Balance – to me

IMG_3294The point for me in starting the blog wasn’t the blog at all, it was the changes I needed to make in my life.  The blog was a way to capture the process for myself, to think out loud to process my experiences and to share the journey with others.  To date, that has meant that my updates on the blog have been inconsistent, although my attempts to create a healthy balanced future have continued steadily.  In the past two years I’ve accomplished some pretty significant changes.  I do wish I’d posted more of them, but as part of my problem is in having very limited time, this blog has not been a huge priority to me.  Maybe that will change this year as I have had more success in streamlining my life.

  1. Clean Food – I have made a lot of progress with food.  We eat organic, hormone-free, whole foods 60% of the time.  Eight years ago I saw nothing wrong with cooking every meal out of a box in the microwave and even powdered potatoes counted as a vegetable. This was no small task.  And I still struggle with sugar, carbs and pizza.  As a single mom who works full time, shortcuts and conveniences are sometimes a matter of sanity.  It happens.  I don’t get too bent out of shape.
  2. Removing toxins – This step was easier but more expensive as it required simply replacing many items with other items.  Habits stayed the same but the tools changed.
    1. Replaced my non-stick cookware with stainless steel
    2. Donated all my old plastic food containers and replaced with glass
    3. Removed all toxic, chemical cleaners, detergents, soaps and skin care products for me and the kids
    4. Installed a water purifier to remove toxins in the water
    5. Ditched fluoride
  3. Reduced Stress- Reducing stress is hard.  For me it required a new mindset where I would let things go.  This did not mean making excuses for myself.  This meant simply letting go of anger, resentment, fear and that feeling of obligation.  It meant saying no to requests that did not meet my own personal goals.  It meant letting go of friends or acquaintances who were toxic or who did not reciprocate what I had to give or who were just draining me.  It also meant increasing the good stuff; increasing fun, increasing joy, increasing solitude.  Making time for nothing is something when you are constantly on the go and being pulled in different directions, but I’m getting better and it is paying off.
  4. Increasing exercise – Letting go of the obligations I made for other people opened up space for me to do things that were for me alone.  So, I’ve made time for more exercise which includes running and weight lifting which are my loves but I branched out and tried yoga which I am also enjoying.  These all feed back into #3.

So here’s the thing that has happened to my thinking recently, my definition of balance has changed.  Balance to me used to look and feel like a gymnast on a balance beam on the best days and on a tight wire on the worst days.  The point was to get to the other side without crashing off.

Now, my idea of balance does not look like that.  That sounds stressful! My definition of balance has changed to look more like an ecosystem with many various parts that feed off of and fuel each other.  Some things like clean foods are like the water in an ecosystem.  Essential for life and health but made up of complex smaller parts.  It has taken me a long time to get the water right and sometimes I do have to scrape some scum off the top and do some serious tweaking to get the water right again.  Stress can be like a big fish suddenly thrown into the water that needs to be tamed or a storm that troubles the waters and I need to wait it out. OR it can be like an invasive vine attacking my plants and threatening the whole ecosystem and I have to go to war to kill it off.  The toughest part is not training the big fish, waiting out the storm or battling the invaders; it’s sorting out which kind of threat and responding with the appropriate reaction.  But as with any skill, with practice, I am getting better.

So, with this in mind, I’m hoping to continue to nurture my ecosystem of life and add in a few more tropical plants without upsetting the balance.  My goals this year are to:

  1. Grow as much of my own food as possible
  2. Write more
  3. Travel more
  4. Read more
  5. Find more silence and solitude
  6. Include my kids in more of the decisions about this ecosystem. After all, they live here too.  And they are old enough to have a say AND to lend a hand.

It’s been a great journey so far and is well worth it.  I hope to post more of my progress this year (see #2… stop laughing that wasn’t intentional!) And hope to hear more from you what changes you are making.  And what does balance mean to you?

Thanks for reading!


Simple Tricks We Often Overlook

One way I try to keep my kids healthy is to keep fresh, accessible snacks at eye level in the fridge. Here I have cut celery, baby carrots and sliced watermelon. On the table, I have washed fruit. What are your tips?


Banana Bread


1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Blend together

Add 2 eggs

Add dry ingredients:
1 1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix well then add
1/2 cup sour cream
3 frozen then thawed ripe bananas
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Bake in greased pan for 1 hour at 350 degrees

A Post About Helping

I really don’t try to tell people what to do because you can do what you want! And me too! But, I can’t help myself today.

Yesterday, I was driving home from dropping the kids off at day camp.  It was nearly 8 am and I’d been up since 5:30 getting the kids ready, giving them food, quickly checking my work email and appointments, feeding the dog and then racing out the door.   As I was driving home to start my day (yes, even after all that my day hadn’t started) I noticed that two houses on my street, across the street from each other looked abandoned.  For the past couple years there have been 3 single moms living in my neighborhood. Me and two others. These two houses belonged to the other two single moms.  I knew one had moved in with her mother with her 2 kids because our kids used to play, but I didn’t know about the other one, with overgrown grass and a front door covered in letters and notices, presumably from the bank.

It makes me sad and above all, it makes me extra mad because I have a neighbor across the street from me who is harassing me about the state of my house.  He complains that my trash can is in the wrong place and I have parked my (second) car in the wrong place.  It was parked on the grass next to my fence so that my kids could play in the driveway instead of on the street.  (And I’ve been trying to sell it for a year so if anyone wants to buy an old suburban with over 200k miles that runs great just let me know!)   I am completely within my rights to do what I’m doing and it really (in  my opinion and others) it all looks fine and is acceptable.   But my neighbor is trying to sell his house.  He wants the neighborhood and all the homes in it to look as pristine as his.  He wants potential buyers to buy his house and buy into the neighborhood. He wants to sell the myth that if they buy his perfect house they will be buying the perfect neighborhood with the perfect neighbors and even buying the perfect life!  Sounds nice. But he’s living in la la land and I’m across the street living in reality saying, “Give me a break!”

