Jan 25, 2010

The important things.

Sometimes Grace is especially cranky, or she won't stop pestering the dog, or maybe she just refuses to get dressed. I get frustrated, and if I'm tired enough I worry that I'm doing it all wrong. But I need to remember it's not about me. Gigi's such a great little girl, and I'm so proud of her sometimes I feel like my heart might pop out of my chest and burst all over my keyboard. I keep this letter to Santa on the bulletin board by my desk to remind me that it's all going to be okay. (She got the hat.)

Lady B.

Brady has been performing her security duties exceptionally well lately, so we got her a brand new bed, a tiffany-blue collar/leash combo and a sassy little haircut. She seems pleased, although she'd probably prefer more food and treats.

That fabulous tail, pre-grooming.

I think they did an especially nice job on her posterior.

Now her paws are nice and tidy, although she still has a tendency to step in her own poo.

Jan 22, 2010

Open house.

When we were trying to decide whether or not to have another child, a friend shared some advice she got when she was at the same point in her life. When asked why she wanted another baby, she admitted that she didn't want her son to be an only child. Her advisor suggested that, if that was the only reason, it wasn't a very good one. She told my friend that if she didn't want her son to feel lonely, she should open her house to other kids. Her son would have playmates, and his friends — some who may not be getting everything they need at home — could find a refuge.

I forgot about that until recently, when I realized Grace is at that age where she gets pretty bored at home. I can't play with her all the time, so why not have other kids over? My motives may not have been as altruistic and pure as my friend's were, and I'm fairly certain Grace's playmates all have perfectly happy home lives. But you know what? It's been brilliant. Whether the mom stays for a visit or leaves their child for a sleep over, Grace has fun — and I don't feel guilty for not constantly entertaining her. But most of her friends are boys, so things can get a little rowdy.

Grace and Seamus had never met, but that didn't stop him from taking his pants off. Check out the blurry monkey in the top left corner.

Jack and Grace are old friends, and he was so polite when he was here I was afraid he might be ill. Grace made up for it with some serious sass.

Julian is so chill, Grace couldn't convince him to misbehave no matter how she tried. Note Brady, just waiting for a crumb to hit the floor.


Lately I've been thinking, reading and writing a lot about eating. A couple of my last posts refer, directly or indirectly, to feeding. I've stopped eating meat (okay, except for eggs) and I consume very little dairy (okay, except for cheese). I've read "My Year of Meats" and "All Over Creation" by Ruth Ozeki, and I've done quite a bit of research about various practices of raising, feeding and slaughtering animals for human consumption. I've also delved into the truly frightening reality of genetically engineered crops (too many to list), and now I find myself wondering, "What exactly am I supposed to eat?" And, more important, what should I feed Grace? Of course I know the answer to this, but it's takes more effort and money to eat truly healthfully, and I've been lazy.

Why so preoccupied with food? Good question, which I asked myself the other day. I believed I was being pragmatic, both as a consumer and a mother, in trying to create parameters that would make buying, preparing and eating food an ethical, healthy and happy experience for my family. Now I suspect my focus on diet is symbolic of a greater need; what I'm really longing for is a better way to nourish not just my body, but also my mind and soul. I'm at a point where I need to make conscious decisions about what I choose to digest — physically, emotionally and intellectually — because so much is being thrown at me.

From my own struggles, to the fiasco that has become U.S. politics (ugh), to the tragedy in Haiti, it's easy to become so overwhelmed that the most appealing option is to just keep it all at bay. (Even food; when overly stressed, I forget to eat.) But I know that's not the answer, because ignorance is not bliss. It's not even living; it's hiding. For the last few months, I've been alternating between hiding or taking in way too much. I have yet to find the balance that allows me to tune out the overabundance of bad news and negativity, and to replace it instead with what is good and healthy for me and Grace.

The wolf post touched on this, but I didn't realize how perfect the timing was for me to receive that message. I think I've been feeding both wolves, and not equally. (The evil wolf is clearly the one who has made himself comfortable wrapped around my midsection.) I indulge that wicked wolf with anger, sorrow, regret, self-pity and guilt. I've been making a halfhearted attempt to bring joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, and faith to that poor, hungry good wolf, but this may prove more difficult than I expected. (Note the masthead of this blog!)

In a week Grace and I will be moving into a new apartment — the downstairs of a house owned by a woman who was looking for a housemate, and who meticulously transformed her basement into a beautiful, airy, comfortable space which I will heretofore refer to as my "garden apartment." Everything is brand spankin' new, and there is a beautiful back yard just starting to bloom; how can this not represent a fresh start? To say my future housemate and I have a lot in common would be a hilarious understatement; one of the first things we talked about was planting an edible garden. She's delightful, and I look forward to a new friendship.

So for the next week I'm going to focus on starving that evil wolf by taking in as little negative energy as possible, whether self-generated or thrust upon me. And it's definitely time to start feeding the good wolf, to summon all of the joy and hope that Grace and I both need right now.

How do I do that, exactly?

Jan 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

One of my very favorite people, Lisa Tomlin, emailed this to me recently. It resonated, and seems like a dog-diggity great way to start the new year.

The Two Wolves
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all."

"One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego."

"The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Thank you, Lisa. You continue to astound me.