Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Slaying Dragons

Over the past year I have slain several dragons; undesirable behavioral patterns that were not beneficial to anyone, least of all me. It started the first time I met a gifted homeopath working in RI 2 years ago. My friend who saw her, referred to her as a Sage and I think it is an appropriate term. For 6 months I was skeptical, but the more I read and experimented, the more I realized I needed her help. Always being one for self-evaluation and change, I felt stuck. There were things about myself that I didn't like and, honestly, didn't feel represented who I truly was on the inside. However after several attempts, I was unsuccessful at changing these patterns on my own. I needed something to help me transition, shed the ugly layers of my personality that I grew over my lifetime to reveal someone more like the people I admired. I was so full of judgement, fear, and defense mechanisms. I didn't know how to be open and friendly to people. I wanted to achieve a sense of calmness, clarity, and genuine compassion for others. Of course, with these mental and emotional challenges came unpleasant physical symptoms: because all that ails us physically is directly a result of our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. This is something I have learned to be true through my experience with homeopathy.

Following 8 months of sessions and 2 carefully chosen remedies, I have experienced growth on many levels. I'm no longer in a job I resent or a body I poison with rich and addictive foods. My body is free of unwanted physical symptoms, or dis-ease. Most of the time I experience great clarity in thought, I am able to not "react" to things that are done or said to me but recognize that I am calling my experiences to me. I look for how to grow from negative circumstances instead of being a victim of them. I find it easier not to react to other people but to listen and validate. Granted, I don't do any of this as well as The Sage, but each day I gain more wisdom and clarity and find even greater peace, patience, and love for others.

This is until my husband and partner decided to attempt an adult conversation with me about some of his concerns on the domestic front. He approached me in a healthy and loving way and in a complete departure from the direction I am trying to grow, I, in a phrase, lost my mind. Instead of listening to his concerns, validating his points, and working as a team the way I promised in our wedding vows, I took everything he said as a personal attack and sulked. How's that for clarity and growth? Not exactly my proudest moment.

It made me realize that I do have more dragons to slay. I sit and think about why I get so defensive. And more specifically, why am I such a procrastinator? Why do I hate being micro-managed with "to do" lists (even if I make them myself!) yet also don't know how to accomplish things without them? Why do I so deeply in my core resist my time being structured? Of course, like any normal person, I can first blame my parents. After all, they overdid the control thing a tad during my teen years and I responded with absolute rebellion. However, I'm 32. I cannot blame my parents for my current behavior patterns and responses when I should be adult enough to decide to change them. But can I? We're talking 15-20 years of deeply instilled habits. Rebelling now isn't rebelling against some parental dictatorship over an arbitrarily early curfew, rebellion now is only hurting me and my familiy in the end. I don't know how I am going to right this glitch in my path to wellness, but I am damn sure going to somehow. I think I may need to visit The Sage again, not sure I can take on this beast by myself.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Compassion

I get daily quotes from the authors of Ask and It is Given. A lot of them resonate for me, but this one is really good. It is this belief that helps me to be a more compassionate person and also to not let myself be affected by the undesirable actions or words of other people.

"These beings, that are acting out in those ways that you find so awful, are tormented and suffering in ways that you will not understand. Their horrible acts are extensions of that pain. We also have to say to you -- no one who is not a vibrational match to that could be their victim." - Abraham- Hicks

I try to remember that when someone does or says something that irritates me. It is a reflection of their own pain, fears, and thoughts. If I can see this quickly enough I am able to respond to them with more compassion than I ever (in years prior) thought I was capable of. I used to be so quick to judge and snap. If I do find myself having an emotional reaction, I need to recognize that that is a susceptibility in ME. It is MY pain, fears, and beliefs in conflict with whatever the other person is putting out there. When I recognize this, which is not always as quickly as I would like, I can recognize that the only reason it bothers me is because my weakness is a perfect match to their pain. If I change my energy - and by that I mean my emotions - around the given subject, my need to react goes away and conflicts are avoided. I am getting better and better at this as time goes on. Recognizing other people's "stuff" or emotional baggage as soon as possible helps me avoid conflict and, actually help them to feel better too. Because then I am not longer reacting to them as I am supporting them to help find a place of feeling better.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mommy Group

In September I joined a local group on meetup.com comprised of moms in my community. Most people who I told about this, looked at me cock-eyed and offered some variation of, "YOU joined a mom's group?" Implication: You are socializing with new people purposely?
Why yes, yes I am. I told you I have grown!

