Monday, March 28, 2011

EtsyBloggers BlogCarnival: April Fool!

Cindy at Devine Designs Jewelry gives us the topic April Fool's Day: Do you participate? Tell us about a joke you played on someone, or if one has been played on you. What do you think about this "day"?

Here at Faerie Gardens, we take April Fool's Day very seriously.

The kids dress in their dorkiest cutest clothes...

Lia, 2009

...and we serve a silly fancy dinner...

Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Mixed Veggies, and Colorful Cupcakes
(Click for recipes! ~_^)

...and deceptive delicious desserts...

Click here for recipe!

...and everyone is usually pretty happy by the end of the meal!

The kids, 2008

This year should be no different.  Perhaps a decadent coco-berry pie and berry soda coolers? Or maybe some dirt cookies?  Definitely a fun game at dinner...  ~_^

How about you?  What are you planning?  Check out the other Carnival posts for more ideas!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Etsy Blogger of the Month: MysticWynd

Say hello to the March Blogger of the Month...

She says it best herself, "Whether your style is simple or bold, classic or trendy, elegant or glitzy, Mystic Wynd has something for you at a price you can afford from a craftsperson with a simple philosophy -
An awareness of peace and love rose anew, As the spirit found truth and the Mystic Wynd blew..."

And she has got the most gorgeous jewelry for sale in her shop.  Here are some of my favorites...

Gardener's Copper Charm Bracelet w Flowers

Tidal Pool Necklace in Blues and Greens

Indian Agate Goddess Pendant w Necklace

Celestial Glow - Goddess Earrings with Labradorite

Don't forget to check out her shop and blog, and see what's there that might be calling to you...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Women & their Unicorns

I am so excited about this course! I entered a giveaway on her blog and actually won a seat in it! I can't wait to get started! I'll be sure to post results here.... ^_^

Friday, March 18, 2011

Body Issues

You may have noticed from some of my recent posts, that I have some issues with my body that I am trying to work through. I've been heavy since I was a child, and have always been larger on top than on bottom. In the past year I have lost enough weight so I now weigh what I did when I was a teen-ager. Even then my body was proportionately larger on the top. And I've never really liked my body.

But what I am having a *really* hard time with lately is having spent so many years not appreciating what I *did* have. I look in the mirror at my face & body, and see all the fine lines that come from aging, the crease-lines on my forehead from frowning when concentrating, the dark circles and bags under my eyes from lack of sleep & worry, the sagging flesh of my breasts, stomach, thighs, back, neck... that wrinkle up weird, and jiggle funny, now since I've lost so much weight...

Sure, I may weigh what I did when I was 17, but I no longer have that body. My flesh is no longer taut and smoothly rounded; it's like an old balloon someone let the air out of, lumpy & wrinkled in weird places. And I feel so disappointed. I don't know what I expected, I guess I knew there'd be some loose skin if I lost a lot of weight, but I assumed if I lost it as slow as I have been, that it would shrink up, and I could look nicer than I did when I was fat. And I guess I do when I cover myself up in clothes. If I can find clothes that fit this lumpy irregular body correctly.

But that's not the point... what I am trying to remember - to internalize - starts with this:

We all only have the one body we were given.

It's with you from birth, carrying you from place to place, experiencing the world around you as best as it can. And that old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," is true. The media portrays what we as a society feel is the best & most attractive, and plastic surgery may be fast becoming just a rite of passage in some circles, and the news is telling us we're all getting too fat & unhealthy, and we learn to criticize the people we see who are less than perfect with our friends & acquaintances, and those voices & images get etched in our brains and don't shut up.

But we are the loudest "beholder" of our own beautiful bodies. We judge ourselves, compare our bodies to those around us & in the media, and we pick ourselves apart, chipping away at any sense of self-love that we have. We try all kinds of things: all sorts of make-up and beauty products, diet aids, fad diets, exercise regimens, surgery... just to make ourselves look like this *perfect* beautiful image of ourselves in our head. But guess what?

