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Our Green Acre Giveaway! And Awkward High School Stories & Pictures

12 Dec

ourgreenacregivaway

Giveaway is closed! Congrats to Jenn R., our winner! 

Misty was my first friend at my new school. For a girl like me who had spent the majority of her life moving from state to state every few years, making a friend at a new school on their first day of class was like a real life scene from Sweet Valley High minus the blonde skinny chicks on the cover.

We met in 8th grade PE class (Okay, not exactly high school, but close enough.) Is there anything more dreadful to a cordinationally-challenged klutz like me than standing there waiting to be picked for basketball on your fist day of school. I still get all splotchy on my neck thinking about it.

I was so bad at basketball! And in this small town school being bad at basketball meant that you were unpopular, or at the very least, not popular with the people who thought that being good at basketball mattered – which was like 85 percent of the school.

Misty, though, unlike me, was good enough at basketball for it not to strike fear in her bowels as she approached PE class – meaning should could catch the ball, dribble to the other side of the court and make a shot, without falling over herself.

I, on the other hand, came to fear the ball. If and when it was thrown at me (which was very, very rare) it was more likely to bounce off of my head (happened once, I promise, I am not lying) than actually land in my hands.

Our entire graduating class of 1995. All of us a pure and precious as the wind-driven snow.

The entire graduating class of 1995 – as pure and precious as the wind-driven snow.

I digress.

Misty had something else going for her beside her basketball chops that I did not – something which gave her major street cred at our rural high school. She was born and raised in the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains. Her family had settled the land six generations ago and her heritage in Newton County was (and still is) as long and deep and the very Buffalo river which runs through its foothills.

Misty and her daughter selling their awesome goodies at the Newton County Farmer's Market.

Misty and her daughter selling their goodies at the Newton County Farmer’s Market.

Today, Misty is an organic farmer and doer of all things good at Our Green Acre. And I do mean ALL THINGS (said in thunderous god-like voice). Her farm provides quality pasture raised organic large black hogs, beef, raw milk, chickens, honey, eggs, and produce.

Not only does she have a full on running organic farm that she handles entirely on her own, and the biggest pantry filled with the largest amount of home-made canned goods on the planet, she also makes soaps, and body scrubs, tinctures, essential oil potions –  you name it, she makes it.

And I’m not done yet, she also owns and runs Steel Creek Cabins – vacation cabins that her family built by the sweat of their own brow. You can see them here.

You want to know what the clincher of all clinchers is? She harvests her own beeswax from her own bees? Who does that?! I mean can that even be done?

Anyway, as you can tell, I think Misty is awesome and I want you to feel her awesomeness with me!

Because when another woman knocks it out of the park, we should all be proud! Way to represent! When I meet a woman who brings so much to the table, I’m full on doing a happy dance inside and I get inspired to let my little light shine too.

hot roll

white sox misty

You know what else is great about Misty besides her white socks? She’s generous! Meaning, she’s giving away some of her amazing products to share with you.

So here’s what is up for grabs in this giveaway (white socks not included):

Boo Boo Balm:  This healing salve is full of herb infused oil that promotes healing of chaffed skin, inflamed skin, cuts, scrapes, burns or just as an intense hand, elbow & feet treatment. Ingredients: raw local honey; olive oil infused with st. john’s wort, comfrey and calendula petals; organic beeswax; coconut oil; raw cocoa butter; organic shea butter; orange essential oil. 5oz jar of Boo Boo Balms sells for $12.

Chest rub: This chest rub is an all natural alternative to Vic’s Vapor Rub that works wonders.  Full of infused herbs (horehound, mullein, peppermint, thyme and calendula) and essential oils (wintergreen, rosemary and melaluca) this rub not only soothes, but helps heal chest congestion issues.   5oz jars of Chest Rub sells for $12.

Beer & Herbs Soap:  All natural and zero animal fats, these soaps are made from coconut, palm, olive & rape seed oil. Scented with essential oils (young living) and made with all natural ingredients, there’s no artificial anything! Because fragrance oils are not used, the soaps do not have a heavy or overwhelming smell. Soaps sell for $5.

Lip balm: With ingredients like organic cocoa butter, organic beeswax, coconut oil and essential oils you can’t go wrong. Protective for the wind & cold, and luxurious during warm weather too, this lip balm is amazing.  Each tube is hand filled, labeled and shrink-wrapped by Misty in her home.  Tubes are made from 35% recycled material.  Lip balm sells for $3.

Here's what you can win!

Here’s what you can win!

