Sunday, February 24, 2013

Close To The Eye

My four year old (almost) had a tough time the other day.  She was sitting on the doorstep with our cat when she must have done something he didn't like.  My husband caught it just as it happened and brought her in sobbing.  The cat went for her eye.  Thank goodness he didn't get a a hair closer, otherwise it would have ended up as a trip to emergency.  As it was, it was all pretty traumatizing.  

I instantly put a warm washcloth on her fact to start the cleaning process, I knew this wasn't going to be easy because it was so closed to her eye.  She was screaming uncontrollably and I just kept holding her and the cloth over her eye.  She was saying, "I've got blood on my hands!"  Poor thing.  As I held her I rummaged through my box of herbs, I was looking for Chamomile to make a compress (so good for any eye ailments), I came across some lavender essential oil.  Perfect, I thought.  Although strong enough to kill bacteria and clean wounds, it's still a gentle herb, and when diluted, can even be ok to put in your eye (thanks mom!).   

So, I put a few drops in a bowl full of water and dampened some cotton pads.  I noticed that as soon as the lavender was on her face, she instantly stopped crying.  "Do you smell that?" I asked her.  "Lavender." She said.  I was amazed at the calming affect it had on her.  Herbs in action!  "Take a deep breath."  I told her, "concentrate on the smell".  Although she continued to cry on and off after that, the initial shock had settled some.  I held it to her eye for about 25 minutes the first time, we watched a movie and cuddled.

Now, four days later, I'm still watching it closely, cat scratches can get nasty fast and if they don't get cleaned can become super infected.  It seems to be healing up nicely though.  What was the trick?  The same lavender compress mentioned above, held to her eye for about 15 minutes, twice a day.  As well as room temperature chamomile tea drops to the eye to keep it clean (once in the morning).  I did dab a bit of Neosporin on the affected area the first couple of days.  Nothing wrong with a little East meets West.  My poor sweetie!  What do you do for your nasty cuts and scrapes??

Thursday, February 21, 2013

This Side Of Depression

A recent photo by Gary, I love that it is a picture of life sprouting from death.
 Ever since the Sandy Hook incident, I have been plagued on and off by sadness.  Some events, be it tragedy or celebration, have a large impact on me.  I guess this particular incident  brought up a lot.  How could it not?  Such mindless killing. Killing of our innocence.  Ugh.  AND this happens, all over our world, every day, in one form or another; wars, mindless crimes, insanity. . . you get my drift. 
 It's horrible.  Just horrible.  Why does our species do this to one another?

On another front, news of fellow bloggers losing their loved ones; one a 15 month old child lost to SIDS, another lost her father after losing her mother just three years before.  It makes me weep.  In so many ways I feel the pain of others.  Sometimes I try not feel it, but I always do.  I wouldn't be me if I didn't feel.  I am like a sponge, an empath.  It makes me who I am, sensitive Jessica, I've always been that way and I wouldn't change it for the world.   I'm me and with the capability to feel sadness, also comes the overwhelming joy of feeling so alive and happy.  I love living.

Lately, my challenge has been of a different sort, I have been living with a depressed husband.  After falling down in December and cracking a rib, he has since been changed.  I see him hurting, both inside and out.  The impact of the fall combined with the lack of mobility and the dark of winter has taken its toll.  It hurts to see him struggle and see his suffering. . . and also, to feel so helpless at the same time.  What can I do?  Nothing.   Nothing accept take care of myself and my children and try my best to keep my heart open and hope that he heals, which he is, in his own time, which is not necessarily my time.  

Have you ever lived with somebody that has struggled or been depressed for a long period of time?  Imagining how he must be feeling actually scares me, if this side of depression is difficult, it must be a thousand times worse for him.   It's only been 3 months, which is not very long in the scheme of things, but when somebody you love is having a hard time, if you let it, a day can feel like a week or a week can feel like a month.  I find myself frustrated at my helplessness, I just want his suffering to be gone, as if I could wish it away or something.  Not so.  Presence is key to remaining at peace, that and acceptance.  I am powerless over my husbands depression and somehow realizing that is my first step to my own sanity.

I know people go up and down in life.  After my Mom died my head was a mess for quite some time.  My husband was very understanding and gave me all the space I needed to be "crazy".  But even during that time I felt amazing connection, light and growth in my spirit.  I never truly felt depressed, just grief.  

Maybe I struggle with my husbands depression the way I do because I have trouble understanding it.  I try my hardest, but at times, I find myself taking things personally and reacting negatively instead of taking needed space or even just a deep breath.  Sometimes all it takes is that, just a single breath, to bring me back to my center.  Why then is it so hard for me to remember that when I am triggered?  

