Every January, an onslaught of productivity products is slewn at us in an effort to convince us that we can be a better version of ourselves...if we just buy whatever they are selling.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of goal setting and organizational stuff~ I’ve purchased programs and books, listened to podcasts, watched videos and participated in challenges galore.
There’s really a lot of good stuff out there, and I know this because I’ve experimented with so much of it.
I’ve also used a whole lotta time and energy perusing for more and different and new things as though what I really need...the thing that will actually get things happening is out there.
But it’s not.
Well, maybe it is, but I probably don’t need it because I already have what i need to get things done and make things happen.
I have a spirit of a dreamer and a functioning and creative brain to help me figure out how to make those dreams come true. I have paper and pens to make lists a plenty, and internet access, shelves of books and a library card to research and learn what I need. I a phone and friends and family who are smart and know people and things.
And whether I like to admit or not, I actually DO have time to work on things~ the time I spend looking at new planners and journals~ the time I spend earning money to pay for them~ the time I get sidetracked and look at 5 million other things that have nothing to do with getting me closer to my goals~ yeah….that time.
I know it’s a crazy idea, but I could use that time to actually work towards the things I’m saying I want.
And even though I’m not a gambler, I’d bet YOU probably already have a good deal of what you need too.
Why we as humans or as westerners are convinced we need some outside source or product or expert run program and can’t do things on our own is a mystery.
As a species, we’ve gotten pretty far. As a society, we’ve traveled, explored, developed and created. (Some have also destroyed and pillaged along the way, but that’s another essay) Somewhere along the line, many of us have become complacent and dependant on outside validation.
We’ve lost faith in ourselves.
We’ve become addicted to distraction.
Maybe the fear of actually realizing we are letting the precious gift of our lives and our freedom pass us by paralyzes us into seeking any means of avoiding the truth?
Even if it’s watching other people live their lives instead of actually enjoying going out and living our own, or convincing ourselves that WE ARE actually doing something by buying and consuming (or buying and ignoring) products to guide us on our path, but never actually making any progress on that path.
I’m not bashing the self help industry because I know it does a lot of good, and I’ve benefited plenty from it myself.
But I am saying that at some point, we should look at what we actually are doing~ analyzing and planning are great and so is having help, but eventually you gotta just do what you need to do.
And you’ve gotta realize that you can procrastinate and deflect all over the place, but you actually already have what you need right inside you.
It might not be all you need. In fact, it might barely be a smidgen of a tiny bit in the general direction.
But, it’s something and it matters.
And it’s worth focusing your attention on long enough to actually get something out of it.
In a world where a bazillion new, shiny and different options are at our fingertips, we’d all do well to just sit down and start working with what we’ve got~ to use that up and make the best of it, and along the way, we’d probably realize what else we actually do need and a whole lot more things that we don’t need at all.
And if you believe that what you tell the universe matters (which I do), you’d be sending out the message that you’re not just wanting to think, but to actually do something about making stuff happen.
Whether it’s a trip to Europe or a night in your backyard in a tent with your kid, writing a blog post or a book, whatever it is, the most likely way to get there is by taking a step.
Put down the map, quit buying new ones, and just take a friggen step.
You can always pick the map back up or buy another one if you really find you need it. But you also might find that your destination didn’t even require anything beyond your internal compass and some tools that you already had on hand.
For today, just take a step already.
In the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays, my jolly spirit seemed to have run away and I found myself lost someplace between extreme blues, uninspired “bleh” and all out annoyed as heck.
It was the time of year when I would normally be spinning like a crazed dreidel pulling together joy and magic for the holidays, but not this year.
There were times when I wondered if I was on the edge of flipping my shizzle sticks.
Well, truthfully, I did completely flip them several times in the weeks leading up to the holidays, and at certain points, I even wondered if they were lost altogether.
As a lifelong ponderer, I’m unable to be content just chalking it up to hormones or low blood sugar.
For me, the magic of celebrations is a really big deal, and not having the energy or even the inclination to deal with them was….well...kinda freaky.
It had been really cold, dark and rainy, and I’m fairly sure that I am not genetically designed for that. I know that Northern California cold of 40 degrees is not quite like Midwest cold of minus 12 billion degrees, but the people who live there are simply hardier than me in that way. I would just cease motion, give into the pain and die within 15 minutes of going outside in that kind of frigid hell.
Anyhoo, I know winter is hard on me and definitely dampens my mental state. Another thing that wa hard on me is that this was the first Christmas in 18 years (AKA, her entire LIFE) that I have spent without my Girl Child. She’ was a world away in Ecuador, with her host family.
Lastly, the holidays are just hard because they trigger all sorts of issues about family and money and gifts and celebrations and expectations. And when you’re pulling together somewhat unfamiliar people in unknown scenarios, it’s even harder.
It’s hard to be all “Let’s make holiday magic” when the utility bill has quadrupled, you are tired and deprived of natural daylight, and juggling things that you don’t really want to juggle, but are pretty sure if you stop, they will crash and shatter into 40,000 pieces that you will have to clean up yourself because most people aren’t inclined to take the lead and just take care of a mess, no matter how friggen obvious it is.
And also, even though I still totally loved the idea of holiday sparkle and magic, and my heart was sorely missing that, the sad reality was that not everyone thinks the same things are magic as I do, and the thought of pulling together a dissapointment was exhausting.
So, it kind of felt like there was a good chance that I could sew and bake and create away making things from my heart, or spend all kinds of money on things or experiences I think would be rad, but there was no guarantee that the recipients would like them or even care.