One lucky person gets all of this and it could be you! Here’s how to win: 
(I’m a little old-fashioned with giveaways so it’s all about “earning comments” which will increase your chance to win. I will tally up the comments and use a number generator to select a winner.) Here’s how to earn your comments:

First:

Comment on this blog post, (if you tell me your worst PE story I’ll love you forever), that counts as one entry.

Second:

Friend request Our Green Acres and you earn an additional comment on this post.

Third:

Share this post on your Facebook page and you’ll earn another entry.

So, that gives you three possible entries.

The giveaway winner will be chosen, contacted through email, and announced on my Facebook page, Tuesday morning, December 17th.

Discount Code for those who can’t be bothered with a giveaway:
Misty also sells amazing sugar scrubs, lotion bars and more soaps than you can imagine. So if you want some awesome stocking stuffers for the naturally minded friend you love, or for yourself, and giveaways annoy you, then just go straight for the gold, and get you some right now, here’s the link: ourgreenacre. When you place your order include “GIVEAWAY10%” to get your ten percent discount from Our Green Acres. Email your orders to Misty at: misty@ourgreenacre.com.  

Good luck!

A Painful Childhood Memory Casts Light on My Quest As a Mother

6 Sep

Do you remember the first time you felt less than perfect? I remember it well. It was the summer between fourth and fifth grade. The apartment complex where we lived had a pool and I was there splashing around in the cool water on that blazing hot day in Oklahoma.

Another two girls were there enjoying the pool, as well. I had seen them here and there at the apartment’s playground. However these girls never spoke to me. They were tied together at the hips and seemed only interested in boys and each other. They both reeked of lofty pre-teen coolness. Their confidence matched their long, lean, and tanned frames.

I had no idea what it really meant to be jealous. All I knew was that they were not like me and that’s what made them so fascinating. They looked like sisters with their honey blond hair, green eyes, and matching black, yellow and pink suits with holes cut out in the middle showing off their flat bellies. (Nod if you remember those hideous suits from the 80s.)

I was standing on the edge of the pool, plugging my nose with my fingers, trying to work up the nerve to jump in the deep end. They were there jumping in and out like Greek Olympians. At one point they were playing just a few feet away from me. I couldn’t help it, I was blatantly and wistfully staring at them.

They ran over to their mothers, who were larger more developed cut-outs of the girls. Both moms were smeared in baby oil, reading cheap drug store novels, drinking soda and adjusting their tiny, string bikinis to avoid tan lines. How strange to have mothers who wore bikinis and read paperback books with bare-chested men pictured on the covers, I thought to myself.

I wasn’t allowed to wear a bikini and my mother would certainly never wear one, either. My mother, after all, wore long denim skirts, read the Bible and played guitar. This other version of a ‘mother’ was confusing to my 10-year-old brain.

That was the first moment I felt it – the painful awareness of being less than perfect. In a flash it washed over me, and my fascination with these girls turned into my own self-loathing.

Just then the young girls seemed to notice me staring at them. One nudged the other and walked over to me. She scrunched up her nose, puffed her stomach full of air until it rounded out just like mine. Then she lowered her chin to her chest, bowed her legs and mockingly plugged her nose. The other girl pointed her finger in my direction and through her laughter said, “Now you look just like her.” Her friend responded with, “I just need an ugly swim suit!” Squeals of laughter ensued at my expense.

That was the first moment I felt it – the painful awareness of being less than perfect. In a flash it washed over me, and my fascination with these girls turned into my own self-loathing. I looked down at my stomach, pooching out like a little melon underneath my light pink, butterfly printed suit. My short white legs were framed at the hips with the pink ruffles that were sown into the lower half of the suit.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to immediately go home and throw my suit away. This bathing suit was meant for babies. Why can’t my stomach be flat? Why can’t I get tan and tall? Why can’t I swim without plugging my nose? I held back the tears and felt humiliation creeping up through my stiffened body. I walked over to the other side of the pool and never looked their way again.

As an adult standing back surveying this childhood memory, I can see the painful value of that particular experience. I now understand the dynamics of what occurred on that summer day in Tulsa by the pool. However, as a child experiencing that moment, all I felt was inadequate and desperately hurt.

In reflection, I understand those girls were not children, not in the way that I was. My body, unlike theirs, still reflected that I was a child –  with its distended belly, chubby thighs, and flat chest. Unlike these girls, I hadn’t started puberty and I wouldn’t for at least another few years. I had no idea what puberty even was.

Today, as a mother of a daughter, I look back at that memory and ask what it can teach me. What sits inside those recollections that will help me empower my own daughter with the tools she needs to thrive as a young girl?

