Monthly Archives: September 2014

Longing for Community

I have been searching for community my whole life. I remember longing for it growing up. And even though there have been times in my life when I have felt kinship with those around me, I haven’t felt a part of a community outside of the nuclear family my husband and I created for quite some time.

When I was growing up we moved a lot, so I felt connected when I had a best friend. I had a best friend when we lived outside of Chicago for 3rd and 4th grade; a best friend in middle school in Rochester, NY, and a camp best friend from my four years in the Adirondacks. And then came three different highschools in three different years. The lack of stability made it hard to make and keep friends—at least the best friend kind.

This longing accompanied me to college and for a short time I landed in a community in which I felt at home. It didn’t take long for hormonal angst brake up that feeling, and I fled to live in New York city where I finished college, while starting and running a business with my father. And thus began a period of time in my life in which I had my toes in a variety of different communities, still longing for one that I felt completely at home in.

In my 20’s I dipped in and out of circles of friends who had either gone to school together through dating different people. Then there was a group of people who were tied to a meditation school that I met through a boyfriend, and while I enjoyed their company, they were a cult-like group in which membership was for those who committed much more than I was ever prepared to do. My yearning or community never crossed the line of blindly following some mesmerizing character.

After marriage, in my late 20;s, we bounced around a bunch living in Washington, DC; Vienna, Austria; back to DC and then off to Northern California where I found a community of like-minded women, having babies and raising kids. Most of the women I met through my volunteer work with La Leche League.  They were either other Leaders or the mothers who were attracted to attachment style parenting. We hung out in parks, took day trips to the beach, all the while watching the kids run around and always talking about our lives, our families, our dreams and sometimes our nightmares. These women nursed me through a difficult and scary second pregnancy and then stepped in again when my husband was diagnosed and successfully treated for cancer. They made dinners, did grocery shopping, took kids, held my hand, and listened to my fears.

In my 40’s we moved to the Midwest and started all over again. But this time is was harder. For a variety of reasons I never felt at home there, never found a community of like-minded people. The kids had excellent schools and my husband a work environment that he enjoyed, I never felt at home.

And then after nine years away, my husband accepted a teaching position back in the bay area. But nine years a long time to be away and I learned that you can’t go home again. And so even though we moved back, we had to start all over again.

And now we are empty nesters. One near-by and one on the east coast (so far) and we are once again faced with options. We love living in northern California and the question becomes: what kind of community do we want? How do we create the circle of friends with whom we can nourish and enrich each other’s lives?

Sometimes I think of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz after learning from her adventure over the rainbow that there is no place like home. But when one has moved around so much, where is home? If I clicked my ruby slippers where would they take me?

Do you feel at home in your community? Do you have a circle of friends who have seen you through thick and thin?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Yoga of Self-Mothering

Today in yoga class the teacher reminded us to be thankful to our bodies for all the poses that we could do as well as all the poses that we couldn’t do. I know I have heard this before from yoga teachers, but this morning I really heard it and let it in.

This morning it was easy to watch others find poses without the effort that I struggled through. Why is it so easy to put myself down for not being “stronger” or “more flexible” or “more-fill-in-the-blank?”

I am reminded of a writing exercise that I had recently reread about what we would write to our 30 year old self and say. And my biggest piece of advice I would give to ‘30 year old Heidi’ is to stop beating yourself up about your body and your weight.

You see, I was overweight in my thirties and forties, and it didn’t feel good. I felt bloated and sluggish, even though I played a mean game of tennis. And I didn’t like the way my body looked. Yes, it bore two children and gave birth naturally two times, and then breastfed those two children for more years than I care to admit, but still I beat up my body mentally.

And now in my fifties (gulp!) I have finally lost the weight and (mostly) love the way my body looks and feels and moves. But this morning I felt weak and inadequate. It was so easy to watch the others who are amazingly strong and fit and balanced and to compare myself to them. This morning I had to remind myself that it is not a competition, that their struggles are different, and that mine aren’t any more or less than theirs.

I had forgotten to be grateful to my body for the poses that come easily to me and instead was focusing on those poses that do not. Because I am very, very, very flexible, the poses that require flexibility come easier to me. My chiropractor lovingly calls me Gumby and threatens to pull me out of yoga because it makes adjusting me a challenge—thank goodness she is up for it.

This morning I forgot that my purpose in getting on the yoga mat 3 or 4 times a week is to build strength, build balance, and to direct the energy to move through my body in a grounded and healthy way—which I always feel afterwards. I needed to remember that I get on the yoga mat because I love myself, not to beat myself up, duh!

