On the inside I feel young, but the mirror keeps telling me differently. Why do I even have mirrors? New lines keep popping up and I'm not going to say I like them because I don't, at all. But they do remind me that I am not as young as I feel and that's OK. With age comes wisdom and clarity(and wrinkles and sagging skin-GAG!). As I reflect on the years passed, I think how important some things seemed and FELT and now...laughable. During my twenties, I traveled with my husband as he made his rounds through 6 years of independent league professional baseball (not as exciting as it sounds-imagine living in a hotel room for half a year in a strange city...with a baby! AND a husband gone half of the week). I'll share some of those stories another time. But, through those years, states, cities and stadiums I've met some amazing people...good and bad. It's not just those EXPERIENCES that have shaped my opinion of what makes a GOOD person, it's every experience I've had: jobs, family, friends (ex-friends), having a child… Every time I have an interaction with those people that test my ability to be a decent human being, I remember my list...we can all use a reminder to just BE GOOD........
5. BE Perfectly Imperfect- I would never want anyone to think I am perfect. I WANT to be WEIRD and different and even a little CRAZY! I get mad, sometimes for no reason. I fight with my husband. I yell at my kid. I don't wear deodorant. I “make” cereal for dinner sometimes. I start projects and never finish them. I get obsessed with ideas one day and then, totally and completely abandon them the next. I hide chocolate from my family so I can eat it all myself. I like to put a big piece of spinach in my teeth and keep it there until someone notices. I can be really loud, and DRAMATIC, and get so excited about the smallest things, but also, have my feelings hurt very easily. I scream, yell, rant and rave, but I LOVE, just like all my other OBSESSIONS, deeply, completely, TOTALLY, 100% with EVERYTHING I have and sometimes it's too much, but mostly it's just ENOUGH.
You don't have to LIKE everybody and everybody is NOT going to like you.
But stick to that old adage:
Everyday is a new adventure! Some big, some small. Some easy, some hard. Work.. work is an adventure. Especially if you are lucky enough to feel like you don't have to work. We have been blessed to be in that situation.
Most of our mornings start the same. Wake up.. decide who is making coffee and packing lunches, and who is getting the kids up (sometimes its rock, paper, sissors! Seriously! One little guy is never happy about seeing us in the morning!) Breakfast with the kids, feed animals, tidy up the house, drop kids off at school, and then off to start our adventure. I'll just throw out there that we have always had a dream of working together. After many years a dream that has finally come true.. wow that sounds corny.. but its truth!
Living in a small community we have been able to become a staple in a handful of peoples days. They are the heart of this little place. Sinking our lives into others in our communtiy is something my husband and i have always been excited about. Being able to connect with the people who live among us, see their lives grow and change. Sometimes mourn with them as they go through a loss. It's not always rainbows and butterflies, but the majority of it I wouldnt change for anything. Plus let me tell you about our staff.. hands down the best! We have been able to connect with everyone on a level that is much more than boss/employee.. shedding tears when anyone of them leave us! (lucky enough that they always come back to visit, or even pick up a few shifts!)
And after all that happy sappy reality of my life.. here is the other side.
Restaurant life is tough you guys... constantly being needed. And not like a child needs their parents.. like a fryer is on fire and someone better get it fixed! Or a truck doesn't show up with your order and you have to quickly improvise and regroup.. or an employee gets sick and you work a 14 hour day. These sometimes feel like daily occurances. Plus add raising a pre-teen and a busy boy.. you get a little over loaded sometimes. That's where balance comes in. I thought that would come so easily. I thought wrong. What I thought would take a month ended up taking about 8! Yep.. 8 solid months of feeling like we couldn't find a groove. Like life was always throwing us a curve ball. I know everyone has times like this.. they never go away. EVER! So learning to go with the flow (something my need for control has a hard time dealing with) is the only thing you can do! And then there is feeding ourselves! Easier said than done folks!
..Sticking to a plant-based lifestyle while running a traditional restuarant has definitely had it's challenges. It was soooooo hard at first. Hard to stay on track. Choosing not to try new foods. (Although there was always someone around to be our taste-testers.) Hard to explain why we are choosing this path for our lives. Justifying this over and over. Serving food to customers that we dont eat. After so many explanations, and justifications I felt myself not finding joy in the food I was preparing for myself and my family. I felt like a fraud, encouraging people to come and spend time and money in our restaurtant. I wasnt sure how to change that.
