Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring Detox

Spring cleaning. That's a thing I should probably subscribe to. Sounds healthy. I see it as environmental, physical, and mental. 

Physical detox: In my final herbal CSA, I received a packet of herbs traditionally used for detox: burdock, dandelion, licorice, cinnamon bark- all yum! For this roots brew I made a decoction (bring to boil and simmer for 10 -15 min) to get the full nutrients. So, I decocted my detox (say that three times without giggling.)

Environmental detox. I did take a box of stuff to a local electronics recycling event this past weekend (buh-bye broken cd player from 1989!) Even though I didn't see that box in my sight everyday, I knew it was there, and getting rid of it was quite freeing. Not doing any other clearing out, though. My to-do list is long enough, thanks.

I know I have control over the crap in my home, but it doesn't always seem that way. It's as if there are invisible strings attached to each object with a person or memory, and if I get rid of it, the memory will disappear, or the person will be alerted and know I threw it away and secretly hate me. (Please tell me I'm not alone here.) I am by no means a hoarder. That 1989 cd player was working until last year ("They don't make 'em like they used to!")

Plus, I live with two teens, my husband, and my mom. My mom. She had to move from a large home filled with beautiful things she spent years choosing and decorating (She's got a good eye!) into a very small apartment above us. I gave her a wee storage area under the basement stairs, and there's some space in the garage, but she likes to buy stuff and has no where to put it. So she buys them for other people (aka: me.) Not to go too much into this (since my mom reads this blog from time to time...) but I learned that unhealthy attachment to things from a certain someone.

In the middle are my husband and son. They like certain things to hold on to  (hundreds of Legos...outdated biology textbooks) but a shelf here or there, not entire rooms. Is that a guy thing?

Then there's the other extreme. My daughter spent a couple years getting rid of stuff, taking down things from her walls, and generally getting extreme minimalist on us. It's one thing to declutter, but another to de-everything. This past year she had an epiphany (and I'll keep it vague since this is public; not that she ever reads my blog...) that what she really needed was to declutter her mind. But she didn't understand how, so she kept trying to create space in her physical world instead. 

Mental detox. My daughter and I are both working on this. We are very different people, so approach it in different ways. She's being expressive with beautiful art, journaling, and doing awesome outdoorsy exercise stuff on a regular basis. For me? I've been drawing lame comics (I'm a strictly stick figure person), yoga, and that 10 minute meditation each day (#$$#&*^$%#!!!

I'll focus on what I'm good at. Tea! My detox decocted is a delectable selection (grin.)

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chai and Friendship

I really have to plant these flowers sitting in a too-small pot on my table- a gift from Easter. Today it's supposed to be quite warm, so no excuses! 

Spring is finally here, both on the calendar and in the weather. Time to get out and about. I haven't felt very social during the long winter, but this week I had tea with a friend I haven't seen in months. (I ordered chai, she had a flavored green. Both yum!) We caught up with the periphery events of our lives, but agreed not to let it go that long again for a real chat. Online social media is useful for a general idea of what's going on with my friends and family, but we are becoming savvy enough not to share the real stuff with cyberspace.

In-person is still the best way to connect. Just making the time to go to a friend's house, or tidying up if they come over, or finangling schedules to meet up somewhere- it shows you care about the relationship. I have to admit I am not the best at making meet-ups happen, and so I am very grateful for friends who get the ball rolling. 

There is one friend I have who is so inclusive; I love her. She came into my life when I was having a really hard time maintaining relationships and she just kept inviting me to get together, not worrying if it was my turn, or caring if I was fun enough. I just had to show up. She would introduce me as her "new friend" and that was that. She had made the decision and slowly I came to a place where I could return the favor (somewhat, I'm not that social) and now I count her as one of my solid friends in life.

Of course, maintaining a friendship and having tea at the same time is better.  The pleasant flavor can make me relax and focus on my companion- in real time, in real space. Actually chatting with a friend, drinking tea, and knitting is best. I listen when my hands are busy.

I'm not a phone person- the disembodied voice is weird, always has been. I love texting, email, and real letters and cards. Some friends are too far away for regular face-to-face chats, so I send them tea in the mail in a card scribbled with love. I keep the post in business. Post-a-gram is one of my favorite apps.

Reading what I just wrote makes me sound like a friend who really takes time for others, but that's not being honest. I do get together with people, I do send things in the mail, but not often enough. Maybe. What is often enough? I don't know. I have a family and extended family that take up most of my time and energy- gladly! So friendships are hard work. Not just scheduling but the love. How much can my heart open?

Sages say infinitely. 

Thanks, sages, but I'm not there yet. The most I can do it let the tea steep, the steam rising with good intentions, as I try to savor each sip with a friend.

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ginger Tumeric Tisane

"Life is a series of breathing exercises." Mary Taylor

My niece, eight years old, gave me a helpful yoga pose she learned if you have trouble sleeping: it's lying on your stomach, arms outstretched, and breathing slowly. (Btw, kids are very handy with advice if you are open to ask.) Last night I used the pose to calm my frustration at not sleeping well. Breathing steady allowed me to clear my mind and see possibilities, which led me to find a way to be comfortable and sleep again.

Driving is another time I need to remember to breathe. I often bring a tea-to-go with me, even on short trips. First, so I don't stop and buy a drink (so freakin' expensive!) and sipping tea is pleasant and makes me breathe calmly. (Though my anxiety levels would be so much better if ya'll all learned how to signal.) 

Typing about mugs...

My first world problem is that to-go mugs keep the tea so hot! I realize that's the point, but I'm used to a certain temperature of water to pour in the cup, time to brew, and then sip. But pouring it right into the mug to brew prevents any cooling down, and then I burn my tongue in the car. Ow! Ah! Ow! is not the breathing technique I'm usually going for. 

I have one from LLBean that keeps it hot for HOURS. Maybe that's good for hiking, but I'm just going to the bank. Lately, I plan ahead, brew tea in a mug and then pour it into a to-go container right when I walk out the door. Brewing before I leave also takes away the awkward "what do I do with the teabag/basket of loose tea in the car now that it's done steeping?" Perfect temp, perfect tea, good breathing and happiness as I make my way through the day. 

Typing about hiking...

My family and I like day hikes, though we haven't gone much this winter. (Haven't done much of anything outside this winter.) Hopefully soon. I like seeing the waterfalls in the spring. Now that it's not fifty-two below zero everyday (well...it felt like it) I'm starting to take walks again. The rhythm of my body starts to flow with my steps, arms swinging, breathing the crisp air. Today I traveled in a large cemetery: winding paths, grey skies, bare branches, headstones, it certainly hit a mood. I also got lost on those paths, and when I finally figured out how to get back I was sorta late to pick up my son; I really booked it to the car. Very noticeable breathing (huffing, gasping.)

And back to just breathing...

I recently started meditating everyday. Just ten minutes. Ugh! Why is sitting still so hard? Stop fidgeting and breathe...slow down and breathe...breathe...relax and breathe...breathe...bre- is my tea ready yet?

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Russian Caravan Breakfast

"Eat this! It'll put hair hair on your chest!" was a favorite saying of my dad to his two daughters whenever he wanted us to try something strong tasting- usually an Italian cheese, or concoction from the juicer. Russian Caravan tea is bold flavor. 

This morning I had excellent, locally-made sausage with fermented kraut and spicy mustard. I needed a tea to balance out those flavors- a tea that could hold it's own: Russian Caravan  (with a wee bit of sugar and cream.) A breakfast for champions!

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I like it hefty. Morning is my time when I feel energized, and balanced (literally. I can only do certain standing yoga poses in the morning.) This is when I can be the most productive, so I try to get my thinking work done.

Life, however, does not always allow me to choose my schedule. I have been the taxi driver for my children, and will continue to be until my youngest gets his license (permit test this week!) And although I am my own boss, my work involves other people and their time constraints.

Balancing needs with responsibilities is a constant challenge. In yoga, a good practice involves doing poses and then the counter-poses. They can't be done at the same time! Every day of my week has a different schedule, but I try to keep my week somewhat even with structure vs. flexible time, social vs. quiet activities, physical vs mental work. Yet, despite my planning, there's always something that wonks it up!

Short-term projects (like my son's theater production) mean weeks of non-stop driving around. So I look at the longer view. Did we just have a crazy, busy month? Can I say "no" to activities for next month to let us decompress? Sickness means lots of cancelations. Downtime is good for healing, but then we have to catch up. Seasonal shifts mean being open to altering events (big change), to doing different exercises (small change.) That's looking at balance over a year. 

Long term and short term thoughts. Twenty years is long. I have spent the past twenty years caring for my children with the majority of my time. Very early on, I read this poem by Peggy O'Mara:

There is time still
for sitting in cafes
in Paris
sipping wine.

Time still
for going to meet
the guru.

There is time still.

Now I am caring for eternity,
carrying bodies soft with sleep
to beds of flowered quilts and pillows.

Answering cries deep out of nighttime fears.
Buckling shoes.
Opening doors.

My soul now is dwelling in the house of tomorrow.

Tomorrow there will be time.
for long, leisurely conversations,
for poems to write,
and dances to perform.

Time still.

So I surrender now
to them and this,
knowing it is they
who will teach me
how to do it all.

I try to imagine that life will balance it all out. What will I do for the next twenty years? Time will tell. In the meanwhile, pairing food with the perfect tea is short-term fun. Life: it'll put hair on your chest!

PS: I wrote a post on GeekMom about the first time I tried Russian Caravan Tea:
Russian Caravan Fantasy

Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.