Tuesday, September 27, 2011
My favorite chicken, Eleanor, was killed by a hawk in our back yard and I am very sad about this.
Most people think of chickens as mindless egg machines or meat providers. Anyone who has raised them from eggs to adulthood and let them free range knows that they can be full of personality.
Eleanor and her flock were hatched in the kindergarten. We all watched them as they struggled out of their eggs, wet and tired from the hard work of cracking the shell to emerge into this world.
Everyone was in love with the babies, and they had quite a fan club at school. Some of the children even wrote books about them. They were a bit sad when the chickens were big enough to come home with me, but also glad that they would have a big yard and a happy home.
Stella knew they were part of the family, and I think she though of them as her Peeps. She watched over them when they were wee babies, but hung out with them in the yard like they were her companions when they were big enough to roam free in the yard. Stella likes to play chase, and would try to engage the chickens in a game of chase. It was funny to see her disappointment when they wouldn't chase her. When she chased the chickens they looked like they were thinking, "Sheesh, Stella's on a rip again." They would scatter for a moment, then go about their business hunting for bugs in the lawn.
Eleanor was always the smartest of the chickens. She was the first to discover how to sit on a perch, how to fly over the baby pen where they were kept as chicks, and how to get up and down the ramp to their coop. She would lead the other chickens to bed at night and on their adventures exploring the yard. She was also very sweet and affectionate.
Early in her life, just after she reached maturity, we almost lost her to disaster. We were babysitting Stella's BFF, Daisy the Doodle. While Stella likes to try to play with the chickens, she would be mortified if she hurt one. Daisy, however, had no such compunctions. She saw the chickens and went in for the kill. Her victim was Eleanor. Mike had to spray Daisy with a fire extinguisher to get her off the chicken. Eleanor was sliced by Daisy's teeth on her back and abdomen, was in shock and appeared to either have a severe back and/or leg injury that prevented her from walking. She was pale and panting.
I got some Rescue Remedy, sprayed it in her mouth, and made her a comfortable nest with food and water nearby. I did not expect her to survive, but continued giving her Rescue Remedy and making sure she was as comfortable as she could be. It was the weekend, and there was no possibility of taking her to the vet. I was surprised to find her still alive the next morning, but wondered if I should be thinking about putting her out of her misery since she could not walk. She seemed unable to move her legs at all. I just couldn't bring myself to do that yet. Then a couple of days later, to my surprise and joy she had actually moved about in her coop renewing my hope for some kind of recovery.
By the next week, she was walking with a severe limp, but walking and hanging out with the other chickens again. She limped all through the fall, and into the beginning of the winter, but by spring there was no lingering evidence of how severely she had been injured.
It makes me sad to think of how this sweet little life was bracketed on both ends by violence. I know she had a happy life before the first attack and after her recovery ~ and that is some consolation. But it does make me sad to lose her and that her life had to end so violently.
Do I hate the hawk? No. I have enjoyed watching the mother hawk raise her babies in our back meadow each year. I love seeing them soar and hearing their cries. When people ask me what I do about hawks and my bird feeder, I have always responded, "It's a BIRD feeder." I like feeding all of my birds. Eating prey is the way of the hawk. I admire their strength and grace and beauty. I am very sad that Eleanor was their 'victim', but I still love my hawks.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Seriously, not sleeping leads to weight gain. I have been exercising like crazy including two days a week of Body Pump, one day of Zumba, and regular walks. Not to mention my yoga practice. I have been eating well. But last week, when I couldn't sleep for more that 3 or 4 hours each night, I gained 5 pounds. FIVE! I have been taking a small dose of anti-anxiety medication every other night before bed, which seems to be helping, but I really don't like to take medication. In this case, I think I needed it. In addition to getting better sleep at night, I was actually able to take a power nap for the past three days. That may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but I have a very hard time falling asleep for a nap - even harder than falling asleep at bedtime.
On Friday I felt like I was coming down with the infection the children have been passing around involving a sore throat and a cough. Adding to my suspicions, when I got home I fell asleep for 2 hours, something I rarely do unless I am ill. My Saturday morning Body Pump class was already paid for, so I decided to go in spite of feeling a bit borderline but to ease off a bit and not pile on too many weights. As usually, I was really glad I went. I felt energized afterwards and if I HAD been coming down with something, I felt like I was successfully kicking it back.
I had to work at a school fundraiser on Sunday from 12:30 - 4:00 , so I made chicken soup in the crock pot before I left. I wanted something hot and nourishing when I got home and the extra anti-infection voodoo endowed in chicken soup.
My chicken soup recipe:
one organic chicken
2 C organic chicken broth
1/2 C chopped carrots
2 C coarsely chopped fresh kale
2 C cannellini beans
5 sliced shiitake mushrooms
a dash of sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Throw it in the crock pot for a few hours and serve with a salad.
toss with dressing made with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Both my husband and my son had to have seconds on both ~ they loved this dinner!
So today I have not yet weighed myself. I am hoping that getting better sleep has assisted my metabolism in its calorie burning function. After the scale went skyrocketing last week, I gave it a rest for a few days while I worked to readjust my sleep/exercise/nutrition. This was the largest weight gain that was not holiday related since my success with losing 40 pounds and keeping it off.
