A piece of peace. A bit about prayer.

I’ve discovered the power of prayer.

Did I just type that?

I’ve known for half of my life now, the blessings that meditation can bring. In just a few moments of silence, questions can be answered and next steps can be made.

 Since the birth of Wildflower, who is now 8, I’ve discovered the benefit of believing in something more than myself. And when Moonchild made his entrance almost five years ago, I  suddenly realized that the earth’s energy felt real. I could see the rhythms of the year, the seasons coming  and going. Having lost my father prior to the birth of my son showed me first hand the dependability of the circle of life. I could count on that energy, though I had learned it was useless to hope to control it. When the time came to give birth, that was the power, the connection that I could focus on. It’s a magic that feels more tangible to me than the stories I knew growing up. Perhaps it’s the blood that I share with my ancestral tribe, or perhaps it’s all just crap, but it works for me. 

As a child, I believed there was only one option. Living in a Judeo-Christian society, there weren’t many selections to be made in regards to faith. Whether or not I ticked the box as Christian, had nothing to do with absorbing the subtle messages surrounding me.

As a young girl growing up in rural Ontario where my high school English teacher described our class as ‘a marketing campaign for bleach’ (whitest white!), I hadn’t had the opportunity to connect with people of various religions, the way those in city schools may have. Although the teachings of Jesus contain stories of kindness and sacrifice, they have always been to me, just stories. The cross that I wore around my neck was merely a gift, given to me from a parent who loved me, and hoped to offer me a piece of the peace he often found in biblical readings. I know these figures have brought many people peace and strength, but to me, the teachings of Christ bare the same validity as stories of Moses or Mohamed, each whom I’d be interested in understanding better, but neither whom I plan to ‘find’.  Fast forward to this day. Like any old Sunday, mid-February. It’s cool, sunny, and quiet-ish in our home. Thanks to a life-altering book I’ve picked up this week, while I nursed my toddler, I closed my eyes this morning and gave it a go. IT doesn’t need a name, this Great Spirit who comes to my mind, but she feels like a SHE.

I asked her for guidance. I need help. I am, after all, still learning. I want to heal some of the hurt I’ve tucked away for a later date before I share much more of it with my children, and since my time for meditation is quite limited (I’ll get to that tomorrow, I always say), these few minutes to connect to something within or beyond and ask for peace, gave me the ease that normally comes from many minutes of meditation. It didn’t feel religious, and it didn’t feel churchy. It felt comforting. I felt the warmth of golden light around me, and in a matter of thirty seconds, I was back in the comfort of my living room.

For those who know me, when I read an awesome book or try a great recipe, I eagerly share it with anyone who I believe could appreciate a slice of the joy. So here I am, apprehensively laying this glimpse into my world here, in hopes that maybe someone else might require a piece of the peace I felt this morning.

Xo

Hay Mama

Snowflakes

February feels a lot like January, only with a constant stream of snow. We’ve long since passed the romance of winter, and we often find ourselves dreaming of beach days and popsicles. But I’m not a fan of wishing time away, so we’re trying to get into the groove of our Canadian winter.
My motto this week: Exercise, Enjoy Nature, Love Myself, Repeat.

So far, I’ve combined steps one and two, since the yoga on the living room floor was less than relaxing with a dog and a baby climbing all over my Qi. In fact, Moonchild even managed to smash his head on the ground when he gallantly jumped his feet forward out of downward dog and into mountain pose.

Luckily, our wee one has become enthralled with falling snow, and points to the outdoors with a look of wonder across his face. “No!” he calls it. Tucked into his sled, the kids fight over who will pull him first. Back and forth, up and down the lane we’ll stroll until his little cheeks are pink with a wintery glow. Tonight, while snow fell quietly all around us, and the kids had run off to explore ‘the biggest icicle ever!’, little brother snuck his hand out from under his blanket and was pointing in amazement at the tiniest little snowflake on his lap. Together we examined the millions of miraculous crystals, something I might not had taken the time for, had I not given a few minutes for our little one to take the lead..a lesson that motherhood is always teaching me…

   ❆❄❊

     Hay Mama

Birth+Christmas. Not the story you think it is.

With Wildflower having turned 8 this past Christmas Eve and her little brother, born on Boxing Day, now 1,  (talk about timing), Christmas feels like being pregnant to me. For three out of the last 8 Christmases, I have been with child, and two of those babies were ushered into the world amidst the traditional, seasonal flourish. So it seems fair to say that this time of year leaves me feeling a bit nostalgic about the babes and their time ‘in the oven’, so to speak. 

