Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers

In her book "The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers", Dr. Meg Meeker details the habits to reclaim passion, purpose, and sanity.  Many women have been pushed to their brinks by the pressure to be beautiful, organized, and useful.  What many don't realize is that they are fine just the way they are.  In fact, the majority of men don't want a super model wife (though they will tell their friends that they do).  So I am listing the 10 habits as discussed in Dr. Meeker's book, with my own experiences and advice attached to each.

1. Understand your value as a Mother: Many women do not know their true value.  They spend so much time obsessing over whether to stay home or work, on their looks or their weight, or on what they will cook for dinner.  Relax.  As long as you keep yourself sane and your kids healthy, everything is as it should be.  One day, when your children are grown up they will thank you.  Whether you work or stay home and raise your children, you are contributing something to the character of another human being.  That child will grow and use you as an example.  Don't worry about your flaws, your kids will not care.

2.  Maintain key friendships:  The biggest lie I have ever heard with regards to motherhood is that mothers have no friends.  It is very important that mothers have friends.  If you don't have any close friendships, seek them out!  There is bound to be a person who is in the same boat as you who can relate to your lifestyle.  Maintaining friendships is important to both parties' sanity.  When you have a close friend, you can let your feelings flow.  Rant your heart out!  That way, you won't be too grumpy to love your kids.

3. Value and practice faith:  Any faith!  Don't follow a faith because it is expected of you.  That sends a dangerous message to your children that faith is an obligation, and not always a good one.  If you are a practitioner of any faith, practice it, live it, love it, pass it on to your children.  I am a Pagan myself, but I am always learning about other faiths, and I have passed on key teachings from every major faith to my children.  All of the faiths share key beliefs and morals in common, so it is not hard to give your children an open-mind when it comes to faith.  But the best example you can give your children is to be true to your faith.  Don't simply say, I am a Christian.  BE a Christian.  Don't say, I am a Muslim (or insert choice faith), BE that person.  LIVE that lifestyle and be an exemplary example of it.

4. Say No to competition:  This is not a race to see which mother has the coolest new toys or which mom bakes the best cupcakes.  Just let it go and be you.  You don't have anything to prove to anyone.

5. Create a healthier relationship with money: Your worth is not determined on how much money you have, but what you spend your money on.  You don't always have to spend your money on the kids, but the kids come first.  However, you should put away a little money every month for yourself.  As long as the kids have shoes, clothes, and anything they need for school, they are content.  So go and buy yourself a candy bar or a new outfit.  Don't stress on something as silly as money.

6. Make time for solitude:  I know from experience that this is easier said than done.  My house is 3 stories, the main floor has the kitchen/dining room, living room, and laundry room, the second floor has the bathroom and two bedrooms, and the third floor is a finished attic.  Despite the seemingly large size of the house, each floor is only about 700 square feet and the walls are so thin, I can hear my kids when I am upstairs in the bathroom and they are downstairs watching TV.  It is very important that you plan some 'you' time.  Take a long hot bubble bath after the kids go to bed.  My kids never go to bed on time despite a strict 8 pm bedtime.  This is where my wonderful husband comes in.  If I am at my wits end and need to get out, he takes over the duty of bedtime and I can escape to the movies, or just a quick run to the grocery store.  If you are a mother, you know that a solo trip to the grocery store is literally a mini-vacation.  

7. Give and get love in healthy ways:  This should be pretty self-explanatory, but a lot of women just don't get it.  Giving love is easy.  Teach your kids how to care about others.  Volunteer your time and services where they are needed.  Getting love is trickier.  Some women feel that they need a man to get love.  This is not always true.  For the love of God, DO NOT stay with a man simply to avoid loneliness.  If he is using you or abusing you, you are not getting love and your kids will be the ultimate sufferers in that situation.

8. Find ways to live simply:  There are many blogs on this topic and plenty of tips online.  I leave it to you to discover those.  I also have a topic on here about Simple Living.  Trust me, it makes a world of difference.

9. Let go of fear!: This is a hard one, even for me.  I can imagine all of the things that can go wrong with my kids.  It adds a whole level of stress that is so hard to shake.

10. Hope is a decision--so make it!:  Hope gives us meaning and purpose. Indulge your imagination, imagine all of the possibilities to future holds and cling to them with all of your heart.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A Beautiful Morning...

...and an early morning at that.  It is 6:47 AM EST, and it is completely normal for me to be awake right now.  Most people think I am completely nuts.  I am not wide awake, mind you.  I am awake enough to function and I can do this without a cup of coffee.  I still drink coffee but for it's flavor, not its caffeine benefits.  Caffeine does nothing to me.  Anyways, to proceed with my thoughts for the day.

