A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Monday, 28 July 2014

"the deepest secret nobody knows"

How do you talk to your significant other when nobody is there to listen? Do you use a different tone of voice when you talk to your children when you are in private?

Taylor (2) with Nana in the Gatineau Park.
When my kids were little my mom moved to our city and we would go on adventures with her. Or she would walk to our house using her walker. But most often I would take them to visit her at her retirement home. We would go to her room where there were toys and crafts to do, but frequently we would go into the main lounge where there were tables, chairs and couches. And we would use the games the seniors played like plastic-bowling-pin bowling, or the bean bag toss. My mother was surprisingly accurate at bean bag toss, especially for a 70-something-year-old who was blind! Even though it was a public lounge, the seniors never seemed to mind hearing the kids and were always happy to watch my little twins in motion - they were pretty much perpetual-motion machines.

The other attraction this lounge possessed was a piano. The kids liked to "play" the piano (and I use that term loosely) and of course sing along. One day they were being silly and adding "potty talk" to their songs. I wasn't sure how much the seniors could hear so I called my son over and whispered to him that the seniors might be offended by the words they were using; the idea being it was OK to use those anatomical terms at home, but not here in public. He then yelled across the room to his sister, yelling loud enough so she could hear over her banging on the piano, "No more penis-talk Taylor!" (his term, not mine). When children are little we teach them to have an "indoor voice" and an "outdoor voice." But sometimes there is also a "public voice" and a "private voice."

And I will admit my "deepest secret nobody knows": I have a "public voice" and a "private voice." In private I talk to my husband and my kids in a way that I wouldn't want others to hear! Not always, but on occasion, maybe even often; it depends. My husband and I have been friends since our first week of university in 1982, started living together in 1990, and have been married for almost 20 years. And yet, we can still hurt each other... with things we say... or the things we do. I've been thinking lately that we ought to take better care of the other person's heart... their heart that they have entrusted us with... that we have such power to harm... and such opportunity to cherish, heal, and protect.
Before we were married we attended marriage-prep counselling - a group program over several weeks. One week we were discussing "family of origin" issues. Mike doesn't often speak up in large groups, but that evening he raised his hand. What he shared was quite brilliant, I thought. He said, "My parents never argued so I learned no conflict-resolution skills. Sheila's family had lots of conflict, but there was never any resolution. So both of us have come to this relationship - this marriage - with no conflict-resolution skills." It's true! We had a lot to learn.

The kids (20 months) at the Foster Farm in NB
And then sometimes the universe wants to see if you have really mastered that skill and so we had twins - and needed to teach them conflict-resolution skills. And it started early. They had their first argument when they were a year-and-a-half. Although they had some words by then they used sign language to communicate with us and sometimes each other. That summer we took a trip to New Brunswick where our brother-in-law's family have a farm. As we were leaving a gas station and getting onto the highway we heard a loud roar. One of the kids (we can never remember who), used sign to indicate that it was an airplane. The other twin said, "No" and used sign to say it was a truck. They kept going back and forth, "No" sign, "No" sign, for quite some time. My husband said, "Aw, their first argument! The first of many I'm sure."

They say that fighting with siblings is the place you practice these skills. But, at the same time, the research also shows that twins fight more than singleton children, especially same-sex twins. So we try to teach the kids that they need to treat their sibling as they would a friend, with the same respect and kindness. I realize it's a tall order!

I'll never forget one day when the kids were a little over two, they were fighting over a toy and I listened in. They each had ideas about how they would take turns, would say to the other they didn't agree, and propose another option, and after some arguing back and forth came to an agreement! They hi-fived each other and said, "We did it!" I was so proud. But, honestly, it's been all downhill since then.