Our bodies are already perfect.

And I generally try not to use that word, perfect, because it tends to be so, well, imperfect... but we are. Perfect. Just the way we are. Right now. Lumpy. Fat. Wrinkled. Bony. Pale. Tanned. Freckled. Frizzy hair. Straight hair. Near-sighted, far-sighted, or with 20/20 vision. Tall or short. Broad shouldered. Broad hipped. Willowy or Rubenesque. Old or young. Healthy or failing. Even if you feel like you're the wrong gender, your body is perfect; that's about the gender acceptance, not the genitals. Our bodies are perfect.

My body is perfect.

I am choosing to accept that it is perfect, just the way it is. As is. Perfect. And yours is too.

I wanted to end this post right there with a picture. I had in mind, a tastefully done nude photo (nothing really showing); so I searched flickr and deviantART for something to represent the heart of what I am feeling, and although I found some wonderful art and photos (check out this piece and this collection), I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. So I thought, "Well, how about one of myself?" I mean, if my body is so perfect, then posting an artistic nude photo shouldn't bother me - I love my body as is - and I shouldn't be bothered by any criticisms of it, right?

Well truthfully, I'm not there yet. I'm still struggling with accepting that my body is perfect and wonderful and worthy of loving just as it is. And that's ok. For now.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Loving Yourself

I posted on my LJ a video by Eve Ensler of Vagina Monologues fame where she tells of a conversation she had with a woman in Africa.  It was an awesome message, which I think is not just for women, but for men too, and it sparked a really good conversation over there.  Here, watch the video then I'll share some of the conversations...

First thing I thought was that it's so hard to "love your tree" when all the messages around us are saying it's not good enough.  This woman Eve spoke to lived in Africa, and probably doesn't have much exposure to Western media.  People around her are more concerned with living their lives than making themselves fit some perfect example and probably very few people are complaining about natural imperfections in their bodies.

In our society, even if we manage to isolate ourselves from the media that says we must lose weight, shape up, wear make up, use this shampoo, etc. to be beautiful, we still have our friends, families, acquaintences... talking about how *they* need to lose weight, shape up, do something about their hair, or the bags under their eyes, or their wrinkles...  And for someone like me, who was brought up to care so much about other people's opinions, you think, "Wow, if her size X body, beautiful face, gorgeous hair... isn't good enough, then mine must be down right shameful!"

Jacqueline doesn't put so much weight on the media as I do, but does agree with peers playing a large role in the problem. She says, "Also, you block out anything different in anyone else's body, and focus on it in your own. ... That is *you* putting a value judgment on your body yourself."

And it's even harder if your tree isn't functioning properly.  Having diabetes, or FMS, or cancer... how do you love the body that has betrayed you?  And yes, this goes for men too.  Men may not be expected to be beautiful or never have a grey hair, but let me share the wonderful analogy that my friend AceLightning thought of... modern "Western" culture, men generally aren't taught that their bodies have to match certain standards of appearance. A "real man" is supposed to live up to criteria more related to performance: to be physically strong in the sense of being able to run fast, lift heavy things, and hit hard, and also to be able to shrug off pain and injury. By that paradigm, it would be downright effeminate, un-manly, to care about what you look like.

The African woman says, "How can you not like that tree because it does not look just like this tree?". I think that, for men, we'd have to bend the analogy a bit. For most people, the word "tree" evokes images of something tall, with a straight trunk and evenly spreading branches. But the most beautiful trees I ever saw didn't match that image at all.

The first one is a smallish evergreen that grows close to the summit of Bear Mountain, on the western shore of the Hudson River, near West Point. There are many places where the granite body of the mountain pokes through the covering of soil. You can drive to the top of the mountain, and next to the parking lot is a large outcropping of this granite. The tree took root in a natural crack in the stone. As it grew, it outstripped the meager amount of sustenance it could find in the crack, and grew several long, tough roots - at least six to ten feet long! - clinging to the rock and connecting the tree with a source of nutrients and moisture. Nothing protects the tree from storm winds and harsh weather. It's gnarled and twisted and stunted in its growth, the Mother's own bonsai. And it is beautiful.

