Friday, October 14, 2011

Thank you! Plus: Saying Yes to No.

I am incredibly grateful for the beautiful comments I've received on my last two posts (and received as emails and on facebook too). I have loved reading your personal stories. I've felt so connected, supported, heard. That means so much to me. I wish I could come to each of your houses and give you a huge hug.

You know what's been the coolest? That no-one travels the same path, and yet, we are having this conversation; you are telling me of your own choices and supporting mine. That's kind of a lot awesome, I think.

Life here has been so full.

I'm pleased to tell you our bodies have adjusted to our dairy-withdrawal. We are eating so well, making sure to have lots of healthy snacks to avoid the Insatiable Hungries. We are full of energy and feeling great. The food has been awesome!

Here's some of what's been going into our tummies so far:

Pear porridge made with organic oats and oat milk. Yum!
Pumpkin soup with gluten free garlic bread. Delish.
Pasta primavera with red lentils on gluten free pasta (stirred through with a dash of oil and teensy sprinkle of salt, where once I put in butter and parmesan). Oh, divine.
Pad Thai with home-laid eggs and fresh-squeezed lemon. Swoon!
Fresh gluten free bread with kidney-bean and vegie spread, topped with home-made guacamole. My favourite.
Rice cooked in vege stock with slices of tofu (GMO free). My daughter's favourite.
And Nachos, real nachos without cheese, just lots of bean mix, guacamole, and the chips all crunchy from the oven. Mmm, my son's favourite.

Sound good? It is good. It all feels good to eat. I'm feeling healthy and my hungry tummy is always satisfied. No more cheese cravings! Not a single one.

This food journey is getting betterer and betterer. I'm so glad we are on it.

Now for the down side

(which, thankfully, is now looking up. Such a blessing).

I hit an emotional wall last week.

Perhaps it was the physical challenge of the changes in our diet,

perhaps it was the emotional challenge of the sad/difficult learning I've been doing,

perhaps it was the time challenge of having so many things on our schedule (recently made fuller with Lego League),

but suddenly the Busy was too much.

It took me down.

It grabbed and pinned me. It left me unable to sleep, unable to get out of bed, weeping at the drop of a hat (and all other moments too). It left me standing in my kitchen on Wednesday—while the kids read upstairs—crying so hard I couldn't cook dinner. Instead I wept into the tea towels and thought, So this is it.  I am so overwhelmed and anxious, I can't even cook a meal. Please someone come and take me somewhere quiet, with only walls or trees for company. Please make the Busy stop.

I thought of calling my husband home from work. I thought of calling a neighbour. I thought, But how do I explain this? This heaviness, this sorrow, this sudden, complete loss of hope? I can't even speak.

I stood with my phone in my hand. I wept until I didn't. And then, I picked up the kitchen knife and finished cutting the broccoli.

Over dinner, with my kids and I sitting there, I said to my children: We have to give something up. I'm not coping at all. And I began to cry again. Not a wild wailing, but that simple leaking you do when you're just too tired or laden to hold tears in.

My children stopped eating. My girl came and sat on my lap. My boy stood and patted my shoulder. He said, All right, Mum. We'll stop something.

I said, I think we have to stop Lego League.
Okay, said my son. We'll drop it.
(My girl had already dropped it last week, saying she just wanted space and quiet and time at home. She is so perceptive about her needs. Kind of inspiring).

Could it be that simple? That I could talk to my son and daughter and they'd take one arm each and ease me out of my Stuck and my Hopeless and my Lost?

Could it be so simple as them saying, "What will make you feel better, Mum?
And me saying, "Space, and bike riding."
And them saying, "That's what we'll do then."

For that to be

the beginning of better?

Yes, it could be.

I spoke to the Lego League coach and his wife (who have become such good friends), and they completely understood. His wife is a beautiful person; she listened to me as I talked and cried. She said supportive, understanding, endlessly kind things. (Thank you, so much, dear friend, for that and all your other kindnesses. I am so grateful).

I then wrote an email to my homeschool writers workshop group and said I'd be running it every second week, instead of every week. Because, I said simply, I need to be less busy.

And then I decided that some days we would always keep free. They would be precious at-home days. Not to touch. Just for us (and bike riding).

And I decided that, as much as possible, we wouldn't commit to doing anything before 12. So that every single morning could be spent at home.

Which sounds like a lot of Nos, doesn't it?

But this didn't feel No-like. It didn't feel negative. It felt lighter, better. Like a load lifting.

And then came a surprise Yes, inside all the Nos.

My son enjoyed Lego League and didn't want to drop it. But he has wanted to do Scouts now for almost a year. He couldn't because we were too busy. Turned out, the things he most loved about Lego League were the things the Scouts do (like physical challenges, adventures, doing something as a team, being part of something, and doing something independently from his (sometimes weepy) family).

So he joined Scouts last night.

Another thing on the schedule?! Yes, but here's the difference. It's something I don't need to carry.

My son wasn't overwhelmed by the busy—I was.

My husband can take him to his Scout meetings and pick him up. I don't need to be responsible or help the way I was with Lego League.

So I get space to breathe,
and a need and want is filled for my boy. This is (and will always be) known as a Win-Win, Smile-Smile! It's Happy squared.

Now imagine me looking around inside this new space, looking left, right and up, my neck craned.
"So…" imagine me saying. "No looks like this, huh?"

It looks kind of a lot like Yes.

Like the simple Yes of

Claiming Space.

The space
that gave us time yesterday morning

to practice music, and for my girl and I to do fun maths on the computer, and for me to sit with my son as he completed a chapter in his maths book, and for my son to do some work on his Space Journal (which he has decided he wants to finish) and for my girl to write a story.

