Monday, 26 March 2012

hairy legs

My eldest daughter, in grade 3, came home from school the other day with this story. The girl who sits next to her looked at her and said, "Your legs are really hairy. You look like a man. Also, you don't brush your hair well enough."

Then my daughter asked me if she could shave her legs. My heart sank.

Grade 3? Already hairy leg-conscious?

I gave her a firm answer: no way.

"But YOU do, Mom!"

"Yes, but I'm older."

Full disclosure: I don't shave my legs for most of the winter. I let the hair grow freely. Except if I go swimming. But for most of the spring and summer, I have to allow time for leg shaving in my regimen. I'm really low maintenance (I could probably be accused of not brushing my hair enough), so sometimes this summer routine nearly does me in. I did NOT want my 8 year old daughter to start on this path. She needs a lot of encouragement just to have a shower. I can't imagine adding shaving.

Why do kids say such stupid things sometimes? Several months ago, a different friend told her that her new haircut looked like a boy's. "I'd never get my hair cut like THAT," she said. "You look like a boy. It looks weird."

The morning after the hairy leg incident, although it was still a balmy 25 degrees Celsius outside, said daughter wanted to wear full-leg leggings with a skirt overtop.

"Aren't you going to be hot?" I asked, knowing the reason for this wardrobe choice.

"I'll be fine," she said.

I dropped her off at school. She hopped out of the car and I rolled down my window.

"Don't let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn't do with your body. You're beautiful. You remember that. You're beautiful."

She shyly smiled, then turned and skipped toward the school.

These are the things I wish I could take away from her - others' expectations of the way she looks, what she becomes, what she wears, and so on. I want her to know her beauty - hairy legs and all.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


This week I decided to start a 30 day cleanse. I started on March 19th, so I'll be done on April 19th. I'm trying to watch what I eat, and I'm taking these herbal pills that help to move things like toxins out of my body. I was a bit wary, especially when I read "headaches, nausea, and diarrhea are quite common as the body gets rid of toxins." Oh great. But I'm committed. But there have been times, already, when I just want to pop something crappy into my mouth, and I long for April 19th to come soon.

We bought a house! A house that we thought was lost to another offer came back to us. We mourned the loss of the house for a good week, and I found it sad to mentally take all of our furniture (which I had placed so well) out of that house in my mind. But after a 2 week roller coaster ride of emotions we got it! I found out at the Winnipeg airport. We're very excited, and we move this July. And it has a hearth!

The fireplace reminds me of my childhood growing up in a gravel pit. I'm not going to change that last sentence, but I'll just clarify: I did not exactly grow up in a gravel pit, but there was one in my back yard, along with swamps and ponds and a maple bush with a sugar shack and fields and large gardens. My rock collection was quite extensive.

So I'm cleansing the house. Packing, sorting, getting rid of stuff. Labeling boxes, imagining our stuff in a new home. Imagining us in a new neighbourhood.

We're aiming to have our house on the market by - guess when - April 19th. I didn't plan for these cleanses to coincide like this, but I think it's really interesting that they did. And in this part of my life, I do not want April 19th to come too soon. We have a lot to do to get the house ready. But while I'm cleansing my insides, I'm cleansing the insides of our house, and hopefully doing some brain de-cluttering as well. I am mindful of what goes in, and although there may be some discomfort, unneeded stuff will come out. I hope.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

give it up

Lent is typically a time for giving up or sacrificing something. I didn't grow up with this practice, but it's one that's intrigued me. A 40 day discipline. But I've never really challenged myself to do it. What do I give up? Coffee? I don't drink it. Chocolate? That could be a bit hard, but not really. Beer? Not hard. Sugar? Too hard. What do I give up?

I always wondered how giving up sugar or beer or some other treat leads to a spiritual exercise of any kind.   The two didn't really connect in my mind. I admired others for their fasts, but just couldn't decide on or commit to my own. 

This year I noticed a friend was participating in this 10 day fast. I'm equally intrigued by ideas like this - to discipline your body and your eating for a period of time. I was almost ready to commit, but I knew I'd be traveling for 3 days of meetings right smack in the middle of this fast, and I knew I couldn't do it. Maybe some other time. But this is what I've said many times. Like with that 12 day herbal de-tox box of goodies that I bought about 12 years ago. It's long past its expiry date. I wanted to do it, really, I did, but the moment was never quite right for me to start it. Because life just keeps happening.

I've been pondering what to give up this Lent. I've half-heartedly given up eating meat. I say "half-heartedly" because I eat meat at about half of the meals that I usually would. Not very committed. 

This Lent, I want to give up:

* doing it all. I can let things go, ask others for help, and not expect too much of myself. My mind gets bogged down by busyness of my own making sometimes. Give it up. Let it go.

* slothfulness. I can go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and exercise. I know that I need to do this for my physical, spiritual and mental health. I know I'm not a total sloth: I work hard. But I don't sleep enough. And it catches up with me - physically, emotionally, spiritually. Give it up. Get sleeping and get going.

Those seem like opposite goals, I know. Like slowing down and speeding up. But they seem to be connected in my mind. And I also see the connection between these physical actions and my spiritual health. 

It strikes me that some traditional practices during Lent are associated with justice and wholistic peace: physical fasts (peace with self/body), prayer (peace with God), and giving (peace with others). Some people take away vices (like coffee) and add something that will bring them closer to God. 

What is it for you? What would you give away? What would you add? 

What would bring you closer to God?