Today, as a mother of a daughter, I look back at that memory and ask what it can teach me. What sits inside those recollections that will help me empower my own daughter with the tools she needs to thrive as a young girl? What can I teach her to prevent the power of negative objectification from shaping her emotions about herself? What can I teach my daughter to prevent her from mistreating others who look differently than her. (I remind myself not to cling too tightly to my own childhood memories. I don’t want to project my experiences of being the underdog on to my daughter.)

I have another memory that also shapes me. Several of us high school girls were getting dressed in the locker room after gym. Beth was standing near the mirror, enjoying her reflection. With a sweet smile on her face, she said out loud to all of us, “I love how I look! I’ve always been happy with myself. I don’t know why, but I dont’ really struggle with being insecure.”

I practically had to pick up my jaw from the floor. Who says that out loud? What would give her the right to say such a thing? How cocky! How annoying. I literally rolled my eyes to the back of my head when she said that. Of course, she felt that way, I thought to myself. Look at her, she’s gorgeous! If I were that pretty, I would probably feel that way too. For some reason, I still felt like that ten-year-old at the pool with the round belly and chubby thighs. How would I ever break out of that insecurity?

Personally, it took time. It took claiming my body as my own through my long fitness/health journey that began 8 years ago. It takes practice, it takes training my mind in the same way that one trains their body. I will not give space to dark thoughts of myself. This is not who I am. I am loved, I am cherished. I am valuable just as I am.

Today, I see Beth’s statement differently. What a victory to be in that stage of life and feel so loving towards yourself! What can I do so that I can encourage my daughter to love herself and be confident in her own skin?

In light of these questions I’m reading a book called 101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body, by Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr. I’m really enjoying this book. Not only is it insightful for me in my own quest to love my body, but there’s a lot of great tips in there that I hope to put into practice for Zoe.

Put a Nice Mirror in Your Daughter’s Room

One simple tip is to buy your daughter, at the appropriate age, a nice full-length mirror. Put the mirror in her room, and make sure that the lighting is gentle and soft. (Who doesn’t love a well-lit mirror! Imagine the lighting in a high-end dressing room!) This will allow her the space to explore her new, changing body in the privacy of her own room, and it will also give her the chance to see her outfits in the morning before school under a more flattering perspective.(Rather than a hard to see bathroom mirror that’s usually under harsh lighting.)

Send Your Daughter to School With a Blush Bag

Another tip Richardson and Rehr offer is to send your daughter to school with a “blush bag.” This bag is a small, cute pouch filled with emergency items that your daughter can keep in her locker that could save the day. In it you might place pads or tampons, travel size deodorant, a tube of concealer, a small bottle of gel or hair spray, a comb, q-tips, safety pins, breath mints, needle and thread, spot remover, and a roll of quarters. (I’m sure the idea here is to adapt the blush bag to fit your child’s needs.) I like those suggestions. I think I would have loved a sweet little bag like that for my locker.

Some of the Chapters in the Book Focus on the Following Topics:

  • Give her permission to love her body.
  • Model a healthy body image.
  • Don’t make aging sound like a curse.
  • Come to terms with any envy you may feel about other women’s bodies.
  • Understand where your body ends and hers begins.
  • Strengthen her against the power of advertising.
  • Take time to learn and teach on early puberty.

This book has certainly got me thinking. It’s never too young to consider how to approach this with our children. (Boys need to learn how to value themselves as well. Another book I’m reading is Raising Cain, Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.) What practices have you adpopted to help your children learn to love their bodies?

I Can Do The Upward Bow Pose: Take That 35!

3 Sep

At the end of my first Vinyasa flow class our instructor had us attempt a back bend, or what’s known as the upward bow pose in yoga. I wanted to give it a try, but I was a little scared and I couldn’t lift my head off the ground. However, since that last Tuesday I’ve been working on it. After all, yoga is 99 percent practice and 1 percent theory, right?

Well, look what I did!  The pic below is my favorite. We were all playing around in the living room and I decided to see If I could manage the position, and I did. The kids thought it was great, too. They climbed underneath me to play. Zoe said I was a nice bridge. If you look closely you can see that I’m laughing. You can also see my dog’s freaky glowing eyes. I’m so glad Peter grabbed this photo!

So the next set of photos show how I got into this pose. You should not attempt this move unless you’ve warmed up your body. Also, I’m not an instructor and I have no business teaching anyone how to do yoga. However, I’m sharing this just cause it’s fun to explain how I managed it. Pretty please don’t hurt yourself and try to use my tips as a starting point – take some classes and go from there.

First, I start out in this position pictured below. The heels of the feet should be tucked in as close to the bottom as possible. As you can see I’m actually holding on to my ankles which feels good.

