Friday, April 29, 2011

Celebrating Beltane/Mayday

Beltane is traditionally celebrated on April 30 or May 1 (or most traditionally, overnight from April 30-May 1). Some of us may be familiar with pop culture representations of Beltane, which focus on the celebration of the union between the Great Mother and her young Horned God. Their coupling brings fresh new life on Earth. Some form of this Great Rite is enacted on this sabbat in nearly every modern pagan circle. The Great Rite symbolizes the sacred marriage, or sexual union, of the the Lord and Lady [you can read what I wrote about the Great Rite here at MotherWheel]. Often the rite is performed symbolically by a male and female who place a knife (a phallic symbol) into a chalice (a female or yonic symbol). In Old Europe, whole villages would celebrate May Day by slipping away into the woods for indiscriminate sexual encounters. [source]. But Beltane is about more than sex.

Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara. It traditionally marked the arrival of summer in ancient times. Beltane, and its counterpart Samhain, divide the year into its two primary seasons, winter (Dark Part) and summer (Light Part). As Samhain is about honoring Death, Beltane, its counter part, is about honoring Life. It is the time when the sun is fully released from his bondage of winter and able to rule over summer and life once again.
Beltane, like Samhain, is a time of "no time" when the veils between the two worlds are at their thinnest. No time is when the two worlds intermingle and unite and the magic abounds! It is the time when the Faeries return from their winter respite, carefree and full of faery mischief and faery delight...When the veils are so thin it is an extremely magical time, it is said that the Queen of the Faeries rides out on her white horse. Roving about on Beltane eve She will try to entice people away to the Faeryland.
Beltane translated means "fire of Bel" or "bright fire" - the "bale-fire". Bel is the known as the bright and shinning one, a Celtic Sun God. Beli is the father, protector, and the husband of the Mother Goddess.
Beltane is the time of the yearly battle between the Welsh God of death and the hero Gwythur for the hand of Creudylad [the beautiful maiden]. A myth of the battle of winter and summer for the magnificent blossoming earth.
The Bel fire is a sacred fire with healing and purifying powers. The fires further celebrate the return of life, fruitfulness to the earth and the burning away of winter. The ashes of the Beltane fires were smudged on faces and scattered in the fields.
Celebration includes frolicking throughout the countryside, maypole dancing, leaping over fires to ensure fertility, circling the fire three times (sun-wise) for good luck in the coming year, athletic tournaments feasting, music, drinking, children collecting the May: gathering flowers. children gathering flowers, hobby horses, May birching and folks go a maying". Flowers, flower wreaths and garlands are typical decorations for this holiday, as well as ribbons and streamers.

  • Sexual symbols, such as the maypole, or the dagger and chalice.
  • The color green
  • "Flowers are a crucial symbol of Beltane, they signal the victory of Summer over Winter and the blossoming of sensuality in all of nature and the bounty it will bring"[source].
  • "Water is another important association of Beltane, water is refreshing and rejuvenating, it is also imperative to life. It is said that if you bathe in the dew gathered before dawn on Beltane morn, your beauty will flourish throughout the year. Those who are sprinkled with May dew are insured of health and happiness. There are other folk customs such as drinking from the well before sunrise on Beltane Morn to insure good health and fortune" [source].

a Green Man cake
  • Bannock, or oat scones (this isn't a traditional Beltane recipe, but it's one we like. Here is a more traditional recipe)
  • Make a Green Man cake (a cake decorated to look like the Green Man)
  • Serve punch or water with ice cubes that have flowers frozen into them
  • Spring salad
  • Sweet breads, usually with sweetmeat or spices in the center
  • Colorful fruit
  • Dairy foods
  • Honey