And all of that was rather depressing, and not so inspiring at all.
So, I found myself here in the season of giving, feeling like I had not much to give at all. It’s not as though I was completely impoverished in creativity or time or funds. I knew I was blessed to have enough of each of those areas, but to me, holiday giving is supposed to be from the heart, and my heart felt depleted.
And also, I was missing my kid.
I’m actually super happy for her and proud that she has worked so hard to create the opportunities she has to adventure out in the wonderful wide world, AND that she is brave enough to take advantage of them, and competent to thrive, but still, my home feels weird.
Adding to the whole partial Grinch thing I was feeling is realizing that there had also been a number of small thorns in my mojo that I tried ignoring or being sensitive about, thinking I could just work around,them, and always hoping they would find their own way out of my well being.
But they didn’t.
They went deeper and deeper inside and even when you couldn’t see them on the surface, they were there. After enough festering and neglect, they got infected and eventually a whole lotta toxicity burst out of me in the form of head spinning, fire breathing extreme meanness.
Anyone who has experienced the kind of out of body experience where you’ve lost your mind due to being soooooooo mad knows that it’s like watching someone else yelling and thinking “Sheesh. You need to calm the heck down, Lady.” (my guess is many, if not most, parents have had this happen, whether they can admit it or not)
Anyway, that in and of itself is exhausting and did not contribute at all to my being able to pull off holiday happiness.
I guess the good news is that I at least try to learn and grow from my mistakes, and I worked to take measures to avoid any more of such ugliness. In this case, it meant talking directly to the people around me about what was going on, delegating some of the weight off of my shoulders, taking care of myself better and taking steps to put myself in a better space.
My Partner is a Wise Man and he mentioned that perhaps I don’t have to be sad about not having the energy to make holiday magic….that maybe it’s not all on me to come up with things and that maybe I could just try to be open to letting it happen on it’s own.
“You mean, like don’t try to pull it all together myself??? Just wait and see?”
I’m pretty sure I stared at him in disbelief for about 5 minutes after that.
Honestly, that crazy thought never crossed my mind.
The thing was, he was kinda right and the magic of the season did happen without a whole lot intervention on my part.
Sure we bought a lot of food, because that always helps everything and we worked together to find gifts that felt right for people~ with support by my side, I wasn’t too Grinchy for that.
The thing was, I just did what I could in the easiest and most low stress way and let go of any expectations about how it would actually turn out.
And it all turned out pretty darn nicely.
No, it wasn’t like some happy, made for TV Christmas special where we all laughed and sang carols, sipping hot cocoa by the fireside.
It was more like an oddball bunch of semi, but not entirely blended people eating tamales from Costco and way too many sugary things, playing games and watching Netflix with a few outside excursions thrown in.
And that in and of itself, was magical enough for me.
A lot of people wished for a white Christmas. I was just glad that mine wasn’t as blue as I thought it would be.
Since January 1st was a bit of a down feeling day for me, I’ve decided to do a re-do dance and start my new year a few days in.
(I love being at the stage in life where I have absolutely no qualms about knowing that I can do such things, like make January 2nd or even 8th the kick off to my New Year, because, well, why not?)
And perhaps due to my funky start / restart, as I’m looking ahead and dreaming and scheming about what I want in the New Year, I’m having to make a conscious effort to point my compass at what I actually DO want, rather than narrowing my eyes, judging and critiquing what I DON’T want.
I know it’s important to be aware of what we don’t want, in order to avoid unconsciously slipping into it and all, but an excessive amount of time and energy spent on negativity never seems to propel people to anyplace positive.
And man oh man, can I generate some negativity if I let myself....especially when I have the winter funk.
So, I’m working on imagining my happy place(s) and the things that will make them such.
So, what DO I want in 2017?
I want lots more of the following:
And as the wise woman Danielle LaPorte would ask:
How do I want to feel?"
Well..... I want to feel:
Abundant and Prosperous~ not just in monetary matters and material goods, but in love, friendships, and in the ever so precious commodity of time.
Peaceful~ unclenched jaw, non furrowed forehead and Chill.
At Home~ like I’m in the right place, around the right people and doing the right things.
(You know how sometimes, things are just such an effort and you feel like no matter how hard you pedal, you’re still going uphill, and no matter what you give or try, it’s not right for the people you’re around or situation you’re in? Well, I want to avoid all that BS, and when I find myself working hard at something that is clearly NOT in my zone of genius or even competence, and the efforts aren’t panning out, I don’t want to keep wasting my efforts there. I would much rather let go of what isn’t for me and focus my energy on what I’m good at.
Whoopsie~ there I go being negative........Back to my Positive attitude~ (insert more re-do dancing...)
You know how sometimes, you’re with the right people and you feel so completely loved and accepted and that whatever you have to offer is not only appreciated, but is plenty? Well, that’s where I want to be and who I want to be around.)
Competent and Confident and Making a Difference~ I know putting myself in the right situations and settings where my greatest gifts are needed will help me to help others in the best possible ways (rather than struggling to do things I’m no good at or aren’t wanted or needed~ see my above detour into the dark side...)
Supported and Safe~ I'm realizing that partnerships are a dance, whether between lovers, friends, family members or business associates. After my divorce, I had the opportunity to figure out my own independent big girl life and to know that I’ve totally got this. And that was one amazing and awesome thing to come out of a very hard time in life.
Now, I’m learning how to do a healthy partnership where we actually work together on things.
Like it's not all up to me to fix everything in the world~ crazy concept, I know!!!