Hurt brings up so many questions for me.  It always has.  Be it my own hurt or somebody else's.  I guess it makes sense, when I am happy, I am more present, I don't question things as much.  When I am sad, I search more.  When things like Sandy Hook happen, I ask"Why?".  Sometimes when the feeling gets to intense, I switch to fight of flight mode, as if I could put off these hard feelings by running away or standing up to it.  It's not so.

Lately, unfortunately, I find myself fighting.  Trying to control a situation that I have no control of!  Like as if by some magic, if I say or do the right thing I might be able to change things.  No, it doesn't work.  I am finally learning that.  Depression is depression and nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can snap anybody else out of their hole but themselves.  The best thing you can do for the depressed is to show them that you love them, no matter what.  You love them as they are, happy or sad, and especially when they are sad.  I believe true love is unconditional.

Right now, what is important to me is the basics; food and sleep, compassion towards my loved ones, to not take things personally, to take care of MYSELF, to be firm about my own boundaries and, as I said, above all, keep my heart open.  

In my sadder moments I am reminded of one of my most favorite songs sung by the beautiful Ms. Nina Simone, Everything Must Change . . . open your heart and listen my friends, her words are beautiful and true and if you're like me, they will make you cry.  xoxo

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Orcas Dreams 6: Shades of Green

The beauty on Orcas.
As I left Orcas today to head into Seattle I was once again stunned by the beauty of this place.  Mist was clinging to the trees and the hillsides showed a thousand different shades of green.  How has it come that I am so lucky to live in a place such as this?  In Japan, people have do what's called "Forest Bathing", where they travel outside of their crazy cement jungle to be surrounded by green.  On Orcas, I am always surrounded by green.  Green.  Mmmmm, the color of the heart chakra.  The color of life.

At the ferry landing.  "See you soon Orcas Island!"

This is the second time this month I have come into Seattle, a necessary thing for me to do.  Sometimes I need to be around the buzz of the city to remind me why I like my quiet.  This need gets so strong at times that I begin to feel trapped on the island (a total illusion I realize once I get off of it!).  Funny thing is, now, when I drive off the ferry onto the mainland, I notice how my heart rate increases and my adrenaline begins to amp up.  Like I'm trying to find some "lost skills", as a friend had put it; or pay attention to things I haven't had to deal with in months.  I have seen more cars on the drive from Anacortes to Seattle than I have on the Island, where I have been for half a year.  I become bombarded by lights, cars, sounds and various other types of mental and emotional stimulai.  

When I am in the city, I notice my paranoia creeping in, "lock your doors!", "I'm exposed here.", "Why is he staring at my like that?", "Hold your purse tighter." Have I already become such a country gal?  Could it  have really happened that fast?  Or perhaps I've always been a country gal at heart and have instantly found myself at peace in my new home?  It's strange to say, but Orcas Dreams is now my reality and coming into the city now feels more surreal and dreamlike!

Bathing in sunlight.  I wanted to strip off my clothes and be totally naked in it, but alas, it was too cold.

 As for family updates, . . . winter has been tough, particularly January and February.  Yes people, the winter kicked my ass.  It was not so much the rain or the cold, but the darkness.  I found myself craving sunlight and praying to the skies for some good old vitamin D.  When the sun would peek through the clouds I would go outside and feel its warm caress upon my face.  

My sweet husband also struggled this winter.  In December he fell down and cracked a rib.  The combination of bed rest and lack of sun affected his mood and he went through, and is still struggling with, a depression.  This particularly was hard for me because I felt so helpless and it hurt to see somebody I love struggling so much.  I have lots of thoughts about depression and am trying to learn more about detaching with love and not become so taken in by others energy.  Alas, that will be for another blog post.

The kids are doing well, Silas is here in Seattle with me, it's a nice little refuge, as I know he will be going to bed fairly early and I will get some extra me time, hopefully! Although the cute little guy is teething hardcore, two of his molars just came and he has two more coming in on the other side.  That can't be fun for him.  There has been a lot of drool and a lot of tears, particularly at night.  Fingers crossed for some good sleep this weekend.
Silas enjoying his upside down time!

Ms. Serafin is at home having some Daddy time.  I'm glad for the two of them.  Since Gary has been sick Serafin has been missing spending her usual rough and tumble time with him.  I think this weekend will be a good opportunity for them to spoil each other and give each other love.
Serafin playing in front of the Orcas Center; our local theater which holds classes and puts on many different drama acts and shows.

Serafin is enjoying Orcas and finally calls it home!  As she makes new friends on the island, she speaks less and less of her old home.  She seems to be getting more comfortable in her shoes and each day I look at her and am amazed at what a beautiful girl we have, inside and out.  I am such a lucky mama.  

Yes!  Spring is on its way!  

Anyway my friends, I am happy to report that I have noticed the first buds appearing on the trees and sprouts coming out from the ground.  The days are lasting a little longer and  there is no need for my heavy jacket anymore.  I am excited to see what spring will bring in this new home of ours.  We plan on digging a pond this summer and possibly start keeping chickens.  We'll see.  I'm sure, regardless, you will hear all about it.  Love, love looooooove to you all!  xoxo

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Granola Itch!

