Tuesday, February 22, 2011


(and further testing my email-an-entry capabilities...)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What's Goin' On

(I love love that Marvin Gaye song, by the way.)
I usually edit anything I write to a truly neurotic extent, but I wanna get this out there. So you can overlook my errors or not, as some of the millions in the blogosphere.
kissy face texted to my sweetie after another great run on Super Bowl Sunday.

A love letter to myself from myself ~ the best kind.

What have I been up to lately? Why haven't I been writing? Is everything ok??
In the almost six-year history of this blog, the silences speak as much (and sometimes more) than the entries. Climbing in to my hobbit hole-turtle shell for healing, resting, processing, evolving, re-grouping. As much as I would like to Represent publicly and Out Loud, I do a mighty portion of my Tiffanie-ing solo, solitarily ~ or as solitary as it gets with that happy tiny companion most-always around. Sans microphone. And I learned during my career as a creative writing student that living to write about it later ... sucks. I oftentimes hear the little narrator in my head waxing poetic as I live my life (I am a writer), but ~ similarly to a photographer ~ I think it is absolutely essential to live first, talk or photo second. If at all. So as much as I do love telling the story, I tell the little narrator to knock it off lots of times. (I remember a tandem bikeride years ago with that quickminded poet, Gemini Cricket, where we were chugging up a strenuous hill and he puffed, "If you got enough air to talk that much, you ain't pedalin' hard enough!" HAHAHAHA!!!)

What have I been doing if not writing here?

I've been re-grouping. Lately, as much as I cherish this blog space, I have been lost as to what its purpose is. What's my focus? Why am I writing? Who am I writing to? This has left me speechless.

I've been catching up on the private blog I keep to share with extended family (and close friends) about our family life ~ in an attempt to help it meet my needs more, to help its source be joy, and not feel like a chore. Cuz I ain't gettin paid.

I've been cooking! There has been a true renaissance in my kitchen upon moving from Berkeley to Sacramento. A large part of moving away from our beloved Bay Area was precisely about removing the safety net ~ making things a little more difficult so that we'd actually do stuff for ourselves. In that way, the move has been hugely successful. We still enjoy eating out, but: there are a lot fewer high quality restaurants here than in the Bay. There are some great ones I'd love to give a shout-out to (mainly our now-favorite Magpie ~ WE LOVE YOU!). More than any Bay Area loyalist would want to believe, for sure (there is quite the stigma against Sac in the Bay Area ~ or any place outside the Bay Area, for that matter!). And, of course, Three Stone Hearth and its perfectly-nutritious take-home food (sauerkraut, bone broth, grassfed meat patties, um ~ everything but the salad...) is only in Berkeley. So I'm finally forced to useall the skills and know-how I went to Berkeley to learn in the first place! I have sprouted my own spelt flour, hand-ground grain to make my own sourdough every week for a month now, all sorts of veggie ferments (successful and gross alike!), made gallons of bone broth, soups and stews, created nutritious snacks my toddler eats again and again, started a now-habit of creativity with breakfasts (a main, solid family meal for us, not just a light snack), my own deliciously decadent chocolate Valentine's candies, and, well ~ it's been fruitful and immensely fun. I work on a kitchen project of some sort most every afternoon. And have help from an eager sous-chef. ;-)
Making Valentine candy hearts ~ a little girl version, and then a spicy-decadent big-person version!