I admit, this may be one small step for your typical, well socialized human but it was one giant step for me. Yes, it was a step , ok, LEAP out of my normal, antisocial comfort zone, but I felt ready to do something new. I am happy to report I love it. I've been to several meet up events over the last few months and have enjoyed meeting new people and their kiddies. Of course, there are some ladies I feel more inclined to spend time with than others, but overall everyone has been welcoming and friendly. The group has offered Ian and I the opportunity for several outings a week but we generally only attend one or two. The bonus is, this keeps me from the other nasty habit I have to fill my time. Shopping. Granted, now that Ian won't ride in a cart anymore shopping no longer has the same appeal. What I like most about it is I now know of several moms whose company I really enjoy, but at each event there is the opportunity to meet new members so there is always the chance of making new friends. It seems the moms really bond on the Mom's Nights Out, which I have yet to join in on. I hope to soon.

A small subset of this moms group started a babysitting co-op. It is managed through the website www.babysitterexchange.com. We just started this up, but I think it is really going to work out well for us. Each member, once approved is alloted 40 points to start. Then, when you would like a sitter, you put out a request with the date, time, and how many children. The other moms in the group indicate whether they are available and you choose which one will watch your munchkin(s). The cost is 1 point per child per 15 minutes. So it ends up working as a trade. You earn points when you babysit for others and you pay points when someone babysits for you. It really is a great idea and as the group gets more used to using it, I think it is going to be really helpful to everyone that participates.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Crazy Day and Rachael Ray

I wrote this almost two months ago but wanted to wait to post it until after the episode aired. However, the episode has not aired yet and it probably won't, so here it is anyway!

