In the belly of a fish.

IMG_7501We read Jonah’s prayer this week in my Friday morning women’s small group:

Then Jonah prayed unto Jehovah his God out of the fish’s belly. And he said, ‘ I called by reason of mine affliction unto Jehovah, And he answered me; Out of the belly of Sheol cried I, And thou heardest my voice.For thou didst cast me into the depth, in the heart of the seas, And the flood was round about me; All thy waves and thy billows passed over me.And I said, I am cast out from before thine eyes; Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul; The deep was round about me; The weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed upon me for ever: Yet hast thou brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Jehovah; And my prayer came in unto thee, into thy holy temple.They that regard lying vanities Forsake their own mercy.  But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation is of Jehovah. And Jehovah spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”

We read this and were given the back story through this lens: God wants Jonah to go to Ninevah. He doesn’t want to go and makes plans to go to sea in the exact opposite direction. When they go out, a massive storm starts rocking their boat and Jonah thinks it’s his fault. So he decides to jump overboard–sacrificing his life to please God. But instead of drowning, he gets swallowed by a whale. Swallowed by a WHALE! A whale that God PROVIDES. From inside the fish he prays this prayer, and then three days later the fish vomits him onto dry land.

IMG_7342In my own mind, I picture it happening like this:

God says to Jonah, “Hey, I need you to do something.”

Jonah and his big ego says, “No.” Or rather, he says nothing and runs. Away from God.

He runs to catch a boat, and a crazy storm hits. Old testamenty thinkers say it’s because God is mad, but I don’t really believe in a God who punishes people for their actions in anger or jealousy. What happens is nature, one massive, maddening storm that maybe Jonah could have avoided if he would have listened and surrendered to what he heard. But he didn’t, and he’s in the midst of a major problem. He thinks God’s mad, and instead of choosing to talk to God or get quiet and still and pray, he throws himself overboard–further into the mess and madness. Further into the depths and darkness. Into despair.

God rolls his eyes and mutters under his breath, drama queen. And then God sends him a Whale. To save him. Because he’s not done with him yet. He has hope and love and plans.

Why does he send a whale? Why three days? It’s a time out. To think and get really still and sit and surrender. In the middle of a fish. Slimy and stinky and funky but also angelic and holy. A way to save him, in a way we might not recognize. Not every angel is shining and dressed in ethereal white. God’s like that. He sends us here like that too. In the belly of a woman, where we are birthed in slimy, primordial fluid and flesh. Miraculously messy. Awfully holy.

IMG_6444In my own life, I think of how many times I’ve repeated this Jonah pattern. Over and over.

One day I’m sitting still, and I get this undeniable urge that I am supposed to do something (quit throwing up when I was bulimic, sell my house and quit teaching to go to Ayurveda school, use my knowledge to help people with health coaching, do acts of kindness every week and blog about it, etc.) I could go on and on about what God has nudged me to do.

The next day, instead of listening to the voice within me that is not me, I start panicking and listen to my fears instead. And then I’d find myself with my head hovering over the toilet, staying in my house while the market crashed, doing Ayurveda school on-line and then switching directions and doing IIN, not use any of it and working in water conservation instead (while feeling massively in over my head, like a fish on dry land, anxiety ridden & depressed ), etc.

And God probably looks at my fearful actions or worse–my fear-induced paralysis, and mutters under his breath, good freaking grief.

Until I wake up, in the belly of a fish. Or with a baby in my own belly–that I am powerless against. I have no choice but to surrender to the biggest craziest whale-sized love that this is. That God sent.

And now I must grow and change and choose love over fear for my son. I must learn to sit still and be quiet to listen and pray to God even in the busyness of new motherhood. Because in my heart I know that my son will learn to live by the way I choose. Because in my heart I know that my son will see the world the way I do. Because daily he shows me God, and how God must feel when he watches all of us.

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With so much big, crazy, beautiful love.

My Happy Place

I was asked to share My Happy Place by one of my favorite mommy bloggers  Three Boys And a Mom (check out her blog if you haven’t!), and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s funny. Sort of….

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We just got back from my Mama’s house. We went for Thanksgiving. A long weekend. I snapped this picture from the car as we were leaving and sucked in my breath. In ways it feels like I’m still holding it.

They say home is where your heart is. It’s an idiom meant to express that home can be with the ones you love. But they got the saying wrong. They should have said, home is who your heart is with. My heart is with my husband and son. I’d be completely lost without them. But my home is not Denver. We just live here.