Pregnancy has never been an easy journey for me. Of course, there are many women who are willing to boast about the beauty of their experiences, how ‘great’ they felt, and all that jazz, but I can openly admit that I didn’t feel that way. The photos encapsulated in this post are merely a blip of the most wonderful, carefully selected moments, and are not at all reflective of the actual experience. There it is…my disclaimer.

Not long after those two little lines turn pink, I begin to feel nauseous, unable to tolerate most smells including, but not limited to shampoos and body washes, coffee (for realz), cast iron pans, and food of any sort. Also, there’s the extreme exhaustion. That combined with the 24/7 sickness and the broken blood vessels in my face from being so violently ill, often lead to mounting anxiety. I start to wonder if there could be something wrong. After all, if it was this difficult for everyone, why would people go through with it more than once?
Oh yes. That’s why.

So, after the stretching skin, the itchiness, the avoidance of small spaces with lack of moving air for fear of fainting, comes the point where my pubic bone is in so much pain that I can’t lift one leg to put my pants on without sitting. By the 8th month, my face is so puffy that I barely recognize myself, and all of this happens before I’ve even pushed the baby from my body. Naturally, you’d think I wouldn’t be up for doing this more than once, yet after 3 planned pregnancies and births, here I am, 1 year postpartum, and I can’t help but yearn for those days when nothing else mattered. Those days when I had completed all things Christmas, weeks before, and in my snowflake sweats, I climbed into my bed at 3pm on a Tuesday to have a nap because I had very important work ahead of me.

Most of all, I miss the feeling of growing a small human inside of me, and I hear that this is a feeling I should get used to. To give a new person a name feels like the greatest honour. To give birth is the greatest high I’ve ever experienced. Perhaps that’s just it. I’ve met my addiction and now, with the coming and going of Christmas, I’m handling the side effects of withdrawal.  Speaking with women who have witnessed the passing of their baby-making days helps me to understand that I’ll probably always feel this way. I’ll probably always melt when I feel a warm little body close to my chest, and a kiss on the top of a little baby brow will ignite my senses and my ovaries. I think I’m just always going to feel this want…

 

xo

HayMama

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Meaningful Gifts

This Christmas had its quirks. It wasn’t an unsuccessful year, by far. I mean, we have full bellies, possibly the fullest they’ve ever been, and we were blessed with an abundance of gifts. I guess where it fell short, was only on my measuring stick. Yes, there was magic and squealing, and joyous moments that I’ll always remember.

Here is the ‘but’.

Previously, the season for giving has meant that I’d stay awake, until the wee hours of the morning, sewing, painting, and cursing, until my vision was blurry with exhaustion, and I tumbled into bed with snippets of thread still stuck to my fleece Christmas jammies. The work was tiresome, but the rewards were meaningful.

For two years in a row, with either having a young baby or waiting for the arrival of one, I’ve put handmade gifts on the back burner, knowing that I really can’t do everything. In the past, I wouldn’t have had the option to buy all of the gifts, but with Papa Bear’s perseverance and our combined cleverness, our finances are moving in the right direction. So, rather than work my fingers to the bone, I just clickety-click-clicked my way through our holiday shopping this year, and without leaving my home, I accomplished the list.  Of course, the gifts in our home are never excessive. We’ve always tried to keep the focus on choosing meaningful treasures that will be enjoyed longer than a few hours after they are opened. Together as a family, including grandparents, we often focus only on one gift with combined resources. Sometimes it’s a subscription or an experience. Sometimes it’s a toy. This year unrolled differently for a variety of reasons. I’ve learned, that although our children were grateful for their presents, it’s me who doesn’t feel the same joy that I do when I’ve really poured my heart into something. Now I understand how Christmas can turn into an incredible burden whether or not the stress is financial. There’s something about the pressure of having to choose a gift, not because it’s special or because it took time to find or because it was a gift born out of creativity, but simply because the clock is ticking and there is pressure. Many of our gifts were purchased out of necessity, and not the true kind of necessity, but a kind that has been made up by the expectations of ‘Christmas’… which kind of takes away the meaning of the gift in the first place. Giving should feel good!I can see how easily Christmas became a commercial season, every year, people buying gifts on a timeline with a one-click-buy attitude. One doesn’t quite feel like enough, so more are purchased, and before we know it, Christmas is no longer focused on the spirit of giving, the time spent together, enjoying the gifts that we have to share. It becomes about trying to fill the emptiness that comes from obligatory ‘gift’ giving. This isn’t to say that we all have to make our gifts to fill ourselves with the spirit. Of course, with careful thought, the right gifts can absolutely be purchased. As the old adage goes, “it’s the thought that counts”.