Where I want to be is knowing that yes, I've got this, but also that the people I'm with have got my back and if I need to take a break, or slack off, or even collapse, they will catch me and keep me upright. And, of course, I will do the same for them.
That's the good stuff...
So, I'm feeling pretty good about knowing how I want to feel and what I want to experience, and even better....I'm also feeling pretty good that I can pull it off.
I'm not rushing out to plan, but more marinading in the ideas and seeing where they take me.
Planning will happen, of course, and I will have 75 million colorful ways of tracking it, but for now, I'm just open to where I want this year to take me.
I hope the New Year beings you lots of joy, and I'd love to hear about your dreams and schemes in the comments below.
(If your year started off at all sucky, I encourage you to do your own re-do dance and start again. Shake it my friends!)
A few days before Thanksgiving, I began realizing that this would be the first one since I became a mama without my Girl Child at the table. She is thousands of miles away in Ecuador, mostly doing well despite eating more guinea pig than she ever imagined and questioning her own ability to communicate on occasion.
She’s getting along with her host family and in her internship, and last week, Global Citizen Year brought all of the fellows in the country together for a multi day training at the beach. The timing was great since they were all away from their family and friends over the holiday in a country that doesn’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, but this gave them a celebration anyway.
For us here at home….well...
Aside from the changing family dynamics and the awkwardness of that, our plans for the actual day and meal of Thanksgiving went from wishy washy to established to dropped to uncertain to recovered all within a few days..
I had been saddish and missing my out of town family that we generally spend the holiday with, but was happy to have local friends to celebrate and feast with instead. Unfortunately, the day before, the family ran into illness, and we decided to let them off the hook as far as hosting us.
Thankfully, another friend graciously invited us to join her family even though it was the last minute, and I momentarily felt at ease~ until it occurred to me that we might actually be an imposition / charity case, the thought of which of course led to me getting semi panicked and feeling like a displaced hobo. I like to think I'm alright when it comes to rolling with change, but....well...maybe not so much...
After a bit of wallowing in the made up dismay that the uncertainty caused in my mind, I looked around at my quiet and happy home and realized that yes indeed, I was being a dumb arse.
We were neither displaced, nor were we hobos~ I was just far from people I missed and feeling weird about what the heck family is and sort of out of place in my own nest.
But, I knew though that I had so much to be grateful for, and that I needed to just shut my whiny pie hole because shortly, it would be literally stuffed with pie amongst the mounds of other deliciousness.
Unfortunately, that realization didn’t keep me from feeling emotional ups and downs of what felt like serious proportions, but I got busy with making the baked brie (which is a flipping amazing concoction by the way!) and by the time we headed to eat and play games with our kind friends, my heart had calmed down and I was feeling grateful indeed.
A week later, despite some serious ponderings and upsets, mood swings and life with other people, I’m still feeling grateful (or at least attempting to put my focus on that, rather than the looming stressors)
I’m wondering though, why is the lead up to holidays that are supposed to inspire gratitude or joy or love so often stressful and depressing?
It probably has to do with expectations or some enlightened philosophy that I don’t quite yet have, but for now, I want the rest of my holidays to be as jolly as they can be.
Thinking of gratitude, I remembered some journal prompts that I created a few Thanksgiving’s back. Since being grateful is always in season (and because I suspect I’m not the only one who occasionally freaks out and gets side tracked from being thankful during the holidays) I wanted to share them again here.
For your downloading pleasure~ please enjoy and share some of the things you are thankful for in the comments. And feel free to share with a friend while you’re at it!
Hoping this season is bringing you joy and many, many things to be grateful for!
My Beloved and I have 6 children between us~ 4 girls and 2 boys: 5 of the 6 are of teen / young adult age~ old enough to wander and explore to varying degrees on their own, which they should be able to safely do.
But, we all know that in the real world, sometimes things aren’t as safe as we would hope for them to be.
Ten days ago, a young mother in a town near me went missing. It was broad daylight and it is assumed she had gone on her usual run while her young children were in daycare.
It was not in a ghetto or a scary place in any sense of the word. At least not to me. My Boy Child has a good friend who lives right down the street in a very nice home. I would have been more concerned about a mountain lion than a person, and that didn’t seem all that likely either.
She should have been safe to do that.
The woman is named Sherri Papini and when she didn’t pick up her children from daycare or come home that evening, her husband tracked her phone and found it near a trail she ran on. Her headphones were found nearby.
She was not.
I’m praying for her (because that’s all I can do) while my heart breaks for her family and friends, and most of all, her children.
I’m also sharing her picture and story in the hopes that maybe someone somewhere has seen something, and can help.
I’m also looking at our girls, and the girls around us, and wishing I didn’t feel fear.
All of our girls are beautiful, and as the older ones maneuvered their way through adolescence, I would sometimes worry about the cat calls, the entitlements that creepy men seem to think are ok to take with pretty young girls.
Thankfully, of the 3 of our girls who are old enough to roam, 2 are quite naturally talented with having “I will cut you” looks on their faces.
Some call this “resting B- face.” I call it very handy in many venues.
I don’t have any training in psychology beyond a few college classes, but in my life experience, if you look like you will punch someone in the throat or rip their face off, they are less likely to bother you, and if they do, it stops more quickly when you look capable of inflicting discomfort.
The other one of our girls has a much sweeter and less intimidating face by nature. While I support all of them having pepper spray and being aware when they travel, I feel like the other 2 could, and would shoot daggers out of their eyes and melt an annoying persons face with their glare before the offender had a chance to get within a 10 foot radius. But this one…. She’s more inclined to smile pleasantly, or my fear is that she would just be in her own world and not even notice creepers.
