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A Kid in a Candy Store

You’d think I had been out of the country for 20 years with the amount of salivating that occurred at the grocery store yesterday.  It wasn’t just any grocery store though; it was an amazing little coop in my hometown that has expanded into a beautiful butterfly of a store.  And so, I walked through it, drooling all over myself and throwing FAR too many things into my shopping cart.  Because organic kale.  And cashew cheese.  And teff torillas.  And personal care products that don’t contain a myriad of endocrine disrupting chemicals.  ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS [sighs and then rolls eyes at self].

And then I looked around me and at my reaction to such things and went WOAH.  The store was full of super hip hippies (if I had a better word for it, I’d use it, but I don’t, so I will).  And I was in heaven.  I was like a damn kid in a candy store.  Were these my peoplePart of the confusion was a result of my hometown all of a sudden feeling like Portland or Fairfax, CA (strangely, two of my most favorite places)… all hip and shit.  Hip people who grow their own veggies.  Hip people who consume hemp and chia seeds rather than resource consuming meat.  Hip people who only buy locally and make their houses out of straw bale.  Hip people who care about the planet they live on and the impact their choices make. 

You see, where I’ve been for the past few months (Shenzhen, China) is most definitely NOT full of super hip hippies.  Or anything that resembles a hippie for that matter (though, you do occasionally see a dreaded, shoeless, napping on the ground Chinese guy around – and they all look eerily similar and oh so out of place – we still haven’t figured out the mystery – YOU don’t happen to know, do you?).  I often feel like I’m [one of the] only one[s] barking about the atrocious air/water quality and lack of clean/ORGANIC produce (though, I should mention, China has a more restrictive policy on GMO’s than many western countries).  In those short months, I think I forgot that I’m not in fact [one of the] only one[s] who thinks about these things.  Had I forgotten what my people looked like?  I looked down at what I was wearing.  No super hip hip bag.  No super hip rustic cowgirl hat.  No dreads.  An arm full of bracelets, yes.  No super hip locally made skirt.  No handmade leather sandals.  Fresh out of river bun, yes.  No basket for my produce.  No bag AT ALL, disposable paper bag used.

Here’s my deal.  I care A LOT about all of these things, but I still kind of want to barf on myself when I reflect on my deep entrenchment in these very much elitist problems (i.e. those who have enough to worry about the details).  I start to think of all of the suffering and malnourishment and turmoil occurring across the globe AND THEN, in the next thought, I think about how totally TERRIBLE it is that I can’t find raw honey and organic produce in China and I’m like… “come on hunny, stop your bitching.  Relax.  Your kids aren’t going to die if you put white sugar in the quinoa, rice flour scones this one time”.  But then in the same reflection, I see the connection between feeding ourselves in a sustainable [healthier] manner and our planet, as a whole, becoming healthier [sustainable].  LOUD and CLEAR.

SO, when I look in a mirror at myself, I get a little confused.  Am I a super hip hippie?  Were those my people?  I tend to live in shades of grey, so I think that the answer is yes!, depending on which day you’re asking.  Most days I can find the resolve to live out my convictions (you can read about them, as well as our carnivorous children, here), but dammit, some days I just want a brownie or worse yet, barbequed honey pork.  It’s true.  Sometimes, I eat pork.  Have you ever been to China?  Let’s just say they’re pretty into pigs over there (I wrote a bit about it, in a post that kinda makes me feel like a broken record, quite a while ago, here).  Point is, it takes A LOT of self discipline to live out ones strictest values ALL of the time, and well, I have two young kids, so sometimes, breaking down is merely a matter of survival (if you actually read the last linked post, now you understand the broken record bit).

What I DO know is that I very much took for granted living in the land of plenty (i.e. California), where you can find fresh, seasonal produce 12 months a year at a farmer’s market.  Where you could taste test a different store bought nut milk every day for a month.  Where there are more natural personal care product companies than cigarette brands.  Where micro brews on tap and organic, fair trade coffee beans are the norm.  [Where the water fountains flow with coconut water and the streets are paved with vegan chocolate chips.]

This isn’t my first travel rodeo, yet this is the first time I’ve been confronted by such a strong yearning for the goods that blossom in the land of plenty.  Perhaps it’s partly because I’m more effected by my environment now that I’m traveling with kids, perhaps partly because it really is difficult to access clean food stuffs in China.  Perhaps it’s just because I’m a hip, hippie.

At any rate, as you see below, we’re smuggling boat loads of plenty back with us, so we should be set for a while few weeks.