I feel amazing.  I don't think I have ever felt so clear in my life.  As my last post suggested, I was contemplating what veiling would mean for me.  It covers a broad range of purposes, so after finding some kindred sisters out and about and online, I decided to give it a try.  I covered in a style called a tichel, a scarf or bandana simply tied over the head, covering the top part of the head and the hair that is styled in a bun.  I didn't know what I would think about it.  I had always had the misconception that covering my hair would be some sort of large step backwards in my independence, that I would be doing it as a sign of submissiveness to my husband.  Well, I learned a valuable lesson.  It's all crap!  I covered for several hours the first day, and anytime I was home yesterday.  I have decided for the time being that I will cover with the tichel while I am at home.  I see it as sort of my domain and my covering is like a crown, my mark of respect indicating that the home is my domain.  I feel ultra-sexy when I wear it, even my husband gets excited when he sees me in it.  It also has a nice effect when I take it off just before bed, seeing my hair is sort of a novelty thing now. 

I don't expect too many people to understand why I am doing it, or believe that it is a request from my Divine guidance, or that I actually enjoy doing it (in fact, I don't have it on right now and I feel completely naked).  But any woman who has felt a calling from their God to do something out of devotion, and more specifically my Muslim, Mennonite, and other conservative faith sisters will understand.  And even if I have no one to share this journey with, it is who I am and I am proud of it. 

So what is everyone up to for the rest of the week?
I am off to the library, those books won't shelve themselves.  I am only 2 months away from beginning to write the library's history in book format and hopefully I can get it done in 2 months.  I have all of the material I need for it, organizing and catalogued by me, so it should just be easy.  I just have to organize the words on paper in specific order and viola, a book. :) 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Veiling as a Religious Devotion

In recent weeks, I have come across several blogs discussing this topic and friends have posted about feeling called to veil.  It was quite refreshing to know that I was not just imagining it.  Many Pagan women are now being called by their Higher Power to veil.  Some are feeling called to veil or cover their hair for religious ceremonies or prayer.  Others are being called to veil at all times.  I myself feel called to veil while I am at home.

In Western society, this is a strange topic of discussion.  Why is that?  I love it when I can educate people or provide them with another point of view to a topic they might never have given any thought to.  This is one of those topics.  Veiling, or covering of the woman's hair is not as strange as one might think.  I have produced some examples of veiling from cultures around the world, including here in the United States.

                                                               A woman covered while praying.

Veiling as a religious devotion has a long history, dating back centuries.  Greek and Roman women covered their hair.  Roman women were required to cover their hair upon marriage.  Examples of veiling and covering of the hair can be found in polytheistic and monotheistic religions around the world.  Jews, Muslims, Christians (Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic), Pagans, Hindus.  You name it, women are choosing to veil themselves. Unfortunately in some cases, it is a requirement by the law of their country.  When you think of religious law requiring veiling, you probably thought of Islam?  Well, the reality is that most of the majority Muslim countries of the world do not require veiling.  Still in other countries, it isn't required by law, but by the rules of the Church.  In Catholic religious ceremonies, women are asked to cover their hair.  The same goes for Jewish women.  If they don't, it won't necessarily cause them any problems, but they will be looked upon as rebellious and against the true teachings of the Church. 

 I do not look on veiling as oppressive to women.  I like to think of myself as progressive when it comes to women's issues.  And I was once a woman who thought that covering your head was just another tactic used by the patriarchy to control us.  I have changed.  I no longer see it as a restriction or a requirement.  I see it in a whole new light.  It is simply another tool of devotion, much like making offerings, fasting, or praying.  I have not veiled yet, I actually don't know how to do it but I plan to teach myself.  I will veil around the house as I go about my daily duties as a stay-at-home mom.  The laundry doesn't wash itself. :)  In a practical way, if my hair is covered, it cannot get in my eyes and make it difficult to go about my business.  I do not feel brave enough to veil outside in public, though I may veil as I work in my garden. 

It is a calling I feel is a test of my devotion.  I know I have proven my devotion many times through prayer and offerings, but I also feel like this may be an answer to a prayer I offered up once.  I prayed that the world would take it easy with their judgement of Muslims women who choose to veil as part of their devotion and not because their husbands or fathers required it of them.  When I first received the calling, I was a little weary. 