I'm falling in love with running all over again! Without shoes. As in, totally barefoot. I had seen the "minimalist" shoes and thought they made enough sense that I bought a pair when my standards were ready to be replaced. But at the shoestore, I had the good fortune of being fitted by a man who's been running "barefoot" for years. He recommended I read Christopher McDougall's book, Born to Run. I've only read one other book about sports ~ Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike; it's just not my genre (honestly I mainly read informative non-fiction ~ don't judge me..). I devoured it on my phone over Christmas vacation, even sneaking in a page or two during bathroom breaks! Not only did I love the story, I loved the theory: that we humans evolved to run easily over long distances for the duration of our lives.
This idea jives with so much of my approach to life ~ that the way people lived generations ago was much healthier, happier, and more sustainable ~ that I had to try to apply it. And obsessively research about it as I've done with everything else I've incorporated, from nutrition and cooking to babycare, and now permaculture.
More than compelling research and theory, what keeps me suiting up and heading out the door is how good it feels. When I run with just the soles of my feet on the ground, I immediately run with the "proper" form, because that's the way that doesn't hurt. My pace quickens and my breathing comes into a thrilling alignment. Almost instantaneously, I fall into the mindframe which tells me I could run all day (or at least a couple hours) ~ a way-of-being that only happened occasionally, and after several miles' warm up when I ran regularly with cushy shoes. In other words, I don't feel like I'm working or exercising; I feel like I'm playing. In the moment, childlike game-play. As weird and goofy and California-fruity-fringy as it seems, I wouldn't keep trying it if I didn't have so much damn fun! And the next most amazing part, is that my body feels excellent doing it. Even though I haven't had a regular running practice in years. When I ran regularly in years past, joint and back soreness were just a fact I put up with for a worthwhile workout. The first week that I ran with minimalist shoes, my calves were so sore (because of the different technique involved), I looked pretty silly trying to get around for the rest of the day. That only took a week to move through. The pad of the ball of my foot is still tender and sore after running with totally bare feet. But this is getting better by the day. The rest of my body ~ my joints and back? They have never felt soreness running this way, even though it is so much different than the way I have run since I started in college. In the morning, when I usually would roll out of bed feeling creaky in my back and hips, I feel lubricated and refreshed. I'm up to running about four miles now ~ about half with minimal shoes, and half with no shoes at all. It has quickly become an activity I attempt to squeeze in, if just a short run, every day. In the past I have marveled at and been so grateful for my legs in their ability to run far over and over again. Now I have an all-new awareness of ~ quite an infatuation with ~ my feet; such capable creations they are! Thank you, feet! I love you!
My amazing feet ~ after my first-ever run without shoes.

My daughter is a two-plus year old. Wow. We're navigating the changing, blossoming, challenging course day-by-day. She is becoming more and more independently her own person by the moment. I love who she is! And find being her mommy to be even more an exercise in mindfulness and compassion (for both of us) than ever. Emotions and tempers rise. We still enjoy nursing and sharing the family bed together. Those activities provide such nurturance and stability for both of us. They give us a resting place to return to when toddler times get momentarily tough. And we are finding other big girl ways to connect too. Cooking and art. Humor and silliness and light-heartedness. I am grateful for forgiveness and being ok with getting things wrong. At the end of the day, she's still awesome Anjali, and I'm still her Mommy. Thank goodness!

I have had a whole lot more energy lately, if you can't tell from reading. I believe it is largely due to food-based supplements I've implemented. I wake up with a lot more drive and motivation, and feel a lot more accomplished at the end of the day.

What else have I been spending time on recently instead of blogging?
I've been taking an online Spanish course, called Rocket, daily. When I studied language in school, it was French. I am quite a Francophile to this day (thanks in large part, I'm sure, to my high school teacher, Madame Smith!), carrying the fantasy-hope of someday living (eating and cooking) in Southern France. I majored in French for a semester or so in college (I think..?), and got to where I dreamt in French ~ even cursed aloud in French as I slept (HA!). So whenever I go to speak Español, French invariably comes out. Time to get past los colores andlos numeros. I know that there's no way to study language like immersion; every time I go to Baja, the words I pick up while there I do not forget. But this online course helps ~ if anything, just to keep it fresh and ongoing in my mind. And as much English as most Baja natives know and are generous with in conversation, I feel much more respectful of them trying to speak their language. My background in French helps a lot when reading Spanish. But listening to Spanish speakers and deciphering it is still hard. I feel as if I have a long way to go! But a journey is a step at a time, right?

