Month: March 2013

the raging elephant

relationships March 22, 2013

Buddha’s jealous cousin once unleashed an elephant on him, hoping the elephant would trample him to death. He fed the elephant alcohol and beat him. The elephant became intoxicated and enraged with anger and pain. Everyone ran as the wild beast approached, but Buddha sat calmly and looked to the elephant with kindness and compassion. The beast kept raging towards him and Buddha still sat calmly, piercing the elephant’s eyes with peace and kindness. As the elephant thundered towards Buddha, the compassion overcame the elephant’s rage and he knelt before Buddha. Buddha stroked his trunk gently and comforted the beast in his pain.

This is our first baby. We’ve been married for almost 5 years, together for 8. We’ve been through death, family troubles, career changes, about a hundred moves, financial woes, addiction, deception, graduate school, undergraduate school. You name it. When my son was first born, my husband would gaze at him in awe every time he held him and say ‘he’s perfect.’ We were, and are head over heels for this child. However, his birth rocked our relationship. We have fought more, more intensely, and more dangerously close to divorce than ever before. How can this new joy bring so much strife? Whether it is sleep deprivation, stress, change, or whatever, it has been intense and painful. We went to a counselor when I genuinely believed we couldn’t make things work. We are still struggling, but I think we are going to be okay. For the moment. Here’s why.

Last month, during one of our bitter battles, during one dark night and day when I didn’t hear from my husband, I had an epiphany. I was in agony. I was alone with our child, I hadn’t slept, I was wondering how I was going to make it as a single mother. I realized this is it. This is all we have. If I can’t rise up and meet this moment, be the best human being that I can be for the sake of my family, then what is the point in me doing anything? Had I really done all I could do? Was I really helpless in this situation? I scanned my memory of the fight. Amidst all the wrongs my husband did, there were my ugly actions and hurtful words. I thought, well, if my husband and child aren’t worth me getting over myself and doing my absolute best, even in the face of a raging elephant, then what is worth it? My lesson from Buddha is this: it doesn’t matter that Buddha did nothing to incite the rage, that he was innocent in the altercation, that he was wronged. He loved and was kind. Maybe the elephant is inside us, maybe he’s the hurt and pain and anger in others. I don’t want to try to be too literal, but I know that reacting with love and peace, in the face of a blind attack of rage and pain (whether from within or without) requires immense strength. If not for you family, why? If not now, when? I am trying, and I am succeeding sometimes, failing others, but I owe it to both my child and my partner to give it everything I’ve got. I just can’t see any point in living unless I do. Best wishes to any new parents, or other couples struggling to live your lives in tandem, my heart goes out to you.


Coconut oil is the new black

green living March 1, 2013

I have changed in ways I never would have imagined since my child was born. If writing a parenting blog is not cliche enough for a stay at home mother, I have considered making candles and my own beauty products. It all began with coconut oil… and it may well end with coconut oil, as I haven’t actually made any progress in the above mentioned ambitions.

It started months ago. Coconut oil began popping up everywhere. First, I noticed it on my bag of popcorn. Then it showed up on online boards pertaining to stretch marks. I finally started using it as a cloth diaper friendly moisture barrier for my son’s pampered bottom. Now it is in the New York Times and all of my friends’ houses. A friend of mine who was visiting all the way from Alaska noticed a jar in my bathroom and said, “I see you’ve discovered it too.”

I put it on the baby’s bottom. It smelled nice and I knew what was in it, or more accurately what isn’t in it. Then I put it on the baby’s face when it got dry in the New Mexico winter. My friend rubbed it all over her baby when she got a rash and was prescribed moisturizer by the pediatrician. The rash was gone the next day. I started using it on my stretch marks and chapped nipples. Then my whole body. I figured, the baby is with me all the time, might as well stay away from chemicals too. We were a little stretched for cash for Christmas. I bought pretty jars at Anthropologie and whipped up a jar of coconut oil with a few drops of lavender in my kitchen aid and gave the ladies in my family some home-made moisturizer. Finally, I ran out of my pre-child expensive face creme. I couldn’t justify spending the money on a tiny new jar when I wasn’t working and my husband was working hard to bring home the bacon without me working too. I put it on my face. I have a 30 year old freckled face that has weathered high desert sun for most of those 30 years. It is a sometimes oily, sometimes dry, and though 30, sometimes pimpled face. It is a face that smoked for 10 years and didn’t drink enough water. The coconut oil worked on this challenging face. That was it. I was sold and still am. Have I mentioned the fact that it is delightful to cook with? My son has a milk allergy, so I am off the dairy. We use it in place of butter in many recipes now. It is delicious in mashed sweet potatoes. Try sauteing with it with brussels sprouts, salted cashews and dates. I believe that I read in the Times that it is a miracle oil and that we should all be cooking with it to stay thin and beautiful forever. Or maybe I made that up. In any event, it can apparently be used for everything and I love it.

So shoot me, I write a blog about cloth diapers and coconut oil. It may not be original, but then again neither is the little black dress.

Next up: tea tree oil, to cure all ills.