Parenting, Writing

A Soup of Falls

 A soup of falls

 

Oh, the beauty of a simple clean life.

All tidy and clean…

 

Instead, I generate a chaotic mess

a soup of falls – from grace, and into grace.

Bicycle wheels litter the ground of my life’s front doors,

spilled there, no doubt, when the sun fell last night,

shattering the horizon with a burst of stars.

In the peeking dawn, some strange cosmic peacocks must weave the mess of bikes and toys into wind chimes and whirly gigs,

unfathomable tangles of hurry and nonchalance.

 

The tangle melts by noon

into sticky pools of candy juice,  tears of joy, and puppy dog goop.

At 3 pm, colorful jungle chickens must sweep in,

a panoply of full color, cleaning all the debris up….

I step out to pick up children from school, ready to step

from sane spot to sane spot,

but it all looks fine – by then.

 

I rush off in a chariot, driving like fire, a phoenix ignited,

late,  then return

in a swirl of notes, paper and pencils, apple cores,

and daytime stories.

Bags are dropped, shoes fly off,

grass and leaves walk in and out,

filling the house with traffic, all afternoon.

Temperatures soar inside – food is cooked, spilled, and cleaned,

eaten or licked off the floor, dependent on your species and age.

 

Cooing like doves,

a calm ocean washes through from 7 to 8.

Homework – my life preserver – who knew!?

Dusk is running feet, bicycle races, skinned knees, bedtime stories,

followed by lovers kisses, if the stars align,

if the bed can be dug out from the clothing,

if the engine still has some fuel,

if she can tolerate the explosions,

of forming new universes,

of sparks shooting out of her head,

rocking the universe, body dissolving.

 

Finally, under the stars, I tuck myself away saying

Tomorrow will be a new day

I won’t be tired, I wont

spill Malt’o’meal on my business top

nor have dog’s try to lick it off while pretending

the seriousness of adulthood.

I won’t forget,

I won’t be late…

 

The mockingbirds sing, knowing that is a lie –

tomorrow it will be another

amazing grace.

 

 

by Tama Cathers  4/23/18

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Parenting

Isabelle’s Parenting Philosophy

Isabelle’s Parenting Philosophy

Isabelle, my hostess for the yoga weekend, is a lovely woman. She was older than I, and has a lot of yoga experience, having been an Iyengar instructor for years.  When she met TriYoga, however, it captured her – thus our meeting. She ended up hosting me for a weekend training.

She also has some lovely adult children. We talked a lot about parenting over the weekend. She had me fascinated, laughing, and cringing with her parenting philosophy. I’m writing it down because I want to remember. I am sharing it, because I think some of it is fantastic.

Her first language is French. Wanting her children to also speak French, she spoke only French in her house and to her children. This, she credits with getting them to be bilingual. Usually, the first generation that is bilingual, raise children who speak that language as second language only, or not at all.

I  think it has to do with allowing the children to have an option to use a different language to find the right word. If there’s no option they’re forced to find the right word in the parent’s naïve tongue, and therefore they keep that language as their first language. The language in the world around them becomes their second language. As they move into grade school and beyond, however, the second language, becomes their first language. This sounds confusing but that’s how it seems to work.

I think this is it great idea, though it caused the children some anxiety; wondering why their mother could speak English, but wouldn’t speak to them! I can see the outrage on their faces as they dealt with discovering this parenting ploy. However, to make their household work, they would have to capitulate. Thus, they held onto their mother’s language.

 

Her advice on teen-agers, given to her by an older friend, was as follows.  First – Find out what’s not negotiable – and stick to that.  Secondly, “Pick Three Rules.”  She said it didn’t matter what you chose, but picking and reducing your battles was primary.   This is brilliant, as it reduces fighting. It’s streamlines parenting to what’s really important. It’s flexible, as what’s really important will vary from household to household and family to family. Isabelle, herself, had two things that were not negotiable. Getting good grades, and being polite to family and society.