leaping the bonfire (source link)
  • Wear bright colors
  • Wear flowers in your hair
  • Have a bonfire! If you're daring, make it a low narrow one (or not!), and jump over it
  • Raise a May Pole, and dance the ribbons around it (here are directions, you can use a branch or a tetherball or volleyball post for your pole)
    winding the ribbons around the may pole
  • Gather flowers, and decorate the house with them
  • Take flowers to your friends and neighbors
  • Gather the first herbs of the season
  • Go on a picnic
  • Wash your face in the dew at sunrise on Mayday (or in the evening dew on Beltane evening)
  • If it rains, go out and get your face and hair wet in it, feeling the blessing of the life-giving water
  • Hold a mock battle between Winter and Summer (they did this in ancient Scandinavia)
  • Make love with your spouse outdoors (in the woods, or in the privacy of your own backyard) (If you didn't follow the link before, check out my post about the Great Rite)
  • Go on a walk in nature. 
  • Look for fairies! 
  • Read fairy stories
  • Decorate your yard with ribbons, flowers and shiny things to attract fairies
  • Build little fairy homes in your yard with rocks, leaves, sticks, ribbons, buttons, etc
  • Say a blessing over your garden (the space or the new starts growing)
  • Read in the scriptures about when God put plants on the Earth
It is the child's unrestrained expression of bliss and delight that is what Beltane is all about. It is the sheer joy of running through fields, picking flowers, rapturing in the sunlight, delighting in the fragrance of spring, dancing in the fresh dew covered grass. Our children guide us through the natural abandonment of our adult sensibilities and show us how to take grand pleasure, warmth and bliss from the gift of Beltane.


Our Family Goals

I wrote this during the first year of our marriage, and posted it on our wall. I don't actually have a copy on the wall at the moment, but I do go back and look at this periodically, and I continue to feel precisely the same as I did then about what is valuable in family life. So I thought I would share with you.

Academic or vocational achievement in their field of choice

The ability to judge well, and make educated decisions

A love for God and an eternal perspective on life

Of who you are and why you are here

To stand up for who you are and what you know

Honesty, charity, respect, patience, gentleness, morality, humility, service

Having all the skills necessary to maintain a house, home, and family

To be well-rounded, with an understanding of many things, without obsession of any

What are your family's priorities?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going to the Temple

As I shared recently, I've been thinking a lot about some churchy things lately. This month we had a trip up to Anchorage for a weekend, and since we were staying with friends I was able to arrange for my friend to watch the kids so that I could go to the temple.

I tried to go with an open mind, asking beforehand that I would find some clarity or answers on some of the things that have been on my mind. I do feel that I found some of that, and some of it is things I won't share it here. But there were several "aha" moments which I feel are entirely appropriate to share, because they don't divulge anything of the ceremonies.

Before I even entered the front doors, I noticed the windows above the door. There is etching in the glass of a circle within a square. That's a fairly common decorative motif (and appears in windows in several parts of this temple as well as carved in the stone), but that particular symbol struck me that day. It reminded me of the saying about being a "square peg in a round hole" (even though in this case the circle was inside the square hole). It felt like a little reminder from God that it's ok to be different from other people around me (in or out of the church). So long as I am honest with myself, and honest with my God, and doing my best, I don't have to be the same--or even try to be the same--as anyone else.  I can be different. I can be peculiar.
As soon as I stepped inside the front door, I saw a coatroom. There was a little sign that indicated that everyone should leave their coats and shoes in that front room. I have been to several other temples and none of them had such a room. Every Alaskan I know has a shoes-off policy though, it's just common sense in a place with snow half the year (and sand on the snow), and with mud during the other half! So it didn't surprise me that a building with white carpet would have a place near the door for leaving boots. Since the dressing room lockers are usually small, it's also nor surprise that they would offer a place for hanging bulky coats. However, I was not thinking about those things when I saw the sign. What came immediately to my mind was the verse from Exodus 3, where Moses sees the Lord in the burning bush, and as he begins to approach the Lord says "put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." I was struck by the appropriateness of removing our shoes at the door, of the symbolism of it, and I had a wistful moment of wishing that all temples had such coatrooms.

After I had gone inside, I asked directions to the women's dressing room. I had never been to the Anchorage temple before, and even though it is small, I figured I'd prefer to go directly in the correct direction! Someone pointed me down the hallway. I went down, and saw a door with a sign that indicated it was a dressing room. I reached for the handle, which was a lever style like the one in this picture. It wouldn't move. I tried it a couple of times and still it would not budge. I wondered if perhaps this was a special dressing room (a handicapped-accessible one perhaps) and it was occupied and thus locked. So I went on down the hall to find the main dressing room. I saw three more doors before the hallway ended, but all were labeled, and none were dressing rooms. So I went back, but was still unable to open the door. So I went back out to the front, and found a temple worker, and told her that I thought the dressing room was locked. She smiled and said "no it's not" and led me back to it. She pushed on the door and it opened. The handle did not--could not--turn. The door did not latch, the handle was decorative more than functional (in that it was unnecessary). I felt foolish, but the temple worker assured me that newcomers made that same mistake regularly.
And the lesson I took away from that? There are often unlocked doors right in front of us. They will open with the gentlest nudge. However if we don't know the right way to open them, we will remain stuck outside. We may not even be able to tell that they are open, we may be convinced that they are locked to us. But they are not. Truth is there. Healing is there. Forgiveness is there. Peace is there. We can have these things if we will ask the right questions of the right people, and learn how to open the doors.

