Christmas Tree Perspective

Background details: When Evan was born, I was a single mom. There's a story behind how he was conceived (besides, you know, physiologically), and where I was in my life. That's not this story - but I was single when I got pregnant with him, and remained so for 6 years after he was born. His Dad has always been here for him, they've always regularly spent time together. I knew when he was teeny-tiny that it was my mission to be there for him. Before he was born, I had the conventional mom-thought at that time: I'd go back to work when he was around ten weeks old. I thought I was being generous by going further than six weeks. THEN I met him, right after he was birthed at home, and I knew there was NO WAY I could go back to work. Through the years, I found ways to make that work - first, living with my mom, who had not become as cold as she would later, then bartending and cater-waiting on weekends when he could be with his Dad. We moved into a sweet little 2-bedroom house right before he turned 3. Money was always tight, but we had a life we loved. I started watching kids so I could be with him all the time, and his Dad started having scheduled visitation, rather than being there when I worked.

For those Christmases we shared when I was still single, and it was just me and Evan, I started a little tradition. Because we had NO extra money, a tree was mostly out of the question - unless we waited 'til late Christmas Eve, when the tree lots gave their trees away. I would get the tree with Evan, and tell him we'd have to decorate it on Christmas, but I'd actually put it up and decorate it while he slept - then when he woke, he thought Santa brought the tree in and decorated it! I did this two years in a row. I can see now it was magical, it was thrifty, it made sense. I'd love to say that I made the decision consciously and graciously, and stayed fully aware of the magic. Instead:

I was kind of a maniac! And I HATED myself, just absolutely hated myself the whole time, for not providing Evan with a "normal" Christmas, like "normal" families have. The first year, I had no idea we'd get a tree for free - I just drove into the lot hoping we could get a good deal on a Charlie Brown tree, and I wept when the owner just handed me a beautiful tree, and told us to take it home. I was stressed - WHY couldn't I put up a tree before Christmas, like everyone else? I was thinking, Evan's going to remember this! He'll be telling his therapist when he's an adult: 'My mom couldn't even get a tree up before Christmas!' I felt so disorganized, so... overwhelmed. This isn't how it's supposed to be done! I kept saying to myself. I know I wasn't fully present for Evan.

I had SO much to learn, about appreciating the moment that IS. About accepting where I am. About loving myself. About knowing what's really important. I look back now - and dang! That was creative! And practical - AND it was magic for Evan. But then? I couldn't see that at all. I send love to my younger self, lots and lots of love, to me so overwhelmed and stressed, but full of love for my child, this beautiful boy.

And it's causing me to ask today: What am I stressed over now, that if I give a different perspective to, I'll appreciate? What's causing me to not be present for my kids today? Where am I judging myself for falling short of where I "should" be? Can I breathe, and love everything about this moment?

Why, yes, yes I can. In the intervening years, I've learned what's important: us. BE-ing together. Doing what we need - and want! - to have an amazing unschooling life. This moment, this one, will never come again, so it's my job to move everything else aside, all the self-doubt, all the judgment, all the petty, petty money stuff to BE HERE NOW. Fully and lovingly.

I also send love to my younger self (and the boys!) for teaching me just that. Over and over again.

I hope you're able to appreciate all the moments you have this holiday season. Even stressed (you don't have to go there, you know!), even overwhelmed, even joyful and full of love. It's all magic.

Gassho ~

A couple weeks ago, I read this post by writer Jennifer Harvey. I started to write all this in her comments, then realized: 'blog post!' Also - 'Don't hijack the comments!' Thanks, Jennifer!


Well, It's True in My Case

I was playing that game I haven't yet gotten sick of, and one of the players was trying to get a chat started. After a few unpicked-up-on attempts, they finally just typed, "Any cute girls on here?"

Another player replied, "Dude, it's the internet. We're all cute girls."


Rockin' My World

Seth has been asking to hear this story over and over, and for me to tell it to nearly everyone we come across, for the past couple of weeks. He doesn't know I'm putting it on here - surprise!

About 7 years ago, we (my then-husband, Evan, Seth and I) were forced to move from the house we were renting. It was, quite literally, falling apart, and had been for some time. We were making things work; it was a blessing to rent a 2-bedroom home for $200!!! a month rent. That's right - $200. It's what allowed me to stay home with Evan when I was a single mom with him. Sure, it was drafty, and the heat sounded like a jet engine when it came on. Sure, only one burner on the stove worked reliably. Sure, the windows couldn't open. It was worth it! But the owner decided it was time to do some work, so we had to move. It was only supposed to take 3 months; we planned to move back in when he was done. For that short a time, my mother offered to let us stay with her, and we, foolishly, took her up on that offer. I didn't realize how mean and cold she had become since I had moved out of her home 6 years earlier. The brief times we saw each other were slightly stressful, but nothing out of the ordinary.

It was, without a doubt, the worse 2 months of my recent life. She put down Evan for the stuff he chose to do - he would write a comic book and she would ridicule the drawings. He wrote a story - he pretended like the conversation in the book Yo! Yes? was one half of a phone conversation, and he wrote the other half. It was funny and clever, and very inventive. My mother read it, sneered, and said, "Some story." He had just turned 9, people! Nine. It was AWFUL. It was painful and difficult. I have no doubt it was hard on my mom - used to living by herself, and here's me and my husband, and our 9- and 2-year old and our dog, too - but she made it a hell. We saved up our money and got out of there, even though our house wasn't finished; we ended up moving into an apartment complex. They had insulation! And windows that opened!

This was at the beginning of February, right before Seth turned 3. At that time, I used to get a bit down in the wintertime, and I could feel myself spiraling down that dark tunnel. The time with my mom was so stressful, and we couldn't move back into our little house, that I loved so dearly - John wasn't willing to break our lease to do so, when the house was finished a couple months later. One day, I was out walking with Seth, just taking a tour around the apartment complex. It was cold and gray, and my mood matched. I felt myself teetering on the edge of the abyss of depression, and felt powerless against it. On the walk, we passed a gravel driveway. Seth broke away from me, ran to the rocks, stood there a second and yelled: "Mama!! ROCKS!!" His face just glowing with his huge smile. He was in awe. Of rocks. He could barely contain himself. In that moment, I felt something inside break open, and I smiled, then laughed. How could I possibly be depressed in a world that had rocks?

It turned my view around. That one moment put me on a whole different course than I was headed down. I didn't fall into depression - I kept looking for the rocks. Then came Spring, and at the apartment we put out bird feeders, so we had squirrels we tamed to the point they'd crawl up my leg to get peanuts, and baby ducks would come feed with their Mamas on the seed that fell on the ground.

Rocks. Go figure.


Uh, oh.

I'm in trouble.

I've been on this game for a while this morning. Is there a way to block sites during working hours?

You get a word and you draw that word, and everyone else playing guesses at what it is, and you guess at their drawings.

The game itself is fun! No need to sign up, sign in or anything. Only one rude person so far, who had to draw a penis, no matter what the clue was, and after a while, that was funny. It IS called "Draw My Thing". Guess they took that literally. So stay with your kids if they play. 'Cause you know - penises. Can only lead to harder drugs and all that.

tee-hee... harder.