The strange thing is, I find myself feeling a bit sad for those who have never had to use their resources to the best of their abilities, roll up their sleeves, and make something from nothing. When I think back to the best reactions from our kids, it wasn’t from the toys that we bought. It was the toy kitchen that we didn’t spend a penny on, the one we repurposed from an entertainment unit, the year we used every last dime to purchase our house. There was the doll I made for Wildflower who to this day, has been so well-loved that she’s turned a funny greyish colour from all of her adventures in the woods.

There are other ways to give meaningful gifts. There’s nothing like the romance of a handcrafted Christmas market where homemade jams and pies can be selected for someone who may not have the time to dedicated to such endeavours. A gift given to someone after listening closely to their hopes and dreams, is special when it’s supportive of those goals, though least expected.

And finally, sometimes a special gift isn’t something we can hold in our hands. About 20 years ago, my grandfather hand wrote a letter to my brother to accompany the present he gave him for Christmas. To this day, he still has that gift, 7 years after my grandfather has been gone. I’m certain he doesn’t remember the present.

So my plan for next year, that I’ve already put into place, is all wrapped up in a letter to myself. All of the things that went well about this season, including the areas that need improvement, have been jotted into a Christmas notebook and folded into the decoration boxes…hopefully I read it!

 

I hope your holiday was abundant.

 

Hay Mama

 

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Fall

Life is slowing down here, after a busy season working on an outside project. It’s been a long time since I pursued something that wasn’t related to the five most important people in my life. It felt good to be appreciated the way my daily coworkers are unable to appreciate me, since they are, after all, still children, figuring out how to navigate their own worlds, not realizing that mama and daddy are just two exhausted big kids wondering what they,too, might become when they grow up.

As the season slows to a wintery pace, the earth brown and barren, the fields finally stripped of the corn after a long and soggy fall, I’m feeling called to turn inwards, to reflect and dream of who I might grow into this coming year, reminding myself to love the past versions of me, despite my habit of harsh criticism.

I feel pulled towards creating joy-filled experiences in our home each day, if not for them, for me. These are the moments I’ve waited for my whole life, the moments when we have a brood all our own to raise and inspire. So I’m taking note of their cues, trying to hear my own, and mixing them up into something that works for everyone.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to this fall…..keep in mind, I don’t photograph the meltdowns or the baby- poopsplosions, just a small snippet of some of the joyous moments we’ve shared together these past few months17!!! I’m a step- mama to a young man of 17, while nursing a young boy of 11 months. What an adventure this life has in store for me.

Talk soon,

Mama of Hays

Not Back To School

I very abruptly felt the smoothness of our summer fade away.

The first day of not back to school slapped me in the face harder than I would have liked or expected.Maybe it was the end I put to the trips to town for double scoops of ice cream, or it could have been the heat that took the place of fall’s romance. I suspect the residual sludge left over from my own days of going back to school combined with our teenager completing his final year of high school might also have something to do with our life moving back into the busy lane.

Whatever the combination, I’m not sure I’m ready for it.

So I’m constructing this post out of the bits of beauty I’ve been soaking up when I take the time to notice them…the breaths that get me through the days when I’m so tired my eyes ache and my patience dwindle… I’m working on it.food rainbows

handmade soap from my best girl friend…a stolen momentmini fashionista colours on the lineand a teeny tiny faery wing….

 

Magical….

xo

HayMama

Today I Said “Yes”

Just so we’re clear, this is not a political post, not this one anyways. 

Sometimes I say “no” to adventure. Sometimes it’s because I’m tired and I’m learning to honour my body and its quiet messages. Sometimes it’s because I know our kids will benefit from the chance to stay home, and sometimes, I say “no” because it’s easier..but that’s another post because today wasn’t one of those days…

 

Today we hopped into the van and turned left into the world of flashing cameras and publicity. It helps that there were free cheese samples and ice cream to cool our tired, impatient selves…Oh…and blurry photo ops with the Prime Minister…..

 

 

 

Homeschooling rocks.

