Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Miscellaneous Thoughts and Musings...

       I am glad to know that there are people reading this...It keeps me inspired and thinking about reflections to record for all of you folks! Also, As a side note regarding my last post...that Holiday Card wishing my family and friends Peace and Joy in the new year??? Well, I mailed some of them off in the form of an empty envelope with no card inside. It would appear as if I could use some peace...and quiet in this new year that is almost upon us.
       This is always a time of year that I find myself yearning for Simplicity in my daily routine. I find this urge is taken care of with a few weeks of doing things a bit differently than I normally do to calm the stress and sensation of constantly being overwhelmed. As much as I would like, I cannot disappear into the woods and never come back, so these are a few of my fall-backs when things get intense. I thought I would share them with you. Thanks to Lynn's previous Post to making me sit down and think about my coping strategies for stressful and complicated times...

              1. Get back in the kitchen and COOK.... I spend hours on end in my car driving from job site to market, to school pick-ups, to my parents, and back. Nutrition is lacking for a person on the go. Just when I think I couldn't feel worse and more fatigued, I get back in the kitchen. I immediately feel better as I slice into a lemon to squeeze over the Mustard greens that I just sauteed with farm fresh onion and foraged Mushrooms. As Alton Brown once said, We are fat and sick and dying because we have handed a basic, fundamental and intimate function of life over to corporations. We choose to value our nourishment so little that we entrust it to strangers. This is insanity. Feed yourselves. Feed your loved ones. And for God's sake feed your children."    Remembering this ethos and cooking to it never fails to ground me. 

            2.  I Read....something, anything, that reminds me of my path and the general ideologies that I adhere to... We all have those moments when we know that we could be doing better and we know how to do better, but it's just that initial step back onto our path that is sometimes the hardest. For example-Whenever I feel that I could do better as parent, I also turn to Kim John Paine's Simplicity Parenting. My mother gave me this book when I had just opened up my second business and I was on the edge of the parenting cliff with an infant and a wild toddler, somehow she knew, just as she always does. This book has changed my entire view and "method" of being a mother. I reread it anytime I need a reminder of  how important it is to reduce the unnecessary in our families life and our surroundings....It is also a handy motivator to throw out all of the clutter and junky toys around your house (always a plus). 

         3. Work HARD, harder than ever, and more than usual. This may not work for you, some people can't, or simply don't have the drive to sustain days and weeks of giving a job or task their absolute all. I myself, find it soothing. Taking a day off, or half=a$$ing my work is always a sure fire way to start the guilt wagon. I need to be completely and totally confident and satisfied when I go to relax that I have done everything in the best possible way that I could that day.  Whether its scrubbing baseboards for the cleaning company, mixing up my products, or raising an 80 lb Tent in the hot sun for a five hour market, I need a hard days worth of work to set my mind at ease. There is nothing shameful with having to work manually or laboriously, no matter what our current social culture will say. I do what I need to do and I am proud of it all...too many people are dying slowly inside their cubicles. My physical abilities and work ethic give me a sense of important aspect of our social emotional health. Like I said, it may not be your cup of tea, but there is nothing like going to bed after you have worked as hard as you possibly could all day...bliss! 

So there is what I do to get grounded and to stay there. Recently,  I have turned back to these three tasks and will probably continue with them until the New Year arrives. Is there anything more Amazing and Inspiring than ending a year and beginning a new one knowing that you have all the tools to implement change in your daily life? -KATE

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tis The Season...

       So Far this December has been a memorable and enjoyably hazy blur of work and valuable time with Dahlia and Greyson. I view the beginning of December as reminder to slow down, take stock, and enjoy the closing of another year.
       I always rolled my eyes when my mother went into "Holiday Patrol Mode"...and now I find myself slipping into her soft and nostalgic ways with a certain ease, as if I hadn't just ended my 'angsty' twenty something years.
        Dahlia and Grey have enjoyed lighting our Advent Candles, reading the Holiday books, and playing with the ultra breakable ornaments on the is the current score for broken holiday ornaments: Grey-2 Tree-0.
     I hope everyone is having an enjoyable season filled with traditions (whatever they may be), family, and lots of food.  Here is the Perrin family Christmas card, some of which I sent out in the form of an empty envelope...whoops!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Want to Run Away

Guest Post By Lynn Shattuck, a writer and mother of two.