After all, fulfilling religious duty can sometimes be a lonely business in a polytheistic society that is antagonized by the monotheistic majority.  But in the last few weeks, more and more of my Pagan counterparts are coming forward with the same calling.  Could this be a preparation for a higher calling?  Could it be a sign of the great awakening?  Who knows?

Other blogs that discuss this topic: (this one has some other great links and photos)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Little Known Mysteries of the World

I thought I would try something off the beaten path for today.  When you think of Earth Mysteries, your first thoughts are usually something like the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, or the Lock Ness Monster.  Well, the Earth is so full of mysteries, it's impossible to fit them all on one page.  So I compiled a short list of Earth Mysteries I first learned about this year.  I think mysteries are a great part of life, and pursuing the truth behind them is a worthwhile pursuit.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more.  Mysteries make life fun.  So here we go, in no particular order, some little known mysteries of Planet Earth.  I highly recommend you look further into these mysteries, because I am not going to put everything here.  Where would the fun be if I did?

The Dogon Culture of West Africa
If you have never heard of these people, I am not surprised.  The Dogon live a traditional centuries-old lifestyle.  Their legends tell of beings who provided them with astronomical knowledge.  You would think that it could be all fake, until you actually listen to what they know.  For centuries their ancestors have passed down knowledge about the Sirius star system, hundreds of years before the advent of modern astronomy.  All of their legends have been accurate.  Like many ancient cultures spanning all 7 continents, the Dogon creation story tells of a being who came down from the sky and either created humanity or gave the existing population knowledge far more advanced than what was available.  Their astronomical knowledge dates from 3200 BC. According to their traditions, Sirius has a companion star which is invisible to the human eye. This companion star has a 50 year elliptical orbit around the visible Sirius and is extremely heavy. It also rotates on its axis. Today, this is known thanks to modern astronomy.  It is true!  But these people have known about it for the last 5000 years.  Where did they get this knowledge?

Palenque Sarcophagus Stone
The ruins of Palenque, Mexico are small compared to larger sites such as Tikal or Copan, but they contain some of the best examples of architecture and carving in the Mayan world.  In particular, there is a carved stone atop the tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal.  The tomb was discovered in 1953 after Mexican archaeologist Alberto Ruiz Lhullier removed a stone slab in the floor of the back room of the temple superstructure.  The carving was unlike any seen before.  What could it mean?  Mainstream historians claim it is a depiction of Pakal going into the Underworld.

A designer from Lucas Films created a 3D model of the above carving and it looks like this:

Make up your own mind about what that looks like to you.

Derinkuyu is a multi-level underground city located in Turkey.  It is a feat of incredible skill!  Created around 1400 BC by the Hittites, more than 20 floors deep, able to accommodate between 35,000 and 50,000 people at any one time and locked from the inside, this city was used as shelter against attack.  Our ancestors had better building skill than we do!  It has all of the features of any city of the time.  There is even a ventilation shaft that provided air and water to the inhabitants below.  Not surprisingly, this underground city wasn't discovered by modern people until 1965 when a farmer accidentally knocked down a wall while renovating his house.  Engineers today are still baffled by this city.  Learn more at: (it has pictures!)

Puma Punku
By far one of the mysteries of the world that gives me the most creeps, Puma Punku.  Located in Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, Puma Punku is one of four ruined structures located in Tiahuanaco.  They are among the oldest and most baffling mysteries on the planet.  Compared to modern technology and architecture, they defy all logic. 
The first mystery regarding Puma Punku is how were they built?  The stones are carved so precisely, they could not possibly have been carved using the rock-carving tools available to the inhabitants of the area.  The stones are made of granite and diorite.  The only stone stronger than those is diamond and there are no diamonds in that area.  The other mystery is that they are too heavy to have been brought to the site from the quarry located more than 10 miles away.  And the blocks fit so well together, like Tetris pieces.  Even with modern tools and techniques, this site could not be replicated.  But the reason it gives me the creeps.  What destroyed this site?  There are many theories regarding this.  If you look at photographs of the site, the ruins are not just ruined, they are scattered all over the place, suggesting something truly cataclysmic. 

Well, I hope you like this glimpse into some of the most fascinating mysteries the ancient world offers us.  I encourage you to study some more, and if you think there is a mystery that I may not yet be privy to, let me know.  Ciao!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo DaVinci

And there you have it, from the master himself.  Simplicity is indeed the ultimate sophistication.  But it is becoming a dying idea.  People crave simplicity, but it almost seems unachievable in our world.  We are always connected and demand speed and efficiency in every aspect of our daily lives.  There are even people today who couldn't make it from home to work without a GPS.  I firmly believe that if simplicity were a staple of our lives, the world would be a better place.  People would spend more time contemplating the more important aspects of life.  Families would spend more time getting to know one another.  The world of bureaucracy would not thrive in a simple society.  There is no need to complicate things to the degree they have been.