Last weekend, she went to a rap concert. One of her relatives was concerned that she would not be safe~perhaps because of the venue or the other attendees or perhaps because she and her friend looked super cute and this relative knows there are a lot of pigs in the world who think it’s ok to say or do offensive things to pretty young girls.
Anyhoo, as she was preparing to leave and lacing up her big clunky heeled boots, I was giving my usual “make good choices” suggestion. A younger sibling mentioned the safety concerns of the relative, and sweet faced girl says, “Pshhh...whatever…. I could just stomp them with these boots!”
She stood up tall and strutted towards the door and at that moment, she looked like she could and would stomp if need be.
I smiled, thought, “That’s my girl”, and sighed with relief.
I’ve never been more proud.
I already know that it’s a little disconcerting to feel happy that a kid could kick butt. But then again, a lot of things are disconcerting, like the fact that women, and in this case girls, are by nature vulnerable when they go out, but it is the world that we live in.
And that aspect of it sucks.
Of course we will most certainly do everything we can to teach our boys, and all the boys we around, to respect women, and expect that from them. But they aren’t the ones I am worried about.
In the same way we can and do teach our kids about honesty, we also still lock our car because not everyone is learning these lessons.
Each of us has the responsibility to raise the young people in our care to the best of our ability, and yes, that will slowly move the culture forward in better ways, but the reality is that there are still complete nutjobs out there.
No matter how much we try to impart the concept of respect, it would be foolish not to realize that there are freaking scary people in the world. While living in fear isn’t healthy, we do need to be aware of that.
So, with mixed feelings, and even though I don’t want to condone or encourage violence, I still sigh with relief when my sweet faced bonus child realizes she could kick an offender.
And I encourage all of us to be careful, and keep our eyes open and because relying on the rest of the world being safe seems way too risky for me.
Please also have a look at the flyer for the missing mom, Sherri Papini, and keep your eyes open. Her family is missing her terribly.
PS~ Just to clarify, I’m only happy that the kids can defend themselves. They know that stomping with boots is only for protection and never unprovoked.
How do you handle issues of safety and children who are old enough to roam? I'd love your thoughts...
I have voted in every election since I was eighteen years old.
Every single election.
Big national ones, little local ones, they all felt like an important way to use my voice, and I’m definitely a believer in that. (Even if it is much to the dismay of the people who have to listen to me~ha!)
If I were going to be out of town traveling, I’d mail in my ballot ahead of time because I believe so much in the process of a government by the people and for the people.
How many people in the world don’t even have the option? I don't even know, but I do know that I’ve always been proud to use mine.
But this year, I’m not feeling the pride.
I’m feeling embarrassed and depressed and baffled.
I know I’m not alone in this, and I don’t think I’m just cynical and getting old either.
This year, I’ve felt a little bit of throw up in the back of my throat every time I think about the election, and full on nausea if I think too long on the possible results.
This year, a whole crop of young people that I know have just aged into their voting rights, and this ugly election is what they have to face.
Sorry kids. For real...
Much to their credit, most of the kids I know are voting anyway. Most of them are interested in the whole political process, and some are rather passionate about it (which I love) They may be disgruntled, but are probably less skeptical than I am, which is a good thing.
I’m fearing revolution and apocalypse or at the very least, not being able to travel internationally. They’re just like “WTH? Uhhh...This kinda sucks…Sheesh. Thanks a lot guys..”
My apology for the situation they have inherited is genuine.
Anyhoo, none of us like the situation, but we’re all trying to bloom where we’re planted.
So, even though I’m vexed and heavy hearted and perhaps even a bit woebegone, I still believe that despite this dark and ugly place, people need to try to use whatever power they have... even if it doesn’t feel like a lot.
Alice Walker was right when she said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Imagine if no one had stayed to fight at Hogwarts? If they’d all just gone home and said “Well, there’s no point in this. It’s too big and we’ve already lost. Let’s just go eat chips and complain on the couch..”
What would have happened then?
Well, the book and the series would have had a stupid ending, and we all would have been woefully disappointed, but thankfully JK Rowling created characters with heart, even in hard times.
So, sorry kids, this election sucks. Thanks for showing up anyway.
And sorry world. America really is a nice place, and most of us are actually kind people. We’re all baffled and sick at what’s happening here too. And we’re trying to figure out how to make it better.
Fingers crossed, prayers in the air. The election is almost over.
If you can vote, please do.
And let's all do whatever we can so the aftermath brings healing.
As I stare down at my feet clad in a pair of Ursula socks, slightly guilt ridden over recent incidents, I ponder how exactly it is that one becomes "the villain."
There are a lot of ways, I suppose, but part of me has to believe that a fair amount of the time, the bad guy didn’t really start out that way.
A friend gave me the socks I'm wearing when she divided up a collection of villain inspired stockings with witches and evil stepmothers amongst her most seemingly fitting friends. While none of us is actually evil, all of us can pull off a wicked cackle~ and perhaps more importantly, we all give the impression of frightening ferocity when we need to.
Like the other villain sock owners, I’ve personally been considered the bad guy, or bad girl as the case may be, enough times in my life to realize that you really don’t even really have to actually be that bad at all to get the name.
The people who think I’m bad have clearly never run with any actual bad girls. Although, I suppose that could be a matter of opinion.
I’ve also been called scary and mean, which is probably more accurate, as I suppose I can be both on occasion (generally when provoked!!)
