Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Health Binder

I started homeschooling my daughter in third grade. One of the appealing aspects of this lifestyle change was the time and intimacy it afforded. I looked forward to finding what health meant to me and my family. I would have more energy to create a nourishing rhythm. We would learn how to cook together and make things like yogurt and vinegar and kombucha—self-sufficient science! And I especially looked forward to having the time to daydream and explore what we love: nature, gardening, reading, animals, art.

But I have to admit—I’m not very disciplined and am sporadically organized. Even though I was no longer working 9-5, I found myself short on time! Those things that appealed to me got lost under piles of to-do lists, dirty dishes, laundry, and school books.

When my mom first told me she had breast cancer, everything else seemed trivial. I found myself wanting to be actively involved in her treatment—however she envisioned it—but she didn’t want anyone’s help. I felt crushed and helpless. I realized that what my mom would accept was my love and presence. This was a positive shift, but I still felt out of control. I decided to turn this energy towards my own health.

In order to organize and make it a priority, I created a health binder. In the past I would read health books passively. I’d tune out the irrelevant stuff and get excited about certain things that related to me. But that’d be it. The book would go back on the shelf, and it would be just me and my to-do lists again.

I journaled and began taking notes when I got excited about something I’d read. Then I’d set goals for myself and work toward them. I filled out a personal health assessment that I got from Staying Healthy with the Seasons. I photocopied anatomy pictures, health remedies and meditation exercises. I laminated a chore chart for my daughter and I. There’s also a monthly calendar in there for lesson planning and life. I made up a weekly shopping list and meal planner. I also had a list of things I wanted to do. It was such a positive feeling to be taking responsibility for myself. Because I was nourished, I felt I could better nourish my family, my mom.

Then life swept me away from my health binder again as I finished my practicum and graduated from college. And this last year…. It’s very raw for me. I didn’t work on my health binder. I couldn’t. I did try the FlyLady, but quickly became a dropout. I read Confessions of an Organized Homemaker. It was good, but not me. I’ve got to find my own way—a system that breathes.

So, I’m back to my health binder. Each time I come back to it, I refine it to work for me better. And each time I come back to it, I feel a little closer to me, to my wholeness.


  1. I love your health binder!!!!

    I don't get the FlyLady thing either. It really doesn't take into account an individual home's rhythm and energy.

  2. Love this, what a great idea. Many blessings to your Mum.

  3. Yeah, and, if you're a list-maker like me (or you need to be), all your stuff is in one spot. It takes a little longer to set up than just going and buying a day planner at the store, but once you've got your templates (calendar, meal plan, goal setting, health assessment), it's so much better. You get to choose what you want in there, what is relevant to you, right now. It's personalized to you, a living book.

  4. Hey, that's a fantastic way of looking at (what is for me) an odious chore. I am miserable at the whole planning, following through thing (karmically, this is why I have ended up a homeschooler!!). I'm definitely going to have to re-frame my binder with this perspective.

    Thanks for stopping by my wee, non-active site, btw.

  5. I like my binder, because it's kindof like school for me, too. I suppose you could make it a family learning binder instead. I just happen to be interested in health and, to me, health encompasses EVERYTHING.

    thegoodwitch, you use a binder, too? Is it primarily for homeschooling? I'd love to hear about what you do. :)

  6. What an awesome idea. I would have never thought to keep a health binder. I to read many books relating to holistic health and natural remedies. It's hard to retain everything if it doesn't immediately apply to oneself. Then I forget which book had what I'm looking for later down the road. The binder idea for me would be a great resource organizer as well. I think I'll have to try it. Thanks!

  7. Thanks, Rose. I hope it works out for you as a resource organizer.

    Hey, we're Northern California neighbors. I've actually lived in your neck of the woods when I was younger. :)