I've got the itch.  The granola itch!  I used to buy my granola but it's so darned expensive! Also, might I add, it's definitely not as good as when you make it yourself.  Making granola is easy.  REALLY EASY.  If you're like me then you will have a lot of different things that might spiff up your granola in your pantry, just get out the rolled oats and you're ready. I got so into making granola that I recently purchased a bulk 25 lb bag of rolled oats.  Yes, that's a lot of granola!

Granola makes a great gift too!  During he holidays I put some in little bags added a ribbon and gave it to friends.  Once you get the hang of making it, you can adjust flavor, throw in this or that or even make granola bars to put in your kids lunch box,  easy peasy.

Since we finished the last of our last batch of granola this morning I new it was time to make another, so I decided to share my granola obsession with you of course!  When I first made the "crunchy stuff", I followed a recipe from one of my favorite cook books, Good To The Grain by Kim Boyce.  I've baked just about half the items from her cook book and I'd say almost every one of her recipes has been amazing.  If you like to bake with whole grain flours, this is the cook book for you!  

So, the following recipe is definitely inspired by her seeded Granola, however, I always tweak it according to what I have available to me at the moment.  I tend to keep a lot of seeds, nuts and dried fruit, all of which make wonderful additions to granola.  Here is what I did today, and, . . . I must add, this one turned out especially good!

Jess' Granola

-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

-Grease a large oven pan, one with a rim to keep oats from spilling out.

-Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl (again, remember, I just happened to have these things in my pantry, I throw them in where I can use them; use what you have and substitute to be adventurous!).

5 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup of chopped raw walnuts
1/3 cup of chopped unsalted toasted peanuts
1/2 cup of wheat germ
1 Tbs of poppy seeds
2 Tbs of flax seeds
1/3 Cup of raisins
1/3 Cup of chopped prunes
1/8 Cup of chopped dried mango
1/8 Cup of chopped dried apples
1 tsp of cayenne pepper

-Prepare syrup by putting wet ingredients into a medium size pot.

1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of raw honey
2 tsp of salt

-Turn up heat and bring mixture to a boil, let boil till mixture browns some, you want that nutty caramel flavor, it adds a caramel flavor of the granola.  

-Quickly add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix together well, covering all grains and dried fruit with wet mix.  

-Pour un-cooked granola into a large pan for cooking and spread evenly.

-Cook granola for 30 minutes being sure to take the pan out every 10 minutes to lift and mix.  If you don't do this, your granola will get stuck to the bottom of the pan.  

-Take granola out of oven, keep mixing every 10 minutes or so till granola has cooled down.  

-Store in an air-tight container!


Monday, February 11, 2013

"Birth" of a different kind. . .

I've realized something important as of late. . . I'm pretty sure that I don't want to have any more children.  It's a strange feeling to me, this feeling of being "done", kind of a mixture of sadness and relief, especially when I spent so long (four years) trying to get pregnant and then afterwards being pregnant with two children that are not so far apart in age.

Now that my youngest is becoming a toddler, I realize that sometimes I will miss that newborn phase.  You know, when your baby is so little and smells so fresh.  Ooooh, that newborn smell!   I could never get enough of it, I would bury my nose into my babes hair as they milked themselves into a stupor.  I would hold them till they fell asleep in my arms and then hold them some more.  My sweet little babes.

I think no matter how old my children get, they will still be my sweet little babes.  I've heard some people say that they wish their kids could stay little forever.  That's not me.  I have enjoyed every stage of my children's growth so far.  Each one bringing it's own challenges and delights.  That said, as each stage begins and another ends, despite the beauty of it, there is a certain part of my heart that aches, at times, it can be very bitter sweet watching my children grow.  I suppose it all has to do with letting go and watching the cycles of life unfold before my very eyes.

There is a part of me that wishes to continue on in my involvement in advocating for natural birth, and I will.   How this show's up, I'm not sure.  I've thought about becoming a doula or a midwife, but right now my attention needs to be directed towards my children.  Perhaps there will be space for this in the future.  For now, I'm sure you will hear from me, in this regards, via my blog or the various facebook pages I participate in.  There is such a need for women to speak up about birth and the beauty and empowerment it can bestow.  I believe that we, as a people, have come so far away from our natural self that a primal thing, such as giving birth, has become very clinical.  In my experience birthing was far from clinical and more into the realm of spiritual even transcendental.

That said, I still feel "done", even to the point where I am publicly admitting it!  Ha!  99.9999% DONE.  Gotta leave a tiny space for the "what ifs" and/or "buts".  But for now, yes, no more children from this beautiful body of mine.  Time for birth of a different kind, whatever the next adventure may be.  Thank you body for being so amazing and continuing to do so!