Then I realized .... I didn't have to. Our customers mean more to us than the food that comes out on their plates. I can't change the way anyone chooses to eat. Customers are the life blood of a business, so you have to give them what they want. Meeting others right where they are is just the start. I can still talk about my life with them. I can still engage with them on a level deeper than the food choices that they are making. I don't need to justify myself about my food choices. All I can do is inspire others by leading by example and sharing it's benefits. Sure.. we pack our lunches some days.. sure we drink green smoothies. But that's us! And it's ok that it's not for everyone. So for now, our next step is to create a new menu. A menu with an option for everyone. So anyone who comes in (not matter what their food choices are) has plenty to choose from! Living in a small community has its rewards and challenges. Our dream is to offer the healthiest items around. Being local, and thriving on plant-based opportunities!
Our vision is to provide a wecloming atmosphere to everyone. Where people feel at home and relaxed in this little piece of our community. Watching customers interact with one another from behind the scenes is so rewarding. It's almost like watching a movie. So even when we are worn down and running on fumes.. this is life.. This is our life that we have been blessed with!!
Let me first say, I hate the term “only child”. Hate.It. 'Only' implies something is missing. “You have 'just' one?” Yup. Shocking as it may be, we made the choice to have one child. We have our reasons and not ones I feel like getting into...right now. I am geared up for another direction, dum, dum, dum HOME SCHOOLING! “Oh my gosh, you have 'just' one child AND you're home schooling?! You must be some kind of crazy freak!” HA! I am! I reflect on my craziness on a daily basis! It takes a certain kind of fortitude/craziness to deal with judgmental jerks AND schooling your child at home.
One of my bigger reasons for home schooling is my idea of our family dynamic. Now, don't go getting all judgey on me! I'm not saying your way is wrong, I'm saying my way is right for US. Eastyn went to preschool in the Catholic school system. We chose this school for educational reasons not religious. Side note: I'd like to just point out that I consider myself very spiritual, but not religious. My crazy is showing again! Anyway...Catholic preschool 3 times a week for 3 hours...it was ok. Eastyn struggled with letting go of mama, but did fine once I was gone. He learned a lot and had fun, but it just wasn't our cup of tea. I had a conversation with his teacher about his struggles with getting there and here was her anecdote for me:
Not my style of parenting. I couldn't do it. To each their own. We will never know if we are doing it right until it's too late to make a change.
Well, preschool crawled by and all the while kindergarten was on my mind. I had internally debated on the home school option for a few months. Battling in my mind through the stereotypes and doing the “right” thing. Private school was still the key player...I knew I wanted Eastyn to attend a half day kindergarten, which was only offered at the same Catholic school system. I was invited to shadow the two classrooms for a few hours to get a feel for how kindergarten looks. The first teacher was very “motherly”, soft-spoken, extremely organized, and kind. The second teacher had just spent 12 years as a physical education teacher. She was rough and loud. Her classroom was messy, disorganized, and complete chaos. I left feeling no better off for making a decision.
Every time I thought of home schooling I got excited and felt such good energy. But was this just my mama emotions playing tricks on me? Wanting to keep my baby at home? I told no one of my desire to home school. I didn't want others' opinions affecting our decision. My husband was indifferent and felt I would make the best decision. Thanks, hubby for your help *eyeroll. After many, many lists I decided to let the decision up to fate...We had already enrolled Eastyn in kindergarten and were awaiting his teacher assignment. We decided if he was assigned the “motherly” teacher we would send him to the private school; if he was assigned the “rough” teacher we would home school. I think you know what happened next...fate had spoken!
Relief rushed over me. I FELT like we had made the right decision. We started telling people. People can be rude, ignorant, and down right cruel. I had to build up a wall against them and do what we felt was right for OUR family. I have never renounced all other educational styles declaring home schooling as the be-all-end-all to the “best” education. I think the BEST looks different for everyone. BUT, unfortunately, a lot of people do not see it that way.
A home schooled kindergarten was fun! Lots of games and physical activities. First through third grade? Straight up torture!! Teaching my child to read was hell. We fought, everyday! We cried, everyday! I wanted to give up, everyday!! I scoured books and the internet for new, creative ways to get the job done. Nothing really helped, it was just a battle we had to fight, together. And, we won! The first time Eastyn picked up a book to read “for fun” I cried, again. But, happy tears this time. It is the best feeling in the world to know that we got through it together.
