So Tired (A Dairy Relapse)

I feel so tired right now. It’s nearly 1pm, and I should be taking a nap. I should be putting away the washing. I should be cleaning up for Shabbat. I should be prepping food for Shabbat. So many things to “should be” doing! But I’m sitting here writing because I’ve realised something and I wanted to record it.

So about 6 weeks ago I got back some food intolerance test results. It showed high intolerance to eggs and dairy, and milk to gluten and a few other random things. So I set about cutting these things out of my diet. I have tested the egg thing, and yep, definitely get the runs after having that! And gluten too affects my gut in that way. But I love cheese almost more than I love dairy, and I wanted to try doing keto again, and that’s pretty dang hard without dairy! So this week I decided to go for it with the diary and just have it (not heaps, just not nothing, ya know?) and oh man, this is where the tiredness comes from. Tiredness and a belly that looks like I’m 6 months pregnant. So much bloating, so much flatulance, so much exhaustion.

So on the positive side, I’m 100% sure that dairy effects me! Even cheese, which is all I had – no milk (this scored higher on the test for me than cheese). So here’s to better choices in the future!

Lessons I’ve Learnt – Tishrei

3rd of October 2018
24th Tishrei 5779

I feel so tired. Exhausted. My biggest lesson I’ve learnt standing at the end of this holiday season is that I need to be realistic about my capabilities at this time, and I need to prioritise the Yom Tov over other events.

So we went through Rosh Hashanah fine – totally observant, and really enjoying the time. We hosted family on the first night, and had a really special family time on the second night.

Yom Kippur went okay. Luke attended services and I was at home with the kids which was a bit hard. I felt myself getting really sick and flaring (Hashimotos style) towards the afternoon, and I realised that perhaps my health isn’t good enough to really fast a full 24 hours at the moment. This was a disappointing realisation, and one I will have to be mindful of with future fasts while I am in this healing period. G-D willings, I will be better next year though!

Luke left to go to Melbourne straight after Yom Kippur (like, that night), so then I solo parented for a few days, while also trying to finish up Sukkot gift shopping, Sukkot supply shopping and food prep. I did as little as I could, as I was pretty wrecked, and that meant that we weren’t super well prepared for the start of Sukkot.

The Yom Tovs to start Sukkot were still great, and we celebrated them well – taking time to rest and go to services and enjoy time in the sukkah. Same throughout the rest of the week – we had our neighbours over which was lovely, and had great family time. I was aware that next year I would like to have more activities in the sukkah with the kids during the week, but it was fine for now.

We hosted two “parties” on the weekend, and while they were both enjoyable, I felt really tired and drained after them and was too tired and worn out to properly observe the ending Yom Tovs of Shimini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. I deeply regret this, and realised that I should have prioritised these yom tovs over other events.

So the holiday season ended in a less than stellar way, BUT overall it was still really enjoyable. I learnt a lot, and enjoyed services so much more this year having gone through the Machzor beforehand with our Rabbi.

Things to be mindful of next year:

  • Prioritise the Yomim Tovim over any other events. Ideally host people on these days and not on other days.
  • Family events are nice, and I’m grateful that our family is so supportive that they’re keen to come to these events even thought they’re not interested in Judaism themselves, but just our family is also really nice. We don’t NEED to have other people over for for every holiday for it to special.
  • Have a budget and stick to it.
  • Put more effort into kids activities throughout the Chagim. I want to make this special for the kids, and I think that this stage it’s more important that we do those activities then do big fancy meals etc. Teaching my children and making this memorable for them should be my priority as a mother.

Hello 5779 <5778 year in review>

Wow, what a year! Rosh Hashanah last year we had just started going to synagogue a few months ago after a big move to the city from our simple coast life. I was homeschooling Lior, and we were all missing our friends and the beach, but still in the bubble of excitement that comes with moving and doing new things.

I thought the previous year had been hard – making the decision the leave our family and friends in the pursuit of G-D, not entirely sure where that would leave. And it was. It was actually really hard, but the year on the whole was beautiful and fun. Enter 5778.

This was truly a more challenging year. If I thought it was a big deal to make those decisions, I had no idea how hard it would be to live them out. So many things went wrong this year and it has easily been the most difficult year of my life.