But that still brings me back to the question of what makes a person be considered a bad guy in the first place?
Sometimes, it’s just that they have an opinion and they express it and people don’t like that~ which isn't really fair.
Or they have boundaries that other people don’t think are valid and don’t want to honor. Again, not all that fair.
A lot of times, they get labeled because they flipped out for some reason or another, the scale of which frightened everyone within a 12 mile radius.
Clearly, explosions are not the healthiest or most pleasant way to deal with things, but the thing is, people don’t explode over small isolated events (even if it sometimes seems like they do.)
People flip because of the build up of unresolved frustrations~ sometimes because they have stifled what they need to say, feel or do about something, and sometimes because they’ve unsuccessfully tried to express themselves so many times, and they still aren’t being heard or helped.
If it seems out of the blue, my guess is that other people weren’t paying attention to the bazillion and five hundred clues that led up to it.
The trouble is that once you lose your shizzle, everyone just looks at you all crazy like, and maybe they do some sort of short term compliance in an attempt to calm you down, but they never, ever actually think about what you were freaking out about, let alone consider the validity in your stance.
No. They just act like you’re nuts and that they need to momentarily patronize your overly emotional wacko-ness so you shut up and they can go back to life as usual.
My question is, why the heck do we have to get to the point of no return before people listen?
A good friend was just telling me about a woman who is known for just saying no.
No excuses, no explanations. If she doesn’t want to do something, she just says no.
Can you even imagine?
Apparently, and as I would expect, this dumbfounds people. I, personally, am fascinated by this concept~ I mean, I suppose we’ve all seen the memes telling us that “No is a complete sentence” but who actually stops there at just plain no?
And do people actually listen? To just one word???
My tendency has been more to explain things in not just one or two, but 75 ways or so. My point is that I want people to understand my reasoning, and I don’t want to be an a-hole who is just saying no to be mean.
But maybe I should, because really, I think many people could care less about all of my explanations. In fact, I suspect a good number of them may actually have a strong dislike of hearing me drone on. (and on and on and onnnnnn)
So, as much as I’m trying to be helpful, it’s possible I’m not helping at all and no one is actually feeling any better or caring, let alone understanding my point.
Sometimes, you try really, really hard to nicely tell people no. I’ve actually tried saying things like: “Hey, this situation isn’t working for me. Continuing this way is not an option, and it needs to change.”
But then……... it doesn’t.
So, you mention it again. “This is still bothering me, and I’m not OK accepting it.”
They say they hear you, and there might even be a micro movement in the direction you hope for (yes, yes, I know to celebrate these….I do!) But months later, you are still 99.9% in the exact same situation.
I realize that in all honesty, I probably never have actually JUST said no and stopped there. I have however tried things similar the above versions of no (which I thought were pretty freaking good….at least as good as I could muster from all the dang communication books I’ve tried reading) but it came along with a good deal of “blah, blah, blah, blah” until I eventually am exhausted from trying to get my point across with soooooo little progress.
Or, even worse….I have tried to hold my tongue and work around my frustrations in a feeble attempt to care for people because I know my words are not always gentle enough for fragile people and situations. Ugggh. It’s awful.
I’m really rather tired of both of these methods, because they clearly don’t work and more than anything, I’m tired of the unhealthy pent up frustration that eventually leads to an explosion~ after which I still feel awful~ sometimes more than before.
One thing I really hate in situations like this, is that the person who flips, whether it was me or someone else, gets painted as the bad guy.... and the people who wouldn’t listen to twelve million requests for help / change / whatever don’t seem to make connection to their actions (or lack of) and the resulting flip out.
Sheesh. I mean, how about a little self reflection, folks?
When my Boy Child was a little thing of 3 or 4, he would sometimes attack. As in launch his body onto another, fists and feet pummelling and jaw open for a bite. It’s not easy to be the mother in this case, even if it was not unprovoked nor without warning~ it was generally a case of another child pestering him, sometimes physically poking or pinching and after repeated warnings and requests to stop, he would eventually turn into Hulk mode and whoop them.
Sometimes, the mother of the pestering child would get all judgey, which was really annoying because my kid had tried to use his words, and while I don’t think attacking was the right thing to do, I always wished they would consider sharing the concept of consequences with their kid. Because it’s not like the attack was out of the friggen blue.
Perhaps the nut did not fall from the tree, which brings me back to me and my coming to terms with the fact that sometimes, no matter how much I try to explain it away, I am just going to be considered the bad guy.
And that’s OK, because in life, the reality is that sometimes when you mess with the bull, you get the horns.
And while I don’t like it, I’m learning to be ok with it, because really, I’d rather speak my truth and be unpopular than carry the burden of pretending to be ok when I’m not.
This post doesn’t really have a resolution, other than acceptance.
So, while I’m trying to learn to just say no without explanations and to make boundaries that are firm yet somehow friendly at the same time and all that non violent communication style stuff, I’ll also pull up my villain socks, and practice my evil cackle just in case I need it.
How about you? What do you think about being the bad guy?
It’s been well over a month since the Eldest Girl Child headed out into the big wide world for her Bridge Year in Ecuador, and while life here at home has shifted with her absence, oh the adventures she is having.
First came days of team building in a California Redwood forest ~ not the kind she expected and hoped for with ziplining and ropes courses, but instead, the psychological kind that deals with self exploration and trust. You know, like deep questioning, sharing and reflection ~ all sorts of things that I imagine were hugely uncomfortable for a girl who likes her privacy and space.