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My home will always be on the West slope. That’s my where. It’s where I grew up, in a tiny little town that you’d miss if you blinked your eye while in passing. It’s where I returned after college, after park rangering a summer, and personal assisting in Aspen a year, to teach–at the same high school from which I graduated. It’s where I bought my first (and still only) house-a tiny town home that my once fiance said I’d never be able to do on my own. It’s where I run into the only Starbucks in town and see 5 people I know and nearly run out of breath catching up in quick conversations with. It’s where I explored–mountain meadows, canyon trails, desert runs, and the inner workings of my soul. It’s where I feel like I can breathe, every time we go back to visit my mom & dad for a day or a few.

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My happy place is there–in that small town with the ones I love most. Watching the deer with my dad and son from their front window. Leaving Easton with my parents (the first time in 10 months since we don’t really know anyone in Denver well enough to ask) to take a walk around the lake I used to bike past so often. It’s seeing my brother become an uncle. Seeing my sister as a mother.  Seeing former students with their own children at the grocery store. Seeing former teachers, and though I worked with them as a teacher, still not being able to call them by their first names. Seeing more open space and clean, blue skies–hearing cows and chickens in the distance instead of traffic sounds. It’s the gentle ebbs and flows that the mountains seem to make–as if they were waving to me like a familiar friend.

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That’s my happy place. And these last few years, I haven’t really been happy like that here. I know it sounds like I’m complaining. I don’t mean to. I’m incredibly blessed to have a husband who works hard everyday, who is my best friend, who is willing to grow and learn and share and change with me everyday. I’m insanely in love with my son–his curiosity and sweet personality that is showing itself more and more each day. Nothing beats that. I’d chose them over that place any day.

I did choose it. I left my happy place for love. Love isn’t a place. Home isn’t where my heart is. My home is on the West slope, but as long as I’m with my husband and son, there’s no place I’d rather be. And it took writing this to fully understand it for me.

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So there it is. And if you’re reading this, I’d love to hear what your happy place is or about the ones you love most. Let me know in the comments or write a post & link back to your site.

You can never hear enough good news, you know?

Xo.

Restorative Soup Sunday.

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On Friday night, I started to feel a little run down. Extra tired. And I know there’s a nasty bug heading around, so I went to work giving my body everything I could to help it fight off the virus. So far, I’m still not sick. Here’s what’s doing the trick (knock on wood and prayers to God):

*Saturday morning I taught a twisty yoga class. Twists are detoxifying.

*After class I got adjusted. If you’re in Denver, check out Discover Health & Wellness!

*I drank a ton of water.

* I upped my Vitamin D to 6000 IUs a day, and started taking an extra tablespoon of elderberry syrup before bed (I take one in the morning through “flu” season

* I drank the magic drink—1 packet tangerine EmergenC with 1 tbsp Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar in a little water.

* I rubbed On-Guard all over the bottom of my feet during the day & before bed (and diluted on Easton’s also)

* I rested as much as I could–no running, only walks outside.

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* I made Wellness Soup. I really wanted my carrot-ginger & red lentil stew, but when I started making it, we didn’t have near enough carrots. We had (& you will need):

2 medium parsnips,

4 celery stalks

1 sweet potato

4 carrots

1/2 a yellow onion

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup water

3 cloves garlic

3 T grated fresh ginger

1 cup red lentils

1 tsp freeze-dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)

1 tsp paprika

Sea Salt & Black pepper to taste ( I love pepper & put even more to serve my soup)

To Make:

Prep your veggies–peel carrots, parsnips, an sweet potato. Dice them in fairly equal sized cubes. Chop your onion, celery, and garlic.

Saute the garlic (finely chopped), diced onion, & diced celery with a little salt & pepper in a large soup pot. When the aromatics are slightly translucent, add the oregano & paprika, and rest of the veggies and a bout a half cup of water.

Let simmer for 5 minutes and then add in your vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and add the red lentils. Let simmer a while and add in more salt & pepper to taste. Add in your freshly grated ginger.

When the red lentils & veggies are soft, it’s time to serve.

Why is this Wellness Soup? Root veggies. Ginger. Garlic. Black Pepper. Broth. Carrots are rich in antioxidants–loaded with Vitamin A. Parsnips are high in folate, fiber, Potassium & vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are loaded with anti-inflamatory and antioxidant nutrients. Ginger helps with digestion & is an anti-inflamatory. Garlic is anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Black pepper aids in digestion (like ginger) and helps move toxins through your system.

Make this the next time you’re feeling a little run-down or have been exposed to sick people and follow the regimen above.

Be well everyone!