And ye shall receive
And ye shall find
And it shall be opened unto you

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spilled oil, er, milk

Recently, several of my friends shared the same link on facebook. This is common, because a lot of us have mutual friends and mutual interests, and so a link to an article about breastfeeding or nutrition or even just a funny comic will get shared and re-shared. In this case though, friend after friend was posting the link with comments such as "wow, I needed to read this today" and "what an important reminder." It was a link to a blog post someone had written, so I mosied on over and read it.

Why I don't cry (or yell) over spilled milk

(it's a pretty short post, feel free to run over and read it if you like, or here is the readers digest version: 3 year old threw her brother's shoes in the lake. Mom didn't flip out or yell at anybody. She also did not flip out when a little one pulled her expensive camera off the counter and broke it. Because people matter more than things.)

As I read, I thought, what is so groundbreaking about this? Why are so many people re-posting it? (apparently she's had over 4,000 hits on that blog post in the last week) And then it hit me, oh yeah, it's because, like her, I am in that minority.  That minority that looks at stuff as just stuff. I'm trying not to feel (or appear) stuck-up over this, because I have plenty of flaws of my own. But on this one, I think I get it.
I didn't always get it. Even 5 years ago I didn't get it very well. I believed it in theory but it was hard in practice. But then an idea got planted in my head that it was healthy to always "attribute to [a person] the best motives that are consistent with the facts" and I started practicing that. Plus we moved to Alaska and got rid of a lot of stuff, which helped me learn to be less attached to specific things.
It's just a matter of practice. I'm not a better person, or a smarter person, or a more perfect mother (oh trust me I'm SO not!), but I decided to make this a priority, so I practice it. So I'm getting good at it.

Things can be fixed or replaced (or lived without)
People, not so much.

And I would so much rather raise healthy kids (who will then be equipped to raise their own healthy kids) than make some quip about "I can offer to pay for their therapy."

I admit to a loud, frustrated "aaaaaarrrgh!" when my 16mo unscrewed the lid of a 5gal jug of oil and tipped it over, pouring a gallon plus of oil across my kitchen floor. It took several days (and a lot of Dawn dish soap) to get all the oil off the floor and out of the cleaning rags. My in-front-of-the-sink rug is still not quite the same, and probably never will be. It also meant dinner got delayed that night because I was mopping up oil. Did Eagle intentionally unscrew the lid and push over the jug? Definitely. Did he know what he was doing--what the consequences would be? Well, he does love opening lids, but I'm pretty sure the actual spill wasn't anticipated. Was he trying to be naughty, or ruin my evening? No! He was exploring. Hey, look, there's a jug. I wonder what's in it. Oooo, look, I can get the lid off, aren't I smart? Ooo, look, there's something in there, I wonder what it is...

It's normal for kids to be curious. And unless physical/mental/spiritual danger is imminent, I typically let them go ahead and explore. They are kids!!!

Which isn't to say I don't teach them, or that I don't have any expectations of them. If a preschooler explores the idea of helping himself to some candy in the store, I help him go put it back and explain that we can't take things we don't pay for. If a 9 year old did it (which he didn't, but just as an example), I would express my extreme disappointment in his choice, and review commandment #8 thou shalt not steal, and then help or direct him in making it right.

I try to avoid most of the issues by babyproofing the house, or keeping certain items hidden or stored out of reach. But when my 4 year old intentionally leaves his brand new (one day old) boots at the park, and I don't realize it until three days later (because he's always barefoot anyway), I do feel frustrated. He loved the boots for the first 20 hours, but then apparently he hated them. $18 seems a little steep for only a day of wear... but it is what it is. The boots are gone. There is nothing to be gained by yelling at him. I did tell him I was sad, and that if he didn't want them he should have given them to me to save for his little brother. (They were dinosaur boots!) But even here, was Bear trying to be naughty? No. He had tired of the boots. In his mind, leaving them at the park was a perfectly logical way to no longer have them.