Recently we were discussing "relationships" (insert eye-roll) with our twelve-year-old son Mitchell at the dinner table, when there was just the three of us. Mike explained to Mitchell that because he had never seen his parents argue, every time he was in a relationship with a girlfriend and they had an argument, he thought the relationship was over and they would break up. Mitchell was incredulous, and said, "That's crazy!" Why is that crazy? Because he knows that you can disagree with someone and then come to an agreement. That you can argue and then make up. That you can be angry at someone, but still love them. (These kinds of "mixed emotions" or "being of two minds" is something that comes at a certain developmental stage for children.) He has learned the social skills to be able to "own up to" making a mistake, or hurting someone, and then apologize to the person, and heal the relationship them. We use Barbara Coloroso's, "If you make a mistake, or cause mischief or mayhem, you need to own it, fix it, health with the person, and move on."

Peggy O'Mara is credited with the quote, "The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice." That in itself is a good reason to chose our words wisely - and our tone of voice. But I think the way we talk to our children - and to our spouses - also becomes the way they talk to each other, and to other people in their world. So we're going to work on this, Mike and I caring for each others' hearts, and our children's, and reminding them to do the same.

This heart dangle was a present from my husband for Easter 2013. I like the simplicity of this dangle, and the heart within a heart. I wear it on my "Always and Forever" bracelet, and it represents our promise, "I carry your heart, in my heart," which, as the poem says, is really "the deepest secret nobody knows."

by e. e. cummings (with his original punctuation).

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                     i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A mother's unconditional love endures

"Every once in a while, especially after a challenging day, go in and watch your children sleeping." That was probably one of the best pieces of advice we received while doing a pre-natal class for parents expecting twins. 'Cause let's be honest, there are times when they make us crazy and we need to watch them sleeping to remember how much we love them. In the book "Love You Forever" the mother has a special nightly ritual.

My mother holding me as a newborn, with my Nana
on the right and my Aunt Edna on the left

Before I had children of my own, my mother gave me this book, written by Canadian author Robert Munsch, whose books are bestsellers around the world. It may seem an odd gift for an adult to give to another adult but my mom thought it expressed her feelings so well.  It is a beautiful story about how much a mother loves her child as he grows up - even if he is "driving her crazy" during the day! Every night she sneaks into his room and rocks him and sings, "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living my baby you'll be." I don't think I really "got" it until I had children of my own; then I knew how much my mother REALLY loved me - and always would.

That book has sold about 15 million copies. Many parents read it and make up their own version of the song. But I like to listen to the author singing it himself; that's the tune we use in our family.

If you're not familiar with the book, or the tune of the song, please take 6 minutes and listen to the story read by the author, either in this YouTube video or the audio from Munsch's website.
YouTube video of "Love You Forever" read (and sung) by Robert Munsch

 Click here to listen to the story read (and sung) by Robert Munsch

As Munsch shares on his website, he originally made up that song after his wife had two still-births. At first it was just in his head; he couldn't even sing it because it would make him cry. But eventually it evolved from a song into a book. I think it is a special way to express that love endures, even after death.

In the story, when the son grows up to be a man, the mother still sneaks into his room and rocks him and sings to him. Eventually the mother is too old and can't do it anymore. So the son goes to her, and rocks and sings to his aging mother, changing the last line to, "As long as I'm living my Mommy you'll be." And when the son goes home, he picks up his newborn daughter and rocks her, and sings the song to her.

Of course many years after my mother gave the book to me, after I had children of my own, she too grew old and weak. I cared for her through broken bones, loss of mobility, dementia, and eventually death. But her love endures, through me, and through my children.

I know the Pandora catalogue says this charm is called "Pandora Forever," but on my "Flower Power" mother-daughter bracelet this little heart dangle is called, "Love You Forever," because that is how I feel about my children, and as well as my mom.

I'll love you forever.
I like you for always.
As long as I'm living my Mommy you'll be.
Taylor giving Nana a kiss at the Rosemount Centre for Seniors.

Mitchell giving Nana a hug good-bye after a visit.

Mitchell and Taylor (age 6) with Nana at the Grace Manor.