First, you must simplify your home.  This is the most important place in your life.  You come here at the end of every day.  You bathe here.  You eat here.  You sleep here.  You recreate here.  This is the most obvious place to begin the journey of simplicity.  If you are like me you have piles of things lying around that you have been meaning to get to, but your life is far too complicated to deal with it.   Let me give you an example of one thing in my house that has complicated my life and the steps I will take to simplify it.  I have a few stacks of magazines, one in my bedroom and the rest in my attic.  I received these as giveaways from my library and from a person who no longer had need of them.  There are mostly cooking and travel magazines.  I bought them mainly for my scrapbook, but I have also collected recipes from these magazines.  So in an effort to clear it away, I am going through each magazine and tearing out the pages that contain a picture or phrase I want for my scrapbook and those go into a folder.  The recipes I want go into my recipe folder.  And viola! No more piles of magazines.  Throw the scraps into your recycling bin.  Do the same for anything else in your house.  Organize your bookshelves, movie cases, etc.  Organizing your media can create simplicity in the fact that you can go straight to the item you need without having to dig or spend too much time looking for it.  The same goes for your kitchen.  This should be self-explanatory.  Keep all of your can goods in one spot, spices in another, you get the idea.

You should also simplify your life outside of your home.  After all, this is where you spend most of your time.  I will not go into too many details, except to say that there are things in life that we have been lead to believe are necessary for our convenience, happiness, and to be a regular part of society.  I beg to differ.  Our predecessors lived quiet happily without what we consider regular 'luxuries'.  Technology is one of them.  Cell phones are over-rated.  I own one, and I will share my reasoning behind my opinion of the cell phone.  I spend a lot of time outside my home, and with kids in one place and a husband in the other, it is necessary that I can be reached in an emergency.  Beyond that, I have no use for a cell phone.  If someone wants to call me, they can call my home and if I am not there, I have an answering machine.  I always check my messages and return calls.  My cell phone is only used when I am not at home.  It sits next to my purse and keys.  

As I mentioned above, many people cannot live without their GPS.  This leads me to believe that map-reading is a lost skill.  Let me tell you a little story.  When I bought my first car, GPS was just becoming available.  I went on a trip to a place I had never been before, through winding roads and forest.  I didn't even have a map.  Instead, I paid attention to the signs.  If you drive frequently, then you know that almost nobody reads signs anymore.  Learn to read a map and sell that GPS!  In most short trips, you won't even need the map.  Enjoy the scenery, not the yappy mouth on the GPS.  

Another way to live simplify.  Be debt free!  I am one of the anti-credit card people.  The credit card is a trap put in place by financial institutions who prey one citizens who they know, and rightfully so, that they have no self-control.  They will spend money, even if they do not have that money.  Use cash or a debit card whenever possible.  If you use a credit card, you complicate your life.  Beyond not having the money, you are actually paying to use that 'invisible' money, so you are losing money anyway. If you can learn to live your life with utter simplicity, then you will not have need for a credit card.  Yes, you may be poor, but so am I.  I am perfectly happy doing what I do.  I have learned to live within my means and with a touch of creativity, we have everything I need.

And monetarily, I am poor.  But I am rich in what really matters: A husband who loves me above all others and two beautiful children who are healthy and love to learn.

Simplicity offers us peace that modern life seldom offers.


Inspiration, Where are you?

I am a terrible blogger.  In my perfect world, I would be able to write to my heart's content.  I have always had a problem committing ideas to paper.  They swirl around in my head with all of the grace of a ballet, yet once I am sitting in front of paper (or a computer), they swirl the other way.  I would love to allow a glimpse into my overactive mind on a daily basis.  But I will start small for the moment.  I have a notepad in front of the computer with topics I would like to write about here and hopefully new ideas will be added.  For the moment, please know that I am committed to this blog.  I know my readers do not know me that well, but I hope you at least learn something new while reading and get to know me better.  I have always been the victim of misplaced stereotypes, cliches, and ignorant remarks.  But I really am just a normal, responsible person.  I am only different in that I want to know everything.  I do not believe that knowledge is finite and I think it is an honorable pursuit to continue your education, not just in schools but in your local libraries, historical centers, online, everywhere in life.  So, some of the topics I have written down to start with are: Simplicity, The Veil, little known mysteries of the world, places I have lived, and Spring Cleaning and it's symbolism.  Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Great Places of Puerto Rico