There is nothing to be gained by yelling.
There is also nothing to be gained by feeling mad.

Learn the lesson (if there is one), and then move on.

And keep the oil on a higher shelf. ☺

Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Days--Day 18

Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity.

Being left alone
 I'm independent and I don't mind being by myself or doing things by myself...but the idea of being left alone--abandoned, or if something happened to my spouse and I were single again--that gives me nightmares.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ Conquers

Three years ago I shared an Easter Hymn here and mentioned that I had used it as the basis for a church talk. This has been on my mind a great deal lately, and I'm feeling impressed to share a larger portion of the talk I gave at that time. Lucky for you, I keep the word documents of all my talks. ☺

As I read through the hymn, I felt prompted to focus on the final line of each verse—the lines about conquering. So I will be speaking about how the atonement helps us conquer these three things: pain, death, and fear.

That Easter morn, a grave that burst
Proclaimed to man that “Last and First”
Had ris’n again
And conquered pain.
The atonement covers several types of pain. The first, and I think the easiest to understand, is the pain of sin. When we commit sins, we feel guilt and separation from Christ. The atonement gives us the ability to repent, and therefore the ability to conquer the pain of sin.
But the healing effects of the atonement are not limited to sins. Isaiah taught “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Christ’s sufferings in Gethsamane cover our sins, and the guilt and pain associated with them, but they also cover our grief and sorrows. When we truly understand the atonement, we realize that we can give our sorrows to Christ in the same way we can give Him our sins. Children seem to know this innately—they can be so sad and yet comforted so easily. Adults struggle with this, but it is something we can learn too, and with practice, it becomes easier.
This is not to say that it is wrong to grieve sometimes, over the death of a loved one for example, but to wallow in sorrows and depression is not the Lord’s way, and the atonement can help us to rise above those pains.

This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away,
Took living breath
And conquered death.

There are two kinds of death—physical and spiritual. Christ’s atonement overcame both. Physical death is separation of the body and spirit. Spiritual death is separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus’ atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father.
I have already talked about the gift of repentance, and how it overcomes pain and spiritual death. We know the doctrine about physical death, and that through Christ we can all be resurrected. But I want to share a personal experience about when I came to understand that principle.
One morning, when I was 8 years old, my parents called us kids into their room. I was the oldest, and had four siblings—ages 6, 5, 3, and 9 months. Mom was crying, and Dad gathered us all onto their bed and explained that our baby sister had died in the night. I still had the innocence and pure faith of childhood, and my recent baptismal covenants were fresh on my mind, so I took it for granted that Amy had returned to Jesus and everything was ok. I missed her, but I did not really grieve. I was even confused by my parents tears, and brought my dad my new bible and pointed out a verse we had read together just days earlier, from the chapter about Jarius’ daughter: “why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” My parents printed that verse in Amy’s funeral program. And so it is that the atonement brings us comfort with the knowledge that death is not a permanent loss, but just a resting time—a waiting for the resurrection.

Thus we in gratitude recall
And give our love and pledge our all,
Shed grateful tear
And conquer fear.
The gospel is full of symbols. When we take the sacrament, the bread and water are symbols of Christ’s body and blood—we all know that part. But the actual act of partaking of them is a symbol of our commitment back to Him—to keep His spirit within us, to remember him, and to live as He taught. We “give our love and pledge our all” As we do so, we are able to conquer fear.

I find the progression of the song interesting—first to conquer pain, then death, then fear. As though fear were the biggest of the three. Actually, I think fear IS the hardest one to conquer. There are many kinds of pain—physical pain can be remedied with proper attention or medicine; guilt can be cured with repentance, grief is relieved with time and the comforting knowledge of eternal life. There are two kinds of death, temporal and spiritual, both relieved by the atonement. But fear is difficult to pin down, and creeps in when least expected.
We have been taught that fear is the opposite of faith, and since faith is the basis of the rest of religion, then fear would be religion’s greatest adversary. The scriptures teach us that faith casts out fear. Without the atonement, we would have no eternal life to look forward to or have faith in: The atonement is the basis of hope and faith, therefore the atonement conquers fear—nothing else could do so. Jeffrey R Holland states that “the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event.”
Christ says “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Looking to Christ, following His commandments, and accepting His atonement, will bring in faith and cast out fear.