Then, a half week at the beautiful Stanford campus with trainings and talks from people doing awesome stuff in the world~ people from Kiva, Change.org, Google. It was inspirational stuff galore (mixed in with some less than exciting, albeit necessary trainings on health & safety etc) before they headed off to their destinations.
The night before they left, there was a send off celebration where we got to wish her Good Luck (I refused to call it goodbye, despite what everyone else referred to the situation as) and then...she was off.
In an effort to help families be prepared, Global Citizen Year offered a parent / fellow alumni session, which I of course, attended. One thing they they stressed, multiple times, was that in the beginning, things would come up that would be hard and would make us want to rescue our kids and fix whatever was going wrong for them.
BUT, they super duper stressed that we should really, really try to just let the kids figure it out as best as they could.
I sat smugly in my chair, rolling my eyes and wondering who were these rescuing parents, anyway? Surely, they must have some helicopter tendencies that I didn’t share.
My kid was self reliant and used to figuring things out for herself. From taking college classes starting at 15 to a fully self planned and self funding a trip to Italy with a lifelong friend as soon as they turned 18, my Girl Child is perfectly competent. She knows how to make her way on her own and would be fine.
I was frankly, not really concerned at all, and pretty sure that portion (that was repeated several bazillion times it seemed) did not even really apply to us at all, and all the while it was delaying our dinner. And I was hungry.
Then... came her first week in Ecuador.
The first few days, I heard very little. Only an occasional facebook message but she was busy and in training, so while I was a little sad, I wasn’t surprised or worried.
Then, no word for days.
Finally, I got news~ some text messages saying that she had gotten pink eye and after prying her crusty eyeballs open without ripping out all her eyelashes and realizing she had to throw away all her eye makeup, she then had to figure out a doctor visit to deal with getting treatment, and she had to do all of it in a foreign language.
She added that nothing ever worked in that country, especially the internet in her apartment. That might have been a bit overly dramatic (where do my kids get that?) but it meant our plan to communicate for free via Skype and Facebook phone calls was not looking like it would be happening.
I normally let her deal with things on her own, but her cell phone was on my plan, and I was in the US, which made it easier for me to just see if I could help figure out how to deal with international communications and not spend a bazillion dollars.
So, I spent 45 minutes with Verizon trying to decide what to do.
A few hours later, I get a message that her iPhone had been stolen.
So much for my newest plan and all that time I had just spent...uggh.
She’s not sure where or how it disappeared, as she knows basic safety and is generally careful. But when most public bus rides are so crowded that at least 5 people are touching you at any given moment, things can happen.
Perhaps in the chaos of being separated from half her group when the bus doors shut and left them behind?
However it happened, it’s a big bummer as her phone is also her camera, and was the only one she had with her. Postal service into Ecuador is slow and unreliable, and fees to import electronics are astronomical. So, this has been rather unfortunate to say the least.
Then, to top it off...there was the earthquake in Quito.
Ecuador has had a number of large earthquakes this year, including one on the coast that was devastating. This one was not nearly so disastrous, although it was a bit disconcerting considering she was living on the 4th floor of a building that may or may not have had building codes involved in its’ construction.
“But don’t worry,” she told me…”My host family sprinkled holy water everywhere just in case, so we should be safe.”
Thankfully, this has been her attitude towards most of the challenging situations, which has helped both her and I so much. She is laughing and breathing and rolling with it.
Still, while I wasn’t totally feeling like I needed to rescue my child, I did really want to help her through it.
My kid was being thrown into some serious adulting~ and all in Spanish!
I guess I did understand a little more about what the alumni parents were talking about after that. Maybe they weren't all helicopter-ish after all....
Anyhoo, now, she has left the capital of Quito to spend the rest of her stay in a small mountain town known for making handcrafted guitars. Her host family has 3 little kids, which she is not so used to, especially full time, and had “kind of forgotten how much they are.”
Noises, mess and smells~ more so than her teenaged brother has provided her with for years are all now a part of her daily and nightly life.
So, while she wondering what is normal preschooler behavior and what constitutes the need for an exorcist, as well as how an infant could create such intense poop smell, she has also gotten close with one of the kids and the sweetness of their friendship makes me smile.
She technically has access to internet now, but it only really works in the living room, so if she wants to be online, she will be getting poked and prodded by little hands the whole time.
This is rather hilarious for a girl who has had her own room since she was 5, except for the last few months when one of my Dear Partner's kids came to live with us. Most of her life she's been pretty used to having her personal space. These days...not so much.
She only connects with other English speakers from her group weekly, so she is pretty well immersed in her little village. She says everyone seems to be a cousin or related in some way or another~ they are friendly and happy and I think she's enjoying the small closeness.
There are also happy and friendly dogs, who are not strays but free roaming and well fed pets, who contentedly wander the streets at will. She has a huge heart for animals, and I think she may have convinced her host family to adopt a puppy in the same way she convinced me to adopt her stinky beast dog who is whining on the floor next to me as I type.
Oh, she also learned an important cultural difference between Ecuador and the US. What we would consider nightclubs are referred to as “discotecas” and you really do want to be specific about that. Apparently, nightclubs are not where young people go to enjoy music and dancing, but are actually where prostitutes and strippers go for work (which I suppose may also include music and dancing, but.....it's kind of a big difference)
You can imagine the alarm of the host mothers when the sweet youngsters under their wings asked to go out to a nightclub! Ha!
Anyhoo, we still have not figured out how to get a camera to her, and she is texting me from a flip phone without a keyboard (her formerly perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation have gone by the wayside, but that's understandable when you have to push the 7 key 4 times just to get a letter S.