A third brilliant tactic; within the above framework, she discussed short-term consequences and long-term consequences with her children. This is how she described it to me:

Short-term consequences meant things that she could do something about – or choose to not, but would eventually pass. Did you get in trouble with the principal and get kicked out of school for a day? Too bad that your consequence. Did you get stuck with a flat tire, or run out of gas? That’s short term consequence. She could pick you up – or not.

Long-term consequence was for something that were going to change your life – for the rest of your lif,e and that a parent could do nothing about. Long-term consequences were something that she could not fix. This would include somebody being pregnant, somebody being dead, criminal records, and such. There’s no fix for these kind of life changing events.

Her questions for her kids, when they asked her to save them, were: Was somebody pregnant? Was somebody dead? Was there any other long-term consequence from the nights action or anything they wanted to tell her now?

 

That’s where Isabelle’s last rule comes in. (I love this one!) Parents should hear about things, especially problems, directly from the child. If they are heard directly from the child, the child is 50% forgiven. If they find out from someone else, say the principle, the police, the neighbors – No Forgiveness.   She didn’t tell her children with the consequence would be, and often times there wasn’t any consequence, when they told her, but this was her choice.  (they never knew that part.)  The key was, they did tell her, thus she knew a lot more than she would otherwise.

I love this because it doesn’t forgive them for their mistakes, but it keeps the parents informed. It is also a way for them to bring into the light the things that they know that they did that was wrong, to feel guilty about it, and the flexibility to make new choices next time.

 

So, Isabelle said, the story goes; if I borrow my son’s car, have a flat, and find a bong near the tire jack that is a short-term issue. There could be a long-term consequence for me, as I have to drive home, and the residue in the bong could land me in jail, and with a criminal record.  So, I may choose to do a number of things, but the son will likely never see the bong again. Isabelle’s response: save the bong, to give it to that child’s son or daughter, when they reach young adulthood.

I think that’s hilarious! I don’t know if she would actually do it. But it’s still funny. Isabelle’s mind works like mine. It’s important for children to be able to break rules and to feel very guilty about it. It’s important for them to know that they’ve done something wrong, without it always having a long-term consequence, or reflecting negatively on their personality. Everyone makes mistakes. In her view, if you, as a parent, don’t think consuming a glass of wine is the worst thing in the world, then having your children steal beer and drink it in the backyard without you knowing, is probably not the worst thing that could happen.  Is it worth punishing. I don’t know – you will have to decide on your own.

 

However, parents need to actually become more conservative, otherwise things tend to get out of hand. The parent who doesn’t mind a glass of wine, may says it’s okay for the children to have a glass of wine. However, they then have opened a door that will cause problems, as the children are likely to have 16 glasses of wine. That’s not OK.  So she advises becoming less permissive.  In Isabelle’s rules – yes, it is definitely worth punishing the stolen beer in the backyard.

Later, my husband, child and I went to see the teen action movie. Maybe you’ve seen it too, maybe not.  The movie starts with a teenage boy making some decisions that are not going to bode well for his future. He steals a cow to put in the team’s locker room – a stupid prank.  However, the cow escapes. The police come, the boy steals a car, has a high speed chase, flips the car, wrecking it and 3-6 other cars. As the scene unfolds my heart is in my mouth, fearful that he will kill somebody, which could happen as easily as not. These are those long-term consequences.

Pranks like stealing a cow and getting it into the schools locker room, that’s going to earn some short-term consequences, if things go well. Stealing a car – well, we don’t know about how that is going to go, not likely well. Wrecking a stolen car, flipping it and doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage…Now we are talking significant long-term consequences. The next set of bad choices the movie offers us involve racing at train to cross the tracks, with a load full of friends. They don’t make it.

However – it’s a movie. The character was saved by becoming a superhero.                  Though after this movie, they may not understand it, but for most teens, this isn’t going to be an option.

