Dreaming the Dream

Being more self reliant and less reliant on big corporations has long been a dream of mine. One of the ways I am currently doing this is by making as much of my food as possible versus buying everything pre-made. Let me tell ya, having to decide if I want cookies enough to bake them certainly has curbed snacking. I am also reading to maximize the space I have for a vegetable garden this year. I have had small ones in the past and failed pot gardens, so this will be a new experience for me.

I had planned on getting into canning this year by taking field trips to the you pick farms. We would get a family fun day and then a couple of days of canning, baking and freezing. Which is more bonding and homeschooling. Hopefully, it will be safe enough for us to go to the you picks this year. Otherwise, I will see what the local farms are doing to sell their items and plan around that.

Eggs. I go through an insane amount of eggs; seriously I think we did 15 eggs for breakfast for 7 today, plus potatoes. Finding a local farmer to help us both out may be a good idea. I can’t do chickens where I am due to zoning and space issues. When I get the acreage that I have always dreamed of, then I can revisit the idea of chickens.

A Food Processor has entered my life. The adventure this week will be in learning to use it to full capacity. When I have used one before, it has been for making the baby food or salsa and dips. I have always loved working with good knives and cutting boards. However, there are certain things I want to do that this will help immensely; such as making my own flours. I had to go gluten free last year, so I am now ready to take my baking back. I have missed it, but didn’t do as much due to the differences in gluten vs. gluten free baking.

Embracing dreams one day at a time
Irisa

Christmas season 2020

This has been a unique holiday season for all. While we have missed seeing relatives. We took advantage of the changesto evaluate what was and was not working for our normal holiday routine.

One of the things that has bothered me the last few years has been the pressure of gifting. A gift should be given because you want to give it not because you felt as though you had to purchase a gift. Frankly, a lot of what we had been doing felt like social obligation that I did not agree too.

The most difficult parts of the season was resetting the gifting expectation with family and friends.while we appreciate everyone, it was out of control. A hated feeling pressured to spend massive amounts of money, or that I was a bad parent for limiting the amount of stuff my kids received.

This year my kids got one big gift to share, then they each got a video game, a toy and a book. Plus, Santa stopped by and left a single toy per kid today. They were ecstatic with their gifts A huge boxes was noticing they were not over stimulated or overwhelmed by a ton of stuff. So their behavior wastheir normal selves.

After a difficult conversation of figuring out what we were doing out of obligation and truly considering what we wanted to do – an intense amount of stress came off of us. It wasn’t perfect, as we learned today when we found ourselves stressing over the perfect meal and perfect atmosphere. Changing a lifetime of habits and mindsets takes a bit of doing but I am proud of what we did achieve this season.

We truly began to create some family traditions, personal boundaries and communication about what we really want our days to look like. Each day is a new opportunity to evaluate our reality vs. What calls to our heart.

Due yourselfthe gift of self honesty. Stop moving from one obligation to the next as if you were an autopilot. Of an obligation does not bring you joy or better your life ask yourself: what would you rather be doing? Then embrace that.

Happy Holiday! Irisa

Winter Solstice 2020

It would probably be helpful to introduce the Winter Solstice or Yule. Yule originates in the Norse culture and is held around December 21st; astrological timings change this slightly.  Typically, this was celebrated over twelve days and oathing was common during this time.  A variety of deities were honored, the most common being Freyr, Thor, Odin, Baldur and Skadhi (ADF).

Modern neo-pagans continue to encourage the return of the sun during this festival.  This is often celebrated from December 20th through December 31st, some people practice for one day, others three and yet others twelve.  

As many secular religions do not work during their holiest of holy days, it is considered the same with Yule and modern neo-pagans.  Although, the structure of modern society makes it near impossible for modern neo-pagans to not work for an entire twelve days modern practitioners manage to find a way to balance the demands of life and the desire to spend this time with family and friends as was done in days of old.

For many modern neo-pagans this high day begins by celebrating Mother’s Night vigil.  This is an all night vigil that begins the honoring of ancestors.  Conversely, this high day celebration is often concluded on New Year’s Eve with a large party with friends and family (Hulsman, 2010).

Winter Solstice 2020 was the most unique one of my life. The energy was from an astrological event dubbed “the Great Conjunction” between Jupiter and Saturn. It was the first time in 800 years these planets have aligned. In the weeks prior to Winter Solstice I found myself returning to my spiritual practice in a way that soothed my soul.

After spending the day making incense and bath bombs with the kids, we lit our Winter Solstice candles. After inviting the return of the Sun into our lives, we spoke of the meaning of Solstice and traditions from different cultures. Then my partner and I cracked open a bottle of wine and sat by the fire reminiscing and sharing stories with our kids.

