Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Detox Time!

If you are in tune with your body, you know the signs that a detoxification is in order. You are feeling tired, perhaps not sleeping well. This may be the result of too much caffeine, the physical illness of yourself or a child you are caring for in the night, insomnia (the infamous "monkey mind"), or just not going to bed early enough. Maybe the coffee is causing digestive issues, or maybe you just haven't been eating healthy enough--not enough whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables. Get thyself to the farmers market! Maybe too much meat or processed foods are dragging you down. In my case, I injured my foot and haven't been able to be as active as usual, which is undoubtedly part of the lower energy equation.

If you are in a summer slump, then join me in a simple detox program for the next month. I'm beginning today with Yogi DeTox tea, a natural herbal supplement available at health food stores and on line at Up to 10 tea bags can be used per day, every day for up to 30 days. The box says: "As everyday impurities find their way into our bodies, we may be left feeling tired or out of balance. Yogi DeTox is a gentle way to help the body cleanse itself by aiding the two primary filtering organs, the liver and kidneys. Our tea uses the time-honored purifying herbs Burdock and Organic Dandelion to support the liver. Juniper Berry aids kidney function. The traditional Ayurvedic cleansing blend called trikatu (Ginger, Black Pepper, and Long Pepper) aids blood flow, while Indian Sarsaparilla adds spicy flavor."

In addition to the tea, don't forget to drink plenty of water during these hot summer months. I am additionally cutting out refined, added sugars as much as possible from my diet. We all know that sugar prematurely ages us and causes inflammation that leads to disease. It also zaps our energy when we crash from a sugar high. With all of the family reunions, graduation parties, and weddings we attend in summer months, it can be hard to avoid the processed sweets. But we don't have to deprive ourselves entirely. Eat treats at those special events sparingly. When at home, choose natural sweeteners with health benefits such as honey, maple syrup and molasses, and those lower on the glycemic index, such as agave nectar. Cut the sugar in your recipes, and use raw instead of white whenever possible.

While you are cleansing your body, don't forget to purify your mind and spirit with yoga, prayer, meditation, and sacred scripture. Get out into nature rather than staying cooped up in the air conditioning, which does not allow your body the natural purification process of sweating. Even try fasting once a week, beginning with the practice typically used at Lent of eating only one full meal and two small ones, with no snacks in between. Skip meat, or dairy products if you are vegetarian, once a week. I am going to look into fasting practices and get back to that in another post.

Let me know how you are feeling during the detox process! Keep a journal and track what works to restore your body to balance and vitality. Remember, most of all, to breathe, fully filling the belly with each inhalation, and completely releasing on the exhale. Just breathe...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summertime Homeschooling

"I learn every time I breathe."  -- Jordan Sparks, singer

Learning opportunities abound in summer, even while most of us have set aside our formal education efforts. Already this month Beezy has attended a week of Vacation Bible School, visited the Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Fremont, Indiana, and gone strawberry picking, all while her grandmother was visiting from New Mexico. She was also baptized in the Catholic Church! And we are helping to water the Rosary Garden three days a week.

You can count many summer activities toward the mandatory educational hours required by your state. At VBS, children receive religious education (literature and history in the form of God's word), learn new songs and their lyrics in sign language (music and language arts), and create crafts (art). Strawberry picking is a physical activity (gym) as well as a nature/science study. The buffalo trip was also a historical and natural science experience. And right in our own home, we have new kittens that we are watching grow and nurse from their mother!

Bike rides, swimming, hiking in the woods, playing in sand, jumping on the trampoline, and gardening are all learning experiences that can be categorized for homeschooling requirements. Obviously, you don't want to announce to your children, "This counts as science!" when they play at the beach, but you can keep a record of such activities for your own use. While the structure of our days is more relaxed and we have more free time, we still need to keep a sense of consistency and routine for our children. Organized activities can help, as long as your children aren't overloaded.

Beezy will participate in many more fun activities through our local Parks and Recreation department and library in the weeks to come. This week, there is tie dye t-shirt and ice cream making, and arts and crafts. A week of Junior Gardeners will follow. Next month will be a week of craft making for various holidays. The library's summer reading program, part of a year long "Little House" theme, will feature an exploration of Pioneer life. In August Beezy will most likely attend another VBS, and soccer will begin! There are many more such activities available for children all summer and into fall. These programs are all affordable, and some are even free.

Don't forget to keep your children reading all summer (and read to them as well)! It is of the utmost importance that reading be a pleasurable activity for the duration of a person's life. Encourage reading of the classics, with their rich language and literary substance. Children who enjoy and excel at reading high quality literature usually have a corresponding proficiency in writing, spelling, and grammar.

Vacations, travel, outdoor play, and increased time with family and friends are all part of the special joys of summer, so relax while feeling confident that all of life is learning, and learning never ends!