UnSchool of Life: Undoing the Mundane Routine

As a kid, I refused to wear jeans. From the ages of 9-13, stretchy pants were IT for me. It was a comfort thing, mostly.  I’m ultra sensitive to the touch of scratchy fabric. Still. But,  I also  needed to express my differences. I spent most of my days just on the outskirts of the “in” crowd, and was totally okay with it.  My husband grew up expressing his differences in the ways lots of boys do. I’m not at liberty to spill exactly what that means. But,  somewhere in our charts de destiny — we have been dreamily aligned to raise a “different” child. But, believe me — we didn’t set out to do anything outside the “norm” when it came to starting our family. We did the doctor appointments, the pampers, the birthing classes. Soon enough, that fizzled though. And, even before my little Dougie’s health began to decline — he was showing us that he was destined for something more. When it came to schooling, at first we opted to have him evaluated  for special services through the Chicago Public School system. It took them over a year to complete their evaluation, and by the time we had our  first IEP meeting — his label of “severely autistic” was obviously invalid. He was healing through Body Ecology, Raw Foods, and the energy healing and sensory work that we do at home.  Still,  we took the label in hopes of getting him more education. Dealing with  the red tape, “autism specialists,” and trudging through the snow to get my child to one hour of speech therapy and occupational therapy each week was draining on him.  After one year of speech therapy, he never talked for his teachers. And, just preparing him for the trip was hell on us. He tantrummed and begged not to go. When I observed Dougie in class, I noticed all of the distractions present in the public school. Bells ringing, intercom going on and off, other teachers walking in, teachers stopping to discipline other kids and more. We tried private school and absolutely loved their routine and core belief structure. But, then there was the price and the fact that Dougie still wasn’t THRIVING. By this time, we took lots more care to teach him at home. Teachers were telling me that I should be worried that he wasn’t talking. I thought, “how could he talk when his gut is a mess?” He was healing, and all of the “teachers” and “authority figures” around him were trying to put information into him, and make him do things. But, Dougie needs to express things, let go of things, be absorbed in positivity, live out loud. Dougie needs to be free. He knew from the start that only I understood that, and I think that’s why he chose me. I remember being reminded over and over how important it is for children. “especially those on the spectrum” (ugh “the spectrum”… sheesh!) to have a  strict routine. Yeah, I see how that can help settle an overactive mind. We all crave structure for balance. But, that sure doesn’t mean commanding your children to do certain things or be a certain way. Our Daily Structure is Important to Us My goal is to get out of Dougie’s way so that he can thrive without having to depend on me forever. I don’t want him fully dependent on a specific routine. Much of my own success comes from being able to handle change. It’s all I know. So, it’s how we roll here. I know many children whose stories are similar to Dougie’s, and if  one of these children calls you mama or dad — just know that they chose you for a reason. If the homeschool or unschool bus is honking its horn at you — you can jump on.  Remember, I was told to worry because it’s well known that our  kids crave even more structure than the “norm.” Worrying has never done me any good. Ever. The Routine of No Routine Unschooling is reteaching my family how to live and be  with each other in deeper love and more productive ways. We feel we lost a lot of time worrying and working hard to do what was normal for our child. Here’s a glimpse into our day. maybe it will help you to:

  • Make and eat breakfast together (Dougie helps cut veggies, scramble eggs, pour smoothies, push blender buttons and choose what he wants. He also helps clean up).
  • Get dressed and spend some outdoor time at beach or park. We often bring toys or books and “work” outside.
  • Go to the store or market (Dougie fills his own cart, asks for what he wants and orders at the juice bar or deli. He also pays the cashier and talks to the workers at our local store. We often eat lunch outside.
  • Come home, light cleaning all together and play time for Dougie (he plays puppet show, Toy Story toys, paints, this is his alone time).
  • Nap time
  • More outdoor time, outside class like yoga or music, park or playdate.
  • Reading, art, music, math through games, puppet show or whatever we feel like — so long as it’s fun and creative.

We sign Dougie up for a few low-key activities where he can get time away and explore. He loves his yoga class. We also try to help him forge relationships with other children. He has his favorite friends and loves to play with his cousins. We take trips all over the city, show Dougie how to use the bus and read the signs, allow him to experience the different cultures we have here, and visit beautiful places. We walk, we climb, we never stop enjoying. Dougie is kindergarten age, and has learned all of this kindergarten lessons through play and fun. What a life! xoxo Gina

Energetic Protection: Don’t Leave Home Without It

an explosion of positive

Here is an article from 2007, when I first learned of energetic protection.

Energetic protection is a concept I learned in my Shamanic Training Program last summer. It’s a method for cleansing and safeguarding our energy fields so that we don’t absorb negativity from people, places or situations. The teacher,Joan Forest Mage, is a Shaman and performing artist who taught in a very ritualistic song-and-dance way that didn’t really vibe with me at the time.

Back then I thought I was shy.