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by the Rachael Ray show for a possible upcoming segment, that they have since abandoned. Last week they contacted me again to see if I was interested in doing a "pet psychic" segment, they wanted a champion dog that had an odd behavior or something that would be "helped" by the pet psychic. I didn't have such a dog but, being swept up in the fun of TV, told them I'd think about it and get back to them. I phoned my friend Amy whose dog Skye is a Champion but decided last July that she was done showing. Fast forward, after a bazillion phone calls, a meeting and "back story" taping, and four days, Amy was set to go the studio on Tuesday to tape the studio audience segment.
Monday evening started normal enough, but slowly took on a life of its own. Amy and I spoke and she was upset by the directions the pet psychic was planning to take with her "reading." (Her "reading" was neither psychic nor helpful). Amy, being a caring and sensitive person, expressed some dread over getting herself into this predicament. I, being the one who essentially put her there, felt exceedingly guilty. I was also seething that this "psychic" was so obviously manipulative as to hone in on a sensitive matter for Amy and use that as her "reading."
8 pm Phone Call: I encouraged Amy to cancel if she felt better about it. She agreed. At this point Pat was going to babysit Ian for the day so I could accompany Amy to NYC. Thinking I'd still get some errands done, I emailed Pat with the change in my plans but to tell her I'd still see her in the morning.
10 pm: Phone Rings
The producers promise Amy that the psychic will not broach the undesirable subject and that they don't run that kind of show, etc. Blah blah blah. Amy's trusting spirit caused her to agree to go to the taping, I with more than a little doubt in their integrity, agreed to go with her to NYC. So now we're back to getting up at 4:00 am, so off to bed I go.
11:00 - I'm finally in bed my head spinning with everything that might happen the following and how I might react to it. Sharpening my razor claws if they so much as try to push Amy around, I was ready to slay this psychic and the producers if they gave me the slightest reason. I was so disappointed in how contrived the whole situation was. I mean, I know you can't really believe what you see on TV but, I guess I never really imagined how much so. So in retribution, I enjoyed imagining being able to call that out onto the carpet if given the opportunity. Yes, my mind spins in strange directions and the later it is, the stranger the train of thought.
I finally fall asleep, my guess is about midnight.
12:45 am - " MORNING! " Evan and I greeted by the toddler who was convinced it was time to get up and start the day. I can't even remember who got up and put him back, it might have been Evan. But either way, I was up and now listening for the pitter patter of feet so I could promptly send him back to bed....which I had to do at least twice. I think he finally fell asleep by 1:30, so I finally fell sleep again by 2:00.
3:00 am - PHONE RINGS. One of my doula clients is in labor, water broke so she is sure today is the day. I cheerfully agree to await their next phone call so I can go be with her. I then spend the next hour and fifteen minutes, partly dozing and partly downshifting my emotional state from ready to claw someone's eyes out to lovingly attending a woman while she births her child.
4:15 am - I call Amy (she needed to be up to leave) to tell her I will not be able to come with her to NYC. I think she was disappointed but she could have just been sleepy. Finally, I hope to get a few hours sleep before I have to go to the hospital. I settle into bed.
4:30 -PHONE RINGS It's the expectant dad. They are going to the hospital. Alright, up I get, shower, and leave the house by 5:20.
5:30 am - CELL PHONE RINGS. It's Evan. Baby is already out. (WOW, ok, did they even make it to the hospital I wonder?) Back to plan A, I call Amy, turn the car around and head to Mystic arriving right on time. I request a pillow for the ride to NYC for some reason thinking I will sleep on the way. Fortunately, my emotional claws were now filed down because I had to change gears into "birth doula" mode and, as with real claws I couldn't regrow them on such short notices. It was better anyway, my outlook about the upcoming events was more curious and optimistic. Besides, functioning on less than 2 hours of sleep, I wouldn't have been capable of any savvy word exchanges.
10:30 am - We arrive at the studio. That's right, 4 hours. The 2 hour and fifteen minute drive took four hours. Blech.
By 11:30 we were ensconced in a tiny 10x10 "green" room with Amy's name on the door, a sad looking plate of fruit, and a bucket of ice and soft drinks. Amy and Skye were brought to the "audience holding" room to await her interview while Lindsay and I turned off all the lights to create a movie theater atmosphere, sunk onto the hard couch to watch the live feed on the plasma screen.
Amy did wonderfully with the interview, handling herself with grace and charm. She quickly realized she wasn't really supposed to talk much it was all about the animal communicator. You could see it that Rachael Ray wasn't all too enchanted with her guest and pretty much stumbled over the words of having to call her a communicator or a psychic. The psychic lady didn't stick to her agreement and did delve into an area that was supposed to be off limits, but Amy handled all that just fine. It was painful to watch the ludicrous way in which this psychic "told" the dog what she said she needed to hear knowing full well, all the nonsense she was spewing was from the phone interview she had with Amy the previous night. Rachael, clearly a dog lover, was very tuned into Skye and worried about her nervous behavior. She was only shaking a bit, which, and I think most Canaan Dog owners would agree, would be expected in such a situation. Skye, who before cameras rolled quickly allowed Rachael to approach and pet never really wanted to warm up to the "animal communicator", allowing only one brief scratch when she was focused on something else. I consider Canaan Dogs a pretty good judge of character.
Amy returned to the room and received several compliments from various producers about her segment. The producer heading up this segment rushed into the room and asked Amy what she wanted cut from the piece. I thought it turned out pretty well too, though I won't really know until we see how it is cut.
So here is the interesting part. After it was all over, the producers started implying that we were expected to leave the set now. The night prior when Amy nearly backed out to the producer, she had been told that we would all get to meet Rachael and take a photo, etc. So she inquired. The producer said that she would try to get her to come by during her next costume change and warns us that she'll only have two minutes.
So here was the single most interesting part of the day for me. In walks Rachael, followed by three producers standing in the doorway. She walks into the tiny room, spots Skye on the couch and heads right for her, ignoring Skye's warning growl, wraps her arms around her and was hugging her and talking quietly to her. Skye, by this point is busy looking over Rachael's shoulder and keeping a watchful eye on the people lingering just outside the door. A minute of the two minutes goes by. She has not spoken a word nor even looked at the three humans standing the room. I say, "You really love animals don't you?" Ignored.
She gets up and turns to walk out of the room. Amy, who was standing by the door, subtly body blocks her and asks if it would be alright to take a photo with Lindsay, as its her birthday tomorrow. I think I heard Rachael mumble "Sure" flatly and then poses for the photo. Walks out the door. Without looking at her, I think she reached out and lightly touched Amy's back and said, "Thanks sweetie" very quietly. Then she was gone. It was the strangest two minutes. I mean, no "Hi", no "Thanks for coming", NOTHING. There was absolutely no acknowledgement of the three humans standing in arms distance from her. BIZARRE. Lindsay said later, "Someone forgot to wind her up." I mean I wasn't expecting any meaningful conversation or deep discussion, but a "hi how are you, thanks for coming," I don't think would have been too much to ask. Maybe she was just on autopilot because she is ushered around by producers from costume change to makeup to stage and back and is probably not used to having to be social between activities. I don't know. I will say she was strikingly beautiful in person, more than she appears on TV. I was surprised by that. She also had put on a fantastic black dress that Lindsay and I both envied.