Exactly Sixteen Years Ago...

I was falling in love.

I was slightly scared, and a little overwhelmed. But mostly - full. And connected. It's possible I'm not remembering exactly how scared I was.

I looked into the most amazing, serene, beautiful eyes of my new baby boy, born at home. The first thing I said after he was born? "Hello, sweetness." Then, "That wasn't so bad!" It really wasn't.

I am thrilled and blessed beyond measure to have shared the past sixteen years with such a beautiful, compassionate, creative, aware, funny, thoughtful, empathetic, amazing boy. He has made my life rich beyond compare.

Happy birthday, sweetie!



It's his

sixteenth birthday in two days.

Here's a peek at what I got him:

You can click on the picture if you don't know who this is

I hope I see him after his birthday! I'll be sure to visit him, and bring him snacks and provisions.

Sixteen! Mercy.



I totally forgot about posting yesterday - forgot about NaBloPoMoFo and Art Every Day. It slipped my mind. And not because anything extraordinary happened, or I was too busy. In the time that I normally would have been writing, the boys and I, and an extra emergency backup boy, were cuddled on the couch, watching the episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory we had taped the day before.

I had gone to Charlotte's annual Thanksgiving Interfaith service with a friend - a friend with whom I always end up laughing. What a great service! People of all faiths, coming together. The church was HUGE. The minister at my church was the speaker, and I wondered how he was feeling being in such a big space, with so many people. He did such a great job! He is a powerful speaker.

I got home, and we had pizza, and watched those shows, and Evan showed me some very funny youtube videos. We finished up the book I was reading to Seth, and he and his friend who stayed over, stayed up, playing their DSes. (Is that how you spell that?) I walked the dog, went to bed, and didn't think a thing about blogging at all.

I didn't miss it. I love my life.

Then again, maybe that is extraordinary.


I Love Paul. No, Not That One.

One lovely benefit of the book Lyrics coming out, by Paul Simon, is that he's doing a bit of a book tour. So, I'm hearing and seeing more of Paul Simon lately than I have in a while.

His music has been in my life ever since I can remember.

A friend told me about Pandora.com - a site where you can create your own "radio station". They use information from the music genome project, which breaks music up into different elements. You can click that link and read more; that's about all I really understand about it. What it boils down to is this: You enter the name of a musical artist you like. Pandora will play that artist's music - and will add other artists that have similar musical qualities. Since she told me about it, I've been listening to Paul Simon radio. sigh Bliss.

My favorite concerts... well, I don't know if I can really pick just a few. But near the top of the list is Paul Simon, right after Rhythm of the Saints came out. It was amazing. He had a stage just FULL of musicians, all kinds of drummers and players. But his spirit... It was like this: all those musicians were there, and it wouldn't have been the same without them. But the music itself seemed to pour right from Paul, all of it did, right from his center. This teeny little guy, with a guitar almost as big as he was, and it was flowing from him. I also saw Simon & Garfunkel in Atlanta, in '83. I'm glad I was there - it was my first musical road trip. (Also in Atlanta a few years later? Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Fox Theater. Holy moly.)

I know he got some grief for marrying Edie Brickell - 24 years his junior! But, who knows where or when love will find you?

I'm glad he's still around, still playing music. His music is in my heart and my cells and my breath. A lifetime of love.


To Grandmother's House We Go...

Today, the boys and I are going to my mother's for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving meal - it's the only day we could all get together, including my sister and her family.

It's usually interesting at our family gatherings.

I'm anticipating it'll end up somewhere between this:

and this:

Image found on Google images, no credit was given.

Aaah, there's nothing like family!


Itty Bitty Art

Recently, I've come across a couple of articles or TV shows about teeny tiny artwork...

On Food Network Unwrapped, they had an episode that included Bob Shamey, a man who carves peach pits, cherry pits... and toothpicks! Check out these carvings:

In order, they are a peach pit, plum seed, sweet cherry pit, dogwood seed, and wild cherry pit.

Click on that picture to see the teensy tinesy train.

He also holds the Guinness record for carving 17 links in a toothpick chain.

Holy cow.

And I can't remember where I saw it first, but Willard Wigan's sculptures can fit in the eye of a needle, or on the head of a pin!

He said he had carved Snow White, but he thinks he might have inhaled her.

Which, is not kind of me, but cracks me up.


An Abundant Life

Ronnie left a comment in my post about finding a model for a drawing I'm working on:

"....you can get one of those jointed dolls cartoonists use. Chloe has one, and it's pretty handy."

Oh. You mean... like the jointed model that came with a drawing kit I bought the boys a few months ago, and they hadn't cracked open yet? The one I grabbed because it was on clearance-clearance - half price of the clearance price?

The one that came with different types of pencils, and different types of paper, too? The one with a tiny little sketch pad like I've been wishing I had to carry around?

The one that came with these two tools, which, as I was drawing my meditating girl, I was really really wishing I had?

Go. Figure.

It's been here the whole time! I have everything I need. And the boys were happy to share.

"Abundance is not something we acquire. It's something we tune in to." ~ Wayne Dyer


Aw, And She's So Cute, Too!

We've been experiencing a problem with our TV for a few months - when the television gets turned off, and it gets turned on again, closed captioning is automatically there. For a while, we could turn it off with the remote, and as long as the TV stayed on, the captioning stayed off. Unfortunately, the remote stopped working a couple weeks ago - I don't know if that particular button just got worn out, or what happened. We changed the batteries, I tried reprogramming it... nothing. It just wasn't working. And until we decide that a new remote is a spending priority, we are living with the captions. It's not that bad.

Evan said captioning helped him learn to read. I remember that! He went through a James Bond phase, where we rented and watched every James Bond film, in the order of release. We'd watch it together, then he would frequently re-watch them, with the subtitles on.

This is giving me a new perspective. I'm very grateful I don't actually need the closed captioning, because it is very frequently completely wrong, or just gibberish. I automatically assumed that closed captioning would always be what the characters were actually saying, but that's often not the case. This is just a minor inconvenience to us, but for someone who was relying on the captions to get information, or the actual dialogue, this has to be incredibly frustrating.

We do enjoy seeing how different shows handle different things: We watched Chowder earlier tonight, and one of the characters was very gassy. It just said, right out loud [farts]. Some shows use different vernacular, like (passes gas). Guess it depends on the audience.

I'm very grateful for many, many reasons to have my hearing. Right now, the reason I'm most grateful, is that if I were deaf

Ellen DeGeneres would have no head.*

*Yeah. The entire hour was like this.


If You Act, As You Think, The Missing Link...

I love how things just come together.

I've been working on a drawing, a sketch really. I wanted to capture a meditating girl. I was inspired in the RE class I teach at church - I'm teaching preschool this year. *How much* do I LOVE preschoolers? Oh, my gosh - they are so funny and free and sweet. Each Sunday, we do a volcano breath, where we capture ALL their feelings and thoughts and experiences over the past week, gather them up in our hands and WHOOSH, let 'em go. Then, we sit down and do a few seagull breaths, to get calm and centered. This past Sunday, when an adorable girl named Charlotte was doing her seagull breaths, she was just radiating peace. Her eyes were closed, and her little hands were clasped under her chin. It was amazing to see, and inspirational to be around. I was wondering how I might capture that.

I was watching Making Fiends with Seth earlier this week, and it struck me how simple the drawings really were . Here are Vendetta (in green) and - get this - Charlotte (in blue):

Making Fiends is a very, very funny show, with lots of dark humor. But look how they're drawn! Really, really simple, no great detail. I thought about that, then tried to sketch something out:

So, the proportions are a little off - it's the first sketch of her that I tried! And it doesn't capture the spirit of real-life Charlotte - but I think you can tell it's a girl, meditating. I'm going to try doing it a few more times, to see if I can get closer to what I want. I was thinking I needed a model! I wasn't sure where to put the feet, or how they should go. And exactly how do those hands look, anyway? I was considering asking one of the boys if they would pose for me, so I could get a better idea of how things look.

Then today, I went in to the office. Usually, I work from home, but they had a potluck pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving meal, and they had called to make sure I would be there. It was nice to go in and see everyone. I was on my way out and was saying my goodbyes, and one of my coworkers was playing with this little foam doll. I said, "How cute!" and she just handed her to me. Apparently, they had ordered a ton of these dolls, so everyone who wanted could have one on their desk, reminding them of centeredness and peace.

Here she is:

My model! How awesome is that? And she won't get all wiggly and need a water break. I think I'll call her... Charlotte. You can't tell in the picture, but she's shaped like a real woman, with a tummy and wide hips.

I've lived here, in Charlotte, NC, my whole life. After Evan was born, I thought about moving to a place that felt more like "me" - maybe Asheville, NC, or maybe I'd find an intentional community. Someplace away from banks and bankers and McMansions. Through my meditation practice, I got a clear message that if I stayed here, and could find peace here, that challenge would help me grow. Kinda like - if you can be happy in Charlotte, you can be happy nearly anywhere! So I decided to stay. And I have grown, and I've found my tribe, and I've worked to make Charlotte a place where other like-minded people would want to be.

So, her name is Charlotte. And she has a secret name, too, but I can't tell you that: It's a secret!

The post title on 11/17 was a line from The Police song "Synchronicity I" - and I'm putting another line on today's! I love how she came to me at just the right time, just when I needed a model of a meditating girl - one that was kind of simple. Just when I've re-dedicated myself to daily zen practice, too.

Right place, right time.


Shift of Perspective

I am very excited about the vision I have for the painting I started the other day. I really, really hope I can recreate what I'm seeing in my head - I love the idea of it.

Here's a hint:

The mood is so very different than what I started with! I'm really happy about it.

It feels good to be so excited about something *I'm* making!

Here's another hint:

Hope I can pull it off!


A Star Fall, A Phone Call, It Joins All....

About six months ago, a friend forwarded an e-mail - a friend of hers, who books for a talent agency, was looking for a "cute caucasian male, aged 7 - 9 years old" for a commercial they were casting. I sent them Seth's picture and info and forgot about it. I didn't hear back from them about that particular ad.

Last night, Seth was saying he'd like to maybe be in a movie, or on a TV show. I said I had friends who've done that, and they started out by being in local commercials. I asked if he'd be interested in pursuing that, and he kind of shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe. I think I'd get nervous!" I told him I'd look into it - and when I opened my e-mail this morning, there was an e-mail from that talent agency, asking us to come in for an interview and videotaping. They gave us a few commercial scripts, and he's supposed to pick one to prepare - I don't even know what that means! Prepare how? Memorize, I guess. And, uh... act. And to prepare a 30-second monologue. I do know what that means!

When I told Seth about the e-mail, he got a big grin on his face. I said, "Wow - we were just talking about that last night! Interesting timing, huh?" His eyes got big and he said, "I think someone's listening in!" I know I've posted this picture before - but this is the one I sent them.

He's so freakin' adorable.


Just Playin'

I am working through The Artist's Way with some amazing people I met online, in Steve Pavlina's forums. I have not been diligent about doing all of the suggested exercises, but I have done morning pages every single morning. I don't know what I'd do without them now; that, plus some meditation, really centers me for my day.

For the past couple of days, I write my morning pages, and sometimes during them, or maybe after I write, I end up doodling. I think these are things that have popped up from time to time before, but I ignored the urge to draw - probably telling myself I couldn't do it! But now I'm capturing ideas there, or sometimes just following the pen. This morning, I made six lines - then six more, in a slightly different way. I just kept playing - I probably would have played more if my page had been bigger!

My favorite part is the two sets of six lines in the middle, with the shading. As I was scanning the picture in, I suddenly saw they could be legs, too - either white legs or dark legs. It might be fun to just make those same six lines, and shade in something different each time, to see what might come out.

It's been a long time since I even doodled! So I love how Art Every Day Month has made me notice that desire to draw, and act on it, even if it's something small or silly.

I ordered Danny Gregory's Creative License about a year ago for Evan - and I've borrowed it back from him! I've only flipped through it, and I already love the openness and playfulness of it - and lack of perfectionism! It's subtitled Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are.

I went drumming last night, and had the most amazing experience with a woman from Pennsylvania. Before we officially met, I noticed she was so free with her drumming, really just having fun with it. It ends up she teaches musical improvisation! How cool is that? (Check out her site - such a great picture of her! It really captures her beauty.) So I'm getting the same message everywhere: follow your heart and your impulse, don't self-edit, let go. Be free - it gives others permission to be free, too.

Be myself. 'Cause who else would I wanna be, anyway?


Pizza Box Protest

I did not get a picture (darn it!) but today I made a poster for a pro-gay marriage rally here in Charlotte. It said, in nice large letters, Marriage = (heart) + (heart). I was laughing at myself because I didn't have any posterboard here, and I had NO idea how I was going to make a poster... then I saw a pizza box. A pizza box with a nice white bottom. And at first, I wasn't going to use it! People will be able to tell it's a pizza box! And they'll laugh! Man, it's those unexamined thoughts that make ya crazy. Because as soon as I examined it, I realized how goofy that was, and I made my poster.

I was so pleased at the turn-out for the rally! For something not planned a long time in advance, in Charlotte, NC, we had a GREAT turn-out. I'm terrible at estimating numbers of people - but I'm thinking maybe 200? And I saw my minister there, and several members of my church. It made me so proud! We'll speak out for justice where it's needed. I left about an hour before it was over, to go to a church crafting thing.

Which made me laugh - Close your eyes and picture this: A woman going to her church, with her children in tow. They are going to create ornaments, picture frames, and other gifts to go in Christmas gift baskets for people who need a little extra care this season, for one reason or another. Now picture this: A woman holding a gay rights sign, chanting, "Gay, straight, black, white - marriage is a civil right!", yelling in approval when passers-by honk their horns. Well - they were both me! So much for stereotypes, eh?

Previously, when I've made posters or used markers, I just put the paper down and start drawing. Today, I made an outline in pencil first, erased what I thought didn't look good, fixed that, then filled it in with color. This whole make a first draft thing with art, blows my mind. I always thought people were naturally gifted, and they put the ink or paint to page with no planning. And when I put ink or paint to page and it looked crappy, I just thought - well, I don't have the gift. Planning! Pencil outlines! A whole new world has been opened to me. I do know that NOT planning and NOT using pencil, etc. is a valid way to create, too - and I DO believe some people are naturally gifted artists. But I no longer feel that I have no talent at all. You can *erase* your mistakes, THEN put the ink on. It's really cool.

Sorry for no pic!



Image from Starshine's Blog

It's very funny that Starshine's writing prompt today is a rainy day... because it's been raining and raining and raining here. I love it! I recently went to the library, so I have lots of yummy reading goodness to jump into, my boys are here, my kitties were curled up on my lap the whole time we watched Matrix Reloaded earlier tonight. Super cozy. The only one disappointed member of our family is Jack, who's going to get a much shorter walk than he might usually.

When I went to the library, I was browsing the shelves, and found the section with books by Brian Weiss and James van Praagh. Since my experience of connecting with someone who had crossed over, I've been reading here and there about how to develop that skill - I see how it brings people comfort. Usually, the tips on mediumship development are part of another book - the first part is experiences and stories, then just a chapter or so on development. I was standing at that book section, just thinking, "I really wish there was a whole book on how to develop that, one that really went into everything." The same moment I thought that, I looked down, and there was a book called - of all things - So, You Want to Be A Medium? I just cracked up. Why, yes, yes I do. Thanks for asking. I'm enjoying reading it so far. The author makes a point of saying it takes time and effort for most to cultivate the ability -- I'm ready!

I have another story of not connecting directly, but getting information about a person another medium was connected with, that I'll tell at another time. It was intense!

Well - off to walk the poor neglected dog (not really - he's had his head on my leg the whole time I was typing!), then come back to warm jammies, and curl up with my book, listening to this rain fall. Seth is sleeping after we read a few chapters in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Evan is talking with his friends on the phone. I bet he'll get on World of Warcraft once I'm done here.

Hope you're snug and content where you are!


Sea. No, Mountains! No, Birds Over a Field...

Well - I had an image in my head of a grey, stormy sea, with a grey sky except for kind of a sickly green where the sun was coming up... I just got this much done - and it's a much happier painting so far than I intended! Brighter colors, etc. The green that's over the sun is a greenier green than I had in my head - it might even be trees, now! We'll see what happens when I start again tomorrow. I might even turn it on its side to see where it takes me then.

I really appreciate Leah's posts about how things don't have to be perfect... the point is the creating, not the creation. It goes along really well with this Abraham-Hicks quote I read the other day: "Life summoning through you is what it's all about, not the completion of anything."

I've been drumming for a while now, and when I drum, I'm able to lose myself in the rhythm, see where it takes me. At first, I was very focused on technique, on the difference between slap and tone, on getting the rhythm "right". It took studying those things to get to where I could really let myself go. It is different with drumming - when I lead drum circles, I make a point of saying you don't HAVE to know those things to let the rhythm take you. But I think having that basis makes me less nervous, more in the moment. I wonder if I took a watercolor class, and got more practice at mixing colors, etc., if I'd feel the same way here? It would be easier to let go if I could trust that what ended up on the page was close to what I was seeing...

For now, I like not having technique and experience... who knows where we'll end up?! A picture of a stormy sea might end up being really happy mountains and trees... I enjoy the surprise of what actually shows up on the paper.

I'm so glad I'm doing Art Every Day!!


I'm Proud to Call Her Friend

A few years ago, I met a woman who would absolutely change my life. We are soulmates and friends - the first time we met, I knew she was a healer. The second time we saw each other, we found out we both have the same type of tattoo on the back of our necks - an om. Mine is sanskrit, hers is Tibetan.

The third time we saw each other was at an unschooling conference, and we practically sat in each others' laps, we wanted to be so close to each other. We've been that close to each other ever since, even though she moved to WV two years ago. We have shared many lifetimes; she is a sister in the best sense of the word.

Last night, she told me about an initiative she started in the town she moved to, Huntington, WV. It is simple enough - distributing fliers about how to make a community, a community. That small action has spurred greater actions and talk from others. Just by being herself, shining her light in a way that she could as a college student, wife, mother and healer, she put in to motion great things for Huntington. And other places, as well! She's gotten a few calls from people in other areas of the country who want to pass out fliers, too.

I googled "Hope for Huntington" this morning, and found this article. What a lady.

Chris Harris/The Herald-Dispatch

Woman doing her part to improve her neighborhood


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- When the Huntington Police Department raided a residence for heroin in Jenn Williams' Southside neighborhood a year ago, she was frightened like many of her neighbors.

She wondered whether the neighborhood in the 700 block of 11th Avenue she had just moved to the year before was safe for her two children.

"After the fear wore off, I felt ashamed that I didn't know that kind of activity was going on in my neighborhood and that I didn't know my neighbors well enough," she said. "I began to realize that residents can't sit around idly and expect law enforcement or local government to take care of everything for us."

Williams' solution was a simple one. She decided to make "Hope for Huntington" fliers and pass them out to her neighbors and people at community meetings. She already has distributed a few hundred since she began her effort a few weeks ago, she said.

"I wanted to create something physical that would represent a commitment to be a good neighbor," she said. "It's a statement that this is what you stand for and this is what you believe in."

When she's not taking graduate courses in counseling at Marshall University, Williams goes door to door asking residents to tape the pink fliers to their front door. The fliers say that by doing so, you pledge to take care of your property, get acquainted with your neighbors and exchange phone numbers with them and make a call or write a letter to your City Council representative about your concerns at least once a year.

Williams said she also wants the fliers to serve as a sign for parents that it is safe for their kids to trick-or-treat at the home.

Most people have responded favorably to the fliers, but some tell her there isn't any kind of community effort that can help Huntington, Williams said.

"The most negative response I get is that this place is hell and it will never get better, but I should be applauded for trying," she said. "There is a sense of negativity where a lot of people who grew up here have no hope for Huntington. But I see it as a town that has so much potential for being really progressive."

Williams will continue passing out fliers through the end of October. She said she will then turn her attention to organizing events in her neighborhood such as block parties and community gardens.


Ooh, Fun!

Oh, boy! A picture of my new toy, a nice set of watercolors!

The only thing I knew about watercolors before now was how each pan of color would end up mixed with all the other colors, so it would be unusable.

With just a *tiny* bit of reading, I found out how to avoid that - mix the colors in a tray, not on the brush - and I'm reading about all these different watercolor techniques. I can't wait to play more.

I'm finding it slightly ironic, too, that I paid for these with a gift card from work. Each month, they put names on a "thank you" board, for folks who have gone the extra mile, or gotten compliments from our customers. At the end of the month, a name is pulled from all the names on the board, and that person gets a little giftie. I was a winner in September - yay, me! Watercolors seem so... un-worky! I am loving that this is how they came to me.

And the set-up of this set is so enjoyable! Tiny removable plastic trays of color, each one wrapped up like a gift itself. So I got to unwrap 15 tiny square gifts, as I opened the set. And the little brush - the top of the brush is inside the handle; you pull it out and put it together. sigh I love it.


Tiny Ninjas in My Life

"Go see the tiny ninjas" has become a shorthand phrase for me - and a reminder to show up!

At the 37 Days retreat, sweet Mary offered to lead a yoga session (early) Sunday morning. I planned on doing it, then when (early) Sunday came, I was feeling... well... maybe.... It *is* early, and I *am* an introvert, and I *could* use this time to read, or be alone. Plus, I'm not a regular yoga practicer and I was worried about looking silly! Then I heard in my head: Go see the tiny ninjas! Realized it wasn't that early, I could have my alone time on the drive home, and looking silly should be a requirement for living. I did yoga - and feel closer to Mary than I would have otherwise! It was lovely.

Last night, there was a fundraising "coffeehouse" at my church. We're partners with a church in Transylvania; we raise funds for whatever needs they might have, and people from each church have developed relationships together. I originally planned on going - but I was at home, it was getting chilly, I'd have to take the bus... then I remembered: Go see the tiny ninjas! So off I went. And was SO moved by a ten-year-old singing "World" (History Starts Now) I teared up, then couldn't stop crying, so I got a hug and iced tea from a woman I was just getting to know - and when we saw each other today, we were closer, just like that. I saw a 20-something woman sing a duet from "Don Giovanni" with a 70-something man - so convincingly beautiful, I wanted them to end up together! Showing up for life. Seeing the tiny ninjas. Not hiding behind my TV.

Tonight, I have a ticket to see Lisa Williams - and I was up a million times last night with a rumbly tummy, and I've felt not-so-well all day. I think it's nerves over meeting her! I've thought briefly of not going - I could probably sell the ticket. I'm not going with anyone else. I'll feel lonely. But - I'm going. Despite the nerves. I'm going to see the tiny ninjas. I'll be out there, alone and maybe a little lonely. But I'll be there. Me and the tiny ninjas.

Thanks, Patti.


Beware Those Blah-Blah-Blah Moments*

Seth: It was the episode of Simpsons where Homer was killing people.

John: Homer? Killing people?

Seth: Well, he got money if he killed them.

John: That doesn't sound like Homer!

Seth: Yeah, you know - it's the Simpsons! Something happens, then something else happens, then blah-blah-blah, then Homer's a killer.

John: Oh, yeah. I can see that.

*Similar to yadda, yadda, yadda


Art Every Day #6

I kept seeing a pink-ish shape, so drew that... then I saw it was coming from the moon!! LOL I'm really having fun with this - it came out very different than what I originally saw in my mind - I wish I could scan what's in my head! I hope to get more supplies this weekend - some paint of some type, and brushes. This was Crayola and Caran d'Ache!

I found myself reluctant to post this - there are so many *real* artists taking part in AEDM. Then I remembered 1) There are no rules and 2) I'm not doing this to compete in any way! Already, it's opened something inside of me... I'm wanting to see things, really see them. I drew that tree free-hand, kind of panicking the whole time because I didn't know how it would turn out. Then I looked up, and what was I looking at, but a tree! Right outside my window. I could have *looked up* and drawn what I saw. It also took me a while to get the eyes right - every nuance of pupil placement and eye shape really makes a difference! I wanted the moon to be a *bit* surprised, but also kind of matter-of-fact about this pink torrent she was producing.

I wanted the left side to be almost like a sunrise, but those colors didn't come out like I wanted them to at all. More experimenting! More learning. And I need a different erasable medium than my #2 pencil; that didn't erase cleanly at all.

I'm also seeing this challenge as one completed piece every day, then let it go. That's not a rule! But I decided that this morning, when I was thinking, "I could do a little bit, then edit, then more, then edit, and take pictures along the way." I thought - I'm just going to do one thing every day. Just to get used to it - hopefully this blog and other notes will remind me what I want to go back to, and look at more deeply!

And I'm posting it, too - the picture yesterday, I kept thinking: This isn't ART. I shouldn't link to it from Leah's blog! People will laugh. BUT - it is something I created. Before this challenge, I would have clipped a picture or two from Google images - but this, I created. I drew and cut and pasted and colored.

Progress, not perfection.


See? Told Ya

Obama sticker from MoveOn.org, by Shepard Fairey

We found out today that Mr. Obama won in NC - by .4% of the vote. I live in a state that hasn't voted for a Democrat since 1976 - and then, it was for a Southern white man. This is HUGE. We - home to hateful, divisive Jesse Helms, voted in for FIVE Senate terms - voted for Barack Obama.

I have said for years that every vote counts. Even after the 2000 election, I believed if more people had voted, it wouldn't have been as close as it was. WE are the government, and despite the evidence in recent years, I still believed. This election proved that every single vote does, indeed, count. Our 15 electoral votes will go to Obama.

I heard that one reason Obama won in Florida is because campaign volunteers there contacted the 600,000 registered Democrats who didn't vote in 2000 - ostensibly to say, "Guess what? If you had voted, we would never have heard the term hanging chad."

Before the election, I heard more than a few people say, "I'll vote, but it won't matter. My state *always* votes Republican, by a big margin." And now, if I ever hear that again, I'll have a real-life rebuttal. Look what happened! Look what CAN happen!

"...I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other." (from Barack Obama's acceptance speech)

We are the government. We are the change we've been waiting for. Are you ready?


The Fear-Mongers Were Right!

Evan was playing WoW last night as I was watching the election results. At 11, when Jon Stewart announced "President Barack Obama" and I started boo-hooing, Evan walked in and said folks on the game were talking about the win. We cheered and hugged, and he started to walk toward the door. I looked at him like, "Huh?" He said, "Well, Barack won - I need to go aid some terrorists, have a gay marriage and make a girl get an abortion."

Funny guy.


Oh, my. I am SO happy with the result of this election - or, as Stephen Colbert termed it, The Final Endgame Alpha Action Go Time Lift-off Decide-icidal Hungry Man's Extreme Raw Ultimate VoteSlam Smackdown '08 No Mercy: Judgement Day '08... '08.

I would have been a nervous wreck yesterday if I had taken the time to get in touch with what I was feeling... so I didn't. After the 2000 election, I don't put much stock in polls... or actual election results. Part of me wanted to just go to bed at 6 and wake up this morning to find out who our next president will be. And part of me wanted to stay glued to CNN listening to every nuance of every exit poll out there. I compromised: I mostly ignored everything 'til Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert came on at 10. I figured, if the news was bad, at least I'd be laughing. The boys and I watched a Samantha Who? episode we'd recorded, then I watched/slept through some program about garbage dumps and recycling. Then - at 10 - I tuned to Comedy Central - and the first result I heard was Jon Stewart saying, "Obviously, it's still very early in the evening, but certainly this night is playing out according to Barack Obama's game plan." WHAT?! Really?!!! So I switched between Comedy Central and CNN the rest of the night, until Barack's speech in Chicago, watching those sweet numbers roll in.

I was expecting his mood to be light, but he came out quite serious. There was hardly a smile during his very moving speech. He looked... presidential.

He looked a little like... a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.


I Love My Life

I went to vote this morning, rolling out of bed when it was still dark to walk to the elementary school in our neighborhood. As I was standing in line, I was looking at the artwork and kid citations on the walls. Such a different experience my kids have! I was annoyed by only one thing - there was a poster about being creative, like ten tips for creativity or something like that. Among the tips: Finish what you start! and Don't go with your first idea! Think for a while, you'll probably have a better one. Agh. Creative Tips for Those Who Need to Fit In At School, it should have been called. And I think tips for being creative are awesome - if they're actually about accessing the creative part of you. But these? They were like: Rules for Being Creative... which squelches true creativity. Sometimes you want guidelines, sometimes you want to go with your first idea, and not finish what you started 'cause you don't care for it. Bleh. So, so glad to be unschooling.

There was a volunteer there, we used to be in the same babysitting co-op when Evan was small. He was (and probably still is!) a really good Dad, very caring and available. But as I was sitting, waiting in the chairs, I remembered... when I used to go to his house, I felt inferior as a parent. He and his wife were married, stable - I was a single parent. They had a TV, but only very uncomfortable chairs in front of it, so no one would be tempted to sit too long. Evan almost always showed up barefoot - he didn't care for shoes 'til he was older - and that Dad would always ask, "Where are your shoes?" I hadn't yet heard of radical unschooling; in most choices, I was following my heart about what felt right - and around them, I felt like I was coming up short. Seeing him today brought back all those feelings! I hadn't really hung out with them since Evan was really young; a couple times, when Seth was small, we saw them, but we hadn't kept in touch at all. So when I saw him today, I reverted back to feeling inferior - my last way of being around him. THEN I realized what I was feeling, and had to laugh at myself. I hadn't been an inferior parent; I was making different choices! Choices that worked for me and Evan. I didn't have support at the time - and actually, that lack of support meant I had a few years where I wasn't following my heart - but we were doing what was right for us. I was never an inferior parent.

As I was sitting there, waiting to vote for a candidate I DO truly believe in - no lesser of two evils, here! - I was filled up with love for my life. Our lives. Love for myself, too! For hanging in there, despite feeling less-than. I love our unschooling life - lack of creativity rules and all.

Writing this out, I also realized this is the kind of support I want to offer parents. Support for what they're feeling in their heart - not judgment for where they're making different choices than I would. I want to be the voice that says, "Oh, it's fine if he doesn't want to wear shoes!" There's a slight difference - support for what is (or could be) versus pointing out what's NOT - but I can feel the difference.

If I could go back in time, I'd tell my younger self: Trust yourself! It's OK if no one else is doing it that way! It's perfect! Hmmmm... I've been reading Holographic Universe - maybe I will go back and tell myself that!

about the picture: I know the ground there doesn't make sense - it just felt right.


Miracle Pencil

Last night, a friend and I went to see Dar Williams. It was a bittersweet (mostly sweet) night - she and I have been friends since our oldest kids were tiny - we met in La Leche League! We have been through a LOT together, not the least of which is her moving toward conventional, rewards and punishment based parenting, and my move to radical unschooling. We are at a place of peace with that for now - I can see she is a loving mom, crazy about her kids - and she can see the same about me. We also discovered Dar at the same time, and her words and music spoke so deeply to both of us. At one moment, I was all teary, as Dar sang The Babysitter's Here, and I was thinking of the years that I've loved her music, and the years that I've loved my friend. I was thinking a lot of how things have changed, how we have changed - how I have changed! - over these 15 + years.

A duo who are calling themselves Boston to Austin opened for Dar -- I love them! I wanted to invite them home with me, and we would hang out, and we could be best friends for ever and ever. Some performers just hit me that way - I think it's the heart connection, as they're performing. They're up there, sharing their hearts, and it connects us. Anyway - they're just so, so good. So funny, and beautiful, and their songs were wonderful. They said they had tour shirts made up when they toured from Boston to Austin, and since they had shirts, they decided to call themselves that for now - but they only had two shirts left! They might change the name once those are gone.

I had an idea of what I wanted to create for art for the day. I knew it would be challenging, but that's OK - I'm trying to give up the idea of perfectionism with this. Just let it be what it is. When I went to draw my idea this morning, I really wanted a pencil. A regular, No. 2 yellow pencil, with an eraser. I wasn't sure if we had one! One thing about no school is there's not much need for number 2 pencils. Seth woke up as I was looking, and as were were cuddling and talking (is there a better way to start the day?), I told him I really wanted to find a pencil with an eraser. He said, "Oh! I got one in my Halloween bag! I hope we can find it - I threw it on the floor when I saw it. Who gives pencils for Halloween?!" I was just struck by how perfect that was - that something was provided, just as we wanted it. It gave me such a strong feeling of being taken care of. Well - when I got up from his bed, what was on the floor right there, but a yellow No. 2 pencil - with an eraser! I couldn't find a sharpener, so I used a knife, and I knew - I can draw my other idea later today, or tomorrow. I need to draw this pencil!

I really like how it came out. This art stuff is kind of addicting. I wrote in comments to Mrs. G, I'm thinking of breaking up with my television. Then when I wrote that out loud, I kind of panicked - but I want to find out what happens on Life on Mars! And Top Chef is about to start! {gasp} So I wrote, at least I want to start seeing other people. I think I'll have to! If I'm going to have room to create AND work AND hang with the boys AND make meals... something will have to go. Right now, I'm grateful we have DVR and I can record the shows I want to see. I'm not ready to let go entirely. I think it might be a codependent relationship, though - I give all of my time, and what do I really get back in return?

I love my yellow pencil.


Seth's Sword was by the Door

I thought, for now, I can do a picture of my day in 2" X 2" - I've done it before, and it seems manageable, not so intimidating. I'm not crazy about how the drawing came out - I kinda, sorta wanted it to be to scale, but then it ended up looking odd... not bad, though, for a non-draw-er! I know at some point this month I'll free up, not need to be so literal, just let go with color and movement... this time, I did something familiar.

And there's a story.

Seth was at a friend's yesterday afternoon. I had the use of John's truck, so Evan and I went out for a bit - the novelty of not walking or riding the bus was cool! I called my friend who was watching Seth, and told her I'd be home in a little while. I offered to pick Seth up on my way home, but I talked to Seth and he wanted to stay and play a while longer. When Evan and I got home, I saw Seth's plastic sword against the door, and the videogame he had taken to his friend's house. I figured they had come home while we were out, saw we weren't here, and he had gone back to their house. They live just a couple blocks down.

I was just getting ready to call her, and heard Seth at the door - he was crying! "Mommy, mommy, mommmmmyyyyy...". I opened the door, and he came in just sobbing! He said his friend had dropped him off, his mom drove away, and no one was home! He didn't know what to do. He said he was SO scared, he went to our next-door neighbor's house and she watched him until we came home. He was crying and crying... and I went numb. I don't know where I went.

I am SO empathetic with the boys, I always see where they're coming from... but last night, I felt annoyed! Here was my son, having gotten a big scare, and I was unable to understand. I just kept thinking - but you could have gone back to your friend's house! They live just down the street! Or gone to another friend's - we've got friends all over the neighborhood. And he apparently forgot my cellphone number. I just went cold inside. I was patting his back, holding him -- but I felt baffled. And I'm ashamed to say, I let him know I was baffled. I just couldn't wrap my mind around why he was so scared; he knows the neighborhood so well, and he knew I was out, and would be home soon - I had just talked to him and told him that!

I wish I had been able to shut up, to just hold him through my confusion, know that for whatever reason, he was scared, and that's what mattered. I wasn't there. Until: he said, "I was so worried that you had been home, and someone had come in and taken you and Evan! I don't know what I would do without you! Who would take care of me? Where would I go-o-o-o-o-o-o?" Setting off a new round of sobbing. THEN I got it. THEN I remembered that he was nine - NINE. He wouldn't react the way *I* would, because he's not me. He's nine.

This was so uncharacteristic of me, of us, of how we are together. Evan kept saying, "He's scared, Mama." But, I couldn't think of a logical reason he'd be scared, and for some reason, I wanted it to make sense to me. Gah. I hate writing this. I was so cold, and not there for him. Well - I was there - I was holding him, letting him know he was OK, and safe. But until it clicked for me - I was bothered.

I wonder if part of it has to do with Seth's size - he may be nine, but he's almost as tall as me. He's BIG. This was the first time he's gotten so upset in a while - maybe because he's so big, part of me thought he should handle it like an adult?

I know, too, I was channeling my mom. We couldn't cry around her, it wasn't allowed. Neither was being too happy. She used to shut down the same way, just turn cold and unavailable. I swear, I think I've gotten OVER stuff, that I've healed, and don't have a need for those old ways of being - and here it was. Where does that come from? Why now? Why did it take so long for me to SEE, really SEE Seth, and his nine-ness last night?

As soon as I saw what was happening, I apologized. We talked about it, a bit. And we talked again this morning, because he had a dream that he was lost, and scared. At least I won't make him feel like it's HIS fault, my confusion. He knows I own it. Opportunity for growth, for all of us.

Interesting timing - my sister just called. She didn't have time to talk right now, but we will later today. Since she had her son (he's 5), we've talked and talked about our childhood, and how we're creating a different relationship with our kids. I'm grateful to have her to talk to.


I Don't Think This is Cheating...

Well - I figured if I was going to be posting art every day, then I'd be posting every day, and that meant I can also take part in NaBloPoMo - one post every day for the month of November. Now I have two incentives to post every day!!

I have, since early on, been a blogging without obligation kinda blogger -- and listen, two different personality tests that I took said I don't much care for obligations! I don't put much stock in those usually - but I thought it was very funny that they both said the same thing, and I took them within days of each other. AND I don't much care for obligations. Hmmm... We'll see where this goes - I can do *anything* for 30 days, right?

I'm posting my art every day the day *after* I make it - so I'll be posting art starting tomorrow! I'm excited.


Art Every Day. This Time, I Mean It.

I started this blog a year ago, prompted by the idea that I was going to participate in Art Every Day Month. Well - the art every day didn't happen, but the blog stuck around! I can hardly believe it's been a year!

And this year? I'm trying again! I can create Art Every Day, right? Even though I don't see myself as an artist, in the sense of visual artist? Sure, I can. Doing it will, I believe, open some part of myself. On the rare occasions I've let myself be free with paint or pen, I have LOVED the connected feeling I get.... when I'm able to not listen to that goofy inner critic. She's actually mostly silent, now - not feeding her insanity makes her very, very quiet. We'll see how I feel when it's time to post my first picture.

So, I'm going for it! Starting November 1st - Art! Every day!!

I can't wait to play. Perhaps you'll join me?



Oh, yeah! Outlines!

So - I'm working on this big article, working meaning letting my thoughts wander all around the various issues, and every now and then, I sit down to write. I have to let things percolate a bit; usually, I write stuff completely in my head, then I write it on paper. Or online.

Well, every time I've sat down to write, the words come at first, then, it's all over the place! It covers a lot of ground and a lot of thoughts, so I guess that's not surprising. But it is frustrating!! I want it to be cohesive, and I know I could write and write and then edit, but it starts just going places I never intended - I don't think I'd ever finish!

Last night, I realized: I can use an outline. I can use index cards. I can plan what I want to say. Go figure!! I haven't used that particular skill in ages! If ever - usually even in school when we were supposed to use an outline, I just let the paper flow, and I always got good grades. If we had to hand in outlines or index cards, I usually did the paper first, then filled out those things to appease the teacher. BUT - in this case, I can actually utilize the concept of an outline! It will be helpful to me. So, I can't say I didn't get anything out of school.

Although, what made me realize I could use an outline, was seeing Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic on my shelf. In that, he writes about exploring and researching drumming through time, and how he had to create what he called the Anaconda, thousands of index cards, a timeline to organize his thoughts and the history. So if I hadn't been exposed to the idea of outlines in school, would I have just picked it up from Mickey?

One thing that I have loved about unschooling, is that I honestly can't pinpoint where or when the boys have learned certain things. One day a couple years ago, Evan and I were walking the dog, and he started talking about all the varying theories about the creation of the world, what each theory said, what he thought about it all. I loved our talk, but what I loved most of all is that I had NO idea he had even taken that knowledge in anywhere. We had never talked about it before. He had certainly never taken out any library books about it. I believe it was information he picked up from all types of sources: cartoons, the internet, movies, magazines, TV, books, conversations he had. He never had to sit and study the origin of the world to learn about it! He took all these bits and pieces, synthesized them in his brain, and he then had this cohesive block of knowledge, and we had this amazing conversation.

So - do I (reluctantly) credit school with the idea of organizing a paper? Do I credit Mickey Hart? Or, actually, Francis Ford Coppola, from whom Mickey Hart picked up the idea?

You know what? I'll just write the damn thing. I'm burning to do it, and it's important, and will say something I find Deeply Meaningful. I'll be fulfilling my purpose to do it, which I think is what we're all here to do, follow those gut feelings and prompts and excitement and joy to what we want to do, what we're meant to do. Doing that will thank the universe; doing it is an expression of my gratitude, to whatever sources I had. No particularity necessary.

Hey - I must be an unschooler! Whole life learning.

Go figure.


Ooh, I looooove Audrey!!

I found this quiz at Diana's, and I am, for some reason, very pleased with this result.

I Am an Audrey!


