Choosing Slow

Misty mountains
Photo by Paul Nicholson

“What will you do with all your time?”

That was the question I heard again and again last year as I found myself a stay-at-home with both kids in school.

Yet I didn’t feel like I had very much time. Between Bible study, classroom volunteering, and after school activities, I was booked.

This year, I’m taking it even slower

At first, I thought about adding more. And I have, in some ways. You’ll find me up at the school a lot. I’m working on awareness for some causes. I’m writing more.

But I’ve left out a few activities. While I thought about more volunteering, more blogging, more of everything this year, I decided against it.

You see, I need to take it slow.

I’m a workaholic. I’m capable of a focus and intensity that is terrifying to behold. And — I don’t want to invoke that thing in my life right now.

I’m choosing to take life slow, because that means I’m a nicer person to my kids. I’m not trying to shush them while I finish edits. I’m available to come to school events without resentment about what I should be doing.

I’m going slow because I’m more available for my friends, like when I needed to help a friend prepare for the arrival of her foster kids or when I got to meet a friend for breakfast the one day she was in town between moves.

Going slow is not particularly good for the ego. I’m no one’s savior, no celebrity, no parenthood powerhouse of crafts and activities. I can easily find myself in a crisis of purpose. I watch my husband work hard to make sure we eat, while I feel guilty about my leisurely schedule.

But it’s not about how hard I work or how much I add to my resume. It’s not even about how clean my house is (although there are days I will fight you on that one). Right now this season is about choosing sanity. Deciding how I can be a safe person for my kids, how I can be a whole person for myself.

I do not know what the future holds, whether I will be called to more work or to choose even less for my life. But for today I know that the quiet slowness is right where I need to be.

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Ethical Products for the Fashionable Geek Girl

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Ethical Products for Fashionable Geek Girls

 

Geek girls, unite! With these amazing options from socially conscious brands, there’s never been a better time to let your geekiness show. Whether you love Star Wars, Marvel, or studying the skies, you’ll find a fair way to celebrate your fandom.

Space Mission Alpha Patch from MokuyobiMokuyobi creates whimsical, retro patches and pins. Add a few space patches to your favorite denim jacket or bag for an instant, geek-friendly statement. All Mokuyobi products are made in the USA. $6.

Baby Groot Earrings from RockLove  — I found RockLove through their Star Trek collection on ThinkGeek, and I’m in awe of their gorgeous jewelry designs. Licensed pieces featuring Guardians of the Galaxy, Stargate, Firefly, and more are available in hand-crafted, thoughtful designs made from recycled silver and other consciously sourced materials. Each piece is made in New York City. $70.

Wonder Woman Undies from  Naja — Get ready to conquer the day with these Wonder Woman-inspired undies from Naja. Digitally printed to reduce environmental impact, these undies are made in a factory that employs female heads of household and provides fair wages and healthcare. $22.

Constellation Tank from Krochet Kids — A cool graphic tee is a wardrobe essential, and this one shows off your science-y side with a star chart. Krochet Kids employs women in impoverished areas and provides job training, steady income, and education. $42.

Rad to the Bone Dress from Retrolicious — ModCloth received a lot of bad press when it was bought by Wal-Mart, but I think the site is still a great source for made-in-the-USA and fair trade clothing brands. This Ms. Frizzle-worthy dress is made in the United States and is available in sizes up to 4X. $90.

Stormtrooper Backpack from State Bags — While I’m not a big fan of the buy-one, give-one model of some “do-good” companies like State and Toms, I’m happy when any brand that strives to be ethical gets official licensing deals with mega-brands like Star Wars and Disney. For every backpack purchased, State Bags hand-delivers a backpack full of supplies to an American child in need. $95.

Star Wars Sneakers from Po-Zu — Speaking of official licensing deals, Po-Zu is making waves with their Star Wars collection this year. As the source for Rey’s original boots in The Force Awakens, Po-Zu quickly became popular with geeks and cosplayers. Now they’ve released their officially licensed Star Wars collection, including these amazing, limited-edition silver sneakers. Po-Zu products are made in fair trade factories from eco-friendly materials. I own a pair of their Rey boots and can attest to the comfort and craftmanship. $196.

I’m excited to find options that are sci-fi AND fair, and I love spreading the word. Have you found any geek girl essentials that are responsibly made? I’d love to hear about it!

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Keeping the Blues at Bay

Every year, as the days grow shorter, I update and re-post this article about coping with seasonal depression. I need the reminders each year, and I hope these ideas help you as well. You are not alone.

Nashville-winter

Friends, remember the January Blues? Well, in my case it turned out to be more than the blues. Turns out I had seasonal affective disorder, thanks in part to the lack of sunlight in winter.

I got some help, thankfully. I insisted to my lovely mental health team that my depression started in January, but my amazing people tracked down the source as closer to September, when school is in full swing and the daylight is disappearing. They were right.

Now that we are almost to November, I’m feeling it. My energy levels are sagging, my headaches are increasing, and the chores are piling up. Now that I’m aware of what’s happening, I’m facing this head on. Here are some tools that I’m hoping will keep me a bit saner this winter.

1. My Happy Light. I love this thing. I bought it one March when it was STILL SNOWING in Nashville and I was desperate. It’s not as bright as medical-grade light therapy device, but I feel like it helps, and it’s quite budget-friendly. (Update: I’ve since swapped my Happy Light for a stronger Philips Blu Light.)

2. Exercise. You knew it, didn’t you? I say this every time, mostly because mental health professionals are always reminding me. Exercise keeps me where I need to be. My current routine includes hip-hop dance classes and Couch to 5K training. This is my biggest struggle right now — I’m tempted to hide at home or stay busy with chores most days.

3. Reaching Out. When the Nashville rain hits in late autumn, I pretty much want to curl up and read or write or sleep. While there are times when that’s appropriate, I’m also deliberately finding times for good talks with friends. This helps keep those unhelpful, self-pitying thought trains at bay.

4. Powerlessness. This solar-powered girl just moves a bit slower in winter, and the sooner I accept those limitations, the more peaceful I will find my life. The beautiful gift of letting go is that I get to turn everything over to Somebody who really does know how to run the world.

5. The Little Things. During my struggles one winter, my therapist suggested citrus essential oils for their mood-boosting properties. I bought myself a vial of sweet orange oil to diffuse, and it felt like a beautiful service of self-care. A new potted plant, my favorite music station, soaking in the precious sunlight — the small acts of care add up to a major mood booster.

So that’s my game plan as the days grow ever darker. I’m going to try to stay flexible, open, and honest as I head into winter. We’ll see what the season holds!

***Friends, sometimes we can try all the tools and do all the right things, and we still find that life is completely overwhelming. If you are in that place today, please reach out to your doctor or a licensed therapist for help. There is hope. ***

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