I haven't had him “officially” tested but, through some research, speaking to educational professionals, and observations, I believe Eastyn to have dyslexia. He still mixes up some letters from time to time, spelling is difficult (although he is a freakin' math wizard!), and when reading too fast words get changed around. Had we figured this out sooner maybe I could have FELT a little better, but I don't think we could have done anything differently. Because while he was learning to read, I was learning patience, fortitude, and the ability to let go of the expectations of society.
So we are in our 7th year of homeschooling (6th grade)...it's still a battle. We fight, a lot. But we are so lucky!! I remind him and myself daily of how grateful we need to be to have such amazing opportunities!! The home schooling world has changed so much in 7 years and I have seen a dramatic shift in the paradigm of teaching our children in our homes. It is empowering, inspiring, and hopeful.
Are you a home schooling parent? Considering home schooling? Share your experiences below!
Here we are at the New Year. I’ve been preparing for this for a few months now. I LOVE new beginnings..a clean slate...a re-do...a blank canvas. I mean, the New Year just has opportunity written all over it! I’ve been implementing a new strategy- planning ahead- a successful resolution from New Years passed.
Typically I get so busy in December-resurrecting Santa Claus, turning my home into a Martha Stewart inspiration, sprinkling pixie dust and Christmas spirit throughout, squeezing into my elfin costume while wrapping presents in every spare moment of having an empty house. It’s exhausting! Then December 31st rolls around and everyone’s announcing or posting their New Year goals and resolutions- their plan to add in a new exercise regimen, start a new nutrition plan (holla!), spend more quality time, read more books….and I got nothin’. By the 11th hour I manage to come up with a few ideas of what I want to accomplish for the coming year (see previously listed examples).
But as I’ve been looking toward 2017, with an impending move to New England and managing my family both near and far, co-creating and launching a new passion project and working more-than-part-time, I just really don’t want to add anything else to my life right now. Actually, I want to SUBTRACT from it. And quite honestly I feel pretty balanced with what I’m doing from day to day- it's just that I feel like I'm drowning in
I have this dream of living simply. Becoming a minimalist Or to live as minimally as I possibly can...which has just seemed sort of an impossible dream to realize with a big house full of stuff, a backyard pool that requires stuff and a family of 5, all of whom have a bunch of stuff. I want to be free to do and go without worrying about managing my (and everyone else’s) STUFF. I want to be able to travel or pick up and move across the globe if I want to without being weighed down by all my things.
I’m figuring if I’m able to part with HALF my possessions, I should be able to live in half the home, paying half the rent or mortgage (maybe... this is Connecticut after all). And theoretically, I should have that much more valuable time and money to do the things I love with the people I love.
In Feng Shui, the Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing people with their surrounding environment, it is said our things are always speaking to us, “Dust me…”, “Remember when…?”, “I need replaced, fixed, painted, re-done or I don’t belong here”, whether we are conscious of it or not.
I find myself at a place in life where I want to wake up and, as my friend Karen says, decide what I want to do rather than what I have to do. I mean there are some things I will HAVE to do. And in a family of 5 it isn’t entirely my place to throw away other people’s stuff. Fine!
But at the New Year I find myself contemplating these questions: What can go? What no longer serves me or brings me joy? What will letting go of this item afford me the ability to have or do in terms of quality time and money? Or dream? Or work towards?
I’ve been getting ready to BE ready to do this for some time now...years, really. And NOW is my chance. This year I’ll be moving to New England and we will be going with half our possessions- including the sentimental stuff...all reduced by half. I think I’ll need some help with this last one because I’m incredibly sentimental, but what good is it doing anyone if these mementos are in boxes, shlepped from house to house... hidden away for years?... a lifetime?
I’m not real sure what my life- our lives- will look like on the other side. You know, after it’s all gone. What will be in the void? What opportunities? What friendships? What conversations or adventures? I’m thinking everything will be at least more meaningful, on my end anyway. I’ll be less preoccupied, less tired from toiling, and more engaged maybe? I really can’t imagine it... I do wish I could picture it because I think it might be good motivation to get from here to there.
I guess we shall see….