And that's it. We carried our stuff out to the car and we were off. We stopped for a smoothie on the way home because we were all starving. Believe it or not it took nearly four hours to get home too. So to recap that's 8 hours in the car, 3 hours in a tiny room, 2 hours of sleep , and 2 minutes with Rachael Ray, and that's my crazy day!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Law of Attraction and Coconut Noodles

The Law of Attraction
I am compelled to give a brief explanation of the Law of Attraction as it is bound to be a recurring theme in my posts. The Law of Attraction is based on the knowledge that all matter in the universe emits an energetic vibration. Living beings emit a stronger vibration than inanimate objects (though they emit a weaker vibration) and each vibration attracts a similar vibration. So when one offers a thought with a strong vibration (indicated by the amount of emotion one feels when thinking the thought) its vibration attracts more thoughts similar to it and eventually leads to the physical manifestation of that thought in the person's experience. Therefore nothing in life is meaningless and nothing in anyone's life is accidental or coincidental. Everything in our reality is created by the person who experiences it, whether positive or negative. Therefore we can all become conscience creators of our reality simply by offering thoughts purposely. An incredible book, called Ask and It is Given, explains this in detail as well as how to use this to bring positive things into your life, with the underlying theme that you must always do what feels good. When you feel good you are in vibrational harmony with Source Energy. One may refer to Source Energy in a number of ways, such as Vital Force, Universal Energy, or GOD. As such Source Energy is where we all come from, where we all return to (purposely) and is within each of us. We are never fully disconnected from this Universal Energy, however everyone is at different degrees of connection at any given moment and the level of this connection can be determined simply by how we feel. When you feel good, you are connected. When you don't feel good, you aren't and your job is to find a way back to connection (=feeling good.) When you feel good, you attract good things and the Universe continues to expand, giving birth to new wants and desires. There is never an end to the journey or the wanting so it is important to enjoy the process and attract desirable experiences. That's the quick 2 cent tour of the theory.

This theory was introduced to me by a homeopath I was working with last year (the birth of the thought), and it intrigued me so I searched out more resources (attracted more thoughts). The theories behind this really tied my scientific side into my spiritual side and it simply works for me. Some people find spiritual guidance through their chosen religion and relationship with GOD and that is great. There is no one correct path. For me, the concept presented in this way resonates for me and I feel it is helping me grow in ways I never imagined. I also like the tangibility of it. When I started exploring this, it was simply a matter of observation to realize that the theory had some truth in it. Examples of its truth became apparent as soon as I started looking, which in a way is proof of the theory itself. My positive attention turned toward this subject and proof of its truth started appearing to me...via the Law of Attraction. Amazing.

...And Coconut Noodles
Well this entry turned out to be more about the Law of Attraction than it did about Coconut Noodles. I thought they would receive equal billing, but alas they don't. What I have to say about coconut noodles is this: One of my two new favorite ingredients for food preparation is Young Coconuts (or Thai Coconuts). They are a young (duh) coconut with the green outer covering shaved off, but the furry brown nut still covered in white fiber. When cracked open you get the delicious fresh and cleansing coconut water which is fantastic in smoothies and a soft, jelly like coconut meat. The very young coconuts have very soft jelly which is great for smoothies, puddings, and ice-creams, all dairy-free. I am planning to make an ice "cream" as soon as my second new favorite ingredients arrives. Organic, raw Agave Nectar which is the sweet nectar of a cactus. A great sugar substitute that does not cause an insulin spike nor does it have any chemical aftertaste like the unhealthy sugar substitutes that are so common. I love it in my (raw) lemonade which is super simple. I juice a whole organic lemon, fill the pitcher with water and add agave to taste. It's very refreshing.

I ordered a case of young coconuts from a local produce market and processed them this morning, freezing the extra meat and water for future use. I used the more firm meat to cut thin noodles and saved them for lunch. I then created a raw "peanut" sauce (actually raw almond butter) that was nothing short of incredible, covered the noodles and topped them with grated carrot and diced cucumber. It was HEAVEN. I filled Boston Lettuce leaves and ate them like wraps. Even better was Ian devoured them which pleased me. He even ate raw vegetables dipped in the incredible "peanut" sauce. It was my favorite raw food dish yet. YUMMY. It's really important to me that Ian eat enough avocado and coconut because they are full of the healthy fats so important to his growth, and since he doesn't drink cow's milk I try to pay attention to stuff like that. I'm really looking forward to making the ice "cream"next week. Truly healthy, guilt-free, you-could-eat-it-for-breakfast, ice"cream".