A metaphor occurred to me that I wanted to share.
When I was expecting my first baby I read a lot of childbirth books. One concept I came across many times was called the “Fear-tension-pain cycle” The idea is that when the laboring woman is scared of what her body is doing, then she gets tense, and being tense makes it harder for her body to labor, so she feels pain...the pain makes her scared, so she becomes more tense, and so the cycle continues. The books then go on to suggest ways to release fear and tension, which, in turn, alleviates the pain of childbirth. To bring it back to the atonement—when we are afraid to turn to Christ, and to give him our sins and sorrows, we end up stumbling around on our own, causing ourselves even greater pain. If we will learn to release our fears, to replace them with faith, then we will find that the pain also fades away.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It can't be thrush if you don't have the right symptoms, right?

We've got thrush (also known as a yeast infection of the mother's breast/baby's mouth).
We don't look like we've got it, and so we didn't figure it out for a long time.
But we do have it.
I'm writing today in the hopes that maybe someone else will read this and be able to spare themselves six months of pain by correctly diagnosing their own thrush MUCH faster than we did!

I was pretty sure we got our first case of yeast late last December. It seemed logical to me to have a sugar overgrowth during Christmas cookie season, and then my breasts got sore and nursing started to hurt. Around the first of the year I did a several day intensive no-sugar-or-yeast-in-any-form diet, and it cleared up. Problem solved!

Then in early March or so I started having shooting pain when we nursed, and thought it might be thrush, but I didn't have the classic symptoms (redness or itching), and when I tried a nipple cream (for the pain) it improved within hours. So my local *IBCLC and I concluded that perhaps it had just been chapped nipples. It can't be thrush if you don't have the symptoms, right?

*(international board certified lactation consultant)

But it is back. A few days ago, literally overnight, we went from normal to nursing pain so intense that I was considering forcing Eagle to wean cold-turkey that day. When he latched on it felt like dozens of needles or knives were stabbing into me, fire radiating out from the nipple and up through my breast. It continued and only increased during the nursing, and when he was done it hurt to put my bra back on. I refused him the breast most of the day because it hurt so much.
But it can't be thrush if you don't have the right symptoms, right?
After putting Eagle to bed that night I happened to be chatting online with a friend of mine who lives in another state. I had forgotten that she is an IBCLC, but when I mentioned the pain she said "that sounds like yeast." I explained that I used to think so to but then the situation in March had left me with the conclusion that no, it wasn't yeast because my symptoms were wrong. I suspected that the pain was a combination of chapped nipples and Eagle getting 6 new teeth in the last month. She asked me what my symptoms were.  I told her. She told me that she would bet money that it was yeast. Apparently she had had a similar non-typical-symptomatic case of thrush, and it took 6 months for her lactation consultant to figure out what it was. That's part of why she decided to become an IBCLC herself. She sent me to a couple of websites with more comprehensive lists of yeast/thrush symptoms (especially Dr Jack Newman's page here), and it was eye-opening.

Here is an excerpt from another breastfeeding site:
Symptoms in the mother include severe stinging, burning pain, which may be on the surface of the nipples, or may be felt deep inside the breast. Pain often continues throughout the feeding and in between feedings - especially immediately after. (Nipple pain caused by incorrect positioning and latch on rarely hurts except when the baby is nursing). Sometimes sharp, shooting pain radiates from the nipple into the breast or into the back or arm. Nipples are sensitive to light touch, so it may hurt to have clothes rubbing against them, and it may be very painful to take a shower and have the hot water spray touch the breast. Mothers describe the pain as 'liquid fire', 'hot needles', 'razor blades', 'a piece of glass stuck in my nipple', etc. I've heard many mothers say that they would rather go through labor again than have yeast on their nipples or in their milk ducts, which gives you an idea of just how painful this condition is.
So I concluded that we definitely have yeast. I started doing some things at home, but also made an appointment to go in to the doctor to get nystatin. Nystatin is an anti-fungal, and designed specifically to be safe to ingest. Gentian violet is a common "natural" treatment for thrush, but it is NOT supposed to be ingested, and since we're dealing with the inside of my baby's mouth...well, I felt like I'd like to get some nystatin. So we went to the doctor. She looked in his mouth and said nope, he doesn't have thrush. He does have some markings on his tongue, but apparently that is just a geographic tongue, which is not the same. (As an interesting note, though, now that I'm reading up on geographic tongue, though it is considered benign, it can be overcome by doing basically the same things as you do to treat yeast...)
The nipples may look puffy, scaly, flaky, weepy, or have tiny blisters. They may be itchy. The color is often a deep pink. The nipples may also look completely normal, but be terribly painful (just as the baby's mouth may be infected, but not have white patches). Generally, the nipples don't "look as bad as they feel', so there is often a tendency to underestimate the severity of the problem based simply on visual examination of the nipples. If you have yeast on your nipples, or if your baby has it in his mouth, your milk supply will often decrease. Pain inhibits the let-down reflex, and babies with yeast often do not nurse as efficiently as they do when their mouths are not sore. Yeast infections may also lead to plugged duct and mastitis.