The balance between conservative and permissiveness is thin. There needs to be a place for children know what’s right and wrong, that there are consequences, and yet also a space for them to make mistakes, recognize those as mistakes, and make new choices.

I honestly love the three rules Isabelle has given me for parenting teens. It fits well in my parenting philosophy. I’ll be using these immediately.

 

by Tama Cathers

Credits: Photo – Brigitte Tohm 351791 Unsplash

Burnout and Stress, Food Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Yoga

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

Food Wisdom Herbs Yoga: A Pursuit of Health & Happiness

I am re-titling my blog page. When I started out, I wanted to share what I knew. I know lots of stuff, from herbs, to mothering, to medicine. What I was, however, was in search of the right stuff to make me stronger, more resilient, and to rebuild my body systems. I put up a lot of recipes. My search and growth lead me, and continue to lead me, down pathways different than I first envisioned. My subjects are broader and my search is still ongoing. The title I first chose, it’s not fitting me right now.

So as this is the beginning of the New Year, I am putting up my New Title, to better reflect this blog.

I will still be throwing in recipes, from my current explorations as well as from the past; you know, when I ate things normally.  In addition, I will be posting some of my stories chronologically.  I want others to be able to follow a progression.  I hope the story is one of growth and flowering, or at least change. I figure it will be, because, well – that’s what I do.

I have spent 9 months trying to figure my life out, inside and out.  Inside – that means how do I eat without craving, binging, eat for health, eat for vitality. My bar has fallen recently; all I want to do is eat without GI disturbances or pain.  Outside – that means how do I work in this world in a way that promotes health for others as well as myself. How do I negotiate the world of invariable stress, while remaining balanced, even through the tuff stuff.

I am still in search of that combination that brings us balance; parenting, working, studying, developing, self-care and nurturing others, relationships rocky and smooth, exercise, writing, insights, play…

I have come a long way already, from despair to curiosity regarding work. From hope, to despair, and now to curiosity about how to eat.  I am working hard at developing new parts of myself, and beginning to untangle the web of Unseeing that wraps around all women.  I am now parenting a teenager, and learning first hand about parental toxicity and alienation.  I am deep in two yoga teacher training courses, as well as a sex coaching program. They are very hard, but good work.  I am now married, and managing the tidal waves from that. So much good stuff, turned over and ready to be examined and learned from! It may sound horrible, but it is a really really good trip.

I hope you will continue to come along.

Let’s see where we can get to, together.

 

by Tama Cathers, ex-Marine, Snowshoe Bunny, Hollow Cave Deep Sea Diver, Monk, and Racer Driver….Nah! Not really!

 

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!

Life!

 

by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Travel

The Near the End of Our Trip to England and Paris – I feel like a healthier person

The Near the End of Our Trip,  I must say, that the trip has not been without it’s good moments – and a few bad ones. I have loved holding my daughter’s hand while we traveled through the cities. I loved watching her be a child, and watching her practice being adult-ishness. She is still in charge of much of the navigation, but also the playing. Bubbles, straws and drinks or a few rocks still provide an hour of entertainment. I am in charge of…well, everything else, including seeing so many famous works of art, landmarks, and architecture. Seeing these things has changed our understanding of history.

Overseas travel has gotten easier in the last 10 years. There seems to be no need to change much money, debit cards work everywhere except for artists, tips, and alms. The internet helps to navigate your almost every step. I semi-successfully used Uber, as well as Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Oddly enough, the trip has gone entirely according to plan. Even the parts ‘without plans’ went according to plan: adventures were had!

Other than those difficult incidents (or 1 notable day), it has been a good trip. About a week too long, but good. The trip itself has been one of the hardest travel experiences I’ve had; from planning, to travel, driving on the other side of the road, traveling alone with a child, going so many placee – all were challenging.  I feel that I have worked out my leadership and responsibility muscles, more than I am used to in my previous day-to-day life. That is okay. I need to develop these qualities to tolerate more extended periods of leadership.