My Aunt Edna with Mom (almost 82)

This bracelet is about my role as a mother and as a daughter,
as well as the lessons I've learned from my mother and daughter,
and about the lessons I want to pass on to my daughter.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

My Pandora journey of recovery - how it all began

I have battled an eating disorder and depression off and on for many years, but I have been symptom-free with my eating disorder for over two years now. The four years prior to that were particularly difficult with the deaths of my mother and father, and then my father-in-law. On top of that, I had a number of quite serious health problems that left me out of shape, overweight and overwhelmed - and struggling with my eating and my mood.

My first charms.
I began my journey of recovery on December 5, 2011, with the intention of rewarding myself with a Pandora bracelet and charms. I bought myself a Pandora knock-off bracelet for $5 and a number of $2 charms. I took it one day at a time and got a cheap bead every day for the first week that I was able to manage my eating (symptom-free meaning no bingeing, purging, or restricting). 
Each day in my first week presented something that I learned and could represent with a charm, reminding me of something specific that I struggled with or what helped on that particular day. I then got a bead each week, until the end of one month of recovery, until I finally earned a "real" bead, my first authentic Pandora charm - and the bracelet to put it on!

As you can see on these knock-off beads, the silver colour wore off. The bracelet was quickly broken. Then repaired and broken again. But I kept these beads and eventually replaced them with the real deal.

Each week thereafter I would set a goal for the week, or month, and a charm to symbolize that goal. Reminding myself of that charm - that I really, really, REALLY wanted - kept me going. When I was feeling overwhelmed, the charm reminded me of the ONE thing I needed to focus on that week, whether it was making myself a lunch daily, practicing meditation, or writing in my Gratitude Journal. I didn't always meet my goal, but I didn't get the charm if I didn't complete my assignment.

After three months of recovery I rewarded myself with the Lucerne charm - a symbol of health and recovery. I had the words "Healthy" and "Happy" engraved on the  two parts of the dangle, because the theme of what I came to call my "Lucerne Recovery Bracelet" was "I deserve to be healthy and happy!" An affirmation I still need to remember.

My recovery bracelet was my talisman, my worry beads, or my rosary. Each bead ended up having associated with it an expression or affirmation - a prayer, if you will. In the early days of my recovery I would often go through one bead at a time to remind me of my affirmations. When I felt the weight of it on my wrist, or touched it, I was reminded to think those positive thoughts. I now have a number of bracelets. Some challenges were much bigger than others, took quite a long time to accomplish, and ended up with a more expensive charm. But each charm still has an affirmation, a skill learned, or a goal accomplished.

It continues to be a struggle to stay healthy, and allow myself to be happy. Every day I choose the charm or bracelet I need to wear depending on what I may encounter or how I am feeling. Sometimes one charm will stand out as the right message for whatever situation I'm currently dealing with. Sometimes I have to go back to the basics, the things I know that I need to say or do to keep me on track. I continue to reward myself with Pandora charms, as I work on the life skills to stay healthy - in mind, body, and spirit. My charms continue to give me strength, and remind me of how far I've come and how much I have accomplished.


Monday, 14 July 2014

What do flip flops have to do with a happy marriage?

I have struggled over the years with depression and anxiety, but when I was pregnant I was SO happy, and I had SO much to look forward to - with twins on the way.

With my mom on my birthday - five days to delivery
Towards the end of my pregnancy, the midwife realized that the twin on bottom was breech - buttocks down in a V-sit, instead of the head down required for a vaginal delivery. I really wanted to try to deliver my twins naturally, so we tried some different methods recommended by the midwife and ob-gyn, in an effort to get that baby to turn around. I propped one end of an ironing board up on the sofa, and lay on it, head down, to see if reverse-gravity would trick the baby into flipping around. Picture that, if you will! Trying to roll my pregnant body OFF that ironing board was not a graceful thing to watch!