And time after lunch

to ride our bikes along the track by the beach, with homeschooling friends, to the park where homeschool group was meeting. It was so sunny and so fine, with the wind in our hair, the path whizzing underneath our wheels. (And have I ever mentioned that exercise, for me, stops depression in its tracks? It's better than any other treatment I've ever experienced. It's my life-line.)

And time for a popcorn top-up, to get a girl through piano lessons,

and to keep the kids going at art class. Where the kids created portraits out of different materials—foam, fabric and string. They learned about print-making, and in the coming weeks will use their portraits to make prints. Ah, they loved it.

And last night, as my boy began his Scouting adventure,

my girl and I sat at the dining table making clay animals.

We sat and made a dragon and a fox. It was so much fun. We talked; we laughed. We had peace and space and time—all the things we wanted.

My son came home from Scouts just full to the brim with happiness and contentment. They'd built scout chariots, and spent the night running around outside. He'd hung out with old friends and met new people too. He was so pleased, so excited about the coming term events (Camping! Something wild called a Wide Game! More knot tying! Swimming! Catamaran Night Sailing! Wow.)

And it all felt so good.

I felt hopeful.

And the good I'd been feeling on our new Vegan path

joined with the good of Claiming Space

and Better



  1. Oh Helena, I went through a range of emotions reading this post!
    First, I am glad for you that you are settling into your new eating habits and are eating so well :)
    I felt so sad for you, though, with tears in my eyes as I read about your sadness and overwhelmed period. I have felt that sad and terribly weepy before, and I know it is awful. I am SO glad that you came through it. Your children are very sweet and understanding.
    I am so very glad to read that it all has turned out just right...hooray!!

  2. Oh yes - boundaries are a beautiful thing. They protect us. :)Saying Yes to No. I love it.

  3. holding you in my heart and prayers, what awesome kids you have! your art classes look waaayy better than the one we went to!

  4. Oh Helena, I don't know where to begin. I have not been on the blogs as much lately so I just read your last two posts.
    #1 Congratulations on your choice. I am gradually moving away from meat as well. We now only eat farm raised grass fed beef and chicken. Rather than having meat several times a week, we now have it once or twice. It is baby steps for us and it is still hard. I admire what you family is doing.
    #2 I wish I knew why our choices made others feel uncomfortable. You know I have experienced the same thing lately, just with a different choice. It hurts. A lot. But you hold on to your belief that what you are doing is right for your family and the hurt gets a little bit less.
    #3 The busy. Oh my gosh, you read my heart on this one. Yesterday we had the chance to spend almost the whole day at home and it was bliss. I wish we had one more day to just be at home to work on the cool stuff we begin but then have a hard time finding time to finish because our activities start up. How wonderfully supportive your family is. You children are pretty amazing. You are blessed.

    I am sending well wishes, hugs, and lots of support across the ocean to you, my friend. Be well.

  5. We are going through similar changes over here. Even the dietary changes for medical reasons. I am coming to understand the best tool I have as a home schooling mom is time. If I give too much of it away we get in trouble. Lots of happy thoughts coming your way!

  6. You are attempt at new but difficult things and doing so well! All the dishes sound delish!

    I feel like we are so similar. We'll do whatever it takes to make our kids happy. But in the end you have to take care of you and that will bring wholeness and happiness to everyone in the family. Great idea to get out and bike and spend quality time at home! Love the dragon and the fox! You have such lovely children!

  7. Oh Helena, first congratulations on your dietary changes and getting through the withdrawals. Second good for you for having the courage to say no. It can be one of the hardest things to do, especially for such a person as you who embraces all joy and wants to (and does) gives her children everything. Feelings come and go, but the ones that keep coming back are trying to tell us something. Good for you for listening. What you have been doing is ALOT, on top of your major lifestyle dietary change. It's all connected.
    You have many friends here. We all care about you and give you big virtual hugs. Have a beautiful weekend friend,

  8. Wow - you've been through a lot! Glad your diet stuff is working - kudos to you for following your beliefs. And hugs on the making things work - I know you've all been super-busy, so it's nice to see you making things work.

    I totally support you in the exercise thing - my running has helped me immensely in the mental health department. So keep riding that bike!

  9. it really makes me smile to know that your need for Space includes a little bike riding. Bike riding for me is like a form of meditation and deep connection to the world around me in a way that every other form of moving (car, foot, bus, whatever) isn't. So pleased that your No feels like Yes - because ultimately, that's exactly what is it.

  10. BTW - a little pressie for you - I nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award thingy!! because what you do is so wonderful :-)

  11. Yes. We have what we call "down days". We have to have home days. We don't ever do more than one class or commitment in a day. We don't setup things back to back so there are always spaces. If we are not home a lot, we are all unhappy. People need time for quiet, to hear their own thoughts, putter around, get bored, fill that boredom by doing something ... builds our minds and bodies and hearts and souls. xo

  12. Look at all your comments. Look how loved you are. I am so sorry for the sad, but I know just how you feel. You KNOW I know, after the last few weeks I have had. It is so lovely not to have to be places and do things today. The things I love about homeschooling is that we can relax and learn and laugh and love. Running around half crazy isn't any of those things! I am so glad your boy and girl are such sweethearts! How amazing are they to understand. You have such a special relationship with them.

    I hope your new schedule is so much better on you all. Can't wait to hear about new adventures. Hugs Helena. I hope you realize how important your friendship is to me. :)

  13. Thank you, everyone. SO much. I feel held by your words, like each one of you has come and put your hand on my shoulder. Looked into my eyes and smiled. And light comes.

    I feel so lucky and blessed to have your words here. I don't say that often enough, I think—so here I am, coming to each of you. Looking into your eyes now, and saying Thank You, for your friendship and your light. It is beautiful to me!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.