Natural progression

I wish I had it together enough to have blogged about my focus on "natural" throughout the year and not just a couple posts. I'm proud to say that I've actually kept up with it though and am very happy with the changes I've made! I have noticed that there has been an unconscious progression. From a focus on outer action to a focus on inner action. All of these things were in play throughout the year but there always seemed to be a main focus and the progression is interesting to me.

The beginning of the year, my main focus was on outer actions like recycling/composting better, using recycled toilet paper, car mileage improvement, getting rid of plastic, buying less plastic, less single use plastic items, bringing another plant into the house (which died as I don't have a green thumb), getting rid of the microwave, etc.

The main focus turned to beauty/body care products which is still an outer action but closer to the body. I looked at the products I use and started eliminating chemicals and toxins. I started making my own deodorant and tooth powder which both surprisingly work awesome! The thing I have had the most trouble with is my hair. I've tried using the soap my husband makes- no good for my hair but works great for the girls. I tried the "no 'poo" method of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar but wasn't completely happy with it. The vinegar is the PERFECT conditioner- I will never go back to any other conditioner as this leaves hair shiny and tangle-free but the baking soda wasn't completely what I was looking for in a wash. Next I tried an all natural dish soap that claimed it was good for hair too but it dried mine out. I found a natural shampoo made from soapnuts (a kind of berry that has soap properties and is often used in raw form for laundry) from Naturoli. I *LOVE* this stuff but it's way expensive. Stretching it by only washing my hair every other day and by using baking soda now and then works well. They also have a highly concentrated laundry soap that works great too. I think part of the trouble with finding good natural options for cleaning my hair is due to needing some kind of gel/mousse for my wild curls (thus having to wash out the stickiness) and having very hard water. After trying a couple natural gels/mousses, I found a good one by Alba Botanica.

The focus on body products flowed into an inner focus on what we eat. This really needs its own post because I have learned so much this year that is increasing my family's health. We were soo sick this last winter with cold after flu after cold. I knew that something needed changed. After looking at our diet that I thought was so healthy, I decided to look into other various diets including raw food, alkaline, and gluten free. I gleaned great things from all of them but it wasn't until I found GNOWFGLINS and her ecourses that I finally KNEW I found what I had been looking for. I will hopefully write more about this soon!

Lately I find my focus turning even more inward. I want to really know myself, define who I am, what I want out of life, and my beliefs, improve my abilities, work on my weaknesses, and grow as a human on my walk of life. Through this desire, I have found my "focus word" for this coming year: Evolution.

Evolution: any process of formation or growth; development. A process of continuous change from a lower, unsatisfactory to a higher, improved state.

I plan on doing lots of journaling and art journaling this new year. I've started already. :)


Influence from the sky.

Stars and planets move across the sky, in a methodical dance, energetically interacting with each other, influencing the Earth in magical ways. This influence is so fascinating that it has been studied and revered for ages.

I never was one that was interested in astrology. I didn't looked up my horoscope and didn't know what all the fuss was about. In the last few years, I've found the reason for this lack of interest was due to lack of knowledge and understanding on my part. I used to scoff at the idea of the stars having any influence on our lives but after being more in touch with the idea of everything being made of energy and having an influence on everything else around, I am no longer scoffing. If the moon's energy can have such an effect on the tides of the ocean and the sap in trees, if the Earth's energy can pull apples off trees to the ground, if my thoughts (which too are energy) can have such an effect on everything around me, then the stars' energies can also have a great impact on the Earth and Her inhabitants.

Astrology has been a interest of mine lately. Admittedly, I'm far from understanding all its terminology and interpretations, leaving my head spinning with wonder. It started with birth charts. Human personality and psychology has always been a curiosity to me. I love a good personality quiz that explains our inner workings and astrology is beyond the ultimate personality quiz! The full map of the sky (which includes so much more than just your sun sign) at the exact place and time of birth can tell you so much about yourself!

But this isn't the reason for this blog post. The making of the personality at birth isn't the only influence the stars have. Certain alignments of planets, constellations, and stars have an impact on our everyday lives. The horoscope you find in a magazine or newspaper is a watered down version of this. There's a lot more energetic influence than just our sun sign.