But, she is now able to message from her laptop and she is still having an amazing adventure. She has explored cities and mountains, and is enjoying helping teach English in a local high school, while learning more than I could express.
I miss my Girl, but I’m oh so proud of her and am dreaming and scheming as to how to get there to see her in the spring. And if we haven't figured out how to get her a camera yet, I can bring one then. (But boy, I hope we do, because I WANT PICTURES!!!)
If you would like to check out her blog, you can find it here, and subscribe if you want updates.
That’s all for now~ Thanks for following along with the adventure!
Something about autumn always gets me thinking. Leaves are turning, nights are cooler, darkness comes earlier and my mind is refashioning thoughts as quickly as the changing season.
Since all of those thoughts need to come out of me head, writing just goes with this time of year in the same cozy way as fuzzy socks and soup.
This is quite timely because, as I mentioned the other day, I got a scholarship to do this online writing class with the colorfully wonderful SARK and Dr. Scott Mills.
So, naturally, I’ve been trying to get into a rhythm with my writing groove (and also, in all honesty, my life in general, but that’s an ongoing saga) But the super amazing thing about the writing portion is.......
I’ve been (somewhat-semi-almost-) successful in writing a bit every day.
Yes, almost every single day!
(OK, it’s only been like a week and a half, but STILL! I am feeling uber writerly!
Anyhoo, just in case any of you are thinking you’d like to get a little more committed to putting pen to paper, I thought I’d share my super easy 12 step writing routine for your consideration..
Here you have it~ my no fail writing routine:
As you may have already guessed, the only one of these things that is remotely useful to my writing life is #12~ Forcing myself to start writing.
The celebrating is good too, and honestly so is the coffee, but really, the only thing that really matters is starting writing.
The biggest problems with that seem to be distractions~ both real and ones we make up to procrastinate for whatever psychological reasons are brewing in the head. I have a whole lotta trouble with this myself (as you may have noticed) but really, if you wanna be a writer, you just gotta force yourself to start writing.
The other big issue a lot of people have is being blocked. It seems like we block ourselves with whatever internal and external demons we have that we turn into reasons to not write, but like all things in life, the more you sit and lament about all the reasons it’s hard, the more likely that YOU’RE NEVER GONNA FREAKING GET ANYTHING DONE!!!!!
Sorry (notsorry) to yell, but sheesh!
I used to work with a hilarious woman from Oklahoma who had all sorts of country wisdom about life and I think she would probably say something like “Quit yer complaining and get yer arse busy.”
She might also comment on there being more useful things to do in the world than writing, but the point is, whatever you’re wanting to make happen, you just gotta take a little step towards it to get the ball rolling. (And I happen to think writing is a very useful pastime myself)
One of the things Dr. Scott Mills told our class in regards to being blocked is to just start by writing “This is the first sentence.” and there you have it, you started.
I suppose it could go on and you could repeat for the second and third, but I feel like at some point, something else would come out and even if it was awful and grammatically incorrect unusable gibberish, it would still help get the block out, right?
Anyhoo~ if you’re inclined towards creating a writing routine of your own, you could consider trying any or all of my 13 steps, or you could skip the rest, or just doing whatever you need to in order to make step #12 happen.
There are tools and planners and timers and all sorts of helpful doodads to aide in the cause, but not one of them will actually make you write. (Don’t get me wrong, I love planners and gizmos, and have about a bazillion)
But, only you can actually make yourself write, and the good news / bad news is that you can do it without anything besides something to capture your words in. So, grab your notebook and pen, or laptop (and coffee, cause that really does help) and good luck getting those thoughts out of your head and into some sort of reality.
Do you have any tips that help you get into a routine to get things done? Please share in the comments below, and if you like this post, please "like" it on Facebook and share with a friend! Thanks!
Another unarmed person shot by police.
I started writing a rant about it last summer, but when I got frustrated and let it go for a few days, the news quieted down, and I suppose I just didn’t want to drag it on anymore. I was somehow hoping that it had gone away.
But it hadn’t of course, and it’s happened again.
We all know the media plays up stories, because that is after all their job, but the reality is it’s friggen crazy for the land of the free to be a place where we need to fear the people who are supposed to protect us.
My offspring and I have talked a lot about privilege, which is a completely relative concept.
Compared to much of the world, my brood and I are are privileged beyond measure. Compared to others in our affluenza infested consumerist culture... not so much..
But we are happy and free and for the most part safe. We say and do what we like, and don’t really live in fear.
The Girl and I know that we are still far, far more privileged than so many of our sisters around the globe, but we still have a ways to go. We are more likely to be harassed and make less money on average, but we can wear what we want, go where we want, use our voices without being arrested. We can make choices to change our world in ways that aren’t even an option to some women.
My Boy Child, just by virtue of being male in America and looking white, has entitlements that are hard for him to see, let alone understand. He doesn’t comprehend the seeming anger some people have towards him for being a straight, Caucasian looking guy because he personally didn’t do anything to deserve it besides being born that way.
But, even as a kid, he can see plainly, is that his light skin does offer privilege over his dark skinned friends. And we all know that is messed up.
Last weekend, as we listened to a police officer talking to teens about driving and safety, someone asked how to respond if they ever pulled over. The officer offered tips on staying out of trouble with what you say, and said that smart mouthed friends in the back seat could get you a ticket. He talked about keeping your hands on the wheel where they could see them, and not rooting around for things until there was a mutual understanding that you were going to. He said not seeing hands made them nervous but no one mentioned the connection between making someone nervous and getting shot.