So, speaking of Español, we leave for Baja in two days! This time, we are going to be spending a whole month there ~ mostly camping on the property. What property, you ask? I have not done a good job of keeping you up-to-date. Along with all the above explanations, the reason I think is because the story just feels too big to me to describe ~ or maybe somewhere in my heart I believe that if I tell you about it, it'll end up not true (hmMmm. some truth there I hadn't considered!).
Self-portrait check-in ~ "do I look as if I'm on the cusp of a major life-adventure?!"
We were invited to buy into a 16-acre piece of property in La Ribera, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The owners include the wonderful Miles and Woo, and a few others who are part of a Buddhist community who attend a 3,000-acre retreat center within a half hour of La Ribera. The property is zoned mostly agricultural, is mostly flat with a hike uphill towards the back, and is grown up with all manner of spiky prickly things, at the entrance to a tiny community that is situated on the coast of of the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez.
Miles with the now-productive papaya and banana grove, dome shed structure in the distant background.
Below, a sunset view from the top of the property~ horizon being the sea.
The agreement within the group of owners is that the property be developed and cultivated adhering as closely as possible to permaculture principles. Designs were drawn years ago, as detailed as to include the hundreds of species of plants to create a food forest. What we plan to do while we are there this month is to set up a base-camp so that when we and others go down to work, there will be easy shade, shelter, water and electricity, and composter toilet already there. That way we can maximize our time to work. We plan to visit for at least a week every other month, and then in November: build an earthbag dome (with a crew of helpers ~ wanna volunteer??) with the potential of setting up semi-permanent residence! Troy is still exploring the work options he has available to spend as much time as possible living in Baja, and most likely working in the US. He is discovering more and more that the American Dream is not his, and that working as a farmer to create a sustainable tropical paradise is. I'm beside-myself excited, and also feeling like it hasn't really sunk in, that very soon I'll be doing exactly what I have dreamed of for years! It just took this long to get all the pieces of the puzzle in view and in play. The stars have aligned.

All that being said, I'm pleased that I have been mindful in our daily life here in Sacramento, so as not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. So many times in the past as I have had a distinct goal in mind, the present circumstances felt insufferable. That hasn't been the case; though we are clearly not in love with Sacramento and our current situation, it still rocks! And though I'm so psyched for what's to come, I don't actually live in the future; I live now. And now is .. what is. Gotta love it! My day-to-day life with my daughter has felt sweet and solid. Routine and uneventful in the best, grounding kind of way.
Every-day special: a homemade picnic at the park on a recent warm day.

Ok~here we go!
¡Hasta la próxima vez!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Coming back to gratitude

Oh. Feeling overwhelmed today. Our government continues to disappoint me with seemingly every decision. My daughter sometimes acts "like a two-year-old." My husband is sometimes grumpy. And I might just be experiencing a twinge of weepy PMS (hello monthly rhythm!)...

So I'm re-membering to come back to gratitude.
I recently bought a few books for Anjali from my beloved Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. I think she likes them - soothing water color illustrations, and calming messages; I probably benefit more than she does from our reading them (what toddler needs to be reminded to be present?? I dare say not one!). And the main message it always comes back to: breathing rocks! As in: I love being alive on this planet in the here and now! Realizing my breath, I come back to the ultimate gratitude: I am alive. Right now, I am alive. Right Now. I Am Alive. I know there is incredible suffering in the world and that my life has been extremely lucky, but my most dire times taught me perhaps more than the cheery ones: I like living. And here and now is what I have. Pain reminds me that I have feelings. Having feelings reminds me that I'm alive. And I like living.
Scott Noelle (at right, under "so grateful for") suggests playing a game to bring ourselves back to present awareness, and out of pain from the past or anxiety of the future. It's called "The Now Game." So I'll play that:
Right Now,
I feel my daughter nursing.
I feel her body breathing in and out next to mine.
I hear a little whistle as her nose exhales.
I hear cars passing occasionally.
I hear someone emptying trash.
I hear our upstairs neighbor's washer churning.
I see my phone in my hands.
I see bright sunlight streaming in the window!
I see the houseplant leaves illuminated with stripes from the window blinds.
I see the orange tree across the street, loaded with fruit, rustling in the wind.
I see the aluminum foil "twinkle stars" Anjali and I made for her birthday still decorating the door frame.
I feel my eyelashes lightly crusted with tears.
I feel my heart lightened from the weight I felt when I started this post.
I feel sincere gratitude for the Now that is upon me.

I breathe a sigh of release.

Ahhhh! Ain't life a Grand Adventure? Remembering that all I have is Now, and that I can choose how I experience things (haha; my phone auto-corrected to say "thugs"!) helps me tremendously.

And Now, I will Gratefully leave this phone, and Really step into the present!