From there raise the hips off the ground and slowly lift the back, vertebra by vertebra. Allow the weight of the body to rest on the feet and shoulders. Keep the neck and jaw soft.

From there place the hands by the ears with fingers pointing towards the body. The goal is to keep the elbows in. Now, slowly lift the body off the ground. Viola – upward bow pose.

You can see that I’m still working on perfecting this pose, I’m obviously a beginner. But, I’m still proud of myself! Here’s to staying young. Take that 35!

I look at this and can see a lot of changes that I need to do, like bring my hands further in towards my ears, and pull my elbows in rather than letting them splay outwards, but practice makes perfect and you’ve got to start somewhere.

I like this video, it shows you really how to find this pose:

Yoga: In Which Zumba Might Have Some Competition

31 Aug

I’ve really been sinking my teeth into my new gym membership at Oasis. The classes are knocking my socks off. The last two weeks I’ve attended classes at least once a day, sometimes even twice – especially when the classes line up back to back. (Totally want to give a huge thumbs up to the fantastic childcare Oasis offers. Such a plus!)

Last Friday I hit up my first Yoga class. The instructor was a roundish through the middle, tiny older woman, who had legs like a teenager. She walked around the class room and just chatted with us like we were her kids. At one point, I thought for sure she was going to offer me some chicken soup and ask if I married a good Jewish boy. If Dr. Ruth was a yoga instructor from Chicago … well, you get the picture.

I’ve only taken a couple of yoga classes – in my life. Twice in Jerusalem at the local YMCA, early in my pregnancy with my daughter, Zoe. And then again, when I was pregnant with my son, Noah – I bought a prenatal yoga DVD (that I loved, but didn’t do often enough).

Simply said, I’m a novice. But a little pat on the back for me, I kept up pretty well with the others in the room. Downward dog is fantastic – and my new favorite resting position: head upside down, staring right through my thighs, focusing on my breath. Dr. Chicago-Ruth-Yoga-Genius even had us attempt the Crow pose. I gave it my best shot. I got both my feet off the ground for about two milliseconds.

Crow Pose

I liked that class so much that on Saturday I took another Yoga class. This one was faster paced and we moved seamlessly from one pose to another. Our instructor was a younger woman with a lovely Spanish accent. At the end of our class, while we all laid on our mats – the music soft, the lights low – our instructor came by to each of us in the room and gently massaged our feet, our ankles and our calves.

I was so moved by this gesture. I felt a little vulnerable, too. The instructor’s presence and touch reminded me of my work as a doula. Except I was on the receiving end for a change. For some reason, at the end of that class I wanted to cry.

On Tuesday night I took my third Yoga class of the week, Vinyasa flow. Holy smokes! I had no idea what I was in for with this class. The instructor, a peaceful, short-haired, muscled woman, really had us breathing, moving our bodies, and “connecting with the Divine” she said. She asked us to center our focus on what we needed from our session and for the week. Strength? Peace? Love? She encouraged us to take it in with our breath.

Honestly, I haven’t plugged in to God like that in a long time. Vinyasa flow was compelling and moving. It brought in the physical element of worship/meditation in a way that you can’t often experience in a church sanctuary. This connection of mastering your body (of engaging your core – both physically and emotionally), while you master your breath and your mind offered me a holistic, healing, and spiritual experience.

At the end of our class, our instructor came to each one of us and gently touched us, just like the last class I attended. (Is this a Yoga thing?) This instructor massaged my shoulders and neck. Surprised with myself, I was fighting tears, again. That tenderness of a woman with a gentle spirit reaching out – breaking the social ‘no touch’ norm among strangers, and connecting with me was beautiful and soulful.

I had a doula client who told me I reminded her of her Yoga mentor. I never quite understood her connection. How could being a doula be anything like teaching Yoga? But in the moment, while I laid on my mat, at the end of an hour-long session where I pushed my body to the far reach of its abilities, in that quiet and tender space of softening my body and connecting to my breath, I understood what she meant. Suddenly, my client’s compliment made perfect sense.

All in all, folks, it looks like Zumba’s got some competition with Yoga. I liked trusting in the strength of my body – something required of you as you commit to each pose. I loved how strong my body felt after each session. I enjoyed how each instructor brought her own charm to the class. I appreciated how connected I felt to my faith while practicing something physical and demanding.

I’m not sure which one will be my new favorite six weeks from now … I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

While doing a little reading this evening (ah, I have so much more space for that now that I’m not spending time on Facebook) I came across this cool couple. He’s a musician and she’s a yoga instructor, and he plays live while she leads a class. What they’re doing is really special and hip, so check them out: Go W/The Flow

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