Joyful, Joyful

IMG_7202This was from a few weekends ago at Garden of the Gods. My husband snapped it from his phone and just showed me this week. It was the last really nice day before the cold and snow set in. It was a day that we woke up together as a family. It was a day that my little boy woke up, and I may not have even noticed how he changed, but knowing that he was somehow different. Maybe a bit taller; his fingernails now needed clipping, he’d be quicker on his feet–running around the furniture; he’d figure out the puzzle that I bought him; he’d be extra cuddly and need to be tucked in close to my heart. Each day he is different. And I am too.

Early in my pregnancy, I remember thinking that the whole world was different because of the child that was growing within me. Nothing was the same. Nothing would ever be the same again. I didn’t know at the time how true that would be. In both the romantic, idealistic way I had dreamed and the very real peeing with a baby sitting in your lap first thing in the morning kinds of ways. I didn’t know how differently I’d see the world–through his ever-curious eyes hungry to know “what’s this?” and “this” and “that”? I didn’t know I’d learn a new language, one without words. I didn’t know that language would shape the way I act and think and feel about everything.

Every day he changes. Every day the world around me is different. And every day I am changed.

I am a changed woman. Many of my patterns and habits and beliefs to which I had previously clung to so tightly have loosened their grip on me. Or rather, I’ve simply let them go. Additional baggage to carry is too much. I already carry this life–this precious life with me from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. And then throughout the night as he shifts in his sleep to nurse or in dreams. The weight of this beautiful blessing that I am responsible forever for is enough on it’s own. And so, as my house builds up with stuff–blankets and toys and lovies and leaves and sticks and baby mittens, and bowls of snow, my heart empties itself of so many things.

Lately, I’ve been pouring over my curriculum materials from Institute for Integrative Nutrition since I’m coaching a group, and I came across a concept they have called the circle of life. Check it out:

circle+of+life+colorSo much has changed in the last few years since I have taken this. You’re asked to evaluate your life based on these aspects of health–seen holistically. In so many areas of my life, I’d categorize a component lower than I once did. Home cooking??? Always, but not to the extent I was before. Home environment? A big damn disaster. I used to be a neat freak. Relationships & social life? Outside of Aaron and Easton–pfff. Spirituality? No, I do not write to God everyday anymore. I pray in bursts, and I’m embarrassed about half of them. Unless you count nursing my crying child or changing his wet diapers as prayers. I do. Finances? Muah ha ha ha. Don’t even get me started on what’s different there.

But for all that’s different, that’s lowered or less, the Joy? More. So so so much more. Every day he changes. Every day my world is altered and awesome. Every day I am undeniably refined. Purer of heart, and my heart is so very full of joy.

With Love,

Keri

Restorative Yoga Sunday. Back & shoulders.

IMG_7179It may not look like much, but after a long day hunched over something–a child or computer a kitchen floor, this pose is pure bliss.  In many yoga classes, a similar shoulder opener is taught, but using a Mexican blanket horizontally across your back. This one is slightly different, and I love it. So here:

I folded my blanket like this.

IMG_7172In half width-wise and then length wise.

IMG_7173And length wise again. And then most importantly:

IMG_7174Accordion-style to get some decent height. Here is a view from the top:

IMG_7175Then gently lay on the blanket. You want the bottom fold to hit where your bra-strap would hit  (of for any male readers, where you would find one ;) ). NOT AT THE BASE OF THE SPINE. I’ll say it again, where your bra clasp would be. This picture illustrates where:

IMG_7177(This pose is more relaxing without a baby so close in the background.) Once you lay on the blanket, you should notice a bit of excess blanket at the top of your head. You can fold it under to make a pillow so that your head is slightly elevated. That’s what’s happening with my arms in this picture. Once in the full pose, your arms should be at your sides–about 5-6 inches away from your body (not at a cross shape and not glued to your sides). Palms should face toward the ceiling.

I beg you, spend five minutes in this at the end of the day. Spend five minutes with your eyes closed, in this pose, replaying every moment you were grateful for. Heart openers are the best time to focus on gratitude. And then slowly come out of it–roll onto your right side and push the blanket away, to roll onto your back once again noting the changes in your spine. Then gently press yourself into a seated position, sit with your eyes closed, and observe how you feel physically, mentally emotionally. As you take note of those feelings–make a quick mental list of how to nourish yourself in the week ahead.

With love,

Keri

Winter Bucket List Part 1

IMG_7108It’s not quite 9am, and it’s 3 degrees outside right now. A whopping 3 degrees warmer than it was when we woke up. It’s lightly snowing, and as pretty as it is, it’s November. November! The month that is still supposed to be autumn. But one look outside frigidly illustrates that winter is here.

Rather than cry over my chamomile tea (we were out of COFFEE this morning), I’ve decided to make the best of the bitter cold and an uncharacteristically early morning nap time to make a winter bucket list. From now until Christmas. Since we live in Colorado, winter necessitates two bucket lists. Sigh.