We also tried a Chinese acupressure method (acupuncture without the needles) called moxybustion. My husband would light an herbal "stick" and hold it as close to my baby toe as possible, without burning me! Every night Mike would say, "OK, time to burn your toes!"

Unfortunately, during my pregnancy I also had very swollen ankles, and was on my feet all day working as a Personal Trainer. So Mike started giving me foot rubs at bedtime - which I love and find so relaxing. That changed though when we took childbirth classes. We learned that there are certain points on the feet/toes that can be massaged if you're past your due date and want to induce labour. Mike was super paranoid about me having premature labour (a higher risk in twins), so he STOPPED giving me foot rubs!

Fast forward a few years, and I had a blood clot in my calf. The swelling in my feet and calves were pretty bad, making the skin painfully tight. So Mike started giving me foot rubs again, trying to help relieve the pain and remove the swelling. And a funny thing happened. I was really happy! Maybe it wasn't just being pregnant that made me so happy after all. Maybe it was getting foot rubs from my sweetie! Maybe it's the power of touch. Or maybe it's just those few minutes of time and attention after our busy days.

So after I started collecting Pandora, I set a goal to earn this flip flop dangle with the red stone for my red "Always and Forever" bracelet - a good goal for the summer. I have really calloused feet so the first step was a pedicure. And then every night I used a buffer and worked on callous removal - and Mike co-operated in giving me a nightly foot rub. And guess what? I was happy! This charm reminds me that the prescription for a happy marriage, at least for OUR marriage, is foot rubs! 

My painted toes in Mexico last year.
By the way, I've also kept up with regular pedicures, to keep those callouses under control - and my feet ready for flip flops! But, truthfully, the pedicures are mostly because painted toes make me feel sexy! Also a good thing for a marriage!

And in case you are wondering, the homeopathic methods didn't work and that breech baby lead to a planned C-section. That lower baby had always sat so low in my pelvis that during monthly ultrasounds we never discovered the sex. The higher baby was not as shy; he was quite happy to let everyone see that he was a boy! On delivery we learned that the baby on bottom was a girl. Taylor had been the one too stubborn to flip.

Taylor doing a back-walkover
We like to tease Taylor with that "stubborn" story, although in reality it may have been too late in the pregnancy for her to flip - especially with having to share the room with her brother. We figure that's why she is such a good gymnast and has such good core strength; she spent months in the V-sit with her brother on her head! After the delivery the ob-gyn jokingly said, "This one's going to give your trouble!" And true to form, Taylor is still stubborn - although we try to use less negative words like "persistent" or "determined." And, as she was in utero, when she takes a position, you still can't get her to budge!
I think having things to look forward to really helps my depression, and is one of the reasons Pandora charms have helped me so much in my recovery. I look forward to the charms I earn after reaching a goal. I look forward to adding charms to a bracelet I have designed. I look forward to collecting older retired charms. And I look forward to the new charms that are coming out each season.

I also look forward to more foot rubs!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A special gift from halfway around the world

In honour of the FIFA finals I wanted to share the story about my little blue soccer ball, and the special little boy it represents.

Two summers ago I took advantage of Pandora's summer free bracelet promo and bought 6 muranos. And instead of free leather bracelets I lucked out in finding two of these retired blue colour cords, which match perfectly with the blue cz in this soccer ball charm. Unfortunately, after braiding the two cords together it was only big enough for my daughter's wrist so I tried a new design - after I took the photos.

This little soccer ball, which travelled halfway around the world from Australia to Canada, was purchased in celebration of the arrival of my newest nephew Melkamu. Of course the colour is blue, since "it's a boy," and it's a soccer ball because both of his parents play soccer - and his Dad coaches the high school soccer team. The arrival of any child is worthy of celebration, but this little man came to Canada all the way from Ethiopia just before Christmas 2012, after his parents spent 10 years trying to conceive and then waiting for a child to adopt. And I loved that fact that when his parents went to Ethiopia to meet him, his Dad brought soccer balls and played with the local boys, even learning a little of their language. 