Later, everyone else slept and I did as much of a Solstice Vigil that I could. I am not a late night person, so staying up all night doesn’t work for me. Sleepy, but happy and feeling the hope knowing that the darkest of the season is behind us and the renewal of light brings rebirth to our world.

May the Solstice Season and Holiday Spirit find its way to you, bringing hope, peace, prosperity, friendship and love.
Irisa

The Passion Project

Focusing on a niche for this blog has been extraordinarily difficult for me. The original intent for this blog was an outlet for my passion for writing. So, for the next turn of the wheel of time, I am going to focus on writing each day. I have a passionate soul with a variety of interests. I do not want to limit myself to just one for the moment. Mindfulness will still be a topic, as that is at the core of my personal ethics of “Know Thyself”.

I look forward to following my path of passion, exploration and personal journey for my writing. Lately, my mindfulness has taken me back to my love of culinary creations, baking (exploration of gluten free), homeschooling, suburban homesteading, DIY crafting, DIY home improvements, and motorcycle rebuilding to name a few.

Here is to following our passion and learning about ourselves,
Irisa

The Playful Side of Mindfulness

There are rare moments in life that capture the fairytale portraits of life that we see in film and magazine. Today, we are fortunate to have one of those moments with beautiful white fluffy snow falling from the sky. My children and I played for a bit outside, visited the creek that is beginning to freeze, and came in to have lunch by a lovely fire.

I am filled with gratitude with that we have a home surrounded by nature and a fireplace in our home. Mindfulness, aides in noticing what is happening at that time. This, in turn, helps to live in the moment and seize these opportunities.

As you practice mindfulness, notice changes in yourself. There will come a time that the urge to play begins to surface … careful now, the may be an ingrained tendency to push that away; stifle or squash even. A voice saying unkind things about an adult playing or time wasting or some such rubbish.

Play is essential to our well being. It relieves stress and connects us with others. It allows us to be create, to breathe and just express ourselves. If you take the time to play, a shift begins to happen. With children, you begin to connect on an entirely different level.

With play, you find your imagination coming to life. Then, when you go back to your adult responsibilities you may be surprised with the new views that you bring to your daily activities.

Be mindful … follow your instincts … play … create … and journey into yourself to create a new world outside of yourself.

Playfully,
Irisa

Winding Down & Releasing 2020

This year has been unlike any in my nearly 50 years. A global pandemic has forced the world to halt, then change. During mandatory quarantine I witnessed a shift within myself, community, and relationships. Without the daily rush, we were forced to see what was in front of us. To confront our lives, instead of burying ourselves in work, school, and obligations (self-imposed) or otherwise.

In America, the world watched as tragedy brought Black Lives Matter to global attention; followed by the increasingly publicized divide among American citizens in politics and social behaviors and attitudes. These matters, along with quarantine behaviors, thoughts and attitudes regarding the pandemic dramatically shifted workplaces, families, and friendships.

One cannot go through all of this without impact on the mental, emotional, and physical levels. Personally, all of this brought me back to a mindfulness practice. It was my way of coping with the overload and being able to guide my frightened children through this year. Stripping away our schedules, changing how often we have all been together, and stepping away from social pursuits and obligations has brought massive change to our lives.

This has been an emotionally and mentally raw year for me. The quiet has allowed my inner voice to be heard. Change in how time has been spent allowed each of us to show and share our vulnerabilities. Being in the same space each day gave reflection on whether it felt like a sanctuary or a burden. Behaviors and attitudes came forward regarding how each of us felt about the changes in our lives and routines.

Mindfulness, has been the saving grace for me. I would love to tell you that with mindfulness I have not had my anxiety and depression flare; but that would be false. What I can tell you is that because of mindfulness I am fully feeling the feelings and allowing them to naturally process. It has not been pretty, because raw emotions never are. However, as I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest, I have seen beauty in my closest relationships. They have comforted me and allowed me to see their raw vulnerability and personal struggles. As these have emerged, each of us has worked on communication and support with each other.

We are far from perfect, far from healed in some instances; but we are growing together. Being away from our obligations and usual calendar of events gave everyone time for reflection. This reflection gave amazingly honest conversations about wants, needs, likes and dislikes. It also has shown each of us what is really important to us and what we want to get back in our lives, what we can live without, and where the adjustments work just fine for us (such as telecommuting, homeschooling or some distance gaming). Each member of my family surprised me with thoughts and actions. Social behaviors during the pandemic showed me where my values were the same or different from those who touched our lives in some way.

