Monday, January 05, 2009

Environment, Rhythm, Health

They pop up over and over again, don't they?

Today we're easing back into focused home learning.  I haven't had a chance to talk to anyone at Enki about grade 4 resources, so we're winging it for now.  Actually, one child is at the grade 4 level and one is at grade 3, so we mix blocks anyway.

I wanted to grab my boys with something that was guaranteed not to fall flat, so we're starting January with The Tales of Beedle the Bard.  Yep, it's a Harry Potter book.  Fairy tales, actually. It's going to be a lot of fun.

For me, January is a month to return to the basics, to rediscover priorities and reset our course. I'm happy to say that this year I'm pretty pleased with our environment.  Last year we moved the furniture around several times, and now our front (living) room has a wonderful vibe to it.  We're managing to keep things fairly tidy, in part because we spent so much time decluttering last year.  The boys room is still a sore spot, however I am trying to let that go and just have it be their space.  Papa will instruct them to tidy their room, but my only expectations are that they will get me their laundry when I ask for it, put it away correctly, and have it tidy enough to be cleaned on Fridays.

In 2008 we also worked on some of our outdoor spaces.  I had always enjoyed our front porch, but it wasn't a place that the whole family wanted to linger.  A couple of bistro table/chair sets made a big difference, along with a few thrifted decorative items.  Oh, and more succulents. I love them; they are low maintenance and they are more in keeping with our Southern California desert environment.

In 2009 I plan to work on more of our outdoor environments.  Our back deck is underutilized, which is a shame as I actually like the table and chairs that we have out there.  The garden is in disarray, which is probably one reason I don't spend much time out back, as I see everything that I couldn't do last year.  Oh well, it is time to move past that and tell myself that 2009 will be better!  We'll be prepping the garden beds this month for a February planting; Papa is also planning to put in at least one more bed.

The health challenges I faced in 2008 made it difficult to maintain strong rhythms; day-to-day I never knew what I would be able to do, and there were several summer months that I simply stayed in bed.  I see 2009, especially these first few months, as a time to accept my limitations and learn to work within them.  I have a good doctor now, and am making progress toward symptom reduction and pain management.

For me, one of the hardest things about having a chronic illness is managing my energy.  I need to find the balance between taking advantage of an unexpected good day and overdoing it (because that can affect many days afterward).  At the same time, part of staying alive and vibrant is meeting each day with all that I have.

I saw that Molly over at A Foothill Home Companion declared 2009 the Year of the Backyard for her family.  For my own family I think we will celebrate the Year of the Home; spending most of our time at home is one way I know of to create a strong rhythm.  Ironically, this year is the first that we've had the boys in an organized sport that requires practices and Saturday games, but I find that even more of a reason to stay home as much as possible. Being home makes it far easier to hold to our daily and weekly rhythms.

T-Guy sounded so congested when he woke up this morning; he has a winter cold and this morning his symptoms were worse again.  All of us have been fighting illness off and on since October.  So our physical health needs to be a priority in 2009.  I'm stepping up our nutrition with a deeper focus on real, traditional foods.  I've made a commitment to walking, even though at present I face significant pain just 5 minutes into each walk; not being able to exercise for some time makes exercising that much harder, but it needs to happen.  I'm also seeking to establish a gentle yoga home practice.

Equally important is our emotional health.  This is where I love the interconnectedness of environment, rhythm, and health.  I find environment and rhythm to be very supportive of emotional health; I feel better when my environment is warm, beautiful, and tidy.  I feel better when the daily and weekly chores are happening within rhythm; they don't move into auto-pilot, instead they do become more infused with meaning.

Community is another big part of emotional health, and also provides a place to enhance our intellectual health.  We are so fortunate to have established ourselves within several communities now, and I love how they overlap with one another.  The connection between environment and intellectual health is also apparent; we now have many great places to curl up with a book, and the time to do so.

I'm really looking forward to 2009.  I don't expect perfection; I know we will have challenges, heartache, frustration, and pain.  But it will also be full of beauty, joy, love, laughter, and learning, and we will be together.

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