Monday Mug Shot

Dress: Target (clearance – just about the only way I can get myself to buy their damn-them-for-having-such-cute-clothes, clothes)

Boots: Thrifted and Vintage ($15)

Owl Necklacce:  Thrifted and Gifted

iPhone case:  Adopted (once again)

BRAND HIGHLIGHT:  100% Pure

I can’t quite express how much I love this company.  My mug, especially, loves it.  LOVES.  Not only are they based AND manufactured in Oakland, CA (my home base for years), but all of their products are made from ONLY ingredients you can identify (and not just pronounce, but actually IDENTIFY).  All of their makeup is fruit pigmented, so, for instance, they’ll use blueberry extract to color their blue-black mascara (and to make it smell delicious).

All of their products are VEGAN and 100% FREE of Parabens/Sulfates/Phthalates, artificial fragrances and colors, and most are also Gluten free.  SO, you can feel good about using them on yourself and your kiddos.

Here are our favorites:

Blueberry Mascara

Cheek Tint

Tinted Moisturizer

Yummy Ice Cream Strawberry Body Wash & Shampoo (the kids choice, of course)

And I’m way not cool enough to have anyone sponsor my posts – so you can be sure my recommendation is oh-so-genuine.

 

 

Finding Inspiration in the Ordinary (and sorting through the web of motherdom, kindof)

OH BOY.  Is the ordinary reality of life really so boring that I can only write about the extraordinary unreality of adventure?  This question plagues me and my newly found blogging hobby.  How easy it is to get caught up in the day to day act of survival and let your spirit dry up (like my poor sugar snap peas), and subsequently, your inspiration to create.  I need to remind myself to turn on the sewing machine and make a few stitches and to realize that while my ordinary life can seem monotonous and stagnant, it’s those very moments in between that create room for the extraordinary.  It is the journey, after all, not the destination, that will define your life.

To be a human being is a complex problem but to be a mother is a whole new magnitude of clusterf&%$ed-ness.  And I do believe that it’s a cluster totally unique to a mother; one that father’s [generally] don’t experience (to the same extent).  Women, as I see it, are expected to wear many hats.  We’ve risen above the status of housewife and sit side by side our male counterparts, but are still required to be the more domesticated of the two, which means getting dinner on the table and clean laundry in the closet.  To be a mother is to be constantly torn in two directions.  Guilt becomes a normal feeling.  And as if figuring out/fulfilling our life’s purpose wasn’t difficult enough to manage with the constant needs of slightly parasitic children, the preschool debacle and the possibility that I’m poisoning my kids brains by feeding them whole wheat bread (and a smattering of other stuff), is enough to make even the sanest of moms fall off their rocker.  Geesh, it’s no wonder I’d rather live in the unreality of adventure.

This is how the water boils, for me.  I basically live straddled in two worlds under constant siege with myself; living the life of a domestic goddess (albeit not quite that gracefully), dreaming about [somehow creating a career] with a backpack on my back (or perhaps my front, with a baby strapped to my back ).  Reconciling the sedentary nature of having kids has been a difficult prospect for me.  Which I think is why I’ve found this blog so inspiring.  Maybe I don’t have to choose, maybe I can have my cake and eat it too.  Gluttonous you say?  Selfish perhaps some are thinking?  But I don’t see it this way (except when I do – after all, why on earth would my brain allow for such a cut and dry answer, I meant siege when I said it).  Kids happened to me.  I didn’t plan for it (initially – number one oh-so-surprising, number two oh-so-planned); yet I find them integral to life as I know it.  Why can’t my journey be their journey?  Does choosing life in the direction of kids have to mean suburbs, conventional school and soccer tournaments (or a derivative therof)?  Or could it look like an RV, homeschool, and learning about and gaining passion for anything and everything under the sun (or a derivative therof)?

But then comes in the convention in me, waltzing in like the elephant no one invited.  She screams, “but, the kids need routine and consistency in order to develop proper social skills and become confident, secure adults”.  They need “Montessori preschool, or wait, was it Waldorf, or good god, maybe Reggio Emilio” in order to become the people I hope them to be.  In the end, I think that my hope is that a supportive, loving family unit is all they’ll really need.  The constant questioning of how they’ll become the best people they can be is dead ended in ambiguity; who the eff knows, including me, what formula will work best?  You can read and read and analyze and think and think and analyze some more and end up a crazy maker spouting your revelations on your blog and creating a whole new line of crazy making, paranoid, mothers.  Or, you can give yourself a break and let faith guide you.

In short, if you can relate to my cluster, let your journey and the journey of your children be one of the same, rooted in love and support, open to exploring and engaging in the vast world around you… at least that’s what I’m going to do… for now.

Go turn on your sewing machine (or other proverbial device) and fill your spirit.

Be inspired and create room for the extraordinary.