I had to pull my mind back from focusing on all that I can’t do (like those darn arm balances) and put my attention on all that it can do (like show up, do my best, and always have a smile on my face). I don’t want to spend another twenty years beating myself up for my strong, soft, curvy, healthy, flexible body. Instead I will be grateful for the poses I can do and the posed that I can’t.

How are you mothering yourself today?

What would you say to your thirty year old self?



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Special Time Alone With Mom

When I first became a blogger, I quickly learned that in order to grow my blog, I needed to read and comment on other blogger’s posts. So when I started The Magic of Mothering, I knew I had to find other blogs that had similar themes and then read and comment on them. One such blog I read regularly is Thien-Kim Lam’s, I’m Not the Nanny, raising biracial kids in a race conscious world. I found out about Kim’s blog at the BlogHer 14 conference I attended this past summer.

 Obviously Kim writes about raising kids and even though her kids are young and still at home I like reading her posts. One such post from September 5th really touched me as it brought back memories of the time when my son was under five, before my daughter was born. As a stay at home mom, I got to spend such delicious time with him. Unlike Kim’s son Jaxson, my son did not hold my hand often when we went exploring and walking. But like Joxson, my son was sweet and loving. I loved the adventures we went on when it was just the two of us.

 What was it like for you when you had special time with just one child?

My New Personal Trainer

September 5, 2014 · by Thien-Kim Lam · 

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My new personal trainer clocks in around 3 feet tall and is only 4 years old.

With his big sister back in school, Jaxson definitely feels the Sophia-sized hole in his day. Last week, he and I began a new routine. Right after the school bus picks up his sister, we head to our local park for a walk. Since April, I’ve been quietly making changes to my diet and ramping up my physical activity. I was more than happy to talk a walk in the crisp morning air with my little guy.

 On the first day of school (for Sophia), Jaxson and I donned our sneakers, filled our water bottles, and took advantage of the early morning quiet of our favorite park. I wasn’t sure how our first morning walk would go. He seems to only have two speeds whenever we  walk around the pond full of ducks and geese: running ahead of me or stopping every few minutes to pick up “a piece of nature.”

 Jaxson moves and talks non-stop from the moment he wakes up to when he finally falls asleep, surrounded by his swarm of pillows. But his sweeter side took charge our first day walking. I joked that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him, since he’s so fast. As soon as we stepped onto the pathway, he firmly took hold of my hand and rarely let go during our 1.5 mile walk. I joked that he was my personal trainer–because he made sure I didn’t fall behind. To my surprise, he kept a brisk pace.

 With a firm grasp on my hand, he took charge. He would not leave me behind.

 In the midst of parenting, I forget how empathetic and sweet my kids are. Especially Jaxson who loves to play rough and is passionate about everything he talks about. That morning, I held his hand every time he slipped his smaller fingers into my adult sized palm. I never let go first. I soaked in those short thirty minutes as we strolled around the park.

 My little boy was growing up but he still loved me best. Sometimes it frustrates me that he only wants his mom, but that morning I was happy to be the center of his world.

 Every day I look forward to our morning walks. It’s become our special time together.

 Do you go for strolls at your park?

Please feel free to leave comments for Kim on her blog by clicking here.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Uluru – Best of Australia Part III

No trip to Australia is complete without visiting the outback. One of the most famous places in the Australian outback is Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, or sometimes just called The Rock. It is an amazing place and a “must see” for anyone traveling down under.

Bill Bryson, in his wickedly funny book In a Sunburned Country (a MUST read for all Oz travelers), had this to say about Uluru:

 “Uluru is not merely a very splendid and mighty monolith, but also an extremely distinctive one—very possibly the most immediately recognizable natural object on earth. I’m suggesting nothing here, but I will say that if you were an intergalactic traveler who had broken down in our solar system, the obvious direction to rescuers would be: “Go to the third planet and fly around till you see the big red rock. You can’t miss it.” If ever on earth they dig up a 150,000-year-old rocket ship from galaxy Zog, this is where it will be.”

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 It is a spectacular sight to see. There are several ways to get there; we chose to fly into Alice Springs and then drive to Uluru in a rental car—driving on the other side of the road doesn’t scare us. One can also fly right into Uluru. We chose the car ride because it was less money and we wanted to spend some time seeing the great big red dessert (and we had a good book on tape to listen to).

I had not seen anything like the Australian outback desert before, and I loved it. There are several rest stops between Alice Springs and Uluru (Curtin Springs Roadhouse is owned by the uncle of a stitching friend I met in Melbourne but that is another story) so enough opportunities to stop, stretch and get an ice cream.