I have never really talked about how much I love Puerto Rico.  I have lived there in the past and would love to visit again soon, but like everywhere else it has it's problems.  I do not think I will ever live there again, but Puerto Rico has such natural beauty, it can bring any person to tears.  I thought I would share some of my favorite spots in Puerto Rico and tell you a little bit about each place.  I have included pictures so you can picture yourself there.  Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, so when you visit you do not need to go through customs, you do not need a passport, and U.S. currency is used.  You can also send mail via the Postal Service, making it convenient and cheaper than international travel.

El Morro

El Morro, or 'The Fort', is located in Old San Juan.  It was built to protect San Juan bay from pirates and invading forces.  It no longer serves that purpose, and is recognized as a national park by the Department of the Interior.  It is open to guided or self-guided tours.  It is at the northern-most tip of Old San Juan and before reaching the actual fort, there is an enormous meadow that is popular with picnickers and anyone who just wants to sit in the spacious grass and enjoy the wind coming over the cliffs from the Atlantic Ocean.  It is also the scene of the annual Festival of the Kites.

El Yunque

 Although I never had the pleasure to visit this place, El Yunque is like paradise on Earth.  El Yunque is the only rainforest in the US National Forest System, located on the east side of the island near the town of Fajardo.  It is home to countless plants, animals, and waterfalls.  Despite being a tropical location, temperatures deep in the rainforest can dip down into the 50s, keeping you cool on long hikes.

Casa Grande

Casa Grande (The Big House) is located deep in the interior of Puerto Rico in the town of Utuado.  It is an eco-friendly bed and breakfast.  By eco-friendly, I mean it is not a typical hotel or bed and breakfast.  The rooms do not have TVs or radios or alarm clocks.  There are showers and fans to help keep you cool.  Each little room is separate from another and each one has a hammock on the porch.  The one you see in the photo is the one we stayed in.  It was located right in front of their beautiful pool.  Each morning, the resort offers yoga classes and for added fees, you can go horseback riding, tubing, or check-out for the day and go explore the plethora of caves in the area.  This place was so relaxing and romantic, we conceived our first child here.  But you didn't want to know that.  Don't let me tell you about it, experience it for yourself.  Visit their website at  You won't regret it.  The prices are the same for a mediocre room in San Juan, but the experience is much nicer and the scenery is unbeatable.

La Poza de las Mujeres

La Poza de las Mujeres, or Women's Well is a little known local secret.  When you come here, you hardly ever see tourists unless they came with family who lives on the island.  It is a beautiful secluded beach with a little something for everyone.  Want to lay in the sand?  You got it.  Want to float in calm crystal blue waters? You got it.  As you can see in the middle photo, there are two accesses to the ocean.  The one of the right is very calm, no waves and is blocked from the open sea by a low natural wall.  The side on the right opens to the sea and is much deeper with waves for surfing.  We took my oldest daughter to the calm side when she turned one year old and did her dedication and blessing in the Old Ways.  This beach is definitely worth the trip.

El Conquistador and Bioluminescence Bay

The picture on the top is El Conquistador Resort.  Owned by a former employer of mine, the Wyndham Hotels, I was able to visit this incredibly posh and expensive resort for the employee price of only $25 a night and let me tell you, I felt so out of place, like POOR was written all over my face.  The resort is now owned by the Waldorf Astoria chain and regular prices start at $279 a night.  I was very lucky to visit when I did.  We swam in the pool and enjoyed our balcony, which overlooked a golf-course and El Yunque in the distance.  The second picture is an actual photograph taken at Bioluminescence Bay, just below the cliffs of El Conquistador.  The glow is caused by organisms in the water that glow when touched.  I never had the chance, but this would have been a magical experience.

Lastly, my next sharing is not a place, but an animal.  This animal thrives in Puerto Rico and has since made its way to Hawaii, but the species never fairs well outside the island.  They are called Coqui, and their song is heard everywhere in Puerto Rico at night and after rain.  Here is some audio for your listening pleasure:   When we moved back to the mainland, we bought a CD that features the sounds of the coqui taken from El Yunque and we play it every night while we sleep.  Some people are annoyed by it, but I love the sound and the legend behind it, but I will leave you to do that research for yourselves.

I hope you have enjoyed my little tour.
Enjoy and good journey!