, with a side trip to Selfloathington.
    7.    Allow yourself a wish list. This goes for things you can buy, as well as things you can't. (From the sports car to a spouse or a baby or a bestselling book.) If it's really important to you, you'll come back to the wish list and eventually get what you need. If it's not, and more an impulsive want, some distance and the visual of seeing it written down will usually clarify whether the want is a conscious one or an emotional one. Again, you can't be alive without wanting, so it's OK to want, and this is a great way to clarify your wants and validate the conscious ones.
    8.    Operate from a starting point of minimalism. This doesn't mean you have to actually practice minimalism, though it's what I, personally, am striving toward. But a minimalist always asks themselves what the true cost of something (beyond the price of acquisition) is: What will it cost to maintain? What space will it take up? Is it energizing or draining? Is it beautiful or ugly? Does it align with my values and who I am, authentically? Do I really want this or is it to satisfy some other impulse--to distract, impress, maintain a fiction or fantasy about who I am or how I live?
    9.    Give. For those of us raised in a mindset of scarcity, this is a huge challenge, which is why it's so important. But if you're practicing gratitude and you're feeling clear on the flow of money, this gets easier. And it reminds you that others want and need, and that you can give of time and money to connect, vitalize and fulfill your (hopefully) higher purpose. And the more you can give, and feel how good it feels, the more your wants become clarified and conscious.

So there you have it--some thoughts and ideas for how to manage your wanting and make it a more conscious force in your life. Cause really, it's not going anywhere. You may as well get to know it and make friends with it, and realize how profoundly wanting consciously can improve your life.

Please let me know in the comments if you found this helpful, and what your relationship with your own wanting is like.

With all my love,
Tiffany




Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Cultivate Limitless Prosperity

Eldorado Canyon Stream, near Boulder, Colorado. August 2013.

It was in this place, hiking this canyon and picnicking by this stream that I was overcome--to the point of tears stinging my eyes--with a feeling of limitless prosperity.

This feeling was not a brief flit through the mind or body--it was all-consuming, powerful and true. I felt it down to the marrow of my bones.

In a way I didn't know before, I now understand: it is moments like that that are the definition of wealth.

Now, it's true we spent money to get there, but that's not the kind of wealth I mean. I had a feeling, not quite this intense, but similar, just a week before in Zilker Park--which we had to spend almost no money to get to--just the price of a few mile drive--watching my son and daughter cavort on a wide expanse of green lawn in the copper light of the setting sun.

I have begun to feel wealthy and rich and prosperous--which, I will assert, is no different than being rich, wealthy or prosperous--with no change in my income level.

I think this has become possible in a few ways, which I will share with you now:
  1. My daily practice (for 1.5 years now) of 5 gratitudes a day
  2. My daily practice of setting an intention
  3. Spending the time I used to spend shopping in nature/parks/the outdoors
  4. While I'm outdoors, working really hard to limit my smartphone use, and to only use the camera (I find it helpful to place it on airplane mode so I'm not as tempted to check it)
  5. Turning around my feelings of lack and envy into feelings of prosperity and appreciation 
  6. Practicing clarity around money by "counting" as described in The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of "Enough" by Julia Cameron
So, how do these things give me the experience of wealth and prosperity and richness that it seems so many believe only comes from money?