Drums, stones, altars, guides, chants, journeys, sage burning — my head was spinning with symbols that felt something like church. I grew up Catholic and church always made me queasy. But there was something deeply authentic about this Shamanic ritualing that opened me to learning. I wanted to absorb the knowledge even if I didn’t know exactly what I would do with it in my life.

For months before taking the course, the word Shaman had been coming to me in dreams, literature, overheard conversations, emails, and even messages from friends. I don’t recall ever hearing the word before that and really had no idea what a Shaman was. But, by the time I met Joan Forest Mage at another healing workshop, I could no longer ignore it. When she announced that she teaches young shamans I immediately signed myself up – having absolutely no idea what I was in for.

There I danced and sang and chanted and journeyed for my power animal and spirit guides – this took a lot of letting go of doubt and presumptions. But, the more I did the more old pain and illness just drifted away.

So, when Joan taught energetic protection I knew it must be important. I followed her instructions, visualizing a protective cord wrapping around me, keeping me grounded and aware of my own energy – yet blocking the unnecessary from entering my energy field. I figured I would use this one at home with my husband. And I did. At first.

The program continued for three months and my consciousness continued to magnify. I was finally learning how to call upon and control my psychic gift. I also dropped the shyness. It doesn’t suit me anymore.

In what seemed like no time at all I understood how to lend energetic healing to those around me. The more I accepted the messages and followed through with them the more frequently and profoundly they came to me. Iwas sending healing to people over the phone, in person, across state lines and through intention. I was helping so much that many people began to send me gifts. Members of my Catholic family of skeptics were asking for my advice and listening intently to the wild stories of my growing spirituality. (Note to my readers: I do not mean to imply that all Catholics are skeptics… just that my own family is Catholic and are skeptical of spirituality in this light…. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with being skeptical. We all need to come to our own conclusions).

I practiced many of Joan’s meditations each day and found that they helped in my work and at home. But, soon I felt called to do so much work that I lost the importance of energetic protection. I stopped focusing on self care.

And there began my decline. I found myself feeling the pain that my clients were feeling before they told me what was bothering them. If someone had pneumonia I felt sharp pains in my lungs. This didn’t last long, and I considered them helpful messages that lead me to answers.

But, then after a very deep meditation I put forth all of my energy to help a person who was having problems eating. He told me he hadn’t eaten a full meal in weeks and was very worried about himself. I knew there were underlying circumstances that contributed to this problem, but I merely focused my intention toward his digestive area and visualized his body accepting, loving and growing from healthy food. He began to feel better slowly but surely.

I, on the other hand, got sick immediately afterward. My spleen actually swelled. I couldn’t eat. Inhaling was extremely painful. I tried everything I knew of nutritionally including going for spa day with colonic, lymph drainage, sauna and oxygen bath. I received Reiki a few times. I spent hours talking with doctors and researchers whom I’ve connected with in the past year. They were mostly baffled. I could not eat solid food for 15 straight days. Even drinking green juices hurt. I lived on spirulina, marine phytoplankton and vitamin C. I lost several pounds.

I was suffering from many of the same symptoms as my friend who I helped to heal. But, I couldn’t have caught it from him as I performed a distance healing and hadn’t seen him in person for months. I took on his pain. But, simply realizing that didn’t make me better. I was homebound, crabby, and beginning to annoy the bajesus out of myself. I’m not used to being sick so there was a huge lesson here.

I could have avoided absorbing his illness if I had first acknowledged my own scared energy and wellbeing. It’s like what they tell you on the airplanes: secure your own oxygen mask before you help others. It would’ve taken me two minutes to close my eyes, acknowledge my breath and assure myself of my safety and role as a healer. All I had to do was set the intention to help him without bringing harm to anyone else. To ask for guidance and accept it. I dove right in because I felt his dire need.

I’m no longer afflicted by the need to be a martyr. I practice energy protection on most days, and especially if I am going to be working with a client for any type of healing work including nutritional coaching. And, for me –it’s not all song and dancey.

It’s about slowing down, acknowledging energy, setting a positive intention and asking for and accepting protection in whatever form I need it in. I also use visualizations. Sometimes I envision a bubble, or light or coil around me…whatever I need for the day.

If you ever get the feeling that certain people bring your groove down as soon as they enter the room, or you become affected by other people’s sorrow and pain, then you may want to try some energetic protection exercises on your own. I believe protecting our own energy also helps us become more aware of our true selves. Our true emotions and desires. For me it also involves shedding thought patterns that I no longer need. If we secure ourselves we can be of much better help to others.

Awareness and intention are key, and sometimes all that we need to begin furthering our consciousness, wellbeing and the impact of what we wish to achieve.

I not only use these methods for myself, but I also practice it with all of my clients in whatever form best suits them.

How do you protect your energy? I want to know.

 Your Total Health Reset: Energetic Protection, Intuitive Eating and MORE: 

Image credit: Explosion of Positive by, Łukasz Strachanowsk