Death in our extended family, my own health hit rock bottom, various difficulties with each kid resulting in endless worries and anxiety. Depression, stress, loneliness – they all reared their ugly heads this year and stayed for most of it. Confusion of our direction, and my own beliefs and understanding, and a general feeling of… stretching.

Now, I don’t want you to think that the whole year was bad. We did after all make many happy decisions and experience a LOT of joy. Several holidays, most notable was our whole Rodgers family trip to Tangalooma, and two overseas trips. Lior thrived at school – learning more than ever before, and just truly enjoying all aspects of school life. It was hard to make the decision to take Eli out of Kindy, but one I am proud we could make, and that Luke and I could be united on.

We made the official decision to convert to Judaism, and start lessons. Those lessons have been a big part of our stretching (learning Hebrew is… difficult!!), but also a huge part of our joy. We’ve seen our children grow in size, confidence, and spirituality. We’ve settled into a lovely house we enjoy, with wonderful neighbours on all sides. A house I am free to garden in, and one that’s easy to clean! We’ve also been fortunate to afford luxuries which easy both Luke and my stresses (in different ways) like a cleaner once a week, and someone to wash our dog, Pepper.

This past month – Elul, I have felt more stretched than ever before (but that’s kinda the point of the month, right?!), and I to be honest I have had many angry words with G-D along the lines of “Why am I here?!” and “Why am I living this life?!” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. MAKE IT STOP NOW!”, and I’m not exactly proud of those moments, but they are what they are. Just days before Rosh Hashanah I could finally see that this whole process of that of refining – my own exit from Mitzrayim and cleansing before entering Israel.

Tehillim 66:8-12 says
“O peoples, bless our G-D,
celebrate His praises;
who has granted us life,
and has not let our feet slip.

You have tried us, O G-D,
refining us, as one refines silver.
You have caught us in a net,
caught us in trammels.
You have let men ride over us;
we have endured fire and water,
and You have brought us through to prosperity.”

The whole chapter is about G-D refining Israel for his glory. And honestly, if I am going through the process of joining the Jewish People – then I should have probably expected more of this (and more to come!). I am seeing this through a new lens that shows me that this is a refining process – getting rid of my old habits, old ways, old life, and being reborn into a new observant life. It’s hard, yeah, but worth it.

My hopes for 5779 are that I continue to grow. Even though many times this year I’ve desperately wanted to give up, I am glad to stick with it, and hope that maybe this coming year is a little less hard, but still full of lots of growth!

Carbis Time Capsules // July 2018

You know, I put off doing this project for ages thinking it would just take too much time, but in reality it was easy enough! One evening is all it took (once the kids were in bed) to get it finished & exported.

I’m honestly so glad I took the time to make it and re-visit this style of creativity which is quite different to art journaling. I love it though. I love creating something that can be really emotive and powerful (at lest for our family), and I do love the archival nature of these videos as opposed to the more self expressive nature of art journaling.

Anyway, July was a good month, and I’m glad to have it documented now. The footage definitely makes me realise that I need to get back in to taking proper footage. Too much portrait style Instagram stories footage and not enough footage with my good camera!

Eco Printing Tutorial (Paper)

As our zero waste, eco-friendly ideals carry into all parts of our life, they are slowly making their way into my art practice as well. Though I’m still an avid user of acrylic paint, for ages I’d been wanting to dive into eco prints and see how that would work. I follow an amazing eco printing artist on instagram, and I adore the beautiful clothes she makes with her fabric, but to start I wanted to explore dying paper. Hopefully I’ll be able to explore eco printed fabric in the near future though!

So here’s a little tutorial on how to do eco printing on paper.

You Will Need:

  • Watercolour paper
  • Alum (aluminium sulphate)
  • Fresh flowers and leaves
  • Water
  • An old saucepan you don’t need to use for cooking (hit up an op shop for this!)
  • A tub you can soak the paper in
  • Two pieces of metal/acrylic board you can use to sandwich your papers (see video for a better explanation if you’re unsure on this)
  • Twine / String to bind your papers
  • Old towels

Before We Start…

I just want to take a minute to say that doing this eco printing is in no way an exact science. Part of the joy of this type of art is that you get a surprise when you open it up, and you have no real way of knowing exactly how it will turn out! Even when all factors are the same, there is still often variation between one set of prints and the next.