I used to fantasize about living in a wood cabin. It would have a cozy, romantic sleeping loft, a simple kitchen and a place to write. I would gaze out the window at pine trees and take long walks. I would have luscious pillows of time to write, play, rest, read and exercise.  

Instead, I live in a lovely old house that has become a jungle of plastic toys. My past week included three birthday celebrations and the inspection of a bigger house that we had under contract. This was on top of taking care of the kids and working after they go to bed at night. On top of attempting to get ready for the impending holidays.

I find myself running from birthday party to playdate, overwhelmed and exhausted. My body pulses with cortisol. I am impatient with my kids. Daylight wanes, evaporating my energy.

Somehow, I have chosen this.

Perhaps the very act of having two children has complicated life immensely. Or maybe it’s because the partner I chose doesn’t yearn for simplicity in the same way I do, and the compromise is a busier life. Maybe in a parallel life, I live off the grid in a little straw house with a husband named Maple, and we pass the days puttering in our organic vegetable garden and washing laundry by hand.

Maybe life isn’t quite so black and white.

Whatever the cause, I find myself in the midst of a life that is busier and more complicated than feels comfortable.

Strangely, the best solution I’ve found has been to add a little more to the swirling chaos.

Usually when I get too busy and overwhelmed, the first things to get squeezed out are acts of self-care. Exercise, healthy foods and water get replaced with extra coffee and comfort foods.

So I’m trying something different, something counterintuitive. I’m adding stuff.

My husband I have been doing the Couch to 5K, using the app on our iPhones (which my parallel life me would surely scoff at). I have never enjoyed running, but lately I have been craving it. I want to be fast, efficient. I want to keep up with myself. So we take turns heading out into the winter air while the other referees the kids. We jog and walk through the nearby cemetery. There is something about moving my body faster that lifts the extra fog from my brain, leaving me sweaty, focused and present. The bare trees (and the gravestones) remind me that nature is slowing down. Everything morphs, every phase passes; the busy ones, the hard ones, the sweet ones.

And while physically moving faster, my brain slows down. The chattering shards of thoughts disperse. My mood lifts. I focus only on getting through the next 20 seconds of running.This reminds my body that I can only do one thing at a time: focus on the next task at hand. Breathe. Hear the crunch of the leaves. Move your body.

Right now, there is no cabin, no simple life. But something about running leaves me able to deal a little better. To meet the chaos with gratitude for this full life, these busy days.

What do you do when things get busier and more complicated than you’d like?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's a Work in Progress...

           I hate the term "Going Green". When people use those words, I always want to respond, "you mean doing the right thing?" I don't mean to sound pejorative, however, as they say- the truth hurts. Our culture (most cultures now,  thanks to rapid globalization) is drenched in the idea of ease and disposability and I am nowhere near immune. Raising two young children, keeping a home, and owning two companies is exhausting. Sometimes the thought of not doing an extra load of dish towels every two days seems alluring when I think of how quick and dirty paper towels are. Then I think about my paper towel trash sitting in a land fill because I was too lazy to do an extra load of laundry. I was mortified when I bought paper plates for my two year olds birthday party. (insert excuse here).
         I always like to remind myself that ease of use doesn't equal beneficial, and that living "green" is not some trendy item purchased at Target. Its a progression, that I am moving towards.
        I do have one item in my home that has resisted my setbacks in terms of being eco-friendly, and it's my 7 year old MacBook. It works. Yes, its old and a bit slow. Sure, I would love a new shiny MacBook Pro and I have had a few versions in cyber carts just waiting for me to push the "Purchase" button. This has gone on for a year now. I just can't bring myself to acquire a new computer, when this one still works. Its my hold out. It anchors me to the direction that I want my consumer habits to go amidst the craze of hyper-consumption.
Photo: Anna Low. 2012. 

    My mother purchased this computer for me when I was on the cusp of starting one of my "business ideas" many years ago...(She has always had an over abundance of faith in my entrepreneurial spirit). I have used this machine when I was so broke that I had to get a horrific second job serving rich ladies over priced tea, and it serves me just the same now that I am navigating two successful business endeavors of my own. This old and dirty computer will last me as long as I invest in it...kind of like a large planet that I know of. You have probably heard of it, it's the only one capable of sustaining human life.

“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the 'environmentalist' view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.”  E.O. Wilson.