Oh, wait, supply may decrease? Hmm, so perhaps this is why a few months ago (maybe around December?!) Eagle started nursing twice as often as he previously had?
And the baby (and mom) can have thrush without anything visible on the mouth/nipple? So, in other words, if our symptoms show it, we SHOULD be treating it, even if the doctor says we don't have it.

In any case, it seems are are left with treating this entirely on our own. So here is what we are doing, in case you want to know:
  • Treat both mom's nipples and baby's mouth, even if only one (or neither) of you has visible symptoms. Any topical treatments will probably get to both of you anyway.
  • Probiotics. I am taking 50 billion (no, that's not a typo) at least 50 billion organisms of probiotics per day. The best probiotics are the ones that have to be refrigerated, but if you can't find that then find something with multiple kinds of bacilli in it, and that has a high enough dosage. 
  • Coconut oil. Eat several Tbs a day if you can (be careful, too much will give you the runs...but at least a couple Tbs a day!) Also use it externally on your nipples.
  • Stop eating sugar, especially refined sugar. You can allow yourself minimal amounts of natural sugar (in fruit, for example) but try to stick with lower-sugar content foods even there. Here is a list with the sugar content of some common fruits.
  • Get some ultraviolet rays on your affected parts. You could go tanning, or you could sunbathe topless. At the very least, try some topless nursing next to a big open window. Bring a book and stay a while. (Lucky for me, I live on the second story, and none of my nearby neighbors have second stories, so I can get away with this!)
  • Gentian violet, as I mentioned, is commonly recommended as a treatment for thrush. It is an anti-viral, and I have been using it, but I am doing so with care. I followed Dr Jack Newman's guide for how to put it on (great advice about putting olive oil on the baby's face first!) but due to the risks about ingesting it, I put it on AFTER the baby nurses rather than before, or I put it on and let it dry completely (at least several minutes) before he nurses. That way I am minimizing any ingestion. Also, as a note, if you use GV, be sure to use nursing pads and/or an old bra--I did both and still got purple stains on my bra. I also laid an old blanket in my baby's bed before putting him down, so any drool or dribbles would be on the old blanket rather than a nice one--and I'm very glad I did so!
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract (not grape seed extract!!) I have not tried this yet (I'm going shopping to look for it this afternoon), but I've heard other mothers swear by it. Dr Jay Gordon has a page explaining why he recommends this over other treatments, and also how to use it.
  • I have been making daily smoothies, with my 5Tbs of liquid probiotics, 2 Tbs of coconut oil, half a banana, 4-5 frozen strawberries, and a little milk to smooth it out.  Last night we made a batch of unflavored/unsweetened yogurt so today I'll use that instead of the banana. The coconut oil clumps up a bit when it's that cold, so you have to let it mix in the blender for about a whole minute. It's pretty good!

This page has links to just about anything and everything you might need or want to know about thrush (including most of what I've linked in this post).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

30 Days--Day 17

Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

Friday, April 15, 2011

30 Days--Day 16

Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you.


"Be the change you want to see in the world"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

30 Days--Day 13

Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist.
This is remarkably hard, because I don't have just one favorite. However, I have almost never had a 'miss' on a song from Michael W Smith. I really like so much of his music (particularly the things he's been writing since the mid 90s).
Here are a couple of my most favorite of his songs:

 Live the Life
I also really like Move in Me but I can't find a video of it. However the lyrics are here.

My runners up:
Stephen Curtis Chapman
John Denver
Neil Diamond
Indigo Girls

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Treasure Map

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:21

This year I decided to join in with the April New Moon Tradition of Treasure Mapping. The idea is to make a visual representation of my hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations for the coming year. It seems to me that making a visible reminder of where I want my heart to be is a good and productive thing.