  1. No matter where I am, what my situation is, what the circumstances are, if I can practice gratitude for what is here, now, I am in a state of appreciation.
  2. Setting an intention allows me to also place myself in positive states, where I help to facilitate good feelings and energy for the tasks, joys, and challenges that face me in day-to-day life. 
  3. Shopping for anything beyond the essentials is not only a waste of time and money, it also exacerbates feelings of lack and envy. Conversely, spending time in nature is restorative and plunges you deep into the abundance of the natural world. Have you ever thought about the fact that the only beings on the earth that use money are humans? (For more on this, read this fascinating interview about "The Man Who Quit Money".)
  4. Smartphones, while useful, are pitfalls of distraction. Just what exactly do I need to be distracted from, if I'm feeling lucky, appreciative and prosperous? If I'm present, I can deepen these feelings and discover new details and thoughts and feelings. 
  5. I'd like to write a whole post on this, but I've decided that when I see something that someone else has that is beautiful or fine in some way, rather than sinking into feelings of longing or envy or wanting, instead I make an effort to smile and say, "good for them!" or "how lovely!" or something that appreciates the element that I find so attractive, and celebrates the fact that someone has that beauty or fineness in their lives. It is not up to me to judge whether or not they deserve it, or whether they have earned it...that's not my concern. I get to be excited by prosperity wherever I find it, and not just when I own something. And, as the brilliant Carrie Contey has taught me, "What you appreciate appreciates."
  6. So much of our anxiety around money comes from not really knowing how much we have, how much we get, or how much we spend. If you begin to consciously write down what comes in and what goes out, you can begin to lessen your anxiety and inhabit a place of greater trust and peace when it comes to the money part of prosperity. And, if you debt frequently, this can help you address that. 
In our culture, money (and specifically, the having of money) equals prosperity. But while money facilitates a lot of things in life, and can of course buy beautiful things and important services, you do not need a lot of money to have the experience of being wealthy and prosperous.

I know people who have lots of money, but do not have this experience. There's always a number that would make them feel better, more secure, more important. No amount--really--will change those feelings.

And, after all, as Tim Ferriss, author of the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
 says, it's not the million dollars in the bank that people are really after--it's the way people assume those with millions in the bank feel and live.

There's also a way in which carping about what we lack or what other people have, or what we have that other people want to take is a shirking of responsibility, a way to play the victim. When we always say that we don't have "enough," we give up a lot of our power to others. It's a game where you're the loser and someone else is the winner, even though that's not how the world works. Focus on yourself and your sphere of influence. Save the world by saving yourself first

Let me repeat: You can be prosperous and abundant and rich right this very second, if you appreciate what you already have--both the material and non-material--and you realize that you have enough. For those of us raised with messages and feelings of scarcity, this is powerful medicine. I know that I often asked my parents if we were poor, not even knowing really what that meant. I just knew what I heard--that we didn't have enough. This is hard to overcome, and why the practices I listed above are daily ones. The gratitude and prosperity muscle needs daily work to keep it strong.

 I'll close by saying that I love living like this. I love looking at my children, my husband, my dog, the trees around me, the birds and frogs and earthworms and my amazing (totally normal, but still amazing!) refrigerator full of good food, my strong, healthy arms, my eyesight, my comfortable office chair, scotch tape, nicely bound books full of poetry... (you get the idea, I could go on!) and I think...wow! I am rich beyond my wildest imaginings. And if I only had my family and we were all healthy, I think I'd feel rich even then. And if I didn't have my health, I would have to do some serious work to appreciate what I did have--but I think I'd get there, so long as I survived.

It's a practice, but to live feeling wealthy and fortunate regardless of the number in my bank account is such a blessing.

I hope this post has given you some good ideas on how to increase your wealth and prosperity right now, in this moment that is all we really have.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. When was the last time you felt really prosperous?

Peace,
Tiffany




Friday, September 6, 2013

Back from vacation...

...and working on a new post for you soon. I could just rush through it, but it feels meaty to me, so I'm gonna take my time. Look for it early next week. As always, thanks for being here!

Love,
Tiffany

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How to Declutter Using Faith

What on earth, you may ask, does faith have to do with decluttering?

If you'd asked me six months ago, I'd have said absolutely nothing. But now I see how critical faith is to a simple life, a decluttered home, and a feeling of prosperity and ease.

I don't mean faith in the sense of religious beliefs, though that can work if that's what works for you. I'm such an eclectic spiritual soul that I don't know how to define my "faith," but I don't think of it in religious terms. More in terms of a belief in something larger, something mysterious, something that is perfect and whole, no matter what is actually going on, and no matter how I perceive it to be otherwise. A universe that exists is enough, for me, to have faith that I can surrender to its integrity, even if I don't understand or even like it.

Here we are. Amazing.