There are lots of factors that could influence how your prints work out including the type of water (mineral content, chlorine content etc), length of time soaking / boiling, types of leaves and flowers, tightness of the binding, and amount of alum used. 

What The Video…

Process:

1. Fill a shallow container with water and add in 1 tbs of alum. Mix it so the alum has dissolved and then soak your paper. Leave it to soak until you’re ready to use it.

2. Add enough water to your saucepan so that your leaves and flowers will be covered. Add 2 tbs of alum and mix until it dissolves. Add in your foliage and flowers and leave to soak for at least ½ an hour.

3. Once everything has soaked for a while lay out your old towel to work on. Take a piece of paper, and lay foliage / flowers on half the paper, then fold in half. Place it to once side, and add more foliage / flowers to the top.

4. Make another sandwich of foliage / flowers and place it on top of the previous sandwich. Add more foliage / flowers on top and continue until you’ve made all the sandwiches you want.

5. Take your metal or acrylic blocks and put them on either side of paper stack. Use your twine to bind them together tightly.

The water is pink because the beetroot slices were soaking in here before.

6. Add both sets of water together in the saucepan and add another tablespoon of alum. You can also use vinegar if you want. Submerge your bound paper stack in the water, and put it on to boil. Simmer slowly for a few hours. You can add extra things into your water too. Avocado seeds or skin, spices like turmeric which will give everything a yellow tint, or even rusty bits of metal.

7. Carefully take out your paper stack and put it on your old towel. Slowly take off the twine and boards, and open up your pieces of paper. You can wait quite a while to do this after taking it out of the water, but it is best to do this while it’s still wet so that the foliage and florals don’t stick to the paper too much.

8. Enjoy your beautiful eco printed paper!

Tips and Notes:

As far as I know you will not be hurt from touching the water that has alum in it – it goes into pools after all! If you’re concerned, use some re-usable gloves. 🙂

I bought my alum at a local pool shop – $15 for 2kg, which is much cheaper than anything I found online!

The best things I found to print with were leaves with fine details (think ferns,  leaves with crinkly edges etc.), and flowers with strong pigment, or that sit very flat when taken off the stalk. Mustard or coriander seeds also have a really interesting effect!

Rosh Chodesh Elul // Womanhood and Goals for Elul // Video Vlog

We’re entering my favourite month of the year – Elul! I am a bit of a self improvement junkie, so I connect super well with the spirit of Elul, which is all about improvement and going deep. I’m including here my notes on the month from a range of difference sources (links included at the end), and a video summary of some of those thoughts directly below!

Reflect on the past year, and when we have “missed the mark” and how to move forward.

Take ownership of our lives – don’t be a victim. Be honest with yourself.

Elul is the time of year when the call to become aware of exactly where we are, and — from that heightened awareness — how to proceed is amplified to its loudest levels.

Elul – hit the reset button. A month where we can make choices and have supernatural power to move forward.

Getting ready to forgive others for their “human-ness” too.

“Anger and resentment are heavy, sticky things. These feelings bind us to victimhood and tempt up to ignore our own culpability. Do yourself and the rest of the world a huge favor: act with radical compassion for yourself, and all other humans. In Elul, begin to let go of whatever you’re holding onto so tightly. The release will purify, heal, and liberate you. We promise.” – At The Well

Personal Journal Questions (From At The Well)

As a side note, I wanted to say that I am sharing these very raw and personal comments in an attempt to be vulnerable to help others who feel the same way feel less alone, (hopefully) document a way forward starting at the place I’m at now, and also – I find writing to be therapeutic! Please refrain from comments that are too “helpful” – I’m not looking for suggestions, just for my voice to be heard!