My sister-in-law really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. As I shared previously, Mike and I got pregnant pretty easily, and then Mike's two younger brothers and their wives each had a few kids. And still my sister-in-law wasn't pregnant. I had always felt so badly that she was unable to conceive. To be more accurate, I felt guilty; so guilty in fact that I even considered offering to be a surrogate, as if somehow it was my job to rectify the situation. A counsellor in an eating disorder group therapy session once told us that you only need to feel guilty if you have intentionally done something to harm another. But still I felt guilty; as if I didn't deserve to be happy. It just did not seen fair, and I didn't feel that I could be completely happy if she did not have a child. And yes, I realize that is not a very healthy approach to life, but hey, I am still a work-in-progress and learning that I do not have to rescue everyone OR be responsible for everyone's happiness.

Baby hippo Owen and 130-year-old tortoise Mzee
Two summers ago, when we FINALLY got to meet Melkamu I gave him a little book titled "Mama" about a little hippo who lost his Mama in a tsunami and was "adopted" by an old tortoise (true story). It just seemed the perfect story, reflecting how Melkamu was "rescued" and found a new Mom (and Dad). He also found a special place in our family, and in our hearts - as if it was always meant to be.

When I look at this charm - EVERY time I look at it - I can't help but smile and feel that all is now right in the world, and maybe it all happened for a reason. Maybe there are happy endings.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Keeping gratitude in my heart

My husband annoys me. His sneezes are way too loud. He forgets to tell me things. He is ALWAYS bringing home the wrong thing from the grocery store because he NEVER reads the details on a package. He has NEVER wiped off the kitchen counter.

Well, I could go on and I'm sure many of you could do the same. First clue here is, when you are saying "never" and "always", especially in capital letters, nothing good can come of it! So I don't want to spend too much time thinking about the things that frustrate me - or drive me crazy! Because, as the expression goes, "what you attend to, grows." There are big things and there are little things, many of them not-so-endearing. But none of them deal-breakers. So I will focus on - attend to - the positives, and not the negatives.

My coach recommended I keep a Gratitude Journal - and every day write down three reasons I am grateful for Mike. I've been writing in a Gratitude Journal for years, but this one is just about him.

I was given this notebook by a friend for Valentine's Day. She is very talented with this artwork but I don't know what it's called. I couldn't think at first what I would use the notebook for. It needed a special job, cause it was from a special lady. 

Then I remembered one day, that some of us were complaining about our husbands - current and ex. We had all made compromises in our relationships, some bigger than others. And some chose to leave their spouses, others to stay. I realized that I am lucky that there were not BIG issues that I have had to forgive. So, in honour of these other wives, I realized that this is the perfect notebook for my "Grateful for that Guy" journal. 

When we went away for a week as a family in March I wrote in the journal every day. I needed to! We spent a lot of time together! And I have written in it about twenty times in the last few months. It helps me remember that there are little things he does that make me love him, but there are big things too.
Here's a sampling of the things I wrote down, the reasons why I am "Grateful for that Guy":

Some little things:
Today I am Grateful that...
- Mike shares his love of The Simpsons with the kids
- Mike enjoys listening to CBC radio with the kids
- Mike will rub my sore tired feet
- Mike makes a mean pasta
- Mike suggested Dairy Queen
- Mike drives me to the college and we have time to chat

Some bigger things:
- Mike loves me despite my weaknesses
- Mike always has really good insight about the kids, especially the other introvert in the family
- Mike is working with a coach; it shows his willingness to work to improve things and his commitment to himself and our family
- Mike is able to tell me when he's had a bad day
- Mike asks if there is anything he can do before he leaves for work
- Mike coached Mitchell's basketball team and had such positive feedback from the parents, including his decision to not leave his best players on during the overtime of the bronze medal match and to follow the rules of "fair play."
- Mike thinks "it's probably best" if I spend the measly $1000 or so I make a year on Pandora

The Treasured Heart charm on my Treasured Hearts bracelet reminds me of this important affirmation, "I am Grateful for that Guy!" And I treasure his heart.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Two babies, two parents, many "unforgettable moments"

Since every charm on my bracelet has meaning, I had to come up with some meaning for the red bubbles charm on my "Always and Foerever" bracelet (I wanted the red because, as mentioned before, we had red roses at our wedding). One thing that has always made me smile - my "unforgettable moment" as Pandora calls it - is remembering that moment we found out I was pregnant.