Another tree was much closer to home for me, literally. The house I used to live in until a few years ago backed up onto a "protected wetland area" - i.e., a swamp. Along the edge of my property, the ground was dry enough to support typical suburban trees. One year we had snow and ice storms all through the winter (rather like this winter that's just passing), and a young maple tree got broken right in half - the top half was dangling upside down, held only by a small strip of bark and wood. I thought that the top of the tree was dead for sure, and possibly the bottom as well. However, the bottom part began to put out leaf buds - and a little later, to my great surprise, so did the upside-down top! The tree continued to grow, year after year, with the "broken" piece budding out a bit later than the bottom, and beginning to turn color earlier in the fall. But this beautiful, broken tree taught me that life is persistent.

So a man who isn't strong or muscular in the conventional way could be like one of those beautiful trees...
So whether you are man or woman...
Love your tree!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Finding Your Voice

This was in one of my emails today, from Jamie Ridler. I thought I should pass it on as it made so much sense to me. I've added comments in purple as usual...

You have a beautiful voice. Trust me. You do. Your voice is a unique combination of your impulses, your physicality and your spirit, and we need to hear it in the world.

Often our voices get shut down by negative feedback, stress, tension in our minds and in our bodies. Chances are you’ve had many experiences that contributed to the lock-down of your voice. You burst into song as a little kid, and someone said you were tone deaf. You said the wrong thing, and it cost you dearly. If you’re a woman, you were encouraged to be lady-like, to stop laughing so loudly and expressing yourself so vigorously.

And in the midst of that, you lost your voice.

You started censoring yourself, sharing less of who you are and what you were thinking.

You hid your voice because it was safer.

(Yes, I did. And know some of you out there reading this did too.)

In my 20s, I was in a relationship with a man who had a great need to talk. So much so, that I started to think he didn’t care if I said anything at all. And so I stopped talking. I decided I wouldn’t say a thing until he asked me a question or invited me in. It didn’t happen. For months. It didn’t hurt him at all. It hurt me. Without expressing my thoughts and feelings, I lost touch with them. Even after that short time, I had to coax my voice to return.

You can also lose your voice behind a disguise. In order to fit in, maybe you took on a voice other than your own. Maybe you learned to talk with a voice of authority. Maybe you put on your “talking to the kids” voice. Maybe your voice is full of sweet softness, not because you are but because you don’t want to offend.

Or sometimes even without all the emotional stuff, our voices get inhibited by the stress in our bodies. We slump at our computers, compressing our spines. We tense our jaws and raise our shoulders, making the path of our voice smaller and tighter.

How do we invite our voices back?

Start with Humming

For our thoughts to flow with ease from our minds, through our bodies and into the world, we need to clear the way, releasing tensions and limitations. Humming is a great place to start. It’s easy. It’s subtle. And the vibrations help loosen up the parts of your body that support your voice. Humming allows you to literally feel your own voice.

Take a moment right now and hum. Don’t worry about finding a tune or a song. Just make a sound. What’s it like? Are you looking around to see if anyone’s listening? Do you feel silly? Scared? (I actually waited until I was sure I was alone and wouldn't be interrupted before I did this because I felt so weird about it.) Close your eyes and really feel your hum. Where are the vibrations showing up? You might find them in your lips, teeth, neck, head, jaw or chest. Put your hands where that vibration is and feel what you’re creating. That’s your precious voice. Welcome it home.

What is the sound of your voice?

Every voice is beautiful. Maybe yours is bold and boisterous. Maybe it’s gentle and warm. Maybe it’s full of giggles and mischief. Whatever its sound, it’s a part of the world’s chorus, and we need you in the song.

I'd be interested to know how you did. Did you hum? Where was it? Mine was in my lips & nose, rather high pitched, middle E, I think... Did you wait til you were alone like I did, or did you just hum an not care who heard?