An awesome website that goes into great detail about these alignments and influences and how different ones work together is www.darkstarastrology.com. Their explanations of current events and the astrology behind them is fascinating. Like in this post, they talk about the Lunar eclipse conjunct Pluto (back in June) and what events have occurred in the past around similar alignments. I confess I don't know what a lot of the terminology means- conjunct, square, trine, opposite, sextile but thankfully I don't have to to gain knowledge from this website.

There have been some major alignments this year and some major events that have gone along with them. The above post mentioned the Cardinal Grand Cross-it's one of the most powerful alignments of our time; we've had earthquakes, volcanoes, social and political unrest, economic challenges, the oil spill, etc to go with it. It's definitely been an eventful couple years. The last similar Grand Cross in history just happened to be around the time of the Great Depression.

There can be a lot of fear and doom and gloom surrounding alignments like this but it doesn't need to. It's a time of change and progress. If we are aware, open, and flexible, we can use this energy for our own personal evolution. We can use the sky's beautiful energetic influence for good!


"Natural" update: plastic

Yes, I am one of the very worst bloggers out there! I know it, my posts come very randomly and I'm sure they always will. :) Oh well, guess I have to embrace the good and bad of myself.

I actually have another subject in mind today but wanted to post an update on my "natural" focus for the year. Thankfully it is still going strong. There's three main areas that have been at the top: 1. greatly decreasing our plastic consumption and usage, 2. eating a more natural diet, and 3. using body/beauty products that don't contain chemicals.

A few of the smaller actions include:
-Continuing and in some places expanding things started last year.
-Using recycled toilet paper.
-Bringing more of nature into my house- I don't have much of a green thumb but I would like more plants. We've added one to the lonely one we had, its doing well so far!
-J has done some maintenance to our car to help boost mileage a bit.

What I would like to talk about is plastic. Last summer I read a blog post about reducing plastic consumption and that she had a friend with almost no plastic in her home. I looked around my house at the abundance of plastic and thought "Its a nice idea but there's no way I could do that." I continued to see little things here and there through fall and the beginning of winter that opened my mind a bit to the possibility until I ran across this video:

To actually see how little plastic Beth (of Fake Plastic Fish) used was not only eye opening but inspiring! Maybe this actually could be something I could start with baby steps. Since then I have done a lot of reading online through blogs and articles and it has become important to me to reduce my plastic use and consumption. Did you know that EVERY PIECE of plastic ever made is still hanging around? The plastic wrap your mother wrapped your sandwich in when you were little- still here, all those straws you used to drink your juice boxes as a child- still here, those "Jelly" shoes from the 80's- still here. Sure it breaks down a little but it doesn't biodegrade and only a very small percent is recycled. It is either stuck in landfills or makes its way to the ocean. Not only is it hanging around, its also releasing toxins! We are choking the Earth with our single use plastic!

In light of the millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf, I feel now, more than ever, is the time to think about reducing our reliance on oil products. I have really tried to take a close look at the plastic I own and that makes its way into my home.

The kitchen is where the main focus has been. I've replaced many plastic containers with either glass or stainless steel options. Water bottles have been replaced with stainless steel bottles. I am on the lookout for good non-plastic freezing containers but haven't found it yet- so far I am just reusing freezer bags until they're dead. :) A large area of plastic consumption comes from food containers, in my home mainly yogurt, margarine/butter, and produce shells. I have replaced our plastic tub of margarine with organic butter in cardboard. For the yogurt, I have tried making my own but it flopped. I need to try again but in the mean time I try to get a large container when possible. Some produce shells aren't completely avoidable so thankfully they are recyclable.

Other areas I try to be mindful of is toys and things for my girls, utensils/containers while eating out and picnicking, art supplies, and something coming up soon- birthday parties. I definitely don't have it all down. I get completely overwhelmed at times and convenience wins out to being green. I do dream of a world where we are surrounded by natural items rather than man-made chemical laden junk. Someday..


Tossed the microwave.

Yep I did it. I got rid of our microwave oven. I don't have any real scientific proof that it is bad for you or not. I have been realizing lately that pretty much anything you want to look up (healthwise, religious, etc, etc), you will find studies and passionate experiences both for and against the subject. It is frustrating to me at times but I have come to realize that different things work for different people and I just have to find what I feel works best for me and my family. I have been contemplating it for months now and felt now was the time. In my opinion food tastes much better heated on the stove and we don't use the microwave often anyway. Plus, it will make room on my counter for more fresh, yummy fruits and veggies. :)


Natural.. last year.