We had been married for over seven years when we started trying to conceive, and we were lucky - it took only one month for the results to come back positive. My husband's reaction to the news was to pump his fist and say, "My boys can swim!"

Given my (gynaecologically speaking) "advanced maternal age" of 36, we had to decide if we were going to get an amniocenthesis. We opted NOT to and instead did an early ultrasound at 11 weeks. During the ultrasound the lab technician said, "Here's the first baby... and here's the second baby." And we said, "WHAT?!!" She looked at us and said, "Oh, you didn't know you were having twins?" "NOOOOO we didn't know we were having TWINS!" (that was us responding, in shock and disbelief).

I will digress for a moment to tell you that Mike's recollection of this event differs somewhat from mine. In his version of the story, the lab tech said, "Here is the first head... and here is the second head." So while I was in shock that we were having twins, he was actually quite relieved to know that each of the two heads that she pointed out were matched up with an actual body!

But regardless of the true course of events (and we will never know who is right - not that we care of course!) it took a while before the lab tech could continue the ultrasound because my belly was shaking - I could not stop laughing!! Hysterical laughter I guess! On the way home in the car, we kept saying, "Oh my God, we're having TWINS!" and Mike pumped his fist again and said, "My boys can REALLY swim!"... hence the "bubbles" murano. And about seven month later we delivered twins - one boy and one girl.

Mitchell and Taylor just a few days old.
A few years earlier, one of Mike's best friends had a baby, and his wife did everything. Mike felt the dad didn't get a chance to learn and feel confident in caring for their baby. So Mike made me promise that I was going to let him do his share. Of course when I made that promise I didn't know we were having twins. I might have been more controlling if there had just been one baby; but as it was, I was forced to share the load. I had a C-section so I couldn't do much the first few days and Mike became an expert diaper-changer and bather. He also helped get the babies into the double-football hold so I could breastfeed, checked the latch, arranged the pillows, and brought me fluids. He even got up in the night and brought the babies to me. He was, in a word, indispensable.

Mitchell and Taylor at the cottage.
In Canada mothers get a year of maternity leave (we are still working on getting more time for parents of multiples) but I only took the first 15 weeks of maternity leave, and Mike took eight months of parental leave, with 90% of his salary. When the babies were three months old I went back to teaching on weekends and he was Daddy-on-Duty - by himself, with twins, all weekend! Mike just brought the babies to me so I could nurse them during my lunch breaks. Mike perfected the "burrito" bundling for our boy who needed swaddling to settle. He cradled our daughter while bouncing on the stability ball (giving her a lovely flat spot). It was a very special time together.

Mike baby-wearing Taylor at Calabogie
I always envisioned myself as a new mom walking around the neighbourhood with my infant carried in front. But instead there were TWO infants and we were EACH wearing one. We went to a weekly story and music program at the library. We did swimming lessons. We learned baby massage (that's Mike massaging Mitchell in the collage). We flew to Florida when the kids were three months old to visit my in-laws (that's them in Florida, dressed in blue - the babies, not the in-laws). We spent time in Montreal with my brother and his wife, and their son Theo, who is only 8 months old than our twins (that's him laughing on Mike's lap). We spent six weeks with our families in Nova Scotia and at the cottage. But we spent the majority of our time at home - in pyjamas! It is all somewhat of a blur but I do know that we read, sang, danced, bounced, fed, bathed - and most importantly napped. The kids napped too! And Mike calculated that he changed over 2000 diapers in those 8 months.