After the last rest stop there is nothing but miles and miles of open space, until you come to Mt. Conner.

Sloss - 40 - 2Like most tourists, we thought we were seeing Uluru. It freaked us out a bit when we drove past it and still hadn’t seen the turn off. It is a huge flat topped mountain that is even older than Uluru and is also a sacred place to the Yankunytjatjara people.  While it looks like it should be Uluru, it is not. Access is very limited, so it is not a tourist destination.

We spent four nights at the Desert Garden Hotel, part of the Ayers Rock Resort, while exploring the area. Frankly, I could have spent more time there. There was a ton to see and we just did a little bit, but what we did was very cool!

Sloss - 40 - 3Our first full day there we went on a sunrise walk around Uluru through SEIT Uluru Trek. It was a small group and two guides. As we walked the 14 kilometers trail we learned different stories of and from the local Aboriginals. It was magnificent to watch the colors on Uluru as the sun rose. I felt like I wanted to spend the next few months painting the various colors and shapes, and I am NOT a painter at all. It is that inspiring!

That night we went on the Sounds of Silence Dinner tour. This was a much larger event, but also amazing. They took us into the desert, and we watched the sun set over Uluru and Kata Tjuta (also known as the Mount Olga, a beautiful area that we didn’t get to explore) while drinking champagne. Then over dinner, we learned about the southern Hemisphere and constellations while we enjoyed talking to the other people at our table.

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The next day we toured Cave Hill. The tour was a full day Indigenous cultural experience in the heart of the Pitjantjatjara Land desert of the Anangu people.

 

We learned more about the Aboriginal Songlines of this area and saw cave paintings that are tens of thousands years old. The cave paintings included circular symbols, river maps, and information about local animal hunting grounds. We also learned how to read emu tracks–totally counterintuitive for us!

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These emu tracks are showing emus moving from left to right—they are NOT arrows going right to left.

 We lucked out in that on two of our tours we had the same guide-in-training. This particular guide had fallen in love with the area, quit his job, left his home, left his wife and kids in Melbourne to become a local certified tour guide. What an amazing place in which to have one’s mid-life crisis.

After we left Uluru, we had lunch in Alice Springs, wandering in and out of various Aboriginal art galleries. I regret that we didn’t see the art being displayed by Aboriginal artists themselves on the street. We later learned that often these pieces are as good, or better than what is in the galleries and the money goes directly to the artists.

Bottom line: This is a must see site in Australia. We were both surprised by how few Australians have been there. I would go back again if I had the chance!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Ferguson Reveals the Ugly Wound in America

Like most Americans, I watched the news events unfolding in Ferguson, MO in shock and disbelief.  What happened there reveals an ugly wound in American culture that might not be news to black Americans, but probably is to white Americans. And that is a huge part of the problem.

It would be very easy to be able to say the problem is in Ferguson, MO. Shooting an unarmed teenage and then leaving his body to lie in the street for ours was despicable. But the fact is that it could have happened almost anywhere in the USA. I have lived on the east coast, the west coast and in the Midwest and the location doesn’t matter.

Cartoon

Credit: Ben Sargent for this eye opening cartoon

Racism is alive and well in our country. And the fact that most white Americans don’t see it is a great example of white privilege. The fact of the matter is that we do NOT live in a color blind culture. And frankly, I’m not convinced that this is the goal anyway. So let’s stop pretending and let’s start talking.

When many white Americans hear the words ‘white privilege,’ we get defensive or go to denial or feel guilty, but these responses will not heal the American race wound. What will help is for white Americans to feel empathy for black Americans. You know the saying, ‘you can’t know someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes,’ well this is what I am talking about. Until we as a people can embrace both black and white experiences, how can we begin to understand each other? And the fact is that too many white Americans cannot even begin to understand much less empathize with black Americans.

The Question in St. Louis County: Can Whites Empathize With Blacks by Sally Kohn

When white Americans begin to understand and internalize what it is like for black Americans to participate in a society in which no matter how hard they work or how smart they are, they are still seen for the color of their skin before they are seen for their abilities or accomplishments then we will start to heal some of the divide that separates us as a country.

Two times in my life I have had the opportunity to participate in a very powerful exercise that shows this in very clear terms. It is sometimes called the “Privilege Walk Exercise.”

This exercise illustrates that race trumps economics in our culture and that no matter what advantages black Americans may have, they are still black in America and as such they do not enjoy the same privileges and advantages that white Americans do. The converse is also true: no matter what economic status a white American adult has, they/we always have an unfair advantage in our country because of white privilege. Period. And just because you don’t see it, doesn’t make it untrue.

For a great explanation on the “Privilege Walk Exercise” please read The Exercise that Opened up my Eyes to White Privilege by Jill Anne. Jill Anne’s reaction was similar to most white Americans. It is eye-opening and disturbing and hopefully motivating.

This wound can be healed. I have seen it happen when my (then) teenage son participated in a yearlong leadership program to teach black and Jewish teens in St. Louis about each others’ cultures. The teens learned how to come together and problem-solve the issues that racism and anti-semitism cause in their own lives. It was heart-warming to participate as a parent, and it was inspiring to watch the teens go through this process. We need more programs like this in our country.

I have assembled a great (short) list of fabulous news stories, blogs and even video that will make your blood boil, even if they are not news to you. The first video is a wonderful social experiment and I am grateful that these two young men took the time to risk putting it together.

Social Experiment: White Guy Breaking into A Car vs a Black Guy Breaking into A Car (Take a Guess What Happens)

Why I Fear for My Sons by Kimberley Norwood

Pastor Matt Chandler Speaks Up About ‘White Privilege’ by Jeffrey Scott

Thank you to my dear friend, Jeanne Townsend who has posted most of these stories on Facebook.

So what are we to do about this long standing American tradition, American’s race wound?

First, let’s stop denying that a problem exists. Next let’s figure out how to talk to each other about these issues. White Americans need to start listening to black Americans. Really listen.

Second, more programs like Cultural Leadership (the one my son did) or workshops from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that I used to lead are needed more than ever.

If you want to start being part of the solution, instead of the problem, find a local anti-racism group in your community. Another idea is to read books that explore these issues. Educate yourself.

Silence on the black-white issue in America means complacency and that is no solution to the stain we have in our country today called racism.

I am no longer accepting the things IPlease note, my blog is a safe environment and I will not allow anyone who is trying to explore these issues to be slammed.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Tasmania! – Best of Australia Series Part II

Okay, you have landed in either Melbourne or Sydney (see Melbourne vs Sydney for my first preference), you are done with jet lag and are exploring urban life in Oz. Now it is time to see the rest of the country! But wait, it is a really big country and there is no way you can see it all. We couldn’t, even in the five months we lived there. In my Best of Australia Series I am writing about some of the places that we went to and loved in Australia (in no particular order).

Tasmania is worth going to! Australia has six states and several territories, the island of Tasmania is the sixth state. There is a ton to do on the island and we only did some of it. We flew into the capital city of Hobart and stayed in a funky older hotel, the Astor Private Hotel. We had a nice enough room, but the real unique part of the hotel was the manager, Tildy. What a trip! And she knows everything about anything in Hobart and is not afraid to share it. She was a one woman entertainment show. The name of the hotel was the Astor Private Hotel.

Sloss - TasmaniaWhile we were in Hobart we went to the Saturday Salamanca Market.  It is a fun, open air market selling everything from food, to clothes, to toys, to souvenirs, to everything. There are also musicians playing every sort of music you can imagine. I recommend that you arrange to be in Hobart on a Saturday so you can attend too. I got this great dress there for only $40!

 

The other big attraction in Hobart is the famed MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art. It was unlike any museum that we had ever been to, and while we like contemporary art (it is the private collection of David Walsh, the mathematician known for making a fortune beating online gambling sites) I can’t say that we thought it was worth going to.

No trip to Hobart would be complete without a trip to Port Arthur, the former convict settlement, now an open air museum. It is a terrific way to get a glimpse into Australia’s past as a penal colony. I highly recommend you take the time to explore here. The drive from Hobart has interesting places to stop at and see. We didn’t see all of it, but Eaglehawk Neck the Tessellated Pavement and the Tasmin Arch were some of the highlights. On the way back we stopped at  The Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park and saw kangaroos, wallabies and Tasmanian Devils.

Next we drove off to Freycinet National Park and went on one of THE most beautiful hikes we have ever been on in Wineglass Bay. It is not to be missed! We hiked up to the top for the view over the bay then down to the sand (soft like baby powder) and had a picnic lunch with a wild wallaby who liked us

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Rather than hike back up the very steep trail, we went the long way around and felt like we were discovering new part of the park. It was almost deserted and beyond gorgeous!

We ended our time on Tasmania in Launceston, another historic city in Australia, from which the founders of Melbourne came.

Bottom line: Tasmania is well worth going to. The people are friendly, the cities interesting and the scenery – gorgeous. I would go back in a heartbeat, but only in their summer time!

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!