Our connection to nature and our spiritual path has also been revealed to us. We missed being outside all the time at the parks and spent most of the year turning our backyard into a sanctuary. Missing our spiritual friends has been strong and recently we have been better about a home practice; instead of waiting to be with our spiritual community in person.

Hobbies and interests that reflect our personalities have emerged even more; especially with mom making the electronics be put down. New ways of communicating and connecting with loved ones have emerged for each of us as well.

Saying I love you has always been important, but now more than ever. Fear of loss is as real as loss. Living with a shadow of fear from an unknown, unseen source will shape each of us, but especially our children. Teaching ourselves and our children to continue to move forward with life and love, to move through that fear and find what love, beauty, grace, and gratitude there is in life despite the fear is important.

Today, I ask you to reflect on what you are grateful for. It can even be the lessons or conversations that your anxiety or depression has taught you. Find something joyful to reflect on, even the hope things will change in a better direction for you. Hold onto that and breathe into that. Give yourself a moment to relax and release the emotions of 2020 so you can create space for whatever the next year will bring us.

Irisa

Deep Peace and Gratitude Mantras

Gratitude, Thankfulness and Peace are on the top of my list today. In the United States it is Thanksgiving. We have a family practice of focusing on gratitude and spend time with family and friends. As this is the year of the pandemic, we are keeping with those living in the house; but like many holding close those we cannot see or speak with this year.

This is a dark difficult year and we could all use some help. Mantras are wonderful for helping us be in alignment with mindfulness. When the darkness and fear of this year feels all consuming, try a Gratitude Mantra.

You may be wondering how to do a gratitude mantra. Breathe and focus on the mantra. It can be said out loud or to yourself. This can be done simply standing in the place you are or you can set up a room of candles, incense and comfortable seating; in the bath or with kids and dogs crawling on you. They are versatile, simple and powerful.

Mantra: I feel Gratitude … Dhanya Vad (dahn-yah vahd)

Mantra: I am Gratitude … Kritajna Hum (Krit-ah-nah hum)

Another gratitude practice is the gratitude journal. However, I prefer a twist to mine. Instead of this private list I add what is called a behavioral component. Express gratitude for someone each day of your life.

To each of you I wish peace:

Shanti Mantra
sarvesham svastir bhavatu … May there be well being for all
sarvesham shantir bhavatu …May there be peace for all
sarvesham purnam bhavatu … May there be wholeness for all
sarvesham mangalam bhavatu … May there be happiness for all

Deep peace and gratitude to each of you for stopping by,
Irisa

Breathe and Remember

This is for you, a reminder that you are valuable …. you have worth …. these emotions that you feel as you practice mindfulness are necessary. These emotions tell you where you currently are, you are not stuck here, you do not need to reside here. This is not your life. This is your moment. Breathe.

Mindfulness is an exquisite practice, as I hope you have discovered, but what we learn about ourselves and the situations and relationships in our lives may not be equally exquisite. I am here to remind you that it is okay if you don’t like everything that you see and here at this moment.

The mindfulness you have been cultivating, the observations you have been making are important. These emotional, physical and intellectual insights that you have cultivated about your life are the catalyst for you to create a life that you adore.

Creating a life you adore does not mean there will never be parts you don’t like. We are humans interacting with other humans in a money based society filled with a plethora of wants, needs and desires. That recipe does not make for non-stop happiness.

However, continued mindfulness will be the greatest too you can have to navigating both the immediate and larger world around you. Change what you can to make both better. Embrace your dreams and find or create the opportunities you need to be the best version of yourself.

Embrace your growing pains and know that this is not permanent. You are moving forward every minute of your life. Continue being mindful, embrace the knowledge and blossom into a life you adore.

In Peace,
Irisa

Expectations, Mindfulness & Journaling

I have spent a week working on this discussion on expectations. Ironically, the harder I work on it the more problems I had with it. This morning, I am reflecting on what I had and just started laughing. Here, I had a set expectation in my mind of how I wanted this blog to turn out and it kept crashing and burning. Exactly, the discussion I wanted to have and have been having all week. Thank you Universe for the lesson!

Be mindful about your expectations. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure? For example, my oldest has been struggling in school because she has been expecting to read over a lesson once and know it. Does she have an eidetic or photographic memory? Nope.

No wonder she has been a huge ball of stress. I asked her where she got the impression that was how things worked. Apparently, her dad and I quoting books and movie lines made her think we just knew it after one viewing. Nope, I have worn out movies and books memorizing this stuff.