He is retired and mows his grass weekly on a riding mower.  He pays a landscaping crew bi weekly to edge and trim and weed.  And in all the free time he has from outsourcing this work he has been writing me letters and having his law office write me letters about where I put my trash can.  (This is true).

June 23 091This bothers me first because it is just wrong and there is nothing wrong with my trash can; he has singled me out. My trash can sits next to my garage.  My house is on a corner and his house happens to face my garage and it is his opinion and also the opinion of his realtor that the location of my trash can is “negatively impacting the marketability of his house.”  You can’t make this up!

It also bothers me because my house to me looks very nice and takes a lot of work. I am proud of my house and I do the best I can but in truth when he insults me and my house he is also insulting my friends, because while I am a single mom, I do not do all this alone.

So, here is why I am posting.  I’m getting to the point!  I hear from people a lot that I make it look easy to be a single mom. I want to let you know the TRUTH! It’s NOT EASY! I have a lot of help!  I have a TON of super awesome friends who help me in ways that may seem small to them but are HUGE to me!  I have an awesome friend who has come over and mowed my lawn and trimmed my bushes several times this summer.  And another one who helped me jump my suburban so I could move it when my neighbor was freaking that I had it parked on the grass – MY grass. And I had yet another one check out my car before my road trip and let me know my tires were starting to show the treads (dangerous!) and told me to go get new tires. I have friends who have taken my kids to the beach and to the pool and to the park on teacher work days when I’ve forgotten there was no school but still had to work.  And I know I’m totally capable of doing this stuff, but sometimes I forget and sometimes I’m just too tired to change a lightbulb.  It’s true! I’ve had friends walk up to a dark porch then come in, grab my lightbulbs and a ladder, change the bulbs and then we go out.   Same for my air filters.  Am I lazy? NO. Am I overextended? YES. Do I have the best friends in the WORLD? YES YES YES…

So, here’s the point.  Life is NOT pristine. Even with lots of help. Even with a good job and good friends and a pretty house. And, even more  it is NOT easy to be a single mom. And it is also not easy to be a parent (even in a coupled household) of young kids.  SO… if you happen to know a single mom, or a family with any children under the age of 5, I can guarantee they would love a little help.  And a little help from you might actually take them a few steps back from the edge, might give them a moment to rest and avoid that nervous breakdown that very seriously might be around the corner.  I’m not being dramatic here, it is THAT hard and I have lived in that space on the brink of losing it both as a young mom with a husband who was always out of town AND as a single mom who was suddenly doing all the parenting (which was not new) but ALSO suddenly had a new 20 hour a week hobby called legal divorce paperwork. Can I say it again, this is HARD and it is draining. And when a person is DRAINED emotionally and financially and physically, the tiniest crumb of help or encouragement or thanks is worth a million bucks.

So, as I passed these two abandoned homes I felt very grateful that my situation is what it is and also wished there was more I could do for others. Well, I’m going to do what I can to help people struggling and if I can do it, you can too! So… if you happen to know a single mom or dad, a parent to a child under the age of 5, or an older person or someone suffering from a chronic illness, do something to help.  Here are things you can do without being intrusive.
1. Mow their lawn.
2. Change their oil
3. Invite their kids to dinner (not them.. if they go they will be on high alert trying to make their kids behave and have manners… let them stay home and take a nap on the couch)
4. Tell them you think they are doing a good job

Yard work for single parents and parents of very young kids is particularly hard.  I could always get stuff done inside, like laundry, sweeping, cleaning, etc. But when you have a toddler to chase, there’s really no good time to go outside for an hour to mow.  Not even if they are taking a nap, because you never know if that is going to be a 3 hour nap or a 3 minute nap.

But the point is, if their porch lights are out and their hedges look like Einstein’s hair and their trash can is sitting at the end of their driveway for 4 days and their leaves are all over their yard and their grass is sprinkled with wildflowers and their car is covered in dirt and pollen, don’t write them a letter to point this out.  They already know.  Write them a letter to ask if you can help them.


Non-GMO Picnic

I am a huge fan of the picnic. And by picnic I just mean eating out of coolers on the go, whether you are at the beach, a park, the pool, a sports event or just going about your business avoiding fast food.

Here’s a list from GMO Insider on finding non-gmo alternatives

Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Threats

  1. Buy local and organic foods whenever possible. Reducing the time from “farm to table” preserves nutrient composition.  Eating organic foods reduces your exposure to pesticides.
  2. Drink clean water.  Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, consider using tap water or using a filter to purify water from the tap. 
  3. Use glass instead of plastic and choose smart plastics and avoid putting them in the microwave or the dishwasher where they can degrade under excessive heat.
  4. Replace cleaning products with non-toxic, pesticide-free, biodegradable, natural products that don’t contain carcinogenic chemicals.
  5. Reduce meat consumption to reduce your chances of developing chronic conditions like some types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  6. Avoid pesticides in your home and in your food. Buy organic.  Use natural pesticides.
  7. Look for meat and dairy products that are hormone, antibiotic and steroid free.


Host a Healthy Balanced Future event in your home or online to receive discounted products or a free Green PolkaDot Box membership for significant discounts on organic foods.  ($125 value) Ask me how!