  1. What is it time for you to wake up to? What is the Shofar blowing for? Wasn’t sure about this for a few days, but have realised I need to wake up to my humanity – as in the failings and reality of my body and health circumstances.
  2. If you were on your deathbed today, who would you forgive? What are you waiting for? Myself. My body. 
  3. Which pain is pressing on your heartstrings at the moment? Not feeling loved/wanted/appreciated. Simultaneous feeling like a burden to others, but also alone – that there is no one I can rely on.
  4. What are you returning to this year? Joyfulness and vulnerability. 
  5. What do you fear in this moment? Going through this conversion, which includes converting the children and for that to end up being a disservice to them – that they will reject parts of Judaism, and therefore would have been better off living as Noahides without the burden of being a Jew.
  6. What do you desire? To be loved, to be in a loving regular (as in, meeting up regularly) mama community, to be close in location to my greatest friends and allies. My old life?
  7. In what ways have you been alienated from your body and self? I think when you’re sick you can become really disconnected from your body. It’s what I imagine being old is like – that your have these moments thinking “I’ll do that” or “I like that thing”, and then in reality your body just can’t do that. Lately I’ve been exhausted constantly, and spend many moments in bed in the day. I still get up and do things, because I have little children to look after, and they need to DO stuff, but sometimes I hold back tears because I am just so exhausted. That’s really hard, because then logically I know that I slept well, and long, and really don’t do much, but the actual physical feeling of exhaustion is just totally overwhelming.
  8. In what ways or moments have you felt alienated from the Divine? A lot. Just lately I feel alienated because I wonder why I have been brought to such a difficult time and place when my life was so wonderful before. I’m not sure why all these feelings are back. I wonder if coming back to these feelings in cyclical, or circumstantial? It’s not a constant feeling, but when it’s here it burns through my soul. I am finding it difficult to connect with Hashem, despite increasing my time meditating on Torah, and praying more.

Mindfulness in Elul

self love <- self awareness <- introspection (hello Elul!)

A big month of preparation – preparing physically for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. But also preparing spiritually and soulfully for change and renewal.

Selichot – days of mindfullness

Elul = mindfulness

Ways to encourage Selichot:

  1. Meditate. Set aside some time to be with yourself, be with your breath, and notice what is.
  2. Time for reflection/year in review. What happened this year? What was awesome? What was hard? What have been the biggest opportunities to rise to the occasion? The greatest joys? How did you grow? What did you accomplish? What are the things you want and need to leave behind? What will you let go of?
  3. Forgiveness. Forgive those who’d hurt you, apologise for your part in bad relationships.
  4. Spend time in nature. 
  5. Reconnect with family and friends. Send a card to welcome in the new year!
  6. Set a practical intention. 
  7. Perform a ritual/mitzvah that’s like a fresh start.

Feminine month – month to receive as we turn within.

Letter of the month – Yud.

Yud represents the selflessness needed to come closer to Hashem.

First letter of Hashem’s name, Yisrael, and Jew (Yehud?).

Hashem is the inner point within us – meditate on this (the Yud) this month. The power of smallness and humility.

The first letters of the Hebrew verse “Ani Ledodi vidodi li” I AM MY BELOVED’S AND MY BELOVED IS MINE” ( SONG OF SONGS 6:3) spell our Elul, signifying that there is an intimate and loving closeness between God and people during this month.

Teshuva – the inner work of spiritual accountability and returning to one’s true essence.
 

Closeness with Hashem

 
Elul – Moshe returned to Mt Sinai to plead for forgiveness for the Israelites after the golden calf. So Elul is also a month of asking for forgiveness and self reflection of our sins throughout the year.
As liberating as it is to forgive others, it is even more important to love and forgive yourself. 
In Elul, it is our “job” to get close to Hashem, and pursue this closeness.
In Elul we try to get close to Hashem. In Nissan it is the opposite – Hashem tries to get closer to us.
Blow the shofar every day in Elul except Shabbat, and except Erev Rosh Hashanah.
Elul is the month to be trying to be a better person in our aim to get closer to Hashem.
Fear of G-d is not the idea that if you eat a prawn you’ll get hit by lightening. This is not a truth of Judaism. True and right fear of G-d is the idea that if you eat a prawn you’ll be separated from G-d, and THAT should be where the fear is.
Relationships need constant renewal, and Elul is a great opportunity for this.
What can you add more this month?
 

Womanhood in Elul:

To meditate on the maiden on her wedding night – expectant, ready for her King, full of love and desire, happy and celebrating.
 

Goals fo Elul:

Meditate/Practice Mindfulness every day this month.
Once a week do deep inner work in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

All these ideas are from the following places:

At The Well https://www.atthewellproject.com/moon-manuals-all
Mindy Ribner’s emails (email her to subscribe – beitmiriam (@) msn.com )
Live a Little Higher.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl16zFfgRsY 

Preparing for the High Holidays

On my mind at the moment is preparation for the high holidays. Rosh Hashanah is just over 4 weeks away, then of course Yom Kippur a week later and Sukkot is hot on it’s heals.