For a description of how treasure mapping is typically done, see here
To start off with, the page is divided into 9 sections like this
1-abundance/wealth (things I want)
2-fame/reputation (how others see me)
3-relationship (marriage)
4-family (roots)
5-health and self (how I see me)
6-creativity and creation (including the people I've made--my kids)
7-self knowledge (and travel)
8-work and service
9-helpful people and angels (spirituality)

First I did a rough draft (on actual paper), dividing the page into the 9 sections, and then writing words into each area of what I wanted to put there. Some of my words were "glow" "wisdom" "stories" "clarity" "peace" "bless" "sisterhood" and so on.

Once I got on the computer, I chose to paint each section a separate color before I began putting on the images. Then I put on images that expressed the words I had chosen for each area. Some images are solidly within their category, some crossover between categories. That is intentional.☺

(you can double click on it to see it bigger)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Musings on the Threefold Goddess

The Goddess--an archetype for all women--is typically presented as threefold, Maiden-Mother-Wisewoman. (Due to the negative connotations many of us have with the word "Crone," I prefer the term "Wisewoman.")

Each aspect represents a stage of life, but also certain traits of womanhood. For example, the maiden represents purity and potential; the Mother personifies sexuality, fertility, and creation; the Wisewoman is a teacher and healer or midwife.

Sometimes there are light and dark aspects of each stage as well (making a sort of sixfold goddess). The dark side of the Maiden is the warrior/huntress, such as the valkyries. The dark side of the Wisewoman is the Death Crone. I'm not actually sure what the dark side of the Mother is.

Various goddesses from classic mythologies fit into different aspects of the threefold goddess, for example Sophia is a wisewoman, whereas Artemis is a maiden.

I have been thinking about these ideas a lot lately as I contemplate leaving the having-babies stage of my life. We are very accustomed to aligning these three phases of womanhood with fertility--virgin, mother, and menopausal woman. For many of us (due in part, I'm sure, to the ageism that is rampant in our culture), the Wisewoman is seen as less-than the others. As all these ideas were swirling through my head I thought "I am not ready to step on from the Mother stage, I'm not old enough to be a Wisewoman! I'm not old and crusty! I'm not all washed up yet!"
And then I had an epiphany.
We spend way too much time fixated on the fertility perspective. The threefold woman is much broader than fertility. There is one primary trait of each age.
The maiden is LEARNING
The mother is BEING or DOING
The wisewoman is TEACHING
I've always been caught up in the fertility side of the aspects, and so I was troubled by moving into the last phase because I felt too young for it. Now I recognize that it's not about age or lack of vitality, it's about having learned and done enough to have something to share and teach. I think that with each stage we still maintain the traits of the prior stages--a mother is still learning (she just knows enough to be able to do as well), and a wisewoman can still learn and do, but she knows enough to begin to teach other women.

I may be finishing with having babies, with nurturing them from my body via pregnancy and breastfeeding. But that is not the end of fullness or beauty or powerful womanhood! Now I am preparing to move into being a Wisewoman: one who teaches and shares, one who nourishes minds as well as bodies. I now realize that I have been looking forward to this for a long time actually--concrete plans are developing for the things I want to put out into the world. But I will write of those later, because I have one other thought to share about the three faces of womanhood:

  • A daughter influences just herself as she learns and develops her own identity and personality.
  • A mother influences a small circle of others (her own children)
  • A grandmother influences a larger circle (other people's children--be they her grandchildren or others)
Of course I will continue to influence, teach, and raise my children. However, they are passing out of the stage where they draw from my body, and so I now have more resources which I am able to direct outward into the world, to be a force for good. To be the change I want to see in the world. It's thrilling.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I can't just turn off my brain...

(As a note, there is a bunch of LDS content in this one which may or may not all make sense for those who are not members of the feel free to skim or skip if it's losing you.)
The Ostara Supermoon ~ taken from my porch
In the last couple of years--particularly in the last few months, several of my friends have left the LDS church. They have all left for different reasons, and in different directions, but so many are going that it's beginning to feel like an exodus.  I got to know these people through the common ground of the church, but came to love them through our other common ground, and so I still am friends with them. I find myself reeling a bit to see intelligent, thoughtful people walking away from the church, and I am left with what feels like a very important question: why?