While thinking about the whole "natural" thing, I realized that its more than just a goal for this year, its also something that I have been working on for a while. Thinking back to some of the things I have worked to simplify/naturalify/reduce my mark:
switched to reusable shopping bags
switched to reusable produce bags
using reusable feminine products
recycling glass, (some) plastics, cans
use a wood stove for heating to save propane
purchased a diesel Jetta car with up to 45 mpg
flow reducing valve on shower head
eating more whole grain hot cereals instead of cold box cereal
eating less soy (more on this later)
reduced use of microwave oven
learning about herbal medicine for natural healing
use own natural handmade soap
switched from antiperspirant to mostly natural deodorant
make our own mouth wash
making and using natural cleaners
Wow that's a longer list than I was expecting. :) I have lots of stuff going on already for this year. Be back with that later.


Religion and titles

Soon after I left what was familiar and started to wander my own path, I felt bare without a title. Christian. Buddhist. Muslim. Pagan. Republican. Democrat. Mother. Teacher. Politician. Farmer. Titles provide a shared focus.. a group of similar thinkers.. a place of belonging. I was frantically searching for a new religious title. I found it was a bit hard to find a title when you really haven't refined your focus or believe. So I calmed myself a bit and decided I didn't need a title. I described my beliefs as "my own form of nonreligious ever evolving spirituality." That's been over a year ago now. There's been a lot of reading.. a lot of keeping what resonated with me and tossing what didn't.

There is a silly little religion quiz called the Belief-O-Matic quiz that I had taken a few times before I started on my own path. It takes your answers and gives you a list of what religions are compatible with your beliefs along with a percentage of how close your beliefs are to the religion. Each time I took it the percentages were usually no higher than around 93-95% match to the top religions listed. Well I took the quiz again recently. My top match was New Age at 100% with a close second of Neo-Pagan at 98%. So I guess I could claim those titles now. Though, I think I'll just stick to "my own form of nonreligous ever evolving spirituality." Leaves it open that way.


New year, new decade, new focus.

Making new year resolutions is not for me anymore. They just don't work at all. I'm lucky if I last one month, as demonstrated by my sad attempt at project 365 last year (which also translated to no blogging). It's discouraging to me so I have decided to just not do it.

Instead, I am trying something new- focusing on the word "natural" throughout the year. It may involve different aspects at different times of the year but will include things like eating more naturally, spending more time out in nature, learning more about natural healing/cleaning/beauty care, doing more to take care of the earth, etc. I plan on making some reminders- designing some kind of natural centered picture that I will print on canvas and hang in my kitchen, making or purchasing a necklace with the word natural on it, etc. Just incorporating "natural" into my life.

Speaking of natural, did you know there was a Blue Moon in December? Its not really blue of course, but it is the second full moon in one calendar month and only happen about every 2-3 years. Since it is rare, it is believed to hold mystical powers. Some believe it contains the knowledge of the Goddess and holds 3 times the energy. It's also a time of heightened or clearer communication between worlds.

Since this blue moon occurred on New Year's Eve I decided to once again dig out my Herbal Tarot cards. I really should use them more often and not just for special occasions but such is life. I shuffled and infused the cards with the energy of curiousness about the new year in connection with my "natural" focus. While thinking of this and being ready to shuffle a little longer, a certain card strongly called to me. It was The Sun card with the meaning of "Warmth. Openness. Friendliness. Happiness. Earthly joy and contentment." Symbolically used for "A cold, withdrawn person. Tendency to stay inside a lot, not exposing oneself to the light of the sun. An antisocial person who is withdrawn and morose."

What a completely perfect card to have drawn. While I don't associate with cold or morose (it actually more about shyness), withdrawn and having a tendency to stay inside is definitely an accurate description of me in the last couple years. A description that I'm not proud of, I might add. Spending more natural time is sure to help that and this card is surely enforcing the idea! I have always loved the sun. With my eyes closed and my face turned upwards, its energy is so warming and uplifting.

Wishes for a beautiful year full of joy and contentment to all beings.

*Info from paganspath.com