While I feel tired (my feet hurt from so much travel by foot), and fatigued (from not enough sleep), and drained (from being the tour guide, decision maker, cook, laundress, chauffeur, cheerleader, counselor, parent and disciplinarian), I do not feel anxious in the way I did before I left. I no longer feel my worth is tied to other specific people’s opinion of me. I am getting a slightly tougher parental and personal skin (I hope.) I am not so scared of what comes next in my life, and who I will be, and if I will like myself in my next portion of life.

I feel like I have really had a break from my old life. I no longer feel like a XYorZ Professional. I feel like a person. I feel calmer. I feel healthier, in my soul. I think that is a great spot from which to start the next stage of my life.

Parenting, Poetry

Cannibal

Cannibal

 

Tender lamb,

veal,

suckling pig:

we eat our babies –

for youth’s the best to have.

Skin stretched fully with the fat of life, her skin glistens

translucent and new, full of tender succulence.

Over years and decades, the fatty fullness is used, depleted,

opacity, crinkles and wrinkles appear.

But for now – she is succulent, a nursling at my breast.

 

This is why we eat that suckling pig, the spring lamb, the new potato

so soft, so tender

This is why we say…

“I want to eat you up”

“I am going to nibble your toes”

“You’re so cute I could eat you”

“Aaarrr, I’m coming to get you”

Oxtail soup, pork bellies, headcheese

I munch, munch, munch her

little neck, belly and ears..

 

Gleefully she screams in mock horror, and wild abandon.

I look at my daughters cheeks,

life and goodness inside,

so fat and round.

She is two. Juicy, squealing, happy two.

You can just see the yummy youth filling out her corners

and understand why most of our little love words are about edibles:

sweet potato, pumpkin pie,

dumpling, honey, apple of my eye….

 

She kicks and shrieks as I eat her up

and when I stop,

she says

DO IT AGAIN!

 

 

by Tama Cathers

 

copywrite

 

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

Silence

Silence

 

After 3 to 5 hours of hiking, baskets full of silence fill to space between us. Silence filles the sweeping landscape, as well.  I love this time in the hike.   We walk, breathe, appreciate, are together – in silence.  The silences that come before are of different quality. Sometimes they are angry at the hills going up and down.  Sometimes they are filled with daydreams.  Admittedly, sometimes they are filled with panting. However, this time of silence comes with contentment and togetherness.  No just together with each other, but together with everything, the wind, the hills, the grass… All of it.

 

I am fortunate to have a child that I weaned on grassy silences and miles under her feet.  She will hike 6 hours for the price of a couple of shared scones and a package of blueberries.  Even better, whenever I ask if she wants to go to the road, she asks if that is how the trail goes, and if it doesn’t go to the road, neither does she want to.  I am lucky that way, as sometimes I would definitely go to the road myself, missing some of the beautiful sites!  She amazes me, tolerating hours of rain, hours away from Percy Jackson books. I don’t know why, sometimes. However, I am always grateful.

 

As we hopped down the rocks of Hadrian’s Wall Trail, I realized that I have an opportunity. Like my daughter, I have the opportunity to create who I am in my next tomorrow.  I was thinking about my foot, the plantar fasciitis I acquired the last year. Stress related. Standing long hours on a hard floor. The running, I believe, was just ancillary.  Today, it is bothering me a bit, but yoga, physical therapy, and destressing have changed it substantially.  Today, I am hopping down rocks, flying towards my next future, just as she is flying towards her first future.  I can choose something thoughtfully, something that allows me health, that is lower in stress.  What a wonderful gift!

 

Before we set out on this trip, I told my fiance that I was happier, that I could finally feel the lessening of stress.  That is wonderful.  As it this.  This is different.  It’s like the idea is really viscerally dawning on me. I have a new start!

 

We both have the opportunity to choose a future. I am hopeful for both of us.

 

Today’s Favorite Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding