It's Clear

Because I keep getting tangled in what people might think/what image I'm projecting/what would others say I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear intentions)

Because I haven't been intrinsically motivated to keep my home clean in a while, and as a result have to meet people at the door, panicking that they might see our mayhem, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear the mess)

Because I'm still on autopilot with my money and managing my finances - spending without thinking, making poor choices in regards to priorities - (I BOUNCED a CHECK! last week, I haven't done that in ages; I even knew it was going to bounce & just wanted what I wanted, damn the consequences) I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (a clear budget with clear priorities)

Because after meditating daily for years and experiencing much presence and clarity, I stopped completely, and have lost that easy inner knowing, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear mind)

Because Evan is 15, and I'm not getting that almost-psychic knowledge of what he's feeling and thinking any more, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear communication)

Because I've been putting off moving forward with doing what I'd LOVE to earn money, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear goals)

Because my diet has been completely unmindful, just eating what's here and easy to fix, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear motivation)

Because I keep getting caught up in old ways of coping, (see money and diet. And house.) I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear the past)

Because some of the above are symptoms of just not wanting to grow up, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008. (clear responsibility)

Because when I thought and prayed about my word, I got a clear picture of light shining through all this STUFF that was blocking my heart, clearing a path straight to it, I'm choosing CLEAR as my word for 2008.

I thought CLEAR right away, then tried to argue with myself. (Why do I even do that any more?) "It should be clarity, not clear! Clear doesn't make sense! No, wait - truth! That's what you're seeing! It sounds more noble!"

Even after the arguing - it's clear that it's CLEAR.


Stressed is Desserts Spelled Backwards

I am thoroughly enjoying the butter, flour, sugar magic around here. It started with these muffins, or French Breakfast Puffs, from the Pioneer Woman.

photo by Ree, the Pioneer Woman

The muffins themselves are exquisite - very, very light with a nice nutmeg flavor. But then - you dip them in butter! Not just dip them, but drench them! Then roll them in sugar and cinnamon, making a crunchy, sweet coating. My, my. The boys call them sugar muffins. I suppose, if you had to, you could skip the butter and sugar and cinnamon - but I'd rather not eat for the rest of the day than do that. Not that I actually didn't eat for the rest of the day when I made them, but it's an idea. For some people.

We then went on to Butterscotch Pudding. Oh, boy, was this good. I won't post pictures from my own kitchen. Some of you readers with more tender sensibilities would be put off by the kitties' proximity to the bowl, as well as the dog nose encroaching ever closer, so here's one from the web:

photo from Amazon.com

Ha, ha! No, just kidding! We did it the real way, with oh-my-gosh butter and brown sugar. Is there anything more magic than butter and brown sugar? Melt 'em together, add a teensy bit of milk, and you've got caramel. More milk, some egg yolks and cornstarch, and there's butterscotch pudding. Magic, I tell ya. I got the recipe from allrecipes.com, it's Kelly's Butterscotch Pudding, only I hate to break it to Kelly, but it's MY butterscotch pudding now, because you eat it warm. With a big spoon. Or just by burying your head in the bowl, but I wouldn't do that. Well, maybe if the boys weren't here, and I'd had a bad day. I don't drink - a girl's gotta have options! Here's what it really looked like:

photo from cookiemadness.net, which I will now spend hours on, finding new (or old) ways of blending butter and brown sugar. Thank the Goddess for google images, and the places it can lead

No doubt Kelly's got a place in heaven reserved just for her, as long as she brings a big bowl of this pudding with her. Here's what my kitchen looked like:

In my dreams, anyway. OK, actually, my kitchen would be a much more forgiving color than white, but I do like those french doors. There would be a pot filler over the stove, too. Mmmm... pot filler....

I said this started with the puffs, but really it started with my grandmother's Raw Apple Cake. I woke up one morning just craving it, after not having had it since she died over 20 years ago. My mom had gathered some recipes from our old recipe box and printed them out and bound them years ago, and I was SO pleased this recipe was in there. Here's how it was written:

Raw Apple Cake
300 degrees 30 min.

1 cup oil
3 eggs
3 cups plain flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1 cup pecans
3 cups raw apples (thin)
2 teaspoons vanilla


1 cup light brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 cup sweet milk [which is just whole cow's milk]

Cook 4 minutes after it starts to boil. Spoon on cake while hot. (leave cake in pan)

Love those detailed, exact instructions!

For the first part, the cake, mix all the dry ingredients, then stir in the eggs (beaten slightly), oil and vanilla. Once that's mixed up, add the apples and pecans. I left the pecans out since my guys don't care for them, and it came out fine. Pour the batter into a buttered 9 X 13 pan, and bake it at 300 degrees (I couldn't figure out how to make the degree symbol!) for 30 minutes, or until it starts to brown nicely on top.

For the icing, four minutes ended up being WAY too long - the caramel would have burned. A few minutes before the cake is done, cook the butter and brown sugar over medium heat until it starts to boil, and turns a light brown, then add the milk. (Be careful! It will let off a little steam) Remove from the heat right away after that. Then you immediately pour the caramel over the warm cake. Make sure to spread it evenly. What happens is, the caramel will (gulp) get a little crunchy around the edges of the pan, and will soak into the top of the cake a little. Oh, my. My palms are sweaty now.

This cake is great warm, and even better the next day, after it's had time to meld together. It ends up a little like a bread pudding. A bread pudding with crunchy-on-the-edges, creamy caramel, that is. Sorry no pictures, but it disappeared too quickly for me to even think about it. Well, that and the aforementioned cat and dog issues.

OK - well, I've spent enough time on google images for today. I have today off work, but managed to still spend the morning in front of the computer! It was actually much better than curling into a ball and hibernating, like I wanted to do. (Winter depression much? ha!) I was feeling sorry for myself for numerous reasons, and I missed the Festivus Airing of Grievances, but I feel much better now. Blogging recipes as therapy - I like it!

~~I adore brown sugar. I like how it looks and tastes. I love how it packs and how it caramelizes. When I was little I used to eat spoonfuls of it. I appreciate powdered sugar for both its chemical properties in frosting and for how pretty it makes a simple cake look, but brown sugar has far more sex appeal.~~ from NPR food commentator Bonny Wolf


After many, many hours of study...

Seth got a 100!

He joins Fergus on the honor roll.

We're all so proud!


Two Great Birthdays, One December Night

It's my sister's birthday today, and I wanted to create a whole post for and about her. I can't really think or write coherently enough to do that (must remember I can write in advance and schedule the posting!), so right now, I'll just say she has enriched my life more than I can say. I am so grateful to have her for an older sister, and more grateful still that we are able to talk and share in a REAL way. It's been vital to me to have someone who shared the insanities of my childhood with whom I can reflect, remember and heal - AND share our super-cool, but very different, present moments. She is a teacher - a really, really great teacher - and I am a radical unschooler, but we can still communicate deeply and honestly, even about learning. Happy birthday, Cyndi!! I'll be sure to post embarrassing photos from our childhood later.

For now - some Christmas sights and sounds. Cyndi sent me this today:

And this is from my favorite movie, of Christmas time or any time. I watch it every year, cry every year, and see something new every time I watch it. I hope you remember you ARE loved this Christmas season.

Loved so much Mahalia wants to sing to you:

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, or, in the most politically correct greeting I've heard, I hope you have an enjoyable next few days.


Put a Cork In It! Or, On It....

I'm feeling a *teensy* bit overwhelmed with things still left to do... so I'm surfing the web!

And I found an article that makes self-acceptance one step closer. It's right here.

I liked this quote: "You discover things that, if you had filed things or containerized them or purged them, you never would have seen them again." As opposed to seeing them months after you last saw them, as happens here.

Years ago, I realized filing just doesn't work for me. Not that I had tried it or anything - it was an intuitive guess. :) I wanted to put cork board on one whole wall, and just pin things to it - that way, I'd see them, they wouldn't get lost in a pile, I would know where they were. That's how I remember things, visually - I can "see" where I last saw it. A wall of cork board! Yes! But the ex wouldn't go for it, and I forgot I wanted to do that. If I had pinned that idea on a cork board, I'd've remembered!

Something to think about for the new year, perhaps that will be my winter project.

Something like this:

And I like this one, but I don't drink, and it's been a while since I tended bar:

But I can see that working. It would be a soft spot for the boys to bang into, too! Hmm... a cork room?


Love in Their Hearts and Alberto VO5 in Their Hair

Was awakened with a little worry and stress - it's always assuaged now with the knowledge that everything really is as it's supposed to be, and it really will be (and is) okay, but still, sometimes at 4:30 in the morning, those worrying thoughts seem to drip from the darkness into my brain. I took a deep breath - several deep breaths - and got centered in my body. (Ah! Here I am!) Then I prayed. I started to think realistically about each worry, one by one, to break them down into realistic parts rather than the amorphous black blob they were swirling in, and instead of my head cooperating and doing that, I started hearing this song:

I was SO happy to hear it, it made me laugh out loud. So I got up to find a video. And, can I tell you how pleased I am to have found *this* version? It opens with my first crush, John Denver. I'm always happy to see him. (Hi, John!) Then - the Bee Gees! Donna Summer. Earth, Wind and Fire. And, oh my goodness - look at that hair - Andy Gibb! Just wish the video was longer. I think the only people missing from this junior high flashback are Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett.

And it has singing children, which always makes me happy.

Now the worries have been replaced with love in my heart.

I've been practicing sending love to people when I'm out and about, especially on the bus. Just opening my heart, and really feeling love for each person. Sometimes it's very powerful, and I just get a rush of energy that's like I'm floating on a wave of love and light. Very cool.

So - know that I'm sending love to you, too! And you can put a little love in your heart.

You can (but don't have to) skip the hairspray.


They're Dreaming of a White Christmas

A few weeks ago, I saw an ad for a site called gifts.com. I thought it was a neat idea, to offer ideas for gifts paired with sites where you could buy them. I was thinking they might offer unique ideas, and at least help you get started when you felt a little "stuck" about buying for someone. So, when websurfing a few days later, I went to gifts. com. And noticed something. You can pull up a list of ideas based on different personality types. Most of the women I know are multi-dimensional and would fit into several of their categories, and many have made categories of their own. I wasn't really crazy about their approach, but, I was there, so clicked onward. The Achiever Famous Example: Lynette from Desperate Housewives. The Adventurer, Picabo Street. Country Clubber, Charlotte York from Sex in the City. Trendanista, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jessica Simpson, and Rachel Bilson. Are you noticing anything?

Natural Woman, Jane Goodall and the founder of the Body Shop. Domestic Diva, Martha Stewart and Debra Barrone. How 'bout now? I mean, besides most of their examples are not real women. Lack of color, maybe? I was stunned when I realized that every single one of their famous examples was white. Urban Sophisticate? White. Thinker? White. Super Mom? White, white, white.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I wrote the customer service department a letter:

I checked out your site after seeing it advertised, and thought it was such a good idea! Now, I'm not so sure. I'm needing to pick out a gift for a coworker, and I noticed that *none* of the women profiled fit who she is. She is African-American, and if you look carefully at the Famous Examples, they are all white. (except for the generic Apprentice Candidates, Jeopardy contestants, and Christiane Amanpour, who is half-Iranian)

Apparently, you do not have people of color in your world. I have plenty in mine, and I'm appalled at the exclusion. Not a single black woman. I mean - not even Oprah! Could you think of *no* African American women who would fit your categories? C'mon, get with it - it's 2007! Black people aren't invisible any more.

I was pleased and surprised to receive a compassionate, helpful response a few days later. I have searched and searched, but I must have deleted it! (I'm feeling very frustrated at myself!) I couldn't believe how much thought went into their response. I was assured they would do everything they could to rectify the situation, now that it had been brought to their attention. And the person writing also let me know the e-mail was forwarded onward and upward through the gifts.com hierarchy, so the top brass could be made aware of the problem. I gave it a few days, and just today went to check the site. Here's what I found:

In their compassion and newly found awareness of women of color, they added... Oprah Winfrey. And - a bonus! - Condoleeza Rice. That's it. Two.

I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. Or, just feel grateful that those two women were added.


Seth Wants a Wii

Here's where I start to question my decision to do the Santa thing with the boys. When Evan was little, it was really done without much thought on my part; I wanted him to experience the magic of Christmas as I did. I *never* told him that he had to be good, though - how f'ed up is THAT whole thing? You must behave according to someone else's predefined measurements, or - no toys. I told him people who believed that were mistaken, when we'd watch those Christmas specials.

In doing that, I'm sure I got Santa and Jesus mixed up in there somehow, with unconditional love and all that. Better a Jesus Santa than a Falwell Santa. Anyway...

So, through the years, I've deepened my look into perpetuating the myth, and I did decide I liked the magic of it, and sharing that magic with the boys. I tell people I still believe in Santa, and it's because I do believe in giving, I do believe magic can happen. I remember the transition year for Evan - he still wrote Santa a letter, still fretted Santa might not get it because the letter was at his Dad's - but he also bought Seth a gift and put it under the tree "from Santa". He totally gets it, and now, at 15, he loves helping his brother experience the magic still.

And we HAVE experienced magic. And the help of friends. Last year, Evan really wanted an iPod. I didn't even tell anyone, it was just something disappointing I carried with me. I knew I couldn't afford it, and didn't see how it would be possible. My minister loaned me some money so I could get a couple video games and books for the boys - I had a teaching job starting in January, so I knew I'd be able to pay him back. And I was OK with everything - no, it wouldn't be some massive production, but I had some nice things for the boys and my family. I was at peace... mostly. I was talking with a friend about it, and I told her all that, but I was disappointed I couldn't get the iPod for Evan. She said, "Oh! We have one here we don't use. Let me check with Casey and see if he's OK with sending it to you." She did, and he was, and a few days before Christmas, there it was in my mailbox. So, there it was, under the tree "from Santa".

There are other stories... not at Christmastime, but Seth wanted Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and we were at a place that we really couldn't pull together the $20 for a set. I had just started researching where we might find some another way, and I saw a friend had offered her sons' Yu-Gi-Oh cards (that they were finished with) on FreeCycle. I "just happened" to check the FreeCycle e-mails right after she posted them, after not having read at that site in weeks. A few days later, Seth got 200 Yu-Gi-Oh cards in the mail.

I believe in keeping a positive outlook. I believe magic can happen. But a Wii? They're not even in stores right now. And how to tell Seth? Should I tell him? We had a conversation, and I said I wasn't sure Santa had enough Wiis for everyone, but he's resolute in his belief that one will be under the Christmas tree.

I do know I can tell him, even if Santa doesn't bring it, that we will, one day, have a Wii. That we can look at ways to get one. And I know he'll trust that, because we do find ways to support what he wants, big or small.

I'm trying not to beat myself up about not planning ahead and buying a Wii earlier in the year and hiding it, or not getting a third job to pay for the overblown prices now. There is a part of me that knows, it's all perfection, it's all OK. Which is being drowned out right now by the beating-myself-up part. I know it's not helpful. How far should I go back? To this summer, when Wiis were plentiful? To a few months ago, when we decided another job wasn't worth the money it might bring? To 15 years ago, when I first introduced Santa to Evan? To four years ago, when my ex and I chose to separate? When should the beatings begin?

OK - as I frequently tell others... breathe.     Breathe.    Breathe.  OK - I do *not* have to place all importance on that one day, Christmas day. Yes, Seth will be disappointed if there's not a Wii under the tree. But not devastated. He has a lot of love and support around him. And he knows we will find a way to get one. Breathe again. I could even put a note under the tree from Santa.

I can choose to focus on how we WILL be experiencing magic this Christmas, on making cards for friends, on seeing how we might be able to give, on gratitude for having each other, and for the real abundance in our lives. I can, as Abraham-Hicks teaches, find the better-feeling thought. And stay there, rather than mired in disappointment. There IS magic, even if it's not Wii magic. Let's enjoy what we do have. We're going out today so the boys can get gifts for each other and their Dads. We're putting lights up, and this very cute snowman family I've had for years. Oh! And there's Jingle Bell Rock Santa! Can't forget him! He's the first thing the boys want to put out. (Didn't realize until I found the link that he's a collectible! Not that that matters. Seth just likes that Santa has a real butt that wiggles. He knows, 'cause he's disrobed Santa to check.) And tomorrow, we're making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, because according to Evan, it's not Christmastime without them. WE are Christmastime. Our family, and our amazing, magical life. I can keep Christmas in my heart, as Mr. Scrooge taught.

OK, phew. It really is OK. 


Sounds Like A Good Morning to Me

This morning, I had to unexpectedly leave and take care of some business, and I basically had to roll Seth out of bed and run out the door so we could catch the bus. As I was gathering my things, he grabbed today's chocolate from his advent calendar.

When we were running to the stop, I said, "Hey, this is how a lot of people start their day. Exercise! Running!"

He said, "Yeah, but those people probably didn't start their day with chocolate."



Winter Wardrobe

Ah-ha! My fashion and style dilemmas are resolved! For the winter, anyway.

That's right - footie pajamas! The above are called "blanket fleece". Doesn't that sound cozy? Or maybe I want cotton waffle weave? Nah, not warm enough. Maybe as I ease into Spring.

Oooh... here's what I'd really want: snuggle fleece. Super warm. You know, down here in the frozen tundra of Charlotte, NC we need something to keep us functional. Plus the blue would show off my eyes.

Maybe purple velvet? Only if I'm having company! I could single-handedly redefine sexy.

Now, these have a drop-seat. That could come in handy - no getting chilly in the bathroom!

Thanks to Pajama City, I'm covered for the next few months!! Guess what's on my Christmas list? (I'm size 4 or 5, hint, hint)

All images from Pajama City.


It Would Sure Do Me Good, To Do You Good

I had a dream last night, about Mr. Intensity, the man I lived with for several years when I was in my early 20s. I dreamt we worked for the same company, even though he didn't know I worked there; it was in different departments. *I* knew, though, and I was excited because I was going to see him at the Christmas party. My plan was to surprise him there, and my thoughts were that he'd be OK with seeing me, and we may even get to do some harmless, but intoxicating, flirting. In my dream, though, when he saw me, he almost recoiled. And said something like, "I can't talk to you now!" (In waking life, almost 20 years ago, I did hurt him badly when I broke up with him. I hadn't yet developed any communication skills or ability to articulate my feelings. That means I ended our five-year relationship by basically coming home one day and saying, "I think we should break up", having never brought up anything like that before, and not really listening to anything he had to say about it. My mind was made up. A little cold and selfish, no?) Back to the dream - he did manage to write a note that said all of his energy was wrapped up in his family right now. His youngest son (in my dream, he had 3 or 4 kids) had somehow injured his hand, or had some kind of illness that affected his hand, and he might lose his hand, or not be able to use it for the rest of his life. He couldn't handle seeing me.

There is more to the dream, which I'll skip most of, except for this: he finally ended up being able to talk to me, and later, I offered to help him and his wife. I was trying to be of service to them, that was my attitude in the dream. How can I be of service? Without my grungy little ego needing anything back.

When I woke this morning, still halfway in dream land, it hit me that hearing the song the other day, "I've got two strong arms, let me help", may not have anything to do with someone helping me. It may have to do with the fact that I have two strong arms... well, two arms, anyway, and maybe I can be of help. Perhaps I can be of service.

Here's where it gets tricky. I do have this ability, I noticed when I gave people reiki, I would sometimes know things about them, or see them in certain situations, or I'd say something to them that was exactly the most helpful thing I could say. I call it very strong intuition. A few months ago, I offered the readers of Steve Pavlina's forum free "readings". I didn't know what else to call them. I didn't give reiki, but either over the phone or through e-mail, they told me things that were going on with them, and where they felt a little stuck, and I was able to see things about that, that would help them. It's not being psychic, I'm not predicting the future or anything, it's just... insight. Of the twelve people I gave readings to, I was able to do that for 11 of them. There were a couple that really, really blew me away. One lady in Norway, of all places, said my insights were helpful to her, and when we were done said, "Just for fun, can you tell me anything about my horse?" I got quiet, tried to picture her horse, and said, "I think your horse is fairly old. He is deeply connected to you." I mentally scanned his body, and said, "It feels like there's something wrong with his left hoof." (To be honest, I couldn't remember the word hoof! I kept thinking... paw... that's not right... hand?... no... hoof! I had to ask her if that was the right word! Maybe a result of being in an altered state?) Then, "Wait, it's not really his hoof. It's his left front leg, and there's something... it feels kinda between the leg and the hoof. There's soreness there." She didn't confirm anything I said, and we ended the call. (We used Skype, which I found out about from that forum. You can call anyone over the internet for free! They just need to have a Skype account, too, which is free. So I spoke to her, in Norway, and someone in Canada. It was very cool.) A couple days later, she e-mailed me. She had taken her horse in the day after we spoke for a check-up, and yes, the horse was 22 (!) years old, and he did have an issue, right in the spot I saw, which she hadn't known about. Well, dang. THAT was interesting.

And scary. I had another instance where I was sure what I offered was meaningless, it didn't make any sense to me, I didn't feel deeply connected when I was typing (this one was by e-mail), the images didn't add up. I was sure I dropped the ball. OK, that was it, this one is the one that proves I don't know what I'm doing. Never mind the 9 others that said I was right on, this ONE reading will mean I don't have this ability. I sent the e-mail. And the next day, got a reply from her that everything in my e-mail was spot-on. Everything. And it was meaningful to her, and very helpful. Yikes! After a little (a lot) of rearranging my thoughts to take all this in, I thought - well. I CAN do it. Whattaya know?

After that, I had an ad in the weekly newspaper here to give intuitive readings, but I didn't get any serious calls. And I've kind of dropped it since then. I have many, many fears about it. What if I screw up? What if I can't do it? What if people think I'm really, really weird? What if you don't like me any more?

But... there was that dream last night. Which I know may seem unrelated, but it's very connected to me, very much about dropping my own agenda and being of service. So - what does this mean? I contacted a friend a while ago about setting up a website, where I could offer intuitive readings, as well as have information about the drum circles I lead, and how you could have a drum circle, etc. But I never followed up! It wasn't the right time, I guess. But now, maybe it is. I don't have a site, but I do have this blog.

Do you need an intuitive reading, or distance reiki? Does someone you know? You can e-mail me at the address that's in my profile, and we can set something up. Oh, OK - here's where I have a LOT of resistance. My palms started getting sweaty just thinking about typing: about payment. My heart's kind of constricted, I don't even like to bring it up. Not that I have issues around that. LOL In terms of payment, how 'bout... if you find the reading valuable, you can make a donation. I'll give you my paypal info when we connect. OK, that feels OK to me. phew. Wow, I got through that, did you?

And, of course, now I don't want to publish this. But I will, because this is something I can do, and I can be of service, and I do have two... arms, and a willingness to help.


See What Happens When I Try to Clean?

Woke up this morning with a song message in my head - how do I know it's a message, and not just a song? Something inside tells me, in addition to which, I have not thought of this song... ever. In years. And suddenly, the *entire* song is there, I know every word somehow.

I woke up feeling slightly overwhelmed. I'm a single mom, and sometimes I feel like - this is *too much* for me to do by myself. My house is currently messy - my process with housecleaning would probably take a whole blog in and of itself - and I wanted to work on it. And immediately had those whiny feelings: "It's too mu-u-u-u-ch. I can't do it all. It's too bi-i-i-i-i-i-g. Waaaah, waaahhh...." And then, from nowhere:

If you've got a problem, I don't care what it is
If you need a hand, I can assure you this
I can help, I've got two strong arms, I can help
It would sure do me good, to do you good
Let me help

Jerry Lee? You're gonna come help me clean my house? Billy Swan? How 'bout you? OK, not Jerry Lee or Billy Swan - but a reminder that I'm NOT ALONE. I am supported. I have to admit, it kinda makes me...cranky... that the lyrics say "I've got two strong arms" and the only arms here are my own. (I don't think the dog and 3 cats count, when it comes to cleaning. I refuse to *make* the boys clean, plus they're not here now.) ALSO, later in the song, it says "If your child needs a daddy, I can help." Um, no thank you. My child has a daddy, thanks. Both children have a daddy. We're good. So what does it mean? Like I said, it means I'm not alone. I do believe in spirit helpers, guides, whatever you want to call 'em. And I've been getting message after message lately that they're here. And, apparently, they can help. All right, I'm just gonna trust that, and go with it. Like FlyLady* taught me, I set my timer, picked a spot and started clearing. Then, a few minutes before the timer went off, I *had* to watch TV. Right then. It didn't feel like procrastination, or avoidance (of course, procrastination and avoidance frequently don't), so I went with the feeling. Told myself I'd clean when whatever I watched was done. Looked at the clock - it was exactly 9:00. All right, guess I'm supposed to watch something that comes on now. I flipped on the set, looked at the program guide - and there it was! Tim Gunn's Guide to Style! The episode I had missed! Yay! ("Really?" my doubting voice said. "This is just an excuse to not clean." No, it's not. This feels different. I'm watching. And, since I'm going with those feelings even if others might look at them as wrong, I'm watching the WHOLE THING. Not taping it. So there. "All right. You're an adult. Suit yourself.")

The episode was about Lori, a probation officer, who had asked for help choosing fun, sexy clothes. All of her clothes were primarily comfortable. Which meant they looked like most of my clothes - sweats, big, baggy clothing. No shape. I cringed when they were going through her closet, and said the clothes that she wanted to keep looked like they were at a thrift store. So do mine. That's where most of them are from. Which is fine, but thrift store clothes that are several years old, picked to be comfortable? Not flattering. (OK, a note about this show and others like it. I often don't like it, when they almost make fun of the person about their clothing choices. It's such a personal thing. And I don't think that every single person needs to be dressed to the nines every minute of every day. Like in this show, they don't even want you to *own* a sweat suit. If you're just doing stuff around the house, why not? Why not be comfortable? But I can't deny that changing their clothing helps the participants to change their attitudes about themselves. You can *see* the difference at the end of the program. So maybe I need to look at that. While I don't need to dress like a fashion show, I probably also don't need to dress like a frump. I try to remain open-minded. Maybe they have something to teach me.) SO - Lori. I missed the very beginning of the show, so I didn't know that she had a large scar on her leg from an accident, and she had only worn pants or long dresses since then. Before the accident, the clothes she wore were youthful and fashionable; afterwards, not so much. All through the show, it showed her coming to terms with her scar, learning to accept it. They had Padme Lakshmi, who is a gorgeous model who has a scar on her arm, come talk to her. And through the whole process of cleaning out her closet, choosing new clothes, getting a makeover, Lori came to be able to accept her scar, not be afraid to show it.

When Padme was talking to Lori, it hit me - I have scars, too. Not physical ones (just a couple, from a breast biopsy (benign), and a childhood scar on my knee), but emotional. And I haven't come to terms with those. I want those to stay hidden. So I'm keeping my metaphorical sweatpants on, staying covered lest people point and laugh. But, but... there was Lori, at the end of the show, wearing shorter dresses without stockings, standing proud. And no one was pointing or laughing. She wasn't in the accident any more, she had survived. I'm not in my childhood any more. It's done. It's over. And I survived. Part of accepting myself, saying out loud "There's nothing wrong with me" is accepting those scars, too, and what those scars reveal about me. Learning to live with an open heart means open to it all - open to my own stuff. Showing where I'm not perfect. (even though it's all perfect, it's all as it's meant to be.) Saying, I'm scarred here. And here, and here. And these scars are part of who I am. Here I am. It's me.

And wow, even with those scars, look what the Killer has to say about me:

It's a fact that people get lonely, ain't nothin' new
But a woman like you baby, should never have the blues
Let me help....

When I go to sleep at night, you're always a part of my dream
Holding me tight, and telling me everything....

Well, if it works for Billy Swan and Jerry Lee, I must have it goin' on! Right?

So here I go, setting my timer again, doing what I can. And after that, possibly checking out Missus SmartyPants, a FlyLady friend recommended by an awesome unschooler, Stacey, who has it goin' on as well. Keep moving forward, keep meeting life, even without sweatpants.


*There are things about FlyLady that drive me crazy - her condescending tone, insistence on shoes, etc. I take what I need and leave the rest. It's been helpful. I read somewhere if you can think of FlyLady as a nutty old aunt, who really loves you and wants what's best for you, she's easier to accept. Works for me.


You've Got to Remain to Bein' Yourself, You Can't Be Nobody Else... *

I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.
I will not compare myself to other bloggers, nor my blog to others' blogs.

Because when I do, I don't write. Or, I write, but don't post. This last week, I read posts that were inspirational, heartbreaking (yet hopeful), funny, honest, creative, generous... and every time I'd think of writing, I would then immediately think of something else to do. Like read more blogs. Or watch the new Iron Chef prove he earned his title. Or daydream.

It wasn't until this morning, when I was thinking of writing, and immediately dismissed it (maybe I'll watch that Grey's Anatomy I taped instead!), that I took a look at that. And saw my little self, looking at all those other blogs, saying "I'm not like them. I can't do that." Well, no, little self! You're not like them! You're like you! And there's nothing wrong with you, remember?

I forget that my voice is my voice, and I shouldn't try to make it like anyone else's. I keep learning that, and living that, then forgetting that. And, like today, remembering that again. I remember the very first time I consciously had that thought: "Who I am is valuable." I had gone to services at a nearby church a couple of times, and I found out they had a meditation circle before the service. The week I decided to go, I went there, and when I walked into the room, there was no one there like me. Most people were older (this was before I was older!), most were... business-y types, very conservatively dressed. Knowing me, and that time, I was probably in tie-dye and Guatemalan woven pants. Or, they looked like they had been meditating for years (I was just starting out). (How the hell do you look like you've been meditating for years? I remember thinking that, though.) I started to leave, then it hit me: Oh! If there's no one else here that looks like me, that means I need to be here! Who I am is valuable. I have something to offer this circle. So I stayed, and the circle was good, and even though that church didn't work out for me, the thought that I'm valuable has.

So, I won't compare myself to other bloggers, nor this blog to others' blogs. It'll just be me, my blog, my perspective, my journey with living with an open heart... or learning why it might not be as open, then looking at ways to open it further. This is one way. Writing when scared, taking that leap. Clicking "publish".


* Title quote from the inimitable Adrian Belew, from "I Am What I Am" on the album "Young Lions", co-written by the Prophet Omega. Adrian took a tape of the evangelist and dropped lines of his into the song. It's such a cool song!


My Personal Soundtrack

Julie Pippert writes about soundtracks in her Hump Day Hmmm. To be honest, I don't really know much about the Hmm, but I wanted to jump in with this:

I hear music in my head. A lot. I wrote about it in my first post, and the song I write about there is one of the reasons I chose the title that I did for this blog.

The first time I remember this happening, I had been hearing John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" in my head for *days*. Every time I'd quiet my mind, there it would be; also every morning when I woke up. Rocky Mountain High... Colorado... I'm a John Denver fan, but this seemed excessive.

I went to a concert where some friends were performing (not John Denver, it was a Grateful Dead cover band + originals), and I ended up meeting a quite attractive man there. We decided to go out to dinner afterwards. Over dinner, he told me he had been on his way to just a "normal" conventional life, but when he was 27, the summer before, he visited the Rocky Mountains for the first time. He had never even left his home state (NC) before. There was something about that trip that completely woke him up, and he had been interested in really *living* ever since then. Intentionally, consciously. So... I started singing "Rocky Mountain High" to him!

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home, to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him
You might say he was born again
You might say he found the key to every door

We both just busted out laughing, and were good friends for quite awhile, until we lost touch after he moved away. I can't say if there was any kind of higher purpose in all that, but it was fun and interesting.

Since then, I get song messages fairly regularly. Sometimes for other people, sometimes for me. Earlier this fall, and again last week, I was waking up with Jefferson Starship, of all things, singing in my head. I sometimes feel a little alone on this spinning earth, like everything is all up to me.. and I'm just me. How can I handle it all? Then, the song:

Precious love
I'll give to you
blue as the sky and deep in the
eyes of a love so true

And you can count on me
you can count on my love
you can count on me baby
you can count on my love to see you through

Oh, yeah - I forgot. I'm not alone. I can count on you. OK. OK, phew. I need to hear that sometimes!

When I was in my early 20s I was in an intense, fun, slightly wild relationship with an intense, fun, slightly wild man. Before we moved in together, we were listening to a station here, long gone - WGSP, Great Songs of the Past. They played songs from the 50s, 60s, & 70s, and you could usually go three days before you'd hear any one song repeated. One day, Elvis came on - "All Shook Up". Mr.Intensity looked at me, and said, "You hear that?" "Yep. Great song." The next day, again, there it was: "All Shook Up". "You hear that?" "Yeah! Didn't they just play that yesterday?" The next day: "All Shook Up". "Uh, Caren? You hear that?" "Yes." "Do you know why I've been pointing it out?" "No." "I've been wanting to tell you I love you. I'm in love. With you." "Oh. You do? And you are?" "Yes. And I'm definitely all shook up." "Oh. I love you, too."

The relationship didn't last, but I've never heard All Shook Up without thinking of him. That, and Stevie Ray Vaughn's Honey Bee, but that's another story.

Like a queen bee's honey
You as sweet as can be
I'm the king, baby
Buzz with me.....


Why I Work

We went to rent a videogame Saturday evening. Evan had picked his, and Seth asked, "Can I get one, too?" and I said, "Sure." Evan, who knows his birthday is coming up, AND is lately, suddenly aware of the adult world of responsibility, bills, etc., asked "Are you sure?" Before I could answer, Seth said, "Well - that's the whole reason she works, so we can do things we want." I'm glad he thinks that. Rent? Power? Food? Water? Nah. Naruto Clash of the Ninja 2, that's why. That, and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.


Business of Being Born

Thursday, I went to a screening of The Business of Being Born, a film produced by Ricki Lake. Wish I could figure out a way to post the trailer here, but I couldn't find it on YouTube. It's worth it to visit the BoBB site, and watch the trailer.

I was SO moved by this movie. I forget that homebirth and natural birth are so rare in the US. I had both boys at home, and the empowerment and connection with myself I got from that experience have been so important in my mothering life. I was thinking that women feel empowered when they schedule a C-section, but really, they're turning over their power to their doctor and the medical system here... which I truly don't trust.

I got teary several times, the first being during the first birth they showed. It was a gorgeous water birth, and the look of ecstasy on the mama's face as she pushed the baby out will stay with me for a long time.

Evan's birth was as pain-free as birth can be. Folks have said it's just that "moms are supposed to forget", but *immediately* after the birth, I said, "That wasn't bad at all!" The connection I had with my midwife, Damaris, facilitated that; she's one of the most beautiful souls I know. I was with her, too, for Seth's birth. The contractions with his birth were a little more painful, but still, very very manageable. Beautiful births, both of them.

Being an unlicensed midwife assisting a homebirth is illegal here - and lay midwives can't get licensed. Very few doctors (maybe 2 statewide?) are willing to be backup for homebirths. North Carolina Friends of Midwives is working very hard to get this changed, so we can have Certified Professional Midwives in NC. The screening was to raise awareness of the issue, and to raise funds for NCFoM. I'm so glad I got to go. The movie will be released on DVD in February.


It's OK to Feel Good

The discipline that we would like you to exercise is to make a decision that nothing is more important than that you feel good, and that you are going to find thoughts that feel better. Your cork floating is the only thing that is worthy of discipline. ~ Abraham

I read that quote this morning on Abraham-Hicks.com, and it just opened my heart up. I also felt a connection between what they had written, and my post about nothing being wrong with me. It took me a minute to figure out what that was - but I think it's my knowing that It's OK to feel good. It's OK to feel good! I can feel good without having to doubt myself. I can feel good entirely, without there having to be bad feelings mixed in. And, according to Abraham, not only is it OK to feel good, it's important to feel good.

What a job! My work is to feel good.

Do you feel good?


I'm No Longer Invisible

Image from www.fanniemay.com

In response to Christine Kane's latest post about the power of language, I was reminded of something that was reinforced for me recently on Tim Gunn's Guide to Style: If you carry yourself with confidence (stand straight, walk purposefully), not only will other people's perception of you be positive, but you'll feel more confident yourself! Just by changing how you walk! In my response, I said there's such a difference when I walk with my head up through the grocery store, and when I slouch through, trying to be invisible. I'm not invisible!

And that has been a lesson itself through this wonderful life I've lead. Just recently, I got - truly got - that my actions impact others. For some of you, this will be... duh! Of course they do! But I honestly didn't know that. I had been told that. I had been exposed to that idea, through the 12 steps. But I didn't know it on a real level. I was invisible, the invisible girl.

I believe I internalized that throughout my childhood. My wants and needs were rarely, if ever, heard. My ideas were not honored. I remember speaking to my mom, and frequently getting
no response. None at all. Being invisible was safer, anyway. If I was invisible, then no one would yell at me, or belittle me, or hit me.

Recently, the ex and I sold some things at a group yard sale. A cookie jar was among the items we were selling, and a boy, about 8 years old, *desperately* wanted that cookie jar. His eyes lit up when he saw it! He showed it to his Dad, and he showed it to his Mom. He was SO excited about it. I didn't realize his mom had said he could buy anything he wanted if it was under $1, so when he asked how much it cost, I said $1.25. He went away, dejected. I asked Seth to chase him down to tell him I'd love to sell it to him for $1, but before Seth could get there, I heard the boy *begging* his Dad to get it. His Dad held firm - "Sorry, but your mom said you could buy it if it was a dollar or less." I couldn't understand it! I mean, he *loved* the cookie jar - could his Dad not hand him a freakin' quarter? Conventional parenting would tell you to hold that boundary, that kids have to learn you mean what you say, etc. That's why I'm not a conventional parent. Anyway - when Seth told him about the sudden sale on cookie jars, he practically *skipped* over to the table to buy it. His Dad came over, embarrassed: "I don't know why he wants that thing so much!" I said, "You don't have to know why. Just knowing he does is enough." With a big smile. I hope he pondered that.

The whole exchange brought up so many feelings for me. I knew why he wanted it - or I thought I could guess. It was a Christmas cookie jar, that looked like a snowman. I figured he was picturing when his house was decorated for Christmas, there would be that cookie jar on the counter.
His cookie jar, that he had picked out, and bought. He wouldn't be invisible. He'd have an impact on his environment, his home. (Not that I was projecting or anything.)

Before I had Evan, I never weighed over 100 pounds my whole life. I was 27 when he was born. I didn't starve myself, or binge and purge. I was just small. I realized, after I never got back to pre-pregnancy weight, that I was keeping myself small. I didn't want to take up too much space. I wanted to be invisible. But having a kid, man, having a kid means I'm here. It means I have an impact. So, it took me a while to get that lesson on a larger scale. I hope, that by hearing the boys, honoring their needs and wants, taking their ideas seriously, they'll never feel invisible. Unless being invisible is their superpower that day.

I'm not invisible. I have an impact. I matter. Just typing those words makes me sit up straighter. Or was it, sitting up straighter helped me type those words?


Found... Art?

I was making pasta with garlic, and the boys decided they'd like turkey in it, as well. All I had were frozen turkey burgers. When I went to thaw them, I saw this

(My apologies to the vegetarians among you.)

and it made me laugh. I figured this could count as art every day - found art. I hope to learn some kind of program where I can draw on the photo. Can't you see a little bug face?


There's Nothing Wrong With Me -- or You!

I wrote this in an e-mail to Christine Kane the other day:

"Recently I decided to stop seeing everything I was doing as wrong or unhealthy - and instead, fully accept myself where I am. Seems obvious now that I'm writing it, but it has made the *biggest* difference!

An example is that lately, I haven't been wanting to connect as much with people. I stopped going to my drumming group (of traditional West African drumming), and I'm just not getting out as much. At first, I was observing that, and thought "Oh, no! I'm isolating! Must force myself to get out!" Then I stopped, and asked, "What if this is OK? What if, this is what my gut is telling me to do, and I can do it, and not think there's something wrong with me?" So I did. And it's been great. I have more energy, I'm doing more creative things. I started a blog (which is still too young to share!). [I've since made the decision to link it to my blogger ID. Yikes!]

I *like* this not thinking there's something wrong with me all the time! It's so funny, too, 'cause I always recommend Cheri Huber's There's Nothing Wrong With You to people. I think I read that, and it *did* bring more self-acceptance, but in my mind, I must have been thinking "There's nothing wrong with you... except all those parts that are sick and damaged. THOSE are wrong." Now, I've decided... there's nothing sick or damaged. It's all just who I am. And if I was meant to be anyone else, I would be."

It has been so freeing to not have to worry about my "wrong" parts. Not that I don't need to live with awareness, and compassion, and knowledge that my actions affect others. But it hasn't been helpful to only accept those parts of me that I didn't think were wrong. "There's nothing wrong with you... except everything that's wrong with you." Nope. There's nothing wrong with me. There's nothing wrong with you, either.

Gassho ~



Quote from Seth this morning:

"Butt. Pretty much anytime someone says that word, it's funny."

Butt. Heh-heh.


Day 5 of Day 1

I made myself laugh when I realized this morning that I hadn't posted because I haven't created any art! Like I'm going to get graded or something. Kicked out of AEDM. I'm looking at it like this: Like Patti Digh being on Day 6 of Day 1 of not complaining, I'm on Day 5 of Day 1 of creating art every day for a month. So there.

Yikes! I was quoted on Sandra Dodd's blog, and on her page about control. It's odd to send a quiet little e-mail that didn't even get a response on the list, and see it... exposed like that. LOL I feel like a proud mama to my thoughts. But, ya know - I was just being honest. Speaking from my heart, my open heart. I now understand the push to help others "get it" about unschooling. I guess that happened since the conference. It's not just our way of being any more, it's a movement. At the same time, remaining just our way of being. I'm not living this way to convince anyone else it's best, that's for sure. Which reminds me of this post from Josha on Radical Unschooling:

I had a reading from a woman who specializes in energy clearing and has a clear contact with, well something pretty cosmic. What was intended to be a clearing turned into kind of like a psychic download and it was pretty interesting for both of us. Part of it was about being part of a new paradigm shift in how people be with children.

The initial information she had was that I homeschooled the kids. She said well it goes way beyond that and it isn't for the kids, directly. It is for the parents. You (you me we) will be part of something that will radically shift how people are with kids and help them learn new ways to be because that is what the shifting consciousness needs.

Loving watching this all unfold and it is an honor to be part of it.

Peace to all of you wonderful pioneers, remember each time you can shift your thoughts to a more positive perspective and are able to channel a little more light and joy into your being and lives you are doing it for the whole planet! and all the children everywhere.

So, yeah, follow your heart, find ways to open your heart. I have this quote on my vision board:
"Life's short, so dream, dare and be your brilliance."
No idea who said it - I suppose anyone could have! Life's short, so BE with your kids, unconditionally support your kids. Go ahead and let go. It'll be OK - it is OK.

So is being on Day 5 of Day 1.


Art *Every* Day?

Aaaahhhhh!! Leah just posted a list of everyone participating in Art Every Day Month... and my name is on there! I know I had written to her to tell her I'd be doing it, but I didn't have a blog at that point... I figured, no link, no list - but there I am!

I was *just* thinking about it this morning, and I'm excited to take on the challenge, but I didn't want it (the art or my commitment) to be public just yet. But there I am!

It makes me very happy! And nervous. One day, I'll send her the link to my blog. lol


early morning drumming

What a great way to wake up -- drumming! At the NC Women's Conference. I was cranky because I missed the bus, and kept trying to find the better feeling. Was finally successful once I was walking around downtown with my djembe - I guess people like smiling at people with djembes, 'cause I sure got a lot of big smiles! Improved my mood dramatically.

I kept being worried because I wasn't *early* and I was going to be *late*. My schooled self is still SO concerned about what people think of me. Not whether or not I'd be inconveniencing anyone by being late, but whether or not people would still like me. Oy. Funny, funny, Caren. *I* like you - doesn't that count for anything?

So good to drum with friends I haven't drummed with in a while.


Let My Love Open the Door

For months, now - years? - I've occasionally woken up with a song singing itself insistently in my head. This isn't the usual song-on-my-mind thing; these songs practically SHOUT themselves at me. Now, this song - this song has shown up time and time again. Usually when I've forgotten the good and hopeful things about life, and I've closed in upon myself to stay safe and comfortable. And every time, I think "Oh, OK - I can be loved. I can let your love open the door to my heart." And I'll feel a little more open-hearted, a little more vulnerable, available and present. Then I'll forget. And life will go on, and I'll be there, in the middle of my life, then that early-morning shout will happen again. Hello? Remember me?

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today, you'll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say
Let my love open the door
It's all I'm living for
Release yourself from misery
There's only one thing gonna set you free
That's my love

So, last night, I went to see Dan in Real Life, and yes, it's cliched, and yes, it's predictable and unrealistic -- but,ohhhh, it was SO good, and sweet, and funny, and it has STEVE CARELL and he's so funny and vulnerable, and I cried and cried. Especially, when Dane Cook sings a song to his new girlfriend, whom Steve Carell has fallen for, and it's... Let My Love Open the Door. It was *perfect*. Perfect.

Can I ever hear this song without crying?