Are your expectations leading you to an unrealistic state? Remember, we don’t need to live in Hollywood and advertising view of perfection. Ask yourself: What is perfect for your life? Now, ask yourself: What stage of that perfection can you achieve right now?

Take a mindfulness moment and reflect on current self expectations.
Get comfortable, have a journal handy and ready, set, breathe!

Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one
Breathe in … one, two, three and Exhale three, two, one

Now, Open your journal and set a timer for 7 minutes.

Prompt … What are my current self expectations? Write until your timer goes off. If you are inclined, write past that. When you are done writing, please take a look at what you have written. Read your thoughts with loving kindness. Your inner voice is telling you the expectations that you have for yourself. Observe them with love and kindness. Treat them as though you are speaking with a loved one.

Once you have observed your inner thoughts. Reflect, but do not judge. Are these attainable? Do the expectations reflect where you are or where you came from? If the expectations are lofty, can they be broken up into stages; think of it as climbing a ladder. Are these expectations so low that you don’t feel like you are moving toward any goals? Do your expectations upset you or excite you?

Once we know what our expectations are, then we can move forward with an understanding of how we are operating. Is fear and ego at the wheel? Lack of confidence? Crazy unreachable expectations (ego)? Another person’s voice?

This awareness can give us the mindfulness we need to adjust our self-expectations. Part of my self care is awareness of expectations. Expecting my kitchen sink to never have dirty dishes is unrealistic. Expecting my children to do their chores and empty the dishwasher of clean and put in dirty is realistic if I am discussing the older two.

Let’s not get crazy though, we all have expectations that make us feel like we are banging our head against the wall. I expect clean folded laundry to make it to the dressers. My children expect magic fairies to put the laundry away and deal with the dirty clothes.

Laundry feels like a circus around here. It stresses me out and never is where I want it to be. So, when it is at its worse and I am at my best: I remind myself they are little and someday I will miss this chaos. I remind myself this mess happens because we are spending quality time instead of chore time. I remind myself that we are lucky to have clothing and shelter.

Those mindfulness prompts are the good days. On the bad days, I sound like a mom who has lost her mind in frustration, too little sleep and what feels like a mountain of dirt and filth. Mindfulness isn’t perfection or if it is, I haven’t found that particular roadmap. However, mindfulness does let us grow, learn and adjust each moment. This gives us the opportunity to handle the next such moment better than the one before.

Be mindful, check on your expectations and if you find those magic fairies send them my way, I could use the help too!

Lovingly,
Irisa

Mindfulness as Stress Relief

Mindfulness as stress relief is something that I am immensely grateful for. Without mindfulness, I would be unable really hone in on the things stressing me out and resolve them.

This morning, I woke up with a headache, body aches, tension in my neck and shoulders and that awful, tight feeling in my stomach. Immediately, my thoughts went to worry and guilt over two things. Instead of wallowing and being upset; I decided to follow this awareness and see what it was telling me.

I made my coffee, grabbed a journal and pen and began to write how I was feeling. The main source of my stress was over the quote we received for a bathroom remodel. Okay cool, source acknowledged by why was that stressing me out so much? After all, this bathroom remodel is in the category of “this would be awesome” instead of “we have problems.”

I kept writing and asking myself questions. What the writing revealed was blocks and traumas involving myself, money, relationships with men, self worth and boundaries. It was very eye opening and I gave myself some time to then do forgiveness and gratitude work on those blocks.

The end result has been a decrease in body tension and stress. Awareness on personal blocks and a grateful feeling towards my mindfulness practice. Had I not been mindful to how I was feeling, I would not have recognized that I was having a physical reaction to emotional issues. The muscle tension and headache could easily been attributed to sleeping wrong, change in weather or the nightly blanket battle with my husband and dogs.

Let’s do a mindfulness exercise:
Grab your journal and pen or electronic device.
Get comfy and prepare to breathe.
Breathe in through your nose … one … two … three…
hold your breathe … one .. two … three …
Exhale through your nose … one … two … three…
Repeat
Repeat
okay, put pen to paper and take stock of how your body is feeling. Then check in on how your emotions are feeling. Write down what comes to mind.
We are simply practicing mindful awareness of our physical and emotional connection.
If you feel called to write more and follow this awareness, please do so.
If this was enough for you for today, then congrats on beginning the journey and mark you calendar to do it again tomorrow.

Mindfulness works in ways you may not yet imagine. It brings an awareness and clarity that cuts through the mental and emotional clutter. This helps us grow and heal as an individual.

May you find peace in mindfulness,
Irisa