I looked at my white kid, hoping he was listening and knowing we’d talk about it later. He has uncles whose mouths have gotten them into trouble, so we know that skin shade alone doesn’t provide immunity.
But there were 2 other boys there that I didn’t know, and wouldn’t get to talk to later, and they were ones I was really concerned for. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and say “You hear him, right? Please listen!”
One boy was tall and black. The other was Mexican. They were the ones I actually felt scared for.
And I wonder if they are the ones the cops are most afraid of?
There is another young man that is dear to our pack~ he is big, black, kind, hard working and a good soul. When he lived in our mostly white town, we knew that if he and my light skinned boy got into the exact same teenaged mischief, there would likely be different outcomes.
I personally am equal opportunity in my flipping out about dumbarsery, and dole out similar raving rants on my kids and / or any of their friends when they’ve done ridiculous things in the past.
But, I actually know these kids I am not the police. I don’t deal with horrible atrocities on a daily basis and I am not hated by a large sector of society. My job has very little risk of being yelled at, attacked or having to manhandle a criminal, and frankly, I know I'd not be a good candidate for any of that.
But back to our friend~ Once, years ago, he was walking home in his own neighborhood, which was pretty much downtown “hood”. Some officers pulled over to talk to him about some graffiti they had spotted nearby to see if he knew anything about it, had any incriminating evidence about him etc.
The graffiti in question read “____CWB”
This happens to stand for ____ County White Boys” (I left the blank in intentionally to avoid referencing the locale of the racist little wanna be gang bangers)
Anyhoo, no, our young black friend was not running around town promoting the local whites only gang!
Sheesh. The officers, however, didn’t seem to even know what the graffiti referenced. They just saw a black and teenaged male, and there you go.
Perhaps they weren't profiling and would have questioned any teens in that neighborhood... I don’t really know) but they thankfully were not friggen nuts.
Thankfully also, our young friend is not a confrontational person, so he didn’t argue or act aggressive and make things worse. He is smart enough to know that cooperating reduces your odds of being beaten or shot. He was interrogated a bit, and went on his way.
But what about the people who didn’t get to go on their way because they were freaking killed?
I have experienced super stressed out officers myself~ the kind that seemed like they would throw me on the ground and kick me if I didn’t jump to comply with their commands. But I never really felt like they would shoot me. Maybe rub my face on the ground in a display of masculine dominance. Perhaps even taser me. But the thought that they might actually kill me never even crossed my mind.
Of course, arguing with them as if I was going to win didn’t really cross my mind either. I've tried to make sure the offspring realize that there is a time and place for most things and that some things aren't worth arguing about. Arguing and refusing to cooperate shouldn't be punishable by death, but the reality is that it happens~ a lot.
I know being a cop has got to be one of the most intense, stressful and thankless jobs there is, and I commend those who do it in the spirit of service. But there is something wrong when they are so stressed and fearful to the point of shooting and killing unarmed people on what seems like a fairly regular basis.
So people live in fear of the people who are paid to be there to protect and help us.
There's no right way to explain that our black friend would almost surely pay harsher consequences than my white skinned son for any small offense, that people are more afraid of him and more ready to blame him based on his size and color.
I’ve decided not to watch the videos of people being shot by police because I don’t think seeing people get murdered is going to do anything about the way I feel. I don’t need to witness shooting and murder to think there could and should be a better way. I already know that and I’m pretty sure so does everyone else if you’d stop and think about it.
It might not fix everything, but I would think that more training for cops would be the first step. Knowing that they are going to be in intense situations, it seems like they should have a whole lotta de-escalation techniques before they get their gun, and ongoing refreshers afterward so that maybe they’d be less likely to flip their lids and kill people. Disabling should be the primary tactic~ not death. I'm pretty sure we have the technology and tools to avoid this?
The people in authority are hired to keep our society safe~ all of it~ including the dark skinned male part. It is a tough and terrifying job, but frightening and killing the people you are hired to protect is never excusable and it needs to stop.
Again, I don’t know the answer, but I do know that as a society, we can’t just shake our heads and move on.
We can’t just shift of attention to reframing stories of someone who “deserved” to get shot because really, not cooperating should not punishable by death. Why not pepper spray or an old fashioned wrestling into handcuffs like they did on the 70’s cop shows?
Arguing that all lives matter or whether or not racism is a systemic issue isn’t going to help either because it only detracts from the real issue, which is that our police force is so stressed out and not adequately prepared to deal with it and the result is unarmed people being killed.
Calling out injustice doesn’t equate to seeking revenge and perpetrating more violence. It doesn’t mean hating all cops or all people in a movement either because that kind of prejudice is just stupid.
But it can't possibly be a surprise that people are angry. I don't think violence is the answer, but when people are surprised by riots, I just think~ the founders of my country resorted to some serious property damage dumping tea in a harbor, and we all celebrate that. Even Jesus flipped over tables to get his point across on occasion.
When people get pushed too far, they lose their shizzle sticks. But we can't just accept a culture where cops and citizens alike are walking around so fearful an angry or there will just be more things to grieve in the near future. Somehow, we have to figure out a way on a bigger scale to calm the heck down.
I read somewhere once that “There’s no such thing as other people’s children.” Every black person is someone’s kid, and so is every cop. They might also be a sibling, partner, friend, and parent. They all belong to someone..
And I suppose that's the point that I want my kids to get. That, and that maybe if we could all stop being such arse holes to each other, the world would be a better place.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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