Does every woman fall in love with her husband all over again when she sees him being a father? When she sees how he looks at their child? (or children) To remind me of all those "unforgettable moments" I have the "Ring of Roses" charm - but I call it "Ring Around the Rosie."

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Moving from self-criticism to self-acceptance - inspired by a simple silver rose.

What does that little voice inside your head say? You know, the one that says you are fat. Or maybe it says you are ugly. Or stupid. Or maybe it's like mine and says all three! Maybe it's there all the time. Or maybe it just speaks up when things don't go so well. Or when you make a mistake. This self-critical talk, maybe even self-disgust, is underneath much of my depression and eating disorder. I am working to be more self-accepting, maybe even self-compassionate. Here's an example.

This story is from one particularly tough day back in February 2013. I had to put on my "big girl panties" and meet with the principal to advocate for our daughter who has dyslexia. The meeting went very well, but I was in tears afterwards - mostly from relief that we were finally getting somewhere! But then almost immediately I started beating myself up, saying, "I should have done this a year ago!" There was just a barrage of blaming and shaming. So much negative self-talk! My husband (in his infinite wisdom) said, "I think you are being really hard on yourself." And then I remembered this quote about the rose.
Photos of roses taken on my daily Wildflower Walks in 2012 and 2013
The Rose

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand by in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential... at each stage, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is. 

Timothy Galloway
"The Inner Game of Tennis" 1974

The reality is that the previous year I could not have done what I did on that day in February. First of all I didn't KNOW a year previously what was needed for my daughter's success in school. And I probably was not READY to do it either, not in a strong enough mental state. And looking back now I also see that it probably wouldn't have WORKED with the principal at the school a year previous, but with a new principal things were starting to take shape, and things were getting done. The timing was, in fact, perfect. 

So after remembering this quote about the rose, I made a trip to the Pandora store to buy the silver rose charm - since Pandora does not have a "put on your big girl panties" charm... yet. The rose charm has bounced around from one bracelet to another but it is on my newest bracelet called "Love Blooms Here." This charm reminds me that, "Just like the rose, you are perfectly alright as you are, at every stage in your own development."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The Lucerne, the healing flower

In December 2011 I decided that I wanted to be happy and healthy and I began a journey of using Pandora charms as my motivation for recovering from my eating disorder and depression. My goal was to be symptom-free (i.e. no bingeing, purging, or restricting) for one day, one week, one month, and then one year. It has now been two-and-a-half years that I have been symptom-free. My charms were "earned" for many changes in behaviour, and continue to remind me of the affirmations that keep me in recovery. To recognize the first three months of recovery I bought myself the now-retired Lucerne dangle, and later added the clips.

The Lucerne dangle and clips on my teal Lucerne recovery bracelet

In researching the Lucerne, I learned that it was first discovered by Arabs who dubbed it "the father of all foods," and has been used in herbal medicine for almost 1500 years. As the herb contains high quantities of very easily absorbed nutrients, herbal remedies made from the alfalfa are often given to convalescing patients, or individuals in recovery from recent illness. It is believed to help rebuild the body after a serious or prolonged illness. Rich in chlorophyll and essential minerals, it is also a source of phytoestrogens and may be of some benefit in the treatment of different problems related to menstruation and menopause in women, which makes it an appropriate symbol in this time of transition for me.

Because of these phytoestrogens, the Lucerne has been used as an herbal remedy in breast cancer. For this reason Pandora originally released the Lucerne dangle and clips (sold with a pink leather bracelet) as a fundraiser for breast cancer charities. Despite that association with breast cancer treatment and recovery, the Lucerne flower is historically known as the "healing flower" and represents general health and healing. The Lucerne is known as a symbol of life, and after my prolonged battle with depression and an eating disorder, it represents my recovery and healing.
Next week I will share the reason for the engraving on this charm, and the renewed need for this message over two years later.