 

xo

Mama

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Build It And They Will Come

It’s the little things that light up my life. Organic cream delivered to my door step, fresh flowers, kids building projects quietly with way too much tape…sometimes that’s all it takes me make my heart sing…to remind me that my life is beautiful. Yesterday, that moment came while the kids were playing happily inside. I stepped out in the afternoon sun, feeling just a bit frustrated about the chore of picking up and putting away. The minute my soles hit the warmth of our brand new-papa- built deck, I was instantly invigorated. My arms soared above my head, finger tips kissing the sky, and I reached down for a good stretch in Uttanasana. That’s when I heard it…the quiet buzz of insect life in my flower garden. Perched on the edge of the deck, I watched as tiny bugs flitted about, performing a task much greater than they are aware of. 

And then it occurred to me…perhaps, in my daily menial, nothingness tasks, I’m contributing to something bigger, something more than I’m aware of. Just like that, the moment was gone. It’s like that as a mom. It will seem that I’m on the verge of something significant, a conscious-altering concept, and then as quickly as the child appears, the thought bubble pops and the thought dissipates. 
Wildflower pranced through the door and into the garden, gathering a bouquet of beauty as she went. I cued her to stop and observe the magic; together we watched a beautiful monarch drink nectar from the echinacea. He was then replaced by a beautiful moth whom was all too happy to pose for us. A fleeting moment captured in time. 

xo

HayMama

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Raisin’ Hays While The Rain Pours

A couple of weeks ago, our family set out on our annual festival/camping trip. Plastic drawers were released from their duties in the house, stuffed with kid clothing and packed into the tent trailer, white T shirts were stashed into our luggage in hopes of being streaked with beautifully coloured dyes, and I eagerly packed my basket with books and journals to enjoy while resting on the beach. Ahhh the beach…scantily clad in the sunshine while the kids play happily, with minimal arguing….oh the epiphanies I’ll have…the inspiration that will seep into my soul….Except that it rained. It rained for four days. It rained so hard the slugs came to visit.It rained so hard that any shred of excitement and optimism I felt, wooshed away with the raindrops, trickling from the tarps Griz strung so neatly from the branches. I turned into grumpy mommy, the woman I had tried to leave at home. It didn’t matter how hard Papa Bear tried, no amount of tarp stringing or yummy meal making broke the spell of grumpy that had been cast over me. There was just something about the combination of sand in my bed, dampened by the moist air that just didn’t help.

So to keep the kids from arguing…We played go fishand caught tiny toads…I believe Wildflower caught…72?

And on the fifth day, the sun came out, juuust in time for us to wash up, pack up, and head home.

There’s a funny thing that I learned from the camping trip from hell. All of the much needed inspiration didn’t come while it was pouring so loudly we couldn’t hear each other speak. It didn’t come when we walked to the soggy beach to be bitten by the bugs on the way. It didn’t even come when we began to pack up under the bright sun. The epiphanies came to me after we had been home for a night, with time to talk and clear my mind, time spent just with my partner in crime. The two days we spent at home after our trip felt more like holidays than the entire trip. It took looking at myself, deeply, in an uncomfortable situation, to learn the answers to some of the heavier things on my mind. Ahhhh sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

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Slow Living

I’ve been working at not being a grumpy pants. It seems it’s harder than one would think; in fact, I’m finding it difficult at times to invite more joy into my life because it seems there are so many miserable things that I’ve stamped with a big ole “important” sign…like picking up toys that will make their way to the floor again momentarily and cleaning bathroom counters. Who knew, that in a world where busy= important, I’d find myself trying to be the opposite. So, my house is no longer tidy, my gardens are dry and dusty, and my laundry is stacked in baskets, but today, I took my camera outside after dinner and snuck in a few minutes of something that makes me happy. 

I’ve found that the most difficult thing to let go of is being in a hurry, but I have purposefully cleared my schedule this summer so that I can learn to relax. Once I begin to chill, I stop raising my voice, I panic less, and it’s easier to take time to do the things that I enjoy, like sew or create. I remember, again, why it is that I wanted to homeschool my kids… Because I like them. Because I want to be there for the little things and the big things. Because I didn’t want to spend everyday yelling at them to “hurry up”, “let’s go”, “we’re gonna be late”.
Slowing down means time to appreciate the ‘look at me’s’, and the teensy faery feasts that appear on a semi-regular basis on the front step, past dark. This one’s a cake. Yum!

And it’s funny. When I take just a few minutes to do something slowly and with beauty, even if it’s as simple as preparing oats with sliced strawberries for breakfast, it fills up a part of me that I’ve ignored for far too long….a part of me that can only be filled by snippets of joy. I’ve tried to fill that hole with many things, chocolate being the most readily available…

And you? Have you stepped towards freedom lately?

 

xo

MamaBear