* Make a new soup once a week (yesterday we were housebound & I made some pretty great vegetable broth recipe coming soon!)

* Rework a few sugary holiday recipes to make them still tasty but less-likely to give me a sugar hangover.

* Knit a few more hats and finally mail a few promised to friends!

* Make small Christmas gifts for family & friends (to be determined).

* Make it a point to exercise every day–even when we are stuck inside.

* Incorporate more restorative yoga into my week, and post here weekly as a gift for the stressful holiday season to all of you!

* Get outside every day the weather is 30 or above; let Easton experience snow and cold and winter & know the magic of it.

* We missed the coat donation day, so I plan on cleaning out what we no longer wear and taking our warm clothes and coats to Goodwill.

* Donate money to a local shelter providing Thanksgiving for the homeless.

* Pick a name from the angel tree, and let Easton begin the first of many holidays with the spirit of giving.

* Deck the halls. But without a full size Christmas tree. I’m not up for a month of NO, Don’t touch!

* Read and re-read all the winter and Christmas books.

* Read more books, or even a book just for me. Little Blue truck 500 times a day doesn’t count & isn’t cutting it.

* Sing Christmas carols, let Easton learn which he loves most.

* Make a Christmas ornament for Easton. Some keepsake for his first Christmas!

* Spend a Friday night driving around looking at Christmas lights.

* Bask in candlelight everyday.

* Make some bath cures with essential oils for the cold.

* Come up with an age appropriate Advent activity calendar for Easton & spend each day making memories.

What are you planning for this winter? What’s on your wish list?

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

Pain in the Neck.

Screen shot 2014-11-09 at 2.26.38 PMI love Instagram. If you follow me , you already know I’m slightly addicted to it. You might be familiar with the fabulous yogini mom in the photo above; if not, find her profile here.So freaking adorable, right?! She’s famous and only one of the many Mamas & yoginis I follow. Maybe it’s crazy to say it, but I love the community of people I follow. I love that from them, I am reminded daily how wonderful the world really is–despite what the daily news reports. The moms that I follow inspire me with beautiful images of motherhood at times when my own life doesn’t look so inspiring. They share real moments and reach out as well, making me not feel so alone. I am so grateful for  the virtual village that exists there.

Most every day, I also post images from our life that I love.  I try to capture the good. And share it. I try to capture the good and hold on to it there. Because life as a mom isn’t always beautiful.

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It’s almost always messy–toys are strewn across the living room floor, dust coats corners I choose to ignore, and I haven’t cleaned my oven in a little over a year. It’s sometimes stinky–poopy diapers and infrequent mom showers. It’s often hard–giving up every ounce of yourself for another person (often when you are sleep-deprived). And sometimes it’s painful. Specifically in the neck and shoulders.  Spending all day hunched over a not-so-little one, wearing a 25 pound & growing boy, and co-sleeping in strange positions makes my muscles tighter than my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

Restorative Yoga to the rescue!! For me anyway, and I want to share them with you. Hopefully here every Sunday–as a gift to give yourself throughout each week. You deserve it; all moms do! The poses don’t make for  pretty pictures like Laura Sykora’s do, but they save me and make me feel peaceful and take away the pain that motherhood can sometimes cause (as wonderful as it is!).

The picture above is my all time favorite pose for tight neck and shoulders. I do not recommend it for pregnant mamas and advise against it if you are on your period or still have post-partum bleeding. I do recommend having a friend or partner spot you the first few times you try it. Other than that, this pose looks much scarier and harder than it actually is. I made a quick “How To” video on Youtube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JP_nJSnwvI

 

You will need wall space and two non-cushiony chairs. Place the chairs against the wall, just far enough apart for you to slide your neck between them.

Practice from your knees to get the right distance.

Practice in downward dog before kicking up, rocking up onto your toes and feeling how the chair will massage your shoulders. Once you kick up, the feeling will be very intense. Painful even. But you made it through labor, remember? You can handle this pain! And you will feel so much better afterwards.

With a spotter  or two (standing to the side), kick into “handstand”. This does not take upper-body strength, just a lot of letting go of fear.  Move your pelvis toward and away from the wall to really massage deeply into your muscles.

With a spotter or two, slowly come out of the pose–first to downward dog, then to your knees. Stay on your knees with your head on the chair or on your arms folded on top of the chair for at least 5 deep breaths.

And note how your neck & shoulders feel. Better, right?

Next week will be less scary, I promise. Also, is there anything you’d like to see? Low back relief? Hip pain? Headache? Let me know in the comments!

With Love from Colorado,

Keri