Thinking About Food Again

I guess I write a lot about food in this blog (side note: I should figure out how to put my posts into categories like some bloggers do, so I can see exactly how much I focus on particular topics). This year in particular, my coven is exploring food and spirituality. One of the e-mail lists I belong to was recently having a very thought-provoking discussion about this, too.

Basically, the idea that I identify with the most is that *what we believe* about the foods we eat is as important as the food itself. Since everything is made up of energy, one of my questions as I explore being vegan, and the concept of eating raw foods, is why it matters what I eat. If everything is ultimately made of energy, so what if I’m vegan or my friend is a raw foodist or my parents eat a standard American diet? Well, it all comes down to the beliefs we each have about what we consume.

Last week, I went 10 days without eating refined sugars. My belief has been that my body feels better when I avoid sugar or moderate my intake. I felt great. I started thinking about some of the posts on the e-mail list, where people were saying that they mostly ate what is normally considered healthy food, but that they were going to indulge their occasional craving for candy or potato chips with as much joy as they did when they ate a big salad. So this week, I basically ate whatever I felt like.

I still feel great. I enjoy the freedom to enjoy sugars without guilt. I do have some issues around food still, which relate to the beliefs I have, and how my body currently resonates with various types of foods. And I admit that overall, I’m still eating what most people would consider a healthy and nutritional diet.

I guess what I’m finding is that I really resist when someone tells me that I “must” do something, or that the “objective truth” is such-and-such. I hear that a lot from raw food enthusiasts. I like to make my own decisions, and I want others to make their own decisions, too. What is right for me will look different from what is right for you. So that’s what I’m doing, continuing to mindfully explore what food and spirituality mean to me as an individual. All is well.

It’s Official!

I’ve done something exciting; I’m taking action to follow my dreams. After nearly 16 years at the same workplace, I’m leaving starting in May. I told them this past week. It’s been a good job, the people are great, and I believe in the company (it’s a nonprofit) and its importance to the community. But it’s not my calling. So it’s time for a change!

How did I get to this point? I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Let me rephrase: I am a writer. I already have several writing projects underway – including a vegan cookbook and two non-fiction “metaphysics/self-help” books – plus I’ll be able to freelance for magazines and websites. I’m also going to be taking over unschooling with the kids, which I’m looking forward to as well. Plus gardening and beekeeping – lots of fun creative stuff in the works!

I feel really good about this. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but always came up with reasons why I shouldn’t pursue my dreams. Here’s a quote: “Actually, it’s pretty simple. You have one real choice: To do your best, with what you have, from where you are. Everything else is just stalling.” – “Notes From the Universe by Mike Dooley. I’m no longer stalling – I’m ready for action.

Quester’s plan is to work in the “green collar” field, doing green building and solar conversion. He’s still doing a bunch of research and networking, so if you know anyone in those fields (we are in Maine), please let us know. After 11 years of being the “home Dad,” he’s ready for a change, too. It’s a good move for all of us.

Seems Rather Obvious

If you know me, you know that I don’t try and push my dietary choices on others. Sure, I like to write about being vegan and vegetarian, but I feel that everyone should make their own decisions about what works for them. Yet, with all the attention being given to climate change right now, I just had to share this quote from the 2006 United Nations report titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow.”

“Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2.”

Why is this not being discussed, even among more progressive sources? It seems that, as a culture, we’re willing to change our transportation choices and habits, or at least think and talk about it. Given these figures, why wouldn’t we at least moderate, if not eliminate, our reliance on animal food products?

What Do Unschoolers Do?

I thought it might be time for another “weekend in the life of Starcat” post. I’m hoping some of my new pals on the three unschooling e-mail lists I’ve joined might stop by to check out this blog. And since I get so much out of reading about their lives, I thought I’d share some of mine.

Friday night we went and had dinner with my parents. The kids got to watch some TV (we choose not to have a TV at home, though we do watch DVDs on our computer). Crow enjoyed watching basketball with Grampa. My mom and I recently both bought the same digital camera, so we messed around with figuring out how to upload her photos from a recent trip, and send them to her friends (I know, if I really had my act together, this post would have photos, too!).

Saturday we did the annual “Maine Maple Syrup Weekend.” We went to a different farm this year, and enjoyed the pancakes, as well as not having to wait in line as long. The best part, though, was taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods as the snow fell! It was so pretty! The kids have been going to these events for years, and they know how the maple syrup is made. Yet they insist that we go – it’s a spring tradition, now! Though celebrating spring as more snow falls, adding to the 2-plus feet already covering the ground, is an interesting concept.

I got a lot of writing done on Saturday. LM and BlackLion and I worked on the vegan cookbook, and then BlackLion and I worked on our “core beliefs” project too. Quester and Raven took the kids to see the Spiderwick Chronicles movie. They all liked it. We haven’t read the books yet, but they are on my list. Oh, and Quester and Crow also went and got Crow his gear for his new sport – lacrosse!

On Sunday, ElvenTiger had two indoor soccer games. She played really well and had fun, though she was really tired afterwards. She’s going to keep playing two games every Sunday this session. Crow was so excited about lacrosse that he brought his gear to the sports center and practiced on his own. At one point he had a circle of little kids gathered around him as he explained what he was doing – too cute!

Sunday night we made Mexican food and played “Fact or Crap,” which is a fun game. ElvenTiger won, despite her initial concerns about needing help reading the cards. We also did some Mad Libs. I read the owl book to the kids. That’s about it. A fun and busy weekend!

Now it’s Monday, so I’m back to the day job. I’m so much looking forward to being able to have self-directed days all the time!