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I'm not a fan of labels. They are so formal and final. I have an internal struggle against being dogmatic about beliefs and allowing myself freedom to make choices. Being labeled automatically triggers a desire to rebel...against myself, sick huh?

I was contemplating the term VEGAN. An awful sounding word, isn't it? It sounds so, empty, yet snotty and militant at the same time. As in,
"I am VEGAN. I wield pointed carrot sticks for nourishment and as weapons against meat eating neandrathals."

It also feels so FINAL, like a vow of celibacy. "From this day on, I vow against the consumption of anything tasty of animal origin, never ever again will I allow myself to sink so low." See, that's just not me. Culinary pursuits are an art form, an outlet for my own creative energy. I respect when others practice this art, no matter their medium. Though for my own consumption I prefer that a slab o'meat not be the star of the show.

The first self-proclaimed VEGAN I met was 10 years ago at one of my college work study jobs. She, above all else, shaped the nuance of this word for me. VEGAN was a nice enough person but I distinctly remember her statement that she was the healthiest person she knew, as she sipped her bottled Evian, which, no doubt, she recycled. At that point in my self evolution, I found her intimidating and self righteous. Maybe I still would. Or maybe it's just a matter of perspective and now I'd find her enlightened. Maybe others find me intimidating and self righteous. I guess its all a matter of the shoes we're standing in at the time. No one likes to have their own "truths" challenged. But, if a belief is so readily challenged maybe it warrants re-examination? The universe serves us up constant lessons (which I've learned we call to us through the Law of Attraction.....another topic...) and when we are bothered by something, well, that just means there is something to be learned. It's hard to remember this in the heat of a moment, but I try to.

In any case, I also remember an end of summer barbeque at VEGAN's house where her carnivorous housemates were not allowed to grill animal flesh on her side of the grill. At the time, I didn't understand the need for territory delineation on a Weber. Was she afraid that steak would leave animal cooties on the grates that would jump onto her veggie burger? For health reasons, I understand that grilling creates carcinogens but that would be true for food of animal or vegetable origin. In any case, it seems that people who choose a cruelty free diet are usually doing so for animal rights reasons, and those people appear more directed and purpose driven in their choices. While the health conscious folks seem less militant in their ideals. Just an observation from these worn-down, fleece-lined slippers.

I feel better physically and contented spiritually when I avoid meat and dairy. But in the end, I eat what I want when I want. For the last 5 or 6 months, that choice has been primarily for organic, plant based foods, and increasingly raw, organic, plant- based foods. Occasionally I enjoy the eggs that my friend, Kelly, generously gives to us. Ultra fresh, free range, organic eggs from happy and well loved chickens. I don't have any problem with that...right now, but who knows? I may grow to feel better avoiding them too. My spirit feels lighter knowing I am not contributing as much to the factory farming industry or negatively impacting the environment with animal product consumerism. On the contrary, I also enjoy dining out and not nitpicking over every ingredient in my meal. Life is too short for that. I eat what I want to eat and most of the time I want to eat plant based food. And when I don't, I don't. Call me crazy, but please don't call me VEGAN.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My First Official Blog

I guess I have been doing a blog on my son's baby picture website, but I am feeling limited on subject matter there. Anyone who knows me (well) knows that I have a lot of ideas and things that go through my head but often those thoughts are either repressed or shared with one of exactly three people all of whom probably tire of my musings. So for them, I will help them share the burden. I suppose a diary would work, but my guilty pleasure of playing on the internet lends itself more to blogging, so here goes...

Evan told me to name this blog Renee's Random Thoughts, indicative of his interpretation of my inner processes. The "random" tells his perception of me. I often ponder how he views me and most of the time I envision this nice guy who is a really good sport. He allows me the freedom to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things, probably hoping the whole time that most of these new practices do not "stick" and start influencing his life experience. My recent exploration into vegan raw food is one I imagine he hopes will go away very soon, or at least that I will just go back to cooking some form of dead animal and slather it in a reduction or butter sauce whether I partake or not. However, the culinary adventurist in me is excited by mastering a new style of cuisine as much as the natural health enthusiast in me is resonating with the philosophy. I am quite sure more posts will delve into this topic, as well as my life as a full time mom now among other things. Stay tuned for more...