In the lead up every holiday I always end up a grumpy ball of stress, usually at being the one who’s had to do everything, and no one else in my family opening their eyes to help. This year to try and combat that I’ll be having a sit down with everyone in the next week or two and detailing my expectations of everyone, which will involve everyone being proactive to help and keep things rolling. Okay, so this might be a bit of a stretch for my youngest two children, but it hopefully the message will be understood and taken on board by my husband and eldest son.

After going pretty hard core with children centred craft prep for these holidays for a few years (while we were just playing with the idea of this, and not committed to converting), the last year was much more focused on the technicalities of the days. This year I want to get in early and have a bunch of activities for my kids prepped and ready to make in the week or two before Rosh Hashanah, through to the end of Sukkot.

Here are some idea of things I want to do:

  • Colouring in activities
  • Maybe a big poster?
  • Stained glass hanging pomegranates
  • dried orange garland
  • Mini edible sukkahs
  • Plush items for holidays (plush strong and lulav, torah scroll, honey pot?)

Other items on my to do list:

  • Order some kosher meat and develop some menus
  • Get out boxes of decorations from last year and see what we need to be fixed/replaced/kept
  • Do a declutter in the house so that everything feels free and clean for the new year
  • Email all the fam to start the ball rolling for a family get-together
  • Organise and start buying gifts

Believe In Yourself Art Journaling Page

Hey everyone! I have an art journaling process video for you today. I used some pages from a children’s book for this page, which is part of my “Play” altered book.

I am keen to do a few more pages using bits from this book. The illustrations are beautiful, and because they have a watercolour-ish style they are relatively easy to add to and turn into a cohesive page!

Let me know what you think! Do you ever use book pages in other languages in your art journaling?

Zero Waste Changes – June & July

Hey everyone! Over the last two months we’ve made a bunch more zero waste changes, which I thought I would update you on. I’ve done a vlog, which you can watch below, or continue down further to read all about what we did in June & July.

Video Links

Zero waste changes in May blog post

I buy ugly fruit and veg, and produce without plastic from Charlie’s Fruit & Veg here in Brisbane.

I mostly bulk shop at Naked Foods, and The Source Bulk Foods.

Zero Waste eCourse with Spiral Garden.

Zero Waste Changes

General

Traveling – tried out a cutlery kit. It was a good experiment, but it needs some more refining. I will probably try some bamboo cutlery rather than stuff from my cupboard just because I have to carry a few sets with me.

Plastic Free July – this was a fail for me. I wasn’t prepared, and neither were any of the members in my family. We’ll try this again another time.

Signed up to Spiral Garden’s zero waste course. I’m excited to have bought this course and have started this week. I particularly love the family meeting questions they have, and long lists of resources. I think it’s important to have the kids totally on board and educated about this!

Zero waste event hosted by The Source with Anita Vandyke (Rocket science) – Luke and I attended this together, and it was great to listen to her story and ask our questions. I wish we’d gone to the Bea Johnson event as well!

Kitchen

Continued with all things from May update.

Made spaghetti from scratch (holy delicious batman)

Added new compost bin

New keep cup so Luke & I both have one

Bought super cheap tomatoes to turn into puree/freeze to use instead of canned tomato

Bathroom

Safety razor

Shampoo bar

 

 

Art Journaling Process – brachot before eating decision tree

As you know from other blog posts our family is in the process of converting to Judaism. One of our recent lessons included learning the brachot for food, and when to say each blessing. We had already been practicing this for a while, so this wasn’t a big hurdle, but it was great to have some of our more weird questions, for example – what bracha do you say for nori when eating sushi? Still trying to find out the answer. I don’t even know if you can buy kosher nori. We’re doing kashrut next, so that will be the biggest shake up so far I think…

Anyway, back to this art journaling page. I feel like I need to make some sort of disclaimer to say that this isn’t a complete “decision tree”, and it’s not intended to be used as a teaching tool or anything. Heck, I’ll probably not even look at this page again unless I randomly flip through this journal! I just wanted to make something relevant and this seemed fun. 🙂

Hope you enjoy this video! I will have another video on this blog over the weekend, and another one next week, yay!