Doing What You Love

Like the bee, we should make our industry our amusement. – Oliver Goldsmith

On the surface, it seems pretty simple. As humans, we should occupy ourselves doing the things that we most enjoy, and those things will bring us not only joy, but the elements we need to survive and thrive: food, water, shelter, clothing, companionship, community. Most of the societies we have set up, however, lead in a different direction. In the U.S., the majority of people spend most of their days engaged in work they either mildly enjoy, tolerate, or actively dislike. Then, after “work” and on the weekends, they take the opportunity to “play,” engaging in recreation – when they are not busy taking care of their children and maintaining their home, cars, clothing and kitchens. Within this “deferred pleasure” setup, people often choose recreation that is unhealthy, either from their desire to escape the circumstances of their daily lives, or through trying to cram many experiences into their limited leisure time.

What if, instead, we choose to do work that we find pleasurable, and also to find joy in the necessary tasks of life, such as meal preparation and home maintenance? Many people are currently thinking about, exploring and creating ways to pursue their true calling in life (or callings, as they may have more than one). One aspect of this is to simplify their lifestyles, cutting down on consumerism and expenses. The internet has expanded the ability of many people to work from home and to start small businesses, as well as to network with potential employers and take online classes to learn new skills. Despite the media’s focus on lack and unemployment, there is a significant subculture of people who are “making a living” in new ways, and succeeding at it.

In my personal network of friends, family and acquaintances, there are many who are either doing the work they love, or are actively working toward it. A good friend created a full-time, work-from-home job for himself by participating in online forums, becoming an expert on a topic that deeply interests him and attracting the interest of an online business. What about you? Are you doing what you love? Are you working toward it?

Currently, as I work to manifest my own new lifestyle, I’m working toward it in tangible ways. I’m writing a lot, for the two book projects I’m a part of, and also in my blog and personal journals. BlackLion and I are creating our own online business, based on the system described in The Four Hour Workweek. I’m researching topics that will soon be pertinent: unschooling older kids, beekeeping, organic gardening, raw foods. And, like the bees, I’m finding not only industry and amusement but also great joy in the process.

Affirming Success

Sometimes when we’re making a big change, even one that we have created and wished for and are looking forward to, doubts arise. Our old patterns push at us, wanting us to stay in the comfortable familiar rut, prodding us about what we’ll do if we’re “not successful” on the new path. We see reflections of our old beliefs, perhaps in worries about “the economy,” or stories of how people are working hard and not being able to support themselves. We witness lack.

When we’re changing our core beliefs about something, we might get to the point where we are really seeing things in a new way, and sometimes that’s when our own resistance or fear comes up. I’ve been having those doubts arise this week. Luckily, my recent practice of mindfulness has been helping me see them for what they are. Rather than attaching more worry and fear to them, I can just let them flow through me and know that they are just thoughts and feelings of the moment, not “the way things are.”

What is it I’m afraid of, beneath those surface doubts? Mostly, I think it’s just the unknown. I know it can be done, I know I can live my dreams and enjoy an abundant life full of joy and learning and writing and travel and gardening and more. But sometimes my brain gets hung up on those financial “how will I pay for it?” thoughts. And yes, I do have to consider finances, and I’m doing so in positive and creative ways. But I’m talking about the fear-based thoughts, the ones that see from a perspective of lack and restriction. Those are the ones that can just flow on through. They are not me. I know that the universe is a place of abundance and pronoia, and that by knowing that and acting from that place, I’ll attract just exactly what I need and want.

I’m learning that it’s not greedy to pursue your dreams…it’s what we’re here for. We will each do our soul’s work on our own time, in our own way, on our own timetable. And it will look different for each person. Perhaps part of me is afraid, not of failing, but of succeeding. Here’s a quote I found on someone’s e-mail signature on a spirituality and unschooling list:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” – Marianne Williamson

I’m ready for success, I really am. And, moreover, I’m already successful! I’m a mother and a writer and a joyful person and much more. I release old fears and doubts, and step forward on this path of self-discovery and creativity. My life is becoming ever more full of beauty and wonder and joy and love. My projects are flowering beyond my dreams. So mote it be!

What’s New, Pussycat?

We’re all feeling healed up and no longer coughing and sniffling. Yay! And even though it’s a dreary day outside, it smelled like spring this morning when I left for work.Here’s a picture of Star on Saturday, which was a big snow day around here.

In other news, Crow’s basketball team, coached by Quester, won their big playoff game and will be playing in the championship on Saturday! Crow is very excited about playing in the big gym at the high school, and getting his name announced to a crowd. We had a lot of fun at the playoff game last night; my parents and aunt came, along with BlackLion and Raven. The team played really well.

That’s Crow, who’s the point guard for the first team, in the picture. Sorry about the poor quality; it was dark in the gym.

ElvenTiger of course runs around with her pack of wild girls and doesn’t pay much attention to the game. She seems perfectly content to have made friends whose names she doesn’t even know. They have a blast, and if she sits with me initially, her girls come and seek her out.

I’ve recently joined a couple of unschooler e-mail lists, and am finding new friends with similar interests and approaches. I guess that’s sort of unusual, too, in that I know their names but have never met them face-to-face. Friendship comes in so many forms!

Happy Happy Joy Joy!

OK, so if this works, for the first time ever, this blog will have actual real pictures! No, not just the little one of me up in the corner that BlackLion put there. I mean acutal photographs, taken, transferred and posted by yours truly! OK, so here goes:

Here is ElvenTiger, my sweet 9-year-old, who is as excited about the new digital camera as I am:

Here is Crow, age 11, all worn out from basketball practice:

And, at long long last, here is my Mystick Quickpaw:

Isn’t he sweet? Much fun and
playing with the new camera ensues… But first I’ve gotta get to bed, I’m still sick.