"I am at peace"

Audreys are receptive, good-natured, and supportive. They seek union with others and the world around them.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * If you want me to do something, how you ask is important. I especially don't like expectations or pressure
  • * I like to listen and to be of service, but don't take advantage of this
  • * Listen until I finish speaking, even though I meander a bit
  • * Give me time to finish things and make decisions. It's OK to nudge me gently and nonjudgmentally
  • * Ask me questions to help me get clear
  • * Tell me when you like how I look. I'm not averse to flattery
  • * Hug me, show physical affection. It opens me up to my feelings
  • * I like a good discussion but not a confrontation
  • * Let me know you like what I've done or said
  • * Laugh with me and share in my enjoyment of life

What I Like About Being an Audrey

  • * being nonjudgmental and accepting
  • * caring for and being concerned about others
  • * being able to relax and have a good time
  • * knowing that most people enjoy my company; I'm easy to be around
  • * my ability to see many different sides of an issue and to be a good mediator and facilitator
  • * my heightened awareness of sensations, aesthetics, and the here and now
  • * being able to go with the flow and feel one with the universe
What's Hard About Being an Audrey
  • * being judged and misunderstood for being placid and/or indecisive
  • * being critical of myself for lacking initiative and discipline
  • * being too sensitive to criticism; taking every raised eyebrow and twitch of the mouth personally
  • * being confused about what I really want
  • * caring too much about what others will think of me
  • * not being listened to or taken seriously

Audreys as Children Often

  • * feel ignored and that their wants, opinions, and feelings are unimportant
  • * tune out a lot, especially when others argue
  • * are "good" children: deny anger or keep it to themselves

Audreys as Parents

  • * are supportive, kind, and warm
  • * are sometimes overly permissive or nondirective

You can find the quiz here. Like Diana said, not bad for two questions!!


BRB - pipe wrench fight!

Literal a-ha

edited to add: I have no idea what the guy's doing with his left hand there at 1:37.


Storm's A-Brewin'

perfect storm

So much swirling about... it's all connected in my head, and I think it's going to take a lot of writing and editing and rewriting for it to make sense. It has to do with this show, this retreat, this blog entry, this article, and this healer. Plus my life for the last 43 years. No biggie, right? {ahem}

I may make other posts while this is all percolating, but I just wanted to say - I haven't forgotten I have a blog!

Hope to have it all sorted out soon!


Life IS a Verb

I am holding in my hands the book Life is a Verb, written by Patti Digh.

Oh, wait - did I just say written by Patti? Well, it is, the words are hers. But the sense I get when I read her book, or her blog, 37 Days, is more that Patti is one part of a lovely interconnected web of people, places and experiences, and while she does write from her unique perspective from her place on the web, she's also able to take a deep breath, somehow put herself above it all, and write from a place of seeing the connections within the web. Still with me? That was a long sentence! So, Patti wrote the book, but without the connections and the people and circumstances populating her blog, and Patti's openness to seeing those (connections AND people), there wouldn't be a book. When I say "above it all", I don't mean better than us, or disconnected - it's just about the visual perspective on that one. Because one beautiful thing about Patti is her absolute humanity, and her willingness to share that with us, as well.

Patti is a writer who knows she's not alone in the world, and her writing and experiences show that. She is able to write about people in a way that leaves me feeling like I know them, which to me, means she's made a soul connection with each one -- and, to me, too. Yaron is my friend, too, and I still tear up over the loss of Meta, and I feel a part of her circle of love, even though I've never met either person. Tess is one of my favorite children on the planet, and if I should ever meet her, I know we'd be great friends. There are many stories with Tess - here's one, and here, and here. Hmm... maybe Patti should write a Tess book?

OH! Book! This is supposed to be about the book:

So, OK - Patti started her blog as an instruction manual for her daughters, should she pass from this life without having had a chance to tell them what she felt were the most important aspects of living. She wanted to leave them something so they could know HER, as a person. You can read more about that here, and why it's called 37 Days. It has turned into an instruction manual for all of us, and a way of learning how to connect more deeply and live more intentionally. She gathered 37 of her essays from her blog, and collected them into Life is a Verb.

This is the first book I have ever read where I just dived right in. With most books, I start from the front cover, read everything in order, read the table of contents to see how it's laid out, read the introduction and preface to read what the author's intentions were. Not this one! It's SO gorgeous, and inviting - I opened it to a random page and began reading. Then I stopped reading, and started flipping through, looking at the beautiful artwork, all created by readers of 37 Days. That's a story in itself! The book itself is gorgeous. If you're asking why you should buy a book, when there's a blog with the essays in it, that's a reason in and of itself - the sheer beauty of it. The heft in your hand - it's the perfect size! Plus - it's, um, a book. Hel-lo!

So as I was flipping through, I noticed she had actions to do after reading, or movements, designed to help bring awareness to what she wrote about, to open us up a bit, maybe challenge us a little. It could be because I was a rebellious, contentious child who wasn't allowed to be rebellious or contentious, so it didn't really come out 'til I was a grownup, but I don't do the assignments or actions in books where you have to DO stuff. What? It's a book! I'm just supposed to read, all cozied up with hot tea and pillows, maybe a blanket. I just skipped over those. And I read essays that I hadn't read before. One great thing about Patti's blog is that she has been writing a while, so there are still surprises when I dip into the archives. One essay that I hadn't read before was Squeeze in Next to Someone, Arm-to-Arm, and it's now my favorite essay because of the mystical feel to the story, plus I love the feeling of someone's warm arm next to mine. I have a feeling that whatever essay I read next will then be my favorite, but that's OK.

In going through the book, I came to see that she had organized it into parts, and the second part was divided into chapters, each one focusing on one of the six practices for intentional living, the pattern she found when she started to form the book. I'm sure I would have read that in the introduction, if I had read that. I think Bust Your Toast Rules gave me the impetus to break free of my book rules. I feel so reckless! I didn't even know I had book rules, until I opened this one and started reading that random page. Anyway, the six practices are: Say Yes, Be Generous, Speak Up, Love More, Trust Yourself, and Slow Down. I think I could post those around my house, and they'd help me live a more intentional life, but now I have essays and stories for each one, essays and stories that touch me deeply, open my heart, help me feel connected.

I flipped through some more, reading more deeply, looking closely at the art. Then I read an action, and it was a free write. Oh! I can do that!! AND I trust Patti enough to go where these actions will take me, and I can trust that doing them will help me see things from a different perspective, will open my heart ever wider, because that's where we're connected, you see. So, I did it - and had so much fun, I'm looking forward to doing more! That's a first!! I'm actually excited about doing the exercises in a book!

I do hope you buy Life is A Verb - for the connection, for the different perspective, for the opportunity to look at your life with fresh sight, and insight. For the opportunity to get to know Patti Digh, a beautiful person. For this review, I almost just wrote, "What he said", Rick wrote so perfectly about Patti and the book. Go read that review for a beautiful perspective. Buy the book to see the art, to dive in, in your own way. Buy the book to support lives lived more intentionally. To live your life more intentionally.

This weekend, I am here - with Patti! My birthday weekend! Today, the 28th, is my birthday. I could have interviewed Patti for this review, but even in thinking of doing that, I got all tongue-tied, just in my mind. I couldn't even form any questions to write to her! If I ask her any questions at the retreat, I'll let you know.