And so I have talked with my friends about their reasons and their choices. Like I said, these are intelligent people whom I respect, and when they explain their choices then I start to think. I start to ask questions too.
It's not that I'm asking questions with a malicious intent, nor that I'm looking for flaws with the church or excuses to leave it. I have no desire to leave the church--I never have--but some things are coming up that I am struggling to reconcile, because they're in my head now. Some of them are pretty big questions, and I can't just turn off my brain.

And so I think.

I realize that this really got going last summer, and that I was somewhat depressed at the time. I know that depression (for me) brings with it a real lack of feeling. As in, I just don't care much about much of anything. The combination of lack of feeling with the raising of questions about my church was unquestionably a troublesome duo. I really struggled for a month or so, until in August we went in for our temple recommend interviews. I'd felt a little awkward about going in actually, because I wasn't feeling sure about some things. We only have the interviews every other year, so I didn't remember exactly what was in the questions. I'm the sort of person who is honest to a fault, and if I'm really troubled about something I'm not going to say that everything is ok, so there was even that nagging part of me that wondered if I had any business seeking a (re)new(ed) recommend in the first place... However, when it came down to it, as I went through and answered each question with my Bishop, and then a few minutes later went through them all again with the Stake Presidency counselor, I felt with absolute certainty that this church is exactly where I need to be. In spite of my concerns about certain issues, my basic testimony seems to be intact, and was bolstered by the reminders in the interview.

I am not asking for things to change, but I am trying to understand why some things are the way they are. For example, I know people who are agitating for women to have the priesthood. I don't feel a need to do that--I never have--I'm ok with how things are; but these agitators do raise some logical questions, and so I would really like some nice logical answers for why women don't have the priesthood, you know?

So I still think about things, like I said, I can't just turn off my brain. So I wonder why the church is legally a corporation rather than incorporated as a church (which is what most religious organizations do). If our righteousness and salvation are between us and God, then why is there so much official checking-up on each other, from taking attendance in sunday school to holding interviews every year to officially state whether you've paid a 'full' tithe? Why do there seem to be conflicts between scriptural teachings and certain practices of mainstream LDS culture? (eg: "love one another" verses anti-socialism, or the political actions against homosexuals*) Why are there double standards about things? (eg: piercings or tattoos = evil and disrespectful of our bodies; but botox, boob jobs, and circumcision = totally acceptable?) My dad and my husband have both had church leaders give them grief for wearing beards. How is that anybody elses business anyway?!

I have shared this questioning of mine with a few friends. Some of them are asking some of these questions themselves, but others have warned me that this kind of thinking and asking is dangerous and will probably lead to apostasy. Pardon?! Talking about things or asking questions doesn't make me an apostate. As a matter of fact, I think questions are a healthy part of discipleship: Joseph Smith's asking of questions was precisely what instigated the organization of the church in the first place, and we've been told over and over by leadership to seek personal confirmation about everything.

Several people approached me after my post about delving into paganism, warning me that it was a path into darkness. I appreciate the concern with which the warnings were given, and what I trust was concern on the part of the person who reported me to the Bishop (who then called me in to ask some very awkward questions to 'check' and 'make sure' that I was not 'going off the deep end'). At the end of the day though, my spiritual path is mine, not anyone elses. I prayerfully and thoughtfully seek direction for myself and my family. I instigate and participate in conversations (even debates) about some of these awkward topics in order to try to make sense of things that trouble or confuse me. I am hoping for some answers at General Conference, but ultimately the responsibility for my testimony is only mine.

I think that any group of people will have a certain amount of human error inherent in the system; even church organizations. I do believe solidly in the gospel of Christ however, and I know without question that personal revelation can be relied upon to guide us in all things. So I'll keep relying on those things, and I'll keep ignoring the naysayers all around me.
at the beach, taking in the mountains, waves, and wind

*For anybody who is wondering, yes, I do think that homosexual behavior is deviant, and not acceptable in God's eyes. However, in light of solid scientific evidence (from multiple sources) that same sex attraction is inborn (rather than being a choice), I am troubled by how to reconcile the whole thing. The behavior may be a choice, but if the attraction is not, then isn't it asking a lot to ask someone to act against their nature? It seems something akin to saying that shortness/blondness/autism is a sin...and really, that's just messed up. I do not have any answers on this one. It is one of the things that troubles me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

30 Days--Day 12

Day 12 - A picture of something you love.

People getting out of themselves and doing what they can to be forces for good in the world.  

photo from here

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