Now, in my home, I have struggled, for years, with a yearning for a simple, uncluttered lifestyle, a clean, open and cozy place that has room to breathe and feels good and actually achieving it. I can tell you that right now I don't have that. My house is also not so bad as to be the other extreme--it is not heavily congested, it is not chaotic, it is not cramped and airless and it does not look to be the home of a hoarder.

But. I want the feeling of simplicity and space and enough-ness in my home. My discovery vis-a-vis faith and decluttering is that the only way to let things go AND not bring more than what's absolutely necessary into my life is to have faith in a universe that provides enough.

The process of getting to that faith, by the way, has taken me years. And I can discuss more of that in another post. But today, I want to leave you with the thought that if you crave a decluttered home, if you want simplicity and peace and ease in your life, you are gonna have to cultivate faith to achieve it. I really think it's the only way.

I mean, you could hire a professional organizer to come in and declutter and organize your stuff, but the only way to maintain that state is to feel differently than you did when you were in the process of cluttering your home. (And, by the way, you have to take responsibility--clutter doesn't just happen. You either make it or you allow it via various avenues, another topic for another post.)

And for me, the way I've begun feeling differently about prosperity and material possessions and all that goes along with it--money, work, buying, selling, giving and sharing--is to apply faith to the process.

If you're feeling it, tell me what the biggest obstacle is for you on your path to a decluttered, simple home? And what do you think faith could do for you regarding this area?

As always, peace to you.
Tiffany

Monday, August 12, 2013

How to Set an Intention

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to discuss intention setting. (In the stressful situation I wrote about, I had told my son, "I'm wanting to feel calm and spacious..." and that that was my intention for that day.)

This, intention setting, is another tool I practice to help my days feel rich and vital and blissful. Or, on days when I'm coping with something difficult, it helps my day to have the space and calm and peace I need to make room for difficult emotions or situations that I know I'll have to navigate.

It's really simple. The key is that you have to make it a habit and make room for intention setting in the beginning of your day.

On an average day, I might set an intention like this: "At the end of the day, I want to feel energetic and joyful."

Other common intentions in my household include:
  • Abundant and free
  • Calm and spacious
  • Peaceful and content
  • Patient and loving
  • Playful
  • Appreciative
  • Present and aware
  • Empathetic
  • Mindful
  • Rich and prosperous
You get the idea. Choose one, choose a few. Mix and match. Create what's relevant to you. The other thing is, you can pick whatever you want, but you can't let circumstances derail your intention. That's where the practice comes in. If you want to feel patient and loving and your child is testing your patience with huge tantrums, you have to devise some way to try and generate, authentically, the feeling of patience and lovingkindness, in the face of tests.

That's why I often like to add a strategy at the end of my intention. So, it might look like this: "At the end of the day, I want to feel patient and loving. --> Deep breaths, counting and lots of hugs!"

That way I have the intellectual touchstone--the idea about the feeling--and a roadmap for how to actually generate, in my body and brain and heart, the feeling.

My son and I have a little whiteboard we keep on the table where we write down our intentions over breakfast. You don't have to do this, but I like to model this practice for my children, so that's important to me. You can keep yours private if you want.

My family has had so much success with this practice, because it prevents us from reacting out of a more primitive and emotional place. Just by setting the intention, we have a positive, healthy direction we've placed in the front of our minds.

I don't want to be a mama who yells all the time. I don't want to be angry, impatient, frustrated, distracted, discontented, etc. I want to be rich, happy, joyful, grateful, loving, patient, kind, contented and all the other good qualities we admire. I want to live in those feelings. And, as a wise teacher says, what you appreciate, appreciates. The more you can authentically dwell in those feelings, the more good feelings come to you.

As if it weren't enough to just feel better and have happier, more spacious days, other benefits accrue from this practice: Healthier relationships. More time. An instinct toward simplicity, gratitude and kindness. Less debt. More productivity in the areas of the most meaning. Clarity of thoughts. Less time spent in regret, less time apologizing. More playfulness and creativity.

Go ahead. Give it a try. Let me know how it goes for you, or if you have any questions.

Peace,
Tiffany