I'm experiencing a paradigm shift of sorts seeing the words "minimalism" and "decluttering" everywhere. Books, conversations, podcasts, articles and emails to my inbox. 'Energy flows where attention goes', as it's said. Have we as a society just accumulated too much and reduction becomes the natural order? Keeping up with the Jones's, the Kardashians... chasing the money and prestige, spending long hours...days even, at work...a slave to our things. And for what? Is this really living? I ask myself.
What do you hope to clean out and purge this year? A room you’d like to re-purpose if you could just get it cleaned out? An overstuffed drawer? Your finances? Your garage? Your friends list? Do you find yourself just closing the door and ignoring that “noise”? Share your clearing-out intentions below and your favorite methods or books for decluttering your home, finances, office space, and your life!
"You have to get this CT scan for him. We are talking about the possibility of something scary. A word I'm not going to use when talking about your little boy.”
You know that feeling when you realize you are having a bad dream, but you can't wake up?When you scream, but nothing comes out?! It felt like a nightmare when the doctor told us that our 5 year old boy needed a CT scan. He had lumps in his neck. They didn't know what they were. I didn't know how to breathe. "What other options do we have?" I was scared! A CT scan releases a lot of radition. Google told me it can cause brain cancer. Damn you, Google. We kept pushing for other options: MRI, needle biospy, go home and pretend this never happened? The doctor got stern "You have to do this NOW". We did the CT scan. Two weeks between the first appoinment and the results of the CT scan: I slept a total of 4 cumulative hours and lost 10 pounds! Have you ever felt so scared you couldn't eat, sleep, think, breathe?
There we sat, ready to throw up when the doctor walked in and said "breathe, everything is ok". I cried. It was NOT that scary word that she didn't want to say! He had a swollen salivary gland and reactive lymph nodes from excessive acid reflux. Something needed changed and this is where our food revolution began.
"Do you want to try an antibiotic or limiting food before bed?" DUH! The food one! While not allowing him to eat 2 hours before bed did alleviate some of the symptoms and shrunk his salivary gland, he was still waking up shortly after falling asleep vomiting or sweating and feeling nauseous. How could I make him better?!?! I spent hours that led into days pouring over information. After A LOT of research, I decided to eliminate all genetically modified foods from our diets. There is scientific evidence that has shown that GMOs can cause gastrointestinal damage. That day, I purged the pantry...literally, getting rid of almost everything. I tend to be extreme (i.e. obsessive/neurotic). Within days of eliminating all genetically modified foods, my little boy no longer woke up vomiting or nauseous (which occurred nightly!) and NEVER AGAIN has he had an episode of gastrointestinal reflux. That was over 5 years ago! It certainly was not easy finding our way through the maze of GMOs. 90% of our food supply is made with them! I've developed some pretty awesome culinary skills; I'm considering becoming a superhero...Cristy the Cook...hmmm it could be a thing, maybe.
Holistic health has now become my passion. The body is so amazing and given the right conditions has the power to heal itself of ANYTHING! I guess we are all superheroes when you consider that!! These facts fascinate me in our modern world of genetic engineering and pill pushing/popping. I was so amazed by my son's healing story that I wanted to tell EVERYONE! Unfortuantely, not everyone cared. They thought it was a great story, but I could read their minds (yup, I am also telepathic) "I could never do that". As the years progressed, I got more and more obsessed with the idea of healing through nutrition. My interests turned into passion which lead me into wanting to share that passion. I began studying holistic nutrition and the power of plant based foods. Recently, I have received certification in holistic nutrition. That's when my eyes were really opened to the concepts of the "whole foods plant based" lifestyle. After just one week of studying, I declared "WE ARE DONE WITH MEAT AND EGGS!" My family thought I was crazy...hmmm, crazier? Another criterion to add to our already limited food choices?! "We can still eat cheese," I told them. That was only to ease the transition. One month after that, we went completely plant based and haven't turned back! No GMOs and no animal products..yeah it was hard at first! Ok, still is at times. Are we 100%? I'd give us a 99%. Our 1% is sometimes purposeful and sometimes not. The other day I bought this amazing kettle corn drizzled with dark chocolate...mmmm...anyway halfway through I decided to read the ingredients (usually the first thing I do, but I was distracted by dark chocolate!) and it contained whey protein, GASP! I forgave myself.
You are in control of your health destiny! Take control and have that life that you dream of, free of fear and anxiety. I'm definitely not saying it's easy; in fact, it's hard-freaking-work. But we, every single one of us, is worth it!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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