I'm looking forward to this week. Today will be a regular school day. On Tuesday, we will pack our backpacks and hike to the Outdoor Education Camp for a four day session there. The children will go on hikes and have classes with the naturalists during most of the day each day. The science teacher and I will be chaperones and teachers during the rest of the day and over night. We will be staying in a cabin which has a teacher wing, a girl's wing, and a boy's wing plus a small common room where we can have our morning meetings and evening sing-a-longs. It might be a bit rainy tomorrow, but the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid 60s during the day and 50s at night ~ fall weather. We'll add jackets for our night hikes. It is really a lovely time of year to spend at nature camp.
Then on Friday night is my treat, my band and I will be going to a Tommy Emmanuel concert. A perfect way to end the work week!
Have a wonderful week, my friends.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I'm taking today off from exercise. I went to my Body Pump class on Saturday, took it easy with just yoga on Sunday. Yesterday, I went on a power walk before work. I think I did not stretch enough before hand as I pulled a muscle, which was bothersome throughout the day. In the evening, I went to Zumba and had a wonderful time dancing. I was drenched with sweat, so I know I burned some serious calories. But - it did nothing for my pulled muscle. I was in pain after I got home. I took some aspirin and some arnica but decided that today is a good day to lay low and physically regroup. Tomorrow is the day I take my students for a long nature hike for observation, writing and drawing, and it is also Body Pump day, so I want to give myself the opportunity to recover a bit.
I had a hard time falling asleep last night, then woke up at 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep. Since I was up anyway, I left for work extra early, tuned all of the instruments, and got the day ready for academics. I have been having a lot of fun with the children with their music and continue to be impressed with how quickly they are learning. For music class, I spent time teaching them to read standard musical notation. Afterwards I had 3 children on guitar, and 13 on uke, playing and singing 'Obladi Oblada.' One thing about children, they are generally not afraid to jump right into something; they were game to try it and we had a blast!
My one fitness activity for the day, the one I won't miss - time playing music.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Was it a real challenge? Did I make it up? I think on one of my teams, We Blog, a challenge was posted about crutches. I struggled. What crutches do I use? I am so cussedly independent and take on many personal challenges by looking forward, seeing the process as important as the end result - just do it. Crutches?
But this was not always so. Not many people who have not known me over decades know how I struggled with addictions. My parents. I have written about my parents before - they were awesome human beings, incredibly talented and incredibly humanitarian. They were assets to the world in many ways and the loss of them is still profound to me. However, they were not your June and Ward Cleaver parents. They had their own demons and addictions to contend with, which often interfered with parenting in a more traditional sense. My childhood was stressed by the weight of their deep emotional unhappiness, and the results of their addictions. It was also stressed by what as an adult would be defined as dyslexia and ADHD. At the time of my childhood, it was defined as 'Underachiever' as my intellect was so much greater than my academic achievement.
I'm not whining. That's just the way it was. I was in many ways a happy child, given a lot of freedom and independence, and given the gifts of art and music which I filled many happy hours with. But those spaces that I did not understand or know how to cope with increasingly interfered with my self esteem and self confidence. Quite early in teenhood, I followed the path of my parents, and yes, even some of my grandparents.... the alcohol (and drug) solution. From teenhood through my early adult life, I battled the demons of addictions. It was an easy fix. Alcohol abounded in my home, and it was the '60's, there were plenty of chemical cures for my discomfort.
Yes. I had emotional crutches, used them, cherished them. And paid a pretty big price for it.
Perhaps my salvation lay in being thrust into a group of people, a commune, who believed in growing their own food, healthy eating, cherishing their minds and bodies. I happened into this at a time in my life when my physical and emotional health was at a dangerous low. These were the people who launched me into who I am now. Offering wholesome nutrition, yoga, meditation, warm and loving care, and not putting up with any of my crap, this group of people saw me through that hard time and launched me toward health, both physical and emotional. For those of you who have held hippies in distain, these were the prototypical hippies and if they didn't actually save my physical life, they saved my emotional and spiritual life.
So many years have passed since then. I forget that I was not always as strong and balanced as I am. Yet that vulnerable child is still within me and a source of my compassion for both children and adults who struggle with the unmanageable and unimaginable.
I realized as I sorted this out, I do indeed have crutches. I have learned to substitute chemical cures to my emotional upheavals with physical ones. I am reliant on exercise to help me through tough times. A few times, I have tried dealing with the most painful parts of my life by seeing a psychiatrist, but discovered that the true path to recovery and self discovery for me is physical challenge. The more bottomed out emotionally I am, the greater my need for extreme physical challenge is. Is it the ADHD? I don't know, but the very act of working out hard, often uncovers the path I need to follow to regain emotional health and deep perspective.
The blame game is a waste of time and energy. I have nothing but compassion for my parents who dealt with their pain in the ways they knew how, and my younger self who followed their example through lack of a better understanding of how to effectively deal with emotional pain. I like who I am. No, I love who I am. And my parents and my dysfunctional young journey are a part of me that give me strength and perspective. Do I wish I didn't have to go through the rough road I travelled? Sure. But the past is not undone, it is built on. How we build on that foundation is up to us on a daily basis. We can choose to use it in a positive way, or we can play the role of victim and let it weaken us instead. Whatever your trials, your pain, your struggles, they can be the very